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Syria Accuses Israel of Strike on Army Base Reportedly Used by Iranians Near Damascus

By Israel Hayom & YnetNews.com

The Israeli Air Force struck a military base near Damascus, Syrian state media reported Saturday. The site is believed to have been earmarked for use by Iranian forces in Syria and local militias loyal to them. The report has not been corroborated by any Israeli source and an IDF official said the military does not comment on reports in Arab media.

The Syrian Arab News Agency said Syrian air defense had intercepted two of the Israeli missiles fired at a military base near the city of al-Kiswa, some 13 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus and 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Israeli-Syrian border. "The Israeli enemy launched several missiles toward a military position. There were no material losses at the site," SANA said. The agency quoted a Syrian military official as saying that Israel fired surface-to-surface missiles at the base from an IDF base in the Golan Heights.

Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya network and Lebanese TV channel Al Mustaqbal both reported that more than 10 people were killed in the strike, including Iranian troops. The Hizbullah-affiliated Al Mayadeen network reported that it was a Russian-supervised defense system that intercepted one of the Israeli missiles. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said missiles struck an arms depot shortly after midnight. Other Arab media outlets reported that the strike was carried out from Lebanese airspace.

In a speech recorded on Thursday for the annual Saban Forum in New York this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not tolerate Iranian bases off its northern border. "I want to reiterate our policy: We will not allow the Iranian regime, which declares it strives to destroy the Jewish state, to acquire nuclear weapons, and we will not allow this regime to establish itself militarily in Syria as it seems to be doing, with the explicit intention of annihilating Israel," he said.

Satellite images of the al-Kiswa area that aired on the BBC in November provided proof that Iran was setting up a military base at the site as part of its efforts to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. The BBC said construction on the site was progressing rapidly and that it was most likely designated as either barracks or hangars. A Western official quoted in the report said it was likely Iranian officials had visited the site.

Senior Israeli officials have made it clear in recent months that Israel will spare no effort to prevent Iran from cementing its military grip on Syria. Arab media reported that Israel used various diplomatic channels to stop Iran and its proxy Hizbullah, saying that Saturday's strike was most likely mounted after all diplomatic efforts were exhausted.

Netanyahu compared Sunday the Iranian regime to Nazi Germany, saying in a pre-recorded speech to the Saban Forum in Washington that both were relentlessly committed to imposing tyranny and terror, and 'murdering Jews.'

"The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia recently referred to President Rouhani as `the new Hitler in the Middle East,'" Netanyahu said in reference to Mohammed bin Salman's recent comments in which labeled Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as "the new Hitler" in an interview with the New York Times' Thomas Friedman.

"Obviously there are some important differences between Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran, but both regimes do have two important things in common: one a ruthless commitment to imposing tyranny and terror, and second, a ruthless commitment to murder Jews," Netanyahu said.

Setting the context of the comparison, Netanyahu explained how the world reacted to Adolf Hitler's rise to power, highlighting the then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy that became known as `appeasement,' symbolized by the famous 1938 agreement in which Hitler was permitted to take over portions of Czechoslovakia on condition that he commit to no further territorial expansion. "Apparently after a Munich, Chamberlain said `Well. Hitler wasn't such a bad fellow after all,'"

Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, Netanyahu said, would later reflect on the meeting between Hitler and Chamberlain. "`The hardest thing for me at that time was to convince my friends that Hitler and Mussolini were quite different from British businessmen or country gentlemen,'" Netanyahu quoted. "`My friends simply refused to believe me. They thought I was biased against the dictators,'" Netanyahu continued to quote.

Netanyahu then turned to a statement by Hitler as quoted in the Daily Mail in 1938. "`Believe me,' Hitler said. We shall never fight against except in self-defense...' which brings us back to Iran," Netanyahu continued, mockingly describing the Iranian "silver-tongued foreign minister" who "charmingly explain(s) that Iran is a moderate power which harbors no hatred toward anyone. Right… "I speak so often about Iran because I read history. When tyrants call for the destruction of my people, I believe them," he stressed. "I don't have the luxury of discounting their genocidal threats."


Report: Trump Expected to Declare Jerusalem Capital of Israel This Week

By Israel Hayom

President Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, two sources with direct knowledge told political website Axios over the weekend. The move would upend decades of American policy and possibly inflame tensions in the Middle East.

However, Israeli officials believe that despite the speech, the president is likely to sign another waiver to postpone moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for six months longer.

A White House spokesman, speaking to Israel Hayom, refused to confirm the Axios report. "The president is still weighing possibilities and we currently don't have any announcement to make on the issue. The president has always said it was a question of when, not if [the embassy will be moved]," the spokesman said.

