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Moscow: Israel Must Stop `Arbitrary Air Strikes' on Syria. Khamenei Takes Charge of Missile Attacks on Israel

By DEBKAfile

The practice of arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereignty state… Syria should be ruled out," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday, in Moscow's first response two days after Israel conducted a major operation against Iranian targets in Syria. She said such strikes added to tensions in the region, something she said was not in the long-term interests of any country there, including Israel. This response to Israel's latest strikes refutes the presumption in Israel that Moscow refrained from condemning them out of disapproval of the IRGS Fatteh-110 missile attack on the Golan without prior coordination with Moscow. DEBKAfile's sources also reveal now that as of January 22nd, decision-making on the issue of Iranian missile strikes against Israel passed directly from Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani to the Islamic regime's highest authority, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His first decision is still unknown. DEBKAfile's military sources assert that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may have been too quick to fire a reply to Gen. Soleimani's provocative comment to the Kuwaiti Al Jarida, that the only way to prevent further Israeli attacks on Syria was to launch missiles deep into central Israel. Netanyahu would then lose the elections. The prime minister hit back by saying, "Instead of interfering with the elections, Soleimani had better check the status of the Iranian bases that he is trying to establish in Syria. As long as I'm Prime Minister, we won't stop fighting against them." Netanyahu could not be sure that the Kuwait paper had correctly quoted the Iranian Al Qods chief. However, if the quote was accurate, then the situation on Israel's northern front is so combustible that every word needs to be carefully weighed before it is uttered.

Palestinian Leaders Demand Boycotts Publicly, Sneak Israeli Products in Private

By United with Israel with files from Palestinian Media Watch The Oxford American Dictionary defines "hypocrisy" as "the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's behavior does not conform." That definition perfectly encapsulates the Palestinian Authority's campaign to force ordinary Palestinians to forego Israeli products as a sign of "resistance" to "normalization" with Israel. But how committed is the Palestinian Authority itself to the boycott? If photos from a PA meeting this week are any indication, the PA doesn't believe it must play by its own boycott rules. To that end, a photo surfaced on Facebook of PA employees at the meeting enjoying Israeli refreshments, such as Tapuzina orange juice. The photo caused such an outrage that the PA Ministry of Employment, which posted the image, removed it immediately. Anger over the PA's hypocrisy is understandable in light of the efforts undertaken to promote boycotts of Israeli products, from programs in schools to websites and segments on PA television. The PA's hypocrisy should come as no surprise, however, in light of the conduct of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

When it comes to his failing health, Abbas is certainly not in favor of boycotting anything Israeli, least of all the Israeli doctor who reportedly helped saved the cigarette-smoking 83-year-old's life last May, according to recent reports. Perhaps the PA should change its slogan to, "Do as we say, not as we do."

