a different side of Israel

Tag: Syria (page 3 of 7)

Navy Seals Commandeer Antiguan Ship Carrying Iranian Weapons to Hezbollah

During an overnight raid on Tuesday last week, the Israeli Navy, about 100 nautical miles off the coast west of Israel and near Cyprus, seized hundreds of tons of weaponry on a ship sailing with an Antiguan flag. The weaponry was sent by Iran and destined for Hezbollah, in Syria.

The IDF was monitoring the Francop for several days before Navy Seals boarded it in the middle of the night. When they found the dangerous cargo, they easily commandeered it and sailed it to Israel.

The government of Antigua informed Israeli Intelligence that a ship left from the Bandar-Abbas Port in Iran with cargo which was shipped through the Suez Canal, unloaded in the Mediterranean Port of Damietta in Egypt and then loaded onto the Francop. The intended destination was the Latakia Port in Syria.

The ship’s crew was unaware that there were weapons on board, as they were disguised as humanitarian aid.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem denied the entire event. He said:

“Unfortunately there are official pirates disrupting the movement of goods between Iran and Syria, I stress, the ship was not carrying Iranian arms bound for Syria, nor was it carrying material for manufacturing weapons in Syria. It was carrying [commercial] goods from Syria to Iran.”

Meanwhile both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres complimented the Navy and the IDF, for the exemplary execution of a critical operation.

Today in Knesset, Tzipi Livni said:

“We all today praise the Navy and IDF over the seizure of the ship – it’s not a controversial matter. There are issues over which there are no coalition and opposition. We are all partners in the people of Israel’s war on terror – whether it’s Hamas, Hizbullah or other supporters [of terror]. Well done.”

Now since the world is basically ignoring this OBVIOUS WAR MONGERING ACTION BY IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH LAYING THE GROUND WORK FOR THEIR NEXT WAR – WE THOUGHT WE WOULD PUT TOGETHER A LITTLE GALLERY FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE (again, these are not weapons as the Syrian Foreign Minister explained, these are commercial goods!!!!)

Regular Hamas vs Ultra Hamas & Syrian Scud Accident

Abdel Latif MoussaJund Ansar Allah, an Al Qaeda-inspired Gaza-based ultra radical terrorist organization calling for strict Islamic law in the strip, has been pretty upset with Hamas lately for honoring a 7-month ceasefire with Israel, so they did the most logical thing: They tried to launch a coup and declare a Muslim emirate in Gaza two days ago and got themselves all killed.

A gun battle ensued around a Mosque, the Jund people blew themselves up with the ever popular suicide vest (really in style these days in the Strip), and their leader Abdel Latif Moussa blew himself up later in his home.

While these people don’t exactly fit the adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” at least they’ve been causing Hamas some trouble. And really, I’d much prefer an enemy who hates ceasefires like these guys who REALLY fight to the death over a group like Hamas, because at least with these diehards you can actually finish a war until one side wins and the other actually loses.

Taher a-Nunu, a Hamas government spokesman, said Jund Ansar Allah was responsible for a spate of bombings against coffee shops, hair salons, Internet cafes and restaurants over the past few years. I wonder where they got the idea to do such things.

Moussa was a physician employed in the Health ministry of the PA, which is funded by basically everyone in the world looking to pour money into the hands of these kinds of people in an attempt to Promote the Peace Process. Better luck next time with the promoting, as they say.

The confrontation started when Moussa and about 100 of his followers, in truly gutsy style, suddenly declared that they were taking over Gaza with Moussa at the head, so Hamas got a bit miffed and started shooting. Among the dead were 6 Hamas policemen, as well as Muhammad al-Shamali, Hamas military commander in the south of the Strip who was involved in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. May he enjoy his 72 virgins.

In other news concerning enemies of Israel blowing themselves up, it has been reported that 20 Syrians were killed and over 60 were injured in a failed Scud missile test carried out back in May by the dynamic trio Syria, Iran, and North Korea, best of buds. One of two missiles being tested went off course and landed in the middle of a marketplace near the Syrian-Turkish border.

Reported by Kyodo News, the exploded area was closed off to the public, who were then told that there was a mysterious gas explosion.

Well, of sorts, sure.

Saudi Arabia WILL NOT let Israel Use Its Airspace – Damn!

Thanks Karin! This was published a couple of days ago:

Mossad head Meir Dagan assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Saudi Arabia would allow IAF jets to fly over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Sunday Times reported.

