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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

Russia to Return Israeli Tank Captured 34 Years Ago in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday for signing a presidential decree ordering the return to Israel of an IDF tank that was captured 34 years ago during a ferocious battle in the First Lebanon War.

“I thank the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that he responded to my request to return the tank from the Battle of Sultan Yacoub to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The tank, used by the IDF during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during the First Lebanon War on June 10, 1982, was captured by the Syrian army and eventually transported to the Soviet Union, then a Cold-War ally with Syria. The tank has since remained in Moscow, stored in a museum of armored tanks.

MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the former deputy defense minister, was an officer in artillery unit 7054 that helped rescue a battalion of Israeli tanks trapped by a Syrian ambush in Sultan Yacoub, Lebanon.

“We fired the whole night, and in the morning the battalion was rescued – except for that one tank and the three missing soldiers, whose fate is still unknown today,” Ben-Dahan recalled to Tazpit Press Service (TPS), referring to the continued mystery behind three IDF soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz, who went missing in action during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub. During the entire battle, 30 Israeli soldiers were killed and eight tanks were lost.

“Hearing about the return of the tank sends me back 34 years,” Ben-Dahan told TPS. “It gave me chills.”

Ben-Dahan also expressed hope that the tank’s return might bring news about the fate of the missing soldiers, though he said he cannot comment on any discussions or progress toward that goal.

Netanyahu raised the issue of returning the tank with Putin last month, after having received a request from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

“For the families of the soldiers missing in action, Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz, there is no trace of the boys nor a burial plot to go to for 34 years now,” noted Netanyahu. “The tank is the only evidence of the battle, and now it will be returned to Israel thanks to President Putin’s response to my request.”

A delegation from the IDF’s Ordnance Corps is in Moscow working with representatives from the Russian army to transport the tank back to Israel as soon as possible.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Lebanese News Outlet Confirms Hezbollah Digging Tunnels on Israel’s Northern Border

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

The Hezbollah-linked Al-Safir news daily has confirmed the Iranian proxy group is digging tunnels along Israel’s northern border.

A front-page article without a byline that was published May 25 to mark the 16th anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon highlighted the issue.

Translated by the MEMRI Arab media watchdog, the article said in part: “It is right to say that the men of resistance on the eastern border complement the mission of the first men of resistance [who operate against Israel], who work day and night [along the border, from] the last border point in Al-Naquora to [the one in] Kfar Shouba, conducting observations, preparing, and digging tunnels that cause the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep.”

Last week residents in northern Israel expressed deep concern over numerous new observation towers that were built last month along the border with Lebanon.

Israeli military officials said in response they have been monitoring the security situation and that everything is “under control.” Moreover, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that the watchtowers, built by the Lebanese Army, are there only to “spy on Israel” and will not fall into the hands of Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group.

Meanwhile, the article dedicated to the anniversary of Israel’s pullout emphasized that the celebration of ‘Liberation Day’ was mixed with “heartbreak” for Hezbollah supporters due to the many casualties suffered in the Syrian civil war, which it called “a necessary tax that must be paid.”

It spoke with obvious frustration, some awe and perhaps fear as well, of the horrific battles being waged by Hezbollah (“the resistance”) against Da’esh (ISIS) in Syria.

“The resistance …. never experienced [war] against groups that imitate its methods and ways of warfare, but [who] instead of blowing themselves up against an Israeli convoy terrorize innocent people in the cities and villages, without batting an eyelash, as happened in the southern Dahiya or yesterday in Tartus and Jableh.

“The resistance never experienced war against groups fighting in caves and in the hills, mountains, wadis and even deserts, as happened at Tadmor and in the rural areas of Homs and Aleppo… Before [the war with Syria], the resistance did not storm cities and did not fight armies deep in the mountains.

“Before this, no one lay in wait for it in tunnels like the ones that only it used to excavate, and [the doctrine of which] it spread to the rest of the men of the resistance, particularly to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the unnamed Lebanese writer observed.

