Monday, February 29, 2016
While welcoming efforts to achieve peace in Syria, Israel demands that its security is ensured as well, and Iran and Hezbollah cells operating out of the Syrian Golan must be defeated.
Prime Minister Benjamin said Sunday that any peaceful resolution in Syria must guarantee Israel’s security needs, ensuring that Iran does not establish a terror front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.
Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the Israel welcomes international efforts to achieve “a stable, long-term and genuine ceasefire in Syria.”
“Anything that stops the terrible killing there is important especially from a humanitarian standpoint,” the Israeli premier said, stressing however that “it must be clear at the same time that any agreement in Syria must include a halt to Iran’s aggression toward Israel from Syrian territory.”
“We will not agree to the supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah from Syria and Lebanon. We will not agree to the creation of a second terror front on the Golan Heights. These are the red lines that we have set and they remain the red lines of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu warned.
Israel has warned in the past it will not tolerate a hostile Iranian presence that would threaten its northern border.
Israel has reportedly thwarted several joint Hezbollah-Iran attempts to establish terror infrastructure in the area adjacent to Israel, which is currently the site of many of the Syrian civil war‘s battles.
Of note, notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar was killed in a reported Israeli Air Force (IAF) air strike in a suburb of Damascus in Syria in December.
He was in the process of establishing a terror front against Israel in the Golan. According to reports in the Arab media, eight other terrorists were killed in the attack, including Farhan Shaalan, another senior terrorist who planned terror attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights.
In January 2015, the IAF reportedly targeted a cell of senior Hezbollah operatives, including Jihad Mughniyeh, commander of Hezbollah operations in the Golan Heights.
Also killed was Colonel Ali Reza al-Tabatabai, the Iranian commander of the Radwan force of the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon. At least six Hezbollah operatives were killed in the attack.
The unit was also working to establish a terror network form which they intended to launch attacks on Israel.
In the meantime, a temporary ceasefire in Syria came into effect at midnight, with the UN special envoy Stefan De Mistura saying that shortly after the US-Russia brokered truce began, there were some reports of exchanges of fire in Damascus and Daraa, before guns fell silent.
According to the diplomat, if the sides halt their fire and allow an increase in the transfer of humanitarian aid to residents, representatives of Syria’s regime and rebels will convene in a week and a half’s time to renew peace talks.
The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved the truce calling on all sides to heed the two-week ceasefire. The truce includes the Assad regime and several opposition factions; but the jihadist elements in Syria — Islamic State (ISIS), Jabhat a-Nusra and other groups, are not party to the deal.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
Another five Hamas terrorists have joined the growing list of diggers who have been killed or injured after the tunnel in which they were working collapsed.
Hamas’ terror tunnels network continues to collapse as five more Hamas diggers were injured when their tunnel caved in late Saturday night.
According to Palestinian sources the tunnel in the Zaitoun neighborhood in southeast Gaza City collapsed on top of five members of the Hamas terrorist organization.
According to the report, searches were underway for possible additional missing people.
During the past few weeks, Hamas has reported at least ten other deaths in three separate tunnel collapses.
Hamas has built a sophisticated network of tunnels that it has used to penetrate Israel to carry out terrorist attacks on civilians and soldiers. The IDF destroyed most of the tunnels during the summer of 2014, but Hamas has since been working vigorously to rebuild the network, many times at the expense of innocent Gazans, from whom they steal building materials which they use for military build-up.
Speaking earlier this month, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said the army is operating to counter the threat of Hamas terror tunnels and that this is its top mission for 2016, while preparing for all developments and eventualities.
In the meantime, Hamas has vowed to proceed with its offensive against Israel.
“The resistance factions are in a state of ongoing preparation underground, above ground, on land and sea,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh boasted at a rally honoring seven dead Hamas terrorists killed in a tunnel collapse.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
The death of a Palestinian terrorist holed up in the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria has sparked speculation over the circumstances that led to his death. Israeli denies any connection.
A Palestinian terrorist wanted for a 1986 killing in Israel plunged to his death Friday from the Palestinian Embassy in Bulgaria, where he had been holed up for two months to avoid extradition, officials said.
Palestinians immediately accused Israel of killing Omar Nayef Zayed, 52. Israel denied involvement and Bulgarian authorities said they had yet to determine whether he fell, jumped or was pushed from the building.
