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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’

Third Terror Group Says it Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

A new, previously unmentioned group says it is responsible for kidnapping three Israeli teens on June 12.

Identifying itself as the Hezbollah Brigades, this is the third such group to say it abducted the boys while hitchhiking home from yeshiva in Gush Etzion on June 12.

If in fact the claim is authentic, this cell may be part of the larger global jihad group of the same name that operates in Syria and in Iraq.

The Israeli government continues to insist the Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza — and which in recent years has infiltrated Judea and Samaria — is responsible for the abduction.

The so-called Hezbollah Brigades, or “Kata’ib Hezbollah” is a Shi’ite milita group active in Iraq and Syria tied to, but not formally a part of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization.

According to U.S. military sources the group is linked to a cluster of special groups which receive funding, training, logistics and materiel from Iran’s Quds Force, despite official denials from the Iranian government. The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization also is backed by Iran, as are the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations that operate in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The U.S. State Department has also said in the past that the Kata’ib Hezbollah has received weapons and training from Lebanese Hezbollah. Both groups appear on the U.S. State Department List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

A message from someone who claims to be a member of this group was posted Thursday on the Arabic-language Gaza-based Sahafa website, linked to Amad Press.

The message, printed in Arabic, was also made available in audio, read by a man.

However, the Hezbollah-controlled Al-Manar broadcast stations in Lebanon did not post anything on the new claim, nor were there any other reports about it in Lebanon media.

This raises questions as to whether in fact the group is truly connected with the kidnapping. Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has never been shy about claiming responsibility for terrorist attacks, nor has he ever hesitated to comment on the attacks of others associated with his organization.

Nevertheless, it is still possible the attack was carried out by the group. In past years there have been several international terror attacks carried out by Hezbollah cells that were not mentioned by Nasrallah; only later did the connection come to light.

Fouad Ajami, ‘Genuine Arab Hero,’ Dead at 68

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Foaud Ajami, a prolific writer and a scholar of the Middle East and, in particular, Arab and Islamic policies, has died.

Ajami was born into a poor Shiite Muslim family in Arnoun, Lebanon in September of 1945. He emigrated to the United States in 1963, where he attended university. He taught at Princeton and then, in 1980, became director of the Middle East Studies at the international relations graduate program, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University.

The winner of a MacArthur Prize in 1982, Ajami was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. He was an advocate of the Iraq war and an acerbic critic of U.S. President Barack Obama.

On the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary, Ajami rebuked his fellow Arabs for refusing to accept the existence of the Jewish State, choosing instead to inculcate their followers with the fervent desire and belief that Arab might would excise Israel from their midst like a boil. He wrote in U.S. News and World Report:

In its short history, Israel has held up a mirror for the Arabs, who have not liked what they have seen. In the first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, the paramilitary and volunteers of the new state turned back Arab armies. Although outgunned and outnumbered, the Jews prevailed. There was the embarrassment of the numbers. The population of the new state was a mere 650,000, while that of the surrounding Arab states was approximately 40 million. No Arabs had been prepared for what had unfolded: The war was thought to be a routine endeavor, the defeat of the Jewish state preordained. There were men of public affairs in these Arab states who knew better, but they hadn’t had the courage to tell the truth to the unsuspecting crowd.

Another Middle East scholar whom the world lost far too soon, Barry Rubin, summed it up this way:

You want to know what’s wrong with the study and analysis of the Middle East in the West in a single sentence? Ok, here it is:

Edward Said is treated like a guru and hero; Fouad Ajami isn’t.

Ajami was the co-chair of the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, he is the author of seven books on the Middle East and hundreds of articles.

Like Barry Rubin, Ajami succumbed to cancer. Ajami was 68.

Hezbollah Most Heavily Armed Force in Region Besides Israel

Monday, June 9th, 2014

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrilla fighting force is among the most heavily armed in the region, according to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who told the 2014 IDC Herzliya Conference on Monday that Israel is facing a lethal threat.

