Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned Israel that his Iran-backed terror group could attack targets producing mass Israeli casualties, including a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa, and a nuclear reactor in Dimona.
Also last month, Tower Magazinereported that, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran provided Hizballah with a vast supply of "game-changing," state-of-the art weapons, despite Israel's occasional airstrikes against weapons convoys.
In a future conflict, Hizballah has the capacity to fire 1,500 rockets into Israel each day, overwhelming Israel's missile defense systems. Should such a scenario materialize, Israel will be forced to respond with unprecedented firepower to defend its own civilians.
Hizballah's advanced weapons and the systems needed to launch them reportedly are embedded across a staggering 10,000 locations in the heart of more than 200 civilian towns and villages. The Israeli military has openly warned about this Hizballah war crime and the grave threats it poses to both sides, but that alarm generated almost no attention from the global media, the United Nations, or other international institutions.
Like the terror group Hamas, Hizballah knows that civilian deaths at the hands of Israel are a strategic asset, because they produce diplomatic pressure to limit Israel's military response. Hizballah reportedly went so far as offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes.
Hizballah possesses an estimated 140,000 missiles and rockets, and reportedly now can manufacture advanced weapons in underground factories that are impervious to aerial attack.
"Israel must stress again and again, before it happens, that these villages [storing Hizballah weapons] have become military posts, and are therefore legitimate targets," said Yoram Schweitzer, senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
Israel has targeted Hizballah-bound weapons caches in Syria twice during the past week. Syria responded last Friday by firing a missile carrying 200 kilograms of explosives, which Israel successfully intercepted.
If Hizballah provokes a war, Israel can legitimately attack civilian areas storing Hizballah arms if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) first attempts to warn the targeted civilians to leave those areas, Litvak said. But "it will certainly be very difficult and will look bad on TV."
MK Naftali Bennett, a veteran of Israel's 2006 war with Hizballah, believes that Lebanon's official acceptance of Hizballah and its policy of embedding military assets inside residential areas removes any constraints on Israeli targeting of civilian areas. "The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out," he said. "That's what we should already be saying to them and the world now."
In a future war, Hizballah is certain to try bombarding Israeli civilian communities with missile barrages. Israel, in response, will have to target missile launchers and weapons caches surrounded by Lebanese civilians.
If world powers and the international media genuinely care about avoiding civilian casualties, they should be loudly condemning Hizballah's ongoing efforts – in flagrant violation of a UN resolution – to cause massive civilian death and destruction in Lebanon's next war with Israel.
Israel is drawing up contingency plans to evacuate up to a quarter-million civilians from border communities to protect them from attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah or other terror groups.
The mass evacuations would be unprecedented in Israel’s history, part of a bigger plan where the army works with municipalities to keep civilians safe.
Elements of the evacuation plan, codenamed “Safe Distance,” were disclosed by a senior Israeli officer in an interview to The Associated Press.
All sides have been preparing in case a new round of warfare breaks out, although Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction, currently is tied down in Syria’s civil war fighting in support of President Bashar Assad. There is currently an uptick in tensions between Israel, Syria and Hezbollah.
Each side has warned that a new conflict would be worse than previous ones. Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli communities in the 2006 war, while Israel bombarded militant targets in southern Lebanon. The month of fighting killed an estimated 1,200 Lebanese, 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers.
“In 2017, all of Israel is under threat,” said Col. Itzik Bar of the military’s Homefront Command. Preparations are underway for Israel to deal with “very high amounts” of incoming fire, he said.
Bar pointed out that Hezbollah has gained battle experience from fighting alongside Assad’s forces and that Hassan Nasrallah, the Shiite group’s chief, has recently increased his rhetoric about attacking Israel
The idea is to “remove the threat by not having civilians there,” Bar said. “We want a meeting of army and Hezbollah forces, and not civilians with Hezbollah forces.”
The evacuation plan would apply mainly to communities adjacent to the borders, he said.
“In places where we understand there is a great danger to civilians, for example, where we won’t be able to supply defenses or supply deterrence … we will evacuate,” Bar said.
Evacuees would be housed in existing infrastructure, including hotels, schools and kibbutz guest houses, he said.
In Islamic eschatology the Mahdi (‘messiah’) plays a prominent role. For the Iranian Shia he is already born and has hidden down a well for over a millennium, waiting for the right time to emerge. Turkish Sunnis already have a candidate, breathing fire and brimstone and ready to purge the world.
At least, so it would seem, to judge from the campaign Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has waged against unbelievers who have dared to block his plans to become the country’s all-powerful leader.
On April 16 a referendum will be held in Turkey, where voters can decide on constitutional amendments which will remove all cumbersome checks and balances to Erdoğan’s power. In his campaign to secure a ‘yes’, Erdoğan has admitted he has been planning for such a system since he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s. Furthermore, that his plans for an executive presidency will concentrate all power in the hands of one person.
This “Turkish-style” presidential system means Erdoğan will have the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and high-level state officials without the need for parliamentary approval. He will also be able to declare a state of emergency, issue decrees, dissolve parliament and call elections without being held to account. The president will not only be head of state but also head of government – the post of prime minister will be abolished, and in effect the judiciary will be subject to his control.
What is particularly alarming, as the Venice Commission (the Council of Europe’s advisory body) has pointed out, the way the new constitution is configured means the president could stay in office for a potentially unlimited period of time.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu has warned of “holy wars” in Europe and Erdoğan has spoken of a struggle between the cross and the crescent, after the European Court of Justice allowed employers to ban the Islamic headscarf along with other religious symbols. As Turkey is term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), President Erdoğan also intends to mobilize the OIC against Euro-fascism.
Fierce clashes between the Syrian army and rebels led by the Al-Qaeda offshoot formerly known as Al-Nusra Front broke out in neighborhoods east of Damascus on Tuesday. Ruptly video footage captured relentless artillery fire, explosions and smoke rising from the area.
Syrian government forces have intensified the shelling of terrorist positions north of the Jobar neighborhood, which has been split between government forces and rebels for over two years.
On Tuesday morning, terrorists detonated a car bomb, launching an incursion from the edges of Damascus and succeeded in infiltrating al-Maamel area in its eastern outskirts, aiming to push offensive further into the al-Qaboun neighborhood, RT Arabic reported.
Several missiles have been launched by rebels into the central part of the city, Reuters reported, citing witnesses.
“Very frightening situation for civilians living in Syria’s most populous city at the moment. Several neighborhoods have suffered from shelling, exploding bullets hitting cars and houses in the areas, numerous civilians have been injured as a result of these clashes,” RT’s Lizzie Phelan reported.
The Syrian armed forces managed to stop the advancement and isolated the jihadists in the al-Mamel area in the southern al-Qaboun district, located to the north of the embattled Jobar area, repelling all attempts to break through the siege.
“They entered a narrow pocket – the same area of the [previous] breach – and now this group is being dealt with,” a source in the Syrian military said, as cited by Reuters.
The terrorists holding up in al-Qaboun launched attacks on Al-Abissin residential area, shelling it and firing sniper bullets towards the area, Syria’s state SANA news agency reported, noting that the Syrian army responded with artillery fire.
Two football players were among the victims of the hostilities, suffering injuries when the compound housing a local football team was targeted in a rebel shelling, RT’s Phelan said.
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