LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January
Playing with fire on Israel's northern front/Alex FishmanظYnetnews/January 19/15
Are Hezbollah and Israel on the verge of open war/Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/January 19/15
Hezbollah will respond to attack, but not by opening a front in the Golan/Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/January 19/15
Geneva talks, nuclear walks and Obama’s ticking clock/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/January 19/15
France's Moment of Truth/Michel Gurfinkiel/PJ Media/January 19/15
Is the world’s reaction to the Syrian war still seasonal/Raed Omari /Al Arabiya/January 19-20/15
Reframing the Enemy after France's 9/11/Jeffrey Herf/The Times of Israel/January 19/15
Doing the Islamic terrorists' job/Ben-Dror Yemini /Ynetnews /January 19/15
Lebanese Related News published on January 19-20/15
Hezbollah silent on retaliation plans
Don’t take the bait
Mixed reactions to Israel attack on Hezbollah
Bar association denounces attack on Lebanese lawyers
Army shoot-out wounds two soldiers
Hizbullah Buries Mughniyeh as Party Officials Stay Mum on Possible Response
Report: Lebanese Government Mulls to Approve Proposal on Arsal Captives
Kataeb Urges 'Unity' after Israeli Raid, Commitment to Dissociation Policy
Lebanese Army, UNIFIL Patrol Border Area amid High Alert after Israeli Strike on Hizbullah
Hezbollah papers vow 'calculated' response
Iran Condemns Israeli Attack on Hizbullah, Describes it as 'State Terrorism'
VIDEO: Aftermath of strike on Hezbollah
Raad: Future-Hezbollah talks are promising
Soldier Hurt as Army Arrests Four Fugitives in Baalbek
Berri Says Israel Wants to Shake Lebanon Stability as Officials Seek to Contain Repercussions of Strike
ISF: Roumieh Bloc B inmates in ‘good health’
Hand Grenade Hurled near British Cemetery in Haret Saida
Man Wounded in Gunfire from Syrian Side of Border
Abou Faour: Health Conditions at Airport Remain Tragic, Syrian Dealer Case Sent to Judiciary
HRW: Lebanon Religious Laws Violate Women's Rights
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Iranian general killed in reported Israeli strike on Hezbollah in Syria
Argentina Accused of Covering Up Iran Involvement in Bombing
Israel braces for early payback for deaths of Hizballah officers, Iranian general on Golan
EU appeals removing Hamas from terror list
Jews and Muslims of Tunisia mourn terror victim
Europe turns to Israeli know-how to fight terror
Gaza rallies in support of Paris terrorists
45 churches torched in Niger capital in cartoon demos: police
Egypt’s Sisi urges new Muslim religious discourse to fight ‘terrorism’
Language of UK plea to imams to fight radicalism angers some Muslims
Globetrotting Pope Francis to travel to Latin America
In Israel, Japan PM says committed to mideast peace
Mali government, U.N. declare country Ebola-free
Canada special forces clash with IS in Iraq: military
German anti-Islam group vows that it won't be silenced
Yemeni Houthi fighters surround PM's home: gov't spokesman
French aid worker kidnapped in Central African Republic: presidency
EU to launch anti-terror projects with Arab nations, Turkey
Erdogan chairs Turkey cabinet for first time as president
Egypt jihadists claim attack on Sinai pipeline to Jordan
Canada Special Forces Clash with IS in Iraq
McCain Urges 'Boots on the Ground' to Combat IS
Jihad Watch Site Latest Posts
Video: Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer speak at Free Speech Rally, Garland, Texas, January 17, 2015
UK jihadi linked to Paris jihad murderers can’t be deported because he “has right to family life”
Robert Spencer in PJ Media: 5 New Signs that the Jihad Against the West Is Just Getting Warmed Up
Pamela Geller: Charlie Hebdo Butchery Motivated Dallas Protest
UK plea to imams to fight “extremism” draws charge of “Islamophobia”
Video: Robert Spencer on Sun TV on jihad sleeper cells in Europe
Prosecutor who accused Argentine President of whitewashing Iranian role in Jewish center bombing shot dead hours before testimony
Organization of Islamic Cooperation planning legal action against Charlie Hebdo for publishing blasphemous cartoons
Hypnotized by Slogans
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: The Free World Under Siege
Pamela Geller: “Free-speech foes attack my website” — temporary site is up
Mixed reactions to Israel attack on
The Daily Star/Jan. 20, 2015
BEIRUT: Local and international officials expressed mixed reactions Monday to the news of Israel’s attack on a Hezbollah convoy in Syria a day earlier, as the party began to bury the first of six of its fighters killed in the airstrike.
While some roundly condemned Israel’s attack as an act of terror and aggression, others warned that Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian civil war risked dragging Lebanon into a confrontation it could ill afford.
The Israeli helicopter strike on a group of vehicles travelling through the Golan Heights killed Hezbollah field commander Mohammad Issa, along with Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, four other Lebanese fighters, two Syrian fighters affiliated with Hezbollah and a senior Iranian commander.
Iranian Foreign MinistryIn a statement, Iran expressed its condolences to the families of those killed as well as the survivors.
“The terrorist act indicates that the Syria war is a part of the confrontation with the Zionist regime [Israel],” it said, praising Hezbollah for its determination to continue along “the path of jihad and martyrdom against occupation and foreign interference in the affairs of other nations.”Future MovementFuture Movement lawmaker Ahmad Fatfat accused Hezbollah of caring more about Iran’s interests than those of Lebanon, stressing that “the Lebanese have nothing to do with what’s happening in Syria’s Golan Heights.”
In remarks to Akhbar al-Yom news site Monday, he warned that if Hezbollah used Lebanese territory to respond to the attack by Israel then Lebanon would be dragged into a “destructive war that would be more fierce than the 2006 conflict.”
HezbollahHezbollah MP Hussein Musawi said the incident “comes in the context of an open war between the resistance and the Israeli entity, which has never stopped.”
In comments made during political seminar in the town of Nabi Sheet in Baalbek, Musawi also extended his “blessing and condolences to the families of the martyrs.”
Regarding Hezbollah’s response to the attack, comments from the party remained vague. Mahmoud Qomati, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, said Monday that the party would respond to the attack “in the right place and at the right time.”
Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb“It’s not in anyone’s interest for a front to be opened [with Israel] and for Lebanon to enter a war,” Harb said in a statement released after his meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam Monday.
“This issue concerns all the Lebanese, because [ensuing] repercussions and reactions could make Lebanon vulnerable to adverse consequences,” he added.
The telecoms minister offered his condolences to “Lebanese citizens” who were killed during the attack, adding that he hoped Hezbollah would refrain from being involved in battles outside of Lebanon.
Amal Movement“Israel does not want Lebanon to be at ease,” Speaker Nabih Berri told visitors. “The more Lebanon achieves progress in terms of stability, Israel steps in with the aim of putting pressure, sabotaging [stability] and escalation against Lebanon.”
Free Patriotic Movement “We were not in need of the Qunaitra massacre to discover Israel’s terrorist attitude, for this is its historical path: killings, terrorism and desecration of holy sites,” FPM leader Michel Aoun tweeted. “I offer my condolences to the leader of the resistance and to families of the martyrs.”
Kataeb PartyThe attack points to the importance of national dialogue between rival parties which would serve to “ward off the repercussions of the Israeli operation,” said a statement released by the party after its regular meeting Monday.
The party urged Hezbollah to abide by a policy of disassociation from regional affairs in an effort to prevent “serious conflict” and called for parties to “keep Lebanon out of a dangerous war whose consequences Lebanon is not capable of bearing.”
“The Lebanese people continue to pay the price of Hezbollah’s involvement in all regional conflicts,” Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel added on his personal Twitter account.
Lebanese Communist Party“The ugly crime by the Zionist enemy that happened [Sunday] ... confirms the comprehensiveness of the Israeli aggression that includes all Arab countries, on top of the daily aggression on Palestinian youth and children,” a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of the party.
The attack confirms “the direct Israeli role in the Syrian crisis” and is an attempt to obstruct a possible “political dialogue between the Syrian state and Syrian opposition,” the statement added.
Former President Michel SleimanCondemning the attack, Sleiman warned of “the consequences of being drawn into any reactions on the Lebanese borders with Israel, whom we shouldn’t give any excuse to benefit from in its internal policies just for electoral reasons.”
Sleiman reiterated “the necessity of adopting the defense strategy that he presented to the national dialogue committee to benefit from the powers of the resistance [Hezbollah] to support the Army in its confrontation of any possible Israeli aggression on Lebanese soil.”
To offer his condolences for those killed in the attack, Sleiman called the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad.
Shiite scholar Sayyed Ali Fadlallah“The aggression by the Zionist enemy that targeted the fighters of the Islamic resistance in Qunaitra is out of a strategic fear of the resistance, which is still in control of the Zionist leaders’ minds,” Fadlallah said in a statement Monday. “They see it as a worrying element and a threat to their entity and existence.”
“This Zionist aggression confirms that the enemy knows about everything happening in Syria, and is trying to control the course of the Syrian situation,” he added.
