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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Arab-Israeli Couple Arrested, Accused of Joining ISIS

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

by Ilana Messika The District Attorney in the Northern District Court in Haifa filed indictments Thursday against an Arab-Israeli couple accused of visiting an enemy country and joining the ISIS (Da’esh) terrorist organization.

Wisam and Sabrin Zabeidat of the northern Galilee community of Sakhnin were detained at Ben Gurion International Airport on September 22 upon their return from Iraq with their three children.

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigators said that prior to their departure on a family holiday in June 2015, the couple watched ISIS videos and TV programs. After traveling to Romania with their children, they proceeded to Turkey by car, where a resident of the Israeli Arab village of Umm al-Fahm helped smuggle the family across the Turkish border with Syria.

The family was taken by ISIS near the Syria-Turkey border and their Israeli passports confiscated. Wisam Zabeidat was separated from his family and sent to Iraq, where he received both military training and religious indoctrination about the ideology of ISIS. Following his training, Wisam took part in operational activities of ISIS such as defending the Islamic State facilities and raids on Iraqi army positions. During one raid, he injured his leg and was treated at a hospital in Mosul.

The investigation also revealed details about unsanitary living conditions under ISIS rule. The family lived in crowded homes, often with patients suffering a variety of serious diseases, and often without access to water, electricity, food or medical care. According to reports, the children were scheduled to begin military training at the age of eight.

On June 2016, a year after their departure, the couple decided to return to Israel due to worsening conditions in Iraq. They tried to cross the border into Turkey several times and by various methods, made difficult by the extensive smuggling network that controls the passages. During one attempt they were fired upon by both the Turkish army and ISIS. Eventually, the family made it back to Turkey, but they were arrested by Turkish police and sent to a detention camp before being released after several days. The family then flew to Ben Gurion International Airport, where they were arrested upon arrival.

Statistics released in July 2016 show that many Israeli Arabs have been arrested for attempting to join the Islamic State (ISIS / Da’esh) terrorist group. More than 40 Israeli citizens have joined ISIS in the last two years, according to the Shin Bet intelligence agency, and the group has had important influence on several terror attacks in Israel in recent months. For example, the two Palestinian Authority Arab cousins who carried out a shooting attack at the Tel Aviv Sarona market were inspired by ISIS, although they had not apparently received any direct assistance or operational guidance from the group.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Moscow Could Face War Crimes Charges Over Syria Bombing Campaign

Monday, October 17th, 2016

The European Union strongly condemned Russia on Monday for causing “untold suffering” with its bombing of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

The air strikes by Moscow and the Syrian regime it backs, said the EU, could constitute war crimes.

In a statement after talks held in Luxembourg, European Union foreign ministers said: “Since the beginning of the offensive by the regime and its allies, notably Russia, the intensity and scale of the aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo is clearly disproportionate. The deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel, schools and essential infrastructure, as well as the use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs, and chemical weapons, constitute a catastrophic escalation of the conflict … and may amount to war crimes.”

The specific reference to Russia and war crimes in the same statement is significant in that a case may be taken to the International Criminal Court in The Hague with this accusation.

Prior statements have referred to “allies” of the Assad regime. Although Britain and the United States also pressured for sanctions against Russia, this did not succeed, according to international media reports. Extensive EU sanctions are already imposed against Syria, including those involving embargoes on oil and arms, plus bans on more than 200 individuals and 70 entities and institutions.

Moscow announced an eight-hour cease fire set for Thursday as the EU statement was being released to reporters. The truce is to coincide with the opening of a summit for European Union leaders in Brussels at which relations with Russia tops the agenda.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Contacts Russian Counterpart to Update Military Coordination in Syria

Monday, October 17th, 2016

The Israel Defense Force has reportedly asked its Russian counterpart to update the security coordination between the two nations in Syria.

“In the context of the hotline between [Israel and Russia], the Israelis sent us a request to develop new procedures and open-fire rules to be added to the existing coordination mechanism,” Russia’s Izvestia newspaper reported Sunday, citing an unnamed source. “We are currently developing our response and will send it to the Israelis in the context of the agreed upon procedures between the [two] sides.”

The S-300 system, installed at the Russian naval base in the Syrian city of Tartus, has already made headlines after its sale to Iran in 2007. The actual installation of the system for Tehran did not take place, however, until this year.

Although the S-300 is considered one of the most advanced aerial defense systems in the world, Russia has already moved ahead and developed the S-400. Moreover, although the S-300 is installed in Tartus, it has not been handed over to the Syrians, nor are they trained in its use, according to Moscow.

Hana Levi Julian

Kremlin Prepares for ‘Nuclear War’ As White House Considers ‘Cyber Attack’ as Middle East Hangs Between

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Russian media is warning citizens to prepare for war – specifically, nuclear war – and ordering officials to prepare the nation’s bomb shelters and ensure that citizens have reviewed proper use of their gas masks.

