Newsletter : 13fx0506.txt
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Syria: Israeli Attack Equals Declaration of War. Iron Domes at Haifa and Safed
By DEBKAfile and The Times of Israel
Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said Sunday that the strike at Syria
overnight represented a "declaration of war" by Israel. Russian and Iranian media earlier
predicted full-scale Middle East hostilities involving Israel erupting in the coming
hours, in the wake of Israel's renewed strikes against Iranian missiles bound for
Hizbullah and other targets around Damascus.
Russian sources reported rumors that President Bashar Assad was on the point of
declaring war on Israel. Russia Today claimed that an Israeli rocket strike Sunday caused
heavy Syrian casualties according to rumors, at least 300 members of the Syrian
Army's 501st Unit dead and hundreds filling four Damascus hospitals.
The same Russian source reported that Syrian security forces cordoned off the sites of
the explosions against entry. Residents reported after the blasts that the ground moved
with the force of a 4 magnitude earthquake.
Shortly after the Israel attacks in the Damascus area Sunday, the IDF posted additional
Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in Haifa and Safed to defend those northern towns against
incoming Syrian and Hizbullah rockets.
Low-ranking Syrian and Iranian officials responded to the Israeli attacks on Syria:
Deputy Information minister His Al-Yiftah commented by saying that "a new foreign element
had entered the Syrian conflict overnight and this would cause war."
In Tehran, an Iranian foreign ministry official condemned "Israeli aggression on Syria
and accused Israel of fomenting instability and ethnic discord in the region. The
commander of the ground forces asked if the war was not about to burst out of Syria's
borders, without answering the question.
An Israeli official confirmed to AFP that Israeli had Sunday conducted a second round
of strikes in three days on advanced weapons including Iranian F-110 weapons bound for
Hizbullah in transit at Damascus international airport. Syrian TV reported only an attack
on the Jamraya military research center just north of Damascus. This was the same facility
which Israeli planes attacked in January.
The Arkia airline Sunday afternoon suspended flights from Haifa to Eilat, informing
travelers that the airspace of northern Israel has been closed until further notice due to
the high tension on its northern borders.
Haifa's mayor ordered the northern city to increase its preparedness and gear up to
defend itself against a possible retaliatory attack. Yahav held meetings in order to
coordinate the city's positions with the Home Front Command, police, fire department and
MDA. Procedures for opening shelters and absorption centers were discussed as well.
The move followed the placing of two Iron Dome batteries in northern Israel by the
Israel Defense Forces. "City Hall is a body which residents approach in case of emergency
and we must prepare accordingly," Yahav said. Two weeks ago, the Knesset held a special
meeting on protecting the city's large chemical stores, an attack on which could lead to
thousands of deaths.
Late last month, Israeli planes shot down a drone off the coast near the city, thought
to have been sent by Hizbullah or Iran. Hizbullah denied sending the unmanned aircraft.
Several days later, the army called up thousands of soldiers for a surprise drill in the
One Iron Dome battery was deployed in Safed and the other in Haifa. The Iron Dome
system has proved highly effective in stopping short-range rocket fire, intercepting 84
percent of the incoming rockets from Gaza it aimed at during Operation Pillar of Defense
Army Radio reported Israeli concerns that Hizbullah might seek further Iranian missile
shipments, and said the security establishment was therefore remaining on alert.
Activists opposed to the Assad regime reported that a blast hit an ammunition depot in
the Qassiyoun mountains late Saturday. It was not clear if that reported incident was
related to any Israeli activity. According to a Syrian official who spoke to Al Arabiya,
the Syrian regime uses its bases on the mountain to fire missiles at rebel targets in
Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Sunday afternoon to discuss the escalating
hostilities with Syria. He slightly delayed his scheduled Sunday evening departure for
China in order to participate in the meeting.
In a brief comment apparently related to the airstrike, Netanyahu said Sunday, "My
father taught me that the greatest responsibility we bear is to ensure Israel's security
and to fortify its future." The prime minister, speaking at a ceremony dedicating a
Jerusalem road junction in memory of his father Benzion, did not elaborate.
