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November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Detached From Reality: US Renews Travel Warning Against Israel

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

The U.S. State Department has again warned its citizens against traveling to Israel, equating the dangers facing people in the Jewish State with those facing visitors to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The warning comes on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack on America by the global Al Qaeda Islamist terrorist organization — and just ahead of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, the start of the Jewish high holy days.

The new travel warning replaced that posted on July 21 during the height of Israel’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge, when Hamas was firing rockets and missiles at Israel daily from Gaza. To read it, one would believe the war is still in progress. But to walk the streets of Israel, one knows without a doubt it’s over. Schools are overflowing and so are the stores, which are filled with the latest fall fashions in Be’er Sheva, Ra’anana and even in Ramallah.

This is total silliness. Or perhaps a veiled attempt to sabotage the Israeli economy, which although damaged by the war is still in much better shape than that of Gaza.

Or even maybe it’s an attempt to take a swing at the Ramallah-based Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas — with whom Hamas is currently locked in a power struggle over control of the Palestinian Authority unity government, which the two factions agreed to this spring.

Sour grapes? Also maybe. Hamas is backed by Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, and demanded unsuccessfully the latter two nations be allowed to participate in cease-fire negotiations in Cairo. Although at the end they were not allowed, Secretary of State John Kerry consulted with both at a meeting in Paris at the height of the war. All three are close allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the United States recently signed an $11 billion military contract with Qatar. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have backed Ramallah, which has recently resumed its stance in supporting Israel on a crackdown on terrorism.

But to read the U.S. travel warning, one could believe there’s an active war zone at play.

“During the recent conflict between Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza, long-range rockets launched from Gaza reached many locations in Israel and the West Bank including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities in the north and south. A ceasefire was announced on August 26 and, as of the date of this Travel Warning, is holding. The Government of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has successfully intercepted many rockets. However, in some cases missile impacts caused damage and injuries,” the travel warning reads – as if a cease-fire with Hamas was never reached.

“U.S. citizen visitors to and U.S. citizen residents of Israel and the West Bank should familiarize themselves with the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened site. Consult municipality websites, such as those for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, for lists of public bomb shelters and other emergency preparedness information. Visitors should seek information on shelters from hotel staff or building managers. We advise all US citizens to follow the instructions of the Home Front Command on proper procedures in the event of rocket attacks or other crisis events.”

Commercial flights to and from Ben Gurion International Airport are operating as usual, the warning notes, “although delays and cancellations can occur. Travelers should check with their airline prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. Other border crossings are generally operating as normal; however, travelers should check the status of crossings before embarking on trips. See information on the status of the airport and other crossings.”

Obama Takes America to War in Iraq & Syria, Against ISIS

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that America is going back to war, this time against the global terror group ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known in Arabic as “Da’esh.”

Obama made the announcement in a 15 minute nationally televised address on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attack on America by the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Obama said in his address. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” he promised.

Nevertheless, the president made it clear that the U.S. would wage a “relentless” military campaign to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist group that beheaded two American journalists, including one with dual Israeli citizenship.

The U.S. will rely heavily on air strikes to get the job done, Obama explained – including air strikes inside Syria, for the very first time. The four-part strategy includes air strikes, support to other forces battling the terrorist organization, counter terrorism efforts to prevent attacks and weaken the group, and continued humanitarian assistance to civilians.

A senior administration official carefully told reporters in a pre-speech briefing that attacks in Syria would be carried out at a ‘time and place of our choosing.” He added that no specific information would be provided to the media, in order not to “telegraph our punches by being specific about the time and nature of the target. We will do that as necessary, as we develop targets and as we continue what is a systematic air campaign that is not going to be restricted by a geographic border that, frankly, has very little meaning anymore, given [the group’s] operations in both Iraq and Syria.”

The official added that the formation of a new Iraqi government was what had allowed the U.S. to expand its support for a war against ISIS. Following the insertion of military advisers into Iraq earlier in the summer, the president said in June that “he would do more when the Iraqi cabinet was appointed. That has now happened and the next phase will be more offensive,” the official said.