He said the reason behind the attack was for Syria to be “kept in the cycle of attrition on the one hand and for [Israel] to be a key player in all that is going on on the other hand, under the pretext of protecting its being and security.”
Fatah MovementSpeaking on behalf of Palestinians, Fatah condemned the attack and offered its condolences.
“It’s not surprising that the Zionist enemy would commit a traitorous criminal aggression targeting [Hezbollah],” the statement said, adding that the attack affected both the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples.
Hezbollah silent on retaliation plans
Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star/Jan. 20, 2015
BEIRUT: Hezbollah kept mum Monday on how and when it would retaliate over an Israeli raid that killed six of its fighters and an Iranian general in Syria’s Golan Heights, in a move apparently designed to keep the Israelis guessing and at bay. Meanwhile, thousands of Hezbollah’s supporters streamed to the streets of Beirut’s southern suburbs to mourn the son of slain military commander Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in the Israeli airstrike. In similar events in the past, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah would address his supporters through a televised speech to outline the party’s response to any deadly Israeli attack targeting its fighters, but by Monday evening he had still not appeared. Nasrallah’s no-show gave rise to speculation that Hezbollah would prefer to first avenge the killing of its fighters before speaking on the implications of the raid, viewed as a major military escalation in the decadeslong struggle between the powerful Shiite party and the Jewish state. The Israeli raid ratcheted up tensions with Hezbollah, which recently boasted of rockets that could strike any part of the Jewish state, and threatened to spark a new confrontation between the two sides which fought a devastating 33-day war in the summer of 2006.
A number of Hezbollah officials contacted by The Daily Star refused to comment either on the Israeli raid or the party’s possible retaliation. But Mahmoud Qomati, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, said in a TV interview the party would respond to the Israeli attack in “the right place and at the right time.” A former minister said he expected Hezbollah’s retaliation against Israel to be limited to avert a major military conflagration in the region. He also said any retaliation decision to be taken by Hezbollah would have to be coordinated with Iran.
Any Hezbollah response to the Israeli raid would be “constrained and calculated” in order to forestall a major military flare-up in the region, the former minister said.
Speaker Nabih Berri telephoned Nasrallah to offer his condolences for the killing of the Hezbollah fighters. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk described the Israeli raid as “a major incident that reflected magnitude of complication in the region.”
“This complication will increase as a result of this operation and the nature of martyrs who fell,” Machnouk said after meeting with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea at the latter’s residence in Maarab, north of Beirut. “But we are doing our job to preserve the country’s safety in the hope of reaching the desired solution.”Jihad Mughniyeh, 25, was one of six Hezbollah fighters killed Sunday when an Israeli helicopter attacked a Hezbollah convoy in the Syrian town of Qunaitra. At least one Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander was also killed in the raid. A Lebanese security source told The Daily Star that two Syrian fighters affiliated with Hezbollah were also killed.
Amid chants of “Death to Israel” and calls for revenge, thousands of Hezbollah’s supporters poured onto the streets of Beirut’s southern suburbs to mourn Mughniyeh. With women throwing rose petals from balconies, the black-clad mourners raised their fists into the air, chanting religious slogans as the Hezbollah flag-draped coffin of Mughniyeh was carried shoulder high toward the Rawdat al-Shahidayn cemetery in the Ghobeiri district, where he was laid to rest in a tomb next to his slain father’s.Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s top military commander who was on the U.S. most-wanted list for the attacks on Israeli and Western targets, was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008 which the party blamed Israel. Funerals for the other five victims of Sunday’s attack are planned in south Lebanon Tuesday.
Iran denounced the Israeli airstrike and confirmed that a Revolutionary Guard general was killed in the raid.
A statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry did not mention reports that a top Iranian field commander was also killed in the attack. But Sepah News, the official website for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, confirmed that Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was killed in a “Zionist helicopter attack while he was inspecting the Qunaitra region.”The Sepah report said Dadi had previously served as a commander in Iran’s central Yazd Province. “The terrorist act indicates that the Syria war is a part of the confrontation with the Zionist regime [Israel],” the Foreign Ministry’s statement said, praising Hezbollah for its firm stance to continue “on the path of jihad and martyrdom against occupation and foreign interference in the affairs of other nations.”Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy, said Hezbollah’s retaliation to “the Zionist air attack in Qunaitra will be severe.”
In a letter to Nasrallah offering his condolences over the death of six Hezbollah fighters, he said: “These heinous crimes, which are repeated by the Zionist entity, are aimed at weakening the resistance axis in confronting terrorism and occupation in the region.”
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army and U.N. peacekeepers intensified their patrols along the Blue Line on the border with Israel amid heightened tensions in the region caused by the Israeli raid. Security sources told The Daily Star that the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, backing Lebanese soldiers, has been closely monitoring movements on both sides of the volatile border with night goggles and binoculars. UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said the situation along the Blue Line was calm and under control, adding that the peacekeepers did not take any extraordinary measures. He said he did not see any signal for any escalation or military reinforcements in the region that falls under UNIFIL supervision and control. – Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari
Report: Lebanese Government Mulls to Approve Proposal on Arsal Captives
Naharnet/Progress was made in the case of the so-called Arsal hostages after reportedly the kidnappers of the Lebanese servicemen approved a proposal to resolve it and the government said it was mulling to accept it. An Nahar daily reported on Monday that the proposal was made by the deputy municipal chief of the northeastern border town of Arsal, Ahmed Fleiti, and Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujairi. Both have been acting as mediators between Lebanese officials and the militants who took the soldiers and policemen captive during a cross-border attack on Arsal in August last year. However, the government has not officially tasked them with negotiating their release and has repeatedly said that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is the only person entitled to negotiate on behalf of the Lebanese authorities.
The mediation of Fleiti and al-Hujairi is being carried out in outmost secrecy, said An Nahar. The kidnappers have approved their proposal and the government is heading towards giving it the green light after removing some of its obstacles, it said.
The report did not give further details. But An Nahar said that Flaiti received a pledge that the militants from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group would not kill more captives. The militants have executed four of the hostages. Among their demands is the release of Islamists from Roumieh prison.
Berri Says Israel Wants to Shake Lebanon Stability as Officials Seek to Contain Repercussions of Strike
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri has accused Israel of seeking to hit Lebanon every time the country makes progress towards stability as a report said that he held contacts with top officials to contain the repercussions of an Israeli strike that killed several Hizbullah members.
“Every time we take steps forward in terms of achieving stability … Israel tries to create chaos,” local dailies on Monday quoted Berri as telling his visitors. “Israelis don't want Lebanon to relax,” he said. An Israeli strike in Syria on Sunday killed the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah commander assassinated in 2008 in Damascus, and at least five other fighters. In a statement issued to the media, Hizbullah identified one of the six slain men as Jihad Mughniyeh, who is one of the most prominent party officials to die in Syria since the group sent its members to the neighboring country to fight alongside President Bashar Assad's forces against the rebellion. The dead also included another senior Hizbullah commander, Mohammed Issa, and at least one Iranian national with the group, the statement said.
An Nahar daily said on Monday that Berri, Premier Tammam Salam and Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat held contacts after the attack to contain its repercussions. The newspaper expected more contacts to be held with Iran, which is Hizbullah's main backer. Hizbullah's al-Manar TV warned on Sunday that Israel was "playing with fire that puts the security of the whole Middle East on edge." The party's statement said the strike came as fighters were inspecting positions in the Golan Heights, close to the Israeli-controlled frontier, in an area known as Mazraat al-Amal. Israel did not confirm the strike but Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told an Israeli radio station that considering Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had recently denied the group’s presence in the Golan Heights, “he has some explaining to do.”
Lebanese Army, UNIFIL Patrol Border Area amid High Alert after Israeli Strike on Hizbullah
Naharnet/The Lebanese army and U.N. peacekeepers on Monday carried out patrols along the border with Israel amid a high alert in the area, mainly near the occupied Shebaa Farms, a day after Israel's deadly air strike on Hizbullah members in Syria.
The state-run National News Agency said Lebanese troops and UNIFIL patrolled the southern border while Israel stopped its patrols along the technical fence and intensified them one to two kilometers deep into Israeli territory. There was high alert in the South in general after at least six Hizbullah members were killed on Sunday in an Israeli strike in an area known as Mazraat al-Amal on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Israel seized part of the mountainous Golan Heights plateau from Syria during the 1967 Mideast war.
Despite the alert, UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti described the situation in the peacekeepers' area of operations as “normal.”“Nothing has changed,” he said, adding “UNIFIL is carrying out its routine patrols with the Lebanese army.”
In a statement issued to the media on Sunday night, Hizbullah identified one of the six slain men as Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah operative assassinated in a 2008 car bombing in Damascus. The dead also included another senior Hizbullah commander, Mohammed Issa, and at least one Iranian national with the group, the statement said. The Israeli air force has carried out several raids against targets in Syria, including depots allegedly storing weapons meant for Hizbullah, since the conflict there started nearly four years ago. The most recent strike was in December, when Israeli warplanes struck weapons warehouses near Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.Sources close to Hizbullah told As Safir daily that the party's retaliation to Sunday's strike is "inevitable.”But the officials said the retaliation would not lead to an all-out war. “The party will take the time it sees necessary to set its next steps with calm and decisiveness,” they added.