“If it should one day, happen, everyone one of you should know where the nearest bomb shelter is,” said one newscaster on the state-run NTV television news channel. “It’s best to find out now.”

This past week Russia also announced a move to transfer nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Kalininigrad, between Poland and Lithuania, its northern European enclave. The transfer places the missiles within striking distance of western European capitals.

Russia also test-fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles, and earlier this month announced it would hold joint “anti-terror” military drills with Egypt “in a desert environment.” Moscow is moving in to train with Egypt in military strategies, equipment and personnel and build a closer relationship Cairo, in a way similar to that in which it began with Syria years ago.

Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin claimed that tensions are at their worst since 1973, but not as bad as they were during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. “Despite the fact that we have a serious disagreement, we are continuing [to work together] in other areas – sometimes successfully,” he told reporters this weekend. However, he added that the crisis has followed a list of conflicts between the Kremlin and the White House.

“It’s a lack of basic respect,” Churkin said, “and a lack of in-depth discussions on political issues.” Among the issues he cited were the recruitment of Ukraine and Georgia for membership in NAT, and the ousting of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. All, he said, were incited by the United States.

The U.S., meanwhile, has said it is considering a cyber attack in retaliation for a Kremlin-backed cyber snoop into American elections, and an outright hack attack against electoral data banks and the Democratic National Headquarters. The Kremlin has warned that any such attack would be met with a “harsh response.”

A number of news analysts have said that relations between Moscow and Washington have reached their lowest point since the Cold War, in fact.

According to ABC News, Russia has conducted a nationwide civil defense drill since September that has involved some 40 million citizens, preparing them for a panoply of disasters that run the gamut of war scenarios, including nuclear fallout, and announced who would run the nation should war break out. One of the simulations involved that specific scenario, in fact.

American logic dictates that Russia would not run a civil defense drill for 40 million people for the fun of it. But Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, quoted by ABC News, says that all this is part of the grand show that may be necessary to inspire Russian lawmakers to raise a little cash for a decent military budget – which is up for renewal – when the economy is slow.

“Tensions are going to rise and rise and rise,” he said. “The good news is, no one really wants a war. But it’s going to be a good show.”

Hana Levi Julian

Escalation: Russian Aircraft Carrier Headed for the Mediterranean

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, part of Russia’s Northern Fleet, has embarked on a long voyage through the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the fleet’s press service announced on Saturday.

According to the announcement, the force on its way to the Syrian shore “consists of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, the Pyotr Velikiy battlecruiser, large anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov and support vessels.” Once in the Mediterranean, according to the Telegraph, the Kuznetsov will take up position off the coast of Syria for four to five months, possibly using its complement of 20 MIG 29, 12 SU-33, and Kamov helicopters to carry out airstrikes.

The first announcement regarding the combat deployment of the Kuznetsov was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on September 21. On Oct. 10, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov announced the establishment of a permanent Russian naval base in the Syrian city of Tartus,.

According to the fleet’s statement, the goal of the Kuznetsov’s voyage is “to ensure naval presence in the important areas of the World Oceans. Special focus will be made on safeguarding security of maritime traffic and other types of maritime economic activity of Russia and also on responding to the new kinds of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism.”

The Admiral Kuznetsov and Pyotr Velikiy’s previous voyage through the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean took place in 2014. This is the Admiral Kuznetsov’s eighth voyage.

A NATO naval source told the Telegraph that the Russian vessels could pass Britain as early as next week, claiming that the Russian move is “not catching us by surprise, we are working up what to do and we are all over it. The most likely thing is that they will go through the North Sea, down the Dover Strait and through the Channel. They might even stop off the North East coast to fly for a bit.”

The Admiral Kuznetsov is the only Russian aircraft carrier. According to world media, this 55,000-ton carrier is no match for the 100,000-ton US Nimitz-class carriers.

Russia has had a naval facility in Tartus since the mid-1980s, and it remained intact despite the collapse of the Soviet Union. “At the time, defense ministers were busy winding down the Russian presence abroad,” retired colonel-general Leonid Ivashov, head of the International Center of Geopolitical Analysis, a Moscow-based think tank, told Russia Beyonf The Headlines. “Over the past 25 years, we have lost bases in Qatar and Yemen, whereas Tartus has miraculously survived.”

According to Ivashov, the Russian naval facility in Syria currently consists of a floating workshop, which can provide only basic maintenance and repairs to ships. “It houses very basic facilities for ships passing through the Mediterranean. In Tartus, crews can replenish their food and ammunition supplies as well as carry out basic repairs of their ships,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mount Whitney command ship of the US Navy entered the Black Sea on October 11, and the Russian Black Sea fleet and Russian missile complexes have immediately drawn a bead on it. The Command of the US Sixth Fleet is yet to reveal the goals of the Mount Whitney’s journey. According to the US military doctrine, the Black Sea is within the US operational Sixth Fleet’s area of responsibility. But international conventions dictate that foreign ships may not remain in the Black Sea for more than 21 days.

