Newsletter : 13fx0531.txt
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Assad: Next Time, We'll Bomb Israel
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday there was "popular pressure" to open
a military front against Israel on the Golan Heights, and warned his country would bomb
Israel if it attacks Syria again.
"There is clear popular pressure to open a new front of resistance in the Golan," Assad
said in an interview with Al-Manar, the television channel of his ally, Lebanon's Shiite
Hizbullah movement. "This is a political-ideological matter that will eventually turn into
a military one. There are several factors, including repeated Israeli aggression," he
said. "The next time Israel attacks, if it attacks, we will have a strategic response. A
bombing against a bombing."
Asked what kind of weapons would be used against Israel, he said, "There are things
that will be determined in the proper date and time. We have informed all of the elements
that contacted us that in the next times we will respond," Assad said.
Israel is believed to be behind several recent bombing attacks against Syrian weapons
sites. Israel is concerned that amid the growing chaos in Syria, unconventional weapons
will be transferred to Hizbullah or fall into the hands of rebel Islamists. It is also
concerned that Assad may try to unite the country by staging an attack against Israel.
Israeli Intelligence Denies First Russian S-300s Arrive in Syria
Senior Israeli intelligence sources emphasized to DEBKAfile Thursday that Syria had
still not received the first consignment of Russian S-300 anti-missile batteries
contrary to Syrian President Bashar Assad's claim.
Directly taunting Israel, Syrian president Bashar Assad said in an interview
prerecorded for broadcast Thursday night, May 30, that the first batch of Russian S-300
anti-air missiles has arrived in Syria and a second consignment was on the way. The
broadcast was scheduled to air simultaneously over Hizbullah's Al Manar and Syrian state
The Syrian ruler was responding to the quote from Israel's National Security Adviser Yakov
Amidror that the S-300 batteries have not been delivered yet and when they are, Israel
will destroy them before they are operational.
On May 29, DEBKAfile reported the landing at Latakia airport of a large Russian
transport carrying 60 tons of unidentified freight. Labeled by Moscow "humanitarian aid,"
it may in fact have contained the first S-300 delivery to which Assad referred.
The threats traded by Russia, Syria, Hizbullah with Israel have reached a new pitch of
Israel's National Secuirty Adviser Yakov Amidror was quoted Wednesday night as warning
that if the Russian S-300 anti-air missiles are delivered to Syria, Israel will strike
them and prevent their deployment for operational use.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens voiced his certainty that the Russians are aware
Israel is capable of destroying the batteries. DEBKAfile's military sources added that
Moscow has made a point of stressing that the S-300s for Syria will arrive accompanied by
Russian officers and advisers, in the belief that Israel will think twice before tangling
with Moscow by attacking the missiles still in their crates and risking harm to Russian
personnel. This eventuality came up in the tough conversation Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu had with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 14.
Netanyahu to Ensure that Every Israeli has Gas Mask
By The Times of Israel
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking Thursday at a meeting concluding this
week's Home Front drill, instructed government ministries to equip all of Israel's
residents with gas mask kits. The exercise, called "Turning Point 7," tested the country's
readiness for chemical and conventional rocket attacks.
Only 58% of Israelis have gas masks, and it is estimated that it will take NIS 1.3
billion (some $350 million) to cover the rest of the population. In addition, it will cost
NIS 300 million (some $80 million) annually to maintain the kits.
Demand for gas masks has risen by 30% over the past two weeks, as Israelis have become
increasingly skittish over the prospect of war breaking out in the north. The rise comes
in the wake of two aerial bombings near Damascus earlier this month, reportedly carried
out by Israel. An Israeli analyst said Thursday that Syrian-Israeli tensions are now
Up until two weeks ago, the rate of demand for gas masks was a steady 2,000 kits per
day, said Israel Postal Company spokeswoman Maya Avishai. Over the past two weeks the rate
climbed by 30%, reaching a new high of 4,730 on Sunday.
All told, Israel Postal has thus far distributed a total of 4,800,000 gas masks and
kits, said Avishai.
Hadassah Medical Center staff and Home Front Command soldiers during a drill Wednesday
simulating a chemical weapon attack on Israel. Facing the threat of thousands of enemy
rockets, Israel's home front is more vulnerable than ever, Netanyahu added at the
"We are deep in the era of missiles that are aimed at civilian population areas,"
Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Emergency Economy Committee. "We must prepare
defensively and offensively for the new era of warfare. The state of Israel is the most
threatened state in the world. Around us are tens of thousands of missiles and rockets
that could hit our home front."
Netanyahu said that November's Operation Pillar of Defense, during which Hamas
terrorists fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza at Israeli civilian areas, was a small
example of the change in the nature of the threats Israel faces.
In addition to training the military and emergency services, the three-day exercise
also sought to prepare the civilian population. Air-raid sirens sounded twice, drilling
the civilian population in finding shelter at home, work and school.
The prime minister explained that maintaining high public morale was a key element of
national security. "Defensive preparations, first of all, mean preparing the spirit of the
nation to be steadfast in order to allow the military to strike the enemy that wants to
destroy us," Netanyahu said. "It is important to maintain functional continuity in the
home front that is under fire. The Israeli home front is more accessible to the enemy than
it has been.
"Defense demands many resources and this requires a change in our national priorities,
including legislative changes," Netanyahu added in an apparent reference to ongoing
political turmoil surrounding a universal draft law that would induct ultra-Orthodox youth
into the army.
