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Report: Israel Air Force Struck Near Damascus Airport

By DEBKAfile, IsraelNationalNews.com & YnetNews.com

There was no comment from Israel on the report by Syrian media that the Israeli air force had conducted several surveillance and bombing sorties over the military airfield near Damascus during Wednesday afternoon and evening. Witnesses reported blasts and plumes of smoke and flames emanating from the reported location.

According to the reports, powerful explosions were heard in the international airport. In parallel, the airport's electricity went out completely, and flight traffic was temporarily halted. It is not clear whether the target of the alleged strikes were an arms shipment, or a terror cell planning attacks against Israel.

Just last week Arab media quoted sources in Syria reporting that the IAF struck a transfer of Scud missiles to the Iran terror proxy Hizbullah in Lebanon, in strikes that took place in the Qalamoun mountainous border region. That report followed on the heels of Syrian media reports the previous Saturday of an alleged Israeli airstrike in the Qalamoun region, targeting Hizbullah and Syrian regime forces. Last April, it was reported in Arab media that IAF jets struck a Scud missile shipment as it was leaving the Syrian capital of Damascus.

The IDF has taken a policy of preventing advanced rockets from reaching Hizbullah on Israel's northern border, which already is said to have a rocket arsenal 10 times that of Hamas in Gaza.

The major Arab-language media outlets had not reported the purported incident as of publication. Neither had any official media outlets belonging to the Assad regime. But a Facebook page linked to the regime did say that a military post near the airport had been attacked before dawn and that it was believed to be the work of Israel's air force. Photos were later posted that allegedly depicted damage from this attack, and the account also claimed there had been no loss of life.


EU Releases Guidelines on Israeli Imports from Beyond 'Green Line'

By DEBKAfile & VOA News

The European Union released on Wednesday its guidelines for member countries on the marking of Israeli products made in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan, claiming it is implementing the Common Market's law regarding information that must be provided to European consumers.

The guidelines, drawn up over several years by the EU, require Israeli producers to explicitly label farm goods and other products sold in the European Union that come from settlements built on land occupied by Israel. The bloc's position is that lands Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War - the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights - are not part of Israel's internationally recognized borders.

Labels with the "Israeli settlement" term would be mandated for fruits, vegetables and cosmetics, and recommended for other goods. The EU insists the move is a "technical" issue, not a political stance.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the EU should be "ashamed" of its decision to label products made in Jewish settlements. He compared the decision to the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses before and during World War II. Israel suspended a series of meetings with the EU to protest the decision.

Israel's Foreign Ministry condemned the move as an "exceptional and discriminatory step," saying it singled Israel out and is potentially harmful to long-standing peace efforts. The European Union is Israel's top trading partner, with total commerce estimated at $32 million based on imports and exports. There are no official European statistics on imports of goods from Israeli settlements, but they are believed to represent less than 1% of total trade.


ISIS Threatens Eilat and Israel in New Video

By IsraelNationalNews.com & the Jerusalem Post

The Sinai branch of Islamic State (ISIS) released a new video Wednesday threatening attacks on Israel soon - particularly the southern coastal city of Eilat. The speaker in the video said that the organization is growing stronger in the Sinai Peninsula, and threatens to attack Eilat "very soon." He also said that Jews will soon "pay for their crimes against Muslims" and "regret what you did.

"We are on the edge of the Temple Mount in Palestine, close to the Jews who steal their land," the speaker says. "More than once already the blood of Jews was spilled in surprise attacks," he added, referring to the terror war on Israel.

The speaker also blasted the Egyptian army for "helping the Jews desecrate holy places for Muslims," referencing Egypt's war on terror in the Sinai Peninsula - which he then claims is unsuccessful.

This is not the first time ISIS has directly threatened Israel. In October, the group released a video in Hebrew, featuring what appears to be an Israeli Arab; the speaker threatens that "not a single Jew will be left in the entire country."

The speaker expressed the terrorist group's desire to attack Israel at an unspecified time, he said, quoting the well-known hadith: "Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and trees will call: O Muslim, o servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him - except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews."


UN Report Slams Israel's Response to Child Prostitution

By Ha'aretz

A report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticized the way Israel deals with children exploited for prostitution. It said there is insufficient coordination between different state agencies, no clear-cut plan for dealing with the problem, a shortage of data on its scope and insufficient prosecution and punishment of sex offenders. The Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child discussed the report on Monday.

A source familiar with the issue said that despite growing awareness of the problem, helping juvenile prostitutes "still falls between the governmental cracks." Moreover, of all the police probes opened into sex crimes against minors last year, about 45% have been closed.

In 2008, Israel ratified the portion of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that deals with trafficking in children and child prostitution and pornography. The UN committee publishes periodic reports on how well the convention's signatories are meeting their obligations. Its latest report on Israel, which was published this summer, voiced dismay over what it termed Israel's lack of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with these problems and its slow progress toward implementing a recommendation made in the previous report – setting up a state agency dedicated to children's rights.

The report was scathing about Israel's handling of cases against people suspected of sex crimes against minors. It said the number of cases investigated was low to start with, and only a small percentage of them actually go to trial.

