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IDF Boosts Golan Lines with Tank, Artillery and Rocket Units

By DEBKAfile & United with Israel

The IDF Northern Command Sunday, July 1, upgraded the preparedness of the Golan Bashan Division with tanks, artillery and rocket units after evaluating the level of fighting on the Syria side of the border. This was announced by the military spokesman. His announcement went on to stress "the high importance the IDF attaches to maintaining the disengagement of forces agreement on the Golan concluded in 1974 by Israel and Syria." He added: "Israel abides by a policy of non-involvement in Syrian affairs, along with a firm response to violations of its sovereignty and possible harm to its citizens." DEBKAfile added that this statement provides advance notice that Israel will not tolerate the entry of Hizbullah and pro-Iranian Shiite forces to the Quneitra region opposite IDF Golan lines, and further emphasizes non-acceptance of their entry into the historic disengagement zone between Quneitra and the Israeli border. While boosting its defensive stance on the Golan, Israel by this statement marks out a security zone based on the 1974 disengagement lines for accommodating the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees massing on its border, as well as rebel forces retreating from Quneitra. This zone covers 235 sq.km between southern Golan and Mt Hermon. It is inside the disengagement line, which runs east of the Israeli border and is between a few meters wide at Nahal Roked in the southern Golan, up to 6 kilometers broad at its northern tip and widens out to 10km on Mt. Hermon. The question is whether the Russian and Syrian forces taking part on the southwestern Syrian offensive will honor the security zone Israel has marked out, when the objective of their current offensive is to restore Syrian government authority to all the southern border regions. Opening the Sunday cabinet session in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: "We shall persist in defending our borders and extending humanitarian aid, but will not let `anyone' step across into our territory. I am in constant contact with the Kremlin and White House on this question." On Saturday, the IDF transferred 6 injured Syrians, four of them children whose parents were killed in the fighting, to Israel hospitals for treatment. The IDF's 210th Division provided the life-saving medical treatment and then brought them into Israel for further medical treatment. The risky operation was part of a unique and complex medical operation run by the IDF on its border with Syria to provide essential aid to refugees of the Syrian civil war and victims of Bashar al-Assad's renewed attack on the south. During the special operation, humanitarian aid was transferred to Syrians fleeing hostilities who are living in tent camps throughout the Syrian Golan Heights. As part of the operation, which took place over several hours, 300 tents were transferred along with 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three pallets of medical equipment and medicine, and 30 tons of clothing and footwear.

Thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing the hostilities are living under poor conditions in these camps near the Israeli border, often lacking access to water, electricity, food, and other basic necessities, the IDF noted. "The IDF is closely monitoring the events transpiring in southern Syrian and is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios, including additional humanitarian aid distribution to Syrians fleeing hostilities," the military stated. Since the Syrian conflict began, there has been a significant shortage of medical infrastructure, doctors, and medical supplies. Responding to the lack of proper medical resources in Syria, the IDF has provided life-saving humanitarian aid while maintaining a non-intervention policy in the conflict. Since 2013, over 3,500 civilians who were injured in Syria have received medical treatment in Israel. In addition, since 2016, as part of Operation Good Neighbor, over 1,300 Syrian children suffering from various illnesses and ailments have received one-day treatment in Israel's specialty clinics. The Mazor Ladach field clinic, established by the IDF and international aid organizations in the southern Golan Heights, has provided medical treatment to approximately 6,000 Syrian civilians suffering from various conditions since its opening in August 2017. During Operation Good Neighbor, 1,524 tons of food, 947,520 liters of fuel, 7,933 diaper packages, 54 tons of baby food, 24,900 boxes of medicine and medical equipment, 775 medical equipment units, 250 tons of clothing, 13,920 hygienic products, and 300 tents have been provided to Syrians since June 2016.

