Northern Israel under rocketfire from Syria and Lebanon

Northern Israel under rocketfire from Syria and Lebanon

By LEA SPEYER, BIN— Rockets fired from Syria slammed into the Golan Heights early Sunday morning following rocket fire from Lebanon the night before. “At least five rockets fired from Syria hit different locations across the Golan Heights,” the IDF confirmed in a statement. The strikes, which occurred around 1:30 am Sunday morning, caused no casualties an army spokeswoman told AFP. Several people were treated for shock. The spokeswoman said that it was not clear who launched the rockets. The IDF did not return fire. In July, a rocket fired from Syria landed in northern Israel, prompting the Israeli army to shell Syrian army positions. In June, the IAF struck Syrian military headquarters and positions after an Israeli teen was killed in a cross border attack. The Syrian rocket attack came hours after a rocket fired from Lebanon hit northern Israel on Saturday night. “The rocket that was fired from Lebanon hit the Upper Galilee,” the IDF said in a statement. The army did not return fire but sent “a strong protest” to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which is responsible for monitoring the border between Israel and Lebanon. The rocket attack comes on the 47th day of the conflict between Israel and radical Islamist terror groups in the Gaza Strip. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire from Lebanon. Lebanese security sources believe that the rocket was fired from Dheira, located three kilometers (two miles) from the border with Israel. Two five-year-olds were reported to have been injured by flying shrapnel. On Sunday, the Lebanese news outlet A-Nusra reported that the Lebanese...
Syrian patients in Israel call on Netanyahu to strike Assad

Syrian patients in Israel call on Netanyahu to strike Assad

By HASSAN SHAALAN, YNET— “I’ve always thought of Israel as an enemy state that is not willing to help us. My case changed my thinking entirely. Israel is a good country that saves our lives, while the Syrian regime murders its citizens,” said one of the Syrian patients currently treated at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed. Of the 16 Syrian patients in the Israeli hospital, three are in serious condition. Among them are children and rebels who fought against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army. Those who can speak have one message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Keep attacking in Syria in order to save the Syrian people from the Assad regime.” A 25-year-old rebel from Homs, who is being treated at the hospital’s surgery ward, told how he was brought from the battles to Safed: “I was wounded in the leg by a shell when I was by my home, and Israeli forces evacuated me from the border to the hospital. Syrian army soldiers are the ones who hit me.” The young, wounded Syrian expressed support for Israeli strikes against his country. “I heard several days ago that Israel struck a military base in Syria. This move should have been executed a long time ago to help us bring down the terrorist regime in Syria. I wasn’t sad because of the strike, but rather quite happy.” The 25-year-old rebel chose to denounce the actions of Hezbollah and its backers in Iran: “I also heard of Israeli soldiers who were injured in the Golan Heights, apparently by Hezbollah militants. I oppose the organization, Iran and Russia. Most of the...
Israel’s goal: Stay out of the fray

Israel’s goal: Stay out of the fray

By YOAV LIMUR, ISRAEL HAYOM— The general assessment in Israel on Saturday was that the period of American restraint over events in Syria was over. An American attack against Syrian government targets is expected sooner or later, although the scope of such a strike is unclear and officials in both Washington and Jerusalem think there is almost zero chance that American boots will be put on the ground. America’s change of course in its policy toward Syria is a result of what seems to be the Syrian military’s massive use of chemical weapons against civilians last week near Damascus. The casualty numbers and horrific images coming out of the targeted areas left no other choice, even for the vacillating Obama administration and General Martin Dempsey’s stuttering military. This is the same president who refrained from responding after every red line he declared was brazenly crossed, and it is the same joint chiefs of staff that claimed it would be “impossible” to implement a no-fly zone over Syria — and these are now the people expected to act in contravention to their desires and put the U.S. army right back into a Middle Eastern war zone. In Israel, officials think that in its first phase, at least, the American attack will be limited and focused (possibly against the precise Republican Guard unit that launched the chemical weapons), so as to avoid complicating the mission and because of the concern that a wide-scale strike will actually prompt Assad to unleash his unconventional weapons against his rivals (he might calculate that he has nothing to lose). An important question must also be...
Europe wages war on Israel

