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Syria Says Israel Launches 2 Airstrikes Against It Print
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Aleppo and Damascus, Syria
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December 07, 2014 12:24 PM

BEIRUT—
Syria is accusing Israel of launching two airstrikes on it Sunday, one near the Damascus international airport and another near the town of Dimas, close to the border with Lebanon.

Syrian state television said the "Israeli enemy committed aggression" by targeting the two areas, but said there were no casualties.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with activists monitoring multiple battlegrounds inside Syria, said that 10 explosions were heard outside a military area near Dimas.

Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar el-Assad began nearly four years ago. But it has not acknowledged them and did not comment on the Syrian report Sunday.

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Syria Accuses Israel of Air Strikes Near Damascus

Syrian state TV says two targets hit 'by Israeli enemy' in government-held province near capital. Share on printShare on emailShare on printfriendlyShare on facebookMore Sharing Services

59 By Arutz Sheva Staff

First Publish: 12/7/2014, 5:55 PM / Last Update: 12/7/2014, 7:03 PM

QUICK WATCH1:03
IAF F-15 (file)
Syria on Sunday accused Israel of carrying out air strikes against two government-held areas in Damascus province, one of them near the capital's international airport, state television said.

"The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus International Airport," said the channel, adding that no casualties were reported. Eyewitnesses stated that they saw up to four IAF aircraft in the area.

The Syrian army confirmed facilities were damaged later Sunday, and said the strikes proved Israeli involvement in the Syrian Civil War.

"This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere," the army said.

"This proves Israel's direct support for terrorism in Syria," it added.

One of the sites targeted appears to have been the Dimas airbase - which was the target of another airstrike just over a year ago. According to Maariv, Syrian state TV claimed the site was storing Russian-made S300 surface-to-air missiles.

That previous strike was said to have been conducted by Israel in an attempt to stop "game-changing" weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, from being transferred to Hezbollah.

It was one of several airstrikes believed to have been carried out by the Israeli Air Force as part of efforts to stem the flow of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah as a "reward" for its staunch support of the embattled Assad regime.

However, the Israeli government and military have refused to confirm or deny any such strikes, and the IDF has not released any statement on this evening's reported strikes either.

Updates to follow.



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Netanyahu Hinted at Syria Strike before It Took Place?

Prime Minister said Israel will take care of Middle East challenges that 'do not take time off,' in apparent hint at upcoming strike. Share on printShare on emailShare on printfriendlyShare on facebookMore Sharing Services

15 By Gil Ronen

First Publish: 12/7/2014, 8:27 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin NetanyahuEmil Salman/Flash90
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appears to have hinted at the reported strike against targets in Syria, several hours before it occurred, in a comment he made at the start of Sunday morning's cabinet meeting, as cameras rolled.

"We are following with great alacrity the goings on in the Middle East," Netanyahu said – "with alert ears and watchful eyes. And much is going on. We will remain with our finger on the pulse and we will take care of these challenges, which do not take time off.

"We will take care of them with the same responsibility with which we took care of them until now," he added.

Syria on Sunday accused Israel of carrying out air strikes against two government-held areas in Damascus province, one of them near the capital's international airport.

"The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus International Airport," said Syrian state television, adding that no casualties were reported. Eyewitnesses stated that they saw up to four IAF aircraft in the area.

The Syrian army confirmed facilities were damaged later Sunday, and said the strikes proved Israeli involvement in the Syrian Civil War.

"This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere," the army said.

"This proves Israel's direct support for terrorism in Syria," it added.

One of the sites targeted appears to have been the Dimas airbase - which was the target of another airstrike just over a year ago. Syrian state TV claimed at the time the site was storing Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles.






Ron Ben-Yishai

Iran is playing with fire

Analysis: Did the IAF strike in Syria in response to public declaration by Iranian Revolutionary Guard on transfer of advanced missiles to Hezbollah?
Published:      12.08.14, 00:06 / Israel Opinion


The strikes in Syria on Sunday afternoon, which have been attributed to the Israeli Air Force, were likely intended to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Iran to Hezbollah. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard continues to play with fire by equipping Hezbollah with arms that have the capability to cause widespread losses and destruction in Israel.