Kataeb Urges 'Unity' after Israeli
Raid, Commitment to Dissociation Policy
Naharnet/The Kataeb Party on Monday called for abiding by Lebanon's official “self-dissociation” policy towards regional conflicts, following an unprecedented Israeli raid in Syria that killed six Hizbullah fighters, as it urged the Lebanese parties to preserve the relations with Arab countries. "The Israeli raid that targeted Hizbullah's post in Syria's Quneitra and killed Lebanese fighters requires our concern over its repercussions on Lebanon,” said Kataeb's political bureau in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. The party called for “unity among the Lebanese to preserve Lebanon from the repercussions of the Israeli operation and a return to the self-dissociation policy to keep Lebanon away from the dangerous conflicts and their repercussions.”On Sunday, at least six Hizbullah members and several Iranians including a top general were killed in an Israeli airstrike on an area known as Mazraat al-Amal on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Among the slain Hizbullah members was Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah operative assassinated in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008. Once solely focused on fighting Israel, Hizbullah is now deeply involved in the war in neighboring Syria, where it backs President Bashar Assad against the rebels seeking to topple him. Top Hizbullah official Ibrahim al-Hajj was also killed in July 2014 in Iraq, where government forces and Shiite volunteers are battling the extremist Islamic State group. The Kataeb politburo also stressed the importance of “Lebanon's brotherly relations with Arab countries, especially the Gulf states and Bahrain, which have always supported Lebanon and embraced thousands of Lebanese who work there.”"The stances of Hizbullah's secretary general regarding Bahrain or any other Arab country harm Lebanon, and all the Lebanese parties must contribute to put out regional fires,” Kataeb added.
Kataeb also asked for “a national stance that preserves the brotherly relations with the Arab countries.”On January 9, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah alleged the presence of a “Zionist-like naturalization scheme” in Bahrain. He also criticized the Gulf kingdom over its arrest of opposition leader Ali Salman. His statement was met by broad Arab dismay, with the Gulf Cooperation Council announcing the remarks contained “an incitement to violence and discord.”Regarding corruption, Kataeb stressed the importance of “reforming all the institutions and declaring war on corruption that has been widespread since decades.”The party also condemned “the assault by members of the delegation of the Syrian Bar Association on the delegation of the Beirut and Tripoli bar associations.”A Lebanese lawyers delegation was assaulted Sunday by members of the Syrian delegation as Lebanon's representative was delivering a speech on terrorism at the Conference of Arab Lawyers in Cairo.
Iran Condemns Israeli Attack on Hizbullah, Describes it as 'State Terrorism'
Naharnet /Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Monday that he "vigorously condemns" the Israeli strike that killed six Hizbullah fighters in Syria. Zarif said Sunday's strike was no surprise, describing it as "state terrorism" by Israel. “We condemn all actions of the Zionist regime as well as all acts of terror,” Zarif told Press TV. "This has been a practice followed for a very long time,” he said. Among the Hizbullah members killed in the attack in the Mazraat al-Amal area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, close to the Israeli-controlled frontier, is Jihad Mughniyeh. Jihad is the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah operative assassinated in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008. He is the most prominent Hizbullah figure killed in the neighboring country since the party joined the war in 2012, fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's troops against the rebels seeking to topple him.
Don’t take the bait
The Daily Star/Jan. 20, 2015
The attack against a Hezbollah convoy in Syria Sunday is typical of Israeli aggression, and likely seeks to serve some domestic political interests. It is imperative now that Israel is denied its opportunistic attempt at furthering strife in the region.
The incident must be condemned, as with any act which leads to the loss of Lebanese life, wherever in the world, especially by an enemy state. But it is important to reiterate that the attack happened in Syrian territory, and it is up to the Syrian authorities to decide how and whether to react. As with previous aggressive acts committed by Israel, this attack comes at a politically sensitive moment: before elections in the spring, and at a time when Israel is as keen as possible to distract the world from its failings in the peace process; the growing support for Palestine in Europe, and the ICC’s announcement of an inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes in its latest offensive against Gaza. An Iranian general was also killed in the attack, and as ever, Israel is unhappy with the progress of nuclear negotiations between Tehran and the West. While some naturally feel a desire for retaliation against Israel, Hezbollah must be vigilant against designs for it to be drawn into a larger confrontation. Lebanon has enough concerns of its own without falling prey to a plot against it.
And as the U.S.-led global coalition against ISIS continues across northern Syria and Iraq, Hezbollah does not need to be tarred with the same brush as ISIS, which is a message Netanyahu keeps trying to drive home and which is exactly what Israel is hoping will happen.
Playing with fire on Israel's northern front
Alex FishmanظYnetnews/Published: 01.20.15
Analysis: A helicopter and two missiles killed a group of Lebanese and Iranian terror activists in Syrian Golan Heights – and now IDF and northern residents are in suspense: Will Hezbollah respond or hold back? Someone threw a match into a powder keg and is now waiting to see whether it will explode or not. This is a dangerous exercise in practical chemistry conducted on the eve of the final exam: The elections in Israel. A helicopter and two missiles killed a group of Lebanese and Iranian terror activists in the Syrian Golan Heights – and now we're all in suspense: Will Hezbollah respond or hold back? There are several partners in this pyromania. Hezbollah, likely with Iran's direct help and guidance, was about to carry out a series of terror attacks against Israel on the Golan Heights in order to renew the balance of deterrence against strikes attributed to the Israel Air Force.
The Iranians and the Syrians reached the conclusion that Israel is no longer deterred on the Syrian front and is carrying on uninhibited, and that it should therefore be forced to get back in line through Hezbollah or, to be more exact, through its Golan front.
This organization, led by Jihad Mughniyeh, gained control of an outpost in a series of villages, some Druze, in the Syrian Golan. If the attacks had been carried out, Israel would not have been able to hold back, especially on the eve of elections. The two missiles which killed the team that planned the attacks were allegedly a preventive step. This operation may have succeeded, but the patient – the situation in the north – is only deteriorating. Assuming that the reports from Syria and Lebanon are true, the northern front is reaching a boiling point as we speak, perhaps the most explosive boiling point since the start of the civil war in Syria.
Four days after Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a pompous interview to the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen network – in which he threatened Israel with modern weapons, the occupation of parts of the Galilee and a response from the "resistance front" to the strikes in Syria – Israel is giving him the finger: Here, we killed some of your top men in Syria. Now let's see what you can do. The official Israel is keeping quiet, hoping that the other side would rather swallow the bitter pill. This trick worked well with the Syrians, after the bombings of weapon shipments to Hezbollah, but it's not as effective with Nasrallah's organization. In March 2014, for example, Hezbollah attacked IDF patrols near the fence in the Golan and Mount Dov after some of its senior members were hit. It was only a miracle that none of the soldiers were killed. What happened on Sunday looks like it was taken from an alleged scenario of an IDF exercise simulating an escalation on the northern front. And this is what such a scenario could look like: Israel carries out a targeted assassination against senior Hezbollah members, including a symbolic personality – someone like the son of the legendary operations officer, Imad Mughniyeh. And then the war game begins: Hezbollah responds by firing at the Golan, by executing an attack against IDF forces on the Lebanon border, or worse – by firing rockets into Israel. The IDF may respond severely or in a symbolic manner, indicating that it is interested in ending this round of escalation. But the scenario could deteriorate, and both sides may find themselves in a "fighting embrace" against their own interest, which is to maintain the status quo. It's clear to both sides that the conflict will occur. The question is when: Will it be this year, or after the situation in Syria is clarified?
This scenario, whose first chapter is taking place before our eyes, illustrates the similarity between the Golan front and the Gaza front. Like in Gaza, there is no regular army on the other side, no UN, no one to complain to. Like in Gaza, there is a border fence in the Golan and a new regional division with a command intelligence collection regiment and observation means. The fighting methods in the north are also similar to the ones in Gaza: Targeted assassinations. Jihad Mughniyeh was killed by a weapon system with a public signature of the operator: A fighter jet or another aircraft. Yet there is a dramatic difference between Gaza and the Golan, which is concealed in the intensity of the conflict: The strength gained by Hezbollah makes all the difference. Whoever decided on Sunday's strike probably estimated that Hezbollah's interest – while its organs are stretched on all fronts – is to respond moderately. They may or may not be right. Intelligence is not an exact science.
Argentina Accused of Covering Up Iran Involvement in Bombing
Monday, January 19, 2015 | Israel Today Staff
The lead prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina was found dead on Sunday, just hours before he was to present parliament with evidence that the government had covered up Iranian involvement in the terrorist attack. According to statements made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman (pictured), some to the Israeli news site Times of Israel, Iran had decided to attack Argentina after the latter suspended nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic.
