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Newsletter : 19fx0211.txt

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Moscow Backs Hizbullah Ahead of Netanyahu Visit, Eyes Lebanon's Gas

By DEBKAfile

The Russians have switched their focus to Lebanon and are hailing Hizbullah as a "force for stability and security" ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow on Feb. 21 for talks with President Vladimir Putin. Russian diplomacy and media are for the first time coming out with high praise for Hizbullah, giving Netanyahu to understand that Putin has no interest in hearing about the Shiite terrorist movement's misdeeds or Israel's operations against its tunnels. On Saturday, Feb. 9, Russian Ambassador to Beirut Alexander Zasypkin said in an interview with Sputnik that a new conflict could erupt between Israel and Lebanon "as a result of the United States' actions aimed at sowing discord in the region, as well as Washington's campaign against Tehran and the Lebanese Hizbullah movement." When events started unfolding in Syria, Hizbullah "sided with the lawful authorities in the fight against terrorists as its duty," he said. "Hizbullah became directly involved in the military operation at Syria's request, alongside Russia and Iran and took a responsible approach." Turning to Washington, the Russian ambassador said, "Instead of trying to deal with tensions in the region together with Russia and other countries, the United States has launched a campaign against Iran and Hizbullah, making the situation in the region even more volatile." Zasypkin went on to say: "As for conflict between Israel and Lebanon, nothing can be predicted with certainty because the region is at a crossroads." Moscow's compliments for Hizbullah as a "positive and responsible" force in Syria and the region, may come as a surprise to many Israelis given some of the stories appearing in local media in the past month. DEBKAfile's military sources offer three striking examples: The S-300 air defense missiles Russia delivered to Syria last October were wrongly reported as having become operational. Our sources stressed that the missiles are not operational. Iran was misreported as having completed and started production at a factory for manufacturing precise ballistic missiles in northern Syria. This story was shown with depictions of large chambers filled with machinery and it was presented to support a purported Israeli threat to strike the plant unless it is dismantled. DEBKAfile: In reality, the factory was built, but its halls stand empty and no precise ballistic missiles are as yet being produced. Tehran was said to have acceded to a Russian demand to evacuate from Damascus international airport the "Glass House" – by which Iran's headquarters are known – to ward off Israeli attacks. DEBKAfile: There is no sign of the Iranians moving out of this building. The Kremlin appears to believe that these unfounded stories were planted by the Americans and Israelis to drive a wedge between Moscow and Tehran/Beirut and decided to nip this campaign in the bud ahead of Netanyahu's arrival in Moscow. DEBKAfile accounts for Moscow's changed attitude towards Hizbullah on two grounds: Next Thursday, Feb. 14, Presidents Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan meet at the Black Sea resort of Sochi for a thorough airing of the Syrian issue. This time, unlike previous summits, Putin realizes that his Iranian and Turkish guests will expect to hear him lay out a clear, substantive policy for the next chapter of Russian involvement in Syria. A decision to recognize Hizbullah's regional standing and forge ties with the pro-Iranian Lebanese group is one of its main ingredients. Rosneft, the Russian energy giant, has planted a foot in Lebanon's gas and oil industry, having recently signed a 20-year accord for the management of the oil and gas facilities in the northern town of Tripoli. Moscow may well swing its support behind Hizbullah's claim that Israel's Leviathan gas field has commandeered some of the offshore Mediterranean gas that it says belongs to Lebanon. A dispute over control of this energy resource, with Beirut backed by Moscow, could become the pretext for an outbreak of hostilities, rather than the causes outlined by the Russian ambassador.

