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Syria and Hizbullah Plan War on Israel After al Qusayr Victory

By DEBKAfile

Syria and Hizbullah, flushed with the success of breaking the rebel hold on the strategic town of al Qusayr, Sunday, are making no secret of their plans for the "great confrontation," i.e. military confrontation with Israel after they win the Syrian civil war.

Israel's military leaders are taking with the utmost seriousness the words of Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the Hizbullah organ Al Akhbar, and a close buddy of Syrian president Bashar Assad, who wrote Monday: "The rope is taut. It is taut to the limit. Anyone at either end [Israel at one end, Syrian and Hizbullah, at the other] need only flex a finger and it will break, and the great confrontation will take place. This is neither a threat, nor an exaggeration or interpretation. This is the situation on the enemy's northern front. Now means today; it means this hour," al-Amin wrote.

Israeli intelligence experts have no doubt that the writer penned those words at the behest of his master, Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah, and Bashar Assad. Israeli spokesmen and media tried hard Monday to play down the scale of the joint force's success in capturing al-Qusayr, which sits on Syria's main road to Lebanon and the Damascus high road to the Mediterranean, by harping on the heavy battle losses sustained by Hizbullah – 50 dead and many more gravely injured. But these losses do not detract from the Iranian Lebanese proxy's pivotal role in the Syrian rebels' resounding defeat and the Syrian army's decisive victory.

It cannot be denied that the fateful setback suffered by the Syrian rebels resulted from their being abandoned to their fate at the most critical moment of their uprising by their backers, the US, Turkey, Jordan and the Arab Gulf emirates.

Syrian and Hizbullah forces are getting ready to turn east for their next major offensive, the destruction of rebel strongholds in Homs and its outlying villages. DEBKAfile's military sources report the Syrian army has deployed its 14th Division and an expanded unit of self-propelled artillery for this joint effort. Rebel spokesmen warn that a massacre is in store.

Disgruntled Customer Kills Four in Be'er Sheva Bank Shooting

By The Times of Israel

Four people were killed and three injured by a man who opened fire Monday on clients and employees of a Be'er Sheva bank. The incident was apparently a revenge attack against the bank over a financial dispute, police said. The shooter was identified as Itamar Alon, 40, an unemployed and single local resident. The incident ended after the attacker shot and killed himself following an hour-long standoff with police.

The victims were identified as branch manager Avner Cohen, 44; bank worker Meir Zeitoun, 40, and customer Anat Even Haim, 34, and Idan Shnitzer Savri, 22.

Police sources said Alon was a former captain in the border police who had previously worked as a security coordinator for the city's local educational institutions. He had a permit for his gun, but it was not clear why that permit had been extended, since he stopped working in security more than a decade ago, Channel 2 news reported.

The attacker took a female hostage before shooting himself during the standoff. The incident began at around noon at a Bank Hapoalim branch on Jabotinsky Boulevard. Alon began shooting more than an hour after he entered the bank for the second time in the day. Earlier, he had been unable to take out money from the bank's ATM, and had entered the branch to talk to staff, but was denied a further credit line because of his overdraft, which amounted to several tens of thousands of shekels.

He went to his home nearby, picked up his gun and three magazines of ammunition, went back to the branch and shot and killed Cohen, who had recently taken over the branch, as well as Zeitoun, who was his loan officer, and the two other victims. He eventually took bank worker Miri Cohen hostage, dragging her to the bathroom before eventually shooting himself.

A witness told Walla news he saw the attacker shoot somebody outside the bank, go inside, and then come back out and shoot the person again. According to a witness who was inside the bank during the incident, the suspect shot a bystander, then reloaded and fired again to make sure his victim was dead. "I heard some shots, I think three or four… We went to the office to see what happened after we heard them, and there were two people lying on the floor surrounded by blood," a witness who works near the scene of the shooting was quoted as saying.

Israel Radio reported officials believe the man may have been mentally ill. A neighbor told Channel 2 he was clearly "a dangerous man," who spent hours pacing his balcony. She said he had been briefly detained by police some time ago for fiddling with the apartment building's air-conditioning.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said that the incident was not motivated by "nationalistic hatred" and the shooter was Jewish. "The suspect who committed suicide at the end of the standoff is apparently a Jewish resident of Be'er Sheva. Right now we are not in the possession of facts confirming there were other suspects," he said.

Bedouin Ambush Israeli Woman, 3 Children in 'Price-Tag' Attack

By Israel Hayom

An Israeli woman in her 30s was ambushed and attacked at the entrance of the Negev community of Retamim in southern Israel by a group of Bedouin, apparently in response to the demolition of Bedouin homes in the area, Army Radio reported on Monday.

"I came home with my children when I suddenly saw a roadblock made of piled rocks at the entrance to the kibbutz," the woman, Tamar Blair-Green, told Army Radio. "I didn't understand what it was until I saw an ATV with two masked men on it. They attacked us, hurled a brick at the car and smashed the windshield."

The regional council's chief security officer, Moti Zana, recounted that "she said that Bedouin surrounded her and her three children in the car, when suddenly a group of ATVs appeared, surrounded the car, and the Bedouin smashed the windshield and hurled rocks at them."

