Monday, 10 March 2014

Final inventory of Iran arms ship: 40 rockets, 180 mortars, 400,000bullets

EIDF recovers forty M-302 rockets, with a range of 90-160 kilometers, hidden in crates on intercepted Gaza-bound vessel.

The IDF released on Sunday an inventory of weapons recovered from the attempted Iranian shipment to Gaza last week on the intercepted freighter Klos C.

After detailed analysis carried out by the Engineering Corps, the IDF found 40 M-302 rockets, with a range of between 90 to 160 kilometers, hidden in crates.

The Klos C also carried 180 120mm. mortar shells and some 400,000 7.62mm. bullets.

“These are advanced weapons that were intended to threaten the security of millions of Israeli civilians. The IDF will continue in its mission to prevent arms smuggling across the Middle East to various terrorist organizations, under Iranian cover and funding,” the military said in a statement.

Before being intercepted, the ship was heading for Port Sudan, where the Iranian Quds Force had planned to pick up the rockets and move them overland via Egypt and into Gaza through smuggling tunnels, the IDF determined.

On Saturday, Israel Navy ships escorted the commandeered freighter to Eilat Port after intercepting it last week in the Red Sea, some 150 km. from Port Sudan and 1,500 km. from Israeli shores.

Islamic Jihad was one of the intended recipients of the rockets, and Hamas is also assumed to have been a recipient.

IDF intelligence assessments say that Iran’s Quds Force organized the shipment.
The ship’s crew is believed to have picked up the crates without knowing their content.

Jerusalem Post

The Captain Realized Reaistance was Futile

Fighting BDS – Video Catches BDS Bullying at Galway

1. While BDSers like to claim that they are being “silenced” or “intimidated” from Israel’s defenders, here’s a video that shows the BDS trying to silence and intimidate an Israeli.

In any case, the student union at Galway voted to adopt BDS.

2. If there is one thing that’s certain when Israel Apartheid Week kicks off in South Africa, it’s that Desmond Tutu will make the news with another tenuous comparison of Israel to the former apartheid regime there.

729barcode-FBhoriz-ShareLink-398x2083. University of Ottawa groups Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, Palestinian Student Association, and Young Jews for Social Justice are targeting Sabra hummus for boycott, apparently because its parent company, Strauss, financially supports an IDF brigade.

Meanwhile, Ynet reports on the high demand for Israeli products in the Gaza Strip.

4. Brooklyn College issues event guidelines in response to BDS event last year where four Jewish students were removed on false pretenses. Last year’s event featured Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. The college ultimately cleared the organizers of discrimination, citing that the students were removed for their political viewpoints, not the fact that they were Jewish.


Honest Reporting

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Captain Realized Resistance was Futile

Naval Commando raid.
Naval Commando raid.
Flash 90

One day after IDF Navy commandos stopped a ship carrying missiles from Iran to Hamas, IDF intelligence officialsestimate that the seizure of the ship before it reached its target has led to fury in the IranianNational Guard, headed by the Al Quds force, and to an investigation into what went wrong.

The Israeli defense establishment believes that Iranian activity along the so-called “southern route” will be halted for the next few months, but that it is quite possible that Iran will continue to make every effort to transport weapons to terror groups through other routes.

A senior IDF officer said that there is tension between Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and the Quds Force commander, Kassem Sulimani. The tension stems from Rouhani's strenuous objections to actions of this type, and the fact that he places internal issues at the top of his agenda. The officer said that Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, they may harm efforts to reach an agreement with the West on Iran's nuclear program.

Asked about US involvement in the commando attack, the officer said that the US was informed of the relevant details ahead of the raid, but did not take an active part in collecting information that led up to it.

A senior naval officer said that “all of the possible ways” to stop the weapons smuggling to Gaza were considered before a decision was made to use the naval option.

"The main difficulty was locating the ship at sea at a distance of thousands of miles,” he explained. “It was like finding a needle in a haystack. We also took into account the danger of being discovered and the great distance from Israel's shores.”

The officer added that the IDF took into account “extreme scenarios,” including “a ship with explosives, exploding terrorists, including booby-traps on board, and for that reason, we were accompanied by experts in bomb disposal and a great variety of combat fighters and tools of various kinds, including two missile ships, a helicopter, and fast and efficient ships.”

As for the timing and location of the operation, the officer said that various factors were taken into account, including the height of the waves, “We were concerned that the ship's crew would think that we were pirates, and that is why we identified ourselves from the outset as the IDF, and when the captain looked right and left, he saw two Navy missile ships, including additional vessels – and it was a show of force he could not resist, and therefore the boarding of the ship was quiet.”

The officer said that the Turkish captain and the rest of the crew did not know that there were weapons on board.

