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#If Today's Media Told the Story of Passover


Israel Air Force's New Super-Hercules Can Reach Any Point in Iran

By DEBKAfile &

The Israel military spy satellite Ofek-10 was launched into orbit around earth Wednesday night from the Palmachim air base.

And in a ceremony inaugurating the entry into service of the Israel Air Force's new "Samson" air transport plane, Lockheed-Martin's new generation C-130J Super Hercules, was attended Wednesday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro.

Another five Super Hercules are due for delivery by the end of the year. With a range of 4,000 km, Samson can reach any point in Iranian air space. It can carry four SUVs and 129 combat personnel or 92 paratroops with full combat gear, as well as 97 gurneys for evacuating casualties. The new plane is equipped with systems designed by Israel that streamline aircraft maintenance work. More Israeli-designed computers will be added. The Samson will also ease the function mid-air refueling.

The launch was conducted by the Ministry of Defense and upon entering orbit, "Ofek 10" will conduct a series of tests to verify that it is up to the excepted levels of performance. "Ofek 10" is an observation radar-based satellite, with advanced photo capabilities in both day and night and in all weather conditions. The satellite is capable of photographing objects the size of half a meter and it will circle the earth once every 99 minutes.

The last spy satellite that Israel launched into space was the "Ofek 9" and that launching took place in June of 2010. The "Ofek 10" is the sixth spy satellite operated by Israel and it can be very helpful in monitoring sites across the world.

Syrian-Hizbullah-Iraqi Force to Recover Forward Golan Position Opposite Israel

By DEBKAfile

The Syrian army's 90th Brigade's loss of its forward Golan position at Tel Al-Ahmar to rebel forces including al Qaeda's Nusra Front was Bashar Assad's most humiliating military setback in the past year. Situated on the Israeli border, it is the key to the Golan town of Quneitra which faces Israeli army positions on the other side. To recover this strategic position, Assad has mustered a combined Syrian-Hizbullah-Iraqi Shiite expeditionary force, the recipe for most of his victories against rebel forces in the past year.

DEBKAfile military sources also disclose that for the capture of Tel Al-Ahmar, the rebels for the first time deployed units the size of battalions, drawing 350 fighters from ten local militias from southern Syria and elements of al Qaeda's Jabhat al Nusra. Among them too were local Syrian fighters trained by American instructors at a camp deep in the desert of southern Jordan. This was the trainees' first taste of combat inside Syria.

Our military sources add that the battle for the Golan key point was the first rebel operations that was professionally planned, organized and executed. They used heavy 120mm mortars to pound their target into submission.

Iraqi Shiite fighters are pouring into Syria in a swelling stream to join Assad's expeditionary force for the Golan. Most are believed to be members of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq under the command of Abu Mahdi Mohandes, the deputy of the Iranian Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In his speech on April 4, Hassan Nasrallah said that henceforth his Hizbullah fighters would strike Israel from their positions on the Syrian Golan.

This confronts Damascus with a difficulty. The Syrian army is legally constrained from deploying tanks and armored vehicles for operations against the rebels under the Syrian-Israeli 1974 ceasefire agreement which ended the war of attrition following the Yom Kippur war. This agreement restored 5% of the plateau to Syrian control provided it was incorporated in a demilitarized zone to the east and policed by UN peacekeepers.

But on Tuesday evening, the Syrian air force bombarded the rebels holding Tel al-Ahmar, with Iranian-made explosives in breach of that agreement. The response to that violation poses Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz with some major decisions: Should the Syrian Army be allowed to drive the rebels from Tel al-Ahmar?;. To achieve this, Syrian forces would have to use heavy weaponry, a further violation of the Syrian ceasefire agreement with Israel. How many violations can the IDF tolerate?

Should Israel permit hostile foreign troops, such as the Lebanese Hizbullah and the Iraqi Shiites to take up positions on its northern border?; How will the IDF deal with the almost inevitably spillover of battles, explosions and bombardments taking place in this tiny area into Israel?

And will Israel continue to provide medical care for wounded rebels in the battle for Tel al-Ahmar? If so, Israeli medical teams and hospitals may find they are treating jihadis associated with Al Qaeda. Israelis living in the north and trippers to favorite resorts there had better not expect the coming eight-day Passover festival to pass quietly.

First Resettlement Agreement Reached Between Israel and Bedouins


Israel's agriculture ministry has reached an agreement to relocate the majority of families in the Bedouin Azzama tribe from their current residences to a recognized settlement near Be'er Sheva. The Jerusalem Post provided some details of the agreement:

According to the agreement, the tribe of Azzama, made up of 900 families, will be given the option to move to a designated area for resettlement. The families are each to be given a plot of 0.4 to 0.5 hectares (1 acre), under the condition that they move within 45 days. At the end of this period, residents who refuse to resettle will face enforcement measures. According to the report 486 of the families who make up the tribe have agreed to resettlement. Those who do not move within the designated time will be evacuated.

