Posts Tagged ‘IDF’

Israeli rockets strike military position near Aleppo — Israel: “We will not allow Iranian entrenchment within Syria.”

July 16, 2018

Syrian state media said on Sunday that Israeli rockets had struck a Syrian military position near Nairab airport on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo.

“The Zionist enemy…targets one of our military sites north of Nairab airport,” the Syrian state news agency SANA said, quoting a military source.

20 Photos Describe The "war"

Most of Aleppo is in ruins as the above “before and after” photos show.

It said the strikes were an attempt by Israel to support rebels in southern Syria, where Syrian government forces have been waging an offensive.

An Israeli military spokesman declined comment on the report. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday told media outlet Ynet that he had no knowledge of the incident but said Israel’s policy toward Iran in Syria had not changed.

“We will not allow Iranian entrenchment within Syria. We will not let them to turn Syria into a kind of vanguard against the State of Israel. And we take action in accordance with our security interests,” he said.

Israel, concerned that Iran’s growing presence in Syria poses a threat to its security, has struck dozens of Iranian and Iran-backed positions in Syria over the course of the seven-year conflict.

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and supports a number of militias, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, fighting in support of his rule.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes killed nine people at a logistics site used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards near the airport.

State media said the strikes caused only “material damage”.

There was no reaction to the strikes in Iranian media.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Cooney/Mark Heinrich

Reuters

10+ Before-And-After Pics Reveal What War Did To The Largest City In Syria

https://www.boredpanda.com/before-after-war-photos-aleppo-syria/

20 Photos Describe The "war"

Most of Aleppo is in ruins as the above “before and after” photos show.
Advertisements

As dozens of rockets hit Israel, IDF pounds Gaza in heaviest strikes since 2014

July 14, 2018

Palestinian terror groups fire over 100 projectiles at Israel on Saturday afternoon; empty synagogue damaged in the town of Sderot, no injuries reported

Times of Israel, 1630, July 14, 2018

A picture taken on July 14, 2018 shows a smoke plume rising following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

A picture taken on July 14, 2018 shows a smoke plume rising following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Israeli aircraft on Saturday attacked more than 40 targets in the Gaza Strip in the most extensive daytime assault since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge as Palestinian terror groups fired repeated salvos of rockets and mortars into Israel.

The surge in violence intensified after midnight Friday-Saturday as the Israel Defense Forces hit an attack tunnel and Hamas training bases in Gaza in response to the moderate wounding of an IDF officer by a hand-grenade thrown during a border riot on Friday.

During the night, Palestinians fired more than 30 projectiles into Israel and kept up the attacks on Saturday, firing a further 100 rockets and mortar shells. Residents of Israeli border communities spent the night in bomb shelters and were cautioned to remain close to the shelters during the day.

In the evening, several rockets were fired toward the town of Sderot. Iron Dome intercepted several of them.  A synagogue, that was empty at the time was hit by shrapnel and lightly damaged. Sappers were searching the building and it was not immediately clear if it was hit by a Palestinian rocket or parts from the interceptor. There were no injuries.

The IDF said Iron Dome intercepted at least 20 projectiles that were headed for residential areas in total.

A picture taken on July 14, 2018 shows Palestinian rockets being fired from Gaza City towards Israel ( AFP PHOTO / BASHAR TALEB)

Israel’s political leadership is considering a range of possibilities for trying to halt the rocket fire, including targeted assassinations of Hamas terror chiefs, the use of ground forces, and a ceasefire mediated by Egypt and/or others, but no decision had been made as of Saturday late afternoon, Hadashot TV news reported.

The primary target of the IAF strikes Saturday was the Hamas battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, in the north of the Strip, the army said.

An aerial illustration of the Hamas Battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia. (IDF Spokesperson)

“The focus of the attack is a wide-scale strike of the Hamas Battalion HQ in Beit Lahia, which includes urban warfare training facilities, weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centers, offices and more,” the IDF said in a statement.

“In addition, a weapons manufacturing site and storage facilities housing various types of weapons, including Hamas’ naval capabilities, were struck,” it said.

The air force also attacked a Palestinian terrorist cell launching mortars. Palestinian media said the IDF had shelled the home of a senior Islamic Jihad leader, but there was no confirmation from the army.

The IDF spokesman said the aim of the operation was to “restore a sense of security” and that the military would “respond as necessary” to a wide range of scenarios.

The Hamas-run health ministry said it had not received any reports of injuries in the Israeli strikes.

According to IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the operation had three aims: To end the incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza, end the large-scale border protests, and end the rocket and mortar fire.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis (screen capture of National Assembly footage)

“There are three factors occurring that we view seriously and cannot allow to continue,” he said, adding that this was the largest daytime Israeli strike on Gaza since the 2014 Gaza War.

Media reports said that Egyptian intelligence services had contacted the Hamas leadership in Gaza to try to prevent a further escalation of violence.

In the Saturday afternoon salvo, Palestinians fired more than 60 rockets and mortar shells and sirens wailed frequently in southern Israel. Army Radio reported that at least one projectile was intercepted, with the remainder falling in unpopulated areas.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

A farm building was lightly damaged in one border community, with no harm to any animals reported.

Local residents, who had earlier been told they could return to their usual routines after an earlier barrage overnight Friday, were instructed to remain close to bomb shelters, and large gatherings of people were to be canceled.

The day of tension and violence came after terrorists fired more than 30 rockets and mortars toward Israel overnight Friday in the wake of IDF strikes on a number of Hamas targets in Gaza in response to violence along the border.

No injuries or damage were reported but warning sirens wailed for much of the night in border communities including the Sdot HaNegev Regional Council area and the town of Sderot.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

חדשות עשר

@news10

ההסלמה בדרום | שרידי רקטה שנפלה במהלך הלילה בשער הנגב @bokeralmog

(צילום: אושרי צימר)

The army earlier on Saturday said it targeted two Hamas attack tunnels as well as other military compounds in the Strip, including those involved in the spate of incendiary kite and balloon attacks.

