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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

Netanyahu Warns Hezbollah Will Meet ‘Iron Fist’ If Group Attacks Israel

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror guerrilla organization that Israel will deal a “powerful response” if forced to respond to aggression from the group.

The prime minister made the remark at a ceremony held in Jerusalem Tuesday to mark the tenth anniversary of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Netanyahu expressed empathy for the families of the soldiers who were killed in the war, and he warned Hezbollah it will face an “iron fist” if the group attacks Israel again.

The previous war was launched with a cross-border raid in which terrorists from the group attacked an IDF patrol that was traveling along Israel’s northern border.

Two Israeli reservists were abducted that day and both were murdered. It took years and a German negotiator plus a prisoner swap with a hundred-plus dead terrorists and a handful of live terror inmates to get the Israeli reservists’ bodies back for burial by their families.

Among the terrorists traded to Hezbollah was child-killer Samir Kuntar, who later commanded Hezbollah terror forces in the Syrian Golan Heights.

Hana Levi Julian

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

JNi.Media

Danon Warns UN Security Council Hezbollah Snuggles Bases Among Civilian Homes, Schools

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon warned the UN Security Council at a special meeting Tuesday that Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist group is aiming some 120,000 missiles at Israeli cities; a number far higher than the 7,000 rockets the group had in 2006.

In fact, Danon produced evidence that supported his claim that Hezbollah possesses more missiles in its underground arsenal than the entire European membership of NATO together maintain above ground.

Worse, perhaps, is the fact that the group has built many of its bases next to children’s schools — a human-shield tactic used by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

At the meeting, which was held to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Danon shared new intelligence which included aerial imagery of a village that had been transformed into a terrorist base.

“The village of Shakra in southern Lebanon has become a terrorist stronghold,” Danon told the Council. “One in every three buildings there is being used for terrorist infrastructure which includes launching pads for missiles, weapons caches and more.

“Nor has Hezbollah stopped here; it chose to situate its bases next to schools and other public structures. And in so doing, it has endangered innocent civilians,” he said.

Weapons are also being stored in civilian areas, according to IDF soldiers who spoke with the BBC. “Every mission that I’ve been on personally has been observing Hezbollah operations in a heavily populated area,” a soldier told the UK-based media outlet. “In a house with a family living in it, or in a house next door or behind it.” “It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to evict Hezbollah from southern Lebanon,” Danon emphasized.

The IDF pointed out in an article published Tuesday on its English-language blog that Hezbollah has joined Iran in working to destablize the entire Middle East, with footholds around the world. “This Shi’ite militia from Southern Lebanon has grown into a sizable international threat,” according to Israel’s military analysts.

Hezbollah trains, funds and fights alongside armies and militias that promote Iranian interests and ideologies, exacerbating conflicts not only throughout the Middle East, but also by exporting chaos well beyond their borders.

Former national security adviser IDF General (ret.)Yaakov Amidror told the BBC on Tuesday that Hezbollah’s firepower is magnified more than ten-fold over what it was before the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“Now they have more than 120,000 rockets and missiles,” Amidror said. “It’s a huge number that you don’t find in any country in Europe, for example. When you see all these efforts, you ask yourself one question: what for?”

Hana Levi Julian

UNESCO to Question Jewish Ties to Western Wall in Arab-Sponsored Draft Resolution

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog organization, expressed concern today that UNESCO may fuel anti-Jewish incitement and violence, and the increasing PA Arabs’ denial of Jewish religious and cultural rights, by adopting an Arab-sponsored draft resolution that denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The Jordanian-Palestinian draft text on the Old City of Jerusalem was submitted to the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which meets over the next 10 days in Istanbul for its 40th annual session.

“This inflammatory resolution risks encouraging the past year’s wave of Arab stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, which began with false claims that Israel was planning to damage holy Muslim shrines,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Under the battle cry of “Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger,” incitement in September by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sparked a wave of terror attacks across Israel which began on the Temple Mount and eastern Jerusalem. At least 40 have been killed and more than  500 wounded. The Arab attacks include 155 stabbings, 96 shootings, 45 car ramming attacks, and one bus bombing.

The draft now before UNESCO includes the following problematic language:

  • The draft refers ten times to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, exclusively using the Islamic term for Temple Mount, without any mention that it is the holiest site in Judaism. This is part of a larger campaign at the UN, and particularly in UNESCO, to Islamize sites historically belonging to other faiths.
  • This year’s proposed draft is even more extreme than the resolution adopted in 2015. The new version three times uses the Islamic term Buraq Plaza while placing the parallel name “Western Wall Plaza” in scare quotes, implying skepticism or disbelief concerning what is the most hallowed site for Jewish worshippers over two millennia, due to the ancient wall’s connection to the Holy Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 CE. Last year’s resolution also sought to diminish the Jewish connection by putting the name Western Wall in parentheses after the Islamic term, yet the new use of quotation marks intensifies the denialism that was famously promoted by Yasser Arafat’s negotiator at Camp David, and which continues in Palestinian Authority statements.
  • Israel, which is referred to throughout as “the Occupying Power” in Jerusalem, is called to restore “the historic Status Quo,” with the new word “historic”—a change from last year’s text—implying a reversal of any changes since 1967.
  • Jerusalem’s light rail, which is used daily by thousands of Arab residents among others, is accused of having a “damaging effect” on the “visual integrity” and “authentic character” of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—even though the track passes through an existing highway and only facilitates transportation for visitors of all faiths.