Israeli Intelligence Infiltrates ISIS in the Sinai

By Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA
According to reports from Palestinian and Bedouin sources in northern Sinai, Israeli intelligence has managed to infiltrate, intelligence-wise, into the ranks of ISIS in the area. In spite of the Egyptian army's success in significantly lowering the level of terror of the ISIS offshoot in northern Sinai, it has not managed to eradicate the organization, which, according to security sources in Israel, still has some 2,000 fighters in northern Sinai. On January 11, 2019, the Egyptian army successfully used a drone to kill 11 terrorists who were driving in a car and on two motorcycles to carry out a terror attack in the vicinity of the town of Bir al-Abad in northern Sinai. However, terrorist attacks continue on a daily basis despite the massive presence of the Egyptian army in the area. The Egyptian army's main problem in dealing with the ISIS offshoot in Sinai is the lack of exact intelligence information about the ISIS fighters' hiding places and plans for terror attacks, as well as the fact that they receive assistance from the local Bedouin population. According to reports from Palestinian and Bedouin sources in northern Sinai, Israeli intelligence has managed to infiltrate, intelligence-wise, into the ranks of ISIS in the area. According to reports from the ISIS news agency Amaq and the newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the Israeli air force managed to strike precisely and successfully, through aerial bombardments, the organization's new sites and command posts. These were targets that the Egyptian army found it difficult to reach. In an interview with CBS News on January 3, 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed that there is close cooperation between Israel and the Egyptian army in the war on terror against ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. In 2018, The New York Times reported that Israel carried out around 100 aerial bombardments of terror targets in Sinai during 2017, with Egypt's full coordination. Egyptian publicist Majdi Sarhan published an article on January 5 in support of Sisi's statements in the Egyptian daily Al-Wafd in which he confirmed that there is coordination between Israel and Egypt against "terror gangs" in the Sinai. In his words, the Egyptian army's military operations in Sinai would not have succeeded without coordination with Israel, following strategic and security agreements signed between both countries. How does Israeli intelligence work? The objective of Israeli intelligence is to obtain information on the activities of the ISIS offshoot in Sinai, which has been operating against Israel over the past few years by firing rockets at Eilat and the Eshkol Regional Council. This was in the days when the organization was still called Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, before it swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The purpose of Israel's intelligence gathering is to prevent terror attacks on Israel, assist the Egyptian army with its war on ISIS, and thwart the passage of arms deliveries for terror organizations in Gaza through the Sinai Peninsula. The Hamas interior ministry in Gaza announced at the beginning of January 2019 that it had arrested 54 collaborators with Israel following an operation by a special IDF force in the area of Khan Yunis on November 12, 2018. According to Hamas sources, some of these collaborators operated in the past in the ranks of the ISIS offshoot in northern Sinai in the service of ISA (Israel Security Agency, also known as the Shabak). The Hamas television channel Al-Aqsa broadcast the confession of one of the collaborators, in which he said that he was sent by an ISA handler to join ISIS in Sinai to gather intelligence. The newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on January 9 that dozens of foreign fighters joined the ranks of the ISIS branch in Sinai from Syria, Iraq, and Libya in recent years, without anyone investigating their security background, hinting that some could be working for Israeli intelligence. The fact that Palestinians are joining ISIS in Sinai is particularly interesting. Some of them, who were residents of the Gaza Strip and active in the Hamas military wing, was even killed in clashes with the Egyptian army. The Palestinian problem is not even on the top of the organization's agenda, which has raised the suspicion that they have ulterior motives and are working on behalf of Israel. The ISIS offshoot in Sinai has also absorbed hundreds of new volunteers into its ranks from among the Sinai population. According to Gaza sources, these also include collaborators with Israel. At first, ISIS in Sinai had a close connection with the military wing of Hamas, and it helped it to smuggle arms into Gaza. In exchange, it received military training from Hamas instructors sent to northern Sinai, as well as medical care for its men in Gaza hospitals, and shelter from Egyptian intelligence. Therefore, Israel had a great interest in planting spies among the ranks of ISIS in Sinai to investigate the deliveries of weapons that were making their way from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip and to destroy them from the air and prevent the strengthening of Hamas in Gaza. According to foreign reports, in recent years, during the tenure of Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, the IDF destroyed around 15,000 standard rockets that were making their way from Sinai toward the Gaza Strip. The destruction of these rockets in Sinai was enabled by very exact intelligence information. As a result, the military wing of Hamas increased the local manufacture of rockets in workshops and factories that it established in Gaza. When ties were cut between the ISIS offshoot in Sinai and Hamas due to Hamas' closeness to the Egyptian government, ISIS itself began to sabotage arms deliveries from Iran that passed through the Sinai Peninsula on their way to the Gaza Strip. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported on November 24, 2018, that according to Egyptian security sources, ISIS fighters took control in Sinai of a large delivery of arms that had arrived from Iran. This weapons delivery was intended for the military wing of Hamas, and it included advanced Kornet anti-tank missiles and other accurate GPS-directed weaponry According to sources in Gaza, ISIS executed one of its activists who had assisted in the smuggling of weapons from Sinai to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. There has been a great change over the past two years in relations between ISIS and Hamas. ISIS hostility toward Hamas for collaborating with Egyptian intelligence against it is huge. Today, ISIS has an interest, as Israel does, in halting all arms deliveries that pass through Sinai on their way to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to foreign reports, the Israeli intelligence service has managed to provide the IDF with important information that has allowed it to strike hard at ISIS targets in northern Sinai through aerial strikes, eliminating its commanders through targeted assassinations. According to Egyptian sources, Israeli intelligence regularly taps the communications networks of ISIS in Sinai and monitors its movements around the clock using drones. The planting of agents among the ranks of ISIS in Sinai completes the intelligence picture. The prevention of the passage of advanced weapons to Hamas in Gaza through Sinai is also in the interests of Egypt, who wants to weaken the organization's strength, as it is a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has designated as a terrorist organization. It is in Israel's interest to assist the Egyptian army by destroying the ISIS branch in northern Sinai to prevent the organization's entrenchment along the Egypt-Israel border. The Egyptian army allows Israel freedom to operate militarily in the skies above Sinai, and Israel permits the Egyptian army to bring large forces into Sinai, beyond what was agreed upon in the peace treaty, to fight the Islamic terror that is endangering the security of both countries. (Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.)