Liberman: Palestinians torpedoing peace talks

Foreign minister adds that Israel will not agree to further conditions in order to continue negotiations

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday blamed the Palestinians for the longstanding deadlock in the peace talks that began last July, rejecting Ramallah’s preconditions for extending the American-moderated negotiations past April.

“The Palestinians are the ones torpedoing the talks by setting conditions,” he said in an interview with Israel Radio, adding that “Israel would not agree to any further conditions for the continuation of talks.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that he would only continue peace negotiations past the April deadline if Israel agreed to freeze construction in West Bank settlements and free additional prisoners.

Liberman’s statement came amid increased American pressure to reach an interim agreement. US President Barack Obama this week addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply in aninterview with Bloomberg, saying that the US would not be able to defend Israel from the fallout if peace talks failed.

Liberman is scheduled to travel to Rome later on Thursday to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The meeting with Kerry comes in the aftermath of Netanyahu’s US visit and meeting with Obama and the Israeli seizure of an illicit Iranian arms shipment Wednesday.

The US has said that the seizure will not affect nuclear talks with Iran going forward, even though the US also had plans to intercept the shipment.

“We continue to have enormous issues with Iran, its sponsorship of terrorist organizations, its bad behavior in the region that manifests itself in many ways. And we continue to take all the necessary steps to address those challenges. But it’s entirely appropriate to continue to pursue the possibility of reaching a resolution on the nuclear program,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney continued.

Carney confirmed earlier reports that there had been very close coordination between the US and Israel regarding the vessel, through both military and intelligence channels as well as coordination between respective national security advisers.

Also on Wednesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry released its first statement on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces have taken control of the Crimean Peninsula.

“Israel is following with great concern the events in Ukraine, is anxious for peace for all its citizens, and hopes that the situation will not escalate to a loss of human life. Israel hopes the crisis in Ukraine will be handled through diplomatic means and will be resolved peacefully,” the ministry said in a statement.

It did not elaborate on whether it was referring to the takeover of the Crimea peninsula by Russian-backed troops.

Liberman, who immigrated to Israel from Moldova, a former Soviet Union territory, has made efforts in the past to bring Jerusalem closer to Moscow. In 2011, Liberman appeared with Russian President Vladimir Putin days after a contested election, drawing criticism.

Times of Israel 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Israelis in Crimea: 'Putin's might is welcomed'

Without the Russians, the anti-Semites from Kiev would fight the people of Crimea,' say Israelis living in the tense peninsula.

For the past four years, Jenia Zlotnik from Be'er Sheva has been living in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula at the center of a crisis that threatens to relaunch the Cold War between East and West. And according to Zlotnik, the Russian presence is a blessing.

"At the moment there are no violent incidents," he told Ynet. "It is relatively quiet, thanks to the Russian troops protecting us from Ukrainian anti-Semites."

Zlotnik, a medical student, says that the local and international media has not reported the full story, namely, that  the Russian troop presence is maintaining law and order.


"In light of recent tensions in Crimea, Ukraine is on the verge of civil war, with riots taking place near Kiev, including armed men raiding shops and robbing people in broad daylight," he says. "There have also been numerous murders during the theft of arms and ammunition."


Zlotnik emphasized that he had no loyalty to either side, but that Putin's decision to deploy troops had brought a stabilizing influence to the region.


"I don’t support either Ukraine or Russia, however the situation here would be much worse if Putin hadn't invaded Crimea. I realize that his sole motive is controlling this region; however it is better than having a civil war."

The Israeli student added that, "the Ukraine government is hostile towards other ethnicities and uses slogans such as 'Ukraine for Ukrainians'. There are also extremists willing to physically harm non-Ukrainian civilians, including Jews."


Fadi, a 24-year-old Israeli student in Odessa, told Ynet that the effects of the crisis had yet to be felt on the ground in the southern port city, although the economic consequences were already evident.


"There is little tension in Odessa; however one can feel the financial impact as the cost of living becomes more expensive and people don't know what to expect. Most of the people here are pro-Russian, but there those who object to the Russian invasion. There are also lots of rumors flying around. According to a local website, there was an anti-Russia protest outside the embassy in Odessa. (Other) local websites are saying that the naval force based in the Crimean peninsula is being moved to Odessa."


The majority wants Russia

There is no drama in the streets of Odessa either. Fadi says that, "occasionally there are small demonstrations outside government buildings. There are those supporting the Ukrainian government and those wishing for Russia to intervene because they believe, as do I, that the situation in the Ukraine is frightening. Russian and pro-Russia Ukrainians say the people running the government are fascists who instigated the protest in western Ukraine, and claim they are traitors who supported the Nazis during Wolrd War II, and who double-crossed the Russian people."

Meanwhile in Kiev it is relatively quiet, according to Rabbi Hillel Cohen, director of the Kiev branch of the Jewish rescue service Hatzala.

