Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Israeli Police Evacuate Train Station After Bomb Scare — An object suspected of being a bomb was found in a bag belonging to an Arab-Israeli citizen

August 16, 2017

Police evacuated the Rehovot train station in central Israel  Wednesday after reports that a suspicious object was found on the premises.

Image result for Rehovot train station, Israel, Photos

Rehovot train station

Police and bomb squad personnel scanned the area and after about an hour gave the “all clear.”

A gag order has been placed on the case, but it was reported that an object suspected of being a bomb was found in a bag belonging to an Arab-Israeli citizen.

Train service throughout the area was halted as a result of the bomb scare.

Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who stabbed 3 to death

August 16, 2017


© AFP | A villager walks through the wreckage of the home of a Palestinian who killed three residents of a nearby Jewish settlement after it was demolished by the Israeli army in Kobar in the occupied West Bank on August 16, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli forces demolished the home on Wednesday of a Palestinian who fatally stabbed three Jewish residents of a nearby settlement as tensions soared last month over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.The military confirmed the demolition in the village of Kobar in the occupied West Bank.

Residents said that army vehicles and bulldozers entered the area north of Ramallah around 3:00 am (0000 GMT) and surrounded the two-storey house, one floor of which was still under construction.

In recent weeks, Israeli authorities also arrested the father, mother and three brothers of the 19-year-old attacker, Omar al-Abed, according to villagers.

The family members are suspected of having known of Abed’s plans to carry out the attack in the nearby Israeli settlement of Neve Tsuf, also known as Halamish, and of failing to prevent it, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli army said the assailant had spoken of Al-Aqsa and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post.

He was shot while carrying out the attack and later arrested.

The July 21 attack came with tensions high over the highly sensitive mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Violence erupted in and around the compound last month after three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on July 14 before being killed by security forces.

Israel responded to the July 14 deadly shootings by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, used as a staging point for the attack.

For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and held mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead and the stabbings of the Israelis at the settlement was carried out at the height of the tensions.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

The Jerusalem holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

Central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the compound is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers, calling it a deterrent against future violence.

However, human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.

Iran’s risky nuclear deal threat

August 15, 2017


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is under pressure from Washington and conservative forces in Tehran. Threats of revitalizing the nuclear problem actually diverge from his interests, says DW’s Matthias von Hein.

Iranian nuclear plant (dapd)
By Matthias von Hein

Politics are often paradoxical, no more so than in the Middle East. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has just cast doubt on one of his greatest foreign policy successes. But one must assume that Rouhani does not actually wish to cancel the international nuclear deal that was reached in 2015. His threat of backing out of the agreement if the US imposed further sanctions can be seen as a cry for help – not to let things get out of hand.

The nuclear deal, of course, has many opponents in Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran, as well. Iranian opponents of the deal are mobilizing – all the more so since Rouhani won a landslide re-election victory in May. The conservative establishment, led by the powerful Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has done everything it can since then to limit Rouhani’s power and torpedo Iran’s opening to the West, something desired by the president and the majority of the population. Hassan Rouhani invested significant political capital in rapprochement with the West and the nuclear deal. Now he is confronted with the fact that Iran is being denied its share in the deal by a government in Washington that has set a confrontational course with Tehran by imposing new sanctions, overtly looking for ways of letting the entire nuclear deal fall through, and openly speaking of regime change in Tehran.

US sanctions affect EU businesses

The US sanctions policy has also caused European companies to exercise caution with business commitments in Iran, as such dealings can lead to penalties from Washington. This is especially true for banks and financial institutions. Without their help, however, trade cannot gain any momentum because of problematic financing. Ultimately, European companies are not regulated in Brussels, but instead, in Washington, and Iran’s integration into the world economy can fall by the wayside.

Matthias von Hein (DW/M. von Hein)DW’s Matthias von Hein

Washington’s aggressive rhetoric strengthens the hawks in Tehran, and Rouhani must take this into account. Just last Sunday, parliament increased the budget for the country’s missile program and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. And of course, Iranian leaders are watching North Korea. Kim Jong-un is using the threat of nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of his regime – all the more so when international pressure mounts on him. And he has been successful, so far. Tehran may now be wishing it had some of its nuclear options back on the table.