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The appraisal is based on the fact that the targets were in two distant areas – one near the international airport in Damascus and the other in Dimas, west of the capital, mere miles from the border with Lebanon.

It is widely believed that shipments of missiles and other arms destined for Hezbollah land in Iranian cargo jets at the airport in Damascus, then transferred to a Syrian military storage site, until they are sent to over the border to Lebanon.

Alleged IAF strike on Syrian target
Alleged IAF strike on Syrian target

It is reasonable to assume that today's strike, if it actually was undertaken by the IAF through Lebanese airspace, was launched based on precise intelligence and after all operational and strategic aspects were considered.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has previously announced the three red lines according to which Israel takes action on the northern front.

The transfer of "game-changing" weaponry to Hezbollah Chemical weapons
Any harm to Israeli sovereignty

Since there had been no recent case of breaking Israeli sovereignty, the likely assumption is that the attack was undertaken because of high-end weaponry transferred to Hezbollah or the transfer of chemical weapons – or both.

Regardless, it is reasonable to assume that Defense Minister Ya'alon approved and ordered the attack.

Today's strike was reminiscent of the May 2013 attack which was attributed to the IAF, when advanced, precise missiles, of the Fateh-110 variety, arrived on planes from Iran. The following night a large Syrian military missile storage site near the Lebanon border was attacked.




Video of alleged Israeli strikes in Syria


It is increasingly likely that today's attack – which has been attributed to the IAF but has not been confirmed by Israeli officials – was executed for similar reasons under similar circumstances.

In recent weeks, many Hezbollah officials and senior members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have publicly boasted about the advanced ground-to-ground missiles which Iran supplied Hezbollah and which allow the terror group to threaten almost any target within Israel.

Analysts believe the officials were boasting of the Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles.

It is in the realm of possibility that several shipments of these missiles occurred, significantly upgrading Hezbollah's capability to unleash destruction on Israel territory as far south as the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

It is also likely that today's attack was intended to stop another shipment scheduled to arrive at Damascus international airport, from where it was to be transferred to the Lebanese border.

Syrian President Bashar Assad (Photo: AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad (Photo: AP)

Syrian President Bashar Assad, it must be noted, owes Hezbollah a great deal, as the Lebanese terror group defends his regime – which is likely why he carries the risk of Israeli attacks on his territory.

It may be assumed that today's attack will not heat up tensions between Israel and Syria. Assad does not make a habit of responding to attacks on Hezbollah weapons transfers in his territory in order to avoid a destructive clash with Israel at a time when he is fighting for his survival against local rebels.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (Photo: AFP)
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (Photo: AFP)

It is also assumed that Hezbollah will not respond, either. In the past the terror group launched reprisal attacks over Israeli strikes which destroyed its weapon shipments, but only when these strikes took place within Lebanese territory.

The Lebanese terror group has not responded to attacks on its organization in Syrian territory – since Hezbollah chief Nasrallah believes in defending only Lebanese land, while retaliating to an attack in Syria will serve as confirmation which he is receiving illegal weapon shipments from Iran.

That's how it worked in the past. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that Hezbollah and Syria will maintain this policy and thus the IDF must maintain alert on the northern front – both on the ground and in the sky.


It is reasonable to assume the IDF will change its missile defense deployment, reinforcing positions in the country's north. Meanwhile, it's likely that Iran will respond using armed Palestinian militias in the Golan Heights.

Israeli officials did not address the reports in the past – and are not confirming them – in a bid not to corner the Syrian regime or Hezbollah. The Syrian military rushed to condemn the attacks, only because it serves its propaganda line – which claims cooperation between Syrian rebels and Israel.








Jews Defy Islamists on the Temple Mount

What did one group of Jewish visitors do when confronted by a gang of Muslim extremists?

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By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 12/7/2014, 5:16 PM

Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount have been facing mounting attacks and harassment by Islamist activists in recent months, as Muslim groups attempt to cement their control over Judaism's holiest site.

But if a recent video taken by Islamist extremists is any indication (see below), Jewish activists remain as determined as ever - and are taking a decidedly defiant stance towards their antagonists.

