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Israel Keeps to Sidelines as Mideast Deteriorates into Bloodshed

By YnetNews & DEBKAfile

As Egypt's death toll rises to 638, mysterious bombing hits Hizbullah's Beirut stronghold, Israeli defense official insists 'Israel will continue in its non-involvement policy' At the wake of violent days both in Beirut and Cairo, Israel maintains its reserved stance on the unrest at its borders. "Hizbullah has been hurt, but Israel will continue in its non-involvement policy and will not take sides, also in regards to Cairo," a senior defense establishment official clarified on Thursday. "We've no interest to be perceived as supporters of either side."

Against the backdrop of Hizbullah's relative successes in the Syrian civil war as a supporter of Bashar Assad, the hit the Shiite group suffered in its own base – the Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut – came as a necessary backlash in the eyes of some in the Israeli defense echelon. "Nasrallah significantly intervened in the Syrian war and is no longer perceived as 'Lebanon's protector,' but as Assad's man, and now he is paying the price," said the same official.

Though Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman and other top Lebanese politicians pointed a finger at Israel for orchestrating the car bomb, a so far unknown Sunni group took responsibility for the attack, which claimed the lives of at least 22 people and 200 injured.

TV footage showed scores of residents screaming in flight and dozens of cars in flames. Some witnesses reported hearing gunfire after the blast. A Salafist Sunni group claimed the attack. The same district was the target of a similar car explosion in July against the background of Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian war.

Lebanon Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also pointed blame at Israel, saying that the blast may have been in retaliation to last week's explosion near the Israel-Lebanon border, which Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday was perpetrated by Hizbullah.

Earlier Thursday, Druze member of the Lebanese parliament, Walid Jumblatt, who heads the Progressive Socialist Party, told the Hizbullah affiliated al-Mayadeen TV channel: "I blame Israel for the Beirut blast. Israel wants to avenge itself on Lebanon for its defeat in the Second Lebanon War ." A Hizbullah parliament member told the al-Manar network: "Those who conspired against Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War are letting terror inside Lebanon."

"Hizbullah and Nasrallah's situation isn't good," a State official added. "Criticism against Hizbullah is growing in light of its involvement in Syria and the fighting seeping into Lebanese territory. Hizbullah is weakening and forecasts are that the attack against the organization will continue."

Meanwhile, violence in Egypt has dropped on Thursday and the curfew has been limited – but top Muslim Brotherhood officials vowed that the movement will not desist and urged its followers to take back to the streets in protest after Friday's prayer. "We'll protest across the country and shed the blood of any police and army officer in the streets," a member of the Brotherhood's political arm promised.

After President Barack Obama's announcement cancelling the joint drill with the Egyptian army, the Americans issued a travel alert for Egypt and urged its citizens staying in the country to leave it immediately.

Wednesday's official death toll has so far risen to 638, and the number of wounded leaped to 3,994, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry. "We stay on the sideline as far as Cairo goes – this is an internal Egyptian matter," said an Israeli source. "Our interest is focused on the Sinai Peninsula, where global jihad operatives are. What's happening in Egypt is troubling, but it's internal. The fact they're occupied with their own internal affairs so far had no effect on the war conducted in Sinai." He added that Israel was considering all the possible scenarios, including another regime shift. "No one knows what's going to happen. It's impossible to analyze."

Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet's defense analyst, explains that the Israeli interest is for the Egyptian unrest to calm down, and similarly for tumults in other neighboring countries. Every failing state increases the terror threat on Israel, and actually an attack on Hizbullah boosts the chances for civil war in Lebanon, which, like in Egypt, Israel would rather avoid.

Civil wars, political instability and economic hardship – these are the main factors for terror on the Israeli borders. All these factors are currently in motion in the countries that went through the Arab Spring, as well as in Lebanon. Without internal conflict, stability and economic prosperity return – from which Israel benefits as well.

Pollard Breaks His Silence


Jonathan Pollard, who has spent more than 27 years and more than 10,000 days in American prison, broke his silence. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, which appears on Friday, Pollard criticized the Israeli government "over the past 60 years" on issues such as evicting Jewish communities, releasing murderous terrorists and his own situation.

"Israel is the only country in the world that ever voluntarily evicted citizens from their homeland in order to give the land to its enemies, and the only country that ever voluntarily destroyed the homes and businesses of its citizens, broke promises and shattered their lives," Pollard told the Jerusalem Post.

Referring to his personal story, he told the newspaper, "Israel holds the world record for betraying those who were loyal to it. It is the only country in the world that ever willingly cooperated in a lawsuit against its intelligence agent, refused to give him asylum, turned over documents to incriminate him, denied knowing him and then allowed him to rot in prison for decades."

Pollard also spoke about Israel releasing terrorists as a "gesture" to the Palestinian Authority ahead of peace talks, saying, "A sovereign state which can desecrate the dead by releasing murderers and torturing bereaved families, in principle, gives up and throws away the moral foundation of its existence."

He added, "Many of those released were serving life sentences for multiple heinous crimes. The blood of the victims cries out from their graves over the lack of human decency. Their cries are not being heard. The bereaved families of the victims asked and begged not to release the savage murderers of their loved ones. Their pleas were ignored. No one in Israel sees the broken hearts that are bleeding continuously over their losses."

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