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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘hizb’allah’

New Report Claims Missing IDF Officer Ron Arad Died Shortly After Being Captured

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

IDF Intelligence and the Mossad have submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two separate reports regarding the fate of the missing Air Force navigator Ron Arad, Channel 2 News reported Monday night. According to the reports, based on an extensive examination of the entire body of information regarding the missing airman, including new information that appeared over the past two years, Arad died after his first few years in captivity.

Lieutenant Colonel Ron Arad, born in 1958, has been officially classified as missing in action since October 16, 1986, when he and pilot Yishai Aviram were on a mission to attack PLO targets near Sidon, Lebanon. A bomb dropped by their F-4 plane exploded prematurely, causing damage to the aircraft and forcing both crewmen to eject. Aviram was located by an Israeli Cobra and escaped by clinging to one of its landing skids as it flew away under heavy enemy fire. Arad was captured by the Lebanese movement Amal.

Arad was brought to Beirut where he was held by then-head of security of Amal, Mustafa Dirani. Amal chief Nabih Berri announced that he was holding Arad, and proposed an exchange for Shiite and Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.

In 1987, three letters in Arad’s handwriting and two photos of a bearded Arad were received, proving he was still alive. The Israeli government negotiated for his release, but talks failed in 1988. From that point on no credible information about Arad has been received, while many unsubstantiated claims of his whereabouts are still being made.

Israeli commandos captured Hezbollah member Abdel Karim Obeid in 1989, and Mustafa Dirani in 1994,  and interrogated both of them about Arad’s fate. Dirani reportedly disclosed that in May 1988 Arad was turned over first to a Hezbollah unit and then to Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who may have taken him to Iran. Obeid and Dirani were released in 2004 as part of a prisoner exchange.

The IDF wanted to declare Arad as a fallen soldier whose burial-place is unknown, based on information funneled from Iran through a German source. But the navigator’s family rejected the idea, refusing to accept anything other than hard evidence. Several committees that examined the information regarding Arad have concluded the chances that he is alive are miniscule, but were not able to offer a conclusive statement.

The Israeli government has spent millions on the search for Arad, and offered a $10 million reward to anyone who could provide reliable new information. The family is no longer pressuring the military to keep up the search for their loved one, and the Born Free association that had been set up to look for Arad was dissolved back in 2012.


Trump in 2nd Debate: Aleppo Has Already Fallen

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Focusing, as we always do, on the Jewish-Israeli niche of presidential politics, we paid great attention Sunday night to the exchange between candidates Trump and Clinton on the situation in Syria. In general, both debaters agreed the situation was tough, and neither was eager to get into specific solutions. What stood out for us was the statement by Donald Trump that the battle of Aleppo between the US-backed rebels and the coalition of Assad, the Russians, Iran and Hezbollah will go to the pro-Assad forces.

Martha Raddatz (ABC News) asked Trump: “What do you think will happen if [Aleppo] falls?” Which Trump answered, “I think that it basically has fallen. OK? It basically has fallen.”

It should be noted that on Saturday in the UN Security Council Russia vetoed a French resolution calling for an immediate halt to its air strikes on east Aleppo, where reportedly hundreds of civilians are being killed, including many children. The Russian delegation, accusing the rest of the council of “Russophobia,” watched many council members walk off as the Russians were giving the floor to an envoy of the Assad regime. The Russians are fast running out of friends over this campaign — except, apparently, for Trump, who described Allepo as collateral damage of the effort to destroy the real enemy of the US in the Middle East — ISIS.

“I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump said during Sunday night’s debate. “Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

Raddatz pointed Trump’s attention to the fact that not only the entire Western world objects to what the Russians have been doing in Syria, but his own running mate, Mike Pence, had said a week ago, that the “provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

Trump, who had praised Pence’s debate performance, came right out and said, “OK, he and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

Raddatz: “You disagree with your running mate?”

Trump: “I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran, who [Clinton] made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and a very rich nation, very, very quickly, very, very quickly.

“I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. And that was the line. And she didn’t.”

To delineate Trump’s foreign policy point on Aleppo from all of the above, the defeat of ISIS justifies permitting Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and its Hezbollah satellite to recapture all of Syria and turn it into their permanent base, with all the ramifications for Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, Israel.

A debate then ensued between Raddatz, who as her network’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent is probably familiar with the issue, and Trump, over the need for secrecy before attacking a target like the oil rich city of Mosul in Iraq. “The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul,” Trump argued. “They think a lot of the ISIS leaders are in Mosul. So we have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks.”

