Wednesday, October 17, 2018

From Ian:

Rocket fired from Gaza hits house in Beersheba; causes heavy damage, no injuries
Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at the southern city of Beersheba early Wednesday that landed and exploded in the courtyard of a house, causing serious damage, but no injuries.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had identified two launches from Gaza. One targeted Beersheba located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Strip. A second rocket was fired out to sea and landed off the coast of a major city in the Tel Aviv area.

Rocket attacks on Beersheba are rare and considered a major escalation. The attack came after Israel’s defense minister warned the military was gearing up for a major strike on Gaza to stop ongoing violence.

Rocket warning sirens blared at 3:40 a.m. and residents reported hearing a loud blast. The rocket landed in the courtyard of a private house. No one was hurt in the explosion but five people were being treated for anxiety.

A Magen David Adom medic said among those treated were a mother and her three children. The woman had lightly hurt her head when she fell running to the bomb shelter when the siren went off, he said, adding that they were taken to a hospital.

It was only the second rocket fired at Beersheba since the 2014 Gaza war. The previous rocket struck a field north of Beersheba on August 9 and came as Palestinians fired dozens of projectiles at Israeli communities along the Gaza border.

Netanyahu: Israel will act with 'great strength' against Hamas
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an emergency cabinet meeting in light of the rocket attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip Wednesday, according to a statement released by the prime minister's office.

"Israel views very seriously the attacks against it along the fence, in the Gaza border region and in Beersheba, everywhere. I said at the opening of the cabinet meeting this week that if these attacks do not stop, we will stop them.

"I want to say today: Israel will act with great strength," the prime minister said.

Netanyahu met with the snipers who identified the unit of Palestinian balloon launchers who were killed this morning in an IDF strike.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli Air Force struck 20 Hamas terror targets across the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning after long range rockets struck a home in the southern city of Beersheba while another fell in the sea next to a central Israeli city.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis held Hamas responsible for the attack.

Hamas "creates an atmosphere of terror in the demonstrations near the border fence, where grenades have been thrown in recent weeks," Manelis said.
ICC issues harsh warning to Israel of possible war crimes in Gaza
With Israeli-Gaza fighting heating up, the International Criminal Court Prosecution on Wednesday gave its sternest warning yet to Israel on Hamas and the Khan al-Ahmar dispute.

"I am...alarmed by the continued violence, perpetrated by actors on both sides, at the Gaza border with Israel," Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

Continuing, she said, "As Prosecutor seized of the situation in Palestine, I therefore feel compelled to remind all parties that the situation remains under preliminary examination by my Office. I continue to keep a close eye on the developments on the ground and will not hesitate to take any appropriate action, within the confines of the independent and impartial exercise of my mandate under the Rome Statute, with full respect for the principle of complementarity."

While the statement had several qualifications to it which could still allow the ICC Prosecution to decide to stay out of criminally investigating Israel and Hamas for alleged war crimes relating to the ongoing border conflict, the timing and the threat were unmistakable.

Following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning, which destroyed a home in the city of Beersheba, and an IDF strike on the Palestinian coastal enclave in response, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis held Palestinian faction Hamas responsible for the attack.

Rocket sirens were heard in Gaza border communities on Wednesday morning at 8:32 a.m. In response, the Israeli Air Force hit several terror targets across the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian reports, at least ten Gazans were injured and one was killed in the strikes which occurred across the coastal enclave.

Her unprecedented statement also seemed to tip its hand toward considering demolitions of Beduin housing as war crimes.

IDF says 20 Gaza targets bombed, including tunnels; blames Hamas for rockets
The Israeli military bombed 20 “military facilities” in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, the army said, in response to a predawn rocket attack that struck a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, causing damage but no injury.

A second rocket fired from Gaza landed off the coast of the greater Tel Aviv area, known in Israel as Gush Dan, which consists of the metropolis itself along with a number of large suburbs.

The Israel Defense Forces said it held the Hamas terror group, which rules the coastal enclave, responsible for the attack, regardless of which group specifically launched the rockets.

“There are only two organizations in Gaza that have this caliber of rocket: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. “It’s not hard to narrow down who’s behind it.”

However, in a joint statement, Hamas and PIJ publicly condemned the rocket attack, saying it was “irresponsible” and threatened to derail an Egypt-led negotiation effort.

In response to the early morning rocket attack, the IDF said it bombed some 20 targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including an attack tunnel being dug toward Israel from outside the city of Khan Younis.

