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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Hezbollah’

Hezbollah-Israel Conflict: an Unwanted Development

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

The two rockets fired from Syria that exploded in Israel’s Golan Heights at 1 PM today signifies a new peak in tensions being felt in Israel’s northern borders. Whether tensions on Israel’s northern front continue to flare or dwindle down remains to be seen.

Tensions began to flare on January 18, after the bombing of a Hezbollah convoy on Syrian territory. Twelve people were killed in the attack; all of them Iranian and Hezbollah soldiers. The bombing was widely attributed to Israel.

Since the convoy bombing, high levels of tension have been felt all along Israel’s northern borders. The main concern is a Hezbollah retaliation that could drag Israel into an unwanted military campaign.

In a couple of incidents during the last nine days, the IDF detected suspicious movements on the Lebanese-Israeli border. The immediate suspicion was that Hezbollah terrorists were trying to infiltrate Israel. Precaution measures were taken as roads were blocked and civilians were ordered to remain at home in the Upper Galilee region.

Tamir Duadi, a volunteer at Kibbutz Manara’s Emergency Squad, spoke to Tazpit News Agency about one of those incidents. “We were on lockdown for about 90 minutes. It is not a common event but we do get high threat levels from time to time. Since the bombing of the Hezbollah convoy, IDF forces are much more present in our region,” Duadi told Tazpit News Agency.

Dr. Ely Karmon, an expert on terror and Hezbollah from the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, told Tazpit News Agency that he doesn’t think a war between Hezbollah and Israel is likely to erupt. “Hezbollah can’t handle a Syrian front and an Israeli front. Hezbollah has already lost more than 1,000 combatants in Lebanon; a second front will weaken their organization substantially.”

According to Dr. Yehuda Blanga, an expert on Middle-East politics from Bar-Ilan University, “respect and prestige will probably compel Hezbollah to retaliate against the alleged Israeli convoy bombing, though, retaliation will be specific and well measured, because Hezbollah does not want a war with Israel.” He told Tazpit News Agency.

The two rockets which were fired today compelled an Israeli retaliation. Artillery shells were fired into Syrian territory. In addition, roads were blocked by the IDF, and Israeli civilians were instructed to remain in proximity to protected spaces.

A security source told Tazpit News Agency that “Israel has no desire in a violent escalation. We hope our retaliation to the two rockets exploding in the Golan Heights will suffice. We are now waiting to see what will be the response on the Syrian side of the fence.”

Mount Hermon Ski Resort Reopens After Rocket Attack

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

After a day in which a double rocket attack sent security and military officials to evacuate nearly a thousand people, visitors are being invited to return to the Mount Hermon Ski Resort site.

The decision came in the wake of a security assessment by the IDF and managers of the ski resort. The site was closed for most of the day Tuesday after Code Red rocket alert sirens sounded throughout the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.

Both rockets fired from Syria landed in open areas, reportedly causing no property damage and no injury to civilians. The IDF returned artillery fire to the source of the attack and said it identified “a direct hit.”

A senior Israeli security source told reporters that the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization was behind the attack.

Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebel factions in the ongoing civil war taking place in the north.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that “Israel regards with severity the attack today from Syrian territory.

“Those who play with fire get burned,” he warned.

Iranian News: ‘Teheran Targeted Netanyahu’s Sons’ in Retaliation

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Iran continues to be enraged by the deaths of at least half a dozen Hezbollah terrorists and an Iranian general from an Israeli attack last week in Syria. The attack took place near Quneitra, on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards confirmed that a member of their force, General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, was among those “martyred” by the Israeli operation.

In retaliation, as reported by Jerusalem Online citing an Iranian news source, a detailed plan has been uncovered that includes targeting for assassination the sons of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In addition to Netanyahu’s sons, family members of former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert are also targeted for assassination.

Jerusalem Online claims that the Mashark news site is “known for being in close relations with the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards.”

Not only were the names of the current and former prime ministers’ sons disclosed as part of the alleged retaliatory assassination plan, but so were photos of the family members as well as information allegedly about their whereabouts and recent activities.

Both Hezbollah leaders as well as senior members of the Revolutionary Guards have been making explicit public threats about actions they will take to avenge the loss of their members in the strike by Israel.

Among Hezbollah’s dead was Jihad Mughniyeh and Mohammed Issa, a commander responsible for Hezbollah’s operations in Syria and Iraq. Mugniyah’s father, another terrorist commander, died in a 2008 car bombing.

Israel Extends Reservists’ Duty in North

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

The IDF has extended duty for Reservist units in the north as part of its maximum later presence in the wake of Hezbollah threats to retaliate against Israel for last week’s aerial strike that killed a dozen Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers and commanders..

The high tension that is gripping the north was illustrated on Sunday by an IDF order that temporarily closed roads because of a “possible security incident.”

