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Iran Converts Thousands of Hizbullah Missiles into Precision Weapons

By DEBKAfile

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 nations.

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 airport. "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 said. 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

By JTA

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 opinion states. 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 followers. "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 freedoms. 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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