“When they choose to act against a country, the attack is commonly on the Jewish community,” said Nisman. Evidence collected by the prosecutor suggested the attack was planned and ordered by the upper echelons of Iran’s leadership, including then-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But that evidence has never been officially accepted because, as Nisman charged prior to his untimely death, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner engaged in a cover-up both to appease Tehran and to facilitate new trade relations between Argentina and Iran. “The president and her foreign minister took the criminal decision to fabricate Iran’s innocence to sate Argentina’s commercial, political and geopolitical interests,” Nisman told the Buenos Aires Herald.
All of this was to be presented to the Argentine parliament on Monday. Nisman was found with a single fatal bullet wound to the head. Despite the circumstances, police initially determined his death to be a suicide.
In addition to the clear signs of a government cover-up, the episode draws attention to the fact that Iranian leadership’s problem is not with Israel alone, but with Jews in general, no matter how much it might claim otherwise. In Buenos Aires, Jews were attacked simply because they were Jews in a matter with little or no connection to Israel.
Iranian general killed in reported Israeli strike on Hezbollah in Syria
Hezbollah official tells AFP five other Iranians also killed in strike; Israeli security cabinet to convene over concerns of possible escalation along northern border.
By Barak Ravid/Haaretz/ Jan. 19, 2015/Iran has confirmed that a senior Iranian general was killed Sunday in an alleged Israeli strike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, local media reported. According to the report, Iran's Revolutionary Guard said General Ali al-Addadi was serving in Iran as an advisor to the Syrian Army. A Hezbollah official told AFP that five other Iranian military men were also killed in the strike. Foreign media reports claimed Sunday that Israel had struck a site on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing at least six members of Hezbollah, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of slain Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008. It is widely assumed that Israel planted the car bomb that killed him. The Israeli army has neither confirmed nor denied the reports. Meanwhile, Israel's security cabinet is planning to meet Tuesday morning to discuss concerns that tensions will escalate on its northern border in the wake of the alleged Israeli strike, according to an official in Jerusalem. Western intelligence sources say that a unit headed by Jihad Mughniyeh plotted to attack Israel with rockets, anti-tank missiles and bombs, and planned to send terror operatives into Israeli territory. The strike came three days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he considered frequent Israeli strikes in Syria as major acts of aggression, and that Syria and its allies had the right to respond.
Hezbollah will respond to attack, but not by opening a front in the Golan
Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/Published: 19.15/ Israel Opinion
Analysis: The IDF has raised the alert on the Syrian border, but Nasrallah's response to the assassination of some of his senior commanders might lead to attacks against Israeli targets outside of Israel's borders. Hezbollah's massive arsenal of missiles and rockets will stay in the organization's bunkers until the day Israel strikes Iran's nuclear facilities.
The sons of Imad Mughniyeh – first Mustafa, then the younger Jihad – graduated to the top of Hezbollah's military arm shortly after their father's assassination in February 2008. It is unclear what Mustafa Mughniyeh's role was in Hezbollah's leadership or what he is currently doing. But in 2011, he was the target of an assassination attempt in the Dahieh district of Beirut.
Jihad, Mughniyeh's younger son, also distinguished himself shortly after his father's assassination, but he was too young to take part in actual military operations. However, he was sent to Iran to meet with the commander of the Revolutionary Guards' extraterritorial arm, and three months ago he was even appointed to a relatively senior field position: Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, a usually reliable source, announced that he was appointed holder of the Golan portfolio in Hezbollah.
The role is unusual, even with Hezbollah's involvement in the fighting in Syria, because there is almost no Shiite population in the Golan Heights, and there are no sites holy to Shiites, but there is a varied population of Druze and Sunni villagers, some of whom are loyal to the Assad regime while others are opposed. Hezbollah was supposed to aid the militias that support Bashar Assad's regime in battling rebels among the Druze and Sunni and operating against Israel while they're at it.
In the past, Hezbollah attempted to hide its activities in the Golan. The reason for this is that if Nasrallah could barely justify Hezbollah's activity in other parts of Syria by saying he was protecting the Syrian Shiites and Alawites, the brethren of the Lebanese Shiites, then Hezbollah surely has no reason to be in the Golan Heights. The closest place in which Hezbollah was openly involved in battles was against Jabhat al-Nusra in the city of Daara on the Jordanian border, which is still a few dozen kilometers away from the Syrian Golan Heights.
But Hezbollah's real role in the Golan Heights, except for its activity against the rebel Druze and Sunni, was to create a channel for payback and revenge against Israel for alleged IDF strikes inside Syria's borders. And at the head of the branch planning these revenge attacks stood Jihad Mughniyeh, who was killed in the strike along with two other members of Hezbollah's top command in the Golan, as well as an Iranian advisor from the Quds Force. Or as Western intelligence sources said: "He was someone who stood at the head of an extensive terror infrastructure. Jihad Mughniyeh already planned and was preparing further major and murderous terror attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights."
Therefore, reported Hezbollah's media, attacking a group of leaders in the group's military arm is no coincidence.
A history of revenge attacks
As previously mentioned, Hezbollah's branch in the Golan was responsible for revenge attacks on Israel. For example, on February 24, 2014, Israel attacked – according to foreign reports – a weapons convoy within Lebanese territory bound for Hezbollah. The attack occurred inside Lebanese territory, as noted, and Hezbollah thus had legitimacy to claim that Israel had violated Lebanon's sovereignty, and that Hezbollah, in the role it gave itself as the protector of Lebanon, must respond decisively.
And indeed, nine days after that airstrike in Lebanese territory, which foreign reports attributed to Israel, Hezbollah attempted to place a large explosive device on the security fence in the Golan Heights. Fortunately, the IDF's intelligence assets noticed the Hezbollah militants when they were approaching the fence, used precise fire to kill at least two of them, and succeeded in foiling the attempt. The incident was even documented and publicized. But Hezbollah did not stop trying.
Less than two weeks ago, an IDF patrol was hit by an explosive device placed next to the security fence in the Golan. Four IDF soldiers from the Paratroopers Brigade were wounded, one of them critically. The device was placed such that the soldiers approached to check a suspicious movement on the ground, and then the bomb went off. Hezbollah did not claim responsibility, but it was fairly clear that it was their handiwork.
There were also previous incidents, in which Palestinians from Ahmed Jibril's organization launched Katyusha rockets towards the Hermon outpost in response to Israeli attacks in Syrian territory.
What happens next?
The most intriguing question is what happens next. It's perfectly clear that Hezbollah is not currently interested in a major escalation with Israel. But it's also clear – especially in light of Hezbollah's behavior lately and its Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah's speech last week – that Hezbollah is interested in creating a new balance of deterrence with Israel.
Why do defense officials estimate that Hezbollah is not currently interested in an escalation? The main reason is that the Iranians do not want a war between Israel and Hezbollah at the moment. They trained Hezbollah's fighters and sent to Lebanon a massive arsenal of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles of every type for one purpose only: so the Lebanese organization can land a heavy and precise blow against Israeli population centers and infrastructures, should the IDF attack Iran's nuclear facilities. The Ayatollah regime is not interested in Hezbollah wasting that on border skirmishes that have no strategic significance for Iran. This is the first and foremost reason.
The second reason that Hezbollah is uninterested in an escalation is that the militants killed on Sunday were killed in the Syrian Golan, where Hezbollah has no justification to operate against Israel under the title it gave itself as protector of Lebanon. In an interview last week, Nasrallah strenuously denied that Hezbollah has operated in the Golan in the past. The very fact that five Hezbollah men were killed right on the border in the Golan presents him as a liar to the Lebanese people, and it is therefore clear why Hezbollah has no legitimacy from the other groups in Lebanon, and from its own Shiite group, to operate in the Golan against Israel. Hezbollah and Nasrallah see themselves foremost as Lebanese, and they, according to estimates by defense officials, will be in no hurry to drag Lebanon into a war that has no distinct justification and legitimacy.
So what is likely to happen? Hezbollah will not remain silent. In a few weeks, we may encounter an explosive device on the border fence with Syria, or on Mount Dov, or perhaps even on the northern border with Lebanon. Another possibility is rocket fire towards population centers in the Golan, in the hopes that Israel will not escalate the situation. There could also be an anti-tank missile against an IDF patrol in the Golan fired by a pro-Assad Palestinian group. The organization may also respond with a symbolic act, such as flying a drone into Israeli territory – an action that would harm the IDF's prestige but not cause a disastrous response that would push the region into war.
Except that the blow Hezbollah suffered is of a magnitude that could, in its eyes, justify a terror attack abroad against Israeli targets, perhaps even with Iranian help, such as the bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria in July 2012 in revenge for the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh.
Hezbollah cannot let the deaths of five of its people, including the son of Imad Mughniyeh, pass by in silence, but it will hesitate to act in a way that will entangle it in a large-scale confrontation with Israel. The question is what will happen in this attempt at payback, and how Israel will respond. One way or another, the IDF will further increase intelligence activity over the coming days.
Are Hezbollah and Israel on the verge of open war?