The president cited support by what he said were dozens of “coalition” partners to “roll back this terrorist threat” in what will be an open-ended timetable. Several hours before going on the air, Obama authorized Secretary of State John Kerry to allocate $25 million in Foreign Assistance Act funds to train, educate and provide military assistance to the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional governments in their fight against ISIS. Another 475 U.S. military troops will be sent to the region next week, bringing the total deployed to some 1,600 soldiers thus far.

To date, the U.S. has conducted 153 air strikes against ISIS terrorists in Iraq. The official who briefed journalists prior to the president’s speech said Obama is authorized to move from a humanitarian to offensive campaign against the terrorists without Congressional approval, based on the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress following the 9/11 terror attack by Al Qaeda. The legislation allows the president to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against any entity he believes “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The legislation expires when U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.

Israeli, US Leaders Organize Top Brass to Fight Islamic State

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Israel’s top brass met Wednesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss the growing threat in the region from the Islamic State terror organization.

Representatives from every security establishment were present, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), the National Security Council, Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, Foreign Ministry representatives, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Netanyahu discussed with those present the issues surrounding the threat posed to Israel by the Islamic State. The prime minister warned world leaders about the terror organization during Israel’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge this summer in Gaza.

Netanyahu repeatedly has drawn a parallel between Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization and the Islamic State, which has spread its influence from Iraq and Syria to the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, Lebanon and recently as far as Europe. Israel has officially outlawed the group.

U.S. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, planned to address the American people in a prime-time televised address to the nation Wednesday evening.

Obama was to outline his strategy for dealing with the global threat posed by the Islamic State, which is rapidly becoming a specific threat to the United States as well. There have been reports that up to 100 sleeper cells from the group may already exist in the U.S.

Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Baghdad just two days after Iraq’s newly-sworn Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi installed his top government ministers.

Two car bombs exploded simultaneously in the southeastern neighborhood of New Baghdad, killing 13 people, during the meeting of the two leaders.

“A new and inclusive Iraqi government has to be the engine of our global strategy against ISIL (a former acronym for Islamic State – Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant),” Kerry said.

The next question is, where are the Europeans and how are they planning to fend off this threat in their midst? (Yes, the Islamic State has indeed already arrived on Europe’s shores. It was an Islamic State terrorist who was behind the terrorist attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum this past May 24.)

Report: Islamic State Already in America

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

On the same day a second American journalist was beheaded by the Islamic State terror organization, a former CIA operative says sleeper cells from the group already exist in the USA.

Steve Sotloff, an American journalist with Israeli citizenship who hid both his Judaism and his second passport from the Islamic State terrorists who kidnapped him, nevertheless was beheaded on Tuesday as a “second message to America” to stop air strikes in Iraq.

Many Americans — and perhaps some American leaders as well — may believe the terrorists are contained in the Middle East. But CNN national security analyst Bob Baer, a former CIA operative, said “The Lead” Tuesday that nothing could be further from the truth.

The “people who collect tactical intelligence on the ground, day-to-day – and this isn’t Washington – but people collecting this stuff say they’re here, ISIS is here, they’re capable of striking,” Baer warned.

Intelligence agents are monitoring the activities of suspected Islamic State terrorists who cross into the U.S. through the southern border from Mexico.

But others, he warned, are American citizens who flew to Syria to fight with “the resistance,” and have already returned.

“They can’t prove it. They’re waiting to get enough intelligence to actually run them in. And then there’s the unknown, of how many people have come back they’re not even aware of,” Baer told CNN. “The people who do this for a living are very alarmed,” he said.

U.S. intelligence officials warned last month the Islamic State organization has been pushing to establish cells outside its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Among its targets have been cities in Europe, as well as countries in the Middle East.

“We have seen an expansion of its external terrorism ambitions,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters at a Washington, DC briefing on August 14. It was estimated there are now more than 10,000 fighters in the ranks of the Islamic State.

In addition, since the group seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul in June, it has significantly swelled its coffers with cash due to also having conquered the nearby oil field and the electricity-generating Mosul Dam. The terror group currently holds five oil fields under its control which provide funding for its operations.

