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Beit Jinn Falls to Syrian-Hizbullah-Iranian-Led Force, Now 5 km from Israeli Border

By DEBKAfile

The strategic Beit Jinn enclave was allowed to fall and the Syrian rebel defenders to capitulate – without IDF intervention. The Syrian-Hizbullah-Iranian led attackers completed their capture of the Beit Jinn enclave on Tuesday, Dec. 26, forcing the Syrian rebel defenders to capitulate and gaining close access to Israel's northern border and the Quneitra pocket of the Golan.

For their final push, the attackers were reinforced Sunday by Hizbullah troops from Lebanon and the Syrian army's Golan Regiment militia. The Beit Jinn enclave faces the IDF's Mt. Hermon positions and is 11 km from the Israeli border. Its fall is critical to the fate of the Quneitra region opposite the Israeli Golan.

DEBKAfile's military sources estimate that the only way the rebels can escape the Syrian-Hizbullah crunch is by going on the offensive against the Druze village of Hader to break open an escape route to the southwest. But the obstacle there is a pledge which Israel gave Israeli Druze leaders in November not to allow rebel forces to attack Hader. The pledge was given in the wake of violent Druze riots on the Golan and threats from Israeli Druze, some of whom hold high military ranks in the IDF, to cross the border and defend Hader themselves.

This Israeli pledge to its Druze citizens is the strongest card the Syrian, Hizbullah and Iranian forces are wielding to compel the Hayat al-Tahrir al-Sham to surrender. After that, the three forces would move in and take up positions in the captured Beit Jinn enclave, and gain a jumping-off pad against Israel and its Hermon outpost. The way this affair is playing out makes naught of Israel's government and military leaders' solemn vow to keep Iran and Hizbullah far from its borders.

US Ambassador Friedman Tells State Dept. to Stop Using Word 'Occupation'

By the Jerusalem Post

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman recently requested that the State Department cease using the word "occupation" to describe Israel's control of the West Bank, according to a report on Israeli broadcasting channel Kan. The State Department reportedly refused the request.

Neither the State Department nor the White House have commented on Friedman's remarks, nor has his spokesperson offered a clarification on the ambassador's assertion. The Kan report did not attribute its sourcing.

Friedman, breaking with decades of US policy, has said that the settlements in the West Bank are part of Israel, and that the cities, towns and outposts only make up "under 2%" of the territory.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post in September, he referred to Israel's control of the West Bank as an "alleged occupation," sparking ire from the State Department. After his comments, the State Department attempted to do damage control, with spokeswoman Heather Nauert saying that Friedman's stance did not represent a change in US policy.

He also added that "nothing in the status quo" regarding settlements was an obstacle for peace with the Palestinians. Towing the same line, President Donald Trump's envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, has also made similar comments about settlements, declaring that the president does not see them as an obstacle to peace.

According to Israeli human rights organization B'tselem, settlements and the jurisdictions they cover make up around 42% of the West Bank. The State Department notes that Area C, which Israel controls in its entirety, is approximately 61% of the West Bank. Earlier this year, Friedman referred to Israel's disengagement from Gaza as a "failed experiment," warning against the country taking out a similar project in the West Bank.

On December 6, Trump declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and directed that the American embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This week, Friedman met with Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat to discuss possible sites for the mission.

A White House spokesperson told the Post in October that the president believes that "unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace," but that calls for settlement freezes have been similarly unhelpful.

School Kids in Berlin Tell German Jew 'Hitler Was Good'

By YnetNews

A Jewish German student was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse in early December by Arab fellow students in Berlin who screamed at him that "Hitler was a good man because he murdered Jews." The verbal abuse was dished out in the Ernst-Reuter high school by the students after the teen expressed his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state, it was reported in the German daily newspaper, Berliner Zeitung.

The incident took place during a discussion in the classroom about Israel when the Jewish student opined on the concept of a Palestinian state, prompting the students to launch into a verbal tirade, praising the genocide of Jews during World War II by the Nazis.

Speaking to a Jewish newspaper in the community, the student said the flurry of insults included an array of accusations and calls for violence against Jews, including "You murder children," and "Your heads need to be cut off."

According to the Jewish teen, anti-Semitic abuse had been a common feature of his school life since his first day at the school. "I tried to stay calm, to smile and to present facts, but I decided to break my silence on the comment about Hitler," he said. After the incident, the student, who had been studying at the school for two years, filed a complaint to the principal, who promised that he would protect him.

Because of the incident, and a series of other similar anti-Semitic attacks, the student is not allowed to play in the school yard during break times for fear that other students may attack him.

After investigating the matter further, the school principal released a statement acknowledging that the incident exposed an "anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitude that prompted us to respond and we will continue to do so. We will take steps that will ensure that these instances are not covered up."

The rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community, Yehuda Teichtal, lamented the "serious" remarks made in the school. "A situation cannot be allowed where a student in school hears such disgusting things. We expect the government to act to prevent tolerance of hatred in society, especially among young people," Teichtal said.

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