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Druze Lynch Mob Attacks Wounded Syrians in Israeli Ambulance

By DEBKAfile &

In a second attack on Monday, an Israeli Druze mob from the Golan village of Majdal Shams ambushed another Israeli ambulance carrying injured Syrians to hospital. They heaped stones in its path, seized the vehicle and manhandled the Syrian men. One of the men died after reaching Sieff hospital in Safed and the other is in critical condition. A large IDF and Border Police Force came under a hail of rocks when they tried to intervene. Two were injured.

Earlier Monday, another IDF ambulance carrying injured Syrian rebel fighters from the Golan border was pelted with stones by dozens of Druze from the Galilee village of Hurfeish, who claimed the wounded men were jihadis and were killing their people in Syria. One of the Druze assailants was injured when he tried to block the ambulance's path. The driver was able to reach the nearest police station at Ma'a lot and obtain a police escort for the rest of the trip to the Galilee Medical Center in Naharya.

The second pick-up of injured Syrian fighters took place Monday evening despite the earlier attack, although there was a proposal to move them by helicopter.

Syrian government media responded to the Majdel Shams attack by hailing the assailants for their "heroic operation." The identities and political affiliations of the injured patients are not disclosed, after they are collected from the Golan border with Syria. But most are young men whom the Druze claim belong to groups like the Nusra Front which is hostile to their community in Syria and with which they accuse Israel of collaborating.

The Druze community has been pressing hard for Israel to intervene in the Syrian conflict on behalf of their Syrian brethren. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon took charge of the Druze crisis last week in an effort to avert a bloody clash between rebel groups operating in South Syria and the inhabitants of Jabal Druze and outlying villages. They turned to US and Jordanian officers running Syrian rebel forces for help and they were able over the weekend to negotiate a mutual non-belligerency commitment between the two parties.

The ambulance incidents Monday showed that this deal was not working – mainly because hostile elements are stirring up the Druze communities on both sides of the border to make trouble. Among them are agents serving the Assad regime and Hizbullah.

The situation deteriorated further Monday night, when the mixed rebel groups fighting in South Syria as a coalition fell out and started fighting each other. In the most serious instance, the commander of the Ahrar al Sham, one of the most radical jihadist groups fighting Assad, was assassinated. In this highly heated atmosphere, the Druze issue looks like being pulled into the roiling heart of the broader Syrian conflict. The fallout has begun to slip over into Israel.

Netanyahu on Monday night urged Israel's Druze community to restore calm after the incident. "We will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands, and not allow anyone to interfere with IDF soldiers who are doing their jobs," Netanyahu stressed. "We will severely judge those who break the law. I call on the leaders of the Druze to act immediately to calm the situation."

UN: Israel, Palestinians Likely Committed Crimes in 2014 Gaza War

By VOA News

A United Nations report says Israel and Palestinian terrorists may have committed war crimes during last year's Gaza war. The widely anticipated report decried "unprecedented" devastation and human suffering. The Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict says it gathered "substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both sides."

Both sides quickly rejected the report's findings that Palestinian militants targeted civilians in rocket attacks, while Israeli forces likely used "disproportionate'' force in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip, both identified by the U.N. commission as potential war crimes. The conflict last year killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, while 73 people died on the Israeli side.

In response to the report Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel defends itself against a terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and carries out many war crimes." He said Israel will continue to act forcefully and determinedly against those who seek to harm our citizens and we will do this according to international law."

Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told The Associated Press the U.N. report created a false balance "between the victims and the killers.'' He said Hamas rockets and mortars were aimed at Israeli military sites, not at civilians.

The U.N. commission presented its findings in Geneva. It said the war saw a huge increase in firepower, with more than 6,000 airstrikes by Israel and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars toward Israel during the 50-day war, it said. The report noted that while Israel had taken steps to investigate its own alleged violations, it concluded that "investigations by Palestinian authorities are woefully inadequate.''

Last week, Israel released its own report, saying Israeli forces did not intentionally target civilians and accusing Gaza's Hamas rulers of deliberately attacking Israeli civilians while using their own people as human shields. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the Israeli report "worthless."