“Well, all of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul,” he continued. “Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success? People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?”

Raddatz suggested, “There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.”

Trump retorted, “I can’t think of any. I can’t think of any. And I’m pretty good at it.”

Raddatz: “It might be to help get civilians out.”

Perhaps. Trump could also be correct in pointing out that the US campaign in Iraq has remained as undisciplined and as badly coordinated as it has been since the 2003 invasion, under two different administrations.

Hillary Clinton sounded as hapless as the Obama Administration when she said the Russians don’t care about ISIS, and are instead “interested in keeping Assad in power.” As remedy, she proposed: “…when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need some leverage with the Russians, because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution, unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground.”

Of course, there’s no way the US and its allies would be able to enforce a no-fly zone on the Russian air force, short of starting WW3, which is why Clinton sounded hollow when she declared, “I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president.” And she sounded even less realistic when she warned, “…I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.”

Hillary Clinton then committed a blunder that could haunt her in the future should she be elected president, when she suggested, “There are a lot of very important planning going on, and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, that we all need to be in this. And that takes a lot of planning and preparation. … I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”

That’s not something an American president should say if he or she wish to elicit Turkey’s support in the Syrian campaign. Proposing to arm the Kurds sounds about as bad to Ankara as the idea of the US arming Hamas would be received in Jerusalem. That would be one of those cases where Clinton would be well advised to have one policy for public consumption and another for insiders.

You probably noticed we did not deal at all with the Trump tapes or the Clinton emails, because everyone else in the media are offering a wealth of information on those. We only tried to point out that when it comes to one of Israel’s most burning issues, the escalation of the war north of its border, neither candidate has offered a particularly convincing formula, and Clinton actually declared she would definitely keep US ground troops out of the Syrian civil war.

We should note with satisfaction that Israel was not mentioned even once in the debate and neither was the two-state solution or Jewish settlements. Thankfully, both candidates are too clever to step on that landmine.


Lessons from 5776, Optimism for 5777

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

As we take our leave from 5776, I would sum it up as the year that Israel discovered the correct paradigm for dealing with her adversaries.

In previous years, many believed Israel’s military superiority allowed and even obliged her to take “risks for peace.” Others believed that propping up the economies of Israel’s neighbors until they were on par with her own, while giving up land, would bring peace.

But in 5776, Israel discovered that the secret for a relatively peaceful status quo comes not from creating economic parity, giving away land or taking risks, but rather by creating economic dependence, along with the application of Israel’s military superiority.

It should be made clear that a peaceful status quo is a separate discussion from what Israel’s long term vision for the region should be — whether that solution be Israel applying phased or full sovereignty over all of Israel’s territories, a confederation with Jordan, or some other ideas not yet tested or considered.

It’s been repeatedly noted that only one of the terror attacks by PA Arabs in this recent terror wave was executed by an individual with an Israeli work permit.

Israelis have learned that no matter how much their neighbors may hate them (and by the way, not all of Israel’s neighbors close and far hate Israel), or how much incitement they absorb from Palestinian Authority TV and the Islamic preachers, their families and villages depend on the money they make from Israelis, and all of them, save one, would not dare risk that.

Which is why the Palestinian Authority tried its best to force these Arab workers to stop working in the settlements, and why it failed. (PA Arabs make three times more working for Israelis than they do working in the Palestinian Authority.)

Incidentally, Israel would probably help the future stability of Judea and Samaria by announcing it will guarantee PA police salaries should the Palestinian Authority collapse under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption or Abbas’ retirement or death.

There’s very little that creates more loyalty than a paycheck paid on time.

Despite the roadblocks set up by Israel’s High Court, 5776 concluded with Jordan signing a $10 billion gas deal with Israel, which a Jordanian official said will save Jordan $600 million a year. It’s a deal that might very well tie Jordan’s economic stability to Israel for the next 15 years, along with the fresh water that Israel provides them.

Besides natural gas, Turkey, Greece, various Arab countries, some African states, India, Russia and China are looking to purchase or enter business partnerships with Israel, to acquire Israeli technology, military experience and equipment, fresh water solutions, solar energy, agricultural know-how or simply gain access to Israeli projects.

As these countries and others become more reliant on what Israel has to offer, there will be a gradual, visible change in their public attitudes, voting in international forums, and policies towards Israel, as Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out in his speech last month before the UN General Assembly.