The 21 members on the UNESCO world heritage committee are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Good luck to all of us.

Jewish Press Staff

Reflections On The Second Lebanon War

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Ten years since the Second Lebanon War. For those of us who took part in it, that war remains always just in view. Like a suitcase filled with items of vivid memory, waiting quietly in the corner of a room.

It was an entirely inglorious and partially botched and inconclusive affair. A “great and grave missed opportunity” as the second report of the Winograd Committee termed it.

It has also been rapidly forgotten. This, it seems, is the way of the small wars that Israel fights these days. None of them passes into legend, as did the great conflicts of the state’s foundation. Today’s conflicts, after a short time, become largely the private property of those who participated in them.

That’s perhaps not a bad thing. Perhaps it is akin to the rapidity with which Israeli cities clear up and move on after terror attacks. Still, the long quiet that has followed the 2006 war on the northern border has helped to further obscure some of the lessons of that summer. It is worth therefore recalling, in unforgiving focus, some of what took place.

A cabinet led by individuals with minimal security experience (and a prime minister and president now serving jail terms), and an IDF led by its first chief of staff from the Air Force set out for war with the Iranian proxy Hizbullah organization in July 2006.

It is now evident that no coherent and achievable plan for the conduct of the war had been decided on at the rushed and overheated cabinet meeting that set it in motion.

This problematic, unprepared leadership was in turn commanding an army ill suited for the war it would need to fight.

There were two reasons for the IDF’s state of unreadiness.

The first was practical: The 2006 war came immediately after an intensive five-year period of counter-insurgency, in which the IDF was engaged against a large scale Palestinian uprising. The demands of the Second Intifada left little time for training for conventional war.

The challenges faced by troops at that time were considerable. But they were mainly of a police-like nature, not employing or testing the specialized skills of front line military units in battlefield conditions.

This army in 2006 found itself facing a well armed, mobile enemy, on terrain the Israeli side knew far less well than its foe.

The resulting difficulties were compounded by a second, conceptual issue. The 2006 war was not the fight the army was expecting. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz expected to spend his period at the IDF’s helm facing the key challenge of the Iranian nuclear program and focusing on ballistic missile defense. Future wars, it was assumed, would be fought using air power, with small numbers of trained specialists on the ground.

As a result, resources had in preceding years been diverted from training the large, reserve land army. It was assumed that this was a force unlikely to be used.

In 2006, some reserve armored formations, as a result, went into battle against Hizbullah having taken part in only one training exercise using tanks in the previous half decade. Full disclosure: I was a member of such a force.

These were the circumstances in which Israel went to war in 2006.

The war for the greater part of its duration consisted of limited ground operations by the IDF in an area adjoining the border, air operations up to Beirut, as well as a successfully maintained naval blockade; and on Hizbullah’s side, defense of areas under ground attack and a successful effort to maintain throughout a constant barrage of short-range rockets on northern Israel.

A cease-fire went into effect at 8 a.m. on August 14, following the passage of UN Resolution 1701. The end of the fighting found some IDF forces deployed at the Litani River, but with Israel far from control of the entire area between the river and the Israeli-Lebanese border.

* * * * *

Looking back, it is clear that hesitant Israeli political leadership and a lack of an overall plan for the war were the reasons for its inconclusive results. Had the IDF – even the poorly prepared force that entered the war of 2006 – been presented with clear orders at an early stage to move forward into Lebanon, according to one of the available plans for achieving this, a less ambiguous result could have been achieved. No such order was ever given.

Much public anger followed the war and its inconclusive results, as Hizbullah and its friends in the West sought to build a narrative of “divine victory” from the events.

From our perspective a decade later, however, much of the euphoria of Hizbullah and the despair on parts of the Israeli side seem exaggerated. The results of the war from an Israeli perspective in 2016 are mixed.

The border has indeed been quieter since 2006 than at any time since the late 1960s. This fact in itself says more about Hizbullah’s true assessment following the damage suffered in 2006 than any al-Akhbar editorial excitedly proclaiming divine victory.

And of course Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah himself told a Lebanese TV station shortly after the war that had the movement known in advance the scale of the IDF response, Hizbullah would have never have carried out the kidnappings that sparked the war.