The nuclear deal has made the world safer

One thing is certain: The deal is working. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has now approved six Iranian reports on compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran is much further away from creating nuclear weapons than it was three years ago. The world has become much safer. However, one cannot expect the nuclear deal to attain goals that it was not created for, including Iran’s good conduct in other political issues like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

It is nonetheless becoming more important for Europeans to continue their support for the nuclear deal and also back the moderate political forces in Iran in general, just as the European Union did 10 days ago when the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, flew to Tehran for Rouhani’s inauguration.



Israel arrests Islamic cleric for ‘incitement’

August 15, 2017


© AFP/File | Jordanian Islamists carry a portrait of Arab-Israeli cleric Raed Salah during a protest in Amman on July 21, 2017 against new Israeli security measures, since removed, at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqa mosque compound

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli police arrested a firebrand Islamic cleric on Tuesday who has been repeatedly accused of inciting violence over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site where tensions again flared last month.

Raed Salah, released from prison in January after serving a nine-month sentence, is accused of inciting violence and terrorism as well as support for and participation in an illegal organisation, police said.

His group, the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was outlawed in 2015 after it was accused of inciting violence linked to  Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Police said in Tuesday’s statement that Salah, an Arab Israeli, is accused of having publicly supported violent acts against the country on several occasions following the ban on his organisation.

It was not clear whether the accusations were linked to last month’s deadly unrest surrounding the holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

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Violence erupted in and around the compound after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli policemen on July 14.

Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the complex, used as a staging point for the attack.

For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead, while three Israelis were fatally stabbed by a Palestinian assailant.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

Salah served a nine-month prison term after being convicted of fomenting violent protests over the holy site.

He was convicted of having incited violence in a 2007 speech. He was convicted in 2014 and his appeals were later denied.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement following Salah’s Tuesday arrest that he hoped “this time justice will be done and he will be sent behind bars for a long time.”

The compound, central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Israel says “attack by Hezbollah would be considered a declaration of war by the Lebanese state”

August 14, 2017

JERUSALEM — Israel’s education minister is warning Lebanon following threats by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Naftali Bennett, a member of Israel’s security cabinet, says any future attack by Hezbollah would be considered a “declaration of war by the Lebanese state” as a whole. He says Israel won’t operate “surgically” in the next war with the Shiite militia.

Bennett’s remarks to Army Radio on Monday follow Nasrallah’s threat Sunday to crush any Israeli force that enters Lebanon.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006. Hezbollah fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli communities, while Israel bombed targets in southern Lebanon. About 1,200 Lebanese died, most of them civilians, as well as 44 Israeli civilians and 121 soldiers.

Today, the two neighboring countries remain technically at war.


Hezbollah Pushing Lebanon to Normalise Relations with Syria — “The dissociation policy is finished”

August 14, 2017

August 13, 2017

Beirut: Hezbollah and its allies are pressing the Lebanese state to normalise relations with President Bashar Al Assad’s government in Syria, testing Lebanon’s policy of “dissociation” from the Syrian conflict and igniting a political row.

Calls for closer ties with the Syrian government, including on refugee returns and military operations on the Lebanon-Syria border, come as Al Assad regains control of more territory from rebels and seeks to recover his international standing.

The Lebanese policy of “dissociation”, agreed in 2012, has aimed to keep the deeply divided state out of regional conflicts such as Syria even as Iran-backed Hezbollah became heavily involved there, sending fighters to help Al Assad, who is also allied to Iran.

The policy has helped rival groups to coexist in governments bringing together Hezbollah, classified as a terrorist group by the United States, with politicians allied to Iran’s foe Saudi Arabia, underpinning a degree of political entente amid the regional turmoil.

While Lebanon never severed diplomatic or trade ties with Syria, the government has avoided dealing with the Syrian government in an official capacity and the collapse of the policy would be a boost a political boost to Al Assad.