Even as the airstrikes were being carried out, the IDF said rockets were fired toward Israel.

According to the IDF, six projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. One rocket landed inside a kibbutz in the Shar HaNegev Regional Council area.

Hamas on Saturday said the barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory overnight was fired by the “resistance” to “stop Israeli escalation.”

The spokesman for the terrorist group, Fawzi Barhoum, also said the projectiles were an “immediate response” that was meant to “deliver the message” to Israel.

The army said it held Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from Gaza, which the terror group has ruled since 2007.

“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for the events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it and will bear the consequences for its actions against Israeli civilians and Israeli sovereignty,” the army said, adding that “the IDF views Hamas’ terror activity with great severity and is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios.”

The IDF said aircraft had attacked “an offensive terror tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip, in addition to several terror sites in military compounds throughout the Gaza Strip, among them complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror organization training facility.”

The IDF published video of its air strikes.

The latest round of violence has threatened to spark a further conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border.

Israel in recent weeks has repeatedly warned Hamas that while it has no interest in engaging in the kind of conflict that led to the sides fighting three wars over the past decade, it would not tolerate its continued efforts to breach the border fence and its campaign to devastate Israeli border communities with incendiary attacks.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered near the Gaza border for their near-weekly protest. The army said protesters attacked soldiers with grenades, bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks.

A 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb over the fence into Israel was shot dead, media reports in Gaza said.

Later the IDF said an Israeli officer was moderately wounded by a grenade thrown at him during the clashes at the border.

On Saturday, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza announced that a 19-year-old succumbed to his wounds sustained at the clashes a day earlier.

It was not clear whether the two deaths were tied to the attack that wounded the Israeli officer.

Gaza officials said 220 others were hurt in Friday’s riots. Most were treated at the scene, while several dozen were taken to hospital. The violence was held under the banner of “Identifying with Khan al-Ahmar,” a West Bank Bedouin village whose planned demolition by Israel is being debated at the High Court.

Since March 30, weekly clashes have taken place on the Gaza border, with Israel accusing Hamas of using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the security fence. The “March of Return” protests have also seen Palestinians fly airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages.

The Israeli army reportedly notified Hamas in recent days that if the incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Gaza Strip don’t cease, Israel would respond with major military action.

Palestinians prepare a kite with flammable materials that they will fly into southern Israel from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on June 22, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

On Monday, Israel announced it was shutting down the Kerem Shalom border crossing — the Strip’s main crossing for commercial goods — in response to the endless stream of incendiary and explosive kites and balloons that have been flown into southern Israel, sparking fires that have burned thousands of acres of land and caused millions of shekels in damages. Humanitarian and essential supplies continue to enter Gaza.

The IDF has sought to avoid an escalation of hostilities on the southern front despite the attacks, but according to the Haaretz daily, the political pressure to act has been building as the economic and psychological harm caused by the fires takes its toll.

On Wednesday, incendiary kites and balloons sparked 19 fires of varying sizes in Israel, according to local government officials. Fifteen of them occurred in the Eshkol region, which abuts the southern Gaza Strip. The other four occurred in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, which lies to the northeast of the coastal enclave.

In response, the Israeli military conducted an airstrike against a group of Palestinians it said was launching incendiary balloons toward Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, east of the city of Rafah. There, too, no injuries were reported.

After shuttering Kerem Shalom, the army said humanitarian aid, notably food and medicine, would still be allowed into Gaza, but would require special permission from the military liaison, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, to the Palestinians.

The military said the closure would continue so long as Palestinians persist in launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

READ MORE:

Palestinians fire 31 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza; IDF renews airstrikes

July 14, 2018

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) strikes two tunnels, Hamas bases in Gaza; one rocket falls in a kibbutz; no injuries reported in Israel or Gaza as Israelis in border communities spend night in bomb shelters

 

Illustrative: An explosion is seen from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after an airstrike by Israeli forces in response to dozens of rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups from the coastal enclave on June 20, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Illustrative: An explosion is seen from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after an airstrike by Israeli forces in response to dozens of rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups from the coastal enclave on June 20, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip spent the night in bomb shelters as Palestinian terror groups fired at least 31 rockets and mortars into Israel, the army said. Six of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

Palestinians in Gaza resumed rocket and mortar fire into Israel after dawn on Saturday, setting off warning sirens. Residents of Israeli communities along the border, who spent a tense night in bomb shelters, reported several loud explosions.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Palestinians fire rockets from Gaza into Israel

The IDF announced Saturday morning it carried out a series of air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, including hitting an attack tunnel in the north of the coastal enclave. An earlier strike targeted a tunnel in the south of the Strip.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.

The renewed violence came after a night in which Israeli aircraft hit several sites in the Gaza Strip including several Hamas bases. Following the air raids, Palestinian terror groups launched several barrages of rockets or mortars into Israel.

One rocket landed inside a kibbutz in the Shar HaNegev Regional Council area.

The IDF said aircraft had attacked “an offensive terror tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip, in addition to several terror sites in military compounds throughout the Gaza Strip, among them complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror organization training facility.”

Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor

The IDF published video of its air strikes.

Following the airstrikes rocket warning sirens wailed repeatedly in Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip, including the Sdot HaNegev Regional Council area and the town of Sderot. Residents reported sounds of explosions, Israel Radio reported.

About 30 minutes after the first wave, sirens sounded again in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council area and in the Eshkol region. Residents were warned to spend the night in bomb shelters.

The army said it held Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from Gaza, which it has ruled since 2007.

“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for the events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it and will bear the consequences for its actions against Israeli civilians and Israeli sovereignty,” the army said, adding that “the IDF views Hamas’ terror activity with great severity and is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios.”

The violence came after an IDF officer was moderately wounded Friday afternoon when a grenade was hurled at him by assailants during clashes at the Gaza border fence, the army reported Friday night.

