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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘military’

Syrians Prepare for Last Stand in Aleppo

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Syrian residents in the once-beautiful commercial hub of Aleppo are gathering their strength — what little remains — to seek whatever safe spaces they can find in the next 24 hours.

The splintered fragments of opposition forces are about to launch their final stand against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Thus far, opposition forces appear to have the upper hand in this vicious, years-long civil war that has ripped the soul from a lovely land that for decades was the Republic of Syria, but no longer. Today Syria has been torn apart and divvied up among hungry competing warlords like a bleeding carcass about to be butchered for lion cubs.

Some 250,000 residents are beginning to slowly starve in Aleppo, trapped in the eastern part of the city since early July, while the western part of the city remained under government control. The residents of the eastern party of the city are almost without food and water now, after the main artery into that section was shut down by regime forces nearly six weeks ago.

The water pumps in the city are without power. That means two million people are without running water and facing a full siege.

Syrian state media reports government and Russian warplanes are continuing to bomb opposition forces.

But those opposition forces cut off the key access route into the western part of the city Sunday to block the entry of regime soldiers.

According to media sources in Tehran quoted by A-Sharq al-Awsat, “around 2,000 fighters came from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to assist regime forces,” but the infusion of foreign aid didn’t faze the opposition.

Jaish al-Fatah, the Islamist opposition group, released a voice recording on Monday of a phone-tapped conversation by a Hezbollah guerrilla fighter describing the situation on the southern Aleppo front. The fighter said in a Lebanese accent that Hezbollah and regime fighters were collapsing and were left to fight alone. Other militias had already abandoned the front, fleeing the debacle to save their own lives.

According to a Ahrar al-Sham leader who spoke with A-Sharq al-Awsat, “The collapse in the ranks of regime forces is clear and it continues as long as Jaish al-Fatah fighters advance in the city.”

Both sides are now preparing for “the great battle of Aleppo,” said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United Nations is urging both sides to cease their fire — or at least to pause it — long enough to allow repairs to the water and electricity grids.

According to UN sources, some two million people are without basic supplies — such as sugar, wheat, food cans and water — and children in the city are at “grave risk” of disease.

Opposition forces, meanwhile, say they are poised to take control of the entire city. The fragmented forces are united in this goal, at least, and it is this unity that allows the exchange of Western-supplied weapons between so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition forces and those who are dubbed “radical Islamist groups” linked to Al Qaeda and Da’esh (ISIS).

That unity when it comes to fighting the Assad regime is not well understood by the United States and other Western nations, and it is this Western lack of familiarity with the regional culture codes that has repeatedly led to disaster when trying to fight worldwide terror.

For all of these reasons, and because of the utter chaos taking place north of Israel’s border, the IDF is being especially watchful now.

Hana Levi Julian

Complying with Ottoman Law, IDF Panel Revokes Jewish Community’s Land Ownership

Monday, August 8th, 2016

The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.

The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.

The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.

Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.

However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.

There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.

The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.

Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.

According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).

David Israel

Pres. Rivlin Urges Israeli Arabs to Enlist for National Service

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin urged the Arab citizens of Israel on Sunday to enlist for National Service, a civilian arm that recruits young adults for a year or more service to the country, instead of doing military service.

Many of Israel’s observant Jewish girls volunteer for National Service, and according to director-general Sar-Shalom Jerbi, some 4,500 Israeli Arab citizens are also participating in the program.

National Service volunteers are found in nearly every agency, school, and hospital throughout the country. They act as tutors, counselors, mentors and assistants in any place they are needed. During times of high tension in particular, their presence is especially important.

There are precious few volunteers that speak Arabic fluently, who can provide qualified assistance in schools and clinics in the Israeli Arab sector; an increase in National Service volunteers for this sector would be invaluable.

But Rivlin would like to see those numbers increase, and this weekend urged the country’s Israeli Arab population to allow its young high school graduates to sign up, despite political disagreements.

The president said at a ceremony in the presidential residence in Jerusalem held to recognize outstanding national service volunteers, “We are one society, and we all live in one country; we are mutually responsible for one another.”

