Thursday, January 22, 2015

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah calls stabbing attack “self-sacrificing operation”‎
Following yesterday's stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, when a young Palestinian stabbed and wounded more than a dozen people in a bus in Tel Aviv, Abbas' Fatah movement posted the following text on Facebook, referring to the terror attack as a "self-sacrificing operation" (amaliya fida'iya in Arabic):
Posted text: "Urgent! Self-sacrificing operation in Tel Aviv: A knife attack inside a bus. Reports of the wounding of 10 Israelis and the wounding of the man who carried out the operation from Israeli police fire. The area has been sealed off and the Israeli police is conducting an extensive search in the area."
[Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page", Jan. 21, 2015]
The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza praised the attack with the following text on its Facebook page:
"A morning of homeland and freedom, a morning of the knife's point of the rebel for Palestine"
[Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza, Jan. 21, 2015]
Something Is Rotten in Argentina
Today, the words memory, truth, and justice, stand as literal pillars commemorating sites of previous state torture and abuse, suggesting an era of human rights and accountability in Argentina. Yet the AMIA case—unresolved since 1994—and the death of Nisman raise profound questions about democracy and the rule of law in Argentina. Ten years after his appointment as special prosecutor and 20 years after the bombing, little has changed in the landscape of justice.
Laura Ginsberg, an activist who lost her husband Enrique Ginsberg in the bombing, has argued for the opening of the SIDE (intelligence services) archives, through her group APEMIA (Association for the Clarification of the Unpunished Massacre of the AMIA). Pablo Gitter, also of APEMIA, says that the need for transparency is urgent because of the pervasive corruption in the judiciary and the state. APEMIA has further called for the creation of an independent investigatory commission, what they call the “CONADEP of the AMIA” (CONADEP referring to the historic 1984 truth commission that facilitated Argentina’s transition from dictatorship to democracy) as the only way to establish the truth of what happened.
How and why did Alberto Nisman die? Who was responsible for the AMIA bombing? When will Argentines see some form of justice in these cases? These remain open questions, challenging the limits of democracy in Argentina. While Nisman’s death has brought the AMIA bombing to the forefront of national and global consciousness, it also presents another impediment to the 20-year pursuit of justice in the case, revealing how the ongoing struggles for some form of accountability and truth continue against a horizon of impunity.
Douglas Murray - Islam and Democracy Highlights [BBC World Service]
Best bits - 10:25 the difference between holocaust denial and offending religion.
- 13:00 Why are the UK's Muslims of sub-continent origin protesting Israel

Mordechai Kedar: Is the Middle East on the Verge of Exploding?
Five separate sets of potential fireworks have been igniting simultaneously in the Middle East for the last few weeks, each of them adding fuel to the fires caused by the others. If and when these developments reach the kindling point, the entire region may go up in uncontrollable flames.
These are the sources of the fires:
a. the rivalry between Al Qaeda and ISIS
b. the intensifying struggle between the Sunni Jabhat al Nusra and the Shiite Hezbollah.
c. the successes of the Houthis in Yemen
d. Islamic fury at what is happening in Egypt
e. the struggle between Islamic extremists and European regimes
Europe is a relatively new battleground, but the last few weeks showed mounting escalation, both in jihadist activities against governments (see France) and in governmental activity against jihad cells (Belgium, Germany). Jihad activities in Europe are encouraged by ISIS as well as Al Qaeda, both sides of the rivalry mentioned above. People who return from Jihad in Syria, Iraq and Libya - but not just they - are participating in the heated struggle for Europe's image.
These struggles are synergetic, they influence one another because an Islamic militant sees what is happening in one area and decides to take revenge for Allah in another. This sinking into chaos can lead to large number of large scale conflicts, with many more participants and deaths, especially if these organizations succeed in drawing Israel and the US into the fray. We have already heard of ground troups from the West fighting ISIS.
Israel must understand the dangers now permeating the atmosphere of the MIddle East with oil vapors that any spark can set on fire and that no one will be able to put out before the entire region is ablaze. The potential for destruction posed by all these disputes is enormous, and the explosion may shake Europe and even cross the Atlantic when Islamic extremists blow their minds at the deep crisis affecting the entire Middle East.