Report: Israel Spying on Iran from US Air Base in Afghanistan

By Israel Hayom

Media outlets in Afghanistan and Iran have reported that Israeli forces were carrying out intelligence activity and intelligence collection near Afghanistan's border with Iran. Iran's Tasnim news agency and the Russian news agency Sputnik's Urdu language website quoted Israeli expert Semyon Tsipis on Saturday as saying Israeli forces were operating out of a U.S. Air Force base in Shindand in western Afghanistan, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Iranian border. "Of course the proximity to an enemy state is the principle reason for carrying out such an operation and also provides legitimacy. But beyond that, another objective of the mission is to acquire experience in combat in the local ground conditions and activity against the local population," Tsipis said, according to the reports. Tsipis reportedly claimed that the Israeli activity was being carried out with the knowledge and approval of the Afghan government, although he said the Israelis were operating inside the country within the framework of the U.S. forces stationed there and as a result, did not need Afghan approval for the mission. Two months ago, 14 Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban forces carried out a terrorist attack on a military base in the Shindand region. According to local reports that corroborated the Taliban's claims, the attackers took some 20 soldiers, hostage, before the military was able to regain control of the base.

Ori Ansbacher's Killer Confesses: The Murder was an Act of Terror

By the Jerusalem Post, United with Israel, World Israel News & Israel Hayom Security officials say that Arafat Irfaiya, 29, from Hebron has confessed to killing Ori Ansbacher, 19, and reconstructed the murder for police on Sunday ahead of his arraignment in court. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara traveled to the family's home in Tekoa, five miles south of Bethlehem, to personally tell them, what everyone had presumed, that their daughter had been the victim of a terror attack, was true. "It's not surprising," Netanyahu said, "But I wanted you to know this official," he added speaking in a low voice and holding his eyeglasses in his hand as he sat in front of the family. They nodded at him as he spoke. "What seemed obvious, has also turned out to be real," Netanyahu said. IDF troops meanwhile mapped the killer's home ahead of its likely demolition. Troops entered Hebron before dawn on Sunday to measure the structure "to evaluate ways to demolish it," the army said in a statement. Irfaiya was arrested in a joint operation by the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Border Police's Yamam counter-terrorism unit in an abandoned building near the Jamal Abdel-Nasser Mosque in el-Bireh, which adjoins Ramallah, following intelligence received by security forces. According to reports, authorities received information that he was hiding in the mosque and proceeded to raid it on Friday evening. When Irfaiya was not found, troops confiscated security camera footage from the neighborhood and returned later that night to conduct a second raid on a nearby abandoned building, where he was arrested without putting up a struggle. The knife he is believed to have used in the murder was found during the arrest. Irfaiya was arrested less than 48 hours after Ansbacher was found naked and with multiple stab wounds in the Ein Yael forest in Jerusalem on Thursday. The Shin Bet General Security Service said that the suspect "left his home in Hebron with a knife and made his way to the village of Beit Jala," just south of Jerusalem and from there, he "walked to the forest, where he saw Ori, attacked and murdered her." With the Israel Police, Shin Bet and IDF still investigating her murder, many details remain under a gag order. Irfaiya had previously served time for being in Israel illegally and for possession of a knife. According to reports, authorities were able to link him with the murder "without question" from DNA evidence found at the scene. Earlier in the investigation, there was a suspicion that her murder was sexual, there were growing indications that it was also nationalistically motivated because Irfaiya has family members connected with Hamas and he has been involved in disseminating propaganda for the group. "The interrogation of the suspect is ongoing and is focused in particular on the motives for the murder," read a statement by police. Ansbacher's younger brother, David, eulogized his big sister. "I remember the Shabbat you invited me to go hiking. We walked until we reached two small columns. 'Here it is,' you said. 'This place is the Garden of Eden and the columns are the gate to heaven.' Now you are at the gates of heaven. Ori, my amazing sister, you turned sadness into joy. Continue being with me when I help others, and when I too am buried in the ground. You spread a lot of light in this world," he said. Her father, Gadi Ansbacher, said: "I have so many things to say about Ori, but I don't believe this has happened and don't know what to tell you [my daughter]. You saw things sharply, clearly, you saw everything. You turned everything into the greatest of love. Over the past year we studied together, we spoke a lot about divine spirit and how it resides in all of us. … You accomplished that. You won, Ori. You lived a full life, you are whole." Tair, a friend of Ansbacher who also took part in the search for her, delivered also delivered a heart-wrenching eulogy. "Ori, my love, my dear soul. When I was looking for you I saw many beautiful things. We found a really perfect fossil that I wanted to save for you; we saw a family of deer and lots of smiling flowers encouraging me that we would soon see you. When we found you a dark cloud fell over Jerusalem, the jackals cried along with me and reminded me of how many people you touched. I'm trying to be worthy of you, of our friendship, of all the things you taught me. You are a wonder and your soul is a giant miracle. Be strong, Ori." Ansbacher was volunteering for national service at a youth center in Jerusalem. She was buried Friday in her hometown of Tekoa in Judea. Hundreds of tearful mourners sang a song of Redemption ahead of the heartbreaking eulogies and burial. Israeli youth of the community of Tekoa have kicked off the "To be a free people in our country – spreading Ori's light" project, which calls on Israelis to continue taking hikes in Israel, despite the fact that Ori was killed while taking one in a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The initiative calls on hikers throughout Israel to upload pictures from their various trips with the tag "to be a free people in our country." On Sunday, Likud minister Gilad Erdan argued that Irfaiya, the terrorist who admitted killing of 19-year-old Israeli Ori Ansbacher, should receive the death penalty given the shocking nature of the death. "The possibility of a death penalty is already on the books," Gilad Erdan, who serves as public security and strategic affairs minister said in an interview with Israeli news outlet Kan Bet. "If a case where the murderer abused his victim and if we understand that there is no way to rehabilitate him – and in cases like the murder of the Fogel family – the death penalty must be applied." Erdan referred to the Fogel family murder – in which five members of the same family, including three children – were murdered in 2011 by two Palestinian cousins from the village of Awarta. The youngest victim, Hadas, a three-month-old baby, was decapitated. The two murderers were not sentenced to death but to five life sentences. Erdan also said that the attack was clearly a terror attack, and not merely a criminal one. Irfaiya threatened to carry out a terrorist attack two years ago to become a Shaheed (martyr -ed.). Channel 13 News on Sunday evening published transcripts of Irfaiya's interrogation in 2017, after police officers arrested him at the entrance to the Temple Mount with a large kitchen knife in his pocket. Irfaiya threatened then that he would carry out an attack again and that he intended to return to Israel with the goal of "becoming a Shaheed" or going to jail. During his interrogation in 2017, the suspect was asked whether he was a Hamas sympathizer, to which he replied in the affirmative, and detailed, "In what they do, for example, they defend the Palestinian people with weapons." According to the transcripts, Irfaiya changed versions during his interrogation. For example, he said at first that he did not think of stabbing or harming a policeman, then later claimed that he wanted to be arrested but did not intend to attempt another attack, and finally said he was willing to attack in order to be arrested. "I want to be a Shaheed," he declared at the time. When the interrogator asked him how he intended to become a Shaheed, the suspect replied, "I will do it again, I will buy a knife again and I will come back here to go to jail or be a Shaheed. I will do anything in order to go to jail. And if you release me, I'll come here with a knife and I'll be a Shaheed. "