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel is also responsible for the program. At the ceremony he underlined the importance of those serving in National Service, saying their contribution is no less than that of the soldiers serving in the IDF and other security forces.

Those who serve in National Service are deemed eligible for most of the benefits granted to veterans of the military upon completion of their service.

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish Practice In The U.S. Military (III)

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Eight years after the issue of Chaplain Geller and his beard was tried, the issue of accommodation to Orthodox practice would again spread its wings in the United States Air Force. This time the focus was Captain Rabbi Dr. Simcha Goldman who entered the military in September 1970.

From the time of his induction into the Navy, Goldman never encountered a problem wearing a yarmulke in the U.S. military. Initially, he had served as a chaplain (the JWB Navy chaplain screener at the time of Geller had subsequently retired) and for those years (1970-1972) the yarmulke that he constantly wore was never a concern to anyone. In 1973 Goldman’s aspirations took flight when he realized that the Air Force had more to offer him and his professional interest in clinical psychology than the Navy.

Goldman made the necessary adjustments between the military branches and was admitted to the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program earning his PhD in clinical psychology in 1977. Goldman’s method to repay Uncle Sam for the education was four years of active military duty. He was awarded the rank of captain and assigned to the March Air Force Base (subsequently closed) in Riverside, Calif., some 30 miles east of Los Angeles.

At this deployment too, he also wore his yarmulke without controversy, until matters would change in April, 1981. At that time Dr. Goldman was called as a defense witness in a court martial. As the hearing was a military tribunal, Dr. Goldman testified in uniform.

The prosecution’s case against an airman accused of grand theft of government property was contingent upon discrediting the testimony that the psychologist provided in his defense. Toward this goal, the prosecutor questioned as to which precise examinations were applied to determine the defendant’s sanity, as there are different methodologies that are considered standard.

“Was,” queried the prosecutor, “the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: a standard psychometric test of adult personality and psychopathology) administered?”

As Dr. Goldman had not administered every exam, the thoroughness of his evaluation was called into question. Simcha Goldman did not take this as a personal affront, assuming that this was standard procedure employed by the prosecution to advance their case and weaken the defense.

One year later, Goldman was again called as a defense witness in a court-martial where the accusation was argued by the very same prosecutor. The man wanted to know which exams were used to determine the mental health of the accused. Repeating the tactics of one year earlier, the prosecutor demanded, “Did you perform an MMPI?”

This time the answer was affirmative, causing the prosecution to wax long and hard as to how inferior an evaluation the MMPI provides. The fact that the very same man could change 180° in just one year irritated Goldman, but he did not say anything, dismissing it once again as the methodology of litigators who are wont to employ the arguments that best serve their case, even if it is not consistent.

He didn’t say something initially, but he also did not totally dismiss it. Goldman put his psychological training to work and plotted how to one-up the prosecution. Dr. Goldman argued that the defendant possessed a weak personality and was influenced by bad friends with stronger personalities. And with this assertion Simcha Goldman had sowed the seeds of manipulation.

The prosecutor took the bait and, electrified like a cold motor from a jump-start, questioned, “Did you ask him if he had any good friends?”

“I didn’t believe that this was relevant.” Goldman deliberately answered vaguely, placing the red meat directly before the predator.

The military prosecutor fell for the trap head first and demanded to know why such a key factor would not be considered relevant when determining the innocence or guilt of the accused?

“Captain, I did not believe,” explained Goldman in the tone of a teacher repeating what should have been comprehended on the first take, “that this was a relevant question.”

Goldman’s response did not merit an immediate response. Silence began to flood the courtroom as everyone present understood with dread clarity that the prosecutor had been irked. The insult leveled caused annoyance to spew out of him like the spray from a hydrant wrenched open in the summertime.

Grabbing hold of himself, he finally uttered through clenched teeth, “Dr. Goldman just answer the question and let the court decide what is relevant.”

“Captain,” Goldman responded all smiles, “I don’t think the question is relevant to my clinical evaluation.” It was cheap, but it worked. This snappy rebuttal brought down the house. Ultimately, however, it was the prosecutor who would have the last laugh.