Although Muslim extremists often resort to violence in their attempts to keep Jews from the site - including regular riots and the recent shooting of Jewish Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick - the Islamist campaign also takes the form of low-level harassment of Jewish visitors by Islamist gangs. Known as the "Mourabitoun" (an Arabic term for guards who protect Muslim sites against heretics), the gangs are often comprised of religious Muslim women who attempt to intimidate Jewish worshipers by surrounding them while shrieking curses, shouting "Allahu Akbar" and occasionally assaulting them.

Their self-proclaimed objective is to claim the entire holy site as part of the "Al Aqsa Mosque compound," after the mosque built on the ruins of two Jewish temples. They also claim to have been formed to prevent the Israeli government allowing Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount, where they are currently banned from engaging in any act of worship in an attempt to stave off Islamist anger.

In footage uploaded Sunday a group of Jewish men and women leaving the Temple Mount are greeted by a large group of Mourabitoun women chanting "Allahu Akbar." The video, which is now circulating around Arabic-language social media outlets, then shows the "strange" response of one of the Jewish men, who begins to dance. Soon, the initially surprised Jewish activists join in, defiantly singing songs expressing the ancient Jewish hope for a rebuilt Temple.

The Mourabitoun are said to be financed by Hamas and the Hamas-linked Israeli Islamic Movement. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich began advancing a law to ban them for stoking violence though with the Knesset dissolved in anticipation of elections next year it is unclear when that bill will get the chance to be advanced into law.

But whatever happens it is clear that efforts to intimidate Jews into abandoning their holiest site are not working - with a recent poll showing increased interest in visiting as a direct reaction to Muslim violence there.

Click frame to view video:



Egypt's Largest Military Maneuver 'Meant for Israel'

Security expert details Egypt's 'Badr 2014' maneuver, as Sisi regime flexes its muscles. Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Services

150 By Ari Yashar

First Publish: 12/6/2014, 10:01 PM

Egyptian armored units (illustration)
Egyptian armored units (illustration)Reuters Egypt held its "Badr 2014" military maneuver between October 11 and November 6, its largest exercise since 1996 which was only half the size - according to a senior security expert the Nile state has its sights on Israel, despite the peace treaty.

Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of the Israel National Security Council, detailed the maneuver in Israel Defense on Saturday, analyzing the massive military preparations.

According to Shay, Egypt wants not only to improve security domestically, but also "it hopes to reassert its historic leadership role and become the regional hegemony. ...With the rise of (President) Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a new generation of military leadership in Egypt has taken control of the country's armed forces."

The security expert continued "Exercise 'Badr 2014' and the creation of the RDF (Rapid Deployment Force) signals a move toward enhancing Egypt's more offensive, conventional, asymmetric and counterinsurgency capabilities both within and beyond the country's borders."

Speaking directly about what that means for Israel, Shay noted that the exercise is meant to prepare for "a potential conflict with Israel."

"Israel is quietly stepping up its military co-operation with Egypt as both countries confront security threats from jihadist groups in the Sinai region and Hamas in Gaza strip. However, Egypt continues to see Israel as its primary military potential threat despite a decades-old peace treaty," analyzed Shay.

Shay quoted Egyptian Military Spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir as calling the recent maneuver "the largest and most sophisticated strategic exercise in terms of planning, training, and size of forces involved." He noted that the Egyptian army is the largest in Africa and the Middle East, with most of the country's $1.5 billion in US yearly aid being military aid.

Egypt likewise in February sealed a $2 billion arms deal with Russia, after Russia in November said Egypt offered to buy advanced defense systems, military helicopters, MiG-29 aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

Preparing for Sinai mobilization?

In one part of the maneuver, a simulation of a Suez Canal crossing was held on October 27 by the Third Army. The drill included establishing movable bridges to allow vehicles and tanks to cross, with APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers) crossing accompanied by air force units and boats.

The maneuver is significant in that the peace agreement with Israel forbids large-scale Egyptian military mobilization in the Sinai, although Egypt's military has been recently more active in the region while trying to put down rampant violence by salafist terrorists, with some warning that the increase in Egyptian military presence could potentially signify a threat to Israel.

In another drill on November 3, Sisi attended the main phase of air force exercises in Wadi Nartun. Over 250 combat fighters and helicopters took part in over 60 air sorties, in cooperation with paratrooper units, Egyptian commandos and the Central Military Region regiments.

Recent Egyptian ousters like the sinking of an Israeli ship?