The military said soldiers fired back at the attackers and identified hitting them. The officer was rushed to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center and has family has been notified.

It was the most serious attack on Israeli forces in over three months of border protests, during which time soldiers have on several occasions been targeted with gunfire and bombs.

Israel has long accused Hamas of using the weekly border demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks against Israel.

Earlier the Hamas-run health ministry said a 15-year-old Palestinian was killed during the clashes with the Israeli army along the Gaza border.

A picture taken on July 13, 2018 shows tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces landing amidst protesters during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

It was not clear whether that incident was tied to the attack that wounded the officer.

The Israeli military said thousands took part in the demonstrations, and that soldiers were attacked with grenades, bombs, Molotov cocktails and rocks. Troops responded with less-lethal means and fired live rounds in certain cases, including at one person who tried to cut through the security fence.

Gaza officials said 220 others were hurt in the riots. Most were treated at the scene, while several dozen were taken to hospital. Friday’s violence was held under the banner of “Identifying with Khan al-Ahmar,” a West Bank Bedouin village whose planned demolition by Israel is being debated at the High Court.

Also Friday, two soldiers were lightly injured in a car crash near the Gaza border in the afternoon when a utility trailer connected to their vehicle overturned. The soldiers were taking part in efforts to put out a large fire caused by an incendiary kite at Kibbutz Or Haner.

Firefighters said they managed to get the blaze under control, with the help of several teams and four firefighting planes.

Israeli soldiers walk amidst smoke from a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip, which was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinian protesters from across the border., May 14, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Officials said 15 separate fires had erupted in the Gaza periphery since the morning due to incendiary kites and balloons. All were brought under control.

Since March 30, weekly clashes have taken place on the Gaza border, with Israel accusing Hamas of using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the security fence. The “March of Return” protests have also seen Palestinians fly airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages.

The Israeli army has reportedly notified Hamas in recent days that if the incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Gaza Strip don’t cease, Israel will respond with major military action.

The threat comes amid a period of increased tension between Israel and the Gaza-ruling terror group. On Monday, Israel announced it was shutting down the Kerem Shalom border crossing — the Strip’s main crossing for commercial goods — in response to the endless stream of incendiary and explosive kites and balloons that have been flown into southern Israel, sparking fires that have burned thousands of acres of land and caused millions of shekels in damages. Humanitarian and essential supplies continue to enter Gaza.

The IDF has sought to avoid an escalation of hostilities on the southern front despite the attacks, but according to the Haaretz daily, the political pressure to act has been building as the economic and psychological harm caused by the fires takes its toll.

Palestinians prepare a kite with flammable materials that they will fly into southern Israel from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on June 22, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israeli officials have conveyed this to Hamas through an intermediary, and said a significant Israeli response was inevitable if the current situation continued, the paper reported.

The army is now examining options for a significant and painful military response against Hamas that would be pinpoint enough not to spark a full-fledged war, the report said.

Friday’s report came a day after an Israeli drone fired two missiles toward a group of Palestinians flying incendiary balloons into southern Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian media.

This was the second such airstrike in less than 24 hours.

The IDF confirmed that one of its aircraft fired at a cell that had launched balloons toward Israel from northern Gaza. No injuries were reported in the airstrike, which the official Palestinian Wafa news outlet said occurred near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

وكالة شهاب

@ShehabAgency

طائرات الاستطلاع الاسرائيلية تطلق صاروخين صوب أراض زراعية في بيت حانون شمالي قطاع غزة

Multiple Palestinian news outlets, including Wafa, reported that Israel conducted two strikes on Thursday, one near Beit Hanoun and a second east of the city of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

An IDF spokesperson denied the Palestinian reports, saying he was “only familiar with one airstrike.”

The southern Israeli Eshkol regional council reported that a number of incendiary and booby-trapped balloons had been flown into the area throughout Thursday morning.

A banana field that was damaged by a fire sparked by an incendiary balloon from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israel Eshkol region on July 12, 2018. (Eshkol Security)

On Wednesday, incendiary kites and balloons sparked 19 fires of varying sizes in Israel, according to local government officials. Fifteen of them occurred in the Eshkol region, which abuts the southern Gaza Strip. The other four occurred in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, which lies to the northeast of the coastal enclave.

In response, the Israeli military conducted an airstrike against a group of Palestinians it said was launching incendiary balloons toward Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, east of the city of Rafah. There, too, no injuries were reported.

After shuttering Kerem Shalom, the army said humanitarian aid, notably food and medicine, would still be allowed into Gaza, but would require special permission from the military liaison, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, to the Palestinians.

The military said the closure would continue so long as Palestinians persist in launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/renewed-rocket-fire-from-gaza-idf-airstrikes-after-a-night-of-violence/

READ MORE:

Israeli gunfire wounds at least 28 Palestinians as Gaza border protests build — Before U.S. Embassy Dedication in Jerusalem

May 14, 2018

Israeli gunfire wounded at least 28 Palestinians along the Gaza border on Monday, medics said, and protesters streamed to the frontier for the climax of a six-week demonstration as the United States prepared to open its embassy in Jerusalem.

.A Palestinian demonstrator drags a burning tire during a at the Israel-Gaza border, May 14, 2018

A Palestinian demonstrator drags a burning tire during a at the Israel-Gaza border, May 14, 2018\ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

Protests were expected to escalate during the day, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, as loudspeakers on Gaza mosques urged Palestinians to join the so-called “Great March of Return”.

Israeli troops have killed 45 Palestinians since the demonstrations began on March 30, according to Palestinian health officials, while no Israeli casualties have been reported.

The death toll has drawn international criticism, but the United States, which has drawn Arab anger by relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, has echoed Israel in accusing Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement of instigating violence.

A female Palestinian demonstrator gestures during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Sending reinforcements to the Gaza border, the Israeli military dropped leaflets into the enclave on Monday, warning Palestinians “not to serve as a tool of Hamas” or approach or damage Israel’s frontier fence.