The massive Islamic immigration to Europe turned that continent into a branch of the Middle East's disputes, so that Europe will not be immune to the many deep seated and broad Middle Eastern problems. And America is on the same planet, so that the Middle East disasters will find their way to its shores as well.
Judge Releases Criminal Complaint Alleging Argentina President Covered Up Iranian Terrorism
A federal judge in Argentina has released a 289-page criminal complaint accusing Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of plotting to cover up an investigation into Iran’s possible terrorist activities in that country. The document was released three days after prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who compiled the complaint, died under mysterious circumstances. The Wall Street Journal has more:
"The complaint provides passages from intercepted phone calls and other evidence to bolster Mr. Nisman’s main accusation—that President Cristina Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and others conspired with Iran to sabotage an investigation into a 1994 terrorist bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish center here. The complaint was made public late Tuesday by Judge Ariel Lijo.
Mrs. Kirchner, the complaint says, ordered intermediaries to secretly negotiate a deal with Tehran to offer impunity for Iranian suspects in exchange for Iranian oil. Mr. Nisman, 51 years old, who had spent a decade investigating the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association center, or AMIA as it was known, had in a previous report he had compiled accused Iran of masterminding the bombing."
Argentine President Says Prosecutor Was Murdered - to Frame Her
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner said Thursday that the prosecutor who investigated a 1994 bombing of a Jewish center did not commit suicide - and claimed he was murdered in order to implicate her in a cover up of Iran's involvement in the deadly attack,.
"I'm convinced that it was not suicide," Kirchner said in a stunning post on her Facebook page about the suspicious death of Alberto Nisman, who investigated the deadly attack on the AMIA Jewish charities federation center in Buenos Aires.
Kirchner contended that Nisman was killed to immerse her government in scandal after he had been "used" to publicly accuse her of involvement in the cover-up.
"Prosecutor Nisman's charges were never in themselves the true operation against the government. They collapsed early on. Nisman did not know it and probably never knew it," she said in the rambling post.
"The true operation against the government was the prosecutor's death after accusing the president, her foreign minister, and the secretary-general of (her political faction) of covering up for the Iranians accused in the AMIA attack," she said.
Door to dead Argentine prosecutor’s home ‘barely locked’
Mystery in the gunshot death of a prosecutor who had accused Argentina’s president of covering up a terror attack deepened Wednesday with the revelation that a door to his apartment barely locked and the discovery of another previously unknown entry.
The locksmith who opened the back door to give investigators access to the home where Alberto Nisman was found dead said it was barely closed, raising questions about whether a killer might have entered or exited what was earlier described as a 13th-story apartment locked from the inside.
After testifying to investigators, the man who gave his name only as Walter said he was able to quickly open the door with a hook. He added, “If someone entered or not, I don’t know.”
The official news agency Telam, meanwhile, said investigators had found a third access to the home, a narrow passage holding air conditioning equipment that connects to a neighboring apartment occupied by an unidentified foreigner. They were investigating a seemingly recent footprint and fingerprint found inside. (h/t Yenta Press)
House Speaker John Boehner Invites Netanyahu to Address Congress
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress next month about the Iranian threat.
“In this time of challenge, I am asking the prime minister [of Israel] to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” Boehner said in a statement on Wednesday morning.
“America and Israel have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again. Let’s send a clear message to the White House—and the world—about our commitment to Israel and our allies,” Boehner said.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama vowed to veto “any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo” the “progress” of ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers.
Kerry, Boehner: Netanyahu's Invitation Not a Ploy
Despite the White House's cold response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader is welcome to give a speech at "any time" in the United States, top US diplomat John Kerry said Wednesday.
But he agreed it had been a "little unusual" to hear about the Israeli leader's address to the US Congress next month from the office of Speaker John Boehner and not via the usual diplomatic protocols, according to AFP.
While it was House speaker John Boehner who announced Netanyahu's invitation to speak, calling the prime minister "a friend," White House press secretary John Earnest responded coldly to the invite.
"We haven't heard from the Israelis directly about the trip at all," Earnest said. "The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he is traveling there... So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol."