Israel’s military chief said just Israel and the top five nations of the world currently have more firepower today than Hezbollah. According to Gantz, the only nations more heavily armed than Hezbollah – which is supplied by Iran – are “the U.S., China, Russia, Israel, France, [and] the UK.”

It was a sobering moment for the audience at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, who heard that Israel is facing a new type of threat, one that originates from underground. Terrorists in Lebanon and in Gaza use bunkers, where they store their arms – in much the same way Israelis used underground facilities to produce bullets during the British Mandate to prepare for the 1948 War of Independence.

Attendees also heard the army chief explain that Israel’s neighbor to the north, Syria, is disintegrating. Regardless of what happens on the other side of the border, none of the options will be particularly good for Israel, Gantz explained. He added that “decades of conflict” are likely to continue in Syria, “perhaps more.” Hezbollah is actively involved in that war, fighting to defend President Bashar al-Assad; the experience gained in that fight may well aid the terrorist organization later in a future war against Israel, Gantz warned.

Moreover, a second front is again developing in the south with Gaza, where mid-to-long range missiles have again been stockpiled for a future war with Israel as well. Both the ruling Hamas terror organization and its allied Islamic Jihad terrorist group are fully backed by Iran, as is Hezbollah. All three would function as proxies for Iran, which has not given up its dream of annihilating Israel.

Nor has Iran abandoned its goal of developing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, Gantz said.

Israel will take whatever action is deemed appropriate to neutralize that existential threat against the Jewish State, he said.

Lebanese Car Crashes into Israel Border Fence

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

On Saturday night, a Lebanese car ran into the crash/infiltration barrier separating the border between Lebanon and Israel. The incident happened near the entrance to the Fatma/Metulla gate, according to a report on Rotter.

UNIFIL soldiers towed the car away. It doesn’t appear to have breached the fence.

No other information is known about the incident.

Lebanon Calls for US Help to Pilfer Israeli Gas

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Lebanon’s parliament speaker announced Thursday that Beirut would ask the United States for help to cut in on Israel’s natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea, the Times of Israel reported Thursday.

The field is located off the coast of Nahariya, south of Lebanon’s territorial waters. The area in question is a 1,400- square kilometre maritime that is considered part of Israel’s exclusive economic zone. US geologists believe the area contains up to 123 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.

Until that discovery was made, Lebanon had never laid claim to the area.  Since then, however, Hezbollah spokespeople have mentioned the issue repeatedly in their speeches, apparently planning to turn the area into a “maritime Sheba Farms,” a reference to the area of Israel that Hezbollah claims as “occupied” Lebanese territory. The United Nations regards that area as part of Syria, where as UN maps show the site as clearly being inside Israel.

For Hezbollah, however the supposedly-“occupied” Farms create pretext to continue preparations to fight the Israeli enemy.

Seize the momentum

Apparently seeking to seize on the momentum created when the United States legitimised Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian unity government, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri asked Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday to intervene on Lebanon’s behalf. who paid a surprise visit to Lebanon Wednesday.

TOI quoted the as-Safir newsper, which said that Berri told Kerry he hoped the US would mediate between Lebanon and Israel “in a balanced and fair manner.” Berri also apparently tried to bribe Kerry, offering an opportunity for US companies to become “partner(s) in oil exploitation in Lebanon,” the website added.

Lebanese factions fought a devastating civil war from 1975-90, destroying the country’s tourism industry and much of its export trade. In the past, the country, which is poor in natural resources, has been a haven of cultural freedom and tolerance, with a thriving nightlife and culture scene in the capital, Beirut.  Since then, the country’s economy has basically stagnated.

In addition, Lebanon has essentially been taken over by Iran, via its local proxy, Hezbollah. Following Israel’s withdrawal from the security zone the terror group has repeatedly kidnapped Israeli soldiers, most recently provoking the Second Lebanon War in 2006. As a result, Beirut has incurred massive national debt with little ability to repay it.

TOI reported that the United States has asked Lebanese officials to hold off on drilling in disputed waters until a final deal on borders can be reached.

