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Iran Threatens Pre-Emptive Attack on Israel

By The Daily Telegraph & Ha'

Iran threatened to launch pre-emptive action against Israel Tuesday in the event of an attack on its nuclear facilities. Mohammed Hejazi, the deputy head of Iran's armed forces, hinted that Tehran could order proxy militant groups in Gaza and Lebanon to fire rockets into Israel.

"We are no longer willing to wait for enemy action to be launched against us," he told Iran's Fars news agency. "Our strategy now is that we will make use of all means to protect our national interests. We enjoy the ability to show them all types of confrontation in case of a foolish act by the Zionist regime."

Iran would take pre-emptive action against its enemies if it felt its national interests were endangered, the deputy head of the Islamic Republic's armed forces was quoted by a semi-official news agency as saying. "Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran's national interests, and want to decide to do that, we will act without waiting for their actions,"

Iran has steadily built up the rocket arsenals of Hizbullah, the Shia militant group in Lebanon, and Hamas, the Palestinian movement whose stronghold is the Gaza Strip, after both were depleted during military operations by Israel in 2006. The two movements are believed to have tens of thousands of rockets capable of reaching cities deep inside Israel.

The threat comes amid growing concern in Washington that Israel is preparing to launch unilateral military action against Iran's nuclear facilities within months. U.S. and British officials, including William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, have publicly urged Israel to avoid the use of force and instead give American and EU sanctions against Iran's central bank and energy sector time to work.

But Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Ehud Barak, his defense minister, have told U.S. officials that pleas for restraint are "playing into Iran's hands", according to Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper.

IDF Says Ground Invasion in Gaza `Matter of Time'


It is only a "matter of time" before the IDF has to re-enter Gaza to control terror, IDF Chief of Benny Gantz warned, three years after the three-week Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign.

The IDF has carried out a consistent policy since several months after Cast Lead to retaliate after almost every terrorist attack on Israelis. Hamas and other terrorist groups, both allies and rivals, have carried out hundreds of rockets, missiles, mortar shells and sniping attacks since the end of Cast Lead in January 2009.

Israel has been operating on the basis of a "Negev roulette" policy, by which the military usually carries out a symbolic response to terrorist attacks that cause no physical injuries or serious property damage. When damage is more severe, so is the response, even though most of the terrorist attacks are launched without guidance systems that can pinpoint targets. Gaza terrorists basically attack rural areas in the hopes of hitting human targets and know that if they hit a crowded urban center, there is more likelihood of a large-scale retaliation.

Last week, Be'er Sheva was targeted, but there were no physical injuries or major damage. Past experience has shown that Hamas strategically escalates its attacks to achieve a political end or when it thinks is will win media sympathy if it draws the IDF into a ground incursion not Gaza. The IDF lost most of its ability to directly hit terrorists after the Sharon government expelled more than 9,000 Jews and ordered the withdrawal of all military presence from Gaza in the summer of 2005.

The "Disengagement" program ostensibly was aimed at removing any reason for Hamas to attack Israel, but the rocket strikes actually increased and struck deeper into central Israel until Cast Lead. The military previously has said it is preparing for returning to Gaza, but Israel Defense suggested that next time around it might carry out a strategy of "divide and conquer" by dividing the region into several parts, effectively preventing Hamas from exercising control.

The terrorist organization is in the midst of returning to a unity government with the rival Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas' "peace" with Hamas has weakened his support from the United States and may cost him European Union backing as well. If Hamas and Fatah complete their unity arrangement and rocket attacks on southern Israel continue, the return of the IDF to Gaza could have severe consequences for Abbas as well as Hamas.

Pentagon: Iranian Warships Didn't Dock in Syria


The Pentagon on Tuesday disputed reports Iranian warships had docked at a Syrian port over the weekend. Iran's state-run Press TV said Saturday that an Iranian navy destroyer and a supply ship had docked in the port of Tartus to "provide training to ally Syria's naval forces." Tartus is located 220 km from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Reuters reported that the two ships — one destroyer and the other, a supply vessel — were headed back towards the Red Sea via the Suez Canal early on Tuesday. According to analysts, Iran carefully timed the visit of its warships to follow the previous docking of the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov.

In Tehran, lawmakers claimed that developments in Syria were uniting Tehran and Moscow, with the open ended possibility of other major players — perhaps China — joining them. Moscow and Beijing have actively blocked attempts in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has killed no fewer than 5,400 civilians since anti-government protests erupted a year ago.

Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi on Tuesday claimed that by passing through the Suez Canal twice in one year, the Iranian navy was "demonstrating the ineffectiveness of sanctions against Tehran." But Defense Department press secretary George Little said Tuesday the U.S. military saw no indication that the ships docked or delivered any cargo. Little told reporters the Iranian warships went through the Suez Canal and now appears to be going back through the canal again.

The entry and exit of Iranian warships to the Mediterranean has been widely seen as an attempt to provoke Israel amid rising tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Israel, the United States, its Western allies, and Gulf Arab nations say Iran is making a push to obtain nuclear weapons in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - to which Tehran is a signatory. Iran denies the charge, but senior officials in Tehran have repeatedly called for the destruction of the Jewish state and referred to Israel as a "one bomb state."

EL AL Israel Airlines Announces National Hamantaschen Eating Championship

By Israel Faxx News Services

EL AL, the national airline of Israel, will host the EL AL Israel Airlines National Hamantaschen Eating Championship on Thursday, March 8 in New York City, in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim. Competitors will have six minutes to consume as many hamantaschen (triangle-shaped pastries) as possible for the chance to win a flight to Tel Aviv.

Non-professional eaters interested in participating can submit a video on the EL AL Facebook page demonstrating their eating abilities (the more creative, the better!). Submissions will be accepted through February 28. EL AL Facebook fans will weigh in and winners will be chosen based on number of votes and eligibility. The 10 finalists will be notified on March 3 and must be present for the championship on March 8 which will take place in front of a live audience in New York City. The event will be streamed live via Facebook. For more information and to submit a video visit Facebook (EL AL Israel Airlines USA).

The prize for first place is a roundtrip ticket from New York (JFK or EWR) or Los Angeles nonstop to Tel Aviv on EL AL Israel Airlines. Second and third place winners will receive vouchers toward future flights for $500 and $250 respectively. If the first place winner eats more than the pro, he or she will win a second roundtrip ticket to Israel.

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