Newsletter : 18fx0427.txt
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Iran Converts Thousands of Hizbullah Missiles into Precision Weapons
The heightened Iranian-Syrian air cargo traffic this month is tied in by DEBKAfile's
intelligence sources with Iran's Precision Project for Hizbullah's missiles. World media
reported on Wednesday, April 25, that US intelligence is watching an active Iranian-Syrian
air corridor for military freights with concern, suspecting its cargoes may hold weapons
for use against Israel.
This report reflected the rising alarm in the United States and Israel over the discovery
that Iran is in the last stages of a huge project, the upgrading of Hizbullah's
ground-to-ground and shore-to-sea missiles and their conversion into precision weapons.
Intensified Iranian-Syrian air traffic was detected in the wake of the April 13
US-UK-French air strikes on Syrian chemical sites, including at least two Syrian Air Force
Il-76 cargo jets flying between Iran and Syria. DEBKAfile's military and intelligence
sources report that these flights most likely carried equipment and engineering personnel
for Iran's Precision Project for upgrading a portion of Hizbullah's arsenal.
This project, under the direction of Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, recently went
into high gear. The engineering crews, that began arriving in Syria and Lebanon in
February, are believed to have finished retooling several thousand of Hizbullah's
short-range and medium-missiles and expected to meet their full target in the summer.
This project has wide connotations. US intelligence sources believe that the recent
escalation of missile fire by the Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthis against Saudi targets on
land and the Red Sea, stems not just from increased Iranian deliveries to the Houthis
through Oman, but also serves the missile experts of Iran and Hizbullah for testing the
efficacy of the newly upgraded Hizbullah missiles.
The missile fire on Saudi oil tankers sailing through the Bab al Mandeb Straits and the
Red Sea is seen as providing trial runs for the weapons newly outfitted for targeting
tankers and other shipping bound for Israel's Mediterranean ports, as well as its offshore
gas rigs closest to Lebanon.
Lieberman to Saudi-Owned Media: We will Bomb Tehran if Iran Attacks
By Reuters and Israel Hayom
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a stern warning to Iran Thursday amid an
onslaught of recent threats from Tehran. In a rare interview with the Saudi-owned online
news portal, Elaph, Lieberman said: "If Iran attacks Tel Aviv, Israel will attack Tehran,"
adding that Israel will not hesitate to confront Iran in Syria if it tries to establish a
permanent foothold in the country. "Israel will destroy every Iranian military site in
Syria if it becomes a threat to us, regardless of the cost."
Earlier this month, a number of Iranian officers, including a senior commander in the
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, were killed in a strike on a Syrian base. Foreign media
attributed the attack to Israel, and Iranian officials have vowed to avenge this attack
with a painful blow to Israel.
Meanwhile, two weeks before the May 12 deadline for the U.S.'s likely withdrawal from the
2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, Iran's supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite
against the U.S., saying Tehran would never yield to its arch foe's "bullying."
"The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other
arrogant powers and we will continue to resist," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
said. "All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies."
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Wednesday that a newly proposed
U.S.-European deal on Iran's nuclear program might dissuade President Donald Trump from
abandoning the current agreement between world powers and Tehran. In a radio interview,
Iran's president on Wednesday ruled out any changes or additions to the 2015 nuclear deal.
"I have spoken with (France's) Macron several times by phone, and one time in person at
length," President Hassan Rouhani said. "I have told him explicitly that we will not add
anything to the deal or remove anything from it, even one sentence. The nuclear deal is
the nuclear deal." Speaking at a conference in the northwestern city of Tabriz, Rouhani
asserted that Macron has no right to amend an agreement that was signed by seven
10 Students Killed After Being Swept Away in Flash Flood
By DEBKAfile, Israel Hayom, IsraelNationalNews.com & YnetNews
Rescue forces located on Thursday night the body of a teenager who was missing following
the flash flood in Nahal Tzafit. Magen David Adom paramedics pronounced her dead, bringing
the death toll in the disaster to ten.
The names of six of victims have been cleared for publication so far: Ela Or from Ma'aleh
Adumim, Tzur Alfi from Mazkeret Batya, Shani Shamir from Shoham, Yael Sadan from
Jerusalem, Maayan Barhoum from Jerusalem and Romi Cohen from Moshav Maor. The Israeli
students were caught in a flash flood while hiking in southern Israel. Several other
students were injured. All the victims were 18 years old.
