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Newsletter : 16fx0105.txt

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Hizbullah Blows Up 'Mossad' Patrol

By DEBKAfile & IsraelNationalNews.com

Shortly after DEBKAfile's forecast of a Hizbullah revenge strike for the Samir Quntar assassination, a Hizbullah roadside bomb blew up against an IDF patrol at the Shebaa Farms on the Hermon slopes Monday afternoon. No casualties were caused.

DEBKAfile's intelligence sources report that this attack was just the first of a continuous offensive Hizbullah is planning, that will spread from the Lebanese-Israeli ceasefire lines to the Golan. The Israeli force answered Monday's attack with tank artillery fire against the southern Lebanese town of Al-Wazzani and was answered by rocket fire from Lebanon.

Hizbullah announced that it had blown up a bomb on the ceasefire line at the Shebaa Farms targeting a civilian car carrying a "senior Mossad officer. The next Hizbullah communiqué said: The Martyr al-Quntar Unit blew up a bomb against an Israeli patrol in the Shebaa Farms, destroying a military vehicle and causing casualties. In a third communiqué, Hizbullah said the car attacked carried a "senior Israeli army officer" – amending its previous claim of a Mossad officer. The Israeli army temporarily closed all northern roads to civilian traffic in case the Hizbullah attack spreads into a major clash.

DEBKAfile reported earlier Monday that the rising tension between Tehran and Riyadh may serve Iran and its Lebanese proxy as an opportunity to attack Israel. The leader of that proxy, Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah, had repeatedly threatened to punish Israeli for the assassination of its high profile terrorist planner Samir Quntar in Damascus on Dec, 20. Quntar was freed by Israel as part of a prisoner swap in 2008, three decades after he was convicted of killing four Israelis. In September, the United States placed Quntar on its terror blacklist, saying he had "played an operational role, with the assistance of Iran and Syria, in building up Hizbullah's terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights."

UNIFIL, the UN's peacekeeping force in Lebanon, on Monday urged Israel and Lebanon to "exercise utmost restraint." In a statement issued by her office, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, expressed concern over the attack on the IDF convoy in the Shebaa Farms area, and subsequent IDF shelling into Lebanon.

According to the statement, in discussions with the parties, including regional stakeholders, Kaag stressed the risks posed to the stability of Lebanon. She also highlighted the danger of miscalculation which could lead to a deterioration of the situation on the ground.

She urged all parties to fulfill their obligations under UN resolution 1701, which imposed a ceasefire and brought an end to the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and to refrain from any acts or rhetoric which could undermine stability across the Blue Line.

"The need of the time is to maintain security vigil and to exercise utmost restraint against any provocation," UNIFIL Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano said, noting that UNIFIL has further reinforced its presence on the ground and intensified patrols across the area of operations in coordination with the Lebanese army. "General calm has been restored in the area and the parties have reassured me of their continued commitment to maintain the cessation of hostilities in accordance with resolution 1701," he said.

Earlier on Monday, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon filed an official complaint with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council following the border incident. "This is a blatant violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701," Danon charged, adding that "the UN must condemn the terror attacks against Israel and demand Lebanon stop all terrorist activity coming from its territory." Danon stressed that Israel will not accept an attack on its sovereignty and will act on all fronts against those who us violence against it.


IDF Troops Deployed in Tel Aviv to Assist in Manhunt for Fugitive Terrorist

By DEBKAfile & IsraelNationalNews.com

For the first time since the terrorist attack on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street on January 1, IDF soldiers were deployed on Monday as reinforcements for the police and the Shin Bet internal security service as the manhunt for the fugitive terrorist, Nashat Melhem, continues. DEBKAfile counterterrorism sources report that the IDF troops brought to Tel Aviv were placed at points believed to be possible terror targets.

More than three days have passed since Melhem opened fire on a Tel Aviv pub and security forces are still in the dark as to his whereabouts. The manhunt for the terrorist who murdered Alon Bakal (26) and Shimon Ruimi (30), and likely also taxi driver Amin Shaban, entered its fourth day on Monday, and at this stage IDF soldiers have joined the search.

Special military units were deployed to north Tel Aviv and thoroughly searched every apartment in every building, but to no avail. Soldiers from the IDF's Oketz Canine Unit also arrived with army dogs to one of the neighborhoods in north Tel Aviv and joined Border Police in scanning open territories in the area.

As the high alert continues, many forces have expressed exhaustion and exasperation with the searches, which they claim are being conducted contrary to established procedure. "There is no place we didn't look in the air or on foot, and we are still dying to catch him," one soldier told Channel 2. "He's succeeding in playing us."

Toward the evening, Tel Aviv District Police commander Benzi Sau led a special briefing with senior officers about updates in the investigation as well as the manhunt. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan also revealed Monday evening that Melhem had deliberately gotten rid of his cellular phone before carrying out the shooting on Dizengoff Street. "He is more sophisticated than people think," Erdan told the Knesset Channel. "He deliberately did not come with a cell phone that day to make it more difficult to locate him."

Chinese Man Accidently Arrives in Israel by Boat

By YnetNews.com

Fishermen from the town of Jisr az-Zarqa were stunned to learn that the Chinese man they found lying unconscious by a boat at the harbor had set sail from Greece and arrived on the Israeli shore quite by accident.

The fishermen took care of the man, giving him food and drink. When he recovered, they asked him how he came to be on the beach. "I'm a Chinese citizen and I just found myself here," he answered in English.

They had a hard time communicating with the man and called the police, who took the unexpected tourist in for questioning. The man told the police he set sail from Greece and apparently was blown off course by strong winds and carried to Israel. The Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration has taken over the handling of the case.

One of the fishermen said that "this is the first time we encounter a case like this. We didn't expect someone to get to us through the sea because of Israel's increased security. Usually, it's hard to believe that anyone who illegally crosses the border gets to live. This Chinese man is lucky. We're happy he's fit and healthy and hope he returns to his family soon."


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