Iran nuclear facility in BushehrThis was published now: Saudi Arabia Denies Reports Regarding Israeli Use of Its Airspace

WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today issued the following statement in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totally and categorically denies accounts published by a British newspaper regarding contacts with Israel or permission to use Saudi airspace for any hostile activities. The Kingdom is greatly puzzled by the publication of this false information, which directly contradicts the established, firm and clear policies of the Saudi government regarding relations with the occupying government of Israel and the Kingdom’s prohibition against the use of its territories or airspace for aggression against another nation.”

This is distributed by Qorvis Communications, LLC on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Source: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

CONTACT: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Information Office, Washington,
DC, +1-202-337-4076

So that’s it – we’re back to using Syria and Iraq…

Heir to the Throne

As Olmert is plunging into the claws of another corruption investigation, talk is spreading as to who’s gonna replace him when the time comes. And my friends, the time is approaching.

StampToday we were announced that Dalia Itizk is considered among “Kadima” party officials as an acceptable replacement for Mr. Olmert if the latter is forced to resign. From the other side of the political fence, former PM Benyamin Netanyahu is sharpening his sword in preparation for a general election, and yet another former PM — and current Defense Secretary — Ehud Barak, remains as opaque as ever.

Who will be the next Prime Minister of Israel? Whomever it may be, he or she will have to lead the country through the imminent face-off with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Whether this threat is resolved via diplomatic means or via a military operation, the matter is likely to reach its climax during the next PM’s term. Moreover, Olmert’s replacement will be given the reins of a preliminary peace process with Syria, one that has the potential of tearing the country apart, socially and literally. There is also a much-due peace process with the Palestinians that everyone is so weary of, and of course the ever-present frustration of Israeli Arabs and Druze. Economically, the next PM will face increasing social gaps, and the privatization of the last remains of the Welfare State that Israel once was.

Personally, I can’t imagine why anyone would want such a grueling position. The perks are nice, but there ain’t much sleep, and most Israeli PMs left office with the loud cry of “boo” shouts behind their backs.

As for the voters, Israelis have become cynical and distrustful of new players in the political game who promise “change”. Most would rather stick with the same old characters who disappointed them in the past. Well, Itzhak Rabin left office for the first time with his head low in the ground, escaping corruption allegations, and several decades later came back for a glorious second term. Maybe Netanyahu or Barak learned their lessons, they wouldn’t have to repeat the same rookie mistakes, and go straight for business.


Picture by the Israeli Post

Hurray! Peace with Syria – Political Commentary by Ashley

Guest Commentary

Wait a second – Weren’t we at war with them? What does it mean to announce peace talks with a regime that we vastly outgun in military matters and totally humiliate on an economic level (Israel’s per capita GDP is $30,000 and climbing; Syria’s is just scraping $4,000)?

Israel recently entered Syrian airspace after disabling Syria’s “latest and most advanced” Russian-made air defense systems and then destroyed what’s thought to have been a nuclear weapons facility. Even during the Lebanon War — that mismanaged, mangled, and relatively pathetic display of Israel’s military capabilities — Israeli warplanes were able to buzz “President” Assad’s palace without so much as being shot at.

So, clearly, Syria is a major threat to Israel and we should scramble to give up the ultra-strategic Golan Heights (where Syria attacked Israel from when it actually was a threat) in order to quell the potential “shit-storm” that Syria might like to serve us.

What’s really going on here? No sane nation in today’s geopolitical world, and none in the history of nations, would ever sit down to give away land — strategic land — to a bordering country that not only has limited power but also constantly calls for the destruction of the first, more powerful country.

All I can say is: Welcome to Israeli domestic politics.

We’ve seen this before, many times. The parallels are actually frightening. Let’s rewind back to the winter of 2000, when Ehud Barak led Israel through a number of failed, disastrous policies. In February of 2000, Barak, according to The Economist, was accused by the state comptroller of corruption and “shenanigans over election financing.” Barak, as skillful and slippery as any Israeli politician, managed to sway the public focus away from him by doing something “bold”: he removed Israeli troops from their strategic position in southern Lebanon where they had been keeping Hezbollah (and their likes) at bay.

After the troop withdrawal, Hezbollah had the opportunity to casually saunter into southern Lebanon. In effect, Barak’s wily plan worked — he was praised by the left-wing media for his dovish actions and his campaign imbroglio was largely forgotten. He also, by the way, wiped out more than a decade of hard-won gains in Lebanon that kept terrorists out of firing range of Israel’s population centers. Six years later, we got a terror war from the south of Lebanon in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were murdered.