But thousands of Palestinians massed at five locations along the line, and at least 28, including two local journalists, were wounded by Israeli gunfire, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

The protests are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes.

The Israeli military says its troops are defending the border and firing in accordance with the rules of engagement.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli aircraft also dropped flammable material on Monday to burn tyres that protesters had stacked in preparation for them to be set on fire and rolled at the fence.

The Israelis also fired tear gas at people inside the tented encampments that have sprung up along the border, witnesses said.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister, told Israel Radio that Israel would treat the Gaza fence as an “Iron Wall” and anyone who approached it as a “terrorist”.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Farrell; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Reuters

See Also Haaretz:

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/u-s-embassy-gaza-protests-and-nakba-day-live-updates-1.6078190

PTSD Plagues The Israeli Special Forces

April 23, 2018

Image may contain: 2 people, beard and text

TV show “Fauda” highlights the lives of Israel’s Special Forces…. The real-life-men suffer from PTSD — a scar that is left on the soul

All the 15 Duvdevan (Israeli Special Forces) members who have fallen in the line of duty have been killed in training accidents or by friendly fire. Now veterans of the unit are finally getting help to cope

.

At 9 P.M. on August 26, 2000, team after team of the Duvdevan special operations force left the settlement of Shavei Shomron. Their destination was a house in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya, which lies on the slopes of Mount Eival near Nablus.

According to their intelligence, a high-priority target was in the house, Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, who in the days before the second intifada was considered a top member of Hamas’ armed wing, responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis. Everything was going according to plan until one of the team’s snipers thought he saw armed men on the roof of the house and started shooting.

But this was a case of mistaken identity. The men taking fire weren’t Palestinians, they were Duvdevan soldiers. Three first sergeants were killed on the spot: Niv Yaacobi, Roy Even-Filsteiner and Liron Sharvit.

“There was shooting and I was told to go to the roof where Niv and Liron were,” says the team’s medic, Brian (a made-up name like all others in this story). “I got to the roof and saw Niv and Liron lying side by side without moving, wounded in the head and chest. I ran to Niv, he was my closet friend on the team. I knew there was nothing I could do but I sat there and held his head. I couldn’t let go.”

Brian kept hearing shouts to go see what had happened to Liron. “I ran to him,” Brian recalls, “and we tried to resuscitate him, but there was nothing we could do. They were both dead.”

Yaacobi, Sharvit and Even-Filstein are three of the 15 Duvdevan soldiers who have been killed since the unit was established in 1986 (two other fatalities were of soldiers attached to the unit from other units). Of course, military units tend to have fatalities, but in this unit, none of the 15 were killed by enemy fire. In most cases it was training accidents or, like on that evening in Asira al-Shimaliya, friendly fire during an operation.

Operation Symphony of Life was the army’s code name for the capture of Abu Hanoud. That symphony became a trauma that has been with Brian ever since, and now he’s in his late 30s.

“When I came down from the roof I was led to the street, where I just sat and shivered,” he says. “Today I know that the minute I went on the roof was the minute I was wounded. My post-trauma is a battle wound like any other, like losing an arm or a leg.”

Brian, who came to Israel on his own and was a lone soldier during his service, took a long time to realize what had happened. “In our team we didn’t talk about the impact of that incident; we wanted to suppress it,” he says. “Asira became a taboo topic – no one talked about it, at least not before demobilization.”

It took several years after Brian left the demobilization center before he understood the scar that this incident had left on his soul. He isn’t alone. His unit, which often operates with its members dressed undercover as Palestinians, conducts hundreds of missions a year in an attempt to foil terror attacks. In these operations soldiers win many citations and medals, on top of the wounds that don’t bleed and often don’t heal.

Now, 32 years after it was established and 26 years after it was declassified, its members are launching a campaign for their comrades who have been bearing the impact of combat.

Such an effort isn’t anything obvious for such a unit. This is a group whose members at any moment must be aggressive and daring while seeking contact with the enemy, a unit where a term like post-traumatic stress disorder is often excluded from the lexicon. Former soldiers in the Duvdevan unit include Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, who created the hit TV show “Fauda” based off their experiences.

But now things are changing. Two and a half years ago former Duvdevan soldiers set up the Scheinberg Foundation, which helps lone soldiers after demobilization. Last year it began to locate and treat veterans with PTSD. The foundation set up support groups, helping these people obtain the support of the Defense Ministry and get medical treatment.

Off the rails on vacation

One of the veterans who regularly attends meetings is Or, now in his 30s. He was totally unaware of the emotional damage caused by his service in the Duvdevan. “It hit me on a trip to the Far East. I was in a taxi and the driver’s kid was sitting next to him,” Or says.

“All of a sudden I thought he wanted to kill me, that he had exposed me and I was in danger. I remember thinking that I had to kill this kid and run away. I started going wild in the taxi, hitting the driver. He stopped and let me out. I found myself begging him to take me anyway and not leave me in the middle of nowhere.”

Looking back, when Or reconstructs the road he has taken, he thinks back to his time in the Duvdevan. “It was total,” he says. “It got to a point where you didn’t go home on a weekend so that nothing affected your training, so that nothing distracted you. I took myself to the limit.”

He now realizes it was too extreme. “When I was over there I didn’t ask any questions,” Or says. “I was totally immersed in it, and that’s what I wanted in life. All I wanted was to be worthy in the eyes of my team, that anyone going on a mission with me could trust me.”

There was some intimation of his problems during his service, he admits. He remembers how a few months before demobilization he went to his commander, put his pistol and kaffiyeh on the table and said he was leaving. He couldn’t take it anymore. He was offered a short leave. He agreed, returned and completed his service.

“No one knew anything about it; I hid it. My family didn’t know what I was doing, my girlfriend didn’t know either,” Or says. “I hid everything I could and didn’t really have an open relationship with anyone in that delusional situation. I was under emotional stress that I couldn’t put my finger on until one day I broke down in tears at my parents’ house.”