The Islamic State has proved extremely attractive to foreign fighters of every stripe, and thousands are streaming to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside its forces. Among them are many who hold Western passports – including those from the United States and Europe.

After rigorous training, some then return, with orders to start their own terrorist cells at home.

Jordan to Play Important NATO Role Against ISIS

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

This article first appeared in Jewish Business News

Jordan’s King Abdullah’s participation in the upcoming NATO summit will be of “immeasurable illumination” on the strategy of confronting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS), British Ambassador to Jordan Peter Millett told journalists on Tuesday, Jordan Times reported.

Millett briefed the press on the agenda of the summit, which will be held from September 4-5 in Newport, Wales.

According to Millett, three topics will dominate the upcoming meeting: the Ukraine, Afghanistan, and the threat ISIS poses to Middle East security and stability.

Millett said King Abdullah’s “participation is of prime importance because there will be a lot of discussions, ideas and proposals on the role that NATO can play in confronting ISIS’ threat. How can we cooperate and coordinate, and work with Jordan to achieve the security of Jordan and the region and NATO’s allies.”

The ambassador emphasized that the rise of ISIS and the spread of its radical ideology is now a major concern to the West, adding that “the big debate in the UK at the moment is about the British Jihadists returning home one day”.

Millett noted that Jordan has been a strategic partner to NATO since 1994, and the Kingdom’s stability and security is a top priority to all the 28 members of the alliance.

The ambassador refused to elaborate about the precise nature of Jordan’s role in any NATO action against ISIS, but cited the important role Jordan has been playing in assisting the alliance’s military and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and Libya.

“NATO has constantly been adapting and changing, and the alliance now needs to adapt to the danger we are all facing from extremists and terrorists in Syria and Iraq,” Millett said.

Jihadist Threat Rising on Israel’s Northern Border

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Events on the other side of Israel’s northern border are heating up, and the government is watching closely. The IDF is beefing up its force along the border to ensure that citizens in the region are protected.

The Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist faction issued three demands early Tuesday (Sept. 2) for the return of 44 Fiji UN peacekeepers abducted by the group last Wednesday. The group is demanding to be removed from the UN terrorist list, it wants humanitarian aid delivered to parts of Damascus, and money — financial compensation for three of its fighters that it claims were killed in a shootout with UN peacekeepers. (In other words, shot by the UN peacekeepers in self-defense when the terrorists attacked the UN Disengagement Observer Force. It’s a known fact this force never fires first.)

Al Nusra is also engaged in a fierce struggle with Syria government forces fighting to retake control over the strategic town of Quneitra, where the sole crossing into Israel lies. The terror group has already seized control of the crossing; heavy battles before and since have sent mortar shells and other artillery flying into Israel’s side of the Golan Heights.

Last week Kiryat Shmona and several other communities were forced into high alert due to the situation. In three separate attacks, at least two people were wounded, including a soldier and a kosher supervisor, and two vehicles were damaged. IDF troops returned fire to the Syrian side of the border, aiming at the source of the attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned visiting U.S. Congress members on Monday that the United Nations would be far better served to focus its energies on dealing with the growing jihadist threat, rather than repeatedly investigating Israel’s efforts to counter terror attacks against its civilians. (A new UN Human Rights Commission probe committee a la Goldstone, headed by anti-Israel Canadian law professor William Schabas, is expected to begin shortly.)

“We’re closely following the events on the Golan Heights where al Nusra terrorists have kidnapped UN peacekeepers,” Netanyahu told U.S. Representatives Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) on Monday. “What we see is that al Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah – backed by Iran, Al Qaeda and these other terrorist groups are basically defying all international norms, breaking them whether in Lebanon, in Syria or in Gaza. I think the UN would do itself a great favor if, instead of the automatic Israel bashing, they actually turn their attention and their investigative committees against these terrorists who trample every norm on which the UN was founded.”