Europe wages war on Israel

By CAROLINE GLICK, JPOST— This week the EU took three steps that together prove Europe’s ill-intentions towards the Jewish state. First, last Friday the EU announced it is imposing economic sanctions on Israel. The sanctions deny EU funds to Israeli entities with an address beyond the 1949 armistice lines. They also deny EU funds to Israeli entities countrywide that carry out activities beyond the 1949 armistice lines. The areas beyond the 1949 armistice lines delineated by the EU directive include the Gaza Strip, which Israel abandoned eight years ago; the Golan Heights, which has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1981; eastern, northern, and southern Jerusalem, which have been under Israeli sovereignty since 1967; and Judea and Samaria, over which Israel has shared governance with the PLO since 1994 in accordance with signed agreements witnessed by EU representatives. The EU’s second action was the publication Tuesday of EU foreign policy commissioner Catherine Ashton’s letter to her fellow commissioners informing them that by the end of the year, the EU will publish binding requirements for specially labeling Israeli goods produced by Jews beyond the 1949 armistice lines exported to EU member states. This act is potentially more damaging for Israel than the ban on transferring EU monies to Israeli entities with “bad” addresses. Labeling Israeli products is a means of signaling European consumers that they should view all Israeli exports as morally inferior to other goods and wage a consumer boycott of Israeli products. Indeed, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius described the proposed labeling as an alternative to a broader boycott of all Israeli goods. The EU’s third act was its...
European Union Adds Military Wing of Hezbollah to List of Terrorist Organizations

European Union Adds Military Wing of Hezbollah to List of Terrorist Organizations

By JAMES KANTER and JODI RUDOREN, NY TIMES— The military wing of Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite group, was blacklisted by European Union ministers as a terrorist organization on Monday in a policy shift that reflected their concern about Hezbollah’s suspected involvement in Europe-based bombings and its growing role in the Syria war. The blacklisting designation was welcomed by the United States and Israel, which have long regarded Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah and Iran, the group’s biggest ally, denounced the designation as a capitulation to United States and Israeli pressure. “It appears that the decision was written with an American hand in Zionist ink,” Hezbollah said in a statement from Beirut. The immediate practical effects of the new designation were not clear, but symbolically at least they were an embarrassment to Hezbollah, the most important political organization in Lebanon. Many Lebanese expressed concern the designation would damage Lebanon’s international relations and worsen internal tensions, and Lebanon’s president, Michel Suleiman, asked the European Union to “re-examine its decision,” Lebanese media reported. The sanctions that result from the European Union designation are expected to include asset freezes and possible travel bans on some individuals. But some sanctions experts said the policy shift set a precedent that over time could compromise Hezbollah’s fund-raising operations. Europe has been an important financial conduit for Hezbollah, which has been implicated in attacks on Israelis abroad, maintains an arsenal of rockets trained at Israel and has come to the aid of Syria’s government in its effort to crush an uprising now in its third year. The shift in policy toward Hezbollah, announced by European...
Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back

Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back

By MARK LANDLER, NY TIMES— In a clear warning to Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants in the region, a senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering additional military strikes to prevent that from happening and that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, would face crippling consequences if he retaliated. “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” the Israeli official said. “The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region.” “If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.” The Israeli official, who had been briefed by high-level officials on Israel’s assessment of the situation in Syria, declined to be identified, citing the need to protect internal Israeli government deliberations. He contacted The New York Times on Wednesday. The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be seeking to restrain Syria’s behavior to avoid taking further military action, or alerting other countries to another military strike. That would increase the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years. There could be a secondary audience for the warning, analysts said, in Hezbollah and its primary supporter, Iran. Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, has said in recent days it could use weapons supplied by Iran to retaliate for recent Israeli strikes on Syria. Nearly two weeks ago, Israeli warplanes carried out two strikes in Syria, the...
Syrian-Israeli war of words via Putin edges into Syrian-Hizballah war of attrition

Syrian-Israeli war of words via Putin edges into Syrian-Hizballah war of attrition