Ten days later, Goldman’s commanding officer informed him that a complaint had been lodged against him for wearing a yarmulke in violation of Air Force regulations. And just as a face can launch a thousand ships, one line can ignite a legal battle all the way up to the United States’s Court of Last Resort.

 

To be continued

 

Chodesh Tov – have a pleasant month!

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Military Court of Appeals Critical of Administrative Restrictions of Jews without Hearings

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The President of the Military Court of Appeals, Judge Col. Netanel Benisho, leveled sharp criticism at the IDF Central Command for issuing dozens of administrative restriction orders against Jews over the past year.

In July, Judge Col. Benisho ruled on an appeal filed by legal aid society Honenu Attorney Menasheh Yado regarding an administrative restrictive order served by the GOC of the Central Command against a Jewish youth residing at Givat Baladim, a hilltop community adjacent to Kochav HaShahar in the Binyamin region. The youth was banned from entering Judea and Samaria, except for Kiryat Arba, which meant he was prevented from tending his flock which he keeps in the area of Kochav HaShahar. The duration of the order was extended after it had expired once, which was the reason for the appeal.

More than 50 administrative restriction orders were issued by the GOC of the Central and Home Front Commands over the past year against Jewish youths.

Judge Col. Benisho accepted Yado’s argument that the Central Command systematically withholds the right to a hearing before serving the administrative orders against Jewish subjects, and called on the authorities to make sure that the right to a hearing is observed.

The right to a hearing is granted by law and may be revoked only under unusual circumstances, when an individual poses an immediate danger. Attorney Yado argued that the unusual had become the rule and the Central Command admitted that not one of the Jews who had been served with an administrative order over the past few years had received the opportunity of a hearing before the order was served, including in cases of extending an existing order.

Judge Col. Benisho wrote in his decision that “the commanding officer must be conscientious in granting [detainees] the opportunity to plead their case, prior to serving them with restriction orders, unless there is significant cause to grant this right only after the order has been served. … Closely adhering to the above-mentioned guidelines is especially advisable when dealing with the extension of an order, as it is in this case. In such situations it is reasonable to assume that the suspicions raised by the representative of the commanding officer are weaker. Therefore it is expected that there must be even more diligence in correctly implementing the right to appeal.”

Judge Col. Benisho also called on lawmakers to require mandatory appearance in court in every case of an administrative restriction order, as is currently done in the case of an administrative detention order: a deliberation must be held within 24 hours at a district court.

The judge also recommended to the Knesset: “It would be proper for lawmakers to institute a mandatory judicial review similar to the one existing concerning administrative detention orders.”

Judge Col. Benisho also ruled that, after “lengthy consideration,” the order currently being appealed will not be canceled, due to confidential information provided by the Shabak. However, he also demanded that in order to extend the order again, the army and the ISA must present “intelligence information which fundamentally alters the evaluation of dangerousness,” or there must be “a fundamental change in the security situation of the district.”

Honenu Attorney Yado said in a statement: “This is the first step in limiting the discretion of a GOC in issuing [administrative restriction] orders. We have no doubt that many of the orders are disproportionate and will not stand the test of a [trial in civilian court]. Concerning the procedure, the court reminded the GOC that young residents of Judea and Samaria also have legal rights to a court deliberation, and compelled the GOC to hold hearings prior to serving [administrative restriction] orders, something which the GOC, contrary to the requirement of the law, had systematically neglected over the past year.”

JNi.Media

5 Dead in Russian Mi8 Helicopter Shot Down in Syria

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Two military officers and three crew members aboard a Russian Mi8 transport helicopter were killed after the Mi8 helicopter in which they were traveling was shot down Monday over Syria.

It is the deadliest incident for the Russian military since the force arrived in the Middle East over a year ago.

The troops were heading back from Aleppo to the Russian “Reconciliation Center” at Hemeimim Air Base on the Syrian coast when the aircraft was shot down over Idlib province.

It is not clear how the two pilots and three crew members died.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an update, “From what we know from information provided by the Defense Ministry, all those who were on the helicopter died.”

The Russian crew “died heroically because they tried to move the aircraft away to as to minimize losses on the ground,” Peskov said. “The Kremlin conveys its deep condolences to the families of those killed in action,” he added.