Rohrbacher concurred, saying that Israel was the sole force for a “long-term peace for this region.” He added that the rest of the Middle East is “awash in tyranny and injustice and gangsterism and terrorism that’s coming from the top, from these people that are running the various organizations, radical Islamic organizations.”

But while Israel and at least most U.S. lawmakers agree on the jihadi threat to the region – and much of the Western world – France and Saudi Arabia seem to be in the process of exacerbating the problem.

The two are close to signing a $3 billion arms deal that would provide new military equipment and weapons to the Lebanese army. This, while the White House has thrown every possible obstacle in the path of normal processing for military-to-military supplies from the U.S. to Israel.

If the Lebanese army were entirely independent boosting its supplies would be a great idea, especially given the current jihadi threat on its border with Syria. But unfortunately a third of Lebanon’s governing cabinet is comprised of ministers from the Hezbollah terrorist organization, which has gone to fight with the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ditto for the parliament, which also is packed with Hezbollah lawmakers. How unlikely is it, therefore, that at least some – if not most – of these weapons will end up in terrorist hands?

Netanyahu Says Making Gaza ‘Israel’s Fallujah’ Was Too High a Price

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Crushing Hamas instead of accepting a cease-fire might have turned Gaza into another Fallujah, with Israel paying an exorbitant price in terms of the lives of soldiers as well as risking security on the Syrian front, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in interviews this weekend.

He noted that the United States in 2004 fought against Islamists in the Iraqi city, one-tenth the size of Gaza, killed thousands of Iraqis and destroyed thousands of homes only to hand over control to the Iraqi government, which last year lost control of the city to Al Qaeda.

The Prime Minister went on a media blitz with three television interviews over the weekend after his popularity sank dramatically in the past week. He was the target of barbs from left and right for accepting a cease-fire with Hamas instead of going for the kill and for not fulfilling his promise that a cease-fire would be conditioned on dis-arming Hamas. Instead, the issue of weapons in Gaza was put off for “negotiations” in 30 days while Hamas insists it never will give up its rockets.

He tried repair the political damage by emphasizing that the “big picture” is more important than destroying Hamas, which can always be done later, if need be.

None other than U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry provided him with an escape hatch by calling for ”global coalition” to fight radical Islamists who are “perilously close to Israel.”

“The Islamic State is galloping toward us [and] al-Qaeda is on the Golan borders,” said Netanyahu, who explained he did want to “not to invest all my assets in this one arena” of Gaza.

“I am preparing for a reality in the Middle East that is very problematic,” Netanyahu said, but Bloomberg News quoted Ben Gurion University political science Prof. Yoram Meital as saying that ISIS and Al Qaeda “have yet to form large enough armies to “significantly pose an existential threat to Israel.” He added, “There is a tendency to exaggerate the power of these groups for political aims.”

Netanyahu said that beheading Hamas, figuratively speaking, still is an option and that there might be a situation in which Israel has to occupy Gaza

He asserted that while he will not tolerate even a drizzle of rockets, invading Gaza at this time would have come at a possibly intolerable loss of soldiers.

Netanyahu did not state, nor has the IDF commented, that a massive invasion of Gaza was not a real option ever since the military pulled out most of its tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) from the Gaza front almost immediately after the last temporary cease-fire before the current truce was announced last week. The IDF apparently knew it had won as much as it could at the least possible price.

Buried amid the praise for the military’s dealing Hamas a severe blow from the air and from the ground are well-sourced reports that the army was not prepared for the massive and lethal Hamas defense in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza.

Entering all of Gaza to topple Hamas would have meant facing a well-organized terrorist army in every city in the Gaza, despite the elimination of top Hamas commanders by the Israeli Air Force.

However, there is no doubt, as Netanyahu said, that Hamas did not expect the force with which Israel retaliated following rocket attacks on most of Israel.

The Prime Minister also emphasized in the interviews that Hamas agreed to the same Egyptian cease-fire proposal that it originally rejected.

He did not relate to the difficulty that awaits Israel with diplomatic maneuvering by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to use the “peace process” to allow his security forces to patrol Gaza borders.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-says-making-gaza-israels-fallujah-was-too-high-a-price/2014/08/31/

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