The Sunday strikes, which took place shortly after 2 a.m., were described by Israel's
Channel 10 as Israel's "biggest attack in Syria since 1973? the Yom Kippur War.
Four targets were struck, the TV report said, and there were two Syrian fatalities and
about a dozen people injured.
Channel 10 described major explosions at the Jamraya research center near Damascus, as
well as blasts at military bases on Mount Qassiyoun and near Assad's presidential palace.
It said Israel was targeting missiles from the same Iranian shipment hit on Friday
a consignment of the latest generation of Iranian-made Fatah-100 surface-to-surface
missiles (also known as M600s) that arrived in Syria last week. These missiles carry 600
kilogram warheads, have a 300 kilometer range, and are accurate to 200 meters, the TV
Israel was hopeful that Syria would "get the message" and stop facilitating Iran's
weapon transfers to Iran, Israeli analysts said, which would obviate the need for further
Israeli strikes. But Giora Eiland, a retired general and former national security adviser,
said the regime of President Bashar Assad was now "so weak," it might not be able to
refuse Iranian and Hizbullah pressure for weapons transfers.
Mekdad made his "declaration of war" statement during an interview with CNN on Sunday
morning, hours after Israel reportedly struck military targets on the outskirts of
Damascus for the second time in 48 hours. He said Syria had "dealt with" similar conflicts
with Israel "on several occasions." Syria's "retaliation was always painful," he said,
"and they will suffer again."
Mekdad also asserted that the attacks reflected an alliance between Islamic terrorists
fighting against Assad's regime and Israel, and warned that Syria would retaliate as and
when it saw fit. Egypt and the Arab League condemned the strike, with Cairo's Foreign
Ministry saying it was against any infraction of the sovereignty of Arab countries.
Israel's Channel 2 said Sunday evening that Hizbullah was engaging in "psychological
warfare," trying to further escalate tensions between Israel and Syria. The Assad regime
was deploying long-range missiles to face Israel, and would now seek even more
energetically to supply Hizbullah with unprecedentedly advanced weaponry, Hizbullah
claimed, according to the Channel 2 report, which noted that there was no confirmation of
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned Sunday's Israeli airstrike, but gave no
hint of a possible stronger response from Tehran or its allies. Ramin Mehmanparast urged
countries in the region to remain united against Israel. "As a Muslim nation, we back
Syria, and if there is need for training we will provide them with the training, but won't
have any active involvement in the operations," Iranian general Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said
in remarks reported by the official IRNA news agency. "The Syrian army has accumulated
experience during years of conflict with the Zionist regime and is able to defend itself
and doesn't need foreign assistance," he added.
Uzi Rubin, a missile expert and former Defense Ministry official, told the Associated
Press that if the target of the reported strikes was a consignment of Fatah-110 missiles,
then such weaponry did constitute a "game-changer": Fired from Syria or south Lebanon,
these missiles, he said, could reach almost anywhere in Israel with high accuracy. "All
countries have to look after their own national security, of course, and are able to take
actions to protect their own national security," Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague
told Sky News Sunday.
He said the attack showed that Syria's two-year-long civil war risked spreading outside
its borders to engulf the entire region, and argued it was time to consider lifting the
arms embargo on Syria's opposition. "The longer this goes on, the stronger the case
becomes for lifting the arms embargoes on the National Coalition, on the Syrian
opposition, if we're left with no other alternative to that," Hague said.
Israel May Join Defense Pact with Saudi Arabia, UAE
By The Times of Israe4l
Israel is working on joining an anti-Iran defense alliance with a number of moderate
Arab states that would involve sharing Jerusalem's newly developed anti-missile
technologies, a British newspaper reported Sunday.
The plan would see Israel join with Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates, to create a Middle Eastern "moderate crescent," according to the Sunday Times,
which cited an unnamed Israeli official. Israel does not currently maintain formal ties
with Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, and relations with Ankara have been strained since 2009.