JNi.Media

Report: Israel to Purchase New German Submarines Targeting Iran, Syria

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Israel and Germany have begun top echelon political and security negotiations of the purchase of new Dolphin class submarines, Israel Defense reported Friday. The IDF’s five-submarine fleet, its most expensive weapons system, is its longest arm in a potential war with a nuclear Iran. The purchase of the sixth submarine was an option that was part of the 2012 deal signed between the two countries, with Germany paying for about a third of the cost of each sub — $180 million out of half a billion dollars.

In the past the IDF’s strategic thinking regarding the submarine fleet was in dispute between former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert accused Barak of planning to buy a sixth submarine not because this was what the IDF needed (then Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was vehemently against such a purchase) but because the Germans bribed him. Eventually, it was Olmert who ended up being sentenced to prison over  taking a bribe. Takes one to know one?

The reason Lieut. Gen. Ashkenazi was against the deal was that it was being paid for out of the shekel part of the IDF budget, rather than the US aid dollars.

As the new Dolphin class submarine arrives, in 2018, one of its older sisters will be decommissioned. Despite past IDF reluctance, the Israeli Navy has now developed a five-submarine strategy, and will buy two more new Dolphins to replace older ones, all with German subsidies.

The diesel-electric Dolphin 2-class submarines, developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG for the Israeli Navy, are the largest submarines to have been built in Germany since World War II. Each Dolphin-class submarine is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes, as well as cruise missiles with a range of 930 miles. This means the Israeli subs can hit anywhere in Iran should the need arise, including with nuclear warheads.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Dolphin class submarines are nuclear armed, offering Israel a sea based second strike capability, in case its own territory had been struck by nuclear weapons and its land bases had been destroyed. It could still wipe out Iran, for instance.

Most of Israel’s Dolphins are normally based in the Mediterranean, but at least one was sent through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea for exercises in June 2009, and docked in the naval base in Eilat, probably as a warning to Iran. According to Haaretz, the Eilat naval base is strategically unsuited for Dolphin class boats, and getting them out of the Red Sea at a time of war would necessarily involve the consent of Egypt and Saudi Arabia who both control the Straits of Tiran.

According to The London Sunday Times, the Israeli Navy keeps at least one submarine equipped with nuclear missiles permanently of the Lebanese and Syrian coast.

David Israel

Before Yom Kippur, Israelis Pray for Syrian Neighbors

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Hundreds of Israelis gathered across the country on Monday to pray for the welfare of their Syrian neighbors the night before the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. Prayer rallies were held in nine different locations including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Pardes Hanna, Beer Sheva, Tekoa, Ariel, Ma’ale Gilboa, and the Golan Heights, where shofars were sounded in solidarity.

According to UN estimates, over 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the past five years of civil war, including some 50,000 children according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Event organizer, Einat Kramer, 39, of the Galilee told TPS that a recent news report on Syria spurred her to organize the prayer gatherings. “I recently saw a news report that showed two Syrian children crying,” said Kramer.

“There was something about their crying that reminded me of the sound of the shofar [ram’s horn] that we just heard in the synagogue on Rosh Hashana. After seeing how the war has caused such terrible suffering for the Syrian people, I felt that during these holy days I had to something for our neighbors.”

Kramer said the nation-wide prayer rally was organized in less than five days. Volunteers across the country responded to Kramer’s Facebook posts and began planning prayer rallies in different locations.

“There was an overwhelming response. All the different sectors of Israeli society took part – from Orthodox Jewish volunteers in Jerusalem to the Reform movement in Tel Aviv, along with musicians, rabbis, and professors who took on active roles in the gatherings – leading the calls to wake up the world to the dire situation in Syria,” said Kramer, who describes herself as social activist.

“The one thing we can do is pray for the Syrian people and not ignore what’s happening. We cannot allow the tragedy facing our neighbors to continue quietly,” added Shivi Froman, 36, another event organizer. Froman is the son of the late peace activist, Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoa in Gush Etzion.

“The human catastrophe in Syria keeps getting worse. The world cannot accept the slaughter of innocents and I hope our prayers open the gates of heaven tonight,” Froman told TPS.

Despite the terrorist attack that shook Jerusalem on Sunday, which left two Israelis dead and six injured, over one hundred people attended the prayer rally overlooking the walls of the Old City in Mishkenot Sha’ananim. One elderly religious couple, Gal and Uri Kaplun told TPS that they felt it was important to attend the event. “For us, this is about Jewish values and sharing our empathy for others through praying,” said Gal Kaplun.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/before-yom-kippur-israelis-pray-for-syrian-neighbors/2016/10/11/

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