Israel's 50 days of shelling, air strikes and ground incursions were launched last July after a surge of indiscriminate cross-border rocket fire by Hamas and its allies that followed the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack.

ISIS in Syria Hangs Two Boys for Eating During Ramadan


The Islamic State (ISIS) on Monday hanged two youths after accusing them of eating during daylight hours in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said.

"Residents of the village of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province reported that IS hanged from a crossbar two boys aged under 18 near the HQ of the Hissba," the jihadist police, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told the AFP news agency. "The children have been suspended by ropes from a pole since noon, and they were still there in the late evening," he added. "Apparently, they were caught eating." A placard was attached to the bodies reading "They broke the fast with no religious justification".

Throughout the month of Ramadan, which began on Thursday, believers abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.

ISIS, which controls swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq where it has created a self-proclaimed "caliphate," advocates an extreme view of the application of Islamic law, or sharia. Steps taken by ISIS against violations of Islamic include a ban on mannequins in shop displays as well as a ban on singing and dancing at weddings. The jihadists do not hesitate to impose brutal punishments including beheadings, stonings, floggings and crucifixions.

ISIS to Turn Biblical Prophet Jonah's Tomb into a 'Fun Park'


After destroying the Tomb of Jonah (Yonah), one of the Jewish prophets from Biblical times, shortly after conquering Mosul in Iraq where the tomb is located last July, the brutal Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization is now planning to construct a park over the important site.

Al Arabiya reported on Saturday that local sources in Mosul had revealed the day before that ISIS is beginning to level the area of the tomb and transform it, noting a budget has been allocated for the project and "specialized companies" have been tapped to commence building.

Responding to the reports, Iraqi Deputy Minister of Antiquities and Tourism Qais Hussain told the local Al-Sumaria News that ISIS apparently intends to transform "the tomb into a park and fun city which is another crime against Iraqi heritage." The ministry has "a plan after liberating conquered cities from ISIS," he said, adding that there is "a committee that is currently working to minimize damages being done to heritage sites."

So far Iraqi forces aided by US airstrikes and Iran-backed militias have been unable to recapture Mosul, although renewed attempts appear to be imminent.

Mosul in northern Iraq was a key initial victory for ISIS last June, as it gained a foothold in northern Iraq and began its massive offensive that saw it capture larges swathes of the country as well as expansive regions in Syria. The jihadist group has been destroying non-Muslim or Shi'ite Muslim sites, in an attempt to rewrite history and wipe out other cultures and religions.

Back in July when Jonah's Tomb was destroyed the tomb of another ancient Jewish prophet, Daniel, was also destroyed in the Mosul area. Jonah's Tomb is said to have dated from the 8th century BCE. After the tomb was destroyed, thieves reportedly dug into an unexcavated palace in Nineveh that was located underneath the tomb.

New ISIS Video Glorifies Child Cage Fighting


Islamic State (ISIS) has in the past uploaded videos of children holding weapons, in terror training and even performing executions - but terror training has reached an entirely new level. On Monday, the group uploaded a new propaganda video which goes beyond the pale, showing children battling each other in arenas to become more skilled fighters. See

The scenes are reminiscent of battle scenes in "Gladiator" or "Divergent," with children and young men fighting each other as an armed commander shouts instructions from the side - and, eventually, with him jumping into the arena to beat them with sticks. The combatants are also required to break concrete blocks with their heads.

The youths are locked into what ISIS terms the "cage of death" for seven long minutes in the video, and subjected to all kinds of physical abuse. Some scenes show them crawling through metal tubes as ISIS terrorist shoot live rounds above their heads.

Experts believe the video was filmed from an ISIS base in Iraq, according to the Daily Mail, and is designed to attract foreign nationals to the group.

The video surfaced just as the US State Department announced Friday that 16,000 foreign nationals from 90 countries flooded Syria over 2014 alone - many of whom presumably joined ISIS, the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra Front, and other Islamist groups. That report also noted that ISIS is unique in wielding media as a terror and recruitment tool.

