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Israel's Inaction in Syria May Open Golan to Iran

By DEBKAfile

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has given "diplomatic priority" to stressing the perils posed by Iranian-sponsored terrorism and its nuclear-capable ballistic weapons, and placed them at the top of his talks with British premier Theresa May in London on Monday and with President Donald Trump in Washington on February 15.

But it stands to reason that their national security and intelligence experts have advised the US president and the British premier that Netanyahu has been firmly advised up to the present day to stay clear of military involvement in the Syrian conflict by the IDF high command and his past and present defense ministers, Avigdor Lieberman and Moshe Ya'alon.

Israel therefore stands to be excluded from the practical deliberations ongoing for Syria's future. Jordan in contrast has stepped forward as the key Middle East player in the pacts and military understandings shaping up between the US, Russia and Turkey for throwing Iran out of Syria.

Jordan's King Abdullah swallowed his pride and took the initiative of flying to Washington last Thursday to buttonhole Trump. From their brief conversation, he became the first Middle East ruler to win a green light from the US for an air strike against the ISIS ally, the Khalid Ibn al-Walid Army, which occupies the triangle formed by the Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli borders.

Israel has never attacked this force in the five years since it moved into that part of southern Syria. DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources disclose that Abdullah informed Trump that the air strike would take place under the supervision of the US, Russian and Syrian commands, making it the first instance of US-Russian support for a Middle East army's action against ISIS in Syria.

And so, on Saturday, six Royal Jordanian Air Force F-15 fighters and five drones bombed seven Khalid Ibn al-Walid positions. This air strike most probably heralded more bombardments to come. Jordanian commando units are also likely to mount raids, in concert with the Syrian rebel militias they have trained, to seize the ground occupied by ISIS' offshoot.

And on the diplomatic front, Trump authorized Jordan's attendance at the Syrian peace talks that are ongoing under Russian sponsorship at the Kazakh capital of Astana. The Jordanian delegation was deputized to act on America's behalf to monitor the process for determining the future of Syria. This move came a week after the British prime minister was urged by Trump to fly straight to Ankara after their talks in Washington in search of a military collaboration deal for Syria between the UK and Turkey.

The onset of Jordan's military action in Syria has pumped up to seven the number of foreign armies involved in that country's conflict: Russia, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, pro-Iranian Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Lebanese Hizbullah, US forces, the Turkish Army and now Jordan.

Synchronously with the Jordanian air strike in southern Syria, President Bashar Assad announced that its launch makes it possible for Syrian civilians who fled from the Islamists to start returning to their homes, starting with the Quneitra region of the Syrian Golan. He was talking about 30,000 refugees.

It is obvious to anyone familiar with the Syrian scene that this population shift is an open invitation for thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps members and Hizbullah terrorists to take the opportunity of stealing into the Golan, in the guise of returning refugees.

Israel, aside from providing an intelligence service on Syria to coalition forces, finds itself left out of any say in the currently evolving peace process. While ISIS may be rooted out of this border area at some point, the Netanyahu government's military inaction risks exposing the Golan to another attempted incursion by Iranian and Hizbullah forces by covert means.

The diplomatic prioritization of the Iranian threat, coupled with talks with Trump and deals with Russian President Putin, amount to a policy that has gone bankrupt for Netanyahu and his security chiefs. The powers who will determine what happens next in Syria are bound by military cooperation and action. Because Netanyahu's rhetoric about the perils posed by Iran is not backed by military action, Israel has no influence on coming events, and faces the very real risk of being faced with an Iranian presence on its northern doorstep.

Netanyahu Calls on `Responsible' Nations to Join Iran Sanctions

By Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appealed to Britain to join new sanctions against Iran as he met his British counterpart Theresa May in London on Monday, while she cautioned about Israel's plans for new settlements in occupied territory.

Netanyahu said "responsible" nations should follow President Donald Trump's imposition of sanctions against Iran following a ballistic missile test. "Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, and it threatens the world. And it offers provocation after provocation," Netanyahu told May ahead of their meeting.

"That's why I welcome President Trump's assistance of new sanctions against Iran, I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations. I'd like to talk to you about how we can ensure that Iran's aggression does not go unanswered."

May, who has repeated her backing for the nuclear deal with Tehran strongly opposed by both Netanyahu and Trump, said they would discuss Iran in their talks. Earlier her spokeswoman said May would also tell Netanyahu that continued Israeli settlement activity in occupied lands captured in the 1967 Middle East War on which the Palestinians hope to create independent state undermined trust in the region.

