Israel, Putin Agree to ‘Counter Terrorism’ after Hezbollah Refuses Russian Call to Exit Syria

Russia vaguely but ominously stated their willingness to join Israel in opposing “international terrorism” last week, one day after news broke that Hezbollah had rebuffed a Russian call for the terrorist group to leave Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “expressed readiness to boost the …

Israel—An Ancient King of Making Glass

Centuries before the Land of Israel was a hub for the high-tech industry, the region was among the world leaders in another profession involving science, skill, and specialized knowledge: glass making. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced in a press release on Monday that they have discovered 1,600-year-old kilns used …

Israel Targets Terror Kite Leader’s Vehicle in Response to Arson Attacks

The IDF is taking the fight to the terrorists who are aiming to unleash wildfires and explosives on Israeli territory using balloons and kites. Over the weekend, Israeli aircraft “targeted the vehicle of one of the leaders of the squads that launched arson and explosive balloons and kites from the …

Austria Will Keep Reminding Middle East and Europe ‘Israel Is Here to Stay’

According to this world leader, Israel’s security is a moral obligation and has promised to keep telling the Middle East and Europe that “Israel is here to stay.” Those words weren’t posted to Twitter by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but on the account of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. “It …

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Israel Fires ‘Warning Shot’ at Syrian Forces for Ceasefire Violation

November 19, 2017 News

Will peace return to the Israel-Syria border region?
Golan Heights UN Peacekeepers. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Wolfgang Grebien.

Israel has been concerned about how close enemy troops might get to their border in the current ceasefire in Syria. But this weekend Israel felt the need to fire a “warning shot” at Syrian positions twice, not for violating the Syrian calm, but for breaking the 1974 ceasefire with Israel. The IDF Spokesperson posted on Sunday to Twitter that “the Syrian Armed Forces violated the 1974 ceasefire by strengthening a military post in the demilitarized zone between Syria & Israel. In response, an IDF tank fired a warning shot towards the area.”

The Times of Israel reported that this was the second Israeli shot at Syrian forces in the demilitarized zone in two days. Following the incident on Saturday, the IDF filed a complaint with the United Nations peacekeeping force stationed in the area, according to the report. The technical ceasefire between Israel and Syria has been less than calm during the current Syrian civil war. Errant fire from Syria has landed in Israel on numerous occasions, with Israel retaliating and last month threatening “to intensify its response,” according to a tweet at the time posted by the IDF Spokesperson. … Continue Reading

Israel to Approach Trump Peace Plan ‘according to Security, National Interests’

November 19, 2017 Peace and Conflict

Will Trump achieve Middle East peace? U.S. President Donald Trump (left) meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right). Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon (GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially addressed the reports surrounding a potential Israel-Palestinian peace plan by the Trump Administration on Sunday, although he refused to get pulled into the “speculation” on what the plan would propose. “We heard plenty of speculations over the weekend; I am not planning to address them,” said Netanyahu on the Trump plan in comments released by his office. “I would like to say however, that my attitude towards this plan will be determined according to security and national interests of the State of Israel, and these were made clear to our American friends.”

The Israeli leader’s comments come as Israeli media reported that the Trump plan would be detailed with specific ideas on a two-state solution. Haaretz cited a report by Israel Television News saying the plan would involve a Palestinian state with land swaps with Israel, although the 1967 armistice lines may not be the baseline standard used. Jerusalem’s status and any potential evacuation of Israeli settlements would be deferred, per the report. Haaretz, however, said that the White House denied the report, saying the stated specifics are nothing more than “guessing” and citing pre-existing ideas. … Continue Reading

Russia Says Iran Legitimately in Syria, But Israel Won’t Allow Iranian Base There

November 15, 2017 Peace and Conflict

Is Russia going to endorse an Iranian base in Syria?Russian President Vladimir Putin. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of the office of the President of Russia.