The military later released footage of its strike on the underground site, which the army said was the 16th tunnel it destroyed since last year.

‘Hero’ mom asks for help after Beersheba home destroyed by Gaza rocket
The Beersheba family whose home was destroyed by a direct hit from a Gazan rocket early Wednesday has issued a public plea for help to get back on their feet.

“I don’t have a home now,” said Miri Tamano, who managed to pull her three sons, ages 8, 9 and 12, into the apartment’s bomb shelter moments before the rocket struck. “[But] I have three children, and each one is the whole world,” said Tamano, a single mother who is raising the boys alone.

The explosion, which took place shortly before 4 a.m., knocked over several of the home’s walls and destroyed most of its contents.

“Because of her quick wits, only property was harmed,” Miri’s sister Ora told reporters Wednesday morning.

“My sister is a lioness,” Ora said. When the rocket sirens went off in the middle of the night, “she just grabbed the kids by force and dragged them to the shelter. That’s why they’re alive.”

“Right now we’re just trying to get things back to a routine, as much as possible, for the kids, to calm my sister down. Everyone is telling her she’s a hero, but she can’t stop crying.”

Palestinian Rocket Destroys Beersheba Home. AFP Rocket Caused ‘Damage to Garden’
At 3:40 a.m. this morning, a home in Beersheva was destroyed and later deemed uninhabitable when it suffered a direct hit from an Palestinian rocket attack. At the sound of the alarm, the mother raced her three children to the home's reinforced room, which was what saved them. Instead of reporting that a home in a major Israeli city was destroyed when it took a direct hit from a rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip, the Agence France Presse falsely reported that a Palestinian rocket attack "caused damage to the garden of a family home" ("Israel pounds Gaza after first rocket fire in weeks").

Indeed, at no point does the article state that an Israeli house was actually hit in the Palestinian rocket fire, a major escalation in recent violence. Only in the fifth paragraph does the news agency mention the hit on the property, falsely depicting it as affecting only the garden:

Gaza militants fired two rockets before dawn, one of which caused damage to the garden of a family home in the southern city of Beersheva, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away, the Israeli army said.

The family of three children escaped injury but were treated for shock at the scene, the Israeli army said.

AFP's own photos demonstrate that the home was destroyed, and the accompanying caption makes clear that a house "was hit."
WATCH: IDF eliminates terror cell during preparation for rocket attack
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit released a video Wednesday that the IDF said shows a group of Palestinian militants preparing to launch a rocket towards the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

The video shows one individual loading the shells into the launcher, and then, seconds later, the IDF strike in response. The rockets and the terrorists then disappear in a dramatic and smoke-filled explosion.
Is this what the media mean by "Palestinian casualties" ...?
In just the past hours terrorists in Gaza are firing rockets at Israel, and Israel is hitting them back, often as they fire. And now it's on video. When the media rush to talk about "Palestinian casualties," will they tell you the whole story?

Egypt, UN scramble to restore calm after Gaza flareup
A tentative calm settled in and around the Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon, hours after a rocket attack from the territory triggered a string of Israeli airstrikes, sparking fears of war.

According to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center, calm was restored after Egyptian security officials held “intensive communications” with Israel and the Palestinian factions.

The latest exchange began in the predawn hours of Wednesday, when terrorists fired one rocket at the southern city Beersheba and a second landed in the Mediterranean Sea near Tel Aviv, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In the hours after the rocket fire, Israeli fighter jets bombed some 20 targets in Gaza, the army said. One Palestinian was killed, apparently while attempting to fire a rocket at Israel, and several were reported wounded.

A group of Egyptian security officials including Ahmed Abdelkhaliq, the official in charge of the Palestinian file in the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, arrived in Gaza on Tuesday.
Hamas denies responsibility for attack; IDF: Only Hamas has these rockets
The Israeli Air Force struck 20 Hamas terror targets across the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning after long range rockets struck a home in the southern city of Beersheba while another fell in the sea next to a central Israeli city.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis held Hamas responsible for the attack.

Hamas "creates an atmosphere of terror in the demonstrations near the border fence, where grenades have been thrown in recent weeks," Manelis said.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad had earlier denied responsibility for the rocket fire. "We reject any irresponsible attempt to destroy the Egyptian efforts," to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel, the joint statement said, "including the rocket fire last night."