Monday, 19 January 2015
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
The strike Israel carried out in the Syrian province of Quneitra killing six high-ranking Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian elite general marks the biggest escalation between the two sides since their full-blown war in 2006. However, unlike 2006, the strings are much tighter for Hezbollah this time around, making a repeat of an open war very unlikely. The strike in its scope and target deals a significant blow for both Hezbollah and Iran. Hezbollah took a symbolic hit in losing Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of former operational mastermind for the party Imad Mugniyeh, who was assassinated in 2008 in Damascus, Syria. Mughniyeh’s son was believed to be heading a unit on the Syrian-Israeli border to attack Israel. Also among the six Hezbollah fighters killed was Mohammad Issa, known as Abu Issa, who had a central role in commanding the party’s fighters in Syria and securing the control of Damascus for the Syrian regime. In that same convoy was Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, from Tehran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, who was killed along with five other Iranian soldiers in the strike.
Golan as a ‘red-line’
This is by far Israel’s most detrimental strike against Hezbollah since the killing of Imad Mughniyeh in 2008, and one of the most lethal in the tit-for-tat saga between the two since the founding of the party in the mid-eighties. It is directed against Iran as much as it is against Hezbollah. Mughniyeh’s son, following the death of his father, was embraced by the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard and Qassem Suleimani in particular, while Gen. Allahdadiis was directly involved in overseeing Iran’s activities and militant affiliated groups in Syria.
The biggest takeaway from the Israeli strike to both Iran and Hezbollah is in the location of the operation, near the occupied Golan Heights. “This is by far Israel’s most detrimental strike against Hezbollah since the killing of Imad Mughniyeh in 2008, and one of the most lethal in the tit-for-tat saga between the two. ” Disrupting the “cold peace” since 1974 on the Syrian-Israeli border and expanding Hezbollah’s presence to that front is a red-line for Israel, according to Western sources in Washington familiar with the issue. Those sources convey that in a track-two negotiations and where both former Israelis and Iranians were present at the outset of the Syrian war in 2011, Israel made it clear to the Iranian representative that expanding Hezbollah’s presence and combat operations into the Syrian front was a clear “red-line.”
The Israeli media raised questions on what the 12 Iranian and Hezbollah figures were doing in the Quneitra province on the disengagement line between Syria and Israel. In many aspects, a ravaged Syria offers both Hezbollah and Iran a fertile ground to carry out operations as Lebanon is proving to be more stable and with a strengthened national military.
The Quneitra strike puts Hezbollah in a very tough position vis a vis its base and with respect to its military operations in Syria. Today the Lebanese party is fully invested in the Syrian war, with no less than 5,000 fighters, according to U.S. officials. It was Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria in May 2013 that kept the Assad regime afloat and able to maintain its control in Damascus and the bordering areas with Lebanon. Hezbollah has emerged after two years of fighting in Syria as an indispensable ally of the regime and has gained a foothold in Syrian towns that it independently controls.
“The situation inside Lebanon, with many ticking bombs, makes it very unlikely for Hezbollah to engage in an open war with Israel as it did in 2006.”The irony of Hezbollah’s gains in Syria is that it ties its hands in any confrontation with Israel, which is at the core of the party’s mission. Hezbollah arguably does not have the manpower nor the resources that it enjoyed in 2006 to engage in a war with Israel today. The party is fighting on multiple fronts against the Syrian rebels and ISIS inside Syria, another on the Lebanese-Syrian border and inside Lebanon where it protects key towns and assets. It’s an entanglement that Israel seems to be fully aware of and that has allowed it to strike inside Syria repeatedly since 2011, so far without retaliation.
The magnitude of the Quneitra operation, however, and the demand by Hezbollah’s base for a response will ultimately force a measured retaliation from the party and/or Iran. The hashtag “Prepare your shelters” was trending in both Arabic and Hebrew on Twitter yesterday by Hezbollah’s supporters as a message to Israelis in response to the strike. Both Assafir and Al-Akhbar newspapers who have good sources within Hezbollah are anticipating a “measured,” “evaluated” and “deliberated” response from the party.
The situation inside Lebanon, with many ticking bombs, makes it very unlikely for Hezbollah to engage in an open war with Israel as it did in 2006. A more likely response could happen outside Lebanon, either through Syria, or even the Palestinian territories where Iran has been mending fences with Hamas and has strong ties with the Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah and/or Iran could also choose to respond out of the Middle East, and the killing of Alberto Nesman, the federal prosecutor in 1994 bombing of the Jewish center in Argentina, is raising questions about the timing and possibility of an Iranian hand behind the operation. The Quneitra operation marks one of the most tense junctures between Israel and Hezbollah. Given the regional dynamics, however, and Iran’s ongoing negotiations with the West over its nuclear file, the response will unlikely involve open wars and confrontation and hence will be more covert and subtle in its nature.
45 churches torched in Niger capital in cartoon demos: police
AFP, Niamey/Monday, 19 January 2015
Forty-five churches were torched over the weekend in Niger’s capital during deadly protests over the publication of a Prophet Mohammad cartoon by the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, police said on Monday. The protests, which left five people dead and 128 people injured in Niamey, also saw a Christian school and orphanage set alight, Adily Toro, a spokesman for the national police, told a press conference. Similar unrest sparked by the French satirical weekly, which was targeted by a bloody Islamist raid on January 7, saw five people killed in the southern city of Zinder, where 45 were wounded. In the attack on Charlie Hebdo, gunmen slew 12 people, saying they were avenging previous publications of cartoons depicting the prophet. A week later staff defiantly produced a “survivors’ issue” with a new cartoon, winning backing from vocal supporters of freedom of expression, but further provoking Muslims in a number of countries.“The French flag was burned,” Toro said, adding that 189 people, including two minors, were arrested by police. Demonstrators also pillaged and burned numerous premises, including five hotels and 36 bars. On Sunday, some 300 protestors in Niamey defied a ban on further demonstrations, throwing stones at police who tear-gassed them. The governor of the capital, Hamidou Garba, said 90 people were arrested, while local media said those detained included opposition leaders. Muslim elder Yaou Sonna on Saturday urged people to stop attacking Christians. “Don’t forget that Islam is against violence,” he said on state television. “I urge men and women, boys and girls to calm down.”
Many Muslims, who form an overwhelming majority of Niger’s population, see any depiction of Islam’s prophet as offensive.
Egypt’s Sisi urges new Muslim religious discourse to fight ‘terrorism’
By AFP | Abu Dhabi /Monday, 19 January 2015 /Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday said the fight against “terrorism” needs a new Muslim religious discourse in addition to security and military measures. “The rise in terrorism... requires a thoughtful response from the international community,” said Sisi told the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. “The fight must not only be restricted to security and military aspects... but should include a reformed religious discourse from which false ideologies that could lure some into adopting violence to impose their ideas have been removed,” he said. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates enjoy a close relationship and cooperate in various fields besides military activities. Both governments are hostile towards Islamists and have blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood, branding it a “terrorist” organisation. Gulf security is “a red line” for Egypt, Sisi said, affirming his country’s unwavering support for efforts by the UAE “to preserve its national security” and urged “increased” action to “confront all attempts to breach the security of Gulf countries.” The UAE last year jailed a group of 30 Emiratis and Egyptians for terms of three months to five years for forming a Muslim Brotherhood cell. They were part of dozens of other Islamists jailed in the UAE since the Arab Spring uprisings erupted in 2011, even though the country itself has not seen any anti-regime movements.
Geneva talks, nuclear walks and Obama’s ticking clock
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
Monday, 19 January 2015
Now there are no doubts whether Iran and the United States are serious about the nuclear talks about and are eager to reach a peaceful solution. It’ll either end in either war or peace, according to President Obama’s point of view. Last Friday, he warned the Congress not to trigger new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program while the talks are under process. Obama told the lawmakers he would veto any new sanctions bills that come to his desk. He says such a move would upset diplomatic talks and increase the likelihood of a military conflict with Tehran. Iran and major powers met on Sunday in Geneva to contiue four days of high level talks between Iran and the U.S. in Geneva and then in Paris between foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the State John Kerry. They walked and talked side by side for 15 minutes in Geneva as a sign of good progress and to publicize this. The plenary meeting between Iran and P5+1 (Five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) will continue on Monday in Geneva.
Obama’s appeal to Congress has even stretched to the U.S.’s closest ally, Britain.
“These talks have the potential to make history”
David Cameron confirmed on Friday that he is calling U.S. Senators to lobby against passing new sanctions. Directly approaching some Senators shows how much the talks are serious and yet fragile. Cameron said his calls were "not in any way... to tell the American Senate what it should or should not do." Instead, he says he wanted to tell the U.S. Senate that "it's the opinion of the United Kingdom that further sanctions, or further threat of sanctions, at this point won't actually help.”But his calls and Obama’s warning tell us that the majority of the U.S. lawmakers are against the talks – or against Iran’s nuclear program full stop. However, it is clear that President Obama and his nuclear negotiating team have achieved much during the past year. According to the interim agreement reached in Geneva on November 2013, any new sanctions imposed during the talks are prohibited and can jeopardize the agreement. Simply out, any new sanctions could be used as a tool for Iran to end the talks and resume its advanced program regardless of the consequences.
