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Report: Trump's classified info leak included details on Mossad op in Syria

According to Vanity Fair, Sayeret Matkal commandos and Mossad tech agents, disguised as Syrian soldiers, targeted Islamic State cell that had developed the means to hide explosives in laptop computers, which could pass undetected through airport security. Israel Hayom Staff

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House, May 10 | Archives: AP

In late May, during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak, U.S. President Donald Trump leaked highly classified details of a covert Israeli mission deep in Syrian territory, Vanity Fair reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the mission was carried out by the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, and Sayeret Matkal, the IDF's elite special forces unit. Their target was an Islamic State cell that had developed the means to hide explosives in laptop computers, which could pass undetected through airport security.

The new weapon was thought to have been made by Saudi national Ibrahim al-Asiri, al-Qaida's master bomb maker in Yemen.

According to the report, U.S. Homeland Security officials – promptly followed by British authorities – banned passengers traveling from certain Muslim countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. The ban would only be lifted on an airport-by-airport basis four months later after the appropriate security measures could be adopted.

The details of the covert mission were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by "two experts on Israeli intelligence operations."

Vanity Fair reported: "In a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River."

Within the American intelligence community, the Israeli mission was hailed by knowledgeable officials as a "casebook example" of an important ally's "hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use."

According to ABC News, citing American officials, the dangerous groundwork for the intelligence gathering operation was done by an Israeli spy planted deep inside ISIS territory. It remains shrouded in secrecy whether the spy was a double agent Israel had either turned or infiltrated into the ISIS cell, or whether he was a local who had simply stumbled upon valuable information he realized he could sell.

Intelligence sources both in Israel and the U.S. told Vanity Fair that on the night of the infiltration the helicopters carrying the Israeli units landed several miles from their target.

Two jeeps disguised as belonging to the Syrian Army were unloaded and the commandos and Mossad agents drove off into the Syrian night toward the objective, according to the intelligence sources.

Upon reaching their target, the soldiers fanned out "like ghosts in the shadows" as the Mossad tech agents did their work.

According to Vanity Fair, the operational details are sparse, even contradictory. One source said the actual room where the ISIS cell would meet was "spiked" with a tiny microphone, placed where it would never be noticed. Another source said that an "adjacent telephone junction box had been ingeniously manipulated so that every word spoken in a specific location would be overheard."

The sources agreed, however, that the Israeli teams got in and out that night, and, "even before the returning choppers landed back in Israel, it was confirmed to the jubilant operatives that the audio intercept was already up and running."

The report continued: "From an antenna-strewn base near the summit of the Golan Heights, on Israel's border with Syria, listeners from Unit 8200 monitored the transmissions traveling across the ether from the target in northern Syria. Surveillance is a game played long, but after several wasted days, 8200's analysts were starting to suspect that their colleagues had been misinformed, possibly deliberately, by the source in the field. They were beginning to fear that all the risk had been taken without any genuine prospect of reward.

"Then what they had been waiting for was suddenly coming in loud and clear, according to Israeli sources familiar with the operation: it was, as a sullen spy official described it, 'a primer in constructing a terror weapon.' With an unemotional precision, an ISIS soldier detailed how to turn a laptop computer into a terror weapon that could pass through airport security and be carried on board a passenger plane. ISIS had obtained a new way to cause airliners to explode suddenly, free-falling from the sky in flames."

When the horrifying information arrived at Mossad headquarters, officials quickly decided to share the field intelligence with their American counterparts – the urgent nature of the highly classified information outweighing any security reservations.

The information "scared the living hell out of the American spymasters who received it," according to Vanity Fair.

On the morning of May 10, one day after suddenly firing FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, a jovial Trump met with Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office.

"I get great intel," the president told to his guests. "I have people brief me on great intel every day."

As stated, he went on to share with the Russian representatives the broad outlines of the plot to turn laptop computers into bombs. However, he also shared at least one highly classified operational detail – the sort of sensitive intelligence that was not shared with even Congress or friendly governments. While Trump did not name Israel as the source of the information, he "identified the specific city in ISIS-held territory where the threat had been detected."

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Hotovely apologizes for saying US Jews don't send children to fight


Netanyahu disavows deputy FM over 'offensive remarks' toward US Jews >
Rivlin: Israel and US Jews 'must embark on a new path'

By Herb Keinon
November 23, 2017 21:51
Apology follows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's threat to fire her and withering criticism from both Israel and the US.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely pictured at Columbia University.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely pictured at Columbia University.. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Amid numerous calls from Israeli politicians and US Jewish leaders for her dismissal, and after a threat by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do just that, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely apologized Thursday evening for comments she had made that were deemed disparaging of American Jewry.