Israeli officials believe that Trump is likely to continue his predecessors' practice of signing a six-month waiver overriding the 1995 law requiring that the U.S. Embassy be moved to Jerusalem, essentially postponing any relocation until next May at the earliest. Officials in Jerusalem were still open to the possibility that Vice President Mike Pence could announce the dramatic change during his visit to Israel in mid-December.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump played a decisive role in last Monday's meeting of senior national security aides on the embassy transfer issue. Some of Trump's top aides have privately pushed for him to keep his campaign promise to satisfy a range of supporters, including evangelical Christians, while others have cautioned about the potential damage to U.S. relations with Muslim countries.

The president stayed at the meeting longer than expected, two people familiar with the discussion told the Post, and "became agitated and exasperated at what he saw as overly cautious bureaucratic hand-wringing" over the issue.

The Lost Angeles Times said Trump was present for nearly half of the two-hour meeting, which was originally planned to last only half an hour. According to the report, the president had not intended to be at the meeting at all.

The official position in the Prime Minister's Office and Foreign Ministry is that Israel wants to see the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, and that the expectation is for Trump not to sign the six-month waiver.

While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not commented, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday expressed his hope "that we will get to celebrate the official announcement ahead of the Chanukah holiday."

The Palestinians warned the United States against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, even if the embassy transfer is postponed, saying this would deviate from the positions of previous U.S. presidents, who insisted that Jerusalem's status must be decided in negotiations.

According to the official Wafa news agency, President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital or moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem "represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable."


Will World's Oldest Jewish Cemetery Finally be Secured?

By IsraelNationalNews.com

For decades, Jewish visitors to the world's oldest Jewish cemetery have suffered harassment, assaults, and even terror attacks while visiting the graves of loved ones or of prominent rabbis from generations past.

While individuals or even small groups of visitors to the Mount of Olives cemetery have been targeted by Arab gangs in the area for decades, in recent years the assailants have become even more audacious, attacking large groups during funerals.

In December 2014, Arab stone-throwers attacked a convoy of mourners following a funeral at the Mount of Olives cemetery, injuring two. Local Arab vandals have also targeted the tombstones of those buried on the Mount of Olives, smashing grave markers and littering graves with garbage.

"To our horror, we were shown countless graves ripped open and tombstones lying broken and destroyed in the Gerrer hassidim section of the synagogue," AFSI Director Helen Freedman told Arutz Sheva back in 2014. "We saw security cameras burned and destroyed."

In 2016, an Arab terrorist wounded a yeshiva student just outside of the Mount of Olives cemetery, stabbing him with a screwdriver. Following the attack, the Knesset's Finance Committee increased funding for security on the Mount of Olives, though visitors say vandalism and harassment remain ongoing issues in the cemetery.

Now, 61 Knesset members from across the political spectrum are teaming up to draw attention to the ongoing security problems at the Mount of Olives, and to pressure the government to crack down on vandals. Led by Shas MK Yoav Ben Tzur, the 61 MKs have formed the Lobby for Protecting and Restoring the Mount of Olives, with the goal of ending the desecration of graves in the cemetery, and bringing to justice those who attack visitors.

"I am proud to be the chairman of the largest lobby in the Knesset," said Ben Tzur. "Since the establishment of the lobby, the number grave desecrations have dropped by a significant margin, and we're just getting started. We will do whatever is necessary to protect the dignity of those buried there and to ensure the safety of visitors."

The international Main Committee for the Protection of the Mount of Olives, led by Avraham and Menachem Lubinsky, hailed the establishment of the new lobby, calling it "unprecedented. This is historic, unprecedented, since the lobby now represents the consensus view among all of the parties and includes members from across the political spectrum – except from the Joint Arab List."


Does a Prenuptial Agreement Supersede a Ketubah?

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Couples entering a second marriage often draw up a prenuptial agreement between them prior to their marriage in which they define the division of their property in the event of a separation or death of one spouse. The ketubah (halakhic marriage certificate) however, stipulates an amount to be given to the woman if the marriage ends in divorce.

A recent case, centered around contradictory terms presented in a couple's prenuptial agreement, as compared to their marriage certificate. The couple in question turned to a rabbinical court to end marriage - which was the husband's second marriage.

The wife claimed the full amount of money promised to her under the ketubah (marriage document), but the husband claimed that the prenuptial agreement stipulated that "the sides will have no demands and claims beyond this agreement" and therefore he felt that the woman was not entitled to the money allotted to her in the ketubah.

The regional rabbinical court which adjudicated the case stated that the woman is obligated to accept the divorce from her husband and had no right to her ketubah claim.

The woman appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court headed by Chief Rabbi David Lau. The rabbinical judges ruled that "despite the prenuptial agreement stipulating that in the case of a separation, no side will have any demands or claims, the court has decided to explain this clause as referring only to the personal property brought to the marriage by the couple and not to claims regarding the ketubah."

The judges then ruled that "in this case it appears to us that the woman has not lost the basic portion of her ketubah and therefore a compromise should be reached on it and the husband should pay her 50,000 NIS for her ketubah."

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