Despite their differences, London has adopted a more positive approach to Israel since May became leader after last year's vote to leave the European Union, echoing the more sympathetic tone set by Trump, with whom Britain wishes to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.

Last month Britain said it had reservations about a French-organized Middle East peace conference in Paris and did not back the final communiqué by 70 countries which reaffirmed that only a two-state solution could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its stance angered many EU members. In December, Britain also scolded then Secretary of State John Kerry for a speech criticizing Israeli policy.

May told Netanyahu Britain was a "strong and close friend of Israel" and highlighted their co-operation in science, trade and security. Their meeting had an awkward start as the Israeli prime minister arrived early at Downing Street, meaning May was not there to greet him. Having entered her office alone, he returned outside minutes later for the customary handshake.

Small groups of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters gathered outside Downing Street and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, said May's stance on settlements was not good enough.

"Theresa May must make clear to the Israeli prime minister that the British government will stand unequivocally behind the rights of the Palestinian people," said Corbyn, who once described members of Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah as friends in comments he later said he regretted.

Missile can Hit Tel Aviv in Just 7 Minutes, Official Threatens

By Israel Hayom

A senior Iranian official warned Saturday that if the United States launches a military strike against Iran, the Islamic republic would swiftly retaliate against Israel. "If the enemy chooses to shoot a missile in Iran's direction, Tel Aviv will go up in flames from an Iranian missile before the [enemy's] missile hits its target. This is not just a slogan, as only seven minutes are needed for an Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv," Mojtaba Zonour, member of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, boasted.

The Iranian lawmaker's remarks were the latest in the escalating rhetoric coming out of the Islamic republic. Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Zonour as saying that 36 American bases in the Middle East are in the range of Iranian missiles, saying, "These points are all within the range of Iran's missile systems and they will be razed to the ground if the enemy makes a mistake." He further threatened that "if the U.S. does something stupid, we will wipe out the American 5th Fleet in Bahrain."

Meanwhile, British, American, French and other fleets deployed in the Persian Gulf held war games to assess the coordination between their forces. The exercise simulated, among other scenarios, a confrontation with Iran. The war games were held as part of Task Force 50, which operates in the Gulf sphere overseen by the 5th Fleet. Task Force 50 comprised over 59 ships from six

Fourth IDF Attack on Hamas Positions


The IDF Monday attacked Hamas positions and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in four separate strikes. The last air strike was carried out in the evening, with three Hamas installations in the northern and southern Gaza Strip confirmed hits.

The IDF spokesman said that "the attacks were carried out in light of events that have been occurring over the last month. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and will not tolerate any attempt to harm the security of Israel and its citizens, and will work to preserve quiet for both sides."

This afternoon a southern Gaza Hamas position was engaged and destroyed by an IDF tank. The attack was in response to rocket fire a short time earlier against an IDF force working near the southern Gaza security fence. Earlier, three northern Gaza Hamas positions were attacked by the Air Force.

Even earlier in the day, the IDF attacked another northern Gaza Hamas position with a tank. This attack came in response to rocket fire at the western Negev area. The rocket landed in an open area causing no injuries or damage.

Lost Wire Recording of Holocaust Survivors' Songs Rediscovered


Seventy years after been recorded, researchers from the University of Akron, Ohio, have found an old wire recording spool containing songs that Jews were forced to listen to on the way to labor camps during the Holocaust. The old spool found by researchers contained songs sung by Jewish prisoners during the Holocaust on their way to labor camps. The prisoners were forced by the Nazis to sing these songs as was reported by the British Daily Mail.

The spool that had apparently been mislabeled contained songs in Yiddish and German, recorded in the Henoville refugee camp in northern France, in the summer of 1946.The songs were performed by Holocaust survivors, while being interviewed by Dr. David Boder. Researcher Jon Endres stumbled upon the discovery while doing an inventory check in the archive.

The recording spool was labeled "Heroville songs" instead of "Henoville." Once he converted the delicate spool into digital format, Endres was shocked by the discovery. "I think it is one of the most important discoveries from our collections in our 50-year history," said Dr. David Baker, the Margaret Clark Moran Executive Director of the Cummings Center, to the Daily Mail.

"That we could give the world the melody to a song sung by those sentenced to their death through forced labor during one of the most unspeakable horrors of the 20th century is remarkable," added Baker.

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