Moreover, even when convictions are obtained in child prostitution or pornography cases, the sentences don't always match the severity of the crimes, the report said. It recommended instituting stiffer sentences for obtaining sexual services from a minor.

The latest data compiled by the Knesset's research center seem to confirm the report's findings. This data shows that of 2,349 cases opened into sex crimes against minors in 2014, only 11% have yet produced a verdict. Moreover, almost 45% of these cases were closed – 30% because the criminal was unknown and 13% due to lack of public interest.

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu), who chairs the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, also echoed the UN report's complaint about lenient sentencing. "A sentence of up to three years for obtaining sex services from a minor is ridiculous," she said.

At Monday's meeting of the Knesset committee, a representative of the Social Affairs Ministry confirmed another criticism in the UN report, regarding Israel's lack of a system for coordinating among different government agencies involved in this issue. He said his ministry "works to rehabilitate minors employed in prostitution, but doesn't coordinate with the Education Ministry on preventing [minors] from sliding into prostitution or on locating minors employed in prostitution."

An Education Ministry representative said the ministry provides lesson plans on healthy sexuality and instructs teachers on how to identify children at risk, but there are no lesson plans dealing specifically with prostitution. "It's preferable to speak with the students first about healthy, normative sexuality before we get into the issue of prostitution," she said.

The UN report also criticized the lack of data about the scope of sexual exploitation of children in Israel. State Comptroller Joseph Shapira leveled similar criticism in a report published in December 2014, writing that "government ministries, local authorities and aid organizations only possess estimates and assessments."

About three months ago, Ha'aretz reported that the Social Affairs Ministry knows of at least 970 children exploited for prostitution, but estimated the true figure at around 1,250. "Despite the progress that has been made, there's still no known, agreed figure on the number of minors exploited for prostitution," said a source familiar with the issue. "This is in gross contradiction of a series of public and governmental committees which said that gathering data is the essential first step in dealing with the problem."

The UN report also charged that Israel lacks adequate systems for identifying children at risk of becoming crime victims. But Reut Guy of ELEM – Youth in Distress said such children are hard to detect. "Often, professionals oppose branding a 15-year-old girl as a prostitute, and therefore, her treatment evaporates," she said. Moreover, some local authorities avoid the issue, she said: "On the periphery, there are towns that are afraid to touch it."

The Social Affairs Ministry said it runs a nationwide program to help child prostitutes and plans to open centers in 15 additional cities once the 2016 budget is approved. It added that it cooperates closely with the justice and public security ministries, but has some professional differences with the Education Ministry on this issue.

Revealed: California Stabber was an ISIS Fan

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Faisal Mohammad, the California college student who last week stabbed four people, was carrying an image of the black flag of Islamic State (ISIS) as well as a handwritten manifesto with instructions to behead a student and multiple reminders to pray to Allah, Fox News revealed on Wednesday. However, according to the report, authorities continue to insist Mohammad's motives had nothing to do with radical Islam.

The 18-year-old, who was killed by a campus police officer to end the attack last Wednesday morning, was a loner who was incensed at being booted from a study group, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. But the extreme way Mohammad dealt with his rage, the presence of the printout of ISIS' black flag and the deadly plans spelled out in the two-page document he carried could indicate there was more to the attack than simple rejection.

"This fits exactly with what ISIS is looking for, individuals to go and do an act of terrorism unilaterally," Patrick Dunleavy, former deputy inspector general of the New York State Police Criminal Intelligence Unit, told Fox News. "The fact that he may have been kicked out of a study group does not preclude this being a lone wolf act. It only needs some sort of trigger, which could be totally unrelated to Islam, that causes him to act on his rage and attribute it to Allah," he added.

Dunleavy likened the case to the case of Alton Nolen, who allegedly beheaded a former co-worker at a food plant in Oklahoma City in 2014. While he was angry over a workplace issue, his actions were likely the result of radicalization, said Dunleavy. "ISIS is not looking for a few good men; one crazy will do," he told Fox News. "This is what a lone wolf looks like."

The printout of the ISIS flag was reported Tuesday by the Merced Sun-Star, citing a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity a day earlier. The official also told the local newspaper Mohammad's manner of dress during the attack and some of the websites he may have visited in the days leading up to the incident ultimately led local authorities to hand control of the investigation over to the FBI.

Warnke confirmed that decision, saying "new information" had been discovered on Saturday about Mohammad, who was shot and killed by police during the episode. While the unidentified law enforcement official who spoke with the Sun-Star didn't directly say the flag was related to the attack, ISIS is known to be recruiting U.S. citizens directly and attempting to inspire lone wolf attacks within the country. The group's social media savvy is well documented.

In fact, American authorities over the past year or so have arrested and charged several people of supporting ISIS. These included a 16-year-old accused of planning to join the group and who was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm in South Carolina, having been charged with this offense as South Carolina has no anti-terrorism laws. His conviction followed the arrest of six Somali Americans from Minnesota who allegedly planned to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

FoxNews.com reported Friday that the manifesto found on Mohammad included numerous reminders to pray to Allah and a pledge to behead one victim. A backpack carried by Mohammad, who was shot and killed by campus police on a nearby bridge, contained zip-tie handcuffs and duct tape. Authorities later found two pages of handwritten notes on him, detailing his plans in oddly numbered order, according to investigators.








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