Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tensions Continue To Increase In The Middle East

Just comparing the headlines form the last several days reveals the degree of escalation of tension in the Middle East. Things are evolving rapidly right now as Israel threatens more attacks while Syria, Iran and Russia are threatening involvement. Additionally, note the number of developments which have direct implications for biblical prophecy (bolded):

An alleged Israeli air attack staged in Syria this week may be a sign of things to come.
Israeli military officials appear to have concluded that the risks of attacking Syria are worth taking when compared to the dangers of allowing sophisticated weapons to reach Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.
Tzachi Hanegbi, an incoming lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a former chairman of parliament’s influential foreign affairs and defense committee, signaled Thursday that Israel could be compelled to act on its own. While Israel’s preference is for Western powers to gain control over Syria’s arms stockpile, he said there are no signs of that happening.

“Israel finds itself, like it has many times in the past, facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to. And it could well be that we will reach a stage where we will have to make decisions,” Hanegbi told Israel’s Army Radio Thursday. Hanegbi, like other Israeli officials, would not confirm Israeli involvement in the airstrike.

On Thursday, Syria threatened to retaliate, while Hezbollah condemned the attack as “barbaric aggression.” Iran, which supplies arms to Syria, Hezbollah and the Hamas militant group in Gaza, said the airstrike would have significant implications for Israel. Syrian ally Russia said it appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, said Damascus “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.” He told Hezbollah’s al-Ahd news website that it was up to the relevant authorities to choose the time and place.

The site allegedly attacked by Israel in Syria manufactured chemical and biological weapons, according to a report in Iraqi newspaper Azzamanthat appears in London.

The newspaper quoted Western diplomats who are close to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It says that the classified installation, which is located just 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the presidential palace, was guarded by a large contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, many of whom died in the attack.

A diplomatic source interviewed by the newspaper said that the attack took place 48 hours before it was first reported. He said that initial reports regarding a convoy that was attacked were meant to disguise the true target of the attack.

However, thenewspaper reported, some trucks were also destroyed in the attack.

The diplomatic source said that Israeli F-16 jets carried out two sorties over the installation, firing at least eight guided missiles at it as well as at least one bunker busting bomb. The installation was badly damaged and there were numerous casualties. He said that about 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards were stationed at the installation, as well as several Russian experts.

He added that the operation must also have relied on good intelligence obtained by Israel from Iran.

In Iran, the government-run PressTV quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian Thursday as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for Israel.

Syria protested to the United Nations on Thursday over an Israeli airstrike on its territory and warned of a possible "surprise" response.The Syrian Foreign Ministry summoned the head of the U.N. force in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to deliver the protest a day after Israel hit what Syria said was a military research center and diplomats said was a weapons convoy heading for Lebanon.
"Syria holds Israel and those who protect it in the Security Council fully responsible for the results of this aggression and affirms its right to defend itself, its land and sovereignty," Syrian television quoted it as saying.

The ministry said it considered Wednesday's Israeli attack to be a violation of a 1974 military disengagement agreement which followed their last major war, and demanded the U.N. Security Council condemn it unequivocally.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern." 

In Beirut on Thursday, Syria's ambassador said Damascus could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes."

Iraqi daily Azzaman quoted a Western diplomatic source as saying Thursday that the alleged Israeli attack on Syria reported on Wednesday caused heavy casualties among special Iranian Guards stationed at the Syrian facility. The source also said that the attack took place more than 48 hours before it was reported, eventually being leaked by Israel.

The source for the story, who was interviewed by the paper in London, said that the report about a strike on a convoy to Lebanon was probably meant to divert attention away from the main objective of the operation, which used F-16 aircraft to fire at least eight guided missiles at the facility.

Iran, Syria vow retaliation for attack

Tehran and Damascus on Thursday threatened an unspecified, “surprise” retaliation against Israel in response to the reported Israeli air strike on a Syrian weapons center the day before.
The Iranian regime’s English-language mouthpiece, Press TV, quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying that the “strike on Syria will have serious consequences for Tel Aviv.”