After protests forced the government to shelve the Prawer-Begin plan for integrating the Bedouin into society, responsibility for working with Bedouin and revising the plan fell to the agriculture ministry. At the time, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir said that he wanted to "gain the Bedouin's trust and negotiate with them" before agreeing on a new plan. The recent agreement was concluded after two years of negotiations.

Former Israeli Naval Chief: Iran is Leading Weapons Smuggler in Middle East


The former head of Israel's navy told a conference Tuesday that Iran was the leading arms smuggler to the Middle East, and that Israel was engaged in an "ongoing secret war between Israel and terrorist organizations and the evil axis led by Iran," to fight that threat.

Vice Admiral Eliezer (Chiney) Marom told participants at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York. "Iran is a very, very dangerous country...Iran is leading the [weapons] smuggling industry in the Middle East, adding that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani "smiles at your face and lies" while his country continues to build its nuclear weapons program.

Marom explained that "the IDF had developed a military and intelligence structure over the past 10 to 15 years to adapt to a changing region." During that time the IDF has intercepted a number of Iranian sponsored arms-smuggling ships including the Karine A and, earlier this year, the Klos C.

Marom advocates a strategy of intercepting and destroying potentially game changing weapons – by land or by sea – a view he articulated in an op-ed last month.

Anne Frank's Tree Sapling Set for Planting at US Capitol Grounds


A sapling grown from the tree that Holocaust victim Anne Frank wrote about while in hiding will be planted this month on the US Capitol grounds, congressional leaders announced Tuesday. "The Anne Frank memorial tree is an offspring of the horse chestnut tree that was featured in Anne's diary writings," House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote in a letter to members of Congress.

The tree "grew outside of the Amsterdam building where she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II," they explained.

The planting on the Capitol's west front lawn will occur during a ceremony April 30. The young tree is among several saplings created from the original tree, which collapsed outside the Amsterdam annex in 2010.

Frank wrote her observations from June 1942 to August 1944, while the Jewish girl and her family remained in hiding during the Nazi German occupation of the Netherlands. She was captured August 4, 1944, and died seven months later at age 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Her diary was rescued by a family friend, and through the help of Anne's father Otto Frank was published and eventually translated into more than 60 languages, including in English as "The Diary of a Young Girl."

In Japan this February, a series of vandalism attacks at Tokyo libraries targeted Frank's diary, with roughly 300 copies of the diary and related books being torn or defaced. In March, a 36-year-old unemployed Tokyo man was arrested in relation to the vandalism.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam shortly thereafter, calling the vandalism "regrettable," and noting "we would like to face historical facts in a humble manner and we would like also to pass on the lessons and facts of history to the next generation."

After the vandalism, the Israeli embassy donated 300 copies of the diary to local libraries, and the Anne Frank Museum donated 3,400 copies of its catalogue. Many local Japanese citizens donated copies of the diary to the affected Tokyo libraries following the attack as well.

Ancient Egyptian Soldier's Letter Deciphered After 1,800 Years

By Live Science

A newly deciphered letter home dating back around 1,800 years reveals the pleas of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe. In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them and that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see them.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: "I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind," it reads. "I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you ..." (Part of the letter hasn't survived.)

Dating back about 1,800 years, this letter was written, mainly in Greek, by Aurelius Polion, an Egyptian man who served with the legio II Adiutrix legion around modern-day Hungary. In the letter, discovered more than a century ago in the Egyptian town of Tebunis and only recently translated, Polion pleads with his family to respond.

Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response, suggesting some sort of family tensions. "While away in Pannonia I sent (letters) to you, but you treat me so as a stranger," he writes. "I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother …"

The letter was found in the Egyptian town of Tebtunis more than a century ago by an archaeological expedition led by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. They found numerous papyri in the town and did not have time to translate all of them.

Recently Grant Adamson, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, took up the task of translating the papyrus, using infrared images of it, a technology that makes part of the text more legible. His translation was published recently in the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists.

Adamson isn't sure if the soldier's family responded to his pleas, or if Polion got leave to see them (it's unlikely), but it appears this letter did arrive home. "I tend to think so. The letter was addressed to and mentions Egyptians, and it was found outside the temple of the Roman-period town of Tebtunis in the Fayyum not far from the Nile River," Adamson wrote in an email to Live Science.

Polion, who lived at a time when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was part of the legio II Adiutrix legion stationed in Pannonia Inferior (around modern-day Hungary).He may have volunteered for the pay and food legions got. However, that doesn't mean Polion knew that he was going to be posted so far away from home.

"He may have volunteered and left Egypt without knowing where he would be assigned," writes Adamson in the journal article. According to the translation, Polion sent the letter to a military veteran who could forward it to his family.

The situation seen in this letter, a young man serving as a volunteer in a military unit far away from home, facing tensions with his family and seeking leave to see them sounds like something that happens in modern-day armed forces.

Although soldiers today have an easier time communicating and traveling back home (Polion would have had to travel for a month or more to reach Tebtunis from his posting in Europe), there are some themes that connect both ancient and modern soldiers, Adamson said.

"I think that some aspects of military service belong to a common experience across ancient and modern civilizations — part of our human experience in general really. Things like worry and homesickness."


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