According to Zana, Bedouin activists have been perpetrating what he described as "price-tag" attacks in retaliation for government demolitions of illegal structures in Bedouin villages in the area. "Last week, another vehicle was attacked here in the same way. We cannot let this continue," Zana said.

Blair-Green, who works as a psychologist specializing in treating trauma, remarked that "this time it was me in that situation. I calmed the kids, and we sped home. On the way, we saw Border Police officers. I told them what had happened and they dealt with the situation," she said.

She added that the people of Retamim had tried to forge a neighborly relationship with the area's Bedouin, but with little success. "It is like they stabbed us in the back," she went on to say. "I felt terrible anxiety, and so did the children, but worse than that -- I felt hurt and humiliated. Just terrible." Residents of the area said that last week, a pregnant woman was attacked.

'Stunningly Offensive' Church Paper 'Negates Beliefs of Judaism'


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has denounced as "stunningly offensive" a paper published by the Church of Scotland that negates the core beliefs of Judaism regarding God's promises about the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. "The very premise of the paper reflects a classic rejection of Judaism in the broadest sense," said the ADL.

The church paper, entitled "The Inheritance of Abraham," which was published online by the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland recently, selectively highlights scriptural and theological claims of Jews to the land, and rejects verses in which the land is promised to the children of Abraham.

The report's introduction describes it as the council's "latest reflection on the `questions that need to be faced,' as the political and humanitarian situation in the Holy Land continues to be a source of pain and concern for us all."

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a published statement: "This stunningly offensive paper which attempts to undermine the religious legitimacy of Jewish beliefs is a classic rejection of Judaism. By brazenly dismissing Jewish self-understanding of its own Bible - the Torah, the Church of Scotland has disregarded nearly five decades of progress in Jewish-Christian theological dialogue by promoting religious principles which deny the legitimacy of Judaism and were used for centuries to justify the brutal repression of Jews.

"The paper's blatant one-sided perspective falsely conflates the political state of Israel and the religious significance of the Land of Israel for both Jews and Christians. The selective citation of Biblical scripture in order to question Israel's legitimacy is an affront to Jews around the world and to the State of Israel," he said.

"Since the Biblical era, Jews have maintained an unbroken connection to the land of Israel, and in 1948 the Jewish State of Israel's legitimacy was firmly established under international law. We call on the leadership of the Church of Scotland to respect the religious basis for the relationship between the Jewish people and Israel and to reject this document," added Foxman.

The report also promotes a gross distortion of the connection between the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel as being based, in part, "…as a compensation for the suffering of the Holocaust."

What the Mossad's Female Agents Do — and Don't Do — for Israel

By The Times of Israel

For female Mossad agents, life is like a spy-movie — though not always as glamorous. Theirs is a world of intrigue, sleepless nights and, sometimes, flirtation, in conditions of ever-lurking danger, all for the sake of the state, with immense strains on their families.

For the first time, five female Mossad agents recently went public in interviews with the Hebrew-language Lady Globes newspaper, giving readers a tiny glimpse, from the female perspective, of the clandestine activities of Israel's secret service. They talked about using their womenly wiles in the service of the state, and also about the limits to that use. No matter how vital the mission, there are some lengths, they made clear, to which they will not go, and will not be asked to go.

The women, who all hold ranks of commander or higher (the equivalent of brigadier generals or colonels in the IDF), have been involved in some of the agency's most daring and important operations. One of the agents, named only as Yael, indicated that flirting is fair game when it comes to national security. She told the magazine that women carry certain "advantages" over men: "A man who wants to gain access to a forbidden area has less chance of being allowed in… A smiling woman has a bigger chance of success.

"We use our femininity because any means is valid," confirmed Efrat, the most senior female operational commander in the Mossad. "But even if we think that the way to advance the mission is to sleep with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, no one in the Mossad would allow us to do it. Women agents are not used for sexual purposes. We flirt, but the line is drawn at sex."

One of the Mossad's most notable operations that deployed women was in 1987, when a female agent, "Cindy," lured Mordechai Vanunu — a nuclear technician at the Dimona plant who sold the "secrets of Israel's nuclear arsenal" to the Sunday Times — from London to Italy. Vanunu was then drugged and brought back to Israel in a ship to face trial.

Efrat noted soberly that she knows her "life is over" if she is caught — and said it's a risk she's willing to take for the sake of Israel's national security.

Another agent, Ella, spoke of the impact on her family life: "I leave a secure home, my husband and three small children sleeping safely in their beds with tears welling in my eyes and a growing lump in my throat."

The women noted that recruiting female agents is hard — the lifestyle is too demanding for many women who are raising a family, for instance, hence a good portion of the female agents are single — and others buckle under the pressure.

But Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, in rare on-the-record comments, praised the Mossad's women as exceptional agents. He hailed their capacity to multi-task, and to "suppress their ego in order to attain goals. Contrary to stereotypes, you see that women's abilities are superior to men in terms of understanding the territory, reading situations, spatial awareness. When they're good, they're very good."

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