A Duvdevan veteran (known as Brian for this story), and an officer from the unit, April 2018. Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

The real crisis hit on that trip to the Far East. At that moment he couldn’t distinguish between his life and the life of the character he had assumed in the past. “I found myself on that trip taking part in a Muslim purification ritual,” Or says.

On another occasion he was struck by anxiety when he encountered a Muslim man on the street. “I began to think I’d been exposed,” he says. “At one point I ditched my motorcycle because I believed I had been discovered and that someone had booby-trapped it. The whole trip was like a movie where someone was testing me.”

Upon returning to Israel, Or realized he had a problem and needed to do something to keep his sanity. The first to help him were the former members of his team.

“Outwardly, everything seemed irrelevant and meaningless,” he says. “At some point I wished I’d taken a bullet on a mission so I’d be recognized as a wounded fighter. That would have given me legitimization to feel that way.”

Or’s descriptions sound very familiar to Brian’s. He too went on a long trip after the army, trying to forget his time in the military, escaping from himself. “I traveled everywhere but almost immediately I left each place I had reached,” he says. “I couldn’t stay in one place. I flew to Australia, India, Mexico, Fiji.”

At some point he landed in Morocco and remembers not feeling well; he had probably caught pneumonia. “I found myself entering a mosque and going to sleep there. I got up in the morning and ran off as if someone were trying to kill me,” he says.

“Asira was with me the whole time: escapes, noises, it was all there. I traveled around the world with a feeling that I was responsible for Niv and Liron’s deaths, that I should have run to that roof faster and done something that might have saved them. Today I know they died instantly, but the feeling didn’t leave me.”

In addition to finding a way to contain all these emotions, there’s another difficulty: how to share them. Or says he had great problems making contact with team members after he returned. He says he wasn’t adequately understood.

“I understand the unit’s work and am aware of its importance, but you have to be a bit crazy to do that work, he says. “We don’t go in crazy; you get that during your service. You’re trained for it. So when you leave they should take responsibility for how you leave for civilian life with that burden.”

Today he says that if he had received some help in advance, maybe he wouldn’t have had to spend so much of his own money on therapy. “They load your hard disk and even if they don’t know how to unload it when you demobilize they should give us tools for dealing with that load,” he says. “Now I think about it 30 percent of the time, but I’ve learned to live with it.”

Seeking out the sufferers

In an event held by the unit, Brian met one of his officers from that night in Asira. The officer, who still serves in the Duvdevan in the reserves, asked Brian how he was. “I don’t know who I am,” Brian replied. “I don’t know what’s with me.”

After that event the officer decided to contact Or. When the two talked, he realized the gravity of the problem. Those talks, as well as conversations with other fighters who were clamoring for help, changed something in his way of thinking.

“We realized there were true difficulties for some of these soldiers after demobilization,” the officer says. “We went to Canada, me and a few other members of the unit, to try to build a model of therapy and assistance.”

It took time but this is how the Scheinberg Foundation’s initiative to help demobilized soldiers began. “The hardest challenge is in finding the fighters,” the officer says. “No one comes on his own initiative asking for help. We have to reach them. We’re now accompanying eight former fighters, but if you ask me where we’ll be in 10 years, I believe it will grow at least tenfold.”

In addition to helping demobilized soldiers get the help they need, the officer has set another goal: to develop awareness of the problem in the unit and create a system that will accompany soldiers throughout their service.

“My vision is that this issue will be part of the soldier’s training,” he says. “We have to talk about it every few months, sit down and talk after dramatic incidents, analyze what happened and how it affected everyone.”

He says that if soldiers learn to identify symptoms of PTSD such as sleeplessness, stress and a lack of appetite, “they’ll be able to recognize it in a teammate on time. Turning to a commander could prevent something more serious in the future.”

Now, a year after the foundation launched similar efforts, Brian and Or not only get help, they try to find others and help them too. One person they’ve located is Yehuda, now in his 40s, who was only recently diagnosed as suffering from PTSD. He still does his reserve duty in the Duvdevan.

“Until a year ago I couldn’t understand my serious sleep problems,” Yehuda says. “There were entire days I couldn’t fall asleep, sometimes making my whole body shake.”

It was suggested to Yehuda that this might be related to his military service. “They always told me to see if it was related and I’d laugh,” he says. “I did all the diagnostic tests for sleep problems, and in the end the doctor diagnosed me as post-traumatic.”

Yehuda is known by anyone who joined the unit in the ‘90s. For years he was the first face encountered by people arriving there; he took them on marches designed to foster group cohesion. Even now he doesn’t have one bad thing to say about the Duvdevan, but he sees the system, mainly the Defense Ministry, as the obstacle.

“When a fighter has a problem he faces a ministry official and he’s told that something is wrong with him, that his behavior is strange. But when I accepted him to the unit I saw him as someone suitable. Something happened on the way. He doesn’t have to wage a campaign against the army so that he’s recognized as suffering from post-trauma. Someone needs to take responsibility.”

In the meantime, says the officer, the foundation is there for anyone in need. “We’re trying to reach the snipers who were in Asira. We want to hug them and give them support if they need it. It’s important that people realize that post-trauma can express itself in signs you don’t think are important, but it’s there and it’s best to open up and talk about it,” he says.

“I had an instance after Operation Symphony of Life when I was at home in front of my refrigerator. There was a cheese called Symphony, and when I opened it I got the smell of the bodies from Asira. Am I post-traumatic? I don’t know.”

Haaretz correspondent Yaniv Kubovich, a Duvdevan veteran, is now a member of the Duvdevan Association.

Israeli Defense Minister: Those Who Threaten Israel Will Pay a High Price

April 22, 2018

“We have established here a state and the IDF specifically to prevent these threats, and those who threaten need to understand there is a price to be paid, and they will pay a full price,” he said.