Last week, the Associated Press quoted a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader as saying that any attack on Syria would be seen by Tehran as an attack on itself.

Also on Thursday, the Saudi-based Al-Watan newspaper reported that the Syrian regime had transferred nonconventional weapons to Hezbollah.
Al-Watan, quoting unnamed sources from the Syrian opposition, reported that Assad had been transferring weapons to Hezbollah since the beginning of 2012, including 2 tons of mustard gas and long-range missiles, capable of carrying chemical warheads and traveling 300 kilometers.

Also see:

“While the world is discussing where and when the next meeting with Iran will be, Iran is rapidly advancing toward obtaining a nuclear bomb,” said a senior official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. “The international community cannot allow Iran to arm itself with a nuclear weapon.”

“If thousands of the more efficient machines are introduced, the timeline for being able to produce a weapon’s worth of fissile material will significantly shorten,” said Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Escalation In The Epicenter As World Turns Against Israel

Prophecy related news are coming in at blinding speed right now as we watch the last stages of prophetic developments unfold. Just as we were informed by the prophet Zechariah (among others) we are watching the world continuing to turn against Israel, just as tensions escalate dramatically:

Armed Lebanese movement Hezbollah seemingly acknowledged on Thursday that a site destroyed outside Damascus, reportedly by Israel, was responsible for “military and technological development.”
Hezbollah was one of a number of bodies on Thursday to condemn the reported attack by Israeli planes, calling the action “barbaric.”
In a statement issued on its website Al-Manar, the Shiite organization — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — condemned the attack, claiming that it was intended to stunt “Arab and Islamic technological development.”

“In line with its inherent spirit of aggression and criminality, and in accordance with its policy of preventing any Arab or Islamic power from developing technological and military capabilities, Israel perpetrated a barbaric attack against a Syrian installation for scientific research on Syrian territory, causing the death of a number of Syrians, the injury of others, and the destruction of the installation,” the statement read.
According to foreign media, Israel attacked a convoy of sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons en route to Hezbollah near the Lebanon-Syria border Wednesday, although neither Hezbollah nor Syrian media would confirm those reports.

On Thursday, Russia issued a statement condemning the “unprovoked” attack on the territory of a sovereign country, “no matter the motives to justify it.”
The Arab League, which has been harshly critical of Syrian president Bashar Assad, also rebuked Israel Thursday, calling the bombing a “glaring violation” of an Arab country’s sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Saudi-daily Al-Watan reported on Thursday that the Assad regime had transferred some two tons of mustard gas to Hezbollah in early 2012. The daily, which serves as the official voice of the Saudi regime — a staunch opponent of Bashar Assad — was quoting unnamed sources in Syria’s opposition.
Syria also transferred long-range missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads and traveling 300 kilometers (186 miles), Al-Watan added, claiming that the transfer to Hezbollah lasted 40 days, from mid-February to March 2012.

Although no mention of the thousands of missiles which have hit Israeli civilian areas. How interesting. 

The United Nations and the European Union rebuked the Israeli army Wednesday for the use of live fire to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank, and called for investigations into the increasing number of civilian casualties caused by crowd control weapons.
The two organizations issued separate statements two days after the publication of a report that chastised Israel for the “unlawful use” of crowd dispersal weapons and for failing to properly investigate casualties resulting from abuse.

In wake of reported IAF strike on Syria, Iran issues threat to Israel; Hezbollah call for wide-scale condemnation of alleged attack on convoy near Syria's border with Lebanon, apparently targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah.

The Iranian regime's English language mouthpiece, Press TV, quoted a deputy foreign minister as saying that the "strike on Syria will have serious consequences for Tel Aviv." The official did not elaborate.

