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Senior IDF Officer: 'We are Preparing for Possibility of War'

By & Ha'aretz

"We are in preparations for the possibility of war and in the midst of deployment with the situation in Syria in mind," a top IDF officer said Thursday, in a tour of the northern border with journalists.

The greatest challenge facing Division 36, which is placed in the Golan, is the possibility of facing a surprise attack, said the officer, Brig. Gen. Tamir Heiman, Commander of Division 36. "The biggest concern is a combined terror attack and we are preparing for this in the Golan area."

The essential changes that have taken place in Syria provide the potential for a terror attack coming out of Syria and crossing the border, which has been very quiet in recent years. "The Division is preparing itself accordingly, in the knowledge that a terror attack can take place without a prior alert or intelligence. The lack of governance and loss of stability, with terror organizations potentially looking for new goals – is the greatest threat for the region."

Heiman said the IDF is investing heavily in improving infrastructures, means of detection and routine security missions along the border. "One of the places where a rapid deterioration can occur is the Golan Heights, in which topography makes it possible to easily approach the Israeli side of the border and we need to be prepared for this," he warned.

According to Defense Ministry officials, extremist Islamic terror organizations are flooding to Syria from Iraq and other countries. Toppling the regime of President Bashar Assad is, in fact, their main objective, but there are fears they might use the opportunity to launch attacks against Israeli citizens in the Golan Heights.

Following events in recent weeks, ministry officials believe that Assad's position is more stable than previously assumed. The president is still in relative control of the army, and his treatment of the population is apparently ruthless. Still, Israeli officials believe that the army's daily functioning and morale have already been damaged. At least 12,000 soldiers have been killed, and recent drafts have seen an unprecedented low percentage of conscripts.

Arab Rage: Putin Recognizes Jerusalem's Jewish Past


Arab Muslims are enraged by remarks made by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kotel, (the Western Wall of the destroyed Second Temple) recognizing Jerusalem's Jewish roots.

Putin visited the Kotel this week and toured the Kotel tunnels. He also said: "Here, we see how the Jewish past is etched into the stones of Jerusalem." This short remark has aroused the wrath of local Arab leaders, who vehemently deny that the Temple Mount is where the Jewish Temples stood and that Jerusalem was the seat of the Hebrew monarchy for many centuries, long before Mohammed was born.

Attorney Zahi Najidat, spokesman for the Islamic Movement in "the Palestinian Interior" (i.e. – the state of Israel), denounced Putin for allegedly siding with Israel, and mentioned Russia's support for Bashar Assad "who is slaughtering his own countrymen."

The Al Aqsa Institute issued a statement to the press in which it said: "We tell Putin and people like him that the Al-Buraq Wall is exclusive Muslim Waqf property, is an inseparable part of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque and non-Muslims have no rights at this wall or at the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque, and all historic facts and international documents stress the fact that the Al Buraq Wall is Islamic…"

"We stress that every stone in the Al Aqsa Mosque and its buildings shows is evidence that it is Islamic and every stone in Al Quds is testimony to Al Quds's Muslim and Arabic nature."

Terror group Hamas's spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that Hamas rejects Putin's statement, which he says contradicts historic facts and the Shaw Report of 1930. The Shaw Report was issued by a British delegation after the large scale Arab massacre of Jews in 1929, and said anti-Jewish hostility had resulted from the political and economic frustrations of the Arabs.

European Jews and Muslims Outraged Over German Circumcision Ruling


The European Jewish Parliament expressed its outrage on Thursday over a ruling of the German District Court of Cologne, which states that the circumcision of a child for religious reasons should be considered a physical assault.

On Tuesday, the court ruled that non-medical circumcision, practiced by most Jews and Muslims, causes bodily harm and therefore is a crime. The practice is a "serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body," the Cologne district court decided.

The ruling involved the case of a Muslim doctor who performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy, who later suffered bleeding and was taken to a hospital emergency room. The decision is likely to be appealed to the Federal Constitutional Court.

The EJP said in a statement on Thursday that it "firmly condemns this unacceptable interference in the prerogatives of religious communities and considers the argument that circumcision goes `against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong' for the least surprising.

"The EJP recalls that `Judeo-Christian foundations' of Germany are enshrined in the country's Basic Law and that circumcision of male newborns, practiced in all Jewish communities for millennia, is a rite that goes to the very core of Judaism. The EJP expects the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to nullify the court decision, which otherwise would set a precedent and permanently deprive parents of their basic rights regarding freedom of religion," added the statement.

The EJP statement also called on German lawmakers "to issue legislation on this question in order to avoid any future violation of freedom of worship."

Jewish and Muslim leaders in Germany were united on Wednesday in their condemnation of the court's decision to. Representatives of the two religious communities called the ruling insensitive and discriminatory, saying it was an attack on centuries of religious tradition.

Dieter Graumann, president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, called the ruling "an egregious and insensitive measure" and said it amounted to "an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities' right of determination."

Ali Demir, chairman of the Religious Community of Islam in Germany, was quoted by The Guardian as having said, "I find the ruling adversarial to the cause of integration and discriminatory against all the parties concerned." He predicted that a ban in Germany would lead to a rise in "circumcision tourism in neighboring countries in Europe."

Netanyahu: New National Service Law will Apply to All - Including Arabs, Haredim


Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he would only support a law over IDF enlistment and national service if it applies to every Israeli citizen, including Israel's Arab population and the ultra-Orthodox. I will not bring a law to a vote which does not also require equal enlistment for the Ultra-Orthodox and Arabs," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu was responding to the news on Thursday that the Plesner Committee, tasked with drafting a replacement for the Tal Law that exempts yeshiva students from mandatory military service, will recommend that every Israeli citizen who is not mandated to carry out military service should carry out civil service, but that this should be only implemented gradually.

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