Report: Mossad Helped Smuggle Iranian Nuclear Scientist

By YnetNews.com

An Iranian nuclear scientist in possession of information about the Revolutionary Guards' nuclear program was smuggled from Tehran to Britain in a combined operation that involved intelligence agents from Britain, the United States, and Israel. British media reported that British intelligence agents used the immigrant crisis and smuggled the scientist in a dinghy. The Sunday Express newspaper implies he has been a western asset for years, who helped plan the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a nuclear scientist who died in a 2012 Tehran car explosion. The 47-year-old scientist hid among Iranian immigrants in a boat that crossed the Channel. The engineer arrived in Kent, England, along with 12 other immigrants. The MI6, Mossad, and the CIA were involved in the operation. Britain tried to conceal its involvement in the operation because it opposed the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and remained a party to it. The Express quoted a source saying: "This wasn't without its challenges. His absence was noted quickly, and we were informed that a special unit of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had been dispatched. "Once in France the question of how to get him into Britain remained. We couldn't simply fly him in. Though unusual, it was determined to infiltrate him into a group of fellow migrants preparing to cross the Channel by boat offered one solution." The scientist wanted to reach Britain and then take off for the United States. To this end, he crossed Europe and passed through Greece, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, and France. In France he boarded an immigrant boat in which he arrived in Britain on New Year's Eve.

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