The comments publicly confirmed that it was Hezbollah who taught Hamas how to dig the cross-border terror tunnels it has been using for more than a decade in its war against Israel.

The writer concluded predicted that Hezbollah will become a “regional power” that “formulates new equations in the region. And yet the article also made it clear that the task will remain unfinished, at least in the eyes of Hezbollah, unless “the terrorists” (read: Da’esh) are annihilated.

“All these have been the unique characteristics of the resistance throughout the 16 years since May 25, 2000. All these [characteristics] and others will cause Hassan Nasrallah to declare that defending the achievement of liberation will end only with the defeat of the terrorists…”

Hana Levi Julian

New Military Watchtowers Dot Lebanese Side of Israel’s Northern Border

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Northern Israeli residents are worried about new observation posts built by the Lebanese Army which have sprung up along the border. In Lebanon, to speak of the Lebanese Army in many ways is also to speak of Iran’s proxy group, Hezbollah.

The group has grown from a terrorist organization into a powerful guerrilla military force trained, equipped and funded by Iran. It fields cabinet ministers and parliamentarians from a mammoth political machine that has prevented the country from electing a new president for more than a year.

Although built by the Lebanese Army it is clear the new watchtowers, situated on the Lebanese side of the border, can see into Israeli towns and kibbutzim as well as Israeli military bases on behalf of Hezbollah — if not with its own personnel.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 – the cease-fire agreement that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War – prohibits weaponry in this area, which is supposed to be a demilitarized zone.

The watchtowers provide a bird’s eye view of what is happening in Israel’s military and civilian fields and roads as well. But the Israeli army is monitoring the situation, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. “There is no change in the security situation,” said a military spokesperson on Monday (May 23).

It took barely a month to build the towers, according to a resident of Moshav Zar’it who spoke with Ynet and who said three such watchtowers are within sight of nearby Kibbutz Admit.

Another overlooks Kibbutz Hanita, according to security coordinator Erez Adar, who told Ynet the structure is less than a third of a mile away. “We are worried about getting shot at from the tower as it’s so close.

“While the Lebanese Army may be the ones in the tower for now, it’s clear that during the next war, these positions will be manned by Hezbollah.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Among Top Five Countries on WHO 2015 Life Expectancy Chart

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Only 22 countries around the globe have reached an average life expectancy at birth greater than 80 years, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, which would suggest that if one is planning to retire abroad, one should consider those countries most seriously.

Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the WHO African Region to 76.8 years in the WHO European Region, giving a ratio of 1.3 between the two regions. Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was 4.5 years in 1990 and had remained almost the same by 2015 (4.6).

Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

As to the friendly global race of whose citizens get to live longer, the top countries are, in descending order: Japan – 83.7, Switzerland – 83.4, Singapore – 83.1, Italy – 82.7, and Israel – 82.5. The US did not make the 80+ club in 2015, with only 79.3 years’ life expectancy. Neither did the Russian Federation – 70.5.

Israel’s neighbors are definitely not ideal locations for retirement: Egypt – 70.9, Jordan – 74.1, Lebanon – 74.9, and Syria – 64.5 (if you’re lucky). Nigeria stands out with 54.5 life expectancy, along with Angola – 52.4, Burkina Faso – 59.9, Burundi – 59.6, Cameroon – 57.3, Central African Republic – 52.5, Chad – 53.1, Guinea – 59, and Guinea-Bissau – 58.9.