The 'Stalkers' Tracking ISIS' Jihadi Brides Online


In a nondescript office in central London, researcher Melanie Smith stares at her laptop, scrolling down the Twitter feed of a 17-year-old British girl who ran away to join Islamic State terrorists. "What we're looking at here is when she announced her husband's death," said Smith, pointing to a post from a few months ago that says: "May Allah accept my husband."

There are also lots of retweets, from screenshots of ISIS propaganda videos to news articles, particularly around the time of the Islamist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January. "We saw her retweeting pictures of the cartoonists who had been killed and also others who were celebrating the attacks," Smith said.

The account is one of several held by Salma Halane, a schoolgirl from the northern city of Manchester who ran away to join ISIS with her twin sister Zahra in July 2014. The twins are among an estimated 550 Western women that have joined the Islamist terrorists who have seized swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq.

Smith and her colleague Erin Saltman of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue have profiled 108 of the women from their social media accounts, in a ground-breaking project to understand more about female recruits and their online footprints. "It's pretty much my life now, it's kind of an obsession," said Smith, a petite blonde who, having just turned 23, is similar in age to many of her subjects.

They do not interact with the women, they just watch. "We're stalkers!" laughed Saltman, a 30-year-old expert on radicalization and violent extremism.

Scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr accounts for hours on end can take its toll, however. "You are seeing very disturbing images, everything from beheadings to dead children. It's not easy," said Saltman.

Some researchers in this field suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and they can become targets themselves. "I personally have received a couple of Twitter death threats," Saltman said.

Smith began working on the database about a year ago, archiving online posts from women who have left their often affluent Western lives behind to become brides of ISIS fighters and populate the new "caliphate." One of her subjects is just 14. "I feel sympathy for the younger ones," she said, but this fades as they become more radical. "I don't feel much pity. But I do take an interest in what would have brought them to that decision."

The research, undertaken jointly with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, is necessarily limited, not least because it focuses on English-speaking accounts.

A recent US study identified at least 46,000 Twitter accounts linked to supporters of the Islamic State group, with three-quarters of them tweeting in Arabic. Information gleaned from social media can also be patchy, but what they have found challenges the notion of naive "jihadi brides," revealing women who are just as ideologically committed as the men.

While forbidden from fighting, the women use open-access social media to spread Islamist propaganda and, through posts hailing the medical care available or the camaraderie of the "sisterhood," encourage new recruits. "We know that the lens we're seeing is the propaganda, not the reality. We read between the lines quite a lot," said Saltman.

Mentions of miscarriages and the pain of leaving families back home slip between posts glorifying ISIS fighters, while a brief hashtag trend #nobodycaresaboutthewidow suggests some women feel isolated after their husbands die.

Excavation of Death Camp Treblinka Reveals Horrors

By LiveScience

The first-ever archaeological excavations at the Nazi death camp Treblinka have revealed new mass graves, as well as the first physical evidence that this camp held gas chambers, where thousands of Jews died.

Presented in a new documentary, "Treblinka: Hitler's Killing Machine," the excavations reveal that the Nazis weren't as adept at covering up their crimes as they believed when they razed the death camp in 1943. Brick walls and foundations from the gas chambers remain, as do massive amounts of human bone, including fragments now eroding out on the forested ground surface.

"For me, that was quite shocking," said project leader Caroline Sturdy Colls, a forensic archaeologist who normally works with police to find modern murder victims. "These artifacts are there, and these human remains are on the surface, and they're not being recorded or recovered."

Of all the atrocities of Hitler's Third Reich, Treblinka is one of the most mind-boggling. Historians estimate that about 900,000 Jews were murdered at this concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland over a mere 16 months.

The Nazis began deporting Jews, mostly from the ghettos of Warsaw and Radom, to Treblinka in July 1942. There were two camps. Treblinka I was a forced-labor camp where prisoners were made to manufacture gravel for the Nazi war effort. A little more than a mile (2 kilometers) away was Treblinka II, a horrendously efficient death camp.

Jews were sent to Treblinka II on trains, told they were simply going to a transit camp before being sent on to a new life in eastern Europe. The deception was elaborate: Nazis erected a fake train station in the remote spot, complete with false ticket-counter and clock. "There was an orchestra set up near the reception area of the camp to play," Colls told Live Science. "It was run by a famous composer at the time, Artur Gold."

