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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri Leads 30-Minister Government

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri launched a new 30-minister government on Sunday, one that ranged from one end of the political spectrum to the other and included all parties with the exception of the right-wing Christian Phalangists. The latter rejected the minister of state portfolio it was offered.

“This is a government of entente,” Hariri said, after six weeks of hard work forming the new coalition following the election of President Michel Aoun.

Hariri, 46, is not a supporter of Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah, some members of which have been accused of involvement in the 2005 murder of his father, also a prime minister of Lebanon. But a return to power required him to support the Hezbollah candidate for the presidency – Aoun – and to at least tolerate two ministers from the terrorist organization.

The prime minister is also an opponent of Syria and any meddling or other influence from the regime of its President Bashar al-Assad, “spillover” or other “negative consequences” from its savage civil war, AFP reported.

New portfolios in the government include an anti-corruption ministry and a first-time minister of state for women’s affairs.

Hana Levi Julian

Israelis Stepping Up on Behalf of Syria

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

by Ilana Messika Several dozen people formed a human chain on Sunday from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to the Russian Embassy down the street to call for action to act to end the slaughter in Syria.

Ahead of the protest, Tazpit Press Service (TPS) interviewed Gadiu Gevaryahu, chairman of the Tag Meir organization that hosted the event.

“When there is a war, a few kilometers away from us, which has caused around half a million deaths, we cannot keep our hands in our pockets and do nothing,” he said.

“First of all, we want to put out an emergency call, in particular to the Israeli government and to the the international community. The slaughter of the Syrian people must be stopped and we, in Israel, need to lend a hand, beyond all the good initiatives that are already being undertaken. We simply need to do more,” Gevaryahu argued.

The protest was the latest in a series of Israeli-led grassroots initiatives on behalf of Syrians, and Syrian refugees. Despite the fact that Israel and Syria have remained technically at war since Israel’s founding in 1948, Israelis have founded a variety of unofficial and grassroots efforts aimed at providing medical care, humanitarian aid and just human connection with people and families. Hundreds of Syrians have received treatment at Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat. More quietly, several groups of Israel doctors and social activists have travelled to the Zaatari refugee camp, on the Syria-Jordan border, hiding their national identities in order to provide care in a charged anti-Israel atmosphere.

Closer to home, there have been grassroots initiatives to raise money, pray and to provide other means of material and emotional support. One crowdfunding campaign, “Syrians on the Fences,” raised more than NIS 430,000 ($113,000) in less than a week to buy baby formula, blankets and medicine for children displaced and/or wounded by the fighting. Another, simpler plan seeks only to raise awareness amongst the Israeli public regarding the situation in Syria.

“Considering of the worsening of the situation in Aleppo, we decided that we could not remain insensitive any longer,” said Sarah Haetzni Cohen, creator of the hashtag #Israel4Aleppo. “As a civic organization, we cannot do much but we decided that what is important to do at this point is to raise awareness. We cannot ignore what goes on at such a small distance from Israel. But while we are sitting here drinking coffee, children are being massacred,” she said.

According to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, more than five years of conflict beginning in March, 2011 has left around 450,000 dead and more than 2 million injured.

In addition, the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are about 11 million Syrian refugees globally, including around 4.8 million in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and 6.6 million remain internally displaced within Syria – a staggering 52.9 percent of Syria’s 2011 population.

Israel’s official strategy with regards to the Syrian civil war has been one of neutrality and non-intervention, apart from targeting the transfer of weapons of mass destruction to Lebanese-based Hezbollah via Syria, with the tacit agreement of Russia.

Nevertheless, several Israeli politicians have spoken out on behalf of Syrian civilians caught in the middle of rebel forces and military troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Last week, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri who urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to convene a Security Council meeting to discuss Aleppo.

Haetzni Cohen told TPS that it was crucial as a Zionist organization “to raise a universalist flag with all its values.

“There are not here any consideration of politics, identities or race, only a humanitarian and civil matter of the most basic level,” she stated.