The United States and Israel have a goal of seeing Iranian units leaving Syria, but Russia—the other major world power involved in the Syrian war along with the US—says they did not agree to that plan. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday that the Syrian ceasefire deal with the US does not involve “goals on Syria”. And when discussing the American objective of seeing Iranian soldiers and terror proxy Hezbollah leave Syria, Lavrov deflected and instead called the US opposition allies in the conflict the “biggest threat.”

Lavrov, according to SANA, said the Russian and Iranian presence in Syria is “legitimate” and at the invitation of the Syrian regime, whereas the US coalition is “illegitimate.” But while Russia is demurring on the departure of Iranians from Syria at best, the Israelis have made it clear they will not allow Iran to have a base in their next-door neighbor to the north—even if they have to stop the Iranians by themselves. … Continue Reading

Hamas ‘Appalled’ by Security Cooperation between PA and Israel

November 12, 2017 News

Palestinian security forces. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

One of the most successful arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been their counterterrorism cooperation, a program that has been strongly supported by the United States. Hamas, which is in talks to reconcile with the PA, isn’t just opposed to the security partnership—they’re “appalled” by it.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a press statement last week that his group “is appalled by the on-going security collaboration” between the PA and Israel in the Judea and Samaria region (West Bank). Barhoum, whose statement was published by the Hamas website, said the Israel-PA security cooperation is “considered the greatest danger to the Palestinian people and their legitimate right to resist the occupation.” The term “resistance” can also refer to terror attacks, especially when used by Hamas.

The Hamas comments follow a public confirmation by PA Police chief Hazem Atalla that the security coordination had been resumed by all PA security forces, according to The Jerusalem Post. PA President Mahmoud Abbas had announced a suspension in the cooperation over the metal detectors erected at the Temple Mount to prevent terrorists from bringing weapons to the holy site. Following riots and international pressure, the Israelis chose to remove the metal detectors. … Continue Reading

Israel, Gaza Terror Group Trade Threats after Tunnel Attack

November 12, 2017 Peace and Conflict

Is war brewing with Gaza? Israeli tank. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Israel has already recently thwarted attempted terrorism by Gaza militants by blowing up a terror tunnel that reached into Israeli territory, and they are making it clear they won’t tolerate an escalation in the situation. To the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group—which has a presence in Gaza and leadership based in Syria—the Israeli message was clear: Further aggression could be met with assassination of the terror group’s leaders in Damascus.

The leader of Israel’s liaison group with the Palestinians, Maj. Gen. Yoav Moedechai, posted a video to the organization’s Twitter page this weekend to issue an Israeli warning in Arabic. “We advise the Islamic Jihad leadership in Damascus to exercise caution and take control over the situation,” said Mordechai, the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), in comments also translated into English captions.”

“To the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Damascus—Ramadan Shalah and Ziad Nakhaleh—we say: Take matters quickly into your own hands, because you are the ones who will be held accountable.” In response, Islamic Jihad issued some threats of their own. … Continue Reading

Syrian Regime Again Found Using Chemical Weapons—and More May Yet Be Uncovered

November 8, 2017 News

Will the UN be silent on Syrian crimes? UN Press Conference Area. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime attacked a town in its own country with the chemical weapon sarin in April, an investigative team commissioned by the United Nations announced last month. On Tuesday, the top foreign diplomats of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany condemned the regime’s actions and suggested it could be guilty of more sarin attacks in that nation’s brutal civil war. The quartet of officials also called for the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to respond appropriately.

“The Syrian regime violated international law, including the Chemical Weapons Convention,” said the joint statement released by the State Department. “We condemn this heinous act and demand that the Syrian regime immediately cease any and all use of chemical weapons and finally declare to the OPCW all chemical weapons that it possesses.”

Previously, Syria had pledged to remove its chemical weapons, but the joint investigation between the UN and the OPCW instead found that the regime used sarin in the town of Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017. Furthermore, the diplomats’ statement said that the OPCW believes another sarin attack in a separate village “more than likely” occurred just a week earlier. Said Tuesday’s statement, “The attack it describes bears the hallmarks of the Syrian Regime.” … Continue Reading

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