On the naval front, Shay noted "the Egyptian Navy is the largest navy in Middle East and Africa, and is the seventh largest in the world measured by the number of vessels."

He added the annual exercise of the navy is held on Navy Day, October 21, a date established after an incident on that day in 1967 in which the Israeli destroyer "Eilat" was sunk by Egyptian missile boats about 12 miles from Port Said around four months after Egypt's defeat in the 1967 Six Day War.

Sisi released a statement likening the success of the recent ousters of former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohammed Morsi with the October 21 sinking of the "Eilat."

"Sisi noted that these events changed the reality of Egypt politically, economically and socially, and he praised the navy as one of the main branches of the Egyptian military," reported Shay.



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'6 million refugees, myself included, are waiting to return'
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tells Egyptian daily Akhbar el-Yom that he will not recognize a Jewish state because it hurts the national interests of Israeli Arabs - Abbas lambastes Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood as "a bunch of liars."

Daniel Siryoti and Israel Hayom Staff

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas | Photo credit: Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with Egyptian newspaper Akhbar el-Yom over the weekend that there are 6 million Palestinian refugees waiting to return to their homes and that he was one of them.

The Middle East Media Research Institute reviewed the statements made by Abbas in the Arabic daily, and found that Abbas said he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state because he believes it would undermine the national interests of Israeli Arabs, and prevent millions of Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes. "We cannot recognize a Jewish state," he said, adding, "We cannot close the door to those who wish to return."

He further said that if the U.N. Security Council rejects the Palestinian proposal for a two-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 lines, he may end Palestinian security cooperation with Israel and even step down and transfer responsibility for the Palestinian Authority to Israel.

He said that if Israel continues to prevent the Palestinians from forming an independent state, then it should "take responsibility for the occupation," including the health and education sectors as well as all internal affairs.

Abbas went on to criticize Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, calling them "a bunch of liars."

He blamed Hamas for bringing about Operation Protective Edge in August, which left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins. According to the Palestinian leader, the Egyptians had to "propose their cease-fire agreement for 51 days, because of Hamas's obstinacy, and during this time the land [Gaza] was completely destroyed. On the last day [of the war], Hamas members begged me to declare a cease-fire with no reservations or conditions, after many had already been killed and wounded and Gaza was in ruins."

Abbas criticized the U.S. government as well, recounting that during the Egyptian revolution, then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called him, asking that he convince ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington over the weekend, where they discussed the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and its effect on regional stability, the fight against the Islamic State group, and continued U.S. aid to Jordan.

At a joint press conference after their White House meeting, Obama said both he and Abdullah were concerned about tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, adding that the U.S. would continue efforts to renew negotiations.

Abdullah also shared concerns about Iran's possible future nuclear weapons capability and Islamic State's planned spread into Jordanian territory. Obama promised to ensure Jordan's safety and to increase aid due to the Islamic State threat.

Abdullah, who was interviewed by CBS, said that the fight against Islamic State is a fight between good and evil forces.


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'It is time to set Pollard free,' Netanyahu urges Kerry
"Jonathan Pollard's life is at risk and after 30 years in prison, the time has come to release him and allow him to live out the rest of his life as a free man," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says - It is believed Pollard will need surgery soon.

Yori Yalon, Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard's life is in danger, the prime minister says. | Photo credit: AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who was recently hospitalized, during a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday night.

"Jonathan Pollard's life is at risk and after 30 years in prison, the time has come to release him and allow him to live out the rest of his life as a free man," Netanyahu said.

Pollard was hospitalized on Friday after falling unconscious. Wife Esther Pollard was notified by prison administration of her husband's hospitalization. She was later informed that her husband recovered and would soon return to prison with medical supervision. It is believed that Pollard, 60, and in his 30th year of incarceration, will need surgery soon.

A quiet request for Pollard's release under restricted conditions was recently submitted. However, American officials rejected the request, saying that freeing Pollard at this time would "constitute contempt for the severity of the offense and promote a lack of respect for the law."

Pollard was arrested by U.S. authorities in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison. In recent years, numerous former U.S. government officials -- including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and former CIA director James Woolsey -- have openly and unequivocally called for Pollard's release, saying his punishment was disproportionate for the crime he committed, of spying for a friendly country.

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