Friday, October 23, 2015

Turmoil In The Middle East - More Violence In Israel, Hezbollah Threatens The Golan Heights

Israel opens Temple Mount to all as Palestinians call for 'Day of Rage'

Israel lifted age restrictions for the main weekly prayers at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount on Friday, in an apparent bid to ease tensions over the site that sparked a surge in violence.

The decision, which allows all Muslim worshipers to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqa Mosque compound on the Mount, and increasing diplomatic efforts to restore calm came as Palestinian political parties called for a “Day of Rage” with protests to be held after Friday prayers in Gaza and the West Bank.

It also comes a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the current round of violence. Kerry said after the meeting that he was “cautiously optimistic” that tensions would ease.

The Quartet of Middle East peacemakers — US Secretary of State John Kerry, his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and UN chief Ban Ki-moon — were to hold talks on the escalating violence later Friday.

Hamas, the Islamist movement which rules the Gaza Strip, called in a statement for “more protests and more clashes with soldiers in the West Bank.”

The Temple Mount is one of the key sources of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, as it is both the third-holiest site for Muslims and the holiest site for Jews. Under the terms of an agreement in place since 1967 — the so-called status quo — Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there.
It is managed by an Islamic foundation under the auspices of Jordan but Israel controls access. Israel has in previous weeks restricted the entry for Muslim men to the site to those over a certain age, in an effort to calm tensions.

Attacks and clashes have erupted in recent weeks over Palestinian claims that Israel was planning to change the status quo, despite vehement denials from the Jewish state.

On Friday morning, an IDF soldier was stabbed and wounded in the shoulder by a 16-year-old Palestinian in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. The soldier shot his assailant in the knee during the attack.

A military spokeswoman said the stabbed soldier was a Bedouin tracker who had opened a gate to enable Palestinians to harvest their olive trees.
Ten Israelis have been killed and dozens injured in a string of attacks in the past month. At least 40 Palestinians have also died, many while carrying out attacks on Israelis and others in clashes with security forces.

[Live Blogging]

Gazans protest near Erez crossing

Several dozen Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are protesting near the Erez crossing between Israel and the Palestinian enclave, Channel 10 reports.
IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means, according to the report.

Israeli, 19, hurt in rock throwing attack in West Bank

A 19-year-old Israeli is lightly hurt in a rock throwing attack in Giv’at Assaf, an Israeli outpost near the West Bank settlement of Beit El, north of Jerusalem.
Medics are taking the injured teen to hospital for further treatment.

Female soldier severely hurt in Wednesday attack regains consciousness

The female soldier who was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in the West Bank on Wednesday has regained consciousness, hospital officials say.
She remains in serious condition and is being treated at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem.
The soldier, named as Dikla Magdish, 20, was stabbed by a Palestinian man near the Adam junction, near the Hizme checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Wednesday.
The attacker, identified as 22-year-old Muataz Atallah Qassem of East Jerusalem’s Eizariya neighborhood, was shot and killed by a Home Front Command soldier at the scene.
A suspected accomplice was arrested.

In a recent appearance on Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV, a Gaza university official justified killing Jewish women and children.

According to the video posted by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Dr. Subhi Al-Yaziji, Dean of Quranic Studies at the Islamic University of Gaza said: "All Jews in Palestine today are fair game - even the women."

Asked by the interviewer if this is because of the occupation, Yaziji replied in the affirmative.

“Every single Jew in Palestine is a combatant, even the children,” he said adding, “They train their children to use tanks and various kinds of weapons.”

“They breastfeed them on hatred for the Palestinian people.”

The attacks "should be carried out in the very heart of the enemy - in Haifa, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and Hadera as was the case in the past because that is what hurts the Jews," he said according to MEMRI.

Wholly preoccupied with the ferocious Palestinian terror campaign washing over their country, Israelis have scarcely noticed that Hizballah forces, believing they are protected by the Russian military presence in Syria, are creeping toward Israel’s northeastern Golan border. 

The Lebanese group thinks it is a step away from changing the military balance on the Golan to Israel’s detriment and gaining its first Syrian jumping-off base against the Jewish state – depending on the Syrian-Hizballah forces winning the fierce battle now raging around Quneitra opposite Israel’s military positions.

For two years, Hizballah, egged on intensely by Iran, has made every effort to plant its forces along the Syrian border with Israel. For Tehran, this objective remains important enough to bring Al Qods Brigades chief, Gen. Qassem Soleiman, on a visit last week to the Syrian army’s 90th Brigade Quneitra base, which is the command post of the battle waged against Syrian rebel forces.

Soleimani, who is commander-in-chief of Iran’s military operations across the Middle East, is acting as military liaison in Syria between Tehran and Moscow.

Iranian general inspected the Quneitra battle lines no more than 1.5-2 km from the Israeli Golan border. He arrived a few days after Revolutionary Guards Col. Nader Hamid, commander of Iranian and Hizballah forces in the region, died there fighting against Syrian rebels.

His death betrayed the fact that not only are Hizballah forces gaining a foothold on the strategic Golan enclave, but with them are Iranian servicemen, officers and troops.

While in Quneitra, the Iranian general also sought to find out whether Col. Hamid really did die in battle or was targeted for assassination by Israel to distance Iranian commanders from its border.
Just 10 months ago, on Jan. 18, Israel drones struck a group of Iranian and Hizballah officers who were secretly scouting the Quneitra region for a new base. Iranian Gen. Ali Mohamad Ali Allah Dadi died in that attack.

But Tehran and Hizballah are again trying their luck. During his visit to Quneitra, Soleimani called up reinforcements to boost the 500 Hizballah fighters in the sector.

Seen from Israel, the Syrian conflict is again bringing enemy forces into dangerous proximity to its border.
The Iranian general and Russian Air Force commanders agree that the drawn-out battle for Quneitra will not be won without Russian air strikes against the rebels holding out there. A decision to extend Russia’s aerial campaign from northern and central Syria to the south would be momentous enough to require President Vladimir Putin’s personal approval.

This decision would, however, cross a strong red line Israel laid down when Binyamin Netanyahu met Putin on Sept. 21 in Moscow and when, last week, a delegation of Russian generals visited Tel Aviv to set up a hot line for coordinating Israeli and Russian air operations over Syria.

Israeli officials made it very clear that Iranian and Hizballah forces would not be permitted to establish a presence opposite the Israeli Golan border and that any Russian air activity over southern Syria and areas close to its borders was unacceptable.

The possibility of Israeli fighter jets being scrambled against Russian aerial intervention in the Quneitra battle was not ruled out.

This state of affairs was fully clarified to Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, when he was taken on a trip this week to the southern Golan under the escort of IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gady Eisenkot and OC Northern Command Gen. Avivi Kochavi. He visited the command post of Brig. Yaniv Azor, commander of the Bashan Division, which will be called upon for action if the hazard to Israel’s security emanating the Quneitra standoff takes a dangerous turn.

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1 comment:

Caver said...

Oh My! Live streaming video/sound overlooking as the Cat 5 Hurricane approaches Manzanillo. The water is already approaching the hotels and the real wind is still several hours away. These folks need our prayers. Its gonna be real ugly.