At the same time, Resolution 1701, which was intended to keep the Shia Islamist movement north of the Litani has failed. Hizbullah has built an extensive new infrastructure south of the river since 2006, under the noses of UNIFIL and often with the collusion of the Lebanese Armed Forces. And Hizbullah has vastly increased its rocket and missile capacity.

In retrospect, 2006 was perhaps most significant in that it introduced a type of warfare and a type of force that has now proliferated across the region – namely, military entities that are neither regular armies nor guerrilla movements in the classic sense. Rather, they are potent combinations of the two.

These forces carry no state flag with them. Indeed, often they are stronger than the forces of the notional state on whose territory they operate. They possess neither air power nor much in the way of armored or artillery or naval capacities. Yet they operate not merely as guerrillas but rather as light infantry forces, holding ground and defending it, while making adept use of 21st century media to fight the propaganda battle.

Hizbullah was the prototype of such a force, and it remains among the strongest of them. But today the entire landscape between the Mediterranean Sea and the Iraq-Iran border proliferates with groups of this type. Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham and Iraq’s Shia militias and even the Assad regime’s National Defence Force represent a variety of opposed causes and perspectives. But they are all hybrid forces, light infantries of varying quality, parallel entities to Hizbullah.

This highlights perhaps the most central point regarding the 2006 war. In its aftermath, as Hizbullah and Iran celebrated their “divine victory,” it appeared the prospect was for ongoing bloodletting between Israel and a regional alliance committed to its destruction, with Hizbullah as the primary military instrument on the ground.

Today, that landscape has changed beyond recognition. Hizbullah and its Iranian patron are engaged in a region-wide war against the Sunni Arabs. In Yemen, Iraq, and above all Syria, the movement and its patron are up to their necks in unending conflict. Hizbullah’s latest woes include fights between its members and Assad’s troops in the Aleppo area, and the loss of around 1,500 men in the morass of the Syrian war.

For as long as this war continues, it seems likely that no repeat of 2006 is on the horizon. And if and when the war ends, the damage suffered in 2006 is likely to give Hizbullah and its patron continued pause for thought.

What all this ultimately means is that we should be thankful for those who came before us. Lebanon 2006 shows that even at a low point in terms of training and planning, led by an unsuitable chief of staff, with an inexperienced and as it turns out largely corrupt political leadership at the helm, Israel’s armed forces were still of sufficient quality to be capable of delivering a blow to a powerful enemy instructive enough to ensure a period of subsequent silence, which lasts to this day.

Broader regional circumstances beyond the control of either Israelis or Lebanese Shias have certainly added to this effect. The main question, though – whether Israeli society and its armed forces have sufficiently internalized and acted on the lessons taught in the burning summer of 2006 – remains a subject of daily relevance to which a final answer cannot yet be given.

Dr. Jonathan Spyer

IDF Acquires New Long-Range Rocket From IMI

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

One usually associates the acquisition of the long-range rockets with Iran, Hezbollah or terrorists in Gaza.

But it turns out the IDF has just acquired an exquisitely accurate long-range rocket produced by Israeli defense firm Israel Military Industries (IMI)– the new long-range Taas EXTRA (Extended Range Artillery Rocket) missile.

The Taas, capable of hitting a target within a 10-meter accuracy radius even as far as 150 kilometers away, is part of Israel’s new arsenal being developed in preparation for a possible future conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Taas EXTRA long-range rocket manufactured by IMI.

The missile is described by the firm as a “precise, cost-effective, tactical-range artillery rocket” that allows ground force commanders to “influence the battlefield” at a range of 20 to 150 kilometers.

Developed in the IMI factory in Givon, the new rocket is approximately four meters long, with a diameter of 30 centimeters, and capable of carrying a variety of warheads up to a weight of 120 kilograms.

It’s a highly accurate rocket with a proven effectiveness against a “wide range of high payoff targets across the tactical battlefield,” according to the company.

The Taas will enable Israel to attack and eliminate any number of targets in Lebanon, should that prove necessary. This will also reduce the cost and complications of aerial attacks against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group where they hide north of Israel’s borders.

Hana Levi Julian

4 Suicide Bombers in Lebanon Kill 8, a Dozen Wounded [video]

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Four suicide bombers blew themselves up in the eastern Lebanon Beqaa Valley town of Qaa on Monday morning, according to Arab news sources. The Lebanese village is alongside the Syrian border.

At least 5 people have been killed according to Aljazeera. Al Arabiya reports the number of dead has gone up to 8.

The dead are Lebanese soldiers, apparently intelligence officers, and more than a dozen people have been wounded.

Hezbollah TV claims 6 people were killed and 13 were wounded.

One suicide bomber blew himself next to the soldiers, and then the other 3 bomber followed suit.

It is unclear who was behind the attack.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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