Obama treads carefully
Understanding the delicate situation, Obama is treading carefully. He wants to give Iran as much guarantees as possible, even if it means clashing with Congress in the near future. Seemingly, what Iran and the U.S. wanted very much this week was to draft a joint document to speed up a nuclear deal, according to Al-Monitor. But apparently, the document wasn’t prepared in time to present to the other Western negotiating powers. Al-Monitor says that according to a source close to the talks, this document will eventually be an element of the framework agreement that Iran and the P5+1 have sought to complete by March. A joint document, political agreements on sanctions, technical frameworks, all reveal hard work being done on both sides to reach a comprehensive deal before the July 2015 deadline.
Of course not only the U.S. Congress is resisting the deal, in Iran there is tremendous resistance against the talks and against limiting the nuclear program. The government’s opponents have sharpened their teeth and have been waiting to see the talks break apart Zarif and his negotiator team. Experience shows that the ticking clock is the enemy and both sides understand how quick they have to show agreements are being reached, even if to issue a “joint document” of sorts. These talks have the potential to make history.
Is the world’s reaction to the Syrian war still seasonal?
Raed Omari /Al Arabiya
Monday, 19 January 2015
After a considerable time the world’s focus has shifted from terror-plagued Iraq, to Syria’s ongoing war, which is seemingly now the number one problem on the international agenda. The current experiences of Iraqis and those also in Lebanon, Europe - and who knows where else – are then indisputably the result of the world’s inaction on war-torn Syria. Politically speaking, the deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the wider Western discourse on terrorism was what directed the world’s attention again towards Syria's three-and-a-half-year war. Solely for humanitarian reasons, the deadly winter storm that hit Syria and the Syrian refugee-hosting countries - Jordan and Lebanon - has also resurrected the world’s “frozen conscious” on the large-scale suffering of the Syrian people. But the fear is that the long-awaited eagerness of the world for work on Syria might be short-lived, and could be just a reaction to new developments.
“Syria's fate has been left for the Russians to decide”
The Syrian crisis has previously come close to seeing international action in similar developments. But what was thought of as an emerging decisiveness, has apparently disappeared shortly afterwards, leaving the troubled countries vulnerable to any hostilities. I believe the world’s action on Syria has proved to be seasonal, reaching a climax only during winter and at times of security spillovers, as has been experienced most recently in Europe.
The Syrian crisis is now under the spotlight of the Western press through its coverage of the recent events. These have included anti-terror raids in Belgium on suspected extremists returning from Syria, and talk of terror sleeper cells in Spain and other European countries.
It was put in a form of unmistakable conviction by France’s President Francois Hollande during his recent speech at the Arab World Institute in Paris in which he said the “abandoned” Syrian war was the direct cause of security woes experienced in Europe, Libya and elsewhere.
But is now the time for an intensified effort in Syria by the West, given the apparent emerging belief in Europe of the inseparable connection between security incidents across Europe and the war in nearby terrorism-fertile Syria?
The European response has so far taken the form of anti-terror precautions, manifested in crackdowns on suspected radicalized citizens, believed to be planning attacks after returning from Syria and Iraq. Such internal European measures are certainly needed, but should be accompanied by an external comprehensive strategy jointly seeking with other partners, a solution to Syria’s war.
Russians take the lead
But an action plan for Syria has yet to be announced by the Americans and Europeans. Instead the Russians are taking the lead. Bizarrely enough, Syria's fate has been left for the Russians to decide.
The warring parties - the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian mainstream opposition - were poised to meet for peace talks in Moscow, but the opposition shunned the prospective negotiations this week. Regardless of whether these talks take place or not, they are not expected to be fruitful. I believe such peace talks will definitely end in failure, simply because they will be hosted by the Russians in Moscow who support Assad and oppose his departure - a demand that the Syrian opposition say is not up for negotiation.
The U.S.’s stance on the planned Moscow talks between Syria’s warring parties later this month is ambivalent. As Washington imposes sanctions on Moscow, it is said to be supporting the inter-Syrian peace talks.
“We hope that the Russian efforts could be helpful,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as saying. What really adds to the absurdity of the situation is Washington’s decision to go ahead with a military training program for the moderate Syrian rebels. It might be that Washington is sure of the unfruitfulness of Moscow’s talks and that is why it is insisting on rebel training. But its general position on Syria’s war is still below what others, especially the Europeans, expect from them. All in all, the Europeans might be busy now with their internal issues but they should soon widen their anti-terror strategy to reach Syria in cooperation with the Americans and other Arab partners.
France's Moment of Truth
Michel Gurfinkiel/PJ Media
January 19, 2015
The jihadist killing spree in Paris last week has been described as "France's 9/11" by Le Monde, the French liberal daily newspaper. Indeed, just like the American 9/11 fourteen years ago, it was a moment of truth: for France as a nation, for the French political class and — last, but certainly not least — for French Jews. The question, however, is not so much whether one sees the truth or not, but rather what one is supposed to do once truth has been seen.
America's instincts after its own 9/11 were sound: it understood that it was in a state of war and that it had to react accordingly, but it wavered about what war to wage and what strategy to follow. As a result, the War On Terror, in spite of considerable American and Western investment, pugnacity, and heroism, has been largely inconclusive and even, in many respects, a failure. Likewise, whatever the emotional or philosophical impact of the present French 9/11, either in France or abroad, it is not clear whether it will translate — or can translate — into adequate policies.
It all started on January 7, with the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine located in Central Paris near Bastille Circle. Two men in their early thirties, the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi — French citizens of the Muslim persuasion and of Algerian descent — murdered eight journalists and cartoonists who happened to be there, as well as two menial workers and two policemen. Some other people were wounded. According to witnesses, the terrorists claimed they were "avenging Prophet Muhammad." In 2006, out of defiance against Islamist intimidation, Charlie Hebdo reprinted the caricatures about Muhammad previously published by the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten. In 2011 and 2012, the French magazine published further sets of anti-Islamist caricatures with Muhammad as a main character.
The Kouachi brothers were able to flee Paris in spite of an enormous manhunt that involved thousands of policemen and gendarmes all over Northeast France. Eventually, they were trapped and shot on January 9 by special antiterrorist units at a printing office in Dammartin-en-Goële, some 30 kilometers east of Paris.
There is evidence that the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly were close associates in a single al-Qaeda network.
In the meantime, on January 8, another terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, 33, a French Muslim of Senegalese descent, shot a policewoman at Montrouge in Southern Paris and fled. He was apparently looking for a Jewish school located nearby. On January 9, Coulibaly attacked Hyper Casher, a kosher supermarket in Eastern Paris. He killed four customers and wounded several others. About fifteen customers, including a mother with a baby, were able to hide underground in the shop's refrigerated rooms. Coulibaly was shot by the antiterrorist units later in the evening.
There is evidence that the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly, all three of them with criminal records, were close associates in a single al-Qaeda network extending to the whole of Paris and even to Belgium, and that they had coordinated their operations. One may surmise that they saw themselves as "holy warriors" and their victims – both the cartoonists and the Jews – as undifferentiated enemies of Islam. One may also surmise that, deadlocked as they were in their gore fantasy world, they did not grasp the full dimension of their murders.
Charlie Hebdo had modest origins.
Charlie Hebdo is not just a satirical magazine. It has been for more than fifty years a pillar of French popular culture. It started in the 1960s as Hara-Kiri, a lampoon-and-cartoons monthly loosely modeled after the American magazine Mad. It soon proudly evolved into a "stupid and nasty magazine" (according to its own motto): a blend of utopian anarchism, militant atheism, provocative bad taste, and gaudy pornography. As such, it fit into an age-old French tradition stretching from François Rabelais to Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Half the country hated it intensely; the other half was in love with it.
It was a safety valve under Charles de Gaulle's semi-authoritarian regime. It became the vanguard of the 1968 May Revolution in France, the student riots that turned into a general strike and led to a near disintegration of all authority.
Hara-Kiri was published as a monthly until 1985. A weekly version was however launched in 1969, as Hara-Kiri Hebdo, and then, after it was banned for having ridiculed de Gaulle's funeral in 1970, as Charlie Hebdo. With ups and downs, this is the magazine that has survived until this very day.
The 1970 inaugural issue of Charlie Hebdo
It helped that almost everybody in the original team — writers and cartoonists — started parallel careers as very well paid contributors to the mainstream media: François Cavanna, who served as editor in chief throughout the 1970s, became a best-selling memorialist; Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, was both a TV star and a trenchant cartoonist for Le Canard Enchainé, France's political gossip weekly; Jean-Marc Roussillon, a.k.a. Reiser, who passed away at the early age of 42, worked for the posh liberal magazine Le Nouvel Observateur and for many comic magazines as well; as did Georges Wolinski. Over the years, they became so famous as to be celebrated in government-sponsored exhibitions or to be discussed in the academia.
While Charlie Hebdo retained much of its original iconoclastic vigor, it underwent a remarkable political evolution. Humorist Philippe Val, who served as editor from 1992 to 2009, recognized jihadism as a totalitarian movement, especially after the 9/11 outrages in the United States, and grew fiercely hostile to the pro-Islamic far left. Moreover, he expressed sympathy for Israel as a democracy under jihadist assault. In 2008, he fired "anti-Zionist" cartoonist Maurice Sinet, a.k.a. Siné, one of the magazine's original stars, as an "anti-Semite."