"The barricades and barriers are still present at Kiev's entrances and exits, and protestors still occupy the city center; but the atmosphere is quiet, you don't feel anything drastic and there less police presence on the streets. Having said that, you can feel the tension in the air, as the events in the Crimea Peninsula play out. The word on the streets is that the young men are about to be drafted, and that Putin may also try to take Kiev. The optimists believe the crisis with Russia won't spread beyond Crimea Peninsula border."


In terms of the Jewish community's concerns, the rabbi talks about "fear from uncertainty. For that reason we are currently holding courses in first aid and Jewish burial in cooperation with Jewish emergency services and Hatzala Ukraine."


Is the Economist concerned that Israel may be judaizing the Jewish state?

To provide some sense of how Jewish holy sites that are currently secured by Israel would likely fare under Palestinian rule, you could recall the period between 1949 and 1967, when Jews were ethnically cleansed from ‘east’ Jerusalem by the Jordanians and prevented from even visiting their holy places.  The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was all but destroyed, dozens of synagogues were demolished and some Jewish religious sites were turned into animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material or even toilets. The Western Wall became a slum.
Or, you could fast forward to a more recent time, and see how Joseph’s tomb – the resting spot of the patriarch Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe – was razed soon after Nablus was transferred to Palestinian Authority control in 2000. Though renovations to the site were completed by 2009, vandalism by Palestinians continues, and as recently as two months ago Jewish pilgrims visiting the building discovered vandalism and attempted arson.
In contrast, in 1967, when Israel unified Jerusalem and took control of the holy sites in the Old City, Israel passed the Protection of Holy Places Law, granting legal protections the holy sites and making it a crime to desecrate or impede freedom of access to them. Though the Al Aqsa Mosque (part of the Temple Mount complex) is administered by Jordan’s Islamic Waqf, Israel retains sovereignty and secures the area.  As such, thousands of Muslims (including Palestinian Arabs) are granted entry to the Mosque each day.  (In contrast, in 2011, only 8,247 Jews visited the Temple Mount the entire year.)
Additionally, the Israeli government supports religious services for communities of all faiths – which includes spending millions of Shekels each year for the operating costs of more than 100 mosques, the salaries of Muslim religious leaders and the upkeep of holy sites for all religions.
As Freedom House reported, while Israel’s founding documents define it as a “Jewish and democratic state,” freedom of religion for all faiths is respected.
Such facts about Israel’s continuing commitment to safeguarding the rights of religious minorities would not come as a surprise to those of us who live here, or those journalists interested in dispassionately examining contrasting religious freedom in the region.  However, as we’ve demonstrated continually, ‘dispassionate’ and ‘objective’ are not words typically associated with British reports from Israel or the Palestinian territories – as a story in The Economist (and accompanying video) clearly demonstrates.  
Though the article in the print magazine has some balance, much of the video report by their Middle East correspondent Nicolas Pelham has little relation to the reality on the ground in the Holy Land.

As you can see in the video, Pelham imputes international significance to the vandalism of King David’s Tomb, the burial-place of biblical King David located at Mt. Zion at the ground floor of a Byzantine church.  Further, he not only suggests (at 1:10 of the video) that the site has only NOW become a Jewish religious shrine, but contextualizes the destruction of some Ottoman ceramic tiles in the interior of the tomb’s main room as part of a broader pattern of Israeli negligence of ‘Muslim’ holy sites.  
In fact (as you can see at 1:23 of the video), he also tells of the threat posed to the Temple Mount by Jewish extremists – who, we are told, occasionally incite Muslims by flying the Israeli flag – while never mentioning the frequent rioting by Palestinian extremists, or violence coordinated by Hamas, Fatah and Israel’s Islamist Movement.  And, no mention is made by the Economist journalist of Palestinian political and religious leaders‘ campaign to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and routine libels that Israel is attempting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Finally (at about 4:00 of the video) Pelham, when asked how the threat to Muslim holy places may affect the overall peace process, explains that the big fear of Palestinians (and ‘Muslims around the world‘) is that the Israeli government’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” will “erode what has been a historically Muslim country..”.
Of course, Jerusalem is the birthplace of Judaism, and Jews are an indigenous people to the land of Israel.
As one commentator explained on Facebook in response to Pelham, Roman conquests in the first century of the common era may have disintegrated Jewish political and military power, but there was – during Byzantine, Persian, Muslim, Crusader, Mameluke, Ottoman and British rule until 1948 - a constant and uninterrupted Jewish presence in the land.  Further, Jews represented a plurality of Jerusalem’s population by the mid-19th century.
The League of Nations, in 1922, determined in a decision of international law that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”.  
History is on the side of the Jewish connection to Israel, yet you’d almost be forgiven for concluding that Pelham is deeply troubled by the possibility that Israel is surreptitiously Judaizing the Jewish state. 
A few seconds later in the video, when asked about the future of Israel, Pelham expressed doubts over the future of Israel’s Muslims, who, he claims, “have a second class status“.
This is simply a lie - one which evokes the oft-repeated Apartheid smear.  Though there are economic and educational disparities between Jews and Muslim in Israel (as there such disparities between minority and majority groups in many democracies), Muslims are represented in all spheres of Israeli public life, and are afforded equal rights under the law. Indeed, they enjoy political rights which far exceed those in any Arab country in the region.  (According to a recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute, most Arab Israelis are patriotic and proud to be called Israeli.)
As BICOM so accurately stated, specifically relating to the idea of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’:
Being a ‘Jewish state’ means being a state in which Jewish traditions, language and customs are given full expression. Thus, Jewish holidays are observed by the organs of the  state, Hebrew is the national language, traditional Jewish law is integrated into jurisprudence, and so on. There is nothing discriminatory in this, as long as minority rights to express their traditions, language and customs are protected too. And they are. For example, Israel’s civil service allows non-Jewish civil servants to celebrate their own religious holidays without having those days docked off their annual leave. (The same cannot be said to apply to Jews in Britain.)
To sum up:
  • Muslim holy sites in Israel are NOT in danger.
  • Israel is not a “historically Muslim country”.
  • Arab Israelis don’t have “second class status”.
Though The Economist of course fancies itself an erudite media institution, Nicolas Pelham’s report again shows us that what often passes for ‘sophisticated’ analysis of the Middle East conflict in the UK media is merely just the mindless parroting of agitprop, half-truths and lies more befitting the ‘Palestinian hasbara’ blogosphere