However, Manelis dismissed the groups' claim. "Only Hamas and Islamic Jihad have these type of rockets," he said.
JCPA: Hamas Attack Tunnels Are Still a Serious Danger
The important lesson that can be derived from these statements is that there is no place for indifference despite the great technological achievements of Israel’s security forces in locating tunnels along the border of the Gaza Strip. Over the past year, the IDF may have located 15 tunnels, but it seems that there are still more intact attack tunnels that Hamas plans to use for carrying out terror attacks.

The military wing of Hamas has not yet given up on its plan to make a painful “pre-emptive strike” on Israel via the invasion tunnels. For this reason, this matter should be taken very seriously.

If Hamas manages to abduct civilians or soldiers from the Gaza border via these tunnels, taking them into the Gaza Strip, it will have carried out a strategic attack that could change the rules of the game and lead to a new war in the Gaza Strip. Israel will not accept such an act of terror and would react very strongly.

To recall, Hamas used a tunnel to kidnap IDF soldier Gilad Shalit on June 25, 2006. He was held captive for more than five years and released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners.

Specifically at this time, therefore, while Hamas is publicly and openly discussing the possibility of kidnapping soldiers and civilians from Israeli territory to bring success to the “Return March” campaign, it is essential for Israel to increase vigilance with regard to anything connected to the tunnels penetrating the communities on the Gaza periphery and attempts to abduct soldiers carrying out their duties along the border fence.
Palestinians use explosives to damage Israel-Gaza border fence
Sections of the security fence along the border with the Gaza Strip were damaged Tuesday by explosive devices set off by Palestinian rioters in the southern Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said.

In a separate incident, a group of Palestinians broke through the Gaza security fence and approached an IDF post. Troops fired warning shots at the men, who ran back into Gaza, the army said in a statement.

Approximately 100 Palestinians clashed with troops along the border, according to the army. IDF units responded with tear gas and live fire. Two Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops, the Shehab news agency reported.

The violence came hours after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called on his fellow ministers to approve a large-scale military campaign against the Hamas terror group in Gaza in light of the ongoing riots.

According to the defense minister’s assessment, a “serious blow” to Hamas would result in four to five years of calm along the Gaza border — akin to the quiet that persisted from the end of the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, until the start of the current round of clashes in late March — a few limited skirmishes notwithstanding.
U.N. ups Palestinians' status, makes it head of Group of 77
The UN General Assembly voted 146-3 to place the “State of Palestine” at the head of a group of 134 member nations, known as the Group of 77 and China. There were 15 abstentions.

Israel, the United States and Australia opposed the move. The 15 nations that abstained were: Andorra, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, The Czech Republic, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Monaco, Poland, Slovakia and Tuvalu.

After the vote, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said, “The Palestinians are not a UN member state or any state at all. The United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians.

“Today’s UN mistake undermines the prospects for peace by encouraging the illusion held by some Palestinian leaders that they can advance their goals without direct peace negotiations. In fact, today’s vote does nothing to help the Palestinian people,” Haley said.

Her office added, “The United States does not recognize a Palestinian state, notes that no such state has been admitted as a UN member state, and does not believe that the Palestinians are eligible to be admitted as a UN member state.”
Press Release: Ambassador Haley on a Vote Regarding the Status of the Palestinian Delegation at the United Nations
Today, the United States voted against a UN General Assembly resolution granting the Palestinians privileges at the United Nations as chair of the “Group of 77” – a coalition of developing Member States at the UN. The United States does not recognize a Palestinian state, notes that‎ no such state has been admitted as a UN Member State, and does not believe that the Palestinians are eligible to be admitted as a UN Member State. The U.S. strongly opposes the Palestinian election as Chair of the G77, as well as the so-called enabling resolution in the UN General Assembly.

“The Palestinians are not a UN Member State or any state at all. The United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians. Today’s UN mistake undermines the prospects for peace by encouraging the illusion held by some Palestinian leaders that they can advance their goals without direct peace negotiations. In fact, today’s vote does nothing to help the Palestinian people,” said Ambassador Haley.
U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Explanation of Vote on a UN General Assembly Resolution Enabling the Palestinians to Act as Chair of the Group of 77
For decades, the United States has been committed to achieving a comprehensive end to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Israelis and Palestinians achieve the peace that they both deserve.

That remains our goal today. We cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations.

The United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state and notes that no such state has been admitted as a UN Member State. Therefore, we strongly oppose the Palestinian election as Chair of the G77, as well as this so-called enabling resolution.