Cartoonist Georges Wolinski, 81, was among those killed in the Paris attack.
The much younger cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier, a.k.a. Charb, who succeeded Val as editor, steadfastly maintained the anti-jihadist line even if he was Siné's personal friend. Interestingly enough, Charb recently entered into a relationship with Jeannette Bougrab, an academic, senior civil servant, and former conservative member of the French government, who as a citizen of Muslim North African origin has been of the most outspoken critics of radical Islam in France.
The 81-year-old Wolinski and the 77-year-old Cabu, along with the 48-year-old Charb, were among the victims of the Kouachi brothers on January 7. To the entire French nation, it was not so much an attack on press freedom as the assassination of grandfatherly or brotherly figures.
Whether people had actually liked or supported the Charlie Hebdo journalists or not, they had aged or grown up with them: there was something deeply personal about the loss. Vigils and marches were started. Everybody wore "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") badges. According to pharmacists, consumption of anxiety medication rose by 20 % nationwide.
The 'Charlie Effect'
The "Charlie effect" coalesced with revulsion about the ensuing Hyper Casher anti-Semitic massacre. And it brought about, for several days, rare moments of near national unanimity: millions of people marched in Paris and other cities, waving three-colored flags and chanting the Marseillaise, France's national anthem (which is essentially a call to resist barbaric invaders).
French police storm the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, on January 9.
On January 9, Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivered a passionate speech at the National Assembly, promising both to protect French citizens, including Jews ("without whom France is not France"), and to find, neutralize, and punish jihadist terrorists. He was rewarded with a standing ovation from the entire Assembly and, again, the Marseillaise – something that had not happened for decades. An Odoxa/Le Parisien poll released on January 13 found that 87% of the French said they were "feeling proud" about being French.
Yet, near unanimity is not unanimity. What soon became apparent was that only the Old French (the culturally European and Judeo-Christian French) took part in the vigils and marches and that they were delighted to be together, whereas most New French (the culturally non-European and non-Judeo-Christian immigrant communities) stood aside.
Most imams issued perfunctory condemnation of terrorism, but were clearly unenthusiastic about Charlie Hebdo's right to make fun of every religion, including Islam (one noted exception being Hassen Chalghoumi, the Tunisian-born imam of Drancy). Even more ominously, one-minute silence ceremonies at school were met with hostility and scorn by Muslim children and teenagers from third grade to high school. Two hundred such instances were reported; thousands of cases were unreported, according to teachers' sources.
Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, the ex-humorist and anti-Semitic agitator, posted on his website: "I am Charlie Coulibaly," thus deliberately confusing the victims with their murderers. Many people or groups associated with Charlie Hebdo were threatened on the Internet. In the Lyons area, a Jewish jeweler's shop was vandalized.
In other words, the ethnic and religious polarization that has befallen France over the past years is growing into an ever more explicit conflict. And this is not small business. Nine percent of France's population is Muslim (over six million citizens out of 67 million). Up to 20% of all French citizens or residents under twenty-four are thought to be Muslims, and in some places the numbers seem to be much greater than that. While many Muslims reject jihadism and clearly identify with France as a democratic nation, religious observance is rising quickly in the overall Muslim community, from 36% in 2001 to 42% in 2014. There is evidence that the more observant Muslims are, the more supportive they are of politically radicalized Islam.
For the time being, President François Hollande and Premier Valls are reaping some benefits from the national unity mood. According to a Harris Interactive/LCP poll, 77% of the French do not trust Hollande's politics in global terms, but 83% of them approve of his handling of the terrorist crisis. The president's personal popularity, which was abysmally low, is up to 20%, and the prime minister's, which was falling too, is back to 42%. The real test is yet to come, however.
For the time being, the administration has deployed some 10,000 military personnel in public spaces and other locations like synagogues or mosques. It has also engaged in extensive investigation, multiple arrests, and prosecution of terrorism-related offenses. M'Bala M'Bala may be tried soon for his infamous "Charlie Coulibaly" post. Dozens of teenagers may face disciplinary action for their contempt of national mourning. But in the longer run, it is the entire security apparatus of France that must be strengthened and extended, which will cost a lot of money.
87% of French Muslims voted for Hollande and the socialists in 2012. Fighting jihadism earnestly may alienate many of them.
As of 2014, France was devoting 31.9% of its national wealth to social programs, against an OECD average of 21.6%, whereas aggregated national defense and domestic security credits amounted to less than 10%. Will the socialist Hollande administration be bold enough to reverse priorities and thus act against its own constituency? A similar conundrum may arise regarding Muslim voters: 87% of them voted for Hollande and the socialists in 2012, and were probably instrumental in their victory over Nicolas Sarkozy and the conservatives. Fighting jihadism earnestly may alienate many of them.
Are the conservatives, the centrists and the far Right National Front more likely to benefit from national unity, or at least from the Old French awakening? Can they achieve more than the Left? They, too, must undergo drastic changes in this respect. Many conservatives and centrists are still largely mired in pro-Arab or pro-Muslim delusions inherited from de Gaulle, or too shy to wage war, even on terror. As for the National Front, its views may have been vindicated in many ways by the present crisis, but it sees national unity or even conservative unity only as a way to improve its own standing.
French Jews have been only reinforced in their fears and, Valls' warm words notwithstanding, feel that they have no future in their country anymore. Many wonder whether millions would have marched for the Hyper Casher massacre victims only.
Most were shocked that Hollande was reluctant to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the protest marches on Sunday, and finally invited Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
Rue des Rosiers, the historic "Jewish Street" in the Central Parisian Marais district, usually a lively place, was empty throughout the week. So were most Jewish shops and restaurants. Seven thousand French Jews formally completed the emigration process to Israel in 2014. Thousands have informally moved to Israel. More French Jews are migrating to North America or Australia, or even just to other European countries like Britain, Switzerland, and Germany. One synagogue chairman confided to me: "When you have no place to go in your own country, you leave for another country."
**Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.
Reframing the Enemy after France's 9/11
by Jeffrey Herf/The Times of Israel
January 20, 2015
The attacks in Paris earlier this month have united French citizens across the political spectrum.
The Paris murders have been called France's 9/11 because they have stunned, shocked and angered the nation in ways comparable to the American reaction to the murder of over 3,000 of our fellow citizens. I remember well that in the few months following 9/11, the American intellectual world, especially that of liberals and left-leaning people, was in a state of welcome confusion.
The familiar denunciations of American "imperialism" and the habits of sympathy for "national liberation movements" that had emerged in the protest against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s did not fit the realities of September 11, 2001. For on that day, Mohammed Atta and his associates attacked our country in the name of profoundly reactionary ideas, ideas more closely linked to Nazism than to Communism or the traditions of the left. Al Qaeda had abandoned the euphemisms of leftist anti-Zionism and spoke openly about hatred of "crusaders," that is, Americans and Jews. There were a few leftists in Europe and the United States who thought the American imperialists got what they deserved, but in those first months after the attack, there was an unaccustomed surge of patriotism among liberals, a sense of national unity and rage against the Islamists who appeared to many as the harbingers of a new totalitarianism.
In the first months after 9/11, there was an unaccustomed surge of patriotism among American liberals, a sense of national unity and rage against the Islamists.
The events of 9/11 caused a scrambling of political categories and led to the writing of important books. Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism in 2003 examined the lineages between Sayyid Qutb's writings of the 1950s and the Jew-hatred of Europe's twentieth century. Berman demonstrated that Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood's leading ideological figure after World War II, had placed totalitarianism and terror into an Islamic context. In 2002 in Germany, Matthias Kuentzel's Jihad und Judenhass (translated into English in 2007 as Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11) traced the Islamist tradition from Hassan Al-Banna and Haj Amin al-Husseini to Qutb, the Muslim Brothers, Al Qaeda and the Hamburg Cell that organized the 9/11 attack. I wrote essays discussing the similarities and differences between Nazism and the Islamists. In Germany, Bassam Tibi courageously distinguished Islamism and Islam, efforts that led to a book by that name in 2011. In Berlin, Richard Herzinger, writing for Die Welt, wrote of the threat Islamism posed to free societies and the need to fight against it.
In spring 2006, Britain, Norman Geras and others wrote The Euston Manifesto, an eloquent effort to mobilize the traditions of British liberalism and the democratic left against the totalitarianism of radical Islam. In fall, 2006 some of us followed with an online statement about American Liberalism and Euston Manifesto. The shock of the attack had shattered old habits, fostered new thinking and led to books and essays that remain worth reading today.
Sadly, the new thinking did not last long.
