Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Israeli Casualties As Soldiers Come Under Attack On Lebanon Border

Casualties As Soldiers Come Under Attack On Lebanon Border

An Israeli army patrol came under anti-tank fire from Hezbollah operatives Wednesday in the northern Mount Dov region along the border with Lebanon. The IDF confirmed that there were casualties in the attack, but did not say how many soldiers were hurt. The army ruled out the possibility that a soldier had been kidnapped.

The incident took place in an area of the border that doesn’t have a fence. At the same time, and for over an hour after the attack, IDF positions in the area, as well as on nearby Mount Hermon, were hit with mortar shells.
Israel responded to the attack with artillery strikes in southern Lebanon. Two Lebanese officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba with at least 50 shells. A Spanish United Nations peacekeeper was killed, Lebanese reports said. Families living on the border of the villages fled further within, fearing they’d be hit, said the officials, who are based in south Lebanon.

Hezbollah said in a statement that a squad from the “fallen martyrs of the Quneitra brigade” had attacked the Israeli convoy in retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike near Quneitra, just over the border in Syria, last week that killed 12, including an Iranian general and a senior commander in the organization. The statement said it was a “first announcement,” alluding to the possibility of further attacks.
Six soldiers were evacuated to Ziv Hospital in nearby Safed in light to moderate condition, and other wounded were airlifted to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Channel 2 reported.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was holding high-level consultations to mull further responses to the attack. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a tour of the Gaza Strip border region and headed to the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv to join the meeting.
The attack, launched from an area controlled by Hezbollah, comes after repeated threats by the group, which said it would retaliate against Israel for an airstrike earlier in January that killed its top commander in the Syrian Golan Heights, along with an Iranian general and 10 others.

At least two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Golan Heights Tuesday in an attack that Israeli defense officials attributed to Hezbollah. In response, Israel shelled Syrian army positions, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a stern warning to Hezbollah and its patron Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The Assad regime is responsible for the fire into Israel, and we will exact a heavy price from any government or organization that violates our borders,” Ya’alon said Wednesday. “We have no intention of ignoring or abiding terrorist attacks on our soldiers and citizens.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Israel’s opponents in the north to take the summer war with Gaza as an example of the magnitude of IDF retaliation for Wednesday attack, which saw Hezbollah forces wound four IDF soldiers in an attack on northern Israel.
“At this moment, the IDF is responding to events in the north. To everyone who is trying to challenge us at the northern border, I recommend for them look what happened there, not far from the city of Sderot, in Gaza. Hamas took its hardest hit since its formation and the IDF is prepared to act strongly on all fronts,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony in the southern city of Sderot.
Four IDF soldiers were wounded along Israel's border with Lebanon Wednesday noon after Hezbollah fire hit Israel. Meanwhile, residents of the north were told to stay indoors.

Mortars later hit Mt. Hermon in an attack which Hezbollah says is a response to the IDF's attack in Syria, which in turn was also a response to rockets fired by Hezbollah at Israel from Syria on Tuesday.

"We will not tolerate any firing towards Israeli territory or violation of our sovereignty and we will respond forcefully and with determination," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in a statement after IAF warplanes attacked Syrian military targets shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

It may be too soon to point to a new, cohesive Hezbollah strategy along Israel’s northern border. And yet, repeated rocket fire at Israeli targets in the Golan Heights Tuesday prompts speculation that the Shiite terror group and its ally, the Syrian regime, are seeking to draw Israel into a ground offensive.
In the aftermath of the killing of Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh and Iranian general Mohammad Ali Allahdadi (along with 10 others) in an alleged Israeli airstrike, prevailing wisdom was that Hezbollah, bent on revenge, would try to launch a major campaign against Israel, if not along the border than by attacking Jewish targets abroad.
But it may well be that the Lebanese organization is initiating a different campaign, one that would be somewhat surprising, although it would not necessarily preclude hits on Israeli targets or Jewish targets outside Israel: the repeated shelling of Israeli communities from the Syrian Golan Heights with the aim of drawing in Israeli ground forces.
Indeed, although it seems counterintuitive, there may be some in Hezbollah who hope to see Israeli tanks entering Syrian territory and hitting Syrian military targets.
The next stage, as far as Hezbollah is concerned, could be to try to further upset the security situation by firing rockets sporadically into the Israeli Golan Heights, in a manner that may force the IDF to send troops deep into Syrian territory.
Furthermore, if Hezbollah manages to draw Israel into committing even a small number of troops to a ground incursion in the Syrian Golan Heights, the Sunni radical groups Islamic State and al Nusra Front will be in the problematic position of being portrayed as collaborators with Israel in its battle against the Assad regime and its Lebanese ally.
The rockets fired at the Golan Heights constitute a serious challenge for Israel. On the one hand Jerusalem seeks to deter Hezbollah from continuing to disrupt life in the north. On the other, too aggressive a response will prompt Hezbollah to escalate its attacks in a manner that may leave Israel no choice but to deploy ground troops, furthering the goals of Assad and the rest of the Shiite axis.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Medvedev Warns Of 'Unlimited Reaction' If Russia Cut From SWIFT

Medvedev Warns Of 'Unlimited Reaction' If Russia Cut From SWIFT

While nations around the world continue to de-dollarize, Russia signed into law its anti-crisis plan today (though details will not be released until tomorrow). Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, however, was quite vociferous in some of his threats, warning The West that the "Russian response - economically and otherwise - will know no limits" if Russia is cut off from the SWIFT payments system. Additionally, as Royce, the chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, explains Iran nuclear talks "appear to be stalemated," just days after Iran completes its de-dollarization and news today, that Russia and Iran plan to create a mutual account for bilateral payments in national currencies.

