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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

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 York Man Arrested for Trying to Support ISIS, Said Beheading Videos ‘Kept Him Motivated’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

A 22-year-old resident of Bronx, New York has been charged with attempting to provide material support to Da’esh (ISIS) and for making a false statement on a passport application. The suspect, a native of Albania, was caught by undercover FBI agents.

He was indicted Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court.

Attorney Sylvie Levine told the court that Sajmir Alimehmeti, a plumbing assistant who has studied funeral services, was not dangerous. “In many ways he’s just like any other 22-year-old college-age student,” Levine said, according to the NY Daily News.

But Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ordered the suspect held without bail, noting his “very strong ties” to his native Albania.

Undercover agents met with Alimehmeti in his Bronx apartment, where he explained that he played a “nasheed,” (music video) of ISIS terrorists decapitating prisoners to “keep him motivated while he is exercising.”

Neighbors told reporters they heard exercising and “weird sounds of things moving around.” The next door neighbor took deliveries for him for nearly a year – usually small packages – never realizing what they contained.

He was allegedly stockpiling weapons, including two steel spike knives, an Air Force survival knife, a ‘credit card sized folding knife” and a “24-inch survival pocket chain saw.” He also purchased a reversible face mask, handcuffs, and gloves with steel knuckles, according to court papers quoted by the NY Daily News.

Sometime within the past two years, Alimehmeti disappeared for a while and when he returned, he was dressed in traditional Muslim clothing. The once-friendly young neighbor began to keep to himself. But although he looked more religious, the local imam said he rarely showed up at the mosque for prayers.

The suspect also went by the nom de guerre of “Abdul Qawii.” He allegedly had jihad and martyrdom files on his computer, as well as a photo of himself with an ISIS flag in the background.

During one of their meetings, Alimehmeti was told by the undercover agent that a second man was already fighting in Syria, and shown pictures to this effect. This prompted the young suspect to ask the agent to “hook up with his connections.” When introduced to a third man, Alimehmeti said he had already saved $2,500 for his own travel, but still needed a passport. He also “needed to see someone” for a passport in a different name, because he was already “in the system,” NY Channel 7 Eyewitness News reported.

He and his brother “had our own plan” to travel from Albania to Raqqa, he said, but he brother had instead been arrested last year in Albania.

When the third man took a call from the passport “facilitator” the suspect asked whether he could “tell the (facilitator) about me, too.”

According to testimony by the agent to prosecutors, as reported by Channel 7, Alimehmeti then said in an excited voice, “I’m ready to go with you, man … you know I would … I’m done with this place. There are kuffar everywhere.” This indicated the suspect wanted to travel overseas to join ISIS, according to the agent. The suspect also wrote down his contact information for the third man to give to the “facilitator.”

Prosecutors told the court that Alimehmeti was denied entry into the UK twice in 2014, at Manchester and at Heathrow airports. The first time he was found to have camouflage and nunchucks in his luggage. The second time images of ISIS flags and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks were found on his laptop. Both times, he was sent back to the United States, and UK officials notified the FBI.

If convicted on the current charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Hana Levi Julian

We Remember Eliahu ben Shaul Cohen, z’l, Legend of the Mossad

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

The State of Israel owes an eternal debt to Eliahu ben Shaul Cohen — one of the greatest spies who ever served in the Mossad and whose yarzheit is this month. He was the Egyptian-born son of a Syrian Jew from Aleppo, who eventually made his way to Israel — and then back to Syria to penetrate the highest ranks of its political establishment.

How did he ever manage to penetrate those close-knit Syrian echelons?

Thereby hangs the tale …

Born December 26, 1924, Cohen grew up in Egypt as part of an Orthodox Jewish and Zionist family. Although he tried to enlist in the Egyptian army in 1947, he was turned away – his loyalty questioned due to his faith.

After Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 and Nasser’s military coup in 1951, the ancient Jewish community in Egypt began finally to see the writing on the wall. Many had already left in 1948, setting out for the fledgling Jewish State of Israel; some went also to Europe, Canada and the United States.

Cohen’s family went to Israel – but he stayed in Egypt, wanting to finish a degree in electronics and hoping things would improve. He became increasingly involved in Zionist activities, however, and eventually was pressured by Egyptian authorities into leaving. He moved to Israel with the help of the Jewish Agency.

Soon after he met his wife, Iraqi Jewish immigrant Nadia Majald, and the two married in a Sephardic ceremony in Tel Aviv. They eventually had three children. Nadia had no idea that her husband had been recruited by the Mossad.

Cohen went through a six-month training course that mashed together Muslim religion and culture, map reading, radio broadcasting and cryptography – necessary for sending encoded messages to dispatchers in Israel, according to a 2013 article in Commentary Magazine. He was also rehearsed in changing his Egyptian Arabic and its accent to that of Syria, which is quite different, and tutored in a new, completely different identity and background.

Now, Eli Cohen was a young man born in Beirut to Syrian-born parents, in a family that emigrated to Alexandria when he was age 3…” He was to be known by the name of Kamel Amin Tha’abet, and join the Syrian-Argentine community to learn the textile trade before relocating to Syria.

He moved up the political ladder, was known as a loyal Ba’ath party member, and passed valuable information on that would help Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.

But he finally was caught in 1965 by the Syrians one day while broadcasting an “illegal” message to the Israelis. In a military trial he was granted to legal defense, and on May 8, 1965 was declared guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. No amount of international furor or appeals, including those led by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, changed the verdict. He was executed at age 40 on May 18, 1965.

The Syrians never returned Eliahu ben Shaul Cohen’s remains to Israel.

The condemned spy was allowed to meet with the local Damascus rabbi to recite vidui (confession) and write one letter prior to his execution.

In that letter, addressed to his wife Nadia and his parents asked that they remain in contact and with good relations. He asked forgiveness from his wife and gave her permission to remarry so the children would have a father. He also begged her “not to spend your time weeping about something in the past.”

As with many Sephardic Jewish widows, Nadia never remarried.

She has spent the remainder of her life advocating for the return of her husband’s body. A senior Syrian official said a number of years ago that there is, in fact, no grave for Cohen. She does not believe it.

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

Moscow Confirms Official Netanyahu Visit Set for June 7

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to fly to Moscow next month on an official state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties with Russia.

“The visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu is scheduled for June 7,” a spokesperson told RIA Novosti. The date was confirmed Friday (May 13) by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, according to Sputnik News.

Netanyahu traveled to Moscow for a short briefing with Russian leaders on the day before the start of the Passover holiday (April 21).

The prime minister was accompanied by top military and defense leaders who met with their Russian counterparts during the visit.

Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Russian-Israeli cooperation in Syria and in a number of other areas. The two leaders also discussed the Israel-Palestinian Authority conflict as well as other regional issues.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-set-to-visit-moscow-june-7/2016/05/15/

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