Ariel Sharon provides another instructive example. Just after he became prime minister, Sharon began to deny accusations of campaign finance violations faster than he could gobble down Shwarmas. Boomerang, a book written by left-wing Israeli journalists and based on extensive interviews as well as on the examination of declassified documents and use of archival material, had made the case that Sharon used the withdrawal from Gaza to distract the Israeli public from his misdoings.

It seemed to work — except for the small annoyance that some call “daily terror attacks”, in the form of Qassam and Katyusha rockets fired from the recently withdrawn-from Gaza Strip. (There have been roughly 8,000 rocket strikes on Israeli ground from Gaza to date since the withdrawal.)

Of course, not a problem for Sharon — then and now — who sleeps with a clear conscience.

Olmert, who, some scientists speculate, may actually be amphibious, has set off on the same mission. A quick browse of today’s news headlines and you can see all the pieces coming together: Olmert announces his new peace plan with our seriously threatening enemy, Syria. At the same time, he wrangles with the police and the justice department officials, in an attempt to delay the testimony of the American financier, Morris Talansky, which could put him behind bars. Delay it just long enough for the peace-crazed public to forget… Forget what, again…?

Olmert may have gone too far this time. But then again, we in Israel like to draw lines in the sand, never remembering that the desert’s political winds blow hard.

Is israel ready for an earthquake disaster?

Today we’re informed that another major earthquake struck the surface of the earth. This time it’s the people of China who suffer the wrath of the planet. So far we’ve heard of 3500(!!) casualties, and the numbers are expected to rise.

Tel Aviv Urban LandscapeIsrael itself sits on top of the Great Rift Valley, also known as the Syrian-African Rupture. It is a distinct geographical trough that marks the junction of several geological faults. Over the years, many experts warn the Israeli public that they should be prepared for a mega earthquake hitting this tiny country, sooner or later. Now, it is true that several devastating earthquakes ran wild across the planet in the past few years, and that the countries afflicted (Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, to name a few) suffered heavy losses and great economical setbacks, and yet, they managed to recover, able to keep their heads above the tide. This wouldn’t be the case of Israel if such a disaster strikes unexpectedly.

Israel is a small state, only slightly larger than New Jersey, and most of Israel’s population is concentrated on the banks of the Mediterranean shore, in cities such as Tel-Aviv and Haifa. No wonder the Israeli government is so concerned about the Iranian threat — One nuclear bomb is enough to wipe out the state of Israel, and most of its population. Well, Prime Minister Olmert is definitely anxious with the Iranian A-Bomb, but what about the threat of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and droughts?

Numerous panel reports have been presented to the Israeli cabinet in the past decade urging the state authorities to take measures in preparation of a potential natural disaster. It was when the accumulating data persuaded news editors to feature this story prominently on TV and across the written media, that things “started to roll”. As we’ve been accustomed to in Israel, governmental agenda follows editorial agenda. Recently, we do hear about new protocols which the emergency services have prepared for such disasters, and even the government itself set up several web sites in order to educate the Israeli public as to what to do in such situations (so far, in Hebrew alone).

There is definitely much more to do, and I hope to see these official efforts taking one notch up. In the meantime, our prayers are aimed at the people of China.

Reflections on Israeli POW’s

Israeli POWs
Last Friday, May 2nd, a very interesting article appeared in the Weekend supplement of the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s oldest English language newspaper. The article, entitled Stigma of Surrender, and written by correspondent Larry Derfner, dealt with Israelis who had been taken prisoner in various wars, especially the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the first Lebanese War of 1982. Former Israeli POW’s who had been taken prisoner and later released, recounted their experiences in the hands of the enemy, and what happened to them after being finally released. Many of them said that the treatment they received by IDF authorities who “interrogated” them afterwards was (from a psychological basis) almost as bad as when they were prisoners of war, or of terrorists.

With Israeli solders such as Gilad Schalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser still not back home after nearly two years, this year’s Solder’s Remembrance Day and Independence Day celebrations will take on a special meaning for members of their families, as well as for many other Israelis.

Israel will be celebrating its 60th anniversary as an independent state this week; and the matter of captured and missing soldiers is an issue even more important, especially in light of recent offers to affect a prisoner exchange with the Hamas organization for captured soldier Gilad Schalit.