If this misguided resolution is adopted, the United States will leave no doubt about where we stand. When the Palestinians speak as Chair of the G77 in the General Assembly, we will remind our fellow Member States that the United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state and that no such state has been admitted as a UN Member State.

Only UN Member States should be entitled to speak and act on behalf of major groups of states at the United Nations, such as the Group of 77 and China. It is entirely inappropriate for an observer to play the role of representing a group of states in the General Assembly or elsewhere in the United Nations system.

The United States has long opposed enhancements of Palestinian status at the United Nations. We voted against the General Assembly’s resolution designating the Palestinian delegation as a non-member Observer State. We have consistently and formally objected to Palestinian accession to treaties to which we are a party. That is because, as we said, the United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state, and we do not consider ourselves to be in a treaty relationship with the “State of Palestine.”

White House ‘reviewing’ bipartisan bill promoting Palestinian fund
The Trump administration is “reviewing legislation” that would create an investment fund for the Palestinian economy, a White House official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The bill, introduced by Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress last week, proposes the establishment of a Palestinian Partnership Fund that would “promote joint economic development and finance joint ventures between Palestinian entrepreneurs and companies in the United States, Israel and countries in the Middle East.”

A senior group of senators on the Foreign Relations Committee introduced the legislation just two days after meeting with members of US President Donald Trump’s peace team on Capitol Hill. But sources say the bill, which would encourage “people-to-people” exchanges and community building across dividing lines of the conflict, was not drafted in conjunction with the White House on its peace effort.

That effort is still largely under wraps, and details of the plan were not shared at the Hill briefing with bipartisan members of the committee, among whom included Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Corey Gardner of Colorado and Democrats Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Coons of Delaware, co-authors of the recent legislation, an administration official said.

Neither administration nor congressional sources would comment on the timing of the legislation, introduced just months before the president plans to roll out his peace plan. Trump told reporters in New York last month that he would like to release his team’s proposals by the end of the year.
Meeting of U.S., Israel Army Chiefs Shows Strong Military-to-Military Relationship
The meeting between United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Israeli Chief of the Israeli General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot shows the “strong military-to-military relationship” enjoyed by the two nations, a readout of the meeting on Monday stated.

Dunford “affirmed the U.S. commitment to its relationship with Israel.” The statement reinforced that the U.S. and Israel are “key partners committed to peace and security in the Middle East region.”

Eisenkot met with Dunford in Washington D.C. before traveling to New York to speak at the Friends of the IDF annual dinner, Monday evening, The Times of Israel reported.

While in Washington, Eisenkot participated in his second consecutive Counter–Violent Extremist Organizations conference for military commanders. It was the third annual conference, but Israel was not invited to participate two years ago. While a statement from the IDF said that Eisenkot would meet with U.S. and foreign military officials, it did not specify which nations’ military leaders he would meet with.

Lebanon’s army chief boycotted last year’s conference because of Eisenkot’s appearance, but military leaders from Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia attended. (h/t MtTB)
IDF Chief Spoke in DC with his Counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot spoke with the Saudi chief of staff, Fayyad bin Hamad al-Ruwaili, on the sidelines of a meeting of military heads in the United States.

Kan, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, on Tuesday night reported that the Israeli and Saudi military leaders discussed the Iranian issue, about which their views are similar.

In addition to his Saudi counterpart, Chief of Staff Eizenkot also held talks with other heads of armies in the region. Pictures from the conference distributed by the US Army, show Eizenkot sitting one table away from the Jordanian chief of staff, and at a table nearby the Egyptian chief of staff and the chief of staff of the Bahrain army.

The connection between Israel and the Arab states has strengthened in recent years, due to their joint struggle in Iran, but also as a result of the civil war in Syria and the fight against ISIS. These issues were the focal points of the talks during meeting of the heads of the armies.

The IDF Spokesperson declined to comment on the Kan, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation story.
New poll: Trump’s Israel policies don’t sway most US Jews
US President Donald Trump’s policies toward Israel are not generating support for him among American Jews, a poll released Wednesday found.

While a slim majority of American Jews said they approved of Trump’s handling of relations with the Jewish state, the vast majority said that would not cause them to vote for him.

The survey, by The Mellman Group, found that 51 percent of American Jewish respondents said they approved of the president’s US-Israel approach, but just 6% said they would vote for him due to his Israel policies despite differing from him on other issues. Moreover, 20% said they agreed with Trump on Israel, but would still would not vote for him.

