Newsletter : 17fx0209.txt
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Rockets from Sinai Fired Towards Eilat: Three Intercepted by Iron Dome
Sirens were sounded on Wednesday night, shortly before 11 p.m., in the resort city of
Eilat and in the Eilat Regional Council. Residents in the area reported hearing explosions
immediately after the sirens.
The IDF confirmed that three rockets were fired from Egypt towards Eilat and that the
Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted them. A fourth rocket exploded in an open area.
There were no damages, but four people who suffered shock were evacuated to the Yoseftal
Hospital in the city. IDF forces are continuing to search the area.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, a tank shell from Syria landed in an open area in the
Golan Heights. No injuries or damage were reported. The IDF believes that the shell was a
result of a spillover from the civil war in Syria, and that Israel was not targeted for
The IDF responded by attacking a target in the northern Golan Heights belonging to the
army of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. "The IDF will not tolerate any attack on
Israel's sovereignty or the security of its citizens, and sees the Syrian regime is
responsible for what happens in its territory."
Russia to Give Syrian Army High-Precision Weapons
By DEBKAfile & YnetNews
Moscow signaled on Wednesday, February 8, that it has started - or is about to start -
supplying precision weapons to the Syrian military in order to boost its capabilities
against the Islamic State organization.
It came in an announcement by Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy chairman of the Russian
Federation Council, who said, "Russia will continue an asymmetrical response (to
terrorism) in Syria, which may include the regrouping of forces and
meansâ¦and of course the supply of high-precision weapons to the Syrian
He added that âIt is impossible to defeat terrorism only by efforts
of one country. Terrorism has assumed a global character and, having achieved obvious
victory in one place, there is no reason to create additional vacuums where terrorists can
resume military operations.â
It is clear that Umakhanov was referring to two main topics: 1. Military cooperation by
the US, Russia, Syria and Turkey in the war against ISIS, with the first signs already
visible on the fronts in northern and eastern Syria. 2. Russian estimation of the need to
supply the Syrian military with the most advanced weapons to ramp up its capabilities to
the same level as those of the other militaries taking part in the war against ISIS in
According to Russian media reports, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said
recently that more than 160 types of advanced weapons have been tested in the course of
Moscowâs military intervention in Syria, which started in September
2015. The reports did not specify where or when Shoigu made the comment.
DEBKAfileâs military and intelligence sources have revealed the types
of weapons that the Russians have decided to send the Syrian army. They include small
drones armed with precision bombs; shoulder-fired, laser-guided antitank and antiaircraft
missiles; âloitering munitionsâ which follow their
targets after being dropped from planes; small unmanned vehicles for clearing tunnels;
advanced night vision equipment; laser and infrared sights; intelligence systems for
locating targets; and long-range sniper rifles.
Loitering munitions combine the traits of missiles, drones and bombs. They are dropped
from a plane and then controlled by a soldier on the ground or in the air. They can fly
for many hours as long as they have enough fuel and electricity. The munitions use a GPS
system to show their precise location, and are usually fitted with a video camera which
shows targets in real time in high resolution, even in poor weather conditions or at
night, via remote control.
As soon as the target is identified, the bomb is directed to its target, such as the
window of a building, an armored vehicle or a group of fighters. In addition to the
target, all of the bombâs sensors are destroyed when the bomb
Russiaâs announcement was a complete surprise to the highest levels
of the Israeli government and military. During the six years of the Syrian civil war, the
IDF, particularly its intelligence bodies and its air force, made great efforts to prevent
the flow of such precision weapons to the Syrian military and to the Iranian and Hizbullah
forces in Syria.
But now that the Russians have announced that they will provide those weapons to the
Syrian military, it is obvious that some of the arms are bound to fall into the hands of
the Iranians and Hizbullah.
Russian Ambassador to Israel, Alexander Shane, said that his country is working to
prevent the transfer of Russian weapons to Hizbullah. During an interview with the
Interfax news agency, Shane noted that Israel presented Moscow with its "red lines" and
shared concerns about Russia's cooperation with Iran and Syria.
According to Shane, Israel presented red lines to the Russians about events in Syria,
the most important of which were the transfer of modern, advanced weapons to Hizbullah and
the establishment of an anti-Israel base with Iran in the Syrian Golan.
"Russia explained to Israel how it thinks the crisis in Syria can be solved in order to
unite all forces in the war against terrorist groups and establish a steady future for
Syria by Syrians themselves," said Shane.
Shane added that Israel understands was his country is doing in Syria, "but for them,
the best thing that can happen is cooperation between Russia and the United
Statesâand not Russia and Iranâto solve the crisis in
Syria and the fight against terrorism in the Middle East."
According to Shane, "Israel sees Iran as the biggest threat and cause of instability in
the region." he added that "Russia promised Israel that Russian weapons will not make it
to Hizbullah. Israel wants a deal between Russia and the United States to end the war in
A Wall Street Journal report claimed that the Trump administration is trying to find
ways to break up the military and diplomatic pact between Russia and Iran. The report
relied on the words of a senior official in the administration as well as statements from
European and Arab officials who are involved in the matter. "If we can drive a wedge
between Russia and Iran, itâs an option we have to check," said that
same American official.
