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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

According to Israeli security officials, Hizbullah is rebuilding its forces in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border, in areas where international forces are deployed with the specific charge of preventing the Lebanese militia’s rearming.

Yossi Baidatz, chief of military intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, also said Syria and Iran have been supplying Hizbullah with large quantities of rockets and weaponry, and that Hizbullah was preparing for a possible conflict with Israel this summer.

“Hizbullah is preparing itself for possible conflict in the summer, but [nevertheless] aspires to a period of calm in which to rehabilitate,” said Baidatz.

The intelligence chief’s remarks directly contradict statements in recent days from embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who told the Knesset earlier this week that Hizbullah’s situation in south Lebanon “has changed completely,” and that the terror group had been greatly damaged during Israel’s war in Lebanon last July and August.

Syrian Official Issues Golan Threat

If the Jewish state doesn’t vacate the Golan Heights in the near future, Golan residents living under Israeli administration will launch “resistance operations” aimed at prompting an Israeli retreat from the territory, an official from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Baath party told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview this week.

“Syria is ready to talk with Israel but only if negotiations lead to a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. There may be peace; there may be war. If there is no movement, Syrian resistance will be launched and not from the government but from the people of the Golan,” said the Baath party official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld.

“We [Syria] have weapons and soldiers on the border with Israel, but let’s face it, it’s difficult to amass tanks or launch any invasion because the U.N. mans the border. But Syrian residents of the Golan are ready to launch resistance,” the official claimed.

The Golan Heights is strategic mountainous territory looking down on Israeli and Syrian population centers captured by Israel after Damascus twice used the territory to attack the Jewish state. There are U.N. posts at international buffer areas between the Israeli and Syrian sides of the territory.

The Syrian representative’s statements come amid a flurry of reports this week in the Israeli media – first reported by this column three weeks ago – that Olmert is exploring the possibility of talks with Syria aimed at an Israeli retreat from the Golan.

Some analysts here have speculated that Olmert’s ratings could rise if he appealed to his leftist base by negotiating with the Palestinians or Syria.

Syria, which signed a military alliance with Iran, openly hosts Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. The U.S. has accused Syria of fueling and aiding the insurgency in Iraq. Israel says Syria has been allowing large quantities of weapons to be transported from its borders to Hizbullah. Syria has also been widely blamed for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Last weekend, Assad reportedly called for “better cooperation” between Damascus and Tehran in “the confrontation with the Zionist regime and the USA,” according to a report published Sunday by Iran’s official state news agency, IRNA.

Militants Claim ‘Big Victory’

Washington’s announcement last week of talks with Iraqi militants about a cease-fire arrangement is a “big victory” for the insurgency and demonstrates that the U.S. now recognizes the legitimacy of so-called terror groups, Palestinian terrorist leaders told this column.

In a briefing with reporters last Thursday, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the number two American commander in Iraq, said U.S. commanders at all levels are being empowered to reach out for talks with militants, tribes, religious leaders and others, including insurgents and sectarian rivals.

Reacting to Odierno’s announcement, Muhammad Abdel-El, spokesman and a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terror group, called truce talks with insurgents “a big victory for the resistance.”

“Americans are recognizing the resistance, the same resistance that they before called terrorism; now they are dealing with them, and this is the recognition of Iraqi resistance and recognition by the Americans of their own loss in Iraq,” said Abdel-El.

Abu Nasser Aziz, the deputy commander of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank, said that talks with Iraqi militants “shows America is recognizing its failure in Iraq and that the invasion of Iraq was judged by Allah to be a failure. This is a great victory for the resistance.”

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas’s so-called military wing in the Gaza Strip, said he suspects violence in Iraq will continue regardless of a cease-fire.

“Of course the resistance will continue,” he said.

Al Qaeda Branch Plans To Open in West Bank

Fatah al Islam, a Palestinian Lebanese group that boasts of connections to Al Qaeda, will shortly open a branch in the West Bank to attack the United States and Israel, according to a pamphlet distributed in the West Bank and obtained by WND.

The pamphlet stated that Fatah al Islam “in coming days” will hold a press conference in Nablus to announce the establishment of the group in the Palestinian territories.

Security officials associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization said they are working to ensure the press conference is not held, explaining the formation of Fatah al Islam in the West Bank would be highly embarrassing for Fatah.

Abbas has distanced himself from Fatah al Islam, which has been battling the Lebanese Army during the past three weeks.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs.

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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