Lebanese Priest Hopes to Re-Patriate SLA Vets

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported Thursday that Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who is currently on a landmark visit to Israel, said he would ask Lebanese authorities to allow former members of the South Lebanon Army to return to their homeland.

The SLA fought alongside Israel during the latter’s maintenance of the security sone, a 17-kilometer stretch of Lebanese territory north of the Israeli border following the 1982 Operatio Peace for Galilee. The organization collapsed after Israel dismantled the security zone in May, 2000, and thousands of SLA soldiers fled to Israel, many with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Meeting with former SLA soldiers Capernaum, a Christian holy site overlooking the Kinneret, Rai said, “You are among those who are paying the expense of a certain international and regional plot. We are following up on your sufferings with authorities in Lebanon.”

The paper reported Rai, who accompanied Pope Francis to Israel but was sharply criticised in Lebanon for “granting legitimacy” to the Jewish state, is the first Lebanese religious leader to visit Israel despite the formal state of war between the countries.  Hezbollah, the controlling force in south Lebaon, issued a thinly-veiled threat to the Patriarch that the visit could have “dangerous and negative repercussions.”

 

Historic Visit to Israel by Lebanon’s Courageous Maronite Patriarch

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In honor of Pope Francis, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic Church defied threats to his life this week and came to Israel.

Cardinal Beshara Ra’i is the first Lebanese cleric to arrive in the Jewish State since 1948. Having arrived on Saturday to begin a week-long visit, he joined the pontiff Sunday for the first leg of his two-day tour of the Holy Land in Bethlehem. Much of the weekend, however, he spent traveling around Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem’s Old City and surrounds.

But on Monday he took what critics saw as an irrevocable political step by crossing into “pre-1967″ Israel — arriving at a Maronite community in the ancient port city of Jaffa (Yafo), next to Tel Aviv. There are numerous Lebanese Christians living in Israel, many of whom emigrated in order to stay alive after the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.

Lebanese media called the cleric’s visit a “historic sin,” though he was greeted by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas with a medal, the ‘Star of Jerusalem’ for his efforts.

“We came here for the goal of strengthening our belief,” he told journalists when asked why he had taken the risk.

Sources aligned to the Hezbollah terrorist organization warned last week the Cardinal’s visit “cannot not pass quietly,” the Times of Israel reported. Likewise the Lebanese As-Safir quoted unnamed sources who said, “The patriarch’s move puts the Christian existence in the east in danger at a time when their presence is being increasingly targeted in the entire region.”

Christians have long been tormented by various Islamist groups, not only in Lebanon but also in Egypt. They have also been harassed in Palestinian Authority-controlled Bethlehem, where the city’s former Christian majority has now dwindled to a bare ten percent of its current Muslim majority population.

The pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar ran a fiery op-ed against the visit one week ago, warning, “When Beshara Ra’i travels to ‘Israel’ with the knowledge and consent of the occupation authorities, he creates a dangerous precedent . . . he humanizes the enemy, breaking the taboo and opening the door to all the believers eager to visit the holy sites. When will organized tours begin, guarded by Tzahal (the Israeli army) and hosted by Israeli companies eager to smuggle their products into Lebanon for years?”

The Cardinal responded with an interview in the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, pointing out, “His Holiness the Pope will grace the patriarchate with his visit and it would be inappropriate for us not to welcome him in our lands Jordan and Palestine, which is Israel today. I know full well that Israel is an enemy state which occupies Lebanese land as well, and I respect Lebanese law [banning visits to Israel.] We have no meetings with Israeli officials and I am sorry that some Lebanese wish to create problems where there are none.”

Pope Francis, who began his visit to the region in Amman, pointed out before leaving Jordan that the freedom of worship is an essential human right, and expressed the hope of seeing that upheld throughout the Middle East.

It would appear that only in Israel are members of all three monotheistic faiths assured of their rights to worship.

Senior Maronite Archbishop Paul Sayah added the Cardinal’s visit was purely religious and not linked to the “regrettable situation that exists between Lebanon and Israel.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/historic-visit-to-israel-by-lebanons-courageous-maronite-patriarch/2014/05/27/

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