The defense establishment is jumpy, to say the least. It is not taking any chances with the lives of Israelis, even if it means lots of false alarms and extending reserve duty for soldiers who are bored stiff by the lack of action, which is exactly why the IDF has deployed them. A bored soldier is a lot better than his absence, which is a sign for the enemy to attack.

One important deterrent to Hezbollah retaliation is increasing anger against Hezbollah among  Lebanese politicians. The Lebanese army has tightened its security along the eastern border with Syria following attacks on Friday by radical Islamists who killed eight Lebanese soldiers and wounded 22.

The spillover into Lebanon  form the war of what remains of Syria is hurting Lebanon economically.

The U.S. Department of State issued a new travel warning advisory to Lebanon and cited reports of a possible suicide attack at a casino and hotel.

“The development serves as an important reminder of the ongoing security concerns in Lebanon – even in areas which are normally considered less dangerous,” the advisory stated.

It urged U.S. citizens not to travel to Lebanon due to “safety and security concerns.”

Obama’s Policies Bring the Golan to a Boil

Sunday, January 25th, 2015
The attack in the Golan this week, on a convoy of

Hezbollah operatives and Iranian military officials, is a sign that things are going to get worse in the volatile area that encompasses southern Lebanon, Syria, northern Jordan, and northern Israel.  (See also here and here.)

Among those killed were high-ranking Iranian officials connected with Hezbollah’s use of Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles, and with Iranian Special Forces units that focus on raids and small-unit tactics.  In the words of a retired Israeli general (see first link, and below), this was a very high-level convoy, clearly preparing for serious incursions against northern Israel.

Meanwhile, we’ve reached the point in the post-Arab Spring Middle East at which many of the spin-off developments – perhaps most of them – are a consequence of the policies followed by the Obama administration.  Although there have been long-term policy failures, it’s a specific, proximate policy failure that opened the door to the current result in the Golan Heights.

Because of the strategic importance of the terrain, Iran and Hezbollah have been building infrastructure there for some time.  But their interest in the Golan skyrocketed in December.

A door opened by the Obama administration

The reason: ISIS gained a foothold there when the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army “defected” from the de facto alliance with the U.S.-Arab coalition against Assad, and declared its allegiance to ISIS.  The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had been one of the most active rebel factions holding territory directly adjacent to the “area of separation” between Syria and Israel administered (in theory) by the UN.  In particular, it has held the southern line of confrontation with Syrian regime forces, in the transit corridor leading to the Quneitra border crossing.

That defection didn’t happen in a vacuum.  It happened because in early December, the Obama administration disclosed (through the back door), after more than two years of cooperation with the FSA, that it would not be working with them to build a defense force in Syria.

Situation in the Golan and southwestern Syria. (Map source: Wikimedia Commons; author annotation)

Situation in the Golan and southwestern Syria. (Map source: Wikimedia Commons; author annotation)

The point here is not that Obama should have stayed with the wrong allies.  The point is that passivity, lack of leadership, and ally-hopping have consequences.  Part of picking allies is shaping who they are and what expectations they have.  It starts with having common and enduring goals with those allies, which keep both sides committed.  These things matter to a responsible power, at any rate.  The Obama administration has consistently failed to exhibit signs of being one.

The failure has had a game-changing result in the Golan.  Now ISIS is there, with an entrenched infrastructure handed to it by FSA factions, and Iran can’t afford to ignore that.  Iran isn’t going to let ISIS build up a stronghold of its own on the Syrian border with Israel.

But don’t imagine that that means Iran and ISIS will be having at it.  Think Persian.  Certainly, the Iranians and Hezbollah want to be able to operate in the Golan, and attack Israel from it.  But Iran and Hezbollah don’t want to invite retaliation from Israel on southern Lebanon, where it’s important to them to protect their own stronghold.  Iran would like to get Israel shooting into Syria.

Israel has so far managed to keep that necessity limited.  Until very recently, the impression of the situation in the Golan has been that it is relatively stable: worrisome, but not unstable to the point of being an exploitable opportunity for one or more bad guys.  Iran would like to change that, in part because preoccupying the Israelis with self-defense is the key to limiting Israel’s strategic reach against Iran.  The objects of that reach include, but are not limited to, the nuclear and missile programs inside Iran.

Hezbollah Vows to Attack Israel ‘With Wisdom’

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization reassured the Beirut government last week it would use “wisdom” in attacking Israel and take Lebanon into consideration. Israel calmly beefed up military forces in the north and flew sorties over southern Lebanon.

Sunni Future Movement parliamentarian Ahmad Fatfat told the Elnashra news agency last week, “Fears of war between Hezbollah and Israel exist after [Hezbollah] showed no concern [for] the Lebanese interests as it implements an Iranian agenda.”