Zayed was alive Friday morning when an embassy staffer found him behind the four-story building, but he died before paramedics could take him to a hospital, Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov said.
Video footage of the site afterward showed a pool of blood near the embassy, located in a leafy, quiet neighborhood of Sofia.
The Palestinian terrorist group PFLP initially said Zayed had been shot, but Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh did not repeat those claims and Bulgarian officials insisted there were no gunshot wounds.
Al-Madbuh called Zayed’s death a murder, blaming “continuing persecution by Israel.”
Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said “this is not an Israeli issue” but would not comment further.
Adding to the mystery, the death came hours after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov returned from a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), where he discussed a 2015 Israeli extradition request for Zayed with both the Israeli prime minister and senior Palestinian officials.
“I told all sides that our prosecution had received a request for extradition and now a court was to decide whether he will be extradited or not,” Borisov told Parliament Friday.
Bulgarian authorities called on Zayed to surrender after Israel made the extradition request, but he refused and sought refuge at the embassy.
Al-Madbuh said the embassy demanded security guarantees several times, but Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry did not act. He said Bulgaria withdrew security guards seven years ago because there had been no attacks on the embassy for 20 years. Bulgarians did not immediately respond to those allegations.
PFLP, the terrorist group, said Zayed was a member who, together with his brother and another Palestinian, stabbed a Jewish student to death in Jerusalem’s Old City in 1986. They received life sentences.
In 1990, Zayed was hospitalized in Bethlehem following a hunger strike, and later escaped from the hospital, moving to several Arab countries before settling in Bulgaria. He had lived in Sofia since 1994 and had a Palestinian wife and three children.
His brother, Ahmed Zayed, and the other Palestinian were part of a lopsided prisoner swap in 2011 in which more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas-allied terrorists in Gaza for five years.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Mideast conflict has played out on Bulgarian soil. In 2012 a suicide bomber set off an explosion on a bus with Israeli tourists at the beach resort of Burgas. Five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver were killed, and 32 other Israelis were injured. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group, was believed to be behind the attack.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Israel, but the Palestinians are upset he made a stop in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s historical heartland. The Palestinians are also upset Kenyatta did not visit any Palestinian city.
The Palestinians are criticizing the Kenyan president’s visit to Israel, alleging that his stops in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria are akin to accepting Israel’s so-called occupation.
During his first official visit to Israel this week in the first by a Kenyan president since 1994, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta met with Kenyan students at in Israeli community in Judea and Samaria and visited the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site, in Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want to claim Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem as part of their future state.
The Palestinians are also upset Kenyatta has not visited any Palestinian city.
Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said Thursday the Palestinians plan to complain to regional organizations, including the African Union, about the visit.
Israel and Kenya have strong security and agricultural ties.
Kenya has benefited from the Israeli government through the country’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV).
Sectors that have benefited from the cooperation include agriculture, health, water and sanitation, education, disaster management and security.
the Palestinians have contributed nothing to Kenya’s well-being.
Kenyatta’s spokesman could not immediately be reached.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian terrorist on Saturday, and killed another during a terror attack on Friday.
Israeli security forces captured the terrorist who attacked and critically wounded a security guard in a Ma’ale Adumim shopping mall on Thursday, a Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) spokesman announced Sunday.
In an overnight operation, forces arrested Sa’adi Ali Abu Hamed, 20, of the Palestinian village of Azaria near Jerusalem.
Abu Hamed, a worker at the mall, attacked Zvi Cohen, a father of four, with an ax and struck him all over his body.
The Shin Bet statement said that Abu Hamed tied himself to the attack.
A hospital spokesperson said Sunday morning the Cohen’s life is still in danger, and that he is sedated and on a respirator. His family has requested that the Jewish nation pray for his recovery.
Cohen’s brother was a victim of a Palestinian terrorist attack 16 years ago, when a Palestinian who got in the cab he was driving stabbed him several times. He survived the attack.
On Friday, a Palestinian terrorist was shot and killed while trying to stab soldiers at a checkpoint near Beit El in the Binyamin region.
The IDF said a Palestinian terrorist brandishing a knife tried to stab soldiers on duty near Ramallah Friday afternoon before forces at the scene opened fire and killed him.
Israel is struggling to combat six months of near-daily Palestinian attacks on civilians and security forces that have killed 32 Israelis and wounded over 360, mostly in stabbings, shootings and attacks where Palestinians used vehicles as weapons to ram into Israelis.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel and AP