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IDF: Clandestine Hizbullah Unit Operating on Golan

By Israel Hayom & DEBKAfile
A secret Hizbullah unit, which it calls "the Golan file," has been building a terrorist network near the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights, the IDF revealed on Wednesday. At this stage, the unit focuses primarily on gathering intelligence on the IDF, but intelligence officials say it could also carry out operations against Israel in the future. The network includes dozens of operatives and is headed by Ali Mussa Daqduq, who joined Hizbullah in 1983 and served in some operational positions in southern Lebanon during the IDF presence in the area, as well as other parts of the Middle East. In Iraq, Daqduq, also known as Abu Hassin Sajd, was imprisoned by American forces after an operation he commanded led to the kidnapping and execution of five American soldiers. Daqduq's fate had vexed American officials after they were forced to hand him over to Baghdad after failing to secure a custody deal ahead of the U.S. military's withdrawal from the country At the time, the White House said it had received assurances from Baghdad that Daqduq would be tried for allegedly orchestrating the 2007 kidnapping. But an Iraqi court cleared him of the charges, citing a lack of evidence. Last summer Daqduq was sent by Hizbullah to Syria to establish the "Golan file." According to Israeli intelligence officials, Daqduq's unit has been so heavily compartmentalized that even the Assad regime in Syria, and even many elements within Hizbullah itself, were unaware of its existence. The hope in the IDF is that exposing the unit's existence will lead the Damascus regime to terminate its activities in Syria. This is not Hizbullah's first attempt at establishing a terrorist network on the Golan Heights. In May of 2013, Syrian President Bashar Assad opened the Golan frontier to Hizbullah to act against Israel, to divert attention from raging Syrian civil war. Consequently, the Shiite terrorist group initiated campaigns to build terrorist networks in the area, and by 2015 had carried out several terrorist attacks against Israeli forces. According to foreign reports, the men tasked with spearheading these operations, Samir Kuntar and Jihad Mughniyeh, were both assassinated by Israel. With the end of the civil war in Syria and the return of Assad's forces to the Golan frontier, Hizbullah had lost its legitimacy to maintain a presence there. The organization's leadership, however, decided to establish the secret unit regardless, with better operational capabilities than before, to act against Israel when ordered. The assessment within the IDF is that the unit's operatives, many of whom formerly served under Kuntar and Mughniyeh and live in villages near the Israel border, are well equipped and could try transferring additional weapons from Lebanon or use Iranian stockpiles already in Syria. As stated, the Syrian president was unaware of the unit's existence until now, and IDF officials believe he will view it unfavorably, to say the least, as it undermines his authority. It is important to note that currently there are no concrete warnings of terrorist attacks emanating from the Golan Heights frontier, and one of the main reasons the IDF chose to expose the unit's existence now was to nip the threat in its infancy. "We are revealing the [terrorist] infrastructure] in such a manner that will knock [Hizbullah] off its chair," a senior IDF officer said. DEBKAfile assumes that the IDF high command had its reasons for making this disclosure at this time since it is not new. Hizbullah has never paused in its attempts to establish terrorist structures on the Syrian Golan with a view to opening a second front against Israel if attacked. Its presence has been consistently covered by DEBKAfile for eight months, ever last July, when the IDF allowed Syrian army units to take over rebel-held regions opposite Israel's Golan border. Our military sources revealed at the time that Hizbullah fighters were integrated into the Syrian units, disguised in Syrian army uniforms, and setting up observation posts and terrorist teams opposite IDF positions. It was those Hizbullah posts near Quneitra and the Syrian Druze village of Al Khader that Israel tanks shelled in early February. Our analysts offer some explanation for the IDF's "revelations" at this time. March 13 marks two months since Israel wound up its "Operation Northern Shield" for eliminating Hizbullah's cross-border tunnels from Lebanon, an operation which, incidentally, had little effect on the balance of strength between Israel and Hizbullah. Underlining the Hizbullah threat from southwestern Syria will no doubt contribute to the campaign launched by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz for gaining congressional recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. But there is another, military, factor at work: US forces in Syria and Iraq are gearing up for action against the Iraqi-Shiite militia concentrations swarming through western Iraq and eastern Syria. On March 9, this site exclusively reported US reinforcements streaming to the front on both sides of the border.

Erdogan: 'Netanyahu is a Tyrant that Massacres Children'

By Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched into another attack on Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, calling Netanyahu a "tyrant" and accusing the Israeli leader of `massacring children.' "Hey Netanyahu, behave yourself. You are a tyrant, you are a tyrant who massacred seven-year-old Palestinian children," Erdogan said during a rally in Ankara's Pursaklar district Wednesday after Netanyahu called Erdogan a "dictator." "Instead of preventing the oppression of Muslims, Israel's prime minister is targeting me to invest in the upcoming elections," continued Erdogan. "We are not answerable to these social media bouncers. We will continue our fight for the rights of the Palestinian people and administration of Jerusalem in line with the weight it carries for the Muslim world to the last breath." Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin also lambasted Netanyahu, accusing the Israeli leader of "racist statements" against Muslims, and condemned Israel as an "apartheid state" which he claimed, "occupies Palestinian territory." "Netanyahu is attacking President Erdo?an for revealing himself after he makes racist statements about Arabs and Muslims. The ruling apartheid state occupies Palestinian territory, killing women and children, condemning Palestinians on their territory. They will not conceal lies and oppression crimes." Kalin said, according to Anadolu Ajansi. The comments by Erdogan and his spokesman are the latest in a war of words between the two leaders, sparked after a spokesperson for Erdogan lambasted Israel for declaring itself the nation-state of the Jewish people. On Tuesday, Erdogan's spokesman condemned Netanyahu's affirmation of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, calling it "blatant racism. I strongly condemn this blatant racism and discrimination. 1.6 million Arabs/Muslims live in Israel. Will the Western governments react or keep silent under pressure again?" In response, Netanyahu mocked "Turkey's dictator Erdogan," calling his accusations via Kalin "a joke. Turkey's dictator Erdogan attacks Israel's democracy while Turkish journalists and judges fill his prisons. What a joke!" tweeted Netanyahu. "In Israel, no one is a second-class citizen. Israel is a democracy in which all Israelis, including our nearly 2 million Arab citizens, enjoy equal individual rights. But Israel is also the only Jewish state, with a Star of David on our flag, Hatikvah our national anthem, Hebrew our official language and where a Law of Return gives every Jew around the world the right to return to our ancestral homeland," added the Prime Minister.

J Street Sets Up Free Israel Trips, Competing with Birthright

By the Jerusalem Post

J Street has announced that it is establishing free trips to Israel for North American youth, in competition with Birthright, to give participants exposure to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and those involved in it. The first trip, which will last nine days, will take place this July and applications are being taken starting Thursday. Criticism has been directed at Birthright by the far-Left IfNotNow organization which claims that Birthright does not address the conflict sufficiently and that when it does, it does so in an unbalanced manner. IfNotNow activists have disrupted several trips with public walkouts, and J Street's initiative appears to be a response to these claims and the demands of some North American Jews for free Israel trips to address the conflict. The itinerary of J Street's trip includes the kind of excursions and touring which Birthright's trips do, but also includes two days devoted to the conflict with the Palestinians. Day 6 is entitled "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Occupation 101" and will include tours of Israeli settlements and Palestinian villages in the West Bank, a visit to Hebron and conversations with residents of the settlements, Palestinians and peace activists from both sides. J Street U, the student organizing arm of J Street, issued a "pledge" on social media to only go on free Israel trips which deal in a structured and in-depth manner with the conflict. "We pledge to only participate in organized trips to Israel that include meaningful engagement with key questions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the occupation, and the status of minority groups in Israel," the group declared. "We will only participate in trips that include meetings with both Israelis and Palestinians and that show participants how the occupation impacts the daily lives of Palestinians living beyond the Green Line." Birthright said in response that its trips are not political and that it respects young people's choice "to visit Israel in any way that suits their needs and interests," adding "Our educational trips are non-partisan and have enabled more than 700,000 Jewish young adults to experience Israel over the past 19 years. We appreciate all organizations that aim to connect the Jewish diaspora to Israel and provide the gift of experiencing Israel first-hand."

Polish Newspaper's Front Page Reveals `How to Recognize a Jew'

By JTA

A right-wing newspaper with national distribution in Poland ran on its front page an article that instructs readers on "how to recognize a Jew." The Polish-language weekly, Tylko Polska, or "Only Poland," lists on its front page "Names, anthropological features, expressions, appearances, character traits, and methods of operation "and "disinformation activities." The text also reads: "How to defeat them? This cannot go on!" The page also features a headline reading, "Attack on Poland at a conference in Paris." The reference is to a Holocaust studies conference last month during which Polish nationalists complained that speakers were anti-Polish. That article features a picture of Jan Gross, a Polish-Jewish Princeton University scholar of Polish complicity in the Holocaust and a frequent target of nationalist attacks. Only Poland is published by Leszek Bubl, a fringe nationalist political candidate and sometime musician who has sung about "rabid" rabbis. The paper was spotted Wednesday at the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, as part of this week's packet of periodicals. Micha? Kami?ski, a conservative lawmaker, protested the article and its presence at the Sejm, Polsat news reported. The Sejm Information Center responded by saying that "the Chancellery of the Sejm will request the publication's removal from the press kit."

Syrian Flag Placed Opposite Knesset as Gesture of Goodwill

By YnetNews.com

As part of 9th annual Jerusalem Marathon, the city's municipality decided to place flags of all 80 countries participating in the event — and by sheer coincidence, the flag of Israel's war-torn neighbor ended up outside the parliament building Israelis found themselves baffled by a Syrian flag placed across from the Knesset building in Jerusalem on Wednesday. To the surprise of many, it was planted there by the city's municipality as an act of solidarity with a Syrian runner expected to participate in the Jerusalem Marathon this Friday. Friday's marathon will be the ninth time the capital has hosted the event. Some 38,000 runners, from 80 countries, have already registered, and as a gesture of goodwill, the Municipality of Jerusalem placed the flags of all participating states along the marathon route. According to a statement released by the municipality, the placing of the Syrian flag opposite the Knesset was completely coincidental. Although the Syrian runner, Hassan Shishakly, registered for the marathon, he has yet to collect his kit for the race, casting uncertainty over his participation, which would involve running through the streets of Jerusalem, one of the central issues in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The Damascus-born Shishakly has been competing professionally for several years, and currently shares his time between the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates as part of his training program. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said the gesture carried no political undertones. "In our united capital, all are respected ... In sports, everyone is equal, and everyone can test the limits of their athletic abilities to break records and conquer new heights. Sport is a bridge connecting different people and cultures" he said.


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