Western countries’ threats to restrict Russia’s operations through the SWIFT international bank transaction system will prompt Russia’s counter-response without limits, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday.

"We’ll watch developments and if such decisions are made, I want to note that our economic reaction and generally any other reaction will be without limits," he said.

In late August 2014, media reports said the UK had proposed banning Russia from the SWIFT network as part of an upcoming new round of sanctions against Moscow over its stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine. However, this proposal was not supported by the EU countries at the time.

After recent shelling of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol some western countries again started calling to disconnect Russia from SWIFT.

As Reuters reports, Russia's isolation appears to be shrinking...

Russia and Iran plan to create a mutual account for bilateral payments in national currencies, RIA news agency quoted Mehdi Sanaei, Iran's ambassador to Moscow, as saying.

"Both sides plan to create a mutual bank or a mutual account to make payments in rials and roubles possible," the ambassador said.

IDF Strikes Syria Targets, Sirens Sound In Golan Heights, PM Netanyahu Warns Iran Is 'Planning New Genocide'

IDF Strikes Syria Targets, Sirens Sound In Golan Heights

For the second time in just 12 hours, air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights right past midnight early Wednesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling. The alarms sounded as Israeli Air Force jets struck several targets on the Syrian side, in response to rocket attacks earlier in the day.
The sirens, which usually signal incoming attacks, were heard in several towns in the area including the Druze villages of Majdal Shams and Mas’ade, the town of Neve Atid which is adjacent to the Mount Hermon ski resort and Nimrod.
The Israeli military said it confirmed direct hits on a number of Syrian army posts, hours after two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Israeli-controlled region. The projectiles set off the air raid sirens in the same area Tuesday mid-morning.

The rocket fire from Syria was a “blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” the IDF said in a statement overnight Tuesday-Wednesday following the air strikes. “The IDF considers the Syrian regime responsible for any [attacks] originating from Syrian soil, and will act at any time and in way way it sees fit to protect Israeli citizens. These [strikes] were accurate, direct hits.”

An IDF source told the Ynet news site that the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah was behind the rocket fire earlier in the day. He added that Israel holds Syria responsible, as the launches originated in its territory.

Speaking to diplomats Tuesday at a Holocaust memorial event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that whoever decides to challenge Israel will find Israel is well-prepared to respond.
“Those who play with fire – will be hit with fire,” Netanyahu warned.
After Tuesday morning’s rocket fire, roads in the area were closed as a precautionary measure as police searched for rocket remains, and the Mount Hermon ski slopes were evacuated. The Hermon ski site was expected to be open Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran’s ayatollahs of “planning a new genocide” against the Jewish people and vowed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

During a speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day Tuesday, Netanyahu said that his duty as PM was to “ensure that the State of Israel will never again be threatened with destruction,” and that the agreement being negotiated between the P5+1 world powers and Iran did just that

“The pending agreement with Iran is an agreement that endangers the State of Israel. It leaves Iran with the capabilities that will allow it to arm itself with nuclear weapons, one bomb at first and afterwards many atomic bombs. We cannot live with such an agreement,” he said at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, adding that Israel will “reject any agreement that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state.”

“The ayatollahs in Iran, they deny the Holocaust while planning another genocide against our people. The Jewish people will defend itself by itself against any threat. That’s what the Jewish state is all about,” he went on.
Netanyahu warned that a nuclear deal with Tehran was “sure to spark a nuclear arms race in the region that would turn the Middle East into a nuclear tinderbox.”

Vowing to vigorously oppose any such scenario, Netanyahu said he will do what “needs to be done to ensure the security of the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state.”
The prime minister lamented the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world, and blasted the “obsession with the Jewish people and their state.”
Along with the assault and vilification of Jews in Europe, the Mideast and the West, Netanyahu said Israel was also being “assaulted with the same slurs and libels that have been leveled at the Jews since time immemorial.
“Some things just don’t change. But I can tell you today what has changed.We have changed. The Jews have changed. We are no longer a stateless people endlessly searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to protect us. Today we are an independent and sovereign people in our ancestral homeland. Today we can speak out against the hateful voices of those seeking our destruction. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedom,” said Netanyahu.

A Jewish leader stood Tuesday before 300 survivors of the Nazis’ most notorious death camp and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe.

Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau

He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists.

“For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come back,” Lauder said. “Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London. Once again, Jewish businesses are targeted. And once again, Jewish families are fleeing Europe.”

Europe also saw a spasm of anti-Semitism last summer during the war in Gaza, with protests in Paris turning violent and other hostility across the continent.

“This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly became an opportunity to attack Jews,” Lauder said. “Much of this came from the Middle East, but it has found fertile ground throughout the world.”