Last week, the AP quoted a senior adviser to Iran's supreme leader as saying that any attack on Syria would be seen by Tehran as an attack on itself.

"Hezbollah strongly condemns this new Zionist aggression on Syria,” the group said in a statement, calling for "wide-scale condemnation from the international community," the group said in a statement.
The group "expressed its full solidarity with Syria's leadership, army and people."

The Syrian announcement of an Israeli air strike on a military site near Damascus Wednesday, Jan. 30, drew strong condemnation from Moscow the next day: “Such action if confirmed would amount to unacceptable military interference in the war-ravaged country,” said the statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry Thursday. “If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violate the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.”

Lebanese sources later reported a Russian Mig-31 fighter had crossed over Sinai Wednesday in the direction of Israel. It veered west over the Mediterranean after encountering an Israeli warning not to intrude into its air space and continued flying over Lebanon.

According to various Middle East sources, the Syrian report of an Israeli air strike has touched off high military alerts across the region. Syria has put its Golan forces on the Israel border on combat readiness and the Lebanese and Jordanian armies are on alert. So too are the Russian fleet opposite Syria and the Lebanese army.

The prevailing estimate in military and intelligence circles in 
Washington and NATO capitals is that the Israeli air attack 
on the Syrian military site near Damascus was but the 
opening shot for the coming round of military 
blows they expect to be exchanged in the near future
 between Israel, Syria and Hizballah, with Iran possibly
 waiting in the wings for a chance to pitch in.

As reports and analyses of what was said to be an Israeli attack on advanced Russian missiles dispatched from Syria to Hizbullah terrorist bases along the border with Lebanon, Syrian rebels said that Hizbullah had already received numerous advanced weapons from Syria – including chemical weapons. A report in a Saudi newspaper quoted Syrian rebel groups as saying that Syria had already last year transferred chemical weapons to Hizbullah.

Israel has said that transfer of such weapons would be a “red line” which Jerusalem could not ignore, essentially a declaration of war by Syria and Hizbullah against Israel.

A United Nations investigation into the impact of Jewish West Bank settlements on the Palestinian population said that Israel should immediately begin to withdraw all settlers from the territory.
The report issued Thursday by the UN Human Rights Council based in Geneva said that settlement violate the 1949 Geneva Conventions and that failure to withdraw could lead to a finding of war crimes at the International Criminal Court.
The Palestinians have threatened to take Israel to the ICC since the Palestinian Authority was recognized as having non-member state status in the General Assembly in November.

The International Criminal Court of Justice could hold Israeli culpable for West Bank settlement activity if the Palestinians become party to the Rome Statue, a United Nations Human Rights Council probe concluded on Thursday.
The three-person fact finding mission released a draft copy of its report in Geneva in advance of a March 18th council debate on the matter.
The report said, "The establishment of the settlements in the West Bank including east Jerusalem is a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the rights of the Palestinian people to self determination." It further took issue with settler violence against Palestinians. It said that the Israeli authorities knew the identifies of the perpetrators, but allowed them to act with impunity.

A jihadist website posted a new threat by al Qaeda this week that promises to conduct “shocking” attacks on the United States and the West.
The posting appeared on the Ansar al Mujahidin network Sunday and carried the headline, “Map of al Qaeda and its future strikes.”
The message, in Arabic, asks: “Where will the next strike by al Qaedabe?” A translation was obtained by Inside the Ring.
“The answer for it, in short: The coming strikes by al Qaeda, with God’s Might, will be in the heart of the land of nonbelief, America, and inFranceDenmark, other countries in Europe, in the countries that helped and are helping France, and in other places that shall be named by al Qaeda at other times,” the threat states.
The attacks will be “strong, serious, alarming, earth-shattering, shocking and terrifying.”

