Saturday, August 22, 2015

Clashes In The West Bank, Hezbollah Raises Alert Level Along Israel Border

Palestinians clash with settlers, IDF near West Bank outpost | The Times of Israel

Dozens of Palestinians clashed with settlers and Israel Defense Forces soldiers Saturday morning, close to the Esh Kodesh outpost in the central West Bank, Israel’s Army Radio reported.

More than 100 Palestinians arrived at the area between the village of Qusra and Esh Kodesh, apparently with the intention of working their land there, the radio said. The Palestinians then clashed with some 20 settlers who arrived at the scene, as well as with IDF soldiers.

According to IDF, the Palestinians threw stones at the settlers and soldiers, and troops dispersed the protesters using riot dispersal measures.The soldier also fired into the air, Israel’s Maariv newspaper said.

Army Radio sad that several Palestinians had been injured, adding that the extent of those injuries was unclear. The Haaretz daily reported, however, that dozens of Palestinians were wounded in the clashes.

The soldiers subsequently declared the area a closed military zone, Haaretz said.

The incident comes a day after disturbances between Israelis and Palestinians near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, while fire and rescue services were battling to douse the flames of three separate fires in the area.

Lebanon-based Islamist organization Hezbollah has raised its alert level along the border with Israel, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported Saturday, “due to Israel’s attempt to drag Syria and Lebanon into a conflict.”

The newspaper cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that the organization believes Israel is planning a significant campaign, but does not want all-out war. According to the sources, the paper said, raising the alert level is a reflection of this belief.

The newspaper also quoted sources as saying that Israel is seeking further action as it feels its existence is threatened by the recent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s Ynet website said.

Israel launched air and artillery strikes into Syria on Friday morning in the wake of a rocket salvo on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. Six people were killed in an aerial attack on a vehicle, Syrian state television said. Israel said the strike killed the crew that had fired Thursday’s salvo into Israel.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the strike against the cell was proof that Israel will not tolerate efforts to harm the security of its citizens. “We have no intention of compromising on this issue, and I suggest no one test our resolve on this matter,” he said in a brief statement.

Ya’alon warned Tuesday that the Golan Heights were likely to see growing conflict, and blamed Iran for any escalation.
“All is not quiet on the Golan front,” Ya’alon said during a tour of the northern border with Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and GOC Northern Command Aviv Kochavi. “Those who seek for it not to be quiet are the Iranians, who are trying to send proxies to conduct terror attacks against us.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit listed Damascus, the capital of Syria, in last place among the 140 cities surveyed in its Global Liveability Ranking for 2015, which was released this week. First place went to Melbourne, Australia.

One can hardly argue with the finding about Syria’s capital: About 110 inhabitants of Douma, a Damascus suburb about 15 kilometers from the city center, were killed just this week

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, the Syrian Air Force bombed the city’s central marketplace, killing and wounding hundreds. Eyewitnesses said piles of corpses were strewn among the fruit and vegetables.

The next morning, after an explicit United Nations condemnation of the Syrian attack, President Bashar Assad proved how much he believed in the famously dismissive Israeli expression about the UN, “Oom, shmoom” (“Oom” being the acronym in Hebrew for the UN), by dispatching his aircraft back to Douma for another bombing sortie.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor called Saturday morning for the United Nations to condemn Thursday’s rocket fire on Israel, and not simply make do with a general statement regarding both sides.

Prosor was speaking after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday evening expressed “deep concern” over the attack and subsequent Israeli response, and called for both sides to “exercise maximum restraint.”

“Israel holds Syria responsible for every attack that emanates from its territory, and knows that Iran is the ultimate producer of all terror incidents in the region,” said Prosor, according to Israel’s Maariv website. He appealed to the UN chief to consider the circumstances of Israel’s response, and not issue a blanket statement.
“You must condemn Iran, which initiates and carries out acts of terrorism, and Syria, which is responsible for attacks coming from its territory,” Channel 2 quoted Prosor as saying. “This is a blatant violation of the [post-Yom Kippur War] Disengagement of Forces Agreement and Security Council resolutions.”

Iran on Saturday unveiled a new surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a 500-kilometer (310 miles) range, saying military might was a precondition for peace and effective diplomacy, Reuters reported.
The Fateh 313 missile was revealed during a ceremony marking the anniversary of Iran’s military industry, attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The military industry called the solid-fuel missile one of the most exact ever manufactured, boasting that it has successfully hit multiple targets with great precision, Israel’s Walla website reported.

“We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that,” Rouhani said in a speech at the ceremony, which was broadcast live on state television, according to Reuters.
“We can negotiate with other countries only when we are powerful. If a country does not have power and independence, it cannot seek real peace,” the president said.

A senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Friday that the country is planning massive “ballistic missiles war games,” adding that the announcement comes after Tehran said it plans to begin phasing in a new generation of missiles.
“The IRGC Aerospace Force will hold a large-scale ballistic missiles war-games soon,” Brigadier Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh said, according to the state-run Fars news agency.

Tehran said last month that its ballistic missile program was not connected to the UN Security Council resolution endorsing the July 14 accord with world powers that limits its nuclear program.
Under the terms of the agreement, Iran is barred from developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Iran says it has ballistic missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), which are capable of striking both Israel and Saudi Arabia. But the Foreign Ministry said that the UN’s resolution endorsing the deal did not have jurisdiction over its missile development.

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