BY AVRAHAM GOLD
 APRIL 22, 2018 08:48

 

Jerusalem Post

 Iran vows ‘expected and unexpected’ moves if U.S. exits nuclear deal

 Rouhani tells Assad: Iran ready to aid in Syria’s reconstruction

PM Netanyahu At the World Economic Forum in Davos (Youtube/ IsraeliPM)

PM Netanyahu At the World Economic Forum in Davos (Youtube/ IsraeliPM)
.
.
Speaking to Kann, Israel public radio, Liberman said, “The State of Israel is acting out of a lack of choice and in today’s situation we have no other choice,” after weekend reports indicated Iran is willing to re-up its nuclear program should United States President Donald Trump leave the nuclear deal.

 .

The deadline for Trump to sign a waiver to extend the deal is May 12th.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Iran’s atomic agency was ready with “expected and unexpected” reactions if the United States pulls out of a multinational nuclear deal, as Trump has threatened to do.

“Our atomic energy organization is fully prepared… for actions that they expect and actions they do not expect,” Rouhani said, without elaborating, in a speech carried by state television, referring to a possible decision by Trump to leave the accord next month.

“Iran has several options if the United States leaves the nuclear deal. Tehran’s reaction to America’s withdrawal of the deal will be unpleasant,” Iranian state TV quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying in New York.

Liberman continued his volley against Iran, positing the IDF was created specifically to counter regional threats.

“Iran is setting up weapons systems in Syria that are positioned only against us. We will not allow for Syria to become a military base [for the Iranians],” he said. “We have established here a state and the IDF specifically to prevent these threats, and those who threaten need to understand there is a price to be paid, and they will pay a full price.”

“I hope that war is not near, our primary mission is to prevent it,” he continued.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said that the IDF “will not shy away from action against those who threaten our security,” likely referencing the military buildup north of Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon.

Israeli leaders have in recent months stepped up their remarks about not allowing Iran to become entrenched in Syria, where several bases have been operating for some time. Earlier last week, Netanyahu said in his Independence Day address to foreign emissaries that Iran “is the enemy of us all – of the Arab world, of civilization.”

Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, responded to Netanyahu’s comments, saying that Israel should “not trust” its air bases, as they are “within range of our fire.”

Earlier this year, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that had been launched from Syria and had flown in Israeli air space. Israel launched a small-scale air strike campaign in response.

“We have learned ways to overcome our enemies,” Salami said, “and we can harm the enemy’s vital interests anywhere we want.” 

Shoshana Kranish and Reuters contributed to this report.

 http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Liberman-Those-who-threaten-Israel-will-pay-a-high-price-551402

Palestinians Report Four Killed, 96 Wounded by Israeli Fire in Fourth Friday of Gaza Protests

April 20, 2018

Ahead of the ‘March of Return’ mass protests, the IDF dropped warning pamphlets urging Gazans to stay away from the border

.
A Palestinian protester burns tires during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018.
A Palestinian protester burns tires during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018. Adel Hana/AP

The Health Ministry in Gaza reported that four Palestinians were killed and 96 wounded by Israeli fire on Friday as thousands of Gazans protested along the border in the fourth consecutive week of the “March of Return.”

The ministry said a total of 445 Palestinians were wounded in the protests by, among other things, live fire, tear gas inhalation and rubber bullets. Those killed were named as Ahmad Nabil Abu Aqel, 25, Mohammed Ayoub, 15, Ahmad Rashad Al-Atamana, 24, and Said Abd Al-Aal Abu Taha, 19.

According to Israeli military assessments, some 3,000 people protested at five points along the border. The IDF said that some protesters burned tires and, on several occasions, tried to fly kites with firebombs attached to them into Israeli territory. Several of those kites reached into Israeli territory and were taken down. No casualties were reported.

>> As an officer, I urged soldiers not to shoot demonstrators. Now it’s policy | Opinion >>

The march is part of a month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence. This week, the march is dedicated to the so-called martyrs that have died in previous weeks. Last week, the march was centered around burning Israeli flags.

The Hamas government in Gaza built sand barriers along the areas where the protestors gathered to protect those participating, as in previous weeks.

The media has reported a number of attempts over the past week, in particular by Egypt, to convince Hamas to stop the mass protests and the marches. The requests were rebuffed by Hamas, with the claim the protests are a popular movement backed by all Palestinian factions.

The committee organizing the protests said the marches will not stop before May 15, at the very least, the day the Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, which is based on the date in the Gregorian calendar for the establishment of the State of Israel.

Palestinian protesters evacuate a wounded woman during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018.
Palestinian protesters evacuate a wounded woman during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018. Khalil Hamra/AP
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018.
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018. Adel Hana/AP
A demonstrator wearing a mask is seen during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest at the Israel-Gaza border,  April 20, 2018.
A demonstrator wearing a mask is seen during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, April 20, 2018.\ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

In preparation for the protests, the IDF dropped leaflets in Gaza on Friday morning warning residents against trying to use violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers, as well as to damage, cross or even come near the border fence.

The leaflets, signed by the “IDF headquarters,” was addressed to Gaza residents. “You are participating in violent disturbances. Hamas is taking advantage of you to carry out terrorist attacks. The IDF is prepared for any scenario. Stay away from the fence and do not attempt to damage it.”

Last week, over 10,000 people participated in protests along the border fence. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported that one person was killed and 969 injured, including 233 who were injured by live fire from Israeli troops. Some 30,000 people came to the border area, said protest organizers.

According to the IDF, protesters have tried numerous times to damage the border fence and cross it, as well as throwing explosive devices and firebombs at Israel forces. In one attempt, demonstrators tried to attack Israeli forces using a kite carrying a firebomb. The kite fell inside the Gaza Strip and no one was injured. Other similar attempts caused a number of fires inside Israel, but no injuries.

On Thursday, Islamic Jihad published a video threatening Israeli soldiers ahead of the weekly demonstration.

The clip shows the group’s operatives looking through the scope of a rifle at Israeli military figures, including Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. The video ends with a slide reading, “You’re killing our people in cold blood and think that you’re protected, but our snipers’ sights are on your top commanders.”