"It is the responsibility of government ministries to work together and see to it that
the vital enterprises under their purview continue to operate even in emergencies in order
to create functional continuity in time of emergency," said Home Front Defense Minister
Landau: Yes, They're Auschwitz Borders
Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau gave a wide-ranging interview to Mazal Mualem for
Al-Monitor Israel Pulse the day after Landau publicly quoted the well-known maxim of
former Foreign Minister Abba Eban, "The '67 borders remind us of the borders of
Auschwitz," at the beginning of a government meeting that took place on Sunday and was
widely quoted in news broadcasts.
When. Landau was asked if "the Holocaust comparison [is] somewhat exaggerated" given
the President's "vision of two states," he added: "So he is mistaken! But my argument is
not with any specific person. The president of the state talks in his own name. After all,
he has no authority to speak in the name of the government. I am in the government first
and foremost to say these things when it is necessary to say them, and I'm saying them
"Not only there will not be peace, there will be no coexistence. Nor quiet. An
agreement based on these guidelines will only lead to increase in terror. Exactly as the
Disengagement [from Gaza in 2005] led to increase in terror and strengthening of
When further pressed that Eban's "Holocaust borders"1967 comment was 45 years ago, Min.
Landau again clearly responded: "That doesn't make these borders less Auschwitz-like.
Before '67, they didn't have Katyusha rockets and missiles to the extent owned today by
Hizbullah in the north and Hamas in the south that constitute a strategic threat to
Israel. One thing must be clear: A Palestinian state is not the solution."
And as for the "deep thinking" generals who now advocate retreating from Judea and
Samaria and creating a Palestinian "West Bank" state Landau wryly pointed out:
"I will quote Mr. Peres once again, who said that we should never take the defense
system's recommendations as absolute truth. [Former Prime Minister Menachem] Begin bombed
the Iraqi reactor against the opinions of all the heads of the service and defense systems
[in 1981]. The heads of IDF Intelligence Branch, former chiefs of staff, were the ones who
pushed for Israel to voluntarily hand over the Golan Heights and sever Syria from Iran as
a necessary condition for coping with the nuclear problem.
"Does that point to deep thinking? If we had listened to their advice and signed the
agreement over the Golan Heights where would we be today? Evidently under gunplay
over [northern town of] Kiryat Shmona or Kfar Blum."
Rabbinate: Palestinian Coke Not Kosher
The Chief Rabbinate released an urgent statement this week, warning the Israeli public
against Coca-Cola manufactured in the West Bank town of Beitunia, near Ramallah, which is
marketed alongside the strictly kosher beverage that has been manufactured in the Israeli
city of Bnei Brak for the past decades.
According to the statement, written by Rabbi Yaakov Sabag, director of the Chief
Rabbinates Kashrut Department, and Rabbi Rafi Yochai, head of the Kashrut Fraud Division,
"We have recently discovered the marketing of a four-pack Coca-Cola, in which each bottle
carries a caption in Arabic with no kashrut mark.
"This product is being sold for a reduced price and has created confusion among the
population, as the brand is known to be kosher in Israel. An inquiry has revealed that the
product is manufactured in the village of Beitunia, near Jerusalem, without any kosher
Businesses supervised by the Rabbinate were asked in the letter to avoid selling the
Coke bottles from Beitunia, even if there is allegedly no fear that the beverage is not
kosher. Moreover, many kashrut observers around the world buy the brand in local stores
even without a kosher mark, and it is perceived as kosher.
Nonetheless, the Rabbinate wrote in its warning, businesses must avoid selling the
Palestinian drink "due to the educational aspect, so as not to get the public used to
purchasing products without a kosher mark."
Chief Rabbinate Spokesman Ziv Maor says that Coca-Cola is made in Israel and abroad
according to the company's secret and accurate formula, yet there is no way of knowing
whether a factory which is not supervised by the Rabbinate uses the machine that produces
the Coke to pack other drinks which are not kosher, such as camel milk. The warning, he
adds, is aimed at making it clear to be public that it must only consume beverages
manufactured in a factory supervised by the Rabbinate.
The Coca-Cola Israel company said it had nothing to do with the production of the
beverage in the Palestinian Authority. "There is no need to mention that all our products
are under the fine supervision of Rabbi Landa and the Tel Aviv Rabbinate," the company
noted in a statement.
Has the Oldest Torah Scroll in the World Been Found in Italy?
By Israel Hayom
A university in Italy has discovered what it said might be the oldest complete Torah
scroll known to exist, according to a BBC report on Tuesday.
The scroll was found in a library at the University of Bologna. The report said the
scroll was previously thought to be at most a few hundred years old, but textual, graphic
and paleographic examination of the scroll, confirmed by carbon dating tests, determined
that it was written around 800 years ago, between the second half of the 12th century and
the beginning of 13th century (1155-1225).
A professor at the university was quoted as saying that the scroll had been mislabeled
by a librarian in 1889. That librarian dated the scroll to the 17th century, even though
it was apparently much older.
Professor of Hebrew at the Department of Cultural Heritage Mauro Perani recently
re-examined the scroll and noticed that the script was characteristic of the oriental
Babylonian tradition, signaling that the scroll was much older than thought.
The scroll's dating makes it about contemporary to Maimonides (1135-1204), the
prominent Jewish philosopher and Halachic authority. It is elegant and finely written
including graphical features and scribal devices forbidden by Maimonides in the rules that
he codified for writing a Torah scroll, indicating that it was written before his rules
were widely accepted.
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