Monday, 3 March 2014

What Happens After a Terrorists Fire A Rocket Into Israel

You are going about your day, and suddenly the siren sounds. Terrorists have fired a rocket at your city. Who exactly tracks where the rocket landed, and who sends emergency forces to the scene? Meet the IDF reservists who are ready to help at a moment’s notice.
Here in Israel, we all live under the constant threat of terrorists firing rockets from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria. Even though the Iron Dome system is in place to protect us, an unexpected event can always occur.
Rockets from gaza
If a rocket does fall in a civilian area, paramedicsHome Front Command rescue teams and the police need to get there as quickly as they can, and they need someone to guide them to the location of the hit. This is the job of the Home Front Command Observations Unit.
The unit is made up entirely of reserve soldiers, and operates only in cases of emergency. The unit’s soldiers identify the type and size of the rocket that hit and what damage it caused. This helps them track down exactly where it landed, so that they can direct the rescue forces to the scene.
Home Front Command Observation Unit soldiers
The unit places teams in the tallest building in every Israeli city, which gives them a 360 degree view of the area. These soldiers know their cities back to front. The unit is equipped with special protective outfits in case an unconventional bomb hits. They must continue to do their jobs no matter what.
Every district has one or two observation units. Every unit has about 120 soldiers, and in any position there are five to 10 soldiers. “All of our soldiers have a background in this field,” says Maj. Avi Bruskin, the commander of the Central District Observation Unit. “Most of them come originally from the Combat Intelligence Corps. 45 percent of the force is made up of women. We have a very close family-like atmosphere here.”

A rocket falls. What happens next?

To get the most accurate mark point, the Observation Unit uses a unique system. “Every position has a compass and binoculars, the most basic observation tools,” says Maj. Bruskin. “We also use special system called ‘Atlason’. This system combines binoculars with a screen, a laser lineup and a GPS.” The system is equipped with night vision equipment, and can use the location of the moon and the stars as a ‘natural GPS’.
Home Front Command Observation Unit soldiers
But what exactly happens when a rocket falls? The laser and GPS track down exactly where it landed, and the soldiers evaluate the damage. “Most of the time we don’t even use the Atlason system, because we know the area so well, but it’s still good to have it,” Maj. Bruskin says. The team then reports the incident to the local Home Front Command situation room, which sends rescue forces. The observers also direct the rescuers if the location is difficult to find.

Operating in emergencies

The unit operates only in emergencies. “There was a lot of fear [throughout the Israeli population] during the Iraq War,” Maj. Avi notes. “But while everyone else stayed at home, we were spread across Israel’s rooftops for over a month. During Pillar of Defense, our southern units worked particularly hard.”

Home Front Command Observation Unit soldiers
To stay in shape, the unit exercises together once a year, and also participates in other Home Front Command exercises. “My biggest hope is that emergencies don’t occur at all, but we are ready if they do,” he says.
“The unit is like a big family,” say Maj. Avi. “Whenever there is an emergency, everyone is very happy to help, even though they all have to leave their families and friends at home. They are always on alert, ready to protect their families and friends from the rooftops.