Palestinians Plot Massive Protest Against Trump Peace Plan

By World Israel News

The Palestinian Authority recently gave the go-ahead to activists based in Arab communities in Judea and Samaria to stage protests against President Donald Trump's unreleased Middle East peace plan, reported the Jerusalem Post. The revelation of protest plans arrives on the heels of a visit to the region by two of Trump's senior advisers, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, with whom PA officials refused to meet. While the US team held high-level meetings in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, the PA chose to maintain its months-long boycott of the Trump administration, which it launched following the president's announcement that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital and move its embassy in Israel to the location. The Palestinians surmised that Kushner and Greenblatt met with stakeholders throughout the Middle East to finalize Trump's plan prior to its official unveiling before Israel and its Arab neighbors, reported the Post. On Monday, the first protest is slated for Ramallah, organized by a group called the National and Islamic Forces who began recruiting participants online on Saturday, with additional protests planned for other Palestinian communities in the following days and weeks. The protests coincide with a Palestinian online initiative called "The National Campaign to Down the Deal of the Century," which employs the phrase Trump has used to publicize his forthcoming peace plan.

Palestinian sources told the Post that Fatah had instructed its loyalists to participate in the demonstrations, with the aim of transforming ire against Trump into a rallying cry for the ailing Abbas and increasingly unpopular PA leadership, which faces criticism from within for the punitive sanctions it maintains against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

German Spy Agency Admits Employing Himmler's Daughter in 1960s

By Israel Hayom

Germany's federal intelligence service, the BND, acknowledged on Friday that it had employed the daughter of top Nazi Heinrich Himmler in the 1960s, even though she never renounced her father or Nazism and remained active in far-right extremism. The intelligence service told the Bild newspaper Friday that Gudrun Burwitz, a notorious post-war supporter of the extreme Right, worked as a secretary for the BND from 1961 to 1963. The agency said it ordinarily did not comment on personnel issues, but, as part of its effort to be transparent about Nazi links in its past, confirmed that Burwitz had worked there. Burwitz worked at the BND when it was led by Reinhard Gehlen, a former Nazi military intelligence commander who went on to run West Germany's spy agency until 1968. He also worked for U.S. intelligence after the war and employed many former military officers and Nazis as spies. Burwitz died in Munich last month at age 88. She was reported to be a prominent member of Stille Hilfe ("Silent Help"), a secretive group known to provide legal and financial support to former SS members. She was also known to attend other neo-Nazi events and rallies before her death. The revelation that she had worked for the BND spy agency could add to public introspection over the tolerance of some Nazis after World War II. Himmler, who, as commander of the SS was one of the most powerful Nazis during the Nazi era and a principal architect of the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, killed himself in British custody in 1945. Germany's intelligence services have come under criticism in recent years for failing to root out right-wing extremists in the post-war era. Critical historians say former Nazis and far-right sympathizers working inside the security agencies of what was then West Germany may have protected others. Because Burwitz was no longer alive, the BND was able to make an exception to its policy of not commenting on active or former employees. The disclosure was part of an ongoing process of critically reassessing the agency's own history. The struggle to bring people with Nazi-tainted pasts to justice has been a perennial theme of Germany's post-war history, as has been the suggestion that supporters of the far Right retained positions of influence and power in security agencies.