Israel source says leaked report of Netanyahu-Mossad rift on Iran sanctions is 'Obama's revenge'
Israeli officials in Jerusalem told Army Radio on Thursday that a report in Bloomberg highlighting the rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the vaunted intelligence agency Mossad over Iran sanctions was “the Obama administration’s revenge” over the Republican-controlled Congress’ invitation to the premier to speak before a joint session without consulting the White House.
According to the report, officials from Mossad have lobbied Congressional and administration officials to refrain from imposing new sanctions against Iran for fear that it would lead to a collapse of the Western powers’ talks with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
The White House expressed anger over the invite extended to Netanyahu, calling it “a departure from protocol.”
Tzachi Hanegbi, the deputy foreign minister and a Netanyahu ally from the ruling Likud party, told Army Radio that the invite extended to Netanyahu was an attempt by the Republicans to embarrass President Barack Obama.
Contradicting senators’ account, Mossad denies it opposes new Iran sanctions
A report saying that the head of the spy agency opposed new sanctions was carried by Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“Mossad head Tamir Pardo met two days ago with a delegation of US senators, at the request of the senators and with the prime minister’s permission,” the agency said in a rare statement. “Despite what the report said, the head of the Mossad did not say he opposes additional sanctions against Iran; the head of the Mossad emphasized in the meeting the extraordinary effectiveness of the sanctions against Iran, for a number of years, in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.”
The Mossad statement also said Pardo had emphasized to the senators that he believes in a “carrot and stick” approach, but that there were not enough sticks available to the West. “Pardo noted that without firm pressure it would not be possible to bring about meaningful compromises from the Iranian side.”
According to the Bloomberg report, on Wednesday US Secretary of State John Kerry said an Israeli intelligence official had described the sanctions bill as a move akin to “throwing a grenade into the process.”
'Abbas was once a terrorist, but he isn't now,' Livni tells JPost
Dividing Jerusalem is negotiable, Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni said in the inaugural episode of The Jerusalem Post's Election Arena, an online video series, Thursday.
"I hope not," was Livni's answer to whether she was for or against dividing the capital city.
When asked if that means that she thinks a divided Jerusalem is a possibility, she responded that the issue would be "part of the negotiations."
However, she added that the goal would be "to keep Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty."
Livni also said that while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "was once a terrorist, he isn't anymore."
Watch Livni discuss US-Israel relations, the two-state solution, Labor-Hatnua's chances at forming the next government and more on
Jerusalem ‘unaware’ of Putin visit next month
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday it was unaware of any planned visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, rebuffing reports in Palestinian media that the strongman was headed to the region.
The Palestinian al-Quds newspaper reported Thursday that Putin was planning a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories in early February as part of a tour of the Middle East.
Putin’s state visit was said to include meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to inject life into the peace process.
Jerusalem responded to the report saying that it was unaware of any plans for Putin to travel to Israel in February. There was no announcement of an upcoming visit to Israel on the Russian president’s website.
Alan Baker: International Criminal Court Opens Inquiry into Possible War Crimes in Palestinian Territories
A Response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon from Amb. Alan Baker:
Clearly this resolution did not create a state of Palestine. A political General Assembly cannot and should not serve to guide the ICC Prosecutor in carrying out her legal functions. Clearly, the General Assembly is not a judicial body, but a political one. Its determinations are political, not legal.
By the same logic, the ICC Prosecutor’s most recent announcement, dated January 17, 2015, of her intention to open a “preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine” following a Palestinian declaration of acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction under article 12(3) of the ICC Statute, would appear to be similarly ultra vires. This in light of her determination that the Palestinian Authority is a state based solely on her reading of the above-noted General Assembly Palestinian upgrade resolution 67/90 which, as stated above, represents nothing more than the political position of the states voting in favor of it.
In view of the above, and taking into consideration the accepted international criteria for statehood as set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention5 which include among other things, a unified territorial unit and responsible governance of its people, and capability of fulfilling international commitments and responsibilities, no serious UN organ or the Prosecutor of the ICC could, logically accept the Palestinian authority’s claim to statehood and accession to the ICC Statute, as well as to other international conventions limited to “States” or to “all States.”