Since the beginning of the violent demonstrations along the border, 34 Palestinians have allegedly been killed by IDF fire and the bodies of two of them who tried to attack an IDF position are still being held by Israel.

Palestinian medics evacuate a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018.
Palestinian medics evacuate a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, April 20, 2018.Adel Hana/AP
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018.
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018.Khalil Hamra/AP
Palestinian protesters fly a kite with a burning rag dangling from its tail to during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018.
Palestinian protesters fly a kite with a burning rag dangling from its tail to during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018. Khalil Hamra/AP

Ahead of Border Protests, Israeli Military Drops Leaflets Warning Gazans: ‘Hamas Endangers Your Lives’

April 20, 2018

‘Your future is in your hands,’ the leaflets say, as protests and riots expected Friday afternoon along the border for the fourth consecutive week

.A Palestinian man displays a leaflet that was airdropped by Israeli army over Gaza east of Gaza city, on April 20, 2018.
A Palestinian man displays a leaflet that was airdropped by Israeli army over Gaza east of Gaza city, on April 20, 2018.MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

In preparation for the expected protests and riots along the border between Israel and Gaza, the IDF dropped leaflets in Gaza on Friday morning warning residents of the Gaza Strip against trying to use violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers, as well as to damage, cross or even come near the border fence.

The protests, titled the “March of Return,” are expected to continue on Friday for the fourth consecutive week.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said: “The violent riots in the past weeks made use of civilians to cover terrorist acts against Israel’s security infrastructure and IDF forces. The IDF will not allow an attack on security infrastructure and the fence that protects Israeli citizens and will take action against anyone who tries to harm Israeli security.”

A girl walks near the Israel-Gaza border the week of April 15, 2018.
A girl walks near the Israel-Gaza border the week of April 15, 2018.SAID KHATIB/אי־אף־פי

The leaflets, signed by the “IDF headquarters,” is addressed to Gaza residents. “You are participating in violent disturbances. Hamas is taking advantage of you to carry out terrorist attacks. The IDF is prepared for any scenario. Stay away from the fence and do not attempt to damage it,” said the leaflets scattered by Israeli aircraft in the early morning in areas along the border.

>> As an officer, I urged soldiers not to shoot demonstrators. Now it’s policy | Opinion >>

“Avoid using weapons and carrying out violent acts against Israeli security forces and Israeli civilians. Keep away from terrorist elements and groups pushing riots and violence. The IDF will take action against any attempt to damage the barrier and its components and any other military equipment. Hamas is using you to advance the interests of its movement. Don’t follow Hamas orders that endanger your lives. It is possible [to act differently] – your future is in your hands,” states the leaflets.

Last week, over 10,000 people participated in protests along the border fence. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported that one person was killed and 969 injured, including 233 who were injured by live fire from Israeli troops. Some 30,000 people came to the border area, said protest organizers.

The IDF has said the Palestinians have tried numerous times to damage the border fence and cross it, as well as throwing explosive devices and firebombs at Israel forces. In one attempt, the Palestinians tried to attack Israeli forced using a kite carrying a firebomb. The kite fell inside the Gaza Strip and no one was injured. Other similar attempts caused a number of fires inside Israel, but no injuries.

On Thursday, Islamic Jihad published a video threatening Israeli soldiers ahead of the weekly demonstration.

The clip shows the group’s operatives looking through the scope of a rifle at Israeli military figures, including Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. The video ends with a slide reading, “You’re killing our people in cold blood and think that you’re protected, but our snipers’ sights are on your top commanders.”

Since the beginning of the violent demonstrations along the border, 34 Palestinians have allegedly been killed by IDF fire and the bodies of two of them who tried to attack an IDF position are still being held by Israel.

Israel prepares for Iranian revenge to include missile attacks, drone strikes

April 17, 2018

As tension mounts after alleged bombing of Syrian air base, Israel details Tehran’s aerial activities in the country, pointing out potential targets

Times of Israel
April 17, 2018
.
A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage April 16, 2018. (Iranian media)

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage April 16, 2018. (Iranian media)

Ahead of Israel’s Independence Day, the military was preparing for the possibility of a direct attack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force in response to a strike on its air base in Syria earlier this month, The Times of Israel has learned.

Iranian officials have made increasingly bellicose remarks following the April 9 strike on the T-4 air base, near Palmyra in central Syria, which killed at least seven members of the IRGC, including the head of its drone program, Col. Mehdi Dehghan.

Iran, Syria, Russia and some US officials have all said explicitly that Israel was responsible for the strike. Israeli officials refuse to comment on the matter, though The New York Times quoted an Israeli military official as acknowledging that the Jewish state was behind the attack.

On Monday, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s retaliation against Israel will come “sooner or later” and that Jerusalem will “regret its misdeeds.”

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage attributed to Israel on April 9, 2018. (Iranian media)

“The Zionist regime should not be able to take action and be exempt from punishment,” spokesman Bahram Qasemi told reporters, according to Iranian news media.

Tensions rose again on Tuesday, as additional strikes were initially reported on two air bases in Syria, with the Syrian military claiming to have shot down incoming missiles. Later, the Syrian army clarified that no missiles had actually been fired, but claimed that its countermeasures were triggered by a joint Israeli-American cyberattack.

Screen capture from video showing Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, left, during the opening of a production line to produce Iran’s Mohajer 6 drone, in Tehran, February 5, 2018. (YouTube)

Israel’s defense establishment — the country’s various intelligence services and the military — believes an Iranian revenge attack would likely be carried out by the IRGC’s air force, with surface-to-surface missiles or armed drones, The Times of Israel has learned.

That would be a departure from previous clashes between Israel and Iran, in which Tehran’s reprisals were carried out through proxies, like the Hezbollah terrorist group, rather than by its own Revolutionary Guard Corps.

There was no indication of when such an attack might take place, though Independence Day festivities scheduled for Thursday may serve as a tempting target for Iran.