Jewish Man Survived World War II -- in Axis-Era Japan

By JTA
Growing up in Imperial Japan during World War II, Isaac Shapiro's best friend was a member of the Hitler Youth. The friend wore the organization's brown shirt uniform to their international school every day, but not because he wanted to — he was German and Japan was an ally of the Nazi regime, so he was expected to project support for the Fuehrer. Instead of instilling fear into his classmates, however, the uniform had the opposite effect — his non-German peers gently teased him. "We made fun of him -- everybody at school made fun of him," Shapiro said. "We didn't support the German Reich. "He was obviously not very enthusiastic about being in the Hitler Jugend," Shapiro added, using the German word for Hitler Youth. Countless Jews have harrowing stories of growing up under the terror of Nazi rule, but Shapiro has a different tale of growing up under the Axis — he was one of the few Jews living in Japan at the time. He was born in 1931, the year Japan invaded Manchuria, and was living there when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Shapiro, now 87, is the author of "Edokko: Growing up a Stateless Foreigner in Wartime Japan," a childhood memoir that first came out in 2010 and was republished late last year. The title is a term that refers to someone born and raised in Tokyo. While Shapiro's story contains elements of World War II-era totalitarianism — the police state, the pervasive propaganda — it is unique because it's not a tragedy. Shapiro wanted the US to win. He survived American bombings in Japan. He had some idea of what was happening to Europe's Jews. But he also has fond recollections of his Japanese neighbors and his wartime childhood friends. "We didn't feel we were living among the enemy," Shapiro told JTA last week, sitting in the living room of his apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. "Our neighbors were pleasant, decent people. We got the same food rations the Japanese got. They were very fair." Shapiro's family came to Japan after a whirlwind of international travel. His parents, both Russian Jewish musicians, met and married in Berlin. They sensed danger early, immigrating to what was then Palestine via Paris in 1926 to escape the prospect of Nazi rule. When they found life difficult there, they moved to Harbin, a city in northeastern China with a large Russian Jewish immigrant population. In 1931, the year Shapiro was born, his father took a job at a music conservatory in Tokyo. Shapiro was born in Japan but lived back in Japanese-occupied Harbin from 1931 to 1936 because his parents had separated. While there, his family got a traumatic taste of the Japanese police state. One day in 1933, while he was at home with his brothers, the Japanese military helped a gang kidnap his mother and a family friend, Simon Kaspe. His mother was released in a matter of hours, but Kaspe was killed. The incident was scary enough to prompt his parents to reunite the family in Japan. "The Japanese military were unusually autocratic and difficult," Shapiro said, though he allowed that in general he "didn't feel any oppression or any change because of the Japanese taking over." His life was shaken up again by the escalation of World War II and the abolition of any vestiges of democracy in Japan. After the United States and United Kingdom declared war on Japan following the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, Shapiro's British school was closed. His family needed to obtain permission whenever they wanted to leave Yokohama, the coastal city where they lived and received all their news from a heavily censored English newspaper. "It made us much more conscious of the role of the military," Shapiro said of the start of the war. "Military police were much more visible everywhere. They would call on us every now and then. We felt we were under surveillance." Despite the tight government control, Shapiro spent the early years of the war in the bubble of an international school. At home, he and his family would talk about their hopes for an American victory and a defeat of Germany, which Shapiro wrote about privately in his diary. His father played a role in helping Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Lithuanian Jews. When some of those Jews reached Japan in 1941, before Japan and the US were at war, Shapiro's father would translate for them at the American consulate in Yokohama. Those survivors relayed news of the Holocaust to Shapiro's family. The family also managed to maintain some private Jewish practices while living within a Nazi ally. They would eat Shabbat dinners at home on Friday night, and his father wore a kippah at those meals. They avoided pork, and on Passover they imported matzah from Harbin. "We knew what was happening to the Jews in Germany and we wanted Germany to lose the war," Shapiro said. "We were very quiet about it and didn't want the Japanese to think we were against them. Privately, we were hopeful that Japan would lose the war."

The war came home in 1944, when the Japanese military evacuated the coastline and sent his family to live in Tokyo, where they endured heavy American bombing. Shapiro's family had to run frequently to air raid shelters and pump water by themselves to put out fires. A Russian immigrant friend of his was killed in a bombing. "It was frightening because Tokyo was burning," Shapiro said. "The bombs fell all around us."

By 1945, it was clear that Japan was losing the war, even though the nation's censored newspaper downplayed the military defeats as temporary setbacks. When the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, Shapiro recalls it being covered as a small item in the paper so as not to scare readers.

When the war ended, Shapiro met an American Army officer who was seeking English speakers. He signed on with the Army, at age 14, to be a translator -- but ended up translating for the US Navy in Japan after the war. "I have to go home and get some clothes and tell my parents," Shapiro recalled telling the Army officer at the time. But his parents didn't mind. "They were in such a state of shock about the end of the war and occupation," he said. "They were very tolerant of my deviant behavior." A Marine officer and his wife took in Shapiro and, in 1946, with the encouragement of his parents, moved with him to Hawaii and acted as his guardians. Shapiro attended high school there, then went on to college and law school at Columbia University, and a long career at the law firms of Milbank Tweed and Skadden Arps. In 1952, he served in the Korean War, sweeping for mines and interrogating Koreans in Japanese. In the late 1970s, he and his wife got to live in Japan during peacetime, helping establish Milbank Tweed's Tokyo office. "There were lots of Americans by that time," Shapiro said of Tokyo. "It was completely different. When we went down to Hiroshima, it was unrecognizable."

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