The secular party’s lawmaker made his remark in reference to a public vow by Iranian officials to avenge the death of a general from the elite Iranian Revolutional Guards unit. Hezbollah has long been serving as Iran’s proxy in Lebanon. The Iranian officer was killed last week with five others in his unit and six Hezbollah terrorists, including three commanders, when their convoy was attacked near Quneitra in Syria, in an airstrike attributed to Israel.

The IDF has not confirmed the attack.

“Hezbollah has not only the courage [to stand up to Israel] but also a high degree of wisdom,” said Lebanese government minister Muhammad Fneish. Also a member of Hezbollah, Fneish continued, “Whenever the response will come, Lebanon’s interests will be taken into consideration before anything,” he added, according to the Saturday edition of Kuwaiti daily “Al Anba’a.”

Fneish’s comments and the Al Anba’a article were translated Saturday by the Hebrew-language news website, Mako.

Also on Saturday, Israeli warplanes flew sorties over southern Lebanon and in the Beka’a Valley, according to Lebanese media. The move was part of a general military buildup by Israeli forces in the north.

On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces moved a number of troops up to the northern border area and security briefings were held at Northern Command headquarters in Tzefat.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met at headquarters with Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Operations Branch head Maj.-Gen. Yoav Har Ev, and other senior command officers.

Ya’alon told reporters following the meeting that Israel will not tolerate attempts to harm its citizens. The IDF would respond “with force against any such attempt,” Ya’alon said.

Argentina Releases Nisman’s Evidence of Officials’ Cover-Up for Iran

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Judicial officials in Argentina dropped a bombshell Thursday and released the 300-page file prepared by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had been murdered earlier this week, on the day before he was to deliver his testimony regarding conspiracy involving the country’s president and its (Jewish) foreign minister.

President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner immediately declared that Nisman committed suicide but reversed herself Thursday, in the face of evidence to the contrary, as well as nationwide anger at Nisman’s death.

Nisman’s investigation focused on the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AIMA).

His report accused President Kirchner of “deciding, negotiating and arranging the impunity of the Iranian fugitives in the AMIA case.” She and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman allegedly “took the criminal decision of inventing Iran’s innocence to satisfy commercial, political and geopolitical interests of the Argentine republic.”

These officials planned to get Iran off the hook in return for oil and weapons, while imaginary suspects would be fingered for the bombing,

Nisman also charged Minister Timerman with obstructing justice and had prepared to ask that his assets, worth $23 million, be frozen.

Kirchner, after flip-flopping on the suicide theory, is now trying to convince the public that Nisman was duped by people whom he wrongfully thought were intelligence agents and who gave him false information.

Kirchner is acting the part of a concerned woman who feels sorry for Nisman for being misled by people who she says were trying to act against the government, used Nisman for their own purposes, and then finished him off when they had no more use for him.

How delightful. At least she no longer believes Nisman killed himself. It’s the bad people who did it.

Earlier this week, a locksmith debunked the theory that it must have been a suicide because the bathroom door was locked. He said the service door to the late prosecutor’s apartment was closed but unlocked.

Government prosecutor Viviana Fein said that the locksmith was mistaken, insisting that the service door of Alberto Nisman’s apartment was locked when his mother and the bodyguards arrived, the Buenos Aires Herald reported.

Fein explained the different versions by pointing out that there were two locks on the service door and that Nisman’s mother had unlocked one of them before the locksmith arrived.

Argentine senator Ernesto Sanz said that if Kirchner “thinks he was killed, she needs to remove Security (Ministry) chiefs. This is very serious… If they first thought that it was a suicide and now they don’t, it is because there is someone linked to the State who convinced them of this.”

Security Secretary Sergio Berni said Nisman’s apparent murder was an “operation against the government,” according to the Herald.

“Everyone understands that this was a big operation against the government,” Berni said in a radio interview, explaining that murdering Nisman only made his complaints more serious.

In other words, if someone murdered Nisman it was not to protect Kirchner but rather to make her appear even more suspicious.

In a country where bribery and lying are part of the culture, someone has to be paid to tell the truth and not a lie. it could very well be that Iran and Hezbollah got rid of Nisman, regardless of the consequences for Timerman and Kirchner.

The most interesting, if not incredible, view on the report released by judicial officials came from Secretary to the Presidency Aníbal Fernández, who was quoted by the Herald as saying, “The complaint was not even written by Nisman.”

Among those whom Nisman fingered as being involved in the deadly bombing are Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran; Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran’s foreign minister when the AIMA Jewish center was bombed; Ali Fallahian, former chief of the Iranian intelligence ministry; Mohsen Rezai, the former director of the Revolutionary Guards; Ahmad Vahidi, former head of the Quds Force and minister of defense; Ahmad Reza Asghari, former official at the Iranian embassy; Iran’s former ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimpanpour; and Mohsen Rabbani, former attaché of the Iranian embassy in Argentina.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/argentina-releases-nismans-evidence-of-officials-cover-up-for-iran/2015/01/23/

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