Syria’s information minister warns of retaliation after air strikes destroyed military targets. – ABCNewsÂ·
Syria’s information minister warns of retaliation after air strikes destroyed military targets. – ABCNewsÂ·
Israel prepares for US President Barack Obama’s first visit, as well as introducing the 33rd government coalition – PBSNewsHour
Palestinians are in uproar and demanding answers after a 30-year-old prisoner died while in Israeli detention. According to some, the detainee died as a result of being tortured during interrogation. This incident occurred as Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike.
The prisoner, identified as Arafat Jaradat, died from an apparent heart attack. An autopsy is now scheduled with a relative of Jaradat and a Palestinian forensic specialist expected to be present.
Demonstrations are heating up in the West Bank, and some Israeli officials and analysts fear that a Palestinian intifada, or uprising, may be in place. Protesters are demanding for the release of 123 prisoners who have been behind bars since the signing of the Oslo Accords back in 1993.
The demonstrations have resulted in protestors clashing with Israeli soldiers and settlers. Demonstrators demanded justice for the death of Jaradat, who was employed at a gas station and the father to two children ages 4 and 2.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, has released a statement that its members will resort to any means necessary to liberate the prisoners. Hamas has also called for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and criticized Palestinian leaders for relying on negotiations that have resulted in zero progress.
Jaradat was taken into custody for hurling stones at cars in a West Bank settlement. He was also accused of throwing Molotov cocktails, a claim which he denied. During his trial, he complained to his lawyer of severe neck and back pain as a result of harsh interrogation methods. According to Jaradatâ€™s uncle, interrogators also threatened Jaradat by bringing his children into the discussion and warning that he will never see them again if he does not cooperate.
There is speculation that Jaradatâ€™s death could be the premise for a third intifada. The uprising, should it take place, is expected to be in the form of mass, nonviolent civil disobedience.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu pledged that authorities will erect a fence along the Israel-Syria border amid concerns that radical Islamist members have infested the area.
So far, Israel has stayed out of the Syrian conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives, most of them civilian. However, there is rising concern that the continued violence and fighting could soon spill over to Israel.
Among the worries, Netanyahu expressed concerns that Syrian President Bashir Assad may try to lure Israel into the battle as a final act of desperation. Even more troubling is a possible scenario in which Assad is overthrown with Syria being overtaken by Islamist extremists who will ultimately locate and gain access to the countyâ€™s cache of chemical arsenal.
Netanyahuâ€™s address came just as Assad made an international plea for reconciliation and condemned the Western nations for providing aid to the rebels, adding that most of them had direct ties to al-Qaida.
At a Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu emphasized a need for a fence along the borders that it shared with Syria. Such a barrier already exists along the border that the country shares with Egypt, which is in place to curb the flow of migrants. The new fence, still in its planning phase, will provide a barrier to prevent access from jihad forces, which have overtook areas once occupied by the Syrian army.
Since the uprising in Syria began in March of 2011, mortar rounds have occasionally landed on Israelâ€™s side of the territory. While the stray fire is believed to be accidental, Israel nevertheless fired retaliatory shots as a stern warning.
So far, no estimates have been given about how long such a project would take to complete. Even the barrier built along the Israel-Egypt border is not yet complete as the border stretches for 125 miles.
The U.S. is still in mourning over the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, following a horrific school shooting that left 26 children and faculty members dead. The shooting sparked a debate over gun control. Some feel that gun restrictions need to be tightened and enforced while others believe that more guns can actually prevent such shootings from taking place.
Some gun advocates believe that the U.S. can benefit by adopting the same security measures taken by schools in Israel. The Jewish state is used to continuous threats and the possibility of a terrorist strike at crowded locations, which includes schools. Schools in Israel are nothing like the ones in the U.S. While the latter may have a few unarmed security guards, Israel schools are fortified with metal detectors, fences and armed private guards. To add to the security, some teachers even have a loaded weapon on them during classroom hours.
Israelâ€™s Academy of Security and Investigation CEO, Oren Shemtov, say that shootings occur in a matter of minutes, and that teachers who are armed may be able to fight back and buy enough time for students to escape and while awaiting the arrival of police.
Shemtov commented on the shooting in Newtown and praised the adult victims as heroes for their actions but also added that their efforts were in vein as they had no means to defend themselves and their students.
Israeli police veteran Dov Zwerling echoed similar sentiments and said that the presence of armed guards may be able to prevent mass shootings. He added that in nearly all mass shooting incidents in the U.S., the shooter takes his own life the moment police arrive. This means that shooters will be deterred if challenged.