Twenty-five students from a pre-army preparatory school were hit by the flood while they
were hiking in Nahal Tzafit in the Judean Desert west of the Dead Sea. Army prep schools
offer Israeli teens graduating from high school the opportunity to spend a year preparing
for their mandatory military service.
They had alighted from the bus to hike through the deep Nahal Tzafit wadi, when they were
caught by a powerful flash flood caused by the unseasonal drenching rain, hail and
thunderstorms pouring on Israel in the last 48 hours.
The trapped youngsters who tried to climb out had to fight the powerful surge of water,
the slippery walls and falling boulders. The massive rescue operation was a race against
time amid the continuing downpour to beat the rapidly falling dark. By then, all but one
of the missing youngsters, a girl, had been rescued.
Search and rescue teams, aided by helicopter units, converged on the area, locating 24 of
the students. The 669 Search and Rescue unit of the Israeli Air Force was deployed to
assist the efforts to locate the missing students. Diving teams were also deployed to aid
in the search.
Storms hit southern Israel on Thursday, causing flooding in parts of the Negev and the
southern port city of Eilat, forcing the temporary closure of a flooded runway at Eilat
"On the way to the scene we drove past large puddles and flooding on the road," said MDA
emergency first responder Eitan Shlomo. "With the help of 4 X 4 vehicles we were able to
arrive. We joined the MDA crews at the scene next to the entrance to the river and we
treated and evacuated 2 17 year olds suffering from injuries to their faces, limbs and
heads. They were rescued by IDF air force helicopters. They were evacuated to Soroka
Hospital in light to moderate condition."
ZAKA volunteer Yaakov Yifrah described the organization's efforts to retrieve the bodies
of the students killed in the tragic flood. "This is a very difficult scene, with a number
of dead students. ZAKA teams and rescue units are in the valley, helping in the search and
recovery efforts. Another ZAKA team is at the entrance to the valley, to take care of the
bodies. The ZAKA volunteers are ready and prepared to continue the search, rescue and
recovery mission into the night."
One of the victims of Thursday's Tze'elim Stream tragedy seemed to have predicted her
fate, according to texts she sent her friend before setting out on the trip. On Wednesday,
a girl wrote her friend: "Everything is yellow, disgusting." Her friend responded: "I
cannot believe that I am actually going out on this trip in this weather. It makes no
sense to go to a place prone to flooding. It is tempting fate. We will die, I am serious."
A third friend wrote: "It is really strange that they are going ahead with the trip like
this." A fourth friend tried to calm them: "Stop exaggerating, I suppose they are rational
and will take you somewhere else to sleep indoors." The girl who expressed apprehension
about the trip was one of the victims of the flood.
Moreover, texts that the students received before the trip reveal a sense of complacency
despite the fact that the weather was known to be getting stormy in the south, including
flooding. "Do not worry, we are well prepared for the trip and the academy confirmed with
the relevant sources. It will be fun and wet," a counselor wrote.
She further wrote: "In order to be prepared for any rain, add a few things to bring: a
portable tent, a raincoat, a rain cover for your backpacks, a bag with a spare set of dry
clothes in case its necessary."
The original trip itinerary was supposed to be at Tze'elim Stream and in one of the texts
the counselor wrote: "Currently we are working on an itinerary that does not include
descending to the riverbed, it will be safe." Another text said: "As some of you may have
noticed, some of the trip days will include rainy weather in the south, but the trip will
of course proceed."
It is still unclear why the group went on a trip in the region, despite that the forecast
indicated flooding in the area. The police opened an investigation into the circumstances
of the disaster and are expected to investigate the head of the academy and other bodies
in the education system.
After the extent of the disaster became known, an exchange of accusations began between
the education and defense ministries. Despite the fact that most of the participants in
the trip are 12th graders, the Education Ministry said that the permit was not brought to
the ministry's situation room, and that it was not customary to take a pre-military
program. After the disaster became known, the Education Ministry remained unaware that
12th graders also participated.
The Defense Ministry strongly criticized the Education Ministry, casting the blame on it.