On the military side, this past year, the IDF finally resumed its function in actively preventing terrorism, rather than restricting itself to a reactive mode. IDF soldiers have been raiding the hornet nests in the Palestinian Authority every night, to confiscate illegal weapons and ammunition, uncover weapons factories and erode the terror networks of Hamas, the PLO, and the various Islamic Jihadi groups which expanded operations under former defense ministers Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon. And, surprisingly, these IDF actions hardly provoke any international condemnation, save for criticism from Haaretz.

It was also the year Israel has actively taken on BDS, and began to beat it down, state after US state.

Obviously, all was not rosy this past year.

Thanks to the Iran deal, a revitalized Islamic Iran has been expanding its terror operations. But as Iran and their client Hezbollah try to establish terror bases on Israel’s Golan Heights’ border, Syrian Rebels are fighting those Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists on the Golan — the same rebels who are reportedly receiving much-needed medical aid from Israel.

There has been an upswing in Israeli Arabs participating in terror attacks and joining ISIS due to Islamic radicalization, incitement and propaganda, but Israel is already learning how to deal with them.

Hamas is still destroying Gaza as it continues to prepare for another round of fighting with Israel.

In the spring of 5777, Israel will celebrate 50 years since the liberation of our ancient lands of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from the illegal Jordanian occupation. Expect the usual NGOs (under new names and old) and Israel haters to foment their venomous propaganda, and also expect fewer and fewer people, everywhere in the world, to pay attention.

There’s concern over Obama’s anticipated November surprise at the UN.

And, of course, there will be the new challenges that either candidate for US president will present to Israel.

At the JewishPress.com we believe we have reason to be optimistic.

Israel has made significant positive changes this past year, with strategic, long term ideas being implemented, already with noticeable results. 5777 will bring challenges, even difficult ones, but we believe Israel is ready for them.

Shana Tova – Have a sweet new year.

Stephen Leavitt

IDF Confirms: IAF Jets Targeted by SAM Missiles over Syria, No Hits

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

The IDF spokesperson’s office on Tuesday morning confirmed that two surface-to-air missiles were shot at IAF attack planes that were on a mission inside Syria’s airspace. The IDF says the planes were far from the source of the missiles, and the attack did not constitute a serious threat.

The IDF announcement came in response to Syrian state media which had reported that the regime’s army claims it hit the Israeli aircraft while they were retaliating against targets near Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights.

The story that emerges from a variety of Arab social media reports Monday night, Syrian government claims and the IDF version, is that while the Israeli Air Force was hitting Syrian Army positions in Quneitra Monday, in response to a mortar shell that landed in Israeli territory, the Syrian Army responded by launching two S-200 (SAM) ground-to-air missiles from an airbase on the outskirts of Damascus, at Mount Qasioun. The missiles did not hit the Israeli fighter jets.

The IAF attack was the first since the beginning of the ceasefire that had been declared by Russia and the US in Syria on Monday. The IDF spokesperson released a statement saying Israel “views the Syrian regime as responsible for what takes place in its territory and would not tolerate any attempt to harm Israel’s sovereignty and the security of its citizens.”

The S-200 is a very long range, medium-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system designed in the 1960s to defend large areas from bomber attack or other strategic aircraft. The system became operational in 1966. In its original design the S-200 probably couldn’t pose a serious threat to a 21st century attack aircraft, however, according to reports, in 2013 the Iranian air defense force improved its S-200 systems, introducing solid state parts and removing restrictions on working time. According to an Iranian report, an Iranian S-200 destroyed a UAV target beyond a 60 mile range in a military drill in recent years. The Iranians use two new solid propellant missiles, named Sayyad-2 and Sayyad-3, in cooperation with the S-200 system, and can cover medium and long ranges at high altitudes.

In August, The Jewish Press Online cited the Syrian Al-Etihad Press Network’s report that Iranian military reinforcements (Revolutionary Guards) have moved into Quneitra. At the same time, Iran was claiming that the forces in question were a contingency of Hezbollah and the Assad regime’s Army. Of course, it could be all three, and the reports Monday that these forces, or forces aligned with them in Damascus, have begun to shoot S-200 missiles at the IAF, may suggest an approaching escalation on Israel’s Syrian border.

David Israel

Bennett: Israel is World’s ‘Front Post’ Against Global Terrorism

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Herzliya (TPS) – Education Minister and Chairman of the Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett told a counter-terrorism conference Monday that Israel is the world’s “front post” in the battle against terror.