This sentiment was reverberated by Gvaryahu, who also argued that to stand against the massacre in Syria was a duty the Jewish people had to itself and its history: “We are all here, in one way or another, a second or third generation of Holocaust survivors. My father, a Holocaust survivor, used to tell me about the hurtful silence of the Pope Pius XII, and we simply cannot behave identically towards another slaughter. Within this fight we are also perpetuating the memory of our own history,” he said.

“Those who profess the importance to recognize the country as a Jewish state must behave like in a Jewish state. Though we have a long history, we have recently know what is means to be a refugee and have known the definition of massacre,” Gevaryahu claimed.

“Of course, we will not resolve the situation in Syria, but we do have the duty not to remain silent,” he concluded.

With additional reporting from Andrew Friedman.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Palestinian Authority Received $357 Million From US State Dept in 2016

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

A report last week that the Palestinian Authority received no funding at all in 2016 from the United States has been proven untrue in an expose by the Times of Israel.

According to the report, the Ramallah government has received more funding this year from the U.S. State Department than from any other foreign source.

As a matter of fact, a State Department official provided information to the news outlet on Thursday that proves the United States gave the Palestinian Authority more than $357 million in financial aid in 2016. Add to that another $355,177,827 contributed by the United States in 2016 to UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – which included an allocation of $95 million solely for Gaza and the PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

UNRWA is the agency dedicated solely to helping “Palestinian refugees” in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria – the only refugees in the world to be defined from one generation to the next, now going into the fifth generation, and numbering past five million, rather than having be accepted and absorbed by their “Arab brethren.”

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had told the official Voice of Palestine radio station on December 8 that his government had not received any funds from the United States in 2016, calling it a “financial siege” on the Palestinian Authority.

“We hope that this aid money will be paid,” he said, the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) translated from a clip of the program.

But it turns out Hamdallah was playing semantics, with a reference to the difference between fiscal year approval and transfer of payment, which the U.S. government disburses via the USAID agency in the form of project funding in a one-year delay, which Hamdallah knows perfectly well. “Projects” can include anything like bills for education funding – utility bills for schools, for example – hospitals, direct payments to contractors who build or repair infrastructure… anything other than salaries for terrorist inmates sitting in Israeli jails.

The monies for 2016 were approved actually in 2015. The monies for 2017 – according to Hamdallah, $263 million, were approved by Congress in 2016. Somehow he has gotten the figure wrong, however: according to the figures from the State Department, $261 million was approved by Congress. TOI was unable to reach Hamdallah’s office for comment on the difference in the numbers.

Hana Levi Julian

Liberman: Assad the Butcher Should Be Removed

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the opening of the Limmud FSU conference in Eilat Thursday that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is a “butcher” who “should be removed from power.”

Asked about the massacre of more than 500,000 people in the Syrian civil war and the recent siege on Aleppo, Liberman said: “Assad is a butcher, who has slaughtered and murdered hundreds of thousands of people, including by using chemical weapons. In my opinion, he should be removed from power – and we should block Iranian involvement in Syria.”

When asked if Israel should get involved in Syria, Liberman said: “Where is the international community? It’s a shame that instead of focusing on the very unfortunate fact that 500 people are killed in the Middle East every day, the international community would rather criticize Israel for every new balcony built on a settlement.”

Liberman also addressed the peace process, saying: “Any peace agreement should be based on populated-area exchange, which should also include Israeli Arabs who consider themselves to be Palestinian.”

“Territory transfers have worked successfully throughout history, and the principle conforms with international law,” he added.

Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) marked a decade of educational work with young Russian-speaking Jews at a festival of learning, which opened today in Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat. The ninth Limmud FSU Israel conference is a three-day event featuring hundreds of lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures.

“We have made a huge impact in Russian-Jewish communities around the world,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler. “We are so excited to be celebrating our 10th anniversary – with leaders of the Russian-speaking community, such as the minister of defense – at one of the world’s most beautiful resort cities.”

Over the past decade, Limmud FSU has gathered more than 45,000 Russian-speaking Jews, most of whom were aged between 24 and 40, for educational and cultural festivals, conferences and other events in nine countries around the world.