In light of the above, and with a view to protecting the integrity of the ICC and honoring the basic purposes and principles for which it was established, and in order to prevent any further damage, you are requested to review your recent determinations and to reject the attempts to politicize the ICC.
Alan Dershowitz: Israel War Crimes Probe Is 'End of the ICC'
Legal expert Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax TV that the investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel "marks the death" of the International Criminal Court.
"There are three reasons why" this move will ultimately lead to the end of the ICC, Dershowitz, former Harvard Law School professor, tells J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Khan on "America's Forum" on Monday.
"Number one, Palestine's not a state, it doesn't have boundaries. How can you tell what's occupied and what's not when there's no agreed upon boundaries?" he asked.
"Number two, Israel passes the test of complementarity," he said. "Complementarity means the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate any country that has a legitimate legal system, and if Israel's legal system is not legitimate, neither is America's."
In addition, "the United States will never, ever join a court that says that Israel's legal system doesn't pass the test of a legitimate legal system," he contends.
"And number three, Israel is the most moral army. No country in the history of the world facing threats comparable to Israel has ever responded with more compliance with the rule of law, more concern for the life of civilians, and more warnings to civilians," said Dershowitz, author of "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas."
"To pick Israel to be the first essentially western nation to investigate, it'll do more harm to the ICC than it will to Israel," he added.
Ambassador Calls on Security Council to Condemn Tel Aviv Attack
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, on Wednesday called on the Security Council to condemn the terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv, in which some 20 people were wounded.
In a letter to the members of the Council, Prosor pointed out the incitement by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, and their encouraging further attacks against Israelis.
“Hamas, a terrorist group, and President Abbas’s partner in the Palestinian unity government, praised the stabbings in Tel Aviv and encouraged Palestinians to commit similar attacks,” wrote Prosor, who also included the cartoons glorifying the attack which were published just two hours after it took place.
“The Security Council has yet to say a word in response to the wave of terrorism aimed at Israeli citizens in recent months. By remaining silent, the Council is giving terrorists and their sponsors a free pass,” he added.
“I urge the Council to immediately and unequivocally condemn the recent terrorist attacks, the growing Palestinian incitement, and denounce those states that are lending their support to this murderous campaign.”
Prosor on CNN- Who killed the innocent?

BBC News website reporting of Tel Aviv terror attack
As news broke of the terror attack on the number 40 Dan bus in Tel Aviv early on the morning of January 21st, the BBC News website grabbed its scare quotes and got to work.
All versions of the report titled “Israel bus attack: Tel Aviv passengers stabbed” opened in typical ‘last-first’ reporting style by informing audiences that a man had been shot by the police before informing them why and the same policy was seen on BBC social media. Inverted commas placed around the words terror attack in earlier versions of the report were removed from later editions.
The use of unnecessary punctuation continued, however, on the BBC News website’s Middle East homepage in a link to a filmed report on the same topic.
The first two versions of the report informed readers that “In November, an Israeli soldier was killed in a knife attack in Tel Aviv, while an Israeli woman was stabbed to death in the West Bank in a separate attack” without clarifying that those two incidents were both terror attacks.
Bus driver who fought off terrorist regains consciousness
It was thanks to the heroism of a bus driver, a group of Israel Prison Service security personnel and a number of responsible citizens that the terrorist attack aboard Dan Bus No. 40 bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday did not end in a single fatality.
Police officials praised the conduct of Herzl Biton, the 55-year-old bus driver who was first to get stabbed by the terrorist, and, despite being seriously wounded, managed to use pepper spray on the assailant and fight him off while simultaneously opening the bus doors to allow the passengers to flee.
Biton, who slipped into a coma as a result of his injuries, regained consciousness on Thursday and his condition dramatically improved. His family urged the people of Israel to pray for his health, while many of his relatives spent the night at the hospital around his bed.
"He motions to us with his fingers. It is obvious that he is in pain. But he was God's messenger, in the right place at the right time," said Eli Biton, the driver's brother. "Several days before the attack, he told his son that he was worried about possible attacks. He had a feeling that he would be next."