“No nation is as threatened by terror as we are,” Bennett told the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism annual conference. “We’ve got Hezbollah in the north, we’ve got Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, we have ISIS in Sinai, we have Hamas in Gaza – four of our frontiers with the deadliest terror organizations in the world, yet we’re thriving and we’re leading the battle because we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”

“By being here we collect intelligence, methodologies, lessons learned, and we’re out there fighting day in and day out,” Bennett added.

However, Bennett also said that Israel and its leading role in the battle against global terrorism was being undermined by many in the international community pushing for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“My one request from you coming from all around the world is don’t push us to divide our country. Don’t try and break us. Back us,” Bennett concluded.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Iran Claims Hezbollah – Not Iranian Troops – Preparing for Large-Scale Operation on Golan Heights

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

On August 20, JewishPress.com first reported on Iranian military reinforcements entering Quneitra on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

Syrian sources said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were replacing Syrian regime troops. The Iranians were being positioned there to allegedly attack the Syrian city of Daraa, near Jordan’s border.

At the same time, there was concern that the Iranian troops, once in place, would first attack Syrian rebel forces on the Golan Heights – and that Daraa was just an excuse to position them there to attack the rebels, and more significantly, to embed Iranian troops alongside the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.

There are estimates that as many as 60,000 Iranian troops are fighting in Syria.

On Monday, the official Iranian Islamic regime news outlet, FARS, claimed that the troops being stationed in Quneitra are Hezbollah and Syrian regime troops.

The report says, “Hezbollah has deployed a large number of its forces at Quneitra passage which has connected the Syrian territories to the occupied Golan.”

Both Syrian and Iranian news sources agree that forces supporting Assad are massing near Israel’s border on the Golan Heights in order to attack the Syria rebels positioned on the Golan Heights, but they apparently disagree on the identity of which of those allies of Assad it actually is.

In the past, Hezbollah operatives trying to set up terror networks on the Golan Heights have been attacked and killed, presumably by Israel.

It’s unknown which report is more accurate as to the makeup of the forces in Quneitra, are they Hezbollah terrorists or Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards – or perhaps both?

Israel has previously stated that Iranian troops along its borders is a red line that it won’t accept.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Rightwing Pundit: A Vote for Donald Trump Is a Vote for Israel’s Enemies

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Louis René Beres, the son of Austrian Jewish refugees, a professor of Political Science at Purdue University, and a long time advocate of rightwing Jewish and Israeli causes, is afraid of a Donald Trump presidency. Writing in US News & World Report (Israel Wouldn’t Survive Trump), Beres defies the “conventional wisdom” that sees presidential candidate Donald Trump as better for Israel than Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton. For starters, the PoliSci professor is aghast at Trump’s lack of intellectual discipline, citing his August 15 foreign policy speech from which one could conclude that he would enthusiastically be willing to “work with” Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, and which couldn’t be a good thing for Israel.

Beres warns that “Trump’s proposals would go so far as to put Israel’s physical survival at a tangibly greater risk,” seeing as the candidate is prepared to collaborate with Hezbollah and support Russian military cooperation with Iran. “How else ought anyone interpret Trump’s stunningly naive call for combating the Islamic State group at all costs?” Beres asks, calling Trump’s ideas “a seemingly random patchwork of ready-made phrases.”

Beres has no illusions about a Hillary Clinton presidency when it comes to Israel’s interests, but he is deeply concerned by the Republican candidate’s foreign policy being little more than an “endless litany of barren clichés, emotional arguments and thoroughly empty witticisms.” Or as he puts it politely: “Donald Trump is manifestly and incontestably imperfect.”

Talk about the art of the understatement…

“For Israel,” Beres suggests, judging by Trump’s “enthusiastic words of support for Jerusalem’s chief enemies,” the conclusion must be that “a Trump presidency could be irremediably catastrophic.” This is because “crafting a nation’s foreign policy is never a job for narrowly educated political operatives,” as it “calls for a deep and genuine appreciation of strategic interdependencies and also of assorted and corresponding legal obligations” — which Trump, apparently, does not bring to the table.

“The ultimate irony of Trump’s disjointed preferences” regarding US foreign policy and his perceived threat of radical Islam—as opposed to all the other, bigger threats out there, Beres asserts, “is that they would actually work on behalf of the Islamic State group, while at the same time strengthening America’s most formidable enemies.” Indeed, when it comes to foreign policy, Beres says the only voters who should support a Trump presidency are Americans who “prefer Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah to Israel and America.”


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