Girl, 13, dies of wounds after stabbing attack in West Bank bedroom
A 13-year-old girl died after being stabbed repeatedly by a Palestinian assailant who entered her bedroom in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba Thursday morning. Another man was seriously wounded in the terror attack.
The victim, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem unconscious, not breathing and in critical condition, where doctors said they were unable to save her.
A 31-year-old man also suffered multiple stab wounds and shooting injuries in the attack, according to rescue and hospital officials.
It appears the man, a civilian guard responding to the attack, was accidentally shot by other guards in an effort to neutralize the terrorist, according to initial reports.
The assailant was shot and killed, the Israel Defense Forces said.
The Palestinian health ministry identified him as Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, 17, from Bani Naim, adjacent to Kiryat Arba.
Local officials said the home lies on the edge in the Ramat Mamre neighborhood, adjacent to a fence surrounding the settlement. A picture released by the IDF showed the bedroom with blood smeared on beds and the floor.
According to an initial account, the attacker jumped the fence — a breach that sent an alert to the IDF and civilian security guards in the area — and broke into the girl’s bedroom, where she was sleeping.
The mother of a 13-year-old girl murdered in her bedroom in a terror attack Thursday morning tearfully recalled her daughter’s last moments, as politicians and others expressed outrage over the stabbing attack inside a West Bank settlement home.
“Like all adolescents during summer vacation, my daughter was asleep — tranquil, calm — and a terrorist came and murdered her in her bed,” Rina Ariel, the mother of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, told reporters outside Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where the teenager was taken after sustaining critical injuries in the attack earlier Thursday.
She arrived with multiple stab wounds to her upper body and was pronounced dead shortly after.
Ariel was stabbed to death in her room on Thursday morning when a Palestinian teen, identified as Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, 17, from Bani Na’im, jumped the fence into the settlement, broke into her house and