Tel Aviv Bus Driver Wounded in Terror Stabbing Called Friend: ‘Take Care of My Kids If I Die’
Before he passed out from stab wounds while struggling to foil a Palestinian terrorist, Dan bus company driver Herzl Biton, 40, called a buddy and asked him to look after his children in the event that he succumbed to his injuries, Israel’s Ch. 2 News reported Wednesday.
“Herzl called me and said, ‘A terrorist boarded my bus and is stabbing people,’” Dan traffic division chief, Dan Katzis said, recalling the traumatic call he received at about 07:30 am.
“[Biton] said, ‘I’m going to die, if I die – take care of my children.’”
Biton, who is currently hospitalized in serious but stable condition, was the first of 20 people who were wounded – three of them seriously – when 23-year-old Tulkarm resident Hamza Matrouk boarded the bus and began his murderous rush-hour spree.
“He tried to resist and pepper-sprayed the terrorist,” Biton’s niece, Heli Sosen said, later, at the hospital. “I’m really shaking, it is shocking. He’s in bad shape and was taken into surgery.”
#JeSuisCouteau hashtag meaning 'I am knife' sweeps Twitter as people PRAISE Palestinian who stabbed 11 people on Israeli bus
A hashtag that states 'I am knife' has begun trending on Twitter as hardline users take to social media to heap praise a Palestinian man who stabbed 11 people on a bus in Tel Aviv.
The messages are an attempt to reappropriate the hashtag of solidarity - #JeSuisCharlie - which swept the world in the wake of the terrorist massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices.
However, the tweets - often accompanied by illustrations which depict the Palestinian flag and a bloody knife - are being posted in support of the stabber, who was shot by a prison officer after injuring 11 people in a brutal act of violence.
The PA's 'martyr' mentality
The silence of the Palestinian Authority is deafening. Those who see the cup half full are satisfied with the leadership's silence. They are not inciters but people of peace and "there is someone we can talk to." But the truth is that senior Palestinian Authority officials habitually incite terror attacks in their continued glorification of the attackers as martyrs who "fell" in stabbing attacks, car rampages and murders of Jewish civilians.
Like Hamas, which sanctifies today's murderers in the name of Islam, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's senior officials call the murderers who were killed by Israeli forces "martyrs," and refer to their attacks on civilians as legitimate and legal acts against the occupation. The glorification of the murderers turns them into role models. They do this in impassioned speeches at rallies and commemorations of the murderers. Palestinian Authority officials use the media, education system and mosques to indoctrinate murder -- oops, I mean "resistance," a whitewashed term for murder of civilians. That is how a person wakes up one morning and decides to massacre the staff of Charlie Hebdo, for example.
The Palestinian Authority's leadership, seen as a partner for peace, does not foment an atmosphere of peace with Israel among the masses. Quite the opposite, they are motivating people to murder and for martyrdom and back it up with a monetary reward system for the families of the "martyrs." This is bankrolled by other countries' donations. The majority of the Israeli public does not know this, as no newspaper will publish it -- they can't let the facts ruin the story. For now, the "racist apartheid separation wall" keeps apart, even if partially, the murderers of the "resistance" and their civilian victims -- the "occupation."
Police nab knife-wielding Palestinian in Israel illegally
Police on Thursday arrested a Palestinian man who entered Israel illegally and attempted to stab officers dispatched to detain him.
The officers apprehended the 22-year-old suspect in the central city of Ra’anana, and found a second knife on his person. No injuries were reported.
The man was taken for investigation at a Kfar Saba police station nearby.
Police have been on high alert since Wednesday morning, when a Palestinian man who illegally entered Israel allegedly stabbed a dozen people on a city bus in Tel Aviv before being shot and arrested by police.
JCPA: Iran: “Killing of Senior Hizbullah and IRGC Officials Will Hasten Israel’s Destruction”
Difficult Decisions
The decision on the timing, location, and nature of the possible response to the killing of the IRGC and Hizbullah officials will be made in Tehran according to its strategic interests beyond the Syrian-Lebanese theater. The new midyear target date for reaching a nuclear agreement with the West, increasingly a subject of controversy within Iran, could figure in Iran’s considerations regarding Hizbullah’s response. Iran is now in domestic distress because of the drastic decline in oil prices, making it difficult to continue its assistance to Hizbullah and the Palestinian organizations. Although no significant decline in this assistance is evident, and recently there were even reports of improved relations with Hamas, the issue of sustaining the assistance continues to foment within a difficult internal dispute between the IRGC on one side and Rouhani and his government on the other.