According to the report, Israel would gain access to radar stations in Saudi Arabia and
the UAE and in exchange share its own early warning radar information and anti-ballistic
missile defense systems, though it's not clear in what form. The report details that
Jordan would be protected by Israel's Arrow long-range anti-missile batteries.
The so-called 4+1 plan is being brokered by Washington, and would mark a sharp shift in
stated policy for the White House, which has insisted the US is not interested in
containing Iran but rather stopping it before it reaches nuclear weapon capability.
The Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan are all opposed to Tehran shifting the
regional power balance. Though Turkey maintains strong trade ties with Iran, it has found
itself opposed to Tehran over the issue of Syria.
IDF Plans Drone Warning System for Civilians
By Israel Hayom
The Israel Defense Forces Homefront Command is planning to set up a warning system to
alert civilians during future unmanned aerial vehicle incursions, Israel Hayom has
learned. According to the plan, the warning siren would be activated manually by Israel
Defense Forces soldiers. It would sound the same as that used to warn of incoming
The main challenge is that, unlike rockets, UAVs, commonly known as drones, follow
unpredictable paths. Their launches are also more difficult to identify than rocket
launches. The new system is meant to provide sufficient time to civilians near a drone's
flight path to take cover in a protected space. Israeli defense officials are concerned
that terrorists will place explosives on drones and detonate them over civilian targets.
The responsibility for identifying and intercepting UAVs lies with the Israel Air Force.
They can be intercepted by aircraft or Patriot missile batteries.
A week and a half ago, the IAF shot down a drone off the coast of Haifa that had been
launched from Lebanon. IAF officials say that not all UAV incursions would end with such
success. They said that Hizbullah and other terrorist groups had small model airplanes and
kites that are harder to identify.
Last October, a Hizbullah-launched drone flew for a lengthy period above Israel. It
flew from Lebanon over the Mediterranean Sea and crossed into Israel in the Gaza Strip
area. IAF aircraft shot it down in the Mount Hebron region in southern Israel.
McCain: Israeli Strikes in Syria Could Put More Pressure on Obama
Israel's airstrikes on Syria could add pressure on the Obama administration to
intervene in Syria, a key Republican said on Sunday, but the US government faces tough
questions on how it can help without adding to the conflict.
Hours after Israeli jets bombed Syria on Sunday for the second time in 48 hours,
several top US lawmakers voiced concern over the cascading uncertainty in the Middle East
where a civil war has been raging in Syria for more than two years.
Republican Senator John McCain said the latest Israeli airstrikes, described by a
Western source as attacks on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon's Hizbullah, will just put
more pressure on the administration to act although President Barack Obama has said he has
no plans to send ground troops to Syria.
"We need to have a game-changing action, and that is no American boots on the ground,
establish a safe zone and to protect it and to supply weapons to the right people in Syria
who are fighting, obviously, for the things we believe," McCain said on Fox News Sunday.
"Every day that goes by, Hizbullah increases their influence and the radical jihadists
flow into Syria and the situation becomes more and more tenuous," he said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week that Washington was rethinking its
opposition to arming the Syrian rebels. He cautioned that giving weapons to the forces
fighting President Bashar Assad was only one option, which carried the risk of arms
finding their way into the hands of anti-American extremists among the insurgents.
Obama said on Saturday that Israel has the right to guard against the transfer of
advanced weapons to Hizbullah, but his administration has not commented further on the air
strikes. The United States has said it has "varying degrees of confidence" that chemical
weapons have been used by Syria's government on its people, which violates a "red line"
that Obama had established against such action.
The United States is seeking more evidence to determine whether and how chemical
weapons have been used. Obama, who has said he does not envision sending US troops to
Syria regardless of whether chemical weapons use is determined, has said he has a number
of other options under review.
Obama has repeatedly shied away from deep US involvement in the Syrian conflict, which
erupted in 2011 and has killed an estimated 70,000 people and created more than 1.2
million refugees. White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force
One on Sunday that the White House was "horrified" by reports that more than 100 people
were executed on May 2 in Baida, Syria. McCain criticized Obama for failing to intervene
to stop that massacre and for not acting when the chemical weapons red line was crossed.