The demand for gas masks almost tripled in Israel in January amid concerns about the safety of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile, the Ynet news portal said on Wednesday.
The Israel Postal Service, charged with free distribution of non-conventional warfare protection equipment, said the number of Israelis who decided to update their gas masks and ABC kits has almost tripled in the past month.
The Postal Service said the number of daily orders has spiked from an average of 200 a day to 500 a day.

The demand was possibly fuelled by concerns expressed by top state and defense officials over the possibility that radical groups may gain control of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed his concerns about the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, with the country "increasingly coming apart” as a result of the 22-month-long civil conflict. Vice premier Silvan Shalom said an Israeli preemptive strike to prevent Syrian chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah was possible.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Updates From The Epicenter: Rumors Of War

This story continues to grow and become more intriguing: 

US and regional security officials reported the strike earlier Wednesday but did not say exactly where it took place.
Regional security officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful military force. Among Israeli officials’ chief fears is that Assad will pass chemical weapons or sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah — something that could change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.
The regional officials said the shipment Israel was planning to strike included Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah by enabling the group to carry out fiercer attacks on Israel and shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones.

Hezbollah has committed to Israel’s destruction and has gone to war against the Jewish state in the past.
A US official confirmed the strike, saying it hit a convoy of trucks.

Israel Military Intelligence Chief Aviv Kochavi is in Washington for consultations at the Pentagon, including with Joint Chiefs of Staff head Martin Dempsey.
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that such transfer of arms to Hezbollah “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.”
On Tuesday, Air Force chief Amir Eshel said Israel needed to be wary of both conventional and non conventional weapons finding their way out of Syria.

The Syrian government, by admitting that the Israel Air Force attacked the Jamaraya “Military Research Institute” (a euphemism for an arms deport), near Damascus, broke the barrier of silence the Israeli government had clamped down on its initial involvement in the Syrian conflict.  It also indicated that Bashar Assad may have decided to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Israel. The Syrian statement also refuted the report by foreign media from “Israeli sources” that Israeli jets had struck a convoy carrying sophisticated weapons from Syria to the Hizballah in Lebanon.

The Syrian statement was detailed: It said that the “Military Research Institute” developed Syrian army and Hizballah combat  capabilities, that two Syrian solders were killed and five injured in the raid, and that a building had been leveled along with serious damage to military vehicles parked outside.

Last week, DEBKAfile reports, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent two senior aides to Washington and Moscow with an identical message:  If Bashar Assad ventures to permit Syrian arms, conventional or chemical, to reach Hizballah, the Israeli Defense Forces will prevent their delivery by force.

Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen Aviv Kochavi handed this message to Obama administration officials in Washington and National Security Adviser Yakov Amidror delivered it for Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Assad acknowledges his debt to Hizballah for the great assistance it has rendered his war against the Syrian insurgency. He will therefore not deny his Lebanese ally assistance in preparing for war with Israel.

Furthermore, two days earlier, President Barack Obama made it clear that he was not getting the United States involved in the Syrian conflict. In an interview to The New Republic,  he asked rhetorically: “In a situation like Syria I have to ask: can we make a difference in that situation?”

From that point on, it was obviously up to Syria’s neighbors to pick up the Syrian ball themselves, including the threat of chemical warfare.
After the Israeli air raid, the Pentagon pointed a finger at its authors, answering reporters’ question with a terse: Ask Israel.
By publishing the Israeli air raid, Bashar Assad seems to be treating it with all the seriousness of an act of war. His next step may well be to fight back.

The arms convoy that Israel reportedly attacked last night along the Syria-Lebanon border carried SA-17 missiles, among other things, according to foreign sources. The SA-17 is a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile.
The sources said that the shipment was intended for Hizbullah and that, had they made it into the organization's hands, the strategicbalance of power in the region would have been altered.
Israel has not responded thus far to reports in the foreign press, according to which the IAF carried out the attack on the convoy.

The Israeli navy intercepted a ship containing advanced weaponry destined for Lebanon, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND.
The security officials said the weapons seizure took place three weeks ago and has been kept under wraps until now.