Community Leaders Say Europe's Jews have a Bleak Future

By JTA

Jews have a bleak present — and future — in Europe because of anti-Semitism. That was the unusually pessimistic view outlined by the continent's Jewish community leaders at the European Parliament's annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day event. European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor in a speech read for him raised the possibility of Jews leaving Europe amid rising extremism. And it wasn't just European Jewish leaders: Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog called the reality for European Jews "a raging crisis" and said that despite efforts to curb the anti-Semitism, one "can no longer ignore that Jews are unsafe walking the streets of Europe." Herzog cited a recent assault in Paris on the Jewish Agency's top envoy there, Daniel Ben-Haim. A security guard tackled the attacker, who targeted Ben-Haim because he wears a kippah. Kantor's speech noted a recent poll among Jews in the European Union in which 38% said they had considered emigrating because they did not feel safe as Jews. "If Jews leave Europe, the question is not what will be of Jews," Kantor said, noting that Israel's existence assures their survival, "but what will be of Europe." He called for "urgent action" against anti-Semitism by authorities.

The French Resistance's Secret Weapon? The Mime Marcel Marceau

By The History Channel

Marcel Marceau was known worldwide as a master of silence. The world-famous mime delighted audiences for decades as "Bip," a tragicomic figure who encountered the world without words. But during World War II, his skills as a mime came in handy for another reason: He used them to save Jewish children during the Holocaust. Marceau was recruited to help the French Resistance by his cousin, Georges Loinger, a commander in the secret unit who was part of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants, a Jewish relief group that smuggled Jewish children from occupied France to neutral countries. Loinger, who was credited with saving around 350 children, died on December 28, 2018 at the age of 108. Their mission was to evacuate Jewish children who had been hiding in a French orphanage and get them to the Swiss border, where they would sneak to safety. But traveling with large groups of children was anything but easy. Marceau had a secret weapon: His training as a mime.

"The kids loved Marcel and felt safe with him," Loinger told the Jewish Telegraph Agency in 2007, after Marceau's death. "He had already begun doing performances in the orphanage, where he had met a mime instructor earlier on. The kids had to appear like they were simply going on vacation to a home near the Swiss border, and Marcel really put them at ease." Marceau, who was Jewish, didn't just use his acting skills to make the kids comfortable: He used them to save their lives. He mimed "to keep children quiet as they were escaping," Philippe Mora, the son of one of Marceau's Resistance comrades, told The Age. "It had nothing to do with show business. He was miming for his life." The actor also posed as a Boy Scout leader to trick the authorities. "I went disguised as a Boy Scout leader and took 24 Jewish kids, also in scout uniforms, through the forests to the border, where someone else would take them into Switzerland," he recalled in 2002. And when he unexpectedly ran into a group of German soldiers near the end of the war, he pretended he was a member of the French Army and demanded they surrender. They did—all 30 of them. Marceau's exploits were just a few of the daring, and creative, feats pulled off by the French Resistance. The OCE was particularly ingenious: For example, while smuggling children over the border, one Resistance fighter realized that Nazis never searched sandwiches that had mayonnaise on them since the oily condiment might dirty their uniforms. As a result, they hid children's ID cards in mayonnaise-smeared sandwiches. And Loinger was able to get Jewish children over the Swiss border by throwing a ball and telling them to retrieve it. Born Marcel Manger before the war, Marceau saved at least 70 children. In addition to his border crossing feats, he also forged identity documents to make Jews look younger so they'd be allowed to flee Nazi deportation. After the war, he changed his name and soon skyrocketed to fame as the world's most prominent pantomime artist. People connected to the universality of his character, Bip—and his pathos. Part of that sadness stemmed from a very personal loss during the Holocaust. In 1944, Marceau's father, Charles Mangel, was murdered at Auschwitz. "I cried for my father," recalled Marceau in 2002, but I also cried for the millions of people who died….Destiny permitted me to live. This is why I have to bring hope to people who struggle in the world."


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