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French Official: Jews Among Islamic State Recruits

By Israel Hayom &

A growing number of French Jews are among those leaving Europe to join the Islamic State group in Syria, French officials say. This comes after the shocking report over the weekend that a Jewish girl had left France to join ISIS.

A French security official told Channel 2 that some of the Jews going to join the jihadis in Syria had converted to Islam before departing.The official, who did not provide exact figures, added that French Jews were a small minority of those leaving the country to join Islamic State.

More than 1,000 French citizens have joined ISIS, the official told Channel 2, based on recent figures from the French Interior Ministry. While the official stressed that people "of Jewish extraction" are a "handful" of projected foreign nationals in Syria, the statement surfaces amid heightened fears about ISIS and the Jewish world.

Meyer Habib, a member of French parliament, told Channel 2 that the jihadists have become a hot topic in the Jewish community, but that no one could confirm whether or not their loved ones had joined the group. But if the French Jewish teenager would be confirmed as the first official Jew to join the group, "it really is the end of the world," he said.

Another official, a French rabbi, told the daily that the idea is "inconceivable. There are many rumors swirling and we hope an official source will update us," he said. "Some say the Jewish girl converted, and that is also disconcerting."

On Saturday, the British Daily Mail revealed that a French Jewish teenage girl had joined ISIS, allegedly as part of the 100 women said to have flocked to the group from France. Alarm followed the report, as well as confusion - as ISIS is known for not only extremism against the West in general, but for its anti-Semitism in particular, and its cruelty toward women.

Jihadist Rocket Factory Discovered in Sinai Peninsula


A large factory for manufacturing rockets in the Sinai was discovered and destroyed by Egyptian security forces, the blogger Elder of Ziyon reported on Tuesday, citing Egyptian media. Authorities said that the rockets were being manufactured for the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis jihad group. Five tons of explosive materials were discovered and destroyed, according to the blog.

Egyptian security officials have always claimed that Hamas and Gaza terror groups were involved in Sinai terror activity. While those claims often seem exaggerated in their hate for everything related to the Muslim Brotherhood, in this case it seems that they are onto something.

According to Elder of Ziyon, it seems likely that the Sinai jihadists have learned rocket manufacturing techniques from the Gaza terror groups, meaning that the Egyptian crackdown on tunnels and travel between Gaza and Sinai really does have a solid security rationale behind it.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police over the last year, since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, and beheaded several people in recent weeks, saying they were spies for Israeli intelligence. The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat, claims which might now be verified after the discovery of the rocket factory.

Israeli Army Chief Praises 'Courageous' Hamas Fighters


A top Israeli army chief has praised the conduct of some Hamas fighters during the recent war with Israel as "courageous." In comments which surprised many in Israel on Monday, Benny Gantz, the Chief of Staff of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said: "In some cases, it must honestly be said, they carried out very brave actions."

Gantz, who has participated in more than eight wars fought over the course of his career with the IDF, is scheduled to step down from his post in four months. "To run up and try to put an explosive charge upon a tank is the act of courageous people", the Chief of Staff said, speaking in Tel Aviv. He added that Israel should not make light of its enemies or the challenges the country is likely to

The comments are unusual, as the vast majority of Israeli and Palestinian military and political officials typically portray one another as uniformly dehumanized and exclusively violent aggressors.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu compared Hamas to ISIS, describing the two as "branches of the same poisonous tree."

This is not the first time Gantz's comments have been considered controversial in recent weeks by Israel's right-leaning electorate. In a recent interview with Israeli daily Ma'ariv, Gantz advocated aid for Gazans in order to make the ceasefire with Israel more long lasting. "The people there need to live, and they are caught between Egypt on one side, us on another side and the sea with a six mile fishing zone on the other side. At the end of the day, 1.8 million Palestinians live there, and the quiet is also dependent on the trend of creating economic hope there," he said.

In response, veteran Israeli journalist Caroline Glick lashed out at Gantz in an op-ed published earlier this week."Unfortunately, for as long as our unelected professional class is led by men who have internalized our enemies' narratives, there is no way that Israel can act on these basic strategic truths regardless of whom voters elect. And as a result, we shall continue to witness our soldiers' hard won victories being squandered by our leaders – in and out of uniform", Glick wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

Storm God's Home? Ancient Cult Complex Found in Israel A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.

While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, researchers discovered three connected cups, fragments of face masks, massive jars that are almost as big as a person and burnt animal bones that may indicate sacrificial rituals.

The archaeologists said they aren't sure who was worshiped at the complex. "The letters of Ugarit [an ancient site in modern-day Syria] suggest that of the Canaanite pantheon, Baal, the Canaanite storm god, would have been the most likely candidate," Itzhaq Shai, a professor at Ariel University who is directing a research project at Tel Burna, told LiveScience in an email. [See Images of the Cult Building and Related Artifacts]

Image: Cult complex ITZHAQ SHAI
The foundations of the ancient cult complex in Israel, shown here from above, were made of field stone. The researchers said they can't rule out that a female deity, such as the ancient war goddess Anat, was worshiped there, Shai said.

The artifacts include fragments of two masks. "The burna mask fragments, both of noses, are quite interesting, because they are quite large, although ... they were clearly meant to be worn," Shai said.

The three connected cups, which were found in the cultic complex, were probably imported from Cyprus, the researchers say. The artifacts' use remains a mystery. The researchers also found massive "pithoi" vessels (large storage jars), some almost as big as a person.

Image: Face mask ITZHAQ SHAI
Fragments of face masks, like this one, were discovered in the 3,300-year-old cult complex at Tel Burna. "The pithoi were likely used as storage for tithes brought to the cultic complex, although this is also being further analyzed through residue analysis," Shai said. A tithe, in this instance, would be goods given to the cultic complex by those who used or lived near it.

The complex yielded many other finds, including a cylinder-shaped seal, goblets, chalices, broken figurines that look part-human and part-animal, and even a scarab, an artifact with an Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription on it.

The discovery was presented recently at the European Association of Archaeologists' annual meeting in Istanbul.

— Owen Jarus, LiveScience

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