Many people in Israel feel that trading this young soldier’s life (assuming he’s still alive) for several hundred Hamas and other terrorists who will only go back to killing Jews, is not going by the old Rabbinical context of “he who saves one life has saved the entire world”. This time it’s entirely different.

I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of either Mr. and Mrs. Schalit or the Prime Minister in regards to what to do in this situation. Israeli prisoners have mainly been repatriated in wartime – and that most were from the Egyptians who were only slightly more humane than their Syrian allies.

Regarding soldiers being captured or taken prisoner by terrorist groups, it’s nearly always been a death sentence – except for some like Elkanah Tannenbaum, an Israeli reserve officer who was captured while in Lebanon on a “business trip” and who may have had “connections” which enabled him to stay alive.

Some people feel that Israeli solders should be issued a cyanide pill, like Mossad people are, and if they have the opportunity, to simply swallow it. At least it prevents the suffering, including by such as Ron Arad, who may actually have died long ago (it was supposedly verified by Russian and other foreign diplomats who had received inside information).

That’s the sad reality of being captured as an Israeli soldier. So much for the “Pinchas Shevi” (POW ID Card) issued every IDF recruit. Many say that it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on!

Or is it?

I’m quite sure that if one talks to parents and relatives of the three young men mentioned here, they will definitely agree that Israeli soldiers should not only come back alive but should be given the honor that they truly deserve. In fact, I’m sure these relatives feel that Israeli leaders are not doing enough to ensure their loved ones’ release.

As Israelis celebrate 60 years of independence, they should also take time to reflect on these brave young men who so much deserve to come home – with honor – to their loving and waiting families.

Syria and The Summer of Love

Emergancy ExcerciseAl Quda Al Arabi in the UK is reporting that the Syrians are getting a little fidgety and have called in reserves expecting an imminent attack by the “zionist pigs”. The “zionist pigs” are not sure what they’re babbling about but it seems like the area is getting a little tense (we all know how peaceful it is normally….).

Barak visiting the North this week mentioned that Hezbollah is gathering weapons and is heavily arming itself in an expected showdown but that the IDF is doing the same. “Looking at this picturesque quiet we know that things are brewing just below surface”…

Talk in the chat and online commentary is that something will happen soon enough. Some say that the Syrians are causing a diversion with their troop movements, that Hezbollah will initiate a third party attack on the northern border, or that the next attack will coincide with Israel’s 60th Independence Day coming soon.

Regardless (or not..), our Home Security Command announced a massive exercise next Tuesday that will cover 253 municipalities and will include government, public, private, emergency and rescue organizations.

Oh, we are also going to get back those really fashionable gas masks after they were “refreshed” earlier this year.
But hey, no need to panic 😉

Ahh, can you feel it? The Summer of Love!

Kahled Mashal offers “new deal” to Israel

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashal is trying to instigate a “new peace deal” with Israel. Speaking from his headquarters in Damascus, and coming on the heels of the recent Arab summit held in the Syrian capital, Mashal said that his new proposal is designed to “spare civilian lives on both sides by only targeting military objectives”.
Mashal went on to say that his offer is really almost the same one made nearly ten years ago, but not agreed upon by Israel.

By referring to “military targets” the Hamas leader said that his organization will agree to only target IDF military personnel and installations instead of wholesale terror and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. He said that he is renewing this offer with the hope of reducing civilian casualties, including Palestinian ones resulting form Israeli reprisal attacks.

Mashaal went on to say that his organization “are taking good care of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, although Israel does not take good care of Hamas and other Palestinian prisoners. This statement in itself seems a bit absurd as most, not all Palestinian prisoners are allowed to receive items form relatives and also communicate to them. This in itself is a far cry from the two brief letter said to have been written by of whom no photographs or video have been shown as proof of his being alive and of his physical condition.

The Hamas leader accused both Israel and the U.S.A. of planning to start a regional war, and even had the gall to complain that Hamas fighters have only primitive weapons against Israeli ones, and is requesting better weapons “in order to be able to shoot straighter”. Mashal said that suicidal terror attacks really began in earnest after the slaying of 29 Palestinian worshipers at a mosque in Hebron by Dr. Baruch Goldstein.

Mashal blamed the inability of Arab nations to defeat the Israel’ occupation as a result of overall weakness on the part of many Arab countries, and not as a result to giving in to Israeli demands.