It would also underline Iran’s meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs—a complaint continuously voiced by Lebanese and Gulf officials alike. Al Assad’s powerful Lebanese Shiite allies want the government to cooperate with Syria on issues such as the fight against rebels at their shared border and securing the return of the 1.5 million Syrians currently taking refuge in Lebanon.

“Everybody recognises (the dissociation policy) as a farce to some extent, but at least it contained the conflict and prevented Lebanon from being dragged even further into what is going on in Syria,” said Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut.

“(A normalisation of relations) would be viewed as a victory, if using sectarian terms, of Shiites versus the Sunnis and will just inflame tensions even more.”

Lebanon’s relationship with Syria has for decades set rival Lebanese against each other. Syria dominated its smaller neighbour from the end of its 1975-90 civil war until 2005.

A row erupted last week because of plans by government ministers from Hezbollah and the Shiite Amal party to visit Damascus this week.

Although the government has refused to sanction the visit as official business—citing the dissociation policy—Industry Minister Hussain Hajj Hassan, a Hezbollah member, has insisted they will be in Damascus as government representatives.

“We will meet Syrian ministers in our ministerial capacity, we will hold talks over some economic issues in our ministerial capacity, and we will return in our ministerial capacity to follow up on these matters,” Hassan told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV.

Samir Geagea, a leading Lebanese Christian politician and longstanding opponent of Hezbollah and Syrian influence in Lebanon, has said the visit to Syria will “shake Lebanon’s political stability and put Lebanon in the Iranian camp”.

A senior Lebanese official allied to Damascus described the row as “part of the political struggle in the region”.

The influence of Iran’s allies in Lebanon was shown last year by the selection of a longtime ally of Hezbollah, Christian politician Michel Aoun, as head of state in a political deal that also installed Saudi-allied Sunni Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri.

Hezbollah has recently stepped up calls for the Lebanese government to engage directly with Damascus over the return of Syrian refugees, who now account for one in four of the people in Lebanon and are overwhelmingly Sunni.

The issue is of enormous political sensitivity in Lebanon, although all politicians agree they must return to Syria due to strains on Lebanon’s resources and risks to its sectarian balance.

Hariri has said Lebanon will only coordinate refugee returns with the United Nations, which says there can be no forced return of people who fled the conflict, many of whom fear returning to a Syria governed by Al Assad.

But one branch of the Lebanese state, the powerful internal security agency General Security, recently held talks with the Syrian authorities to secure the return of several thousand Syrians into Syria following a military campaign by Hezbollah in the northeast border region.

General Security says the refugee returns have been voluntary. The United Nations has had no role in the talks.

An expected Lebanese army assault on Daesh militants at the border with Syria has been another focal point for the debate over cooperation with Damascus. The army, a recipient of US aid, has said it will lead the battle alone in Lebanese territory, and does not need to coordinate with other parties.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said his group and the Syrian army will mount a simultaneous assault against Daesh from the Syrian side of the frontier, however.

“Practically speaking, the dissociation policy is finished,” said Nabil Boumonsef, a columnist with the Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar.

But he warned of the political ramifications in Lebanon, saying “political score settling” by one party against another would create “a big problem” in the country.

Netanyahu: Time for Kurds to have their own state

August 14, 2017

Israeli PM endorses Kurdish independence, telling Republican lawmakers Kurds ‘share our values’.

By Tzvi Lev, 14/08/17 11:02


Alex Kolomoisky/POOL

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered rare support for Kurdish independence, telling a visiting delegation of 33 Republican Congressmen last week that he was in favor of an independent state for the “brave, pro-Western people who share our values,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Netanyahu has traditionally shied away from expressing sentiments in favor of the Kurds as to avoid offending Turkey, who has a large, restive Kurdish minority.

The previous time Netanyahu publically supported the Kurds was in 2014, when he said that “It is upon us to support the Kurds’ aspiration for independence,” and calling them a “fighting people that have proven political commitment and political moderation, and they’re also worthy of their own political independence.”