The Mellman Group is a Democratic polling service. The report surveyed 800 voters nationally who it said reflected the 2018 Jewish electorate. The interviews, which were conducted online, ran from October 2 to October 11. The survey’s margin of error is 3.5% and it has a 95% level of confidence. It was conducted on behalf of the Jewish Electorate Institute

The poll also found that American Jews — long loyal to the Democratic Party — remained that way, with 75% of respondents saying they planned to vote for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms. Sixty-eight percent said they identified with the Democratic Party, whereas 25% said they did with the Republican Party.
REPORT: Hungary Calls on EU to Cease Funding NGOs Hostile to Israel
Hungary’s foreign minister is believed to have called on the European Union to cease financially supporting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that oppose Israel or that facilitate illegal migration.

Sources told Euractiv that Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó raised the issue at a meeting of his counterparts in Luxembourg on Monday.

The suggestion was rejected by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini who said that the bloc had stringent checks are in the place for the NGOs it supports and that such support will continue, according to the source.

Mr Szijjártó was reportedly to have targetted charities supporting anti-Israel boycott and divestment (BDS) campaigns, and asked for the bloc to ensure that NGOs “that engage in incitement to violence and hatred or engage in boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel” as well as those that “contribut[e] to illegal migration” via the Mediterranean Sea do not receive EU funding.

In May, Israel likewise called on the EU to stop funding BDS groups, which they said work to delegitimise and destroy the Jewish state.

Israel said that some of the NGOs that had received funding from the bloc in 2016 have links to Palestinian terror groups, naming specifically Norwegian People’s Aid, British group War on Want, the Dutch anti-war group PAX, and Palestinian organisation PNGO Net.
Barkat on UNRWA in East Jerusalem: Their schools teach terrorism
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called for the removal of UNRWA from Jerusalem, claiming that the agency’s schools incite terrorism.

“UNRWA strengthens terrorism,” Barkat said in a Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday. “I am revealing here a textbook, taught in their schools, that praises the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for the bloody bus attack in Herzliya that murdered 38 civilians.”

“This is what the children of Jerusalem are being taught under their care — terrorism,” Barkat added. “And this must stop.”

Of the 218 schools in east Jerusalem, 7 are funded by UNRWA, according to data presented in a 2018 United Nations Development Program (UNDP/PAPP) report.

Palestinians students represent 40% of all students in Jerusalem, “but due to the chronic shortage of classrooms in the municipal education system, only 41% of Palestinians students are enrolled in the official system,” the report said.

A second study conducted by Birzeit University in 2013 indicated that some families avoid enrolling their children in municipal schools that are perceived as promoting political agendas.
Poll: 77% of Israelis favor strikes on Iranian assets in Syria
Some 77% of Israelis believe Israel should continue ‎to strike Iranian assets in Syria, a new poll ‎commissioned by the Jerusalem Institute for ‎Strategic Studies has found.‎

The poll, released on Tuesday, was conducted by the Maagar Mochot polling ‎and research institution and questioned ‎‎501 respondents. ‎

It found that 56% of Israelis believe that ‎Israel must pursue hard-line policies, including ‎military operations, to thwart Iran's nuclear ‎ambitions. ‎

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they were ‎pleased with how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‎was dealing with the Iranian threat. ‎

Of those, 39% were not Likud voters. ‎

The poll also found that 38% of Israelis believe Iran ‎poses the biggest threat to Israel, followed by ‎Hamas (32%), the boycott, divestment and sanctions ‎movement (11%) and the Palestinian Authority (7%). ‎
Hamas Leader to Move to Israel After Discovering He’s 1/1024 Jewish (satire)
In a shocking turn, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced that he has renounced jihad and now supports Zionism after a DNA test revealed that he is nearly 0.1 percent Jewish.

Haniyeh now says he will move to Israel, practice Judaism and join the Likud party, a dramatic turnaround for a leader who previously vowed to destroy the Jewish state. He announced the findings in a heartfelt video posted to his campaign website, which featured the former terrorist learning the results of the DNA test.

His announcement drew mockery from rival politicians, with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi referring to him as “Yentl the Yeshiva boy” during a series of political rallies.