On other topics, Mashal said that although his organization does not deny the occurrence of the Holocaust, the reality of this historical event has been expanded “out of proportion” by Jewish and Israeli historians in an effort to gain more international sympathy. Obviously, Mr. Mashal has not visited such Holocaust sites as Auschwitz-Birkenau, and seems to disregard the fact that more than 200,000 Holocaust survivors, living testimonials to this tragic event, live in Israel alone.

That his man is still alive and so much involved in Hamas’ activities must be a real frustration to organizations such as the Mossad, who botched a chance to be rid of Mashal several years ago when they tried to poison him in Amman Jordan.

The Square Centimeter Dream

In a way, one might feel sorry for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as his weekend Arab Summit in Damascus was rampant with “no-shows”, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki of Iraq all boycotting it, to name a few. Some leaders, who did show up, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi seemed more interested in getting photographed, rather than making any outstanding contributions to improving things in the region.

Dumb DumbFor his part, Bashar al-Assad used the meeting to express his willingness to enter into talks with Israel, as long as Israel is willing to return to the June 4, 1967 borders, which includes the entire Golan Heights “down to the eastern shore of the Kinneret”. Assad emphasized this point that saying he is not willing to compromise “on even one square centimeter of the Golan Heights” which as far as most Israelis are concerned, puts the situation of a possible peace deal with Israel’s eastern enemy back to shit’s creek.

Despite Assad’s hard stance, it was revealed that Syrian officials are saying that a “line of communication” has been opened between Damascus and Jerusalem, and that they, the Syrians, now say that the ball is in Israel’s court in regard to actual negotiations between the two countries. The two day Summit ended with a call for Israel to accept an Arab sponsored peace initiative, most of which is completely unacceptable by Israel.

No high ranking American officials were present at the Summit. Meanwhile, Israeli government officials, meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have agreed to make life a bit easier for West Back Palestinians by proposing to remove as many as 50 roadblocks to make traveling by Palestinians within the West Bank as well as to Israel itself more easier. It has also been disclosed that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and other Israeli officials have been meeting with Palestinian officials like Abu Allah in secret locations in and around Jerusalem; the purpose of which is to reach a peace deal by the end of this year.. These meetings, however, have not included any Hamas leaders, who are still confined to Gaza by both Israel and West Bank Palestinians.

Assad obviously has more than just national pride in mind in wanting to regain his lost territory. Like most other countries this region, Syria has a chronic water shortage that makes one of Israel’s main sources of fresh water look exceedingly attractive. The streams on the Golan, many fed by melting snow from Mt. Hermon, are one of the Kinneret’s important water suppliers. Syria would like to have the lake’s eastern shore back in it’s possession so it can simply pump water out of the lake like it did prior of June 4, 1967. With the present lake level already reaching the critical “redline,” even Israel may soon not be able have this important water supply available, let alone Syria.

So in the end, any proposed peace talks are not likely to have much chance of succeeding, unless Syria and Israel are willing to compromise.

Wentworth Miller in Israel

My wife asked me to write this….

Wentworth Miller in IsraelWentworth Miller is here in Israel and between the attacks in the south, Hezbollah gargling in the North and the occasional stabbing over a parking spot, this politically correct, polite Englishman is making the news. He is visiting here for the third time and is going through the traditional route (Masada, Dead Sea, Galilee and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem). He is very patient with the reporters and answers all questions big and small. He was born in the UK and went to school in the US (Princeton) and he fascinated reporters with his genetic background, Russian, Dutch, French, Syrian and Egyptian from his mother’s side and African American, Jamaican, English, German and Jewish (yep..) on his father’s side. The final result according to our local fans (and my wife) is a very pleasant to look at guy.

Welcome to Israel !

Olmert Denies Ceasefire Talks with Hamas

Israel’s political confusion has become even more pronounced with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denying that his government is conducting ceasefire negotiations with Hamas. Speaking from Speaking during a meeting with visiting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanik Olmert said that not only were negotiations not taking place, but that Israeli military forces are still involved in operations in and near Gaza.

Hamas spokesmen, for their part, also deny that such negotiations are taking place, although it appears that they have scaled down their Qassam and Grad rocket attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said that that there was no ceasefire talks going on, and that the IDF is continuing military operations in the area. The scaling down of Hamas rocket attacks has resulted in the IDF scaling down its operations as well, according to Barak. These new changes have been going on several days now, and this is in spite of Thursday night’s terror attack in Jerusalem.