According to the same Wall Street Journal report, the White House has no illusions
about Russia and does not think President Vladimir Putin is a "choir boy." However, the
real question, according to European officials, is what Putin will demand from Trump in
return for weakening his alliance with Tehran.
40% of IDF's Female Recruits Ask to Serve in Combat Unit
By Israel Hayom
Although around 40% of young women who enlist in the Israel Defense Forces are interested
in serving in a combat unit, only 10% are ultimately assigned to combat positions,
according to Lt. Col. Gili Ben-Menachem of the IDF Personnel Directorate. Ben-Menachem
disclosed the finding at a meeting of the Knesset's Subcommittee for Personnel in the IDF
aimed at using the enlistment to its full potential.
"The IDF aspires to complete equality between men and women in the selection process,"
Ben-Menachem said. He said the IDF has authorized 50 more military occupations to be made
available to women, and expects the number of technical positions open to women to
increase from 11% to 23% by the end of the year. He said female soldiers will soon
comprise over half of those taking part in the IDF's academic track.
Despite the high demand for combat positions among female recruits, 35% of young women
eligible to be drafted are exempted from military service on the grounds of religious
observance. Ben-Menachem said that in the last five years, the IDF had investigated 450
cases in which officials believed women who had requested such exemptions were merely
pretending to be religious to avoid mandatory military service. After their charade was
exposed, 223 of the young women revoked their requests.
MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) has called for assistance for young religious women
interested in military service. "The religious institutions are closed to military
representatives. There is a campaign against the draft of religious girls that will
continue to gain traction," she said.
Dror Granit, a lawyer for the Justice Ministry, said the law allows for the revocation
of an exemption on religious grounds only after charges have been filed and a conviction
has been issued. According to Granit, the existing correction to the law is also
inefficient in that the committee tasked with deliberating requests to annul the
exemptions mandated by the law was never established.
Ben-Menachem said that 1,500 yeshiva students enlist in the IDF every year, 17% of whom
opt out of the hesder yeshiva track, which combines yeshiva study with shortened military
service over five years. He said a majority of the yeshiva youths who enlist in the IDF
serve in combat units and are highly motivated.
Oren: Our Goal is Direct Talks with No Preconditions
Deputy Minister in charge of Public Diplomacy and former Israeli Ambassador to the US
Michael Oren sat down with Arutz Sheva to speak about to the prime minister's impending
visit to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump.
Oren said that "every first meeting between an Israeli prime minister and a new
American president is interesting, moving and historic. The meeting will take place during
a period of instability and violence in the Middle East, as well as considerable
challenges faced by Israel in the security and political arenas and especially with regard
to the Iranian nuclear program."
He added that "the hope and expectation is that we will raise these issues and deal
with them. Our hope is that the Palestinians will come back to the negotiating table
without preconditions in order to talk with us and advance towards an agreement which will
be based on two states for two nations."
Recently the prime minister has been speaking less about a two-state solution. "I don't
know what the prime minister said. Our goal and desire is to return to direct talks
without any preconditions in order to achieve a solution based on two states for two
nations. This however is at present unacceptable to any Palestinian."
Russia: American Chabad Rabbi is Security Risk, Must Leave
An American rabbi who has worked for the Chabad movement in Russia since 2002 said he
and his family are facing deportation under a provision dealing with threats to national
security. Ari Edelkopf, a father of seven who grew up in the United States and lived in
Israel before settling in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi as Chabadâs
envoy there, wrote on Facebook on Sunday that he was informed of the decision without
receiving further information on specific allegations.
Amid a crackdown in Russia on organizations with foreign funding,
Edelkopfâs staying permit was revoked in December, according to
Interfax. He lost an appeal at the regional court, forcing him to leave Russia by Feb. 11.
He has denied any involvement in political issues or crimes.
The Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia condemned the move.
Boruch Gorin, a spokesperson for the federation, said it was âfar from
an isolated incidentâ during an interview with AFP. He added that at
least seven rabbis have been forced to leave Russia in recent years for alleged
immigration violations. Gorin said this was âan attempt to establish
controlâ on Jewish communities in Russia, which he said are serviced by
some 70 rabbis, of whom half are foreign.
Separately, police arrested in Moscow the civil rights activist Mark Galperin on
Tuesday morning on charges that he incited to extremism, the Kommersant daily reported.
Galperin, who is Jewish, is accused of organizing unlicensed protest activities.
The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia and other Jewish groups have praised the
government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which critics accuse of fomenting
xenophobia against Muslims and gays, for combating anti-Semitism and restituting Jewish
property. At the same time, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia has criticized
expressions of anti-Semitism by officials, including from Putinâs party
and steps perceived as anti-democratic.
Last year, a court in the city of Cherepovets 250 miles north of Moscow scrapped the
association known as The Jewish Community of Cherepovets from the national register of
nonprofit organizations, citing its repeated failures to file the financial activity
reports required by law of such groups, the Interfax news agency reported. The Federation
of Jewish Communities of Russia said this was due to a technical issue, adding the
community did not meet legal requirements expected of nongovernmental associations.
The previous year, Russiaâs Justice Ministry placed a Jewish cultural
association with ties to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee on its list of
nongovernmental organizations defined as âforeign
agents.â The Hesed-Tshuva group, which is based in the city of Ryazan
located 120 miles south of Moscow, was placed on the list on Sept. 11, 2015.
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