The aircraft had allegedly been delivering humanitarian aid to the besieged former commercial hub city of Aleppo, according to a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry. There are some 300,000 people still trapped in the opposition section of the city with rapidly depleting supplies and surrounded by intense fighting.

Idlib province is a stronghold of the Al Qaeda-linked Jaish al-Fateh (“Army of Conquest”) groups which have captured most of the province. The Kremlin said in its statement that the helicopter was shot down by ground fire.

The Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which announced it is changing its name and de-linking from the mother group, is part of Jaish al-Fateh.

In the past several months there have been at least three other incidents in which Russian aircraft have been shot down or crashed due to other reasons. Each time, two pilots were killed.

Opposition forces may have received new anti-aircraft weapons, freelance journalist Alaa Ibrahim told RT.com.

“I’ve heard some local sources where the [Russian] helicopter was downed speaking of the possibility of MANPADs – shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles – being used in that context,” he said.

Portable surface-to-air missiles would be a game changer in the hands of rebel forces, as such weapons counter air superiority — not only that of the Syrian regime Air Force, but also that of anyone else.

Although Western nations have tried to tease out the differences between “moderate” and “extremist Islamist” groups among the opposition forces, such parsing is not only very hard to do, it also becomes irrelevant as soon as any group faces heavy conflict with Syrian regime forces. At that point, all of the opposition groups tend to band together and share weapons, regardless of their ideological differences. This includes the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists and Al Qaeda as well as the Free Syrian Army, who are facing the Iranian Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards and the Tehran-backed Hezbollah guerrilla forces, as well as the Syrian regime forces.

The weapons “sharing” gets worked out after the battle, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not.

At the end of the conflict when the war is at an end, most or all of the groups are likely to aim their arms at the State of Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

Could A Military Coup Occur In Israel?

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Unlikely. True, the radical leftist Ha’aretz newspaper fantasizes about a coup. And until just a short while ago we had a defense minister who echoed Ha’aretz’s stand and called upon IDF officers to publicly express their disagreement with Israel’s government. But no, it does not seem that a military coup could occur in Israel – simply because, in many ways, the army already rules here.

Israel is an army that has a state much more than it is a state with an army. Think about it for a moment… What is the first institution taken over during a putsch? The radio, of course. But, unlike the army of every other free country, the IDF already has its own radio station. In fact, it’s the most popular radio station in the country!

Furthermore, despite the fact that there are almost no Arab armies threatening Israel and that the relevant threats facing her only require an air force, technology, and special units – in other words, much less manpower – despite all this, there is a mandatory draft for all Israeli citizens, and Israel’s army is the largest ever. Why? The answer is simple: An army that has a state does not like to leave citizens outside its sphere of influence.

In Israel, the Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, is the Holy Temple, the defense minister the High Priest, the army officers are the priests in holy service and enlistment day is the bar mitzvah of Israeli-ness. A person who doesn’t serve in the army is not really “Israeli.”

The gatekeepers of the Israeli ethos enjoy immense power and unlimited faith from a public that does not have the professional tools or the conscious ability to criticize them. Take, for example, the last war in Gaza. For a month and a half, missiles slammed into Tel Aviv and all that the IDF managed to create was a tie between the Israeli elephant and the Gazan fly. But a poll showed that public faith in the IDF had skyrocketed. Even the Second Lebanon War fiasco is sold to the public today as a success.

When the prime minister asked Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and Mossad Chief Dagan to prepare Israel’s forces to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the two refused to obey his orders (Dagan publicly admitted this). They were not fired and they were not executed by a firing squad. They both continued in their positions and it was the prime minister who backed down. The deputy chief of staff who compared those Israelis who do not agree with his values to Germans at the beginning of the development of Nazism was not relieved of his duties and was not put on trial. On the contrary, he was given great respect and recently accompanied the prime minister on his state trip to Africa.

So what is Israel? A state with an army? Or an army with a state?

There is nothing to worry about. There will be no military coup in Israel. In too many ways, the army already rules here. What Israel really needs is a civilian coup.

Moshe Feiglin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/could-a-military-coup-occur-in-israel/2016/07/29/

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