So, here is the list of world countries where you’ll get to grow older than 80, barring unexpected circumstances:

Japan – 83.7
Switzerland – 83.4
Singapore – 83.1
Italy – 82.7
Israel – 82.5
France – 82.4
Sweden – 82.4
Canada – 82.2
Luxembourg – 82
Netherlands – 81.9
Norway – 81.8
Malta – 81.7
New Zealand – 81.6
Austria – 81.5
Belgium – 81.1
Finland – 81.1
Germany – 81
Denmark – 80.6
Chile – 80.5
Cyprus – 80.5

JNi.Media

ISIS Declares ‘State of Emergency in Raqqa’ But Reasons Are Unclear

Monday, May 16th, 2016

The Da’esh (ISIS) terror organization has reportedly declared a “state of emergency” in its de facto capital in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa but its reasons are not clear.

Although the U.S.-led coalition forces believe that recent battles have caused the group’s anxiety, it’s more likely the prospect of the arrival of the Mother Ship that has worried the leadership.

A coalition spokesperson said the “declaration of state of emergency is a response to recent military progress by Syrian government forces in the area. “We have seen this declaration of emergency in Raqqa, we know this enemy feels threatened, as they should,” U.S.-led coalition spokesperson Col Steve Warren told CNN. “They see the Syrian Democratic Forces, along with the Syrian Arab Coalition, maneuver both to their east and to their west. We’ve had reports of ISIL (Da’esh/ISIS) repositioning both their combat capabilities, and we’ve seen reports of them repositioning personnel … either within the city of even out of the city.”

The report followed news that Da’esh had killed at least 35 soldiers from the Syrian armed forces, losing 24 fighters in the process, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

But social media and news reports that Da’esh believes it may soon come under siege in Raqqa, its self-declared capital, may not have much to do with the months-long strikes by coalition forces at all.

It turns out that after a decade of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Al Qaeda appears to have decided to relocate its headquarters to Syria. According to a report quoting unnamed U.S. and European intelligence and counter terror sources in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, Al Qaeda recently sent a delegation of its top veterans to Syria to start the process of creating a new headquarters for the terror group.

The Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist organization broke its cooperative agreement with Da’esh in 2013. The group led radical Islamists in splitting from moderate opposition forces and was involved in the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad from the start of the civil war.

Since that time, various groups have begun to set up independent emirates – small sovereign states – within the geographic area that once was referred to as Syria.

Senior Al Qaeda operatives have also now been told to lay the groundwork for establishing an emirate there, possibly through Al Nusra, which has yet to formally declare one.

Al Qaeda supreme leader Ayman al-Zawahri released his first audio statement in months about two weeks ago, giving his blessing to the venture.

The presence of a consolidated Al Qaeda headquarters in Syria would, of course, mean a bloody battle indeed between the group and Da’esh, which broke off as a splinter group from Al Qaeda.

It would also mean a massive infusion of new blood for Al Qaeda from a region bursting with passionate youths looking for something to do and somewhere to go, other than school and the prospect of a “regular life.” It would provide an alternative for those who are filled with Islamic fundamentalism, hatred and bloodthirsty excitement, but who just can’t deal with the mindless brutality of Da’esh — which has been the only option up to now.

Such a headquarters, strategically located in the heart of the Middle East near the borders of Turkey, Iran and Russia between Europe, Africa and North America, spells the start of a brand new nightmare for the next American president, regardless of who it is.

For Israel, it means unrelenting vigilance along the northern and southern borders.

Da’esh is already ensconsed in the Sinai Peninsula, where its affiliate, the former Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis, now known as “Sinai Province,” has firmed up its bond with Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization. Since the start of this month, the IDF has already uncovered two Hamas cross-border terror attack tunnels leading from Gaza into Israeli territory. Each time, the military engineers were forced to carry out their search under mortar fire directed at them by terrorists from Gaza.

Hana Levi Julian

Very Senior Hezbollah Terrorist Killed in Alleged Israeli Air Strike

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Mustafa Badr A-Din (Mustafa Badreddine), age 55, a very senior military leader in the military wing of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and possibly even the number two man under Hassan Nasrallah, was assassinated in Syria.

He had replaced his brother-in-law Imad Mughniyeh (Moughniyah) who was killed in Damascus in 2008 by a car bomb, for which the Mossad was blamed.