Despite this, however, many right winged Knesset members, including Likud M.K. Yuval Steinitz (pictured), agree that Hamas appears to have come out on top, from a political viewpoint, in recent fighting with IDF troops, despite a large number of Hamas militants and civilians being killed. “The real meaning of this new lull is that Hamas has won out over Israel and that this new ceasefire is a Hamas victory” Steinitz said in an interview on Galei Tzhal, the IDF radio station. Steinitz went on to say that he sees that Israeli leaders are accepting a Palestinian State in Gaza that is allied with Syria and Iran, and that the Hamas organization is nothing more than an Iranian outpost.

All of these happenings are occurring in the aftermath of the IDF military operations in northern Gaza which ended with more than 100 Gazans killed against three Israeli soldiers and one civilian. Despite the large number of Palestinians killed or wounded, a Hamas spokesman described Israel’s pull out as ” a great victory for Hamas’ Five Day War” with Israel.

Although no formal cease fire has been reached, the situation on Israel’s border with Gaza is much quieter than it has been in days. But judging from previous “cease fires” or hudnas as they are called in Arabic, these lulls do not last for long before the cycle of violence begins all over again. No headway either has also been made concerning the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has now been a captive for more than 630 days.

In other related news, it has been divulged that more than 150 Hams militants are now receiving special commando training in Iran. These are probably only a small number of the thousands of Hamas members and other Gazans who have not yet returned to Gaza following the breach made by Hamas men in the security fence between Gaza and Egypt. Iran is presently considered to be Israel’s number one security threat by Israeli intelligence officials, and their assistance to Hamas and Hezbollah is well known.

IDF Rebuilds

Army RebuildingThe Israeli Defense Forces have undergone considerable upgrading since the 2006 war in Lebanon. Following the appointment of former Golani Brigade commander, Lt. General Gaby Ashkenazi to IDF Chief of Staff, virtually all branches of Israel’s military, especially it’s ground forces, have undergone a number of changes to prepare if a possible future war with the Hezbollah and possibly Syria as well. Ashkenazi is well suited for his new role as he has considerable combat experience and is well acquainted in ground combat fighting, as he has been a commander of what may considered to be the IDF’s top fighting unit.

Being a field commander, General Ashkenazi is much more suited to head the IDF than his predecessor, Dan Halutz, who formerly headed the Israeli Air Force before his appointment to be C.O.S., by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005. One of General Ashkenazi’s major tasks has been to improve the morale in IDF military units, especially among reserve soldiers, considered to be the backbone of the country’s military. Gross logistical failures during what is now called the Lebanon II War, resulted in may reserve soldiers saying that they would refuse to fight in a new conflict unless considerable changes were made to enable them to have the required equipment and training needed to face an enemy that has grown much stronger and is better equipped than in previous years.

For security reasons, a number of these revisions have not been disclosed to the general public. One of main problems that many IDF officers have had is in regards to the type of warfare known as asymmetric warfare that is now being fought not only by Israel against it’s enemies but by other armies such as the American led coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Russian forces in provinces such as Chechnya. In asymmetric warfare, different ideologies and the will to fight often results in a lesser equipped enemy having an advantage over a stronger, better equipped army.

Besides Israel’s ground forces, include the highly acclaimed Givati brigade, the armor corps in which the Ga’ash Formation is the largest armor group, and special units such as the Egoz special operations unit, the IDF is also upgrading the Naval forces and Air Forces.

Speaking at a recent officer’s school graduation ceremony at Mitzpeh Ramon, both General Ashkenzi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (a former C.O.S. himself) warned that the IDF must be ready to face the threat of possible regional conflict that could break out at any time, especially following the assassination of Hezbollah’s top terror strategist Imad Mughniyah.

Throughout Israel’s nearly 60 years as an independent country, its army has had to make constant upgrades in its ability to meet the challenges facing the Jewish State in light of constantly changing realities. Only in this way can a small country such as Israel meet the challenges of facing its enemies and prevailing against them.

After Imad Mughniyeh

A lot of “whodunit” speculation is going around as to who really was responsible for the assassination of senior Hezbollah member and arch terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who was taken out last Tuesday evening by a bomb planted in his Pajero SUV in central Damascus. Mughniyeh’s followers, in the Hezbollah immediately pointed their fingers at Israel, with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah declaring that his organization is declaring “open warfare” against Israelis and Jews everywhere in world. Naturally, this threat has set alarm bells ringing in both the Israeli government and military, with strict warnings being issued to overseas Israeli diplomatic missions, as well as to Israelis planning either business or pleasure trips abroad; especially to Muslim and Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan.