In any case, the last word on the nature and timing of the response is reserved for Khamenei, who holds a special place in his heart for his favorite Imad Mughniyeh, whose death has not yet been avenged. Now he is joined by his son. Soleimani’s longstanding ties with Allahdadi could also be a factor leading to “personal” and painful revenge. For Iran and Hizbullah the series of assassinations that have not been avenged (Imad Mughniyeh in 2008, Hassan al-Laqis in 2013), which have damaged Hizbullah’s prestige, tip the scales toward those who favor a painful and imminent response. This could lead the IRGC, which sets the tone in Iran, to decide to allow Hizbullah to respond in an irregular fashion that carries the risk of an escalation.
Iran's New Terror Base against Israel
Hezbollah, exploiting its presence in Syria, has been attempting to open a new front against Israel.
Over the past 18 months, Hezbollah and its enablers from the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] have begun launching a series of attacks on Israel from their new center of operations in southern Syria.
After Sunday's air strike (attributed by the media to the Israel Air Force) that killed 12 high-ranking Hezbollah and IRGC operatives near Quneitra, Syria, along the Israeli border, Israel is bracing for the possibility of an attack by Hezbollah and Iran.
Although Israel has not officially taken responsibility for the strike, it would make sense to view the action as a preemptive move designed to remove a clear and present danger arising on Israel's border with Syria. The danger is the formation of a second Hezbollah terrorism base, in addition to Hezbollah's home base already in Lebanon.
The IRGC and Hezbollah have begun playing a dual role in the geographical area once known as the Syrian Arab Republic, a country that no longer exists as it appears on world maps. Iran and Hezbollah are acting as the life support machine for the shrunken but still functional Assad regime, now in control of just Damascus, Aleppo, and the Syrian Mediterranean coastline.
‘Assad, Hezbollah and Iran are training local militias to combat Israel’
The Free Syria Army has been monitoring Iranian, Lebanese, and even Russian soldiers on the border with Israel, a Syrian opposition field commander told The Times of Israel on Wednesday, as his forces plan a siege on the government-held regional capital of Quneitra.
In a rare Skype interview from Amman, Jordan, where he is currently on leave, a battalion commander who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Mughniyeh, General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and the 10 others killed by an apparent Israeli airstrike on Sunday were likely touring the Quneitra area, in part, to raise the morale of Shiite soldiers fighting alongside the Assad regime.
But “they also may have been there to plan something which we do not know of,” he allowed. “They may have received new weaponry.”
Despite the widespread presence of his men on the ground, the comments of the Free Syrian Army commander revealed how little his forces know about the movements and preparations of Hezbollah and the Iranians in the area.
IDF increasing presence in North to defend against potential Hezbollah attacks
The measures are aimed at preparing the IDF for potential Hezbollah attacks.
The defense establishment is being ultra-sensitive since an air strike on Sunday that killed 12 Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps senior operatives near Quneitra, Syria, and Iranian vows to take revenge.
As part of steps designed to boost readiness, the IDF has increased its presence in the North, in the form of artillery, infantry and armored units. The Israel Air Force has also gone on alert to decrease response times to incidents. Northern Command officers have held meetings with local government representatives, telling them to expect an increase in military traffic on the ground and air force traffic overhead.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz canceled a planned trip to a NATO conference of chiefs of staffs in Europe. He also visited the IDF’s Northern Command on Tuesday and took part in the daily security evaluation meeting.
The military has in recent days deployed Iron Dome air defense batteries to the North.
Terror alert briefly called along Lebanon border
The army had detected suspicious activity near the border, prompting authorities to close nearby roads and instruct local residents to remain indoors due to a possible infiltration by Hezbollah operatives.
However, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said, an extensive sweep of the area found no evidence of a security breech, and security forces gave residents the “all-clear” Wednesday night.
