December 26, 2018

Analysis: No One Will Do Our Work For Us – Ariel Kahana

There is one good thing about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria.  The move makes it clear to all those promoting the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu in particular do not in fact run the White House.

Yes, this is the most pro-Israel U.S. administration in history.  Yes, Trump has taken unprecedented steps for Israel’s benefit. Trump loves Israel, but he will always put America first, just like he said he would.  Like any businessman, Trump is interested in making a profit and being able to declare victory before it is too late and despite the risk. However there is a real concern with Syria left to the ayatollahs in Iran, the dictator in Moscow, and the killer in Damascus.  In its decision, the Trump administration has sent Israel the message that it will need to deal with the worst players in the region on its own. While this message is a disturbing one, it is in fact how Israel has conducted itself until now. The number of U.S. forces stationed in Syria was fairly small to begin with (2,000 troops), and Israel has been operating in Syrian territory as it saw fit and without American assistance.

The timing of the U.S. move is not particularly ideal from Israel’s standpoint.  Netanyahu and the diplomatic system have been focused in recent days on efforts to enlist international condemnation of Hizbullah and its cross-border terror tunnels.  And precisely when these efforts are at their height, the president takes a step that could play into the hands of Hizbullah’s patrons, the Iranian-Syrian axis, and in a disappointing move, Washington has announced this step without demanding anything in return.

One way or another, this move by the Americans teaches us that even if the man in the Oval Office is the most pro-Israel in history, his guiding principle will always be to act in what he believes is America’s best interest, even if doing so means damaging America’s image in the short-term.  Israel’s take-away from all of this must be that when it comes to foreign affairs and security, no one will do our work for us, not even Trump.

By announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Trump has once again proved he is an independent president who is not held hostage by the establishment.  From Trump’s perspective, he has once again proved he has the courage to bring the soldiers back home. Trump also believes that even if the move is chided by various experts in the field, the average American citizen is with him.  The announcement of the withdrawal, then, can be seen as Trump’s Christmas gift to the soldiers he so admires, but also his voters.



Putin Applauds Trump’s Pullout Of US Troops From Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday (20th) he backed US counterpart Donald Trump’s decision to order troops back home from Syria after declaring victory over Islamic State jihadists.

“The fact that the US has decided to withdraw its troops is right,” Putin said during his daily press conference.

Trump on Wednesday (19th) declared in a video message that “we won” and said that the troops are “coming back now.”

Putin said that “as concerns victory over ISIS, on the whole I agree with the US president,” adding that “we have dealt serious blows against ISIS in Syria.”

Nevertheless he cast doubt on Washington’s actions, saying “we don’t see any signs of withdrawing US troops yet.”

Putin reaffirmed the long-held Russian argument that the US presence in Syria is illegitimate because it hasn’t been vetted by the UN Security Council or approved by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

Along with Iran and Lebanon’s Hizbullah terror group, Russia is a key ally of Assad, and its military intervention beginning in 2015 turned the tide of the war in his favor.

A Syrian member of parliament, Peter Marjana, said Thursday (20th) that a US pullout would be a “recognition that Syria has won.”



UN Declines To Condemn Hizbullah’s Terror Tunnels

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday (19th) failed to officially condemn Hizbullah’s terror tunnels stretching from Lebanon into northern Israel, despite hours of debate and censure from multiple countries.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said the information Israel provided to UNIFIL, (UN peacekeepers in Lebanon) had been passed to the Lebanese Army, which then passed it to Hizbullah who then attempted to conceal the tunnels on the Lebanese side.   

Danon also accused the Shiite terror organization of violating UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The US condemned Hizbullah, and called on the Lebanese President Michel Aoun to take all possible measures to stave off the tunnel threat and to prevent an escalation on the Israel-Lebanese border.

Russia’s representative said Israel’s concerns are understandable, but stressed that in order to maintain stability in the region, both sides must avoid provocations.

As expected, the Arab countries condemned the Jewish state, whereas the Swedish envoy condemned both sides.

Israel and the US did not submit a draft resolution to condemn Hizbullah’s terror tunnels, fearing Russia would veto it.



Winter Is Here: Israel Hit By Thunder, Lightning And Floods

Israelis found themselves in the center of a stormy period, as heavy showers accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds hit Thursday morning (20th).  The inclement weather spread down from the northern parts of the country all the way to the south with temperatures dropping to below average.

There were fears of flooding in the eastern parts of the country and in the Negev Desert.

Heavy rains in the north brought welcome news for the Sea of Galilee, one of Israel’s main water sources.  The lake’s water level rose by over half an inch, according to the Water Authority, although it is still 5 feet below the red line and just 11.5 inches above the black line – that indicates at which point pumping could lead to permanent damage to the water quality.

On Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights, over 4 inches of snow accumulated overnight for the first time this winter, with temperatures falling below freezing.



New Information About Givat Assaf Attack

The terrorist who carried out the shooting attack at Givat Assaf last week in which two IDF soldiers were murdered was Assam Barghouti, the brother of the terrorist who carried out the attack at the Ofra junction and was eliminated, Salah Amar Barghouti of the village of Kobar.

According to a report by Carmel Dangur on Kan Bet, Assam Barghouti served a prison term in an Israeli prison and was released at the beginning of the year.  The defense establishment believes that he will fight with the forces that locate him rather than be arrested.

Assam’s brother, Salah Barghouti, was eliminated last week – three days after shooting at civilians standing at the Ofra junction.

In the attack in Ofra, seven people were wounded and a baby, Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran, was murdered.  At the time of the attack, he was in the womb of his mother, Shira Ish-Ran, who was seriously wounded in the attack, forcing doctors to deliver him prematurely.  He died three days later.

In addition to the two murdered soldiers in the attack on the Givat Assaf junction, another soldier was critically wounded, and a 20-year-old female resident of Beit El was moderately wounded.