"American Jewry is very important to me," she said in a filmed statement. "The connection, the dialogue like that between siblings in a family, is the most important thing.

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It is permissible to criticize, permissible to express pain, but it is important to remember that there is only one state for the Jewish people and that is Israel, and it has a commitment to all the Jews of the world."

Hotovely kicked up a storm after saying in an interview with i24 on Wednesday that American Jews do not understand the reality of life in Israel because they do not send their children to the military or live under the threat of missile fire.

Asked in the television interview to address the "abyss" in Israel's ties with US Jewry and whether she understands why many US Jews no longer feel connected to Israel, Hotovely said: "I can't understand that. Hotovely: US Jews lead `convenient' lives, don't serve in the military (i24 News)

Maybe they are too young to remember how it feels to be a Jewish person without the Jewish homeland."

She continued: "But there is another issue, and I think it is not understanding the complexity of the region. People that never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don't have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, going to Iraq – most of them are having quite convenient lives – they don't feel how it feels like to be attacked by rockets. And I think part of it is to actually experience what Israel is dealing with on a daily basis."

Hotovely also addressed the issue of the egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, saying that one already exists – Ezrat Yisrael – but it stands empty "because most of the time those people are not even interested in going to the Kotel."

She said the pluralistic movements were using the Western Wall as a "political matter" to gain legitimacy for their movements, and that they are "making a religious holy place something for political dispute."

Netanyahu, under fire himself from some Diaspora leaders for reneging on an agreement due to haredi political pressure that would have created a larger, formal egalitarian space at the Western Wall, quickly and publicly admonished Hotovely.

In a rare move, his office issued a sharp statement publicly upbraiding her, saying he "condemns" her "offensive" remarks regarding the American Jewish community. "The Jews of the Diaspora are dear to us and are an inseparable part of our people. There is no place for such attacks, and her remarks do not reflect the position of the State of Israel."

Later in the day, his office let it be known that he was considering firing her.

Responding, Hotovely said, "It is important to me to pass on the following message: If anybody was hurt, if any lone soldiers in Israel were hurt because they thought I was referring to them, I certainly did not direct these things to any soldier serving here in the IDF. There are people among American Jews who send their sons to fight here in the IDF, and certainly in American history there are people [Jews] who fought in the US Army."

Hotovely said the point she was trying to make was that "the realities of life in Israel and in the US are very different."

Netanyahu met with Hotovely and told her not to repeat the tenor of her remarks. In a Channel 12 interview, Hotovely said the prime minister's criticism of her comments was in order and that he told her American Jewry was important for him and that it was equally important to him that she respect the community, to which she said: "I truly do."

President Reuven Rivlin addressed the issue during a speech at a memorial service at Sde Boker marking 44 years to the death of David Ben-Gurion.

Referring to an agreement Ben-Gurion reached with the US Jewish community whereby neither community would interfere in the political decisions of the other and that Israel represented only its citizens, Rivlin said: "It is time for a renewed alliance, for a common language, between Israel and the Diaspora before we are too late."

"The [US Jewish] community longs for a connection with Israel, but wants a relationship between equals – not of philanthropy on the one hand and blind admiration on the other," he said. "We must embark on a new path – no longer a relationship of charity, but a shared commitment to justice, to Jewish and human mutual responsibility. No longer with the silencing of mutual criticism, but with courageous and sincere openness."

Coalition and opposition MKs slammed Hotovely's comments, with some in the opposition calling for her ouster.

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay said Hotovely's remarks were "miserable" and mocked her for doing civilian service rather than serving in the IDF. She spent a year of that service in Atlanta.

"Netanyahu already condemned her statements, but don't be confused, she expresses the government's decision to sacrifice relations with US Jewry for petty politics," Gabbay said.

"We will return to power and fix what this government decided to destroy, including the critical alliance with US Jewry."

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said Hotovely's comments "combine ignorance and arrogance. This government does not stop dividing the Jewish People in Israel and abroad."

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly called them "an insulting and stupid rant."