Responsibility for Mughniyeh’s death has been denied by Israel, and so far American government spokespersons have also denied involvement. This could mean, therefore, that perhaps the man who has been referred to as the world’s most feared terrorist since Carlos the Jackal, may have been taken out by those a lot closer to home. Consider the following, especially after the double spectacles Thursday of the terrorist being laid to rest in south Beirut, and the commemoration of the third anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Why these two events need to be analyzed for their relevance to each other is that:

1. Both events occurred on the same day.
2. Only an estimated 10,000 people, most of them militia members, showed up for Mughniyeh’s funeral.
3. Close to 100,000 were present at the rally for Hariri. This large number represented Lebanese from all parts of the religious and political spectrum, many of whom had been active in the demonstrations following Hariri’s death that resulted in Syria pulling its troops out of Lebanon, ending a 25 year presence.

Ten thousand against 100,000; that’s a big difference and seems to indicate that except in Hezbollah’s strongholds in south Beirut and southern Lebanon, a great number of Lebanese are interested in a better future for their country. This future seems to be desired without the likes of groups such as Hezbollah; whom many in Lebanon consider to be a nothing more than proxies of Iran.

For this reason, it is evident that Mr. Mughniyeh had many enemies within Lebanon as well as outside of the country. It was revealed that he had only recently arrived in Damascus, after entering Syria on a fake passport. He may have been on the run from Lebanon following a series of bombings that he could have been responsible for.

Taking this and other possibilities into account, Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination may very well have been the result of his deeds simply catching up with him; not only from countries where many of these acts were carried out, but from members of his own countrymen as well. Perhaps even some of his fellow Hezbollah party members, including Sheikh Nasrallah himself, decided that it was simply time for Mughniyeh to go. Whatever the reason; good riddance.

Bye Imad

Imad Mughniyah, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, and perhaps second or third on America’s and Israel’s “rogue gallery” finally was caught off guard in Damascus on Tuesday night. The Hezbollah terror mastermind, who is alleged as responsible for a great deal of the terror attacks in Lebanon and elsewhere since the early 1980’s was blown up by a car bomb in the Syrian capital where he has been residing for a number of years.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin still has the “distinction” of being No. 1 on America’s Most Wanted criminal list.

Beginning with the car bombings of American and Israeli bases in Lebanon, and including the kidnappings and murders of high ranking American military and diplomatic officials, including CIA Beirut head William Buckley, Mughniyah was also responsible for several international attacks including the on the Israeli Embassy and cultural center in Buenos Aires in the 1990’s. As one of America’s top wanted, he carried a price on his head of $25 million, the same amount as Al Qaeda head Osama bin Ladin. He was also responsible for the hijacking of a TWA airliner which resulted in one American being killed and the rest of the passengers held captive in Libya for 17 days.

His death is said to have caused by a bomb planted inside the headrest on the front seat of his Mitsubishi Pajero jeep. It was definitely a professional job, which is why the Hezbollah have immediately blamed “the Zionests” for carrying out the hit. But
Imad had many enemies who wanted him dead, including the CIA and even groups within Lebanon, such as the Philange Christian militia whose leader, Bashir Jamil was alleged to have been assassinated by either the Amal militia or the group that became known as Hezbollah. Mughniyah may also have been involved in the assassination for billionaire and former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Israeli diplomatic missions worldwide are on a state of high alert following the attack, especially in light of Mughniyah’s funeral being today, which will probably be the center of another mass anti Israel demonstration, including a few choice words by Hezbollah’s General Secretary, Sheikh Hassan Sayed Nasrallah. What makes today’s event even more provocative is that it coincides on the third anniversary of Rafik Hariri’s assassination, meaning that there is bound to be conflict between the two groups. Mughniyah’s funeral is to be held in South Beirut, Hezbollah’s stronghold.

If it turns out that the assassination of Mughniyah was not a CIA or Israeli act, it will be interesting to see who turns up to claim the $25 million bounty that was still on his head as the time of his death. Who knows? Perhaps this act was either carried out by the Syrians (who are a bit strapped for cash these days) or even by Hezbollah people themselves who would put the reward money into Hezbollah’s general fund to assist the “poor people of Lebanon”. That would be a real slap in the face for U.S. President Bush and his Administration.

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