By DEBKAFILE— Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu ended their three-hour meeting in Sochi Tuesday, May 14, at loggerheads on Syria. In fact, Putin warned his guest that Israel and its army, the IDF, were heading for war with Syria in which Russia might well be involved – and not just through the advanced S-300 anti-air missiles supplied to the Assad government. The case Netanyahu and Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi put before Putin and Russian foreign intelligence chief, SVR Director Mikhail Fradkov, fell on deaf ears. They found the Russian leader further infuriated by the docking that day at Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat of the USS Kearsarge, carrying 1,800 marines and a consignment of 20 V-22 Osprey helicopters which US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had promised to supply to Israel during his April visit. Putin viewed the stationing of US forces in the Gulf of Aqaba just two hours away from the Israeli-Syrian border for repelling Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah aggression against Israel or Jordan – signaled by the Kearsage’s arrival – as an act of bad faith by Washington. On the one hand, they want us to cooperate for an international conference to end the bloodshed in Syria, while on the other, they deploy military forces, he complained to Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister countered with a warning that Israel would continue to strike advanced weapons in Syria that were destined for Hizballah. And if President Bashar Assad hit back for Israel’s May 5 bombardment of weapons stores on Mount Qassioun near Damascus, Israel would intensify its bombardments of Syrian military targets and weapons...
Hezbollah to open ‘new front’ in Golan Heights

Hezbollah to open ‘new front’ in Golan Heights

By MICHAL SHMULOVICH, TIMES OF ISRAEL— Iran has convinced Syria to allow Hezbollah to open a “new front” against Israel in the Golan Heights, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Wednesday. Tehran, seeking to prevent the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, asked Damascus if Hezbollah could set up a new military front against Israel in the Golan. “All Arabs and Muslims” are requested to join the fight against Israel, Tehran said, according to Israel Radio. The report comes a week after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to respond to Jerusalem’s ostensible aggression against Syria with the help of Syria’s advanced “game-changing” weapons. The next stage, he warned during a speech, would be opening up a front on the Golan Heights. The Palestinian newspaper al-Quds also reported Wednesday that Tehran had persuaded Damascus “to open the door to jihad” in the Golan Heights in an effort enable Arab and Muslim fighters to unite and confront Israel, so that they’re “ready” if Israel strikes Syria again. According to unnamed Israeli and American sources, Israeli planes struck sites outside Damascus twice during the first weekend in May, targeting weapons transfers from Iran to Hezbollah. The Syrian regime warned a few days later that it would retaliate immediately to future Israeli attacks on its soil. The al-Quds website wrote that Iran also discussed the issue with other Arab leaders, namely Jordan’s King Abdullah, who expressed his own “concerns” about the surge of radical Islamist groups, such as the Jabhat al-Nusra, in Syria. The Lebanese daily al-Akhbar suggested last week that Iran had “reached a final decision” to respond to Israel’s reported...
Assad vows 'strategic revenge' on Israel, modeled on Hezbollah

Assad vows 'strategic revenge' on Israel, modeled on Hezbollah

By ISRAEL HAYOM— Syria will “give Hezbollah everything” in recognition of its support and will follow the terror group’s model of “resistance” against Israel, a Lebanese newspaper on Thursday quoted President Bashar al-Assad as saying, AFP reported. Assad’s comments, published by Al-Akhbar, reportedly came during meetings with Lebanese visitors in Damascus and appeared intended to refute any suggestion that last week’s reported Israeli raids on Syrian targets would halt assistance to the Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to the AFP report on Al-Akhbar’s story, the newspaper said visitors quoted Assad as expressing “confidence, satisfaction and great gratitude towards Hezbollah.” Iranian-backed Hezbollah is a longtime ally of the Syrian regime and has sent fighters to battle alongside Assad’s troops, particularly in the Qusayr district of the central province of Homs. Damascus has long served as a supply conduit for Hezbollah, and Assad said they would reward the group for their loyalty. “We have decided to give them everything,” the newspaper quoted him as saying, without elaborating. “For the first time we feel that we and they are living in the same situation and they are not just an ally we help with resistance,” he said, according to AFP’s translation. “We have decided that we must move forward towards them and turn into a nation of resistance like Hezbollah, for the sake of Syria and future generations.” Assad was quoted as saying Syria could “easily” respond to Israeli air strikes by “firing a few rockets at Israel.” “But we want strategic revenge, by opening the door of resistance and turning all of Syria into a country of resistance.” “After the...