The Kurds are one of the world’s largest stateless ethnic minorities, and live in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey.

An independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan will take place in September 2017. Former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, who many see as Netanyahu’s potential heir, has urged Israel to support Kurdish independence, saying in June that “they have proven themselves over decades to be a reliable strategic partner for us.”

Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah Talks Against Israel and the United States — Calls the Second Lebanon War “A Divine Victory.”

August 14, 2017
 AUGUST 14, 2017 07:59

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke out against Israel and the United States.

Hassan Nasrallah

On Sunday Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech to mark the 11th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. He called to the Israeli leadership not to stop at the closure of the Haifa ammonia tank – which was ordered closed due to health hazards – but to continue and move the nuclear research center in Dimona. He also referred to the Second Lebanon War as “a divine victory.”

“One example of the respect and recognition Israel gives the ‘resistance’ is the closure of the ammonia tank in Haifa,” he said. “We hope that they will look into moving the nuclear reactor in Dimona as it is more dangerous and needs extra care.”

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Nasrallah warned Israel against future military operations in Lebanon. He said that “any Israeli unit that enters Lebanon will be defeated,” adding, “Israel’s goal in the war was to crush Hezbollah, but since [the war], our strength only increased and the Israelis know it. When Israelis speak about the capacities of Hezbollah growing they recognize their defeat in the war.”

“The age in which Israelis would threaten and act is over, because Hezbollah is part of the resistance that brought down the project of greater Israel, ” said Nasrallah. “As the enemy knows, a military action can’t reach the goal of eliminating the resistance… they use other means. ”

America and Israel, two “terrorist states.”

The Hezbollah leader addressed the US as well, claiming that “the US and Israel are crying because the terrorist groups have failed in Syria.”

A few hours before the speech Nasrallah met five Hezbollah fighters who returned from Syria where they were held captive by the Al Nusra front, a salafist jihadist terrorist group. The group traded the five Hezbollah fighters in exchange for five of their own fighters that were captured by Hezbollah.

The returned fighters were labeled ” heroes” by Nasrallah.

He went on to say that “Israel is hopeful that the administration of President Donald Trump will use pressure to achieve this goal [of weakening Hezbollah using non-military options]” and that he hoped no one in Lebanon will cooperate with the American pressure, including economic sanctions.


Palestinian woman stabs, wounds Israeli in Jerusalem

August 12, 2017


© AFP/File | Israeli border police stand guard outside the flashpoint Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on June 18, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A Palestinian woman stabbed and wounded an Israeli man near an east Jerusalem flashpoint on Saturday, before she was arrested, police said.

They said in an English-language statement that the incident occurred next to the Old City’s Damascus Gate, site of repeated past attacks.

It said that a “female Arab terrorist” stabbed the man, injuring him lightly.

The woman, a Jerusalem resident aged about 30, was arrested at the scene, police added.

The Old City is located in east Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

The July 14 killing there of two policemen by three Arab Israeli gunmen led to spiralling unrest after Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, used as a staging point for the attack.

For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests left six Palestinians dead.

The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors but tension remains high.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has killed 293 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 47 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Kuwait arrests 12 ‘terrorists’ with alleged ties to Iran

August 12, 2017
 August 12 at 5:33 AM
Israel sees Iran and Lebanese ally Hezbollah (pictured) as its greatest existential threat, a view shared by the leaders of the region’s main Sunni Arab states
KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s Interior Ministry says 12 men with links to a terrorist group associated with Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been arrested.The ministry said in a statement late Friday that the men were among a group of 26 who had received prison sentences from Kuwait’s Supreme Court in June but they refused to turn themselves in. They were accused of weapons possession and planning “hostile actions” inside Kuwait.

One Iranian man was tried in absentia and the rest are Kuwaiti nationals. Four men remained at large.

The case spurred Kuwait to shutter the Iranian cultural mission and reduce the number of Iranian diplomats stationed there last month, deepening a rift between the Gulf Arab states and Tehran.

The government says the terror group was uncovered in 2015.