Gold, a Jewish violinist from Warsaw, was kept alive at Treblinka both to entertain the Nazi guards and to run the orchestra. He died at the camp in 1943.

The Jewish deportees were split into two groups, one of men and the other of women and children, and ordered to undress for "delousing." After handing over their valuables and documents, the victims were sent to the gas chambers, which were pumped full of exhaust from tank engines. Within about 20 minutes, some 5,000 people inside would be killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. Corpses were initially buried in mass graves, but later in 1942 and 1943, Jewish slave laborers were forced to reopen the graves and cremate the bodies on enormous pyres.

But because the Nazis razed Treblinka's death camp in 1943, little physical evidence of this genocide remained. What was known about Treblinka came from Nazi confessions and the eyewitness descriptions of very few survivors, most of whom were never allowed near the gas chambers.

But as an archaeologist, Colls knew that "the landscape could never be sanitized in that way," she said. She began assessing Treblinka as an archaeological site in 2007. Her emphasis was on using "non-invasive" archaeological methods, including geophysical surveys of the site and visual inspection. "What we wanted to do at that stage was to asses what, if anything, survived below ground," Colls said.

Since that time, Colls has also led a lidar survey of the wooded site. Lidar is a method that uses lasers to measure the distance between the ground and the airplane-borne instrument. By scanning the ground with lidar, archaeologists can detect depressions and mounds that might indicate manmade structures. Lidar allows researchers to virtually strip away the vegetation that might obscure these features on the ground. "What that revealed was the presence of previously unknown mass graves," Colls said.

The suspected mass grave sites were in Treblinka I, the labor camp. The story of the labor camp is less well-known than the story of the death camp, which is now marked by a memorial. But the labor camp was no less brutal, Colls said: Eyewitnesses report seeing men hacked to death alive, and beatings and murder were commonplace. The largest of the mass graves as revealed on lidar was 63 feet by 58 feet in size (19.2 by 17.6 meters).

Indeed, when the archaeology team began digging to confirm the lidar results, they uncovered shoes, ammunition, and bones — including bones with cut marks indicating that the victims had been stabbed or otherwise assaulted.

After digging three small test trenches to confirm each mass grave, Colls and her team reburied the remains. Jewish rabbinical law prohibits the disruption of a gravesite, so the aim was never to disinter the bodies. But placing the bones back in the grave was emotionally difficult, Colls said.

"I think it never actually crossed my mind that it would actually be me who would re-inter the remains," she said. "I think sometimes the hardest thing to do was to actually re-inter the remains, and to backfill the trenches over the gas chamber, for example, because it felt like you were almost putting a lid on it."

The gas chamber was the subject of the teams' second dig. There were two sets of gas chambers built at Treblinka, the first with a capacity of about 600 people, the second able to hold about 5,000.

Colls and her team conducted four excavations at Treblinka II. The first two revealed a strange find — a fossilized shark tooth, and sand. Evidently, the Nazis dumped sand from a nearby quarry over the remains of the death camp to disguise them.

The second two trenches, however, revealed a brick wall and foundation. The gas chambers were the only brick buildings in the camp, Colls said. The excavations also revealed orange tiles that matched eyewitness descriptions of the floor of the killing chambers. Chillingly, each tile was stamped with a Star of David, likely part of the Nazi subterfuge that the building was a Jewish-style bathhouse.

"Treblinka had never been looked at since the period after the war," Colls said. "And everybody had assumed that because the history books said it was destroyed, it was."

The excavations prove otherwise, she said. Colls is now working on an exhibition of the findings to go on display at Treblinka, as well as a book about the work. There are plans to go back and dig at an execution site near the labor camp to confirm the presence of a mass grave, she said, and there may be more work near the gas chambers.

The hope, Colls said, is to bring the atrocities to light, understand them, and hopefully prevent future genocides. To that end, she says, she channels the emotion of uncovering victims' remains to finding more answers. "For me, it feels like the Holocaust happened yesterday," she said. ``

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