Republican Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,
described the situation in the Middle East as "deteriorating by the day" because of the
massive influx of foreign fighters pouring into Syria that could reach more than 10,000
this year. "Hizbullah is now moving troops - Hizbullah troops, financed by Iran - across
Syria. They're engaged in the fight to protect the Assad regime," Rogers said on CBS's
"Face the Nation." "You have the al-Nusra Front, which is an al-Qaeda front organization
in the thousands showing up."
He said all fighters were trying to get their hands on chemical weapons and more
sophisticated conventional arms. In addition, refugees were fleeing the country and
threatened to add more instability to the region. "This is as bad a situation I have seen
in a long time that has an opportunity to cascade," Rogers said. He said the United States
needed to provide leadership through intelligence and training to the opposition, and work
with the Arab League to help stabilize the situation in Syria.
Sealed Glasses Against 'Forbidden Sights'
An ultra-Orthodox organization affiliated with the Breslov Hasidic movement is offering
Jews flying to the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in Uman sealed stickers that can be
attached to the lenses of their glasses in order to guarantee "full eye protection." A
leaflet distributed in recent days among the Hasidim, on behalf of the Purity of the Camp
organization, informs them of a step up in the struggle for "filmless flights."
Previously, the organization produced personal screens allowing each passenger to
separate himself from his surroundings on the plane. Now it is recommending using a
stricter method which involves sealing one's eyes.
The four-page leaflet, published on the Behadrei Haredim website, includes pictures of
several Breslov rabbis wearing scarves restricting their eyesight or glasses with the
"modesty stickers." The leaflet explains that the rabbis pictured in the ads agreed to
engage in "modeling" in order to "help one more person protect his eyes."
"This is how they traveled to Uman last year with a smile," says the caption to a
picture showing the rabbis with shawls covering their faces. "This year we recommend
travelling with the scarves too, but if you find it difficult you can use the
According to the leaflet, the variety of solutions offered "to protect the eyes" were
concocted after haredim who flew to New York were forced to tie their children's eyes with
a handkerchief for more than 10 hours so that they would not be "contaminated by the
ugliness of the films."
US Mom: Anne Frank Diary 'Pornographic'
"The Diary of Anne Frank" has been an important part of the curriculum in North American
classrooms since its initial publication in 1947. The candid diaries share the young
Jewish girl's thoughts and experiences while hiding from Nazis during their occupation of
Until now, the memoirs have served as a powerful educational tool, teaching children
about World War II and the Holocaust from the perspective of a girl their age. But after
60 years, a Michigan mom has come forward, calling "The Diary of Anne Frank"
Last week, Gail Horalek filed a formal complaint with the Northville school district in
Michigan, claiming that "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (The Definitive Edition)"
was inappropriate for seventh-graders. Horalek is specifically uncomfortable with a
passage in the diary in which Anne Frank explores her own anatomy:
"Until I was 11 or 12, I didn't realize there was a second set of labia on the inside,
since you couldn't see them. What's even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the
When you're standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your
legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together
when you're standing, so you can't see what's inside. They separate when you sit down and
they're very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer
labia, there's a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister.
That's the clitoris."
Apparently, the passage made Horalek's daughter uncomfortable, telling Fox 2 that "it's
pretty graphic, and it's pretty pornographic for seventh-grade boys and girls to be
reading. "It's inappropriate for a teacher to be giving this material out to the kids when
it's really the parents' job to give the students this information," she continued.
Robert Behnke, assistant superintendent for Instructional Services for Northville
Public Schools, told Patch.com that the district was following procedure regarding the
Google Recognizes Palestine
By Israel Hayom
Google is de facto recognizing a state of Palestine -- at least on its local home page
in the Palestinian territories. Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said Friday, "We're changing
the name 'Palestinian territories' to 'Palestine' across our products."
Tyler said Google consults with a number of sources and authorities when naming
countries, and in this instance is following the lead of several international
organizations, among them the U.N., the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers, and the International Organization for Standardization.