The officials said the ship flew a Qatari flag and was registered to a Qatari company. They said the ship contained advanced weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles.

Israeli Jets Reportedly Attack Site At Lebanon-Syria Border

This story is just beginning to emerge:

Lebanese officials said a dozen Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday, flying close to the ground in several sorties over southern Lebanon.
According to foreign media reports, the planes attacked a target near the Lebanon-Syria border.
The Israeli military had no comment.
A Lebanese army statement says the last of the sorties was at 2 a.m. local time Wednesday. It says four warplanes, which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura, flew for several hours over villages in south Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.
It says similar flights by eight other warplanes were conducted Tuesday.
Israel has been deeply concerned that chemical or advanced weaponry from Syria could make its way into the hands of the south-Lebanon based Hezbollah terror group due to the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and has said on several occasions that the transfer of chemical weapons to non-state actors, especially Hezbollah, would be a casus belli.
Reuters cited an unnamed Western diplomat and anonymous security source saying the planes had attacked a target near the border.
“There was definitely a hit in the border area,” the source told the news agency.
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that such transfer of arms “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.”
The Lebanese army report does not mention if the planes entered Syrian territory, although the area of Lebanon where the flights took place borders southern Syria. The flights were not corroborated by an Israeli source.
Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace are not uncommon but Beirut officials say they have increased in the past few days.
On Tuesday, Air Force chief Amir Eshel said Israel needed to be wary of both conventional and non conventional weapons finding their way out of Syria.
“There is in Syria an enormous arsenal of weapons, some state of the art and some non conventional. All of it could find its way to our borders and not just to our backyards,” he said.

Lebanon said Wednesday that Israel Air Force jets entered its territory overnight, part of apparently increased air activitythat comes as Israel has repeatedly expressed concern about chemical weapons in neighboring Syria falling out of government control.
A Lebanese army statement said that four IAF warplanes entered Lebanese air space at 4.30 p.m on Tuesday. They were replaced four hours later by another group of planes which overflew southern Lebanon until 2 a.m and a third mission took over, finally leaving at 7.55 a.m on Wednesday morning.

Lebanon frequently complains that Israeli jets overfly its territory. However the recent activity was much more concentrated than usual.
There was no explanation for the operations in the region, bordering southern Syria. The statement made no mention of planes entering Syrian airspace.
Israel's vice premier Silvan Shalom said on Sunday that any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons is slipping, as President Bashar Assad fights rebels trying to overthrow him,could trigger Israeli military strikes.

Israel is waging an offensive, defensive and intelligence campaign, a complex and potentially explosive war between wars, Israel Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Eighth Annual International Ilan Ramon Space Conference in Herzliya, Eshel said Israel was fighting “a campaign between wars” and that it was doing its utmost “to keep [our] efforts beneath the level at which war breaks out.”
“And if there is no alternative – maybe it will.”
Eshel described the Middle East as an area of weakened sovereignty and growing threats, saying that the processes at work “are tectonic” and that, right on our border, “no one has any idea what will happen” after the collapse of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
He indicated that the term ”Arab Spring” doesn’t adequately describe the upheaval raging through the Middle East, Syria in particular, and said that it is “a season that doesn’t exist in the regional calendar.”

Speaking of Syria he stressed the threat of both chemical and “state-of-the-art” conventional weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors. The air force “almost exclusively” shoulders the burden of Israel’s defense against these threats, he said.
Advanced conventional weapons, like radar and land-to-sea missiles, however, may have already been transferred into Hezbollah’s arsenals in the past weeks. “The motivation is growing and there is no guarantee that such weapons have not already been passed to Hezbollah’s hands,” said Lt. Col. Assaf Librati, the air force spokesman.

Israel has said on several occasions that the transfer of chemical weapons to non-state actors, especially Hezbollah, would be a casus belli.  Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that such transfer of arms “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.”