But the issue was no laughing matter for some world leaders. The announcement has already cost Haniyeh his position as chair of the UN Human Rights Council, while UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn will no longer return his phone calls and former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters refuses to perform at his upcoming Bar Mitzvah.
Russia Giving Syria the S-300 Is More Message than Menace
Why did the Russians give a more advanced version of an anti-aircraft system to Syria, an incompetent ally who just shot down their plane? Wouldn't the delivery only raise the risk for Russians operating in Syrian airspace?

For the Kremlin, the delivery of the S-300 is about assertion of further dominance in Syria. It is a political statement to the West, and everyone else in the region: Russia is here to stay.

The S-300 gives Assad (and therefore Moscow) options they didn't previously have to undermine the U.S. position in Syria. It potentially will provide additional cover to Iran's and Assad's activities in Syria. It could also complicate U.S. and coalition operations against ISIS.

Learning to operate an S-300 takes months of serious training. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced it will take three months to train Syrians to operate the S-300. Yet the Syrians have been deploying the Soviet-provided S-200 for over 30 years, and still managed to shoot down a Russian plane. Putin's confidence in Syrian military competence is undoubtedly low and casts doubt on Shoigu's deadline.

The S-300 is a powerful weapon but it has limitations. It has been around since the 1970s. U.S. and Israeli militaries have studied it for years and know its capabilities. Air surveillance and battle management also matters. If the air surveillance system is too slow to see an aircraft, for example, it doesn't matter how strong the S-300 system is.
MEMRI: Criticism In Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon Over Hizbullah's Involvement In Yemen, Support For Houthis
n the recent months, tensions have increased between the Yemeni government and Hizbullah, who is accused of supporting and arming the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The tension between the two sides rose after a Houthi delegation openly visited Lebanon on August 18, 2018 and met with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. The reports of this visit joined numerous other reports about support extended by Hizbullah to the Houthis on the rhetorical, financial and military levels.

Elements in the Yemeni government, as well as in the Saudi-led Arab coalition that is fighting the Houthis, have long been claiming to have evidence that Hizbullah is involved in the Yemen war and that its operatives have even been killed fighting alongside the Houthis. In November 2017, Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir also accused Hizbullah of being behind the firing of a rocket from Yemen towards Riyadh. In addition, elements in the Yemeni government were enraged when, in a June 2018 speech, Nasrallah expressed support for the Houthis and said he wished could fight at their side. Responding to the criticism, Nasrallah said that he "neither confirmed nor denied" that Hizbullah operatives were present in Yemen.

These incidents prompted the Yemeni government to launch a diplomatic campaign against Hizbullah's support of the Houthis, as part of which Yemen's foreign minister sent a letter of protest about this to his Lebanese counterpart. The Yemen government accused Hizbullah of interfering in the country's affairs and of abetting the bloodshed caused by the Houthis in Yemen, while stressing that Hizbullah was not carrying out Lebanon's agenda but rather Iran's. The government also demanded a UN investigation into Hizbullah's involvement in the Yemen war.

Following these events, Lebanese politicians and columnists attacked Hizbullah and justified Yemen's claims against it. They accused the organization of serving the agenda of Iran, of violating Lebanon's sovereignty and of exposing it to the danger of sanctions. It should be noted that similar criticism is heard in Lebanon over Hizbullah's involvement in Syria, Bahrain and Morocco.[1]
US sanctions network of banks, businesses backing Iran’s use of child soldiers
The Treasury Department on Tuesday targeted a network of banks and businesses that provides financial support to a paramilitary force in Iran, which allegedly trains and deploys child soldiers to fight with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The sanctions are part of the US economic campaign to pressure Iran to radically alter its policies, including developing ballistic missiles, supporting regional militant groups, and violating human rights.

The Treasury Department said the Bonyad Taavon Basij network is an example of how the IRGC and Iranian military forces have expanded economic involvement in major industries and infiltrated seemingly legitimate businesses to fund terrorism and other malign activities.

“This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real world humanitarian consequences. This helps fuel the Iranian regime’s violent ambitions across the Middle East.”

The sanctions prohibit Americans from doing business with the network or its affiliates and freeze assets they have under US jurisdiction.

The Trump administration has been steadily restoring sanctions on Iran since he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord in May. Iran has been grappling with an economic crisis in recent months, with its currency plunging to historic lows and sporadic protests breaking out. The first set of sanctions, which were eased under the terms of the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, was re-imposed in August. A second, more sweeping set of sanctions is set to be re-imposed in early November.

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