Sadly, the new thinking did not last long, or rather, it lasted but was supplanted by experts who told stories about a "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood and about the need to avoid inflaming Muslims with public discussion of Islamism. Many decades of investment in the cultural capital of the conventional habits of left and right were proving too powerful to overcome. Even the administration of George Bush refrained from naming the enemy. It spoke oddly of a "war on terror" rather than one against radical Islam. With the US decision to go to war in Iraq, all of the old and familiar categories of thinking returned with a vengeance and especially so in Europe. Those of us who wrote about Islamist terror were accused of a newly invented sin, "Islamophobia." In place of a necessary discussion of the nature of radical Islam in its various permutations and of how to win the war against it, the controversy over the Iraq war reinforced the return to the conventional categories of left and right.
In retrospect, the emergence of Barack Obama on the national stage was not an expression of new thinking. On the contrary, Obama stood for an academic orthodoxy that had become firmly established in American universities in the previous several decades. It was an orthodoxy that put him at odds with Benjamin Netanyahu, but also with the free spirits in Europe and the United States who had tried to break the left-right mold in the aftermath of 9/11 and foster a sharp confrontation with the anti-Semitic, illiberal and anti-Western elements of Islamist ideology. In the resurgent orthodoxy that took shape in the opposition to the war in Iraq, there was little room for attributing causal importance to Islamist ideology as a source of terror, hatred of the West and of the Jews. Rather, Al Banna, Husseini, Qutb and the successors in Al Qaeda and in the government of Iran were viewed as regrettable and mistaken reactions to the arrogance and blunders of the West. Hence, to call the source of terrorism by its name would only inflame passions and offend Muslims, whom Obama thought he could somehow turn into allies.
The result was an absurd insistence that terrorists who have murdered tens of thousands in the name of their interpretation of Islam "have nothing to do with the religion of Islam," as if multiple interpretations of all religions have not had an impact on political history for centuries.
The same standards of critique and selective reading that have been applied to Christianity and Judaism should be applied to Islam, no more and no less.
Today, it is a common knowledge among historians of the Nazi regime that Hitler drew on a distorted and selective reading of the Christian tradition to justify his hatreds. Just as historians would not say that Christianity led to the Holocaust, so too we would not say that it had nothing to do with it at all. A very different understanding of Christianity inspired Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt to fight against the Nazis. Yet however distorted the Nazis' selective reading of Christianity was, accusations against the Jews were a part of its religious teachings for centuries. The Koran did not lead to 9/11, Al Qaeda, Hamas or the Paris murders, but neither does a selective reading of some of its passages by young, impressionable minds have "nothing to do" with them either. The same standards of critique and selective reading that have been applied to Christianity and Judaism should be applied to Islam, no more and no less. Until this past week, when French Prime Minister Manuel Valls spoke so frankly in Paris, it has been primarily Israeli leaders who have been willing to publicly state the obvious about the impact of Islamism on the terrorism of recent decades.
Now that Valls has stated clearly that France is, in fact, at war with radical Islam - and with the terrorism and anti-Semitism it inspires - the contrast with the euphemisms and avoidance coming from the United States since 9/11 is apparent. Three million people have just bought the first post-massacre edition of Charlie Hebdo. The French National Assembly sang the Marseillaise for the first time since 1918. Valls has said that if 100,000 Jews leave France, the Republic would be judged to be a failure. The candid talk in France is coming from left-of-center politicians. These days in France remind me of the autumn of 2001, when minds opened in the midst of mourning and anger. Yet within a year or two, a conventional wisdom and a refusal to speak frankly came to dominate American public discourse, continuing to this day. With the American experience after 9/11 in mind, one wonders how long Valls' willingness to speak frankly about radical Islam will persist, or whether the conventional wisdom many decades in the making will lead again to new forms of euphemism and avoidance.
**Jeffrey Herf is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland in College Park and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. His recent works include: Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (2009), and The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (2006).
Doing the Islamic terrorists' job
Ben-Dror Yemini /Ynetnews /Published: 01.19.15
Op-ed: While the international community is forced to defend itself and the Jews against Islamic terror with one hand, its other hand is busy pointing an accusing finger at Israel through the ICC. Aix-en-Provence is a small town. It has several hundred Jewish families with a community center, a Jewish school and two synagogues, an Orthodox one and a Masorti one. I visited the second synagogue on Friday evening. It was an odd sight. There were two soldiers standing at the entrance. Two others inside. "Where are you from?" one of them asked my son. "From Israel," he replied. "For you this is a normal situation," he told him. "On the contrary," he replied. "In Israel we don’t have soldiers at every synagogue."At the end of the prayer they joined us for wine and refreshments. A small show of gratitude and an attempt to break the ice.
Last Monday, the first day of school after the terror attacks, many students did not show up at the Jewish schools. The fear became real. The tiger-striped soldiers arrived later in the week. Considering the fact that we are talking about hundreds of schools, community centers and synagogues, it's not an easy task. The feeling isn't very pleasant. In order to live under military protection in Israel, one must move to an isolated settlement. Past experience shows that at a certain stage the tight security will be lifted. Until the next attack. The French government wants to defend. It doesn’t want Jews to leave. But more than anything, the need for soldiers point to the new situation. Why in Tel Aviv those same Jews feel much better. "Why are we under guard, while those who attack us need no guard?" one of the worshippers asked me. The answer is clear. Because one can't remember a single terror attack carried out by Jews against Muslims or Christians in Europe.
The master of history deceives us. There was a time when Jews had to be protected from Christians. Today the Christians are the ones protecting the Jews from the Muslims. Not all Muslims. Not even the majority of them. Far from that. But the threat is there. Sometimes it materializes. In the past few decades, after the Holocaust, Europe was kind to the Jews. They integrated. They prospered. But the old anti-Semitism was in the background, joined by the new anti-Semitism – the new anti-Semitism of some of the anti-Zionist elites and the new anti-Semitism of some of the Muslims. The former turn Israel into a monster. The latter want to crush the monster's head. According to them, Europe's Jews are also part of the monster. While the international community is forced to defend itself, and the Jews, against Islamic terror with one hand, its other hand is busy pointing an accusing finger at Israel through the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Hamas welcomes this situation. It's the same Hamas which calls for the annihilation of Jews, which carries out attacks against Jews and which welcomes every terror attack against Jews. When Jews need protection, when the international community points an accusing finger at Israel, and when Hamas welcomes it – the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly can smile from their graves. They won. The enlightened Europe is doing their job for them, intentionally and unintentionally.
Israel braces for early payback for deaths of Hizballah officers, Iranian general on Golan
DEBKAfile Special Report
January 19, 2015
The dominant IDF assessment Monday, Jan. 19, is that Hizballah will not hold off its rejoinder for the Israeli helicopter missile strike on the Golan Sunday, which targeted an advance guard and caused the deaths of five Hizballah and six Iranian army officers. Tehran confirmed Monday that Gen. Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi was among the officers killed in the Israel attack.. Iran’s National Security Adviser Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani responded with a pledge of punishment for the death of Gen. Allah Dadi. “The resistance will respond by force at an appropriate time and place for the “Zionist terrorist entity’s aggression,” he said. Israeli military chiefs are gearing up for an early Hizballah cross-border attack on Upper or Western Galilee and have instructed local security units to stand ready, open up emergency shelters and prepare their firearm arsenals. At Monday noon, Galilee district commander Brig. Gen. Amir Baram assembled Galilee mayors and local council heads at his Biranit headquarters and issued them with crisis directives for the population of a quarter of a million under their jurisdiction. Even more than a Hizballah rocket attack, this population is gravely concerned by fear of terrorist tunnels running under the border from Lebanon and coming out under their homes. The IDF has never confirmed the existence of these tunnels and may not have located them. However, since last summer’s Operation Defensive Edge against the Palestinian Hamas, and the discovery of their uncharted tunnels snaking under the Gaza-Israeli border into neighboring kibbutzim, people living in the north dread that Hizballah has taken a leaf out of Hamas’ book of terror. They found confirmation for their dread in statements Monday in the Lebanese Hizballah mouthpiece Al Akhbar: “Israel will not be able to prevent Hizballah from sending its forces into Galilee” and “We shall hit back for the Quneitra strike very soon.”But, barring the unlikely eventuality of Hizballah opening up a full-front assault on Galilee, the pro-Iranian Shiite terrorist group has two options for sending send its forces across the border into Galilee, DEBKAfile’s military experts report: By seizing control of a single Israeli location or district close to the Lebanese border, or pushing a force into Israel through prepared tunnels. Asked by a Voice of Israel radio broadcaster Monday about the existence of such tunnels, the Israeli Defense Minister’s political adviser Amos Gilead hedged: “It is always necessary to look into this,” he said. But he did not deny that they existed. Al Akhbar also quoted Hizballah as declaring, “The two fronts against northern Israel have merged and are equal.” In fact, it was pointed out, a single, continuous anti-Israel front line runs from the south Lebanese-Israeli border in the west to its eastern point on the Syrian Golan. Hizballah, which takes its orders from Tehran, is clearly determined to establish a military presence on the Syrian Golan as a second warfront for launching a two-pronged simultaneous assault on Israel, and is bent on forcing its acceptance down Israel’s throat. But Israel is making no bones about its non-acceptance and demonstrated its determination to make this deployment untenable by its deadly assault Sunday on the Iranian-Hizballah advance group that was checking out a site near Quneitra for Hizballah future offensive deployment.