January 17, 2019

Netanyahu Warns Iran To Leave Syria ‘As Quickly As Possible’ – Yoav Zitun

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday (15th) that he would “advise” the Iranians to leave Syria “as quickly as possible” after an Iranian minister claimed Tehran only has anti-terror “advisors” in the war-battered country.

“I heard the statement made by Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman that they have no military presence in Syria, only advisors,” Netanyahu said as he welcomed the new IDF chief Aviv Kochavi.  “So I advise them to get out of there quickly, because we will continue our aggression policy in the region as we promised.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi rejected Netanyahu’s claims on Monday (14th) that Israel carried out “hundreds” of airstrikes against Iranian military targets in Syria, saying “Israel’s claims are baseless and false… it’s only an attempt by the Zionists to conceal their ongoing failures in the region.”  He insisted that the Iranian officials are in Syria in a strictly advisory capacity. “The Syrian government invited us in order to advise them on methods to fight terrorism,” he said.

Netanyahu on Tuesday (15th) said the main challenge the new chief of staff will have to face is Iran and its proxies in the region.  “Over the past four years, we have dealt with great challenges: the changing fronts in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and other places. But there has also been a main element facing us: Iran and its terror proxies.  We acted responsibly and with discretion to stop those who seek to harm us from growing stronger,” he said.

Netanyahu said Israel also worked to hurt Hizbullah, Iran’s proxy.  “We’ve also disrupted Hizbullah’s efforts to acquire precision-guided missiles, and destroyed their terror tunnels in the north… Above all, we’ve prevented the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria,” he said.



Iran’s Satellite Launch Doesn’t Quite Make Orbit

Iran on Tuesday (15th) conducted one of at least two satellite launches it plans despite criticism from the United States, but the satellite failed to reach orbit, an official said.

The rocket carrying the Payam satellite failed to reach the “necessary speed” in the third stage of its launch,  Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said. He did not elaborate on what caused the rocket failure.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promptly slammed Iran over the launch, accusing Tehran of lying and alleging that the “innocent satellite” was actually “the first stage of an intercontinental missile” Iran is developing in violation of international agreements.

Iran usually displays space achievements in February during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the revolution amid Iran facing increasing pressure from the U.S. under the administration of President Donald Trump.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Iran’s plans for sending satellites into orbit demonstrate the country’s defiance of a UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear program, said Sunday (13th) that the Islamic republic has begun designing a modern process for 20% uranium enrichment.  His comments appeared aimed at telling the world that Iran would restart its enrichment program.

(worldisraelnews.com; ap.com)


In Role Reversal, Abbas Pressured Hamas As Israel Allows Aid

The Palestinian Authority is threatening to step up pressure on the Hamas terror group amid renewed tensions in Gaza, even as Israel allows a lifeline of Qatari aid to flow directly to Gaza.

The unlikely role reversal reflects the two sides’ conflicting priorities.  Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas wants to reassert his authority over Gaza and scuttle any US or Israeli-backed peace plan that would cement its separation from the West Bank.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to preserve calm ahead of April’s elections and may prefer Hamas’ continued rule to a collapse of authority and possible spike in violence from the territory, home to some 2 million Palestinians.

The latest Palestinian tensions began in December, when Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led parliament.  When Abbas’ Fatah party, which was largely driven from Gaza when Hamas seized power in 2007, sought to hold anniversary celebrations earlier this month, Hamas responded with a wave of arrests while allowing supporters of one of Abbas’ main political rivals to rally in public.

The Palestinian Authority responded by withdrawing its forces from the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, prompting Cairo to close the crossing for anyone seeking to leave the territory.  The Palestinian Authority cut salaries to Hamas lawmakers and has threatened further action against the group. Hamas in turn has renewed its calls for Abbas to resign.

“It’s time for him to leave his post,” Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, told reporters in Gaza last week.  “Abbas has hurt national unity, destroyed his Fatah movement and the resistance.”



The “Apartheid” Wall That Isn’t – Stephen M. Flatow

“Israel Opens ‘Apartheid Road’ in West Bank” Al Jazeera headlined this week.  The latest “Israeli racism” allegation is a highway called Route 4370, northeast of Jerusalem.  There is a physical barrier down the middle of the highway. Israeli traffic goes on one side, Palestinian Arab traffic on the other.  Is that apartheid? Of course not. On the Israeli side, Israeli Jews, Muslims and Christians are permitted to drive.

There is good reason for the separation because on Israeli roads in the West Bank, there have been numerous drive-by shootings or stonings from passing cars by Palestinian Arabs.  The Palestinian Authority has, for the past 25 years, fed its citizens a daily diet of anti-Jewish hatred and glorification of anti-Jewish violence, producing hostile and violent people.  Why in the world would Israel expose its citizens to such dangers on its roads?

The fact that Israel spends millions of shekels building roads for Palestinian Arabs is a remarkable act of unreciprocated generosity.  The international community should be heaping praise on the Israelis for kindness, not harassing the Jewish state with lies about “apartheid.”



Israeli Intelligence Infiltrates ISIS In Sinai – Yoni Ben Menachem

In spite of the Egyptian army’s success in lowering the level of ISIS terror in northern Sinai, the organization still has 2,000 fighters there.  The Egyptian army’s main problem is a lack of exact intelligence. According to Palestinian and Bedouin sources in Sinai, Israeli intelligence has managed to infiltrate the ranks of ISIS.  The ISIS news agency Amaq and the newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that the Israeli air force managed to successfully strike the organization’s sites and command posts.

While at first, ISIS in Sinai had a close connection with Hamas, there has been a great change over the past two years in their relations.  ISIS hostility toward Hamas is now great due to Hamas’ collaboration with Egyptian intelligence. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida  reported on Nov. 24, 2018, that, according to Egyptian security sources, ISIS fighters in Sinai took control of a large delivery of arms that had arrived from Iran and was meant for Hamas.

According to foreign reports, Israeli intelligence has enabled the IDF to strike ISIS targets in northern Sinai, eliminating its commanders through targeted strikes.  According to Egyptian sources, Israeli intelligence regularly taps the communications networks of ISIS in Sinai and monitors its movements using drones. The Egyptian army allows Israel freedom to operate militarily in the skies above Sinai.

The writer is a senior analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.