Teachers in Israeli schools are permitted to carry a firearm though the number that actually do has decreased over the years mainly due to philosophical objections.
Israel and Hamas appear to be one step closer to a cease-fire agreement though the fighting continues to rage on from both sides. Israeli tanks and gunboats fired into Gaza while as many as 200 rockets were launched at Israel.
In the meantime, officials from both sides work to propose a deal to put the fighting to a halt. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with the U.N Chief and Egyptâ€™s president has also got involved.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has publicly announced that the country hopes for a diplomatic solution to resolve the conflict though it will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to defend itself.
Clinton has expressed her desire for an outcome that involves comprehensive peace talks and expressed her sorrows for the casualties on both sides but also stated that the U.S. remains committed to Israelâ€™s security.
According to a spokesperson, Clinton met with the Prime Minister to discuss efforts on de-escalating the situation. The Secretary of State also has plans to make stops in Cairo and Ramallah to meet with Egyptian officials.
The fighting began on Nov 14th when Israel launched a retaliatory attack in response to months of rocket launches directed at its border. The attack began with an airstrike that killed a Hamas military chief. This was followed by a series of additional strikes that targeted militants and weapons storage sites.
So far, 130 Palestinians have reportedly been killed by the strikes with dozens of civilians injured. The rockets launched by Hamas have so far killed five Israelis, which included a soldier and civilian.
U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon criticized the rocket attacks by the Palestinians but also urged Israel to restrain itself from exercising too much military force.
Israel is demanding that Hamas puts an end to the rocket fires from Gaza and to put an end to weapons smuggling that is taking place through underground tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. It is also calling for Hamas to pledge that it will not use Egyptâ€™s Sinai region as a staging point for launching attacks at Israel.
A missile was fired into Syria courtesy of Israel as a warning sign. The shot was delivered to send a clear message to Syria after one of its mortars hit an Israeli military post in the Golan Heights. No injuries, casualties or significant damages were reported.
This is not the first time the incident has occurred. There have been multiple instances where mortar rounds from Syria have found its way into the Golan Heights. Israel believes the incidents are unintentional though it still holds Syria accountable.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the Israeli Army, the missile shot was sent as a retaliatory warning simply to let Syria know that while they understand the mortars were accidental, they better be more careful from now on. In addition to the warning, Israel has also filed a formal complaint with the United Nations.
Israel and Syria have been bitter enemies who have fought against one another in several wars in the past. However, they do share a border and the two countries have mostly stayed out of the otherâ€™s affairs. Israel has expressed concerns that Syriaâ€™s civil war could spread into their territory. There is also concern that Islamist extremists could take over the region in the event that Syriaâ€™s president, Bashar al-Assad, and his government are overthrown.
It is currently believed that Syria has a stockpile of chemical weapons, which Israel fears could end up in the hands of Hezbollah if Assad is ousted. There are also worries that Syria is very close to turning into a lawless region and can be exploited by Islamist insurgents as a focal point for delivering rocket launches against Israel.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has publicly announced that the government is monitoring the situation and will be ready to act on any late breaking developments.
Israel has made it blatantly clear that it is seriously contemplating a military strike against Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities. If Iran wants to avoid the possibility of a military showdown, then it is certainly not helping matters when the countryâ€™s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, openly called Israelâ€™s presence as an â€œinsult to humanity.â€
Ahmadinejad spoke in front of a large crowd at Tehran University following a series of pro-Palestinian marches that swept through the nation.
Israel has long considered Iran a threat due to its nuclear facilities and support for organizations with an anti-Israel agenda. Ahmadinejad, along with the countryâ€™s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, have made repeated references about the need to bring about Israelâ€™s destruction.
While Israel stated that it hopes for the issue to be resolved through diplomacy, it has also made it clear that it will not hesitate to launch a military assault if Iran does not abandon its nuclear uranium program, which Iran continuously insists is for peaceful purposes. Iran has threatened retaliation if Israel were to proceed with plans of a military strike and has also pledged to do the same to the U.S. if it allies itself with Israel.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad also called Israel â€œcorruptâ€ and â€œanti-human.â€ He also added that Israel needs to be confronted in order to protect â€œthe dignity of all human beings.â€ During his speech, demonstrators burned the Israel and American flag and chanted â€œdeath to Israel and the U.S.â€
The White House has publicly condemned Ahmadinejadâ€™s speech and also blasted him for defending Syrian president, Bashar Assad, despite the governmentâ€™s repeated violation of human rights and the brutal assault on its own people, which claimed over 20,00 lives since March of last year.