It is the not the first time the search engine giant has taken a stance against Israel
in the Israel-Palestine conflict. In 2010 the company's translation services decided to
define Israel as the Palestinian state. In the past Google had announced that it
recognizes Israel only up to its 1967 borders, a stance which has been expressed in the
exclusion of the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria from the
company's advertising platform AdWords.
Acting Palestinian Authority Information Minister Mahmoud Khalifa told Israel Hayom,"We
praise every body's decision to recognize the state of Palestine."
The move comes after a U.N. decision last year upgrading the Palestinians' status from
observer entity to "nonmember observer state." Israel says Palestinian statehood should be
reached through negotiations, not unilateral moves. "Google is not a diplomatic entity,
which begs the question why are they getting involved in international politics, and on
the controversial side." Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. Google has a large
research and development center in Israel.
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the organization tended to refer to Palestinian areas on its maps as "the occupied Palestinian territories," but after the upgraded status, would now refer to them as "Palestine." Google's domain for Palestinian territories www.google.ps now lists the location as "Palestine."
Forbes Israel Ranks World's Richest Jews
Forbes Israel has identified the wealthiest Jewish people in the world with the
site estimating that up to 165 of the globe's billionaires in 2013 have Jewish heritage.
Their joint wealth reportedly totals over $800 billion, according to the business
Technology firm Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison tops the list with a net worth of $43
billion. He is the third richest man in the United States. Oracle is third only to
Microsoft and IBM for computer software revenues.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg takes second place in the Forbes list. Bloomberg, who
is said to be worth $27 billion, owns the highly regarded Bloomberg financial media
empire, which makes up one-third of the entire global financial data market. Next on the
list is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson with $26.5 billion.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are also feature in the top 10, both with a
net worth of over $22 billion. Page and Brin are credited with creating one of the world's
most innovative technology firms, which includes YouTube and Gmail.
Another successful Jewish technology guru is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who sits
in 16th place on the richest Jews list. While his wealth has dropped to $13.3 billion due
to an unsuccessful share launch, Facebook remains the leading player in the social media
`'Lost Tribe of Israel' Found in Papua New Guinea?
By Israel Hayom
The scholar known internationally as the "British Indiana Jones" has tracked a tribal
people identifying themselves as a Lost Tribe of Israel in a remote corner of Papua New
Guinea. Florida International University religious studies professor Tudor Parfitt
recently conducted an expedition to Papua New Guinea, where he studies the Gogodala, a
tribe of former cannibals who believe they are one the Lost Tribes, according to a Florida
International University press release.
The Gogodala are now hunter-gatherers in western Papua New Guinea with very little
connection to the outside world. However, from the very first encounters with western
explorers in the 17th century, the idea took root that ancient Israelite communities were
to be found in the islands of the Pacific. Australian missionaries later went on to
further propagate the idea.
A decade ago, at the request of tribe leaders, Parfitt conducted DNA testing on the
Gogodala to see if he could establish any link to the Middle East. The tests were
inconclusive. Nonetheless, the Gogodala have continued to embrace Judaism. During his most
recent visit, Parfitt was surprised to see how the Jewish practice had developed in the
"The bedrock of the religious identity of the Gogodala remains in some respects, their
traditional belief system, upon which has been grafted Christianity, which was introduced
to the tribe in the 1950s by missionaries," Parfitt said. "On top of that has been grafted
a kind of Judaism. More and more of the Gogodala wear yarmulkes [kippot] and prayer
shawls. They've started celebrating Jewish holidays and they are using more Hebrew."
The idea that the population can trace its roots back to ancient Israel is shared by
other tribes. There are those who believe that the whole Papuan population has its roots
in the Holy Land.
Parfitt has written 25 books and has been studying Judaizing movements around the world
for 30 years. He is best known for his work with the Lemba tribe of Africa, which was
shown to have a historic link to Israel. His recent book "Black Jews in Africa and the
Americas" records the growth of Israelite movements throughout Africa and elsewhere. His
research trip shows that the Gogodala are part of this growing, global Israelite movement.
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