Badr A-Din was in charge of all Hezbollah military operations inside Syria, and before that was involved in planning attacks against Israel.

Badreddine was also blamed by the UN for the murder of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005.

One Hezbollah website and some Lebanese TV stations has blamed Israel for the death of Mustafa Badr A-Din, claiming he was assassinated in an Israeli air strike. But other Hezbollah social media sources say they are still investigating the cause of death.

He apparently killed on Tuesday, May 10th, but Hezbollah only announced it on Friday.

Mustafa Badr A-Din’s assassination is a major blow to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is a terrorist group funded by Iran and operating in Lebanon.

They have a political stranglehold over Lebanon from which they launch attacks against Israel. They are also heavily embedded in the war in Syria, acting on behalf of their Iranian patron. They’ve lost an estimated 1400 fighters in the Syrian civil war, which may be as much as a third of their fighting force.

Shalom Bear

Fallen ‘Lone Soldiers’ Leave a Family and Country in Mourning

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

By Joshua B. Dermer/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Ten years after the death of her son Michael, an American-born IDF soldier who fell in battle, Harriet Levin is still learning to cope.

“Every day is different,” Levin said in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) on the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day, which begins Tuesday night. “I’ve learned to deal, but then there are really bad days – I call them my ‘Michael days.’”

First Sgt. Michael Levin died during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Serving in Battalion 890 of the Paratroopers unit, Michael was killed by anti-tank fire while clearing a building in Aita Al Shaab, a city in southern Lebanon. He was 21 years old.

Levin represents a group of soldiers known as “lone soldiers” – citizens of other countries who leave behind their families and friends and come to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

Thousands of lone soldiers serve in the IDF. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, three lone soldiers, two Americans and one French, were killed in action in the Gaza Strip.

Since 2009, four lone soldier centers across Israel have been established in Michael Levin’s memory.

“Mostly I just try to focus on the good that we’re doing in his memory and that really keeps me going,” Harriet Levin said. The centers are “run by lone soldiers so they really understand their needs,” she added. “We just keep growing and getting better and better.”

Joshua Flaster, director of the Lone Soldier Center and a former lone soldier serving in an infantry unit, helped establish the center along with his comrades after completing his service.

“I came to Israel 11 years ago on my own, as a lone soldier, and sadly have lost good friends in the army,” Flaster told TPS. “Since my release from active-duty service I’ve had to say goodbye far too early to lone soldiers I’d helped advise and integrate into Israel.”

Memorial Day, known in Hebrew as Yom Hazikaron, carries special weight for soldiers, lone or otherwise.

“Yom Hazikaron is a day of sad reflection and, of course, a little scary for any soldier,” Flaster said. “Soldiers are sent to stand by the graves of members of their unit who fell before them. A country comes to a stand-still and as a nation we take on the pain, loss, and price paid to be a free people in our own land.”

Harriet attended the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin ceremony at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill on Tuesday, which featured the untold stories of fallen lone soldiers.

“It’s not only the loss of my son but the loss of all of Israel’s children, both in wars and terrorism, who have given their lives so we have a homeland,” Levin said. “He’s not the only one. He came here from the States and he really didn’t have to, but that’s what really makes Israel so fabulous.”

The differences between Memorial Day in the U.S. and Israel are “like night and day,” Levin said.

“The United States just doesn’t get what a Memorial Day is,” she said. “In the States it’s about barbecues and sales and opening your shorehouse and it has nothing to do with people who have given their lives for their country – here that’s all it’s about.”

Michael is remembered for his smile, courage, and unhalting Zionism.

“His smile would melt you and his eyes would twinkle,” Levin told TPS. “But his seriousness came through when it came to Israel. He had a passion for Israel and a love for this country. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do with his life.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fallen-lone-soldiers-leave-a-family-and-country-in-mourning/2016/05/10/

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