Ahmadinejadâ€™s words are really nothing new. In 2005, he denied the events of the Holocaust and called it a myth. He also vowed for Israel to be â€œwiped off the mapâ€.
The U.S. presidential election is looming, and it is an issue that Israel is keeping a close eye on. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the city of Jerusalem and said that the U.S. has an obligation to back Israel in every way possible against the threat of Iran acquiring nukes.
Romneyâ€™s stance may make him more of a desirable candidate for Jews living in the U.S. While President Obama has stated that Israel has the right to defend itself, he has hesitated to include whether military option would be considered. Instead, his policy was focused more on diplomacy and sanctions in stopping Iran.
Romneyâ€™s foreign policy advisor, Dan Senor has made statements suggesting that a Romney administration would aid Israel in a military strike if all else fails. Romney also took jabs at the democrats for being too soft in its stance against Iran.
During his visit, Romney also referred to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which drew the applause of those present for his speech. Obama has been criticized in the past for his refusal to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israelâ€™s capital. Some suspect that this is out of fear of offending the Palestinians.
Romneyâ€™s visit included a conference with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. His stop also included a pilgrimage to the Western Wall where he inserted a note inside a crack.
Romney and the Prime Minister have actually worked together as partners at a consulting firm in Boston back in the â€˜70s. It is unknown whether this will play a pivotal role in who Netanyahu supports during the U.S. election. However, Israelâ€™s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, insists that there is no favoritism involved here. He also added that Israel does not have any leanings one away or the other over who takes over the White House in the November election.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud party that backs him announced that they will show support for a controversial law that will make it mandatory for all ultra-Orthodox Jews as well as Palestinian-Israelis to perform either military or community service.
The law was proposed by the Plesner committee and would require everyone to complete military or community service. The plan also looks to increase benefits for those who comply with the law and impose stiffer penalties for those who try to dodge the draft.
Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz opposed the idea of a mandatory draft and even threatened to quit if such a proposal were to be passed. However, he and Netanyahu have since agreed on proceedings to get the law drafted.
Supporters of the law have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv to rally in favor of mandatory service for all Israelis. Currently, there are certain minority groups who are exempt from compulsory service. The protest required a police presence, though no violence or arrests were reported.
Under the present law, most men over the age of 18 are required to serve a minimum of three years in uniform, while women are required to enlist for two years. However, they have the option of opting for community work in place of military service.
With the new law, hefty financial fines will be enforced for those who try to evade the draft. It also has plans to cut down the number of religious seminary students who are exempt from 50,000 to about 1,500 within the next four years.
The plan also aims to increase the number of Arab citizens living in Israel to serve. Arabs make up about a fifth of Israelâ€™s total population; the majority of them are strongly against the proposal.
The Tal law was passed in 2002 and allowed ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinian-Israelis to be exempt from service. This law was declared unconstitutional in February and will become void beginning in August.
The IDF is preparing for a possible flood of Syrian refugees following the potential fall of President Bashar Assad, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, the army chief said that members of Assad’s Alawite sect are expected to seek shelter in Israel should the Syrian leader, an Alawite himself, be removed from power.
“The day the Assad regime falls, this is expected to hurt the Alawite sect,” Army Chief Gantz said. “We are preparing to take in Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights.”
Addressing other possible implications of the Syrian upheaval, the chief of staff added that Israel fears that weapons could make their way from Syria to Lebanon. “We must monitor the process,” Gantz said.
Turning his attention to Iran, the army chief said that 2012 is expected to be a “critical year in the meeting place between ongoing nuclear efforts, the domestic changes in Iran’s leadership, increasing pressure from the international community, and things that are happening there unnaturally.”
Meanwhile, President Assad delivered a two-hour speech Monday, charging that foreign elements are aiming to topple his rule. The Syrian president claimed that a “foreign conspiracy” was causing the unrest in his country but was failing. The civil unrest in Syria was a test of the country’s national resilience, he added: “Outside forces did not find a foothold in the revolution that they had hoped for… Nobody is deceived anymore.”
He further claimed that it was his idea to send observers to Syria “to find out the truth… Syria will not close doors to Arab solutions,” he continued, as long as “they respect Syria’s sovereignty.” The Syrian leader also rejected Western and human rights groups’ claims about the violence in his country, insisting that he did not order troops to direct live fire at innocent civilians, “unless it’s a case of self-defense.”