"Instead of just criticizing her comments, the prime minister should dismiss Hotovely from dealing with foreign affairs. In any case, no one in America will want to see her face. American Jewry has a great and important part in contributing to Israel's growth and we have unbreakable family ties with them," Shmuly stated.

Inside the coalition, MK Yulia Malinovski of Yisrael Beytenu lamented "the intolerable ease with which some Jews divide and rank the Judaism of other Jews."

Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria, meanwhile, expressed appreciation for American Jews who support Israel.

"Tzipi Hotovely says American Jews have a comfortable life, but the choice to identify with Israel in a time that BDS rules on campuses is not a comfortable choice. It is a courageous choice, one of values, which comes from the fact that we're family," Azaria tweeted.

Former Likud minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is working on his political comeback, tweeted in English: "The Dep. Foreign Minister's words against our brothers and sisters in the US are disgusting and outrageous, and demand an immediate apology."

The Reform Movement in Israel called on Netanyahu to fire Hotovely following her remarks, accusing her of abusing her office and deepening the existing crisis with Diaspora Jewry that has sprung up over the Western Wall and conversion policy.

"It is unthinkable that this is the face of the State of Israel towards world Jewry," said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel.

Lahav Harkov and Tamara Zieve contributed to this report.

Polish hostel: Entry forbidden to Jews and thieves

Polish hostel forbids entry to Jews, communists, thieves, mayor says hostel is 'private property' and refrains from intervening. Contact Editor
Arutz Sheva Staff, 23/11/17 11:33

Definition of anti-Semitism
Definition of anti-SemitismiStock

A polish hostel hung a banner denying entry to "Jews, Commies, and all thieves and traitors of Poland."

The banner was hung outside a hostel in Cesarzowice, Polish media reported Thursday. According to reports by neighbors, the sign has been hanging outside the property for several months.

Meanwhile, the town's mayor claimed she did not intervene because the hostel is "private property." From her response, it seems anti-Semitism is not illegal in Poland.

Cesarzowice is a small town just outside Wroclaw, a major city.

In November 2015, National Radical Camp leader Piotr Rybak burned an effigy of a Jew at an anti-immigrant demonstration in one of Wroclaw's main squares.

Divers to look for century-old 'treasure' in Sea of Galilee

The local legend tells of gold treasure aboard the "Shariah," an Ottoman military ship bombed by British planes during World War I - Marine archaeologists are now working to raise the ship from the sea floor and finally solve the mystery of the lost gold. Adi Hashmonai

The Shariah, docked on the Sea of Galilee in 1916 | Photo: Gunter Hartnagel

For nearly 100 years the Ottoman ship "Shariah" has laid at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. Explorers now hope to raise the ship, which was sunk in World War I, and find a treasure chest of gold coins believed to have been on board.

Last month, descendants of Australian cavalry soldiers, who fought in Palestine during World War I, visited Israel to re-enact pivotal battles. The most famous battle, for the southern city of Beersheba, helped turn the tide of the war and shape the modern Middle East. Another battle against the Ottoman Turks, for control of the train station at Tzemach, located on the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, was one of the last cavalry battles in world history.

The battle for Tzemach, on September 25, 1918, saw something dramatic but far-less known take place, which has remained a mystery to this day. Decades after the battle, first-person accounts that British planes bombed the Ottoman ship were confirmed by marine archaeological scans of the sea floor.

The legend that has been passed on through the generations in Tiberias and the Jordan Valley, however, tells of gold treasure aboard the sunken ship, earmarked for paying the salaries of the Turkish soldiers stationed in the area at the time.

The late Professor Avner Raban, a pioneer in maritime archeology in Israel, was a member of the first exploration team that located the Shariah on the sea floor in 1975. However, due to the proximity to the Syrian border in those days, the sunken ship could not be examined more thoroughly. A second exploration delegation, headed by Raban, was finally able to resume exploration in the latter part of the 1980s.

Among other objectives, the researchers sought to verify the legend of the lost treasure. Raban's team was able to find the ship's nameplate "Shariah" and several swords, but the lost treasure remained unaccounted for and continued to this day to tantalize marine explorers and longtime residents of Tiberias and the Jordan Valley.

In the summer of 2012, explorers for the first time were able to take video footage of the sunken ship. The muddy waters along the sea floor hampered efforts to solve the mystery of the lost treasure. The secondary purpose of that mission, however, was to prepare the groundwork for the explorations currently taking place and for raising the ship, nearly a century after it was bombed to the bottom of the sea.

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