“The Israel Defense Forces will do everything to ensure that Independence Day passes quietly and that the citizens of Israel can enjoy the holiday. The IDF is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios so that the citizens of Israel can celebrate the 70th Independence Day properly,” defense officials told the Ynet news site.

In what could be seen as a not-so-subtle threat, a map was distributed to Israeli media outlets on Tuesday showing five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria — potential targets for the Israel Defense Forces if Iran does carry out reprisals.

A map of Syria, provided to Israeli media, shows the approximate locations of five bases that Israel believes to be controlled by Iran.

These are Damascus International Airport, through which Iranian transport planes bring in weapons and military gear; the Sayqal air base; the T-4 air base; an airfield near Aleppo; and a base in Deir Ezzor, which was recaptured from the Islamic State terror group by the regime last year.

Israeli intelligence believes the sites are used by Iran for its missions in Syria, as well as to transport weapons to its proxies in the region.

Their exact locations on the map are not entirely accurate. (The Sayqal air base, for instance, is located east of Damascus, not south of it as it appears on the map.)

Israel believes Iran’s retaliatory effort is being led by Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, which operates around the world, with assistance from the head of the IRGC air corps, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh; the head of its surface-to-surface missile program; Col. Mahmoud Bakri Katrem Abadi; and the head of its air defense operations, Ali Akhbar Tzeidoun.

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. (Fars news)

Soleimani has repeatedly threatened Israel, and he threatened to “wipe out the Zionist entity” in February over the assassination of a Hezbollah leader, which has been attributed to the Mossad and America’s CIA.

Iran has access to a variety of surface-to-surface missiles, from short-range Fajr-5 rockets to medium-range Fateh 110 missiles, which have a range of approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) to long-range Shehab ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets over 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away.

To counter those threats, Israel has a multi-tiered missile defense system consisting of the Iron Dome for short-range rockets and mortar shells, the David’s Sling for medium-range missiles and the Arrow for long-range ballistic missiles.

Iran has been supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad since the start of his country’s civil war, first providing him with things like riot control gear at the start of the clashes and then expanding that assistance to include routine war materiel drops.

Western officials have accused Iran of using seemingly civilian airlines as fronts for the IRGC to conduct military transport missions to Syria from Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport.

Syria’s Sayqal Air Base, located east of Damascus, which Israel believes to be partially under Iranian control. (Google Earth)

Pouya Airlines, for instance, was subjected to US sanctions in 2014 for “transporting illicit cargo, including weapons, to Iran’s clients in the Levant,” according to the US Treasury Department.

Over time, the IRGC began setting up its own facilities on Syrian military bases and air fields.

Earlier this year, the Syrian news site Zaman Al Wasl quoted an Assad regime military official as saying that Iran had operatives placed on military bases throughout the country.

The Syrian outlet identified other Iranian sites in the country in addition to the five bases on the map sent out to Israeli media, including an air base near Homs under Iranian and Hezbollah control that is used to train Shiite forces.

The Tiyas, or T-4, Air Base, outside of the Syrian city of Palmyra, which Israel claims is being operated by Iran and its Quds Force. (Screen capture/Wikimapia)

The T-4 air base, also known as the Tiyas air base, has specifically been tied to the IRGC’s drone program.

Israel targeted the base on February 10, after a drone loaded with explosives was flown into Israeli airspace in order to carry out an attack, according to the Israeli military.

An Israeli attack helicopter shot down the drone moments after it entered Israeli airspace and Israeli fighter jets later targeted the mobile control center on the T-4 air base from which it was piloted.

The drone appeared to be a relatively new stealth model known as a Saeqeh, whose design was stolen from an American unmanned aerial vehicle that was captured by Iran in 2011, according to aviation analysts.

In this image made from video provided by Yehunda Pinto, the wreckage of an Israeli F-16 is seen on fire near Harduf, northern Israel, February 10, 2018. (Yehunda Pinto via AP)

During the Syrian counterattack against the Israeli jets, one F-16 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in a field in northern Israel after the pilot and navigator ejected from it.

In response to that downing of the fighter jet, Israel launched a large-scale attack on Syria’s air defenses, destroying between one-third and one-half of its capabilities, according to the IDF.

Israel sees Iran, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, as its central enemy in the region. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, marking it as a “red line” that it will fight militarily if necessary.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-prepares-for-iranian-revenge-to-include-missile-attacks-drone-strikes/

READ MORE:
SPONSORED CONTENT

Four Palestinian militants dead in Gaza blast — accidental detonation of weapons or explosives used in attacks against Israel

April 15, 2018

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature

A Palestinian man looks at the scene of an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip, April 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu MustafaREUTERS

GAZA (REUTERS) – THE Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said four of its members were killed in an apparent accidental blast in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

The group said in a statement that it was “mourning its fighters who were martyred during preparations”.

It usually employs those terms to refer to casualties caused by the accidental detonation of weapons or explosives used in attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Health Ministry confirmed four fatalities in the incident. Medics at the scene in the Rafah area said the explosion was caused by Israel. But an Israeli military spokesman said the army was not involved.

“Contrary to reports currently circulating I can tell you that the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is not aware of any IDF fire in the area surrounding Rafah,” the spokesman said.

Violence has flared in the Gaza Strip since March 30, when Palestinians began protests along the border area with Israel.

Israeli troops have shot dead 31 Gaza Palestinians and wounded hundreds since the protests began, drawing international criticism of their lethal tactics.

The border area remained largely quiet on Saturday.

Protesters have set up tented camps near the frontier as a protest dubbed “The Great March of Return” – evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel – moved into its third week.

Israel has declared a no-go zone close to the Gaza border fence.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005. The Palestinian enclave is ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, designated by Israel and the West as a terrorist group.

Citing security concerns, Israel maintains a naval blockade of the coastal territory, keeping tight restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and goods across the frontier.

Egypt, battling an Islamist insurgency in neighboring Sinai, keeps its border with Gaza largely closed.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Angus MacSwan)