It appears that that Apple will be opening its first development center outside the United States in Israel. The move reportedly is not related to the possible acquisition of the Israeli company Anobit, which develops flash storage solutions that provide Apple’s iPhone and iPad a competitive advantage over its competitors. Aharon Aharon, a veteran in the Israeli high-tech scene, has reportedly been chosen to head the Israeli center and is undergoing training in Apple’s headquarters in the United States. Aharon refused to comment on the issue, saying only that he is in the United States. But at least three managers in Israel’s high-tech industry confirmed that Ahraon will be a senior vice president of engineering at Apple, and head Apple’s development activities in Israel.
Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly planning to acquire the Israeli company Anobit for hundreds of millions of dollars. If a deal will be completed, it will mark the biggest deal Apple has made since 1996 when it acquired NeXT, a company founded by Steve Jobs, for $429 million. The decision to set up an Apple R&D center in Israel could explain why it might be pursuing a large player like Anobit. Apple usually confines itself to small-scale acquisitions to obtain intellectual property.
Appleâ€™s interest in Israel began in 2008, when an Israeli Technyon graduate joined the Company in Cupertino. The Israeli high tech employee joined Apple after fullfiling various positions at Intel and IBM. It was during that time that he met Aharon Aharon. Today he serves as Vice Preseident of Microchips in Apple. In the US Patent Registrar there are two patents registered on the Israeli high tech employee’s name, both registered in 2009, during the time he was already employed at Apple.
With the first round of GOP primary debates already underway, a lingering question is whether President Obama honored the Jewish vote he had so clearly secured when he won the 2009 presidential race.
Republican Bob Turner’s upset victory last Tuesday in the special election for the mostly Democratic congressional seat in New York’s ninth district is said to be a referendum on Obama’s failed economic policies and relations with Israel.
House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement Tuesday night that voters from New York “delivered a strong warning to the Democrats who control the levers of power in our federal government. It’s time to scrap the failed ‘stimulus’ agenda and the misguided policies on Israel and focus on getting America back to creating jobs again.”
Obama’s campaign is downplaying the suggestion that Jewish voters are turning against the president. Pete Sessions, the National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman however said in a statement that the race demonstrates “voters are losing confidence in a president whose policies assault job-creators and affront Israel.”
Other issues are lingering wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya where a NATO assisted coup on the Qadaffi regime will win control over the region for the al-Qaeda.
Democratic State Assemblyman who lost to Turner, David Weprin, is an Orthodox Jew while Turner is a Catholic who has managed to maintain a stronger pro-Zionist stance than his Jewish opponent.
Ed Koch, former New York Mayor and Jerusalem Post columnist said this summer he was endorsing Turner as a way to “send a message” to Obama on his policies toward Israel.
Executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matt Brooks said in a statement “without question, Obama’s policies are causing significant numbers of Jewish voters to re-examine their loyalty to the Democratic Party.”
Abe Novick wrote on his blog over at Jerusalem Post:
“From Rick Perry to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum et al., their backing is clear. During the last decade, especially since President George W. Bush had to confront the reality of terrorism head on, the GOP has worked to position itself as the more supportive party, favorable and in line with Israel and therefore to many Jewish voters. At the same time, for the past several elections, Democrats have taken the Jewish vote for granted. Behind the scenes, JStreet, the leftwing lobbying organization, has been overly influential on the Obama administration and has shaped and influenced its policy vis-Ã -vis Israel.”
Nonetheless, Abe Novick writes:
1. Prior to yesterdayâ€™s win in the Brooklyn-Queens district where Anthony Weiner had been the Democratic Representative to Congress, a Democratic polling firm (Public Policy Polling) found that 54% of all voters in the Weiner district and 68% of Jewish voters, disapproved of Mr. Obamaâ€™s position on Israel. Additionally, 37% of all voters and 58% of Jewish voters said Mr. Obamaâ€™s Israel position was â€œvery importantâ€ in deciding their vote. Yesterday, even in the heavily Democratic district where they have a 3-1 majority, Republican Bob Turner won. Moreover, in a district that is 40% Jewish, Turner is a 70-year-old Catholic who won against David Weprin, a Jewish Democrat. If thatâ€™s not a wake-up call, then the Whitehouse needs to install air raid sirens from Israel.
2. In the midst of the upcoming U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood, the Obama Administration has only recently publicly said they plan to veto it in the Security Council. Why the long wait in making a public statement and elongating the mystery? Meanwhile, he has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton off in a last minute attempt to beg and cajole the PA not to go through with it. By not understanding that the PA is now one-half Hamas, due to their alliance, heâ€™s dealing with a terrorist organization and one that does not and will not recognize Israel.”