Tensions along the border have increased following a deadly airstrike on Sunday that killed 12 Lebanese Hezbollah operatives and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members near Quneitra, Syria.
Iran escalates threats, vows to shower Israel with 'Shahab' missiles
Senior Iranian military officials on Thursday continued to threaten “crushing responses” against Israel for the death of a top Revolutionary Guards officer in an airstrike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights earlier this week.
The attack also killed senior Hezbollah operatives, among them the son of the late arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh.
Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the second-in-command in the Revolutionary Guards, told Iranian state media on Thursday that his troops are capable of firing Shahab-3 missiles on Israel.
“[Israel] should be waiting for crushing responses,” Salami is quoted as saying.
Israeli TV shows ‘Iranian missile’ that ‘can reach far beyond Europe’
The Channel 2 news report showed satellite imagery documenting what it said was Iran’s “very rapid progress” on long-range missile manufacture.
It showed one photograph of a site near Tehran, which it said the West had known about for two years, where Iran was working on engines for its long-range missiles.
It then showed a satellite photograph of a second site, nearby, which featured a launch pad, with the 27-meter missile on it — an Iranian missile “never seen before” by the West.
The missile is capable of taking a manned spacecraft or satellite into space, the TV report said.
It is also capable of carrying a conventional or non-conventional warhead “far beyond Europe,” the report added.
Iran: We Will Continue Arming Terrorists in Judea and Samaria
Iran plans to continue its efforts to “destroy the Zionist entity” - and that includes arming terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
“The arming policy of the West Bank is one of the policies of Iran and we will use all our capabilities in this way,” said Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan.
Dehghan made the comments at a memorial service for General Abu Ali Tabtabai, who along with Jihad Mughniyeh and a crew of Hezbollah terrorists, were eliminated in an Israel Air Force strike Monday. The vehicles in which the two were riding had left Lebanon a few hours earlier, Lebanese sources said. The purpose of the tour, the sources said, was to allow Tabtabai to review the situation on the border with the purpose of developing new attacks on Israel.
Commenting on the attack, Deghan said “The Zionist attack will not be passed over,” and that Iran would take the “appropriate action” when it wished to.
Americans in Israel Advised to Stay Away from the North
The United States’ embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday issued a travel warning to American citizens and government personnel in Israel, citing the recent tensions along Israel’s northern borders and the terrorist stabbing attack in Tel Aviv.
“Because of concerns about security on Israel’s northern borders, U.S. government personnel are currently required to obtain advance approval if they wish to travel within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of the Lebanon border, or travel on or east of Route 98 in the Golan Heights,” the advisory said.
“Further, in light of the stabbing attack on a public bus in Tel Aviv on January 21, U.S. citizens are reminded that due to security concerns, U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses throughout Israel and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria -ed.),” the statement added.
New York Times' Amnesia in Recounting Hezbollah's Past Actions
Anne Barnard's report on the alleged Israeli airstrike that killed several senior Iranian officers and Hezbollah operatives "Iran Confirms Israeli Airstrike in Southern Syria Killed One of Its Generals" (Jan. 20, 2015) demonstrates how The New York Times' entrenched bias against Israel diminishes the newspaper's journalism. Barnard evinces amnesia in recounting the start of the Israeli-Hezbollah confrontation in 2006 and central role of a Hezbollah operative in fomenting international terrorism.
Two statements in Barnard's dispatch stand out for their misleading accounting of recent history.
Recalling the last big confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah, Barnard writes, "The last major war between Israel and Hezbollah was set off, analysts generally agree, by miscalculations on both sides about how the other would respond to provocation."
Barnard's "analysts" remain anonymous and for good reason, because serious analysts would not embarrass themselves by issuing such a noncommital statement on how the 2006 summer war between Israel and Hezbollah started. Barnard need go no further than to review her own newspaper's account of how the war was "set off."
Iran, Hezbollah Claim Saudis Helped Israel Target Terrorist Convoy
Iran and Hezbollah are claiming that Saudi Arabia assisted Israel with its airstrike in the Golan Heights on Sunday, in which several terrorists and an Iranian general were killed, Israel’s NRG News reported Wednesday.
Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah say that the Saudis back some of the anti-government militias fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Large-scale cooperation between Israeli and Saudi intelligence bodies as well as the terrorist groups in Syria has played a crucial role in monitoring Hezbollah’s movements in the Golan Heights,” Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television reported.
Sheikh indicted for calling for ‘slaughter of Jews’
According to allegations, Abu Sara addressed worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, calling Jews “the most evil of Allah’s creations,” and warned of their inevitable and impending massacre.
According to the indictment, Sara’s incendiary sermon led to calls of support from worshipers.
“I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come. The time to fight you has come. The time to kill you has come… Please do not leave in our hearts a single grain of mercy toward you, O Jews, because when the day of your slaughter arrives, we shall slaughter you without mercy,” Abu Sara could be seen saying in a video recording of the sermon.
He then said a battle with the Jews draws near, and praised the Islamic State “caliphate” as one of the vehicles for the Jewish people’s destruction.
“By Allah, the Jews are the most evil of Allah’s creations. They are the most evil creatures to have walked this Earth.” Sara said. “They [Jews] were the masters of these vile traits, and they taught their secrets to others.”
Throughout Abu Sara’s speech, an unseen crowd could be heard replying “amen” several times. (h/t Bob Knot)
Haifa University Arabs Observe Moment of Silence for 'Martyrs'
Arab students at Haifa University stood for a moment of silence Tuesday in memory of the “martyrs” (“shaheeds”) killed and injured in the riots in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat by what they call the “racist regime.”
Last week, Israeli police entered Rahat in search of drug dealers and fatally shot Sami al-Ja’ar. Subsequently, riots broke out in the city. Another resident, Sami al-Zayadna, died of a heart attack on Sunday as officers tried to use tear gas to fend off the rioters, and an estimated 22 people were injured, among them the mayor.
In addition to the moment of silence, Arab students groups at Haifa University planned two demonstrations to protest police brutality.
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, said: “It’s ridiculous that over the years radical Arab activists come to the university with the goal of taking advantage of the campus and turning it into an anti-democratic and anti-Israel political hotbed. Arab university students today hardly register for classes. All they do is spend their days looking for provocations against Israel because it promotes their position in the village.
"We are speaking here of an academic institution, not the private home of MK Hanin Zoabi,” he noted.
Hamas' Deif reportedly tells Hezbollah's Nasrallah: Let's unite against Zionist enemy
Mohammed Deif, the Gaza-based military commander of Hamas who is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts by Israel, sent a letter of condolence to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah expressing sorrow for the deaths of those killed in the suspected Israeli airstrike on the Golan Heights on Sunday.
“All of the forces of resistance must band together and unite against the Zionist enemy and its accomplices,” Deif is reported to have written in the letter.
Israel has acknowledged trying to assassinate Deif during the recent military offensive in Gaza, though there are conflicting reports as to his condition. Hamas insists that Deif is alive.
Hezbollah TV reported that Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas deputy political bureau chief, also sent a letter of support. Al Manar reported that Haniyeh expressed “deepest condolences” to “the families of martyrs” while denouncing “the assassination of enemy leaders.”
Yemen coup could spell trouble for local Jewish community
A takeover of the Yemenite capital of Sanaa by Houthi rebels may put the country’s Jewish community at risk given the Shi’ite group’s track record.
“It is clear they are in danger” due to “religious hate” and “extreme Islam,” University of Haifa professor emeritus Yosef Tobi said, although he was hesitant to make specific predictions.
Sanaa’s Jewish community lives in a guarded district under the protection of the central government, after fleeing to the capital from the town of Saada following Houthis threats in 2007.
“We warn you to leave the area immediately... Ignore this message, and we give you a period of 10 days, and you will regret it,” a Houthi representative warned the Jewish community of Saada at the time.
“Rising societal tensions, and the government’s lack of resources and capacity to protect [the Jews] adequately from increased threats in late 2008 and early 2009, led to increased emigration of the community,” according to a report on the US State Department website.
After the Houthi rebels entered the capital last year, supporters gathered in the streets, some chanting “Death to America! Death to the Jews! Victory to Islam.” The Houthi logo features the phrases “Death to Israel” and “Damn the Jews.”

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