“Year after year, Limmud FSU succeeds in igniting the spark of being Jewish, and this is the ninth time we’ll be doing so in Israel,” said Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandra F. Cahn.


Assad Army Captures Most of Aleppo Rebels’ District

Monday, December 12th, 2016

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, with massive support from Russian air strikes and Iranian Shia militias, have taken the Sheikh Saeed district in eastern Aleppo after fierce fighting that began Sunday afternoon.

“The army is now in full control of Sheikh Saeed,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, adding that “Syrian regime forces are now in control of 90 percent” of what used to be the rebel owned areas in Aleppo’s east.

The fall of Aleppo could mark the approaching final days of the Syrian rebel armies, bringing Syria closer to an end of the civil war begun in 2011, and a return of Assad’s government control over the country’s five major cities.

According to an official Syrian news agency SANA Monday report, Syrian Army units are now pushing into the neighborhoods of al-Kallasa, Bustan al-Qaser and Souq al-Hal and chasing down the fleeing rebels to al-Sukkari, al-Mash’had, al-Ameriya and al-Ansari.

Syrian Army units directed heavy fire at rebel groups in Daraa al-Balad area and the western and northern countryside of Daraa southern province, west of Air Defense Battalion and in al-Yadouda town in the northern and western countryside of the Province, killing a large number of rebels and destroying their vehicles.

David Israel

Democratic Congresswoman Introduces ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Act’

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Hawaii Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard last week introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” after visiting New York’s Trump Tower and meeting President-elect Trump. Gabbard, an Army veteran and a member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services, wrote: “If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Why does our government get a free pass on this?”

She told NPR on Friday that the US government has been “quietly supporting allies, partners, individuals and groups who are working directly with al-Qaida, ISIS, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and other terrorist groups by providing them with money, weapons and intelligence support in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”

As a result, Gabbard said, “we will end up with a situation where not only will the Syrian people be under greater human suffering and an even more dire situation. We will end up with al-Qaida now having far greater military capability, far greater strength and posing a greater threat not only to the region but to the United States and the rest of the world.”

Host Scott Simon noted that “the Assad regime has used chemical weapons and has committed what a lot of people consider to be war crimes against its own people.”

“You really think the Syrian rebels would be worse?” he asked.

“My statement stands,” Gabbard answered. “If those who are calling for the removal of this regime are, in essence, accepting the fact that al-Qaida would take over that country, whether it’s al-Qaida or ISIS or other terrorist groups – and for people to think that that would somehow improve the lives of the people there in Syria or that it would somehow better secure the American people – I think that’s a crazy notion.”

A supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, Gabbard sees a common approach by Sanders and Trump regarding US intervention in Syria. “It was a clear difference between Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton,” she said. “I am hopeful that this new administration coming in will change these policies so that we don’t continue making these destructive decisions, as have been made in the past.”


Confirmed: US Airstrike Kills ISIS Terrorist Behind Charlie Hebdo, Hyper Cacher Massacres

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

US military officials confirmed Friday (Dec. 9) that Boubaker el-Hakim, the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist leader behind the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher terror attacks in Paris, was killed last month.

El-Hakim, a 33-year-old French Tunisian, was confirmed dead in an air strike on Raqqa, according to military officials who spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The terrorist is believed to have been a leader in disseminating Islamic State terrorist propaganda abroad.

El-Hakim also helped plan the attack on the Paris offices of the satiric magazine, which was coordinated with an attack on the kosher grocery a few hours before the start of the Sabbath that same week. He played mentor to the two brothers who carried out the massacres together with a third terrorist who took hostages at the kosher grocery before murdering his victims.

A total of 17 people were killed that week in Paris in the attacks.

El Hakim was released early in 2011 after serving three years of a seven-year sentence in a French prison after an arrest in Syria. He then moved to Tunisia, where three years later he claimed credit for murdering two politicians. El-Hakim was considered one of the most radicalized of the young extremists from the Paris area.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/confirmed-us-airstrike-kills-isis-terrorist-behind-charlie-hebdo-hyper-cacher-massacres/2016/12/10/

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