"According to the Mechina Law and its regulations, the Ministry of Education is the
professional body responsible for approving the educational programs in the pre-military
preparatory programs. The Ministry of Defense is not responsible for the curriculum,
including trips, and the Ministry of Defense continues to monitor with great concern the
severe disaster in the Arava. It is very unfortunate that on such a day, not only does the
responsible body not take responsibility, but rather imposes it on another entity," it
The rash of disasters from the violent spring storms, after a dry winter, began Wednesday,
when two youths and a Bedouin sheep herder were downed in flash floods. Inundated roads
disrupted road and air traffic across the country. The turbulent weather conditions
continue threatening fresh flooding in low-lying areas. Weather forecasters had repeatedly
warned against travel in the desert regions of southern Israel, where sudden, swiftly
rushing flash floods are a common danger, especially around the Dead Sea,
Iceland's Parliamentary Committee and Foreign Ministry Oppose Circumcision Law
Iceland's Foreign Ministry has announced in recent days that it opposes the proposed
legislation against circumcision. "The law harms Iceland and contravenes the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child and freedom of religion; The European model should be adopted
for regulations that will enable circumcision to be carried out," said the statement
presented in the past 24 hours by the European Rabbinical Conference.
"It is important to make a clear distinction between boys' circumcision and girls'
circumcision, which is considered a physical assault in the full sense of the word and
requires punishment," the Icelandic Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In addition, a judicial committee of Iceland's parliament has recommended scrapping a
bill that would ban the nonmedical circumcision of boys.
The Foreign Ministry's statement continued: "With regard to human rights rulings,
including the rights of the child, the Foreign Ministry believes that these laws can be
interpreted as being applied to boys as well. In addition, the proposed law can be seen as
intended to grant certain rights to boys, as these rights already exist clearly for girls.
In cases where there is no essential need for medical intervention in boys, it would be
best if no decisions are made regarding such interventions until the person involved is
sufficiently developed to make an informed decision about taking or avoiding action," the
However, the opinion stated, "this is not an iron-clad rule, because boys' circumcision
has been an established foundation in the faith of many religious and cultural groups for
hundreds of years, and the World Health Organization has determined that circumcision
should be done by qualified health professionals, and under the best possible medical
conditions. This approach is consistent with current legislation in other Nordic
countries, which does not prohibit boys' circumcision, but requires that such surgeries be
performed only by qualified persons with medical authority and with consent of the child
or his guardian
"High-ranking figures in the international community have hinted that - although it is
clear that the intentions behind it are good and that the rights of the child are a
leading principle - the proposed law may in this case be construed as an expression of
hostility towards certain religions and cultures - and to incite extremism among their
"It is very difficult to apply human rights globally ... It is not easy to assess in
advance what the response will be in other countries if the proposed law is accepted
without any changes, but it is clear that boys' circumcision has very deep roots in the
religious and cultural life of Jews and Muslims - also those with no connection to
religion, in the US and other countries. These are not marginal groups but rather a group
that may constitute about a third of humanity. In this context, the Ministry believes it
preferable to take a more balanced approach to opposing opinions and to follow the path
chosen by other Nordic countries, where the law states that circumcision of boys will be
permitted only if performed by a qualified medical person and with the consent of the
child or his guardian."
As part of the bill submitted in the Icelandic parliament, it was proposed to impose a
six-year prison term for circumcision. The proposal was passed in first reading in the
Icelandic parliament several months ago and was proposed by the four parties of the center
and left, which constitute 46% of 63 seats.
In recent weeks, international Jewish groups have lobbied Icelandic officials and
lawmakers intensively to have the bill scrapped. They argue that a circumcision ban would
constitute a death sentence for Jewish community life in Iceland, where 200 Jews live, and
set a precedent for attempts elsewhere to ban circumcision and thus endanger religious
Last week, officials from Iceland's Government Agency for Child Protection an
advisory body whose policy is independent from the government said it will not
support the bill if it is brought to a vote.
Separately, in Denmark, a petition favoring a circumcision ban has received 90% of its
target of 50,000 signatures. Once that number is reached, the petition will go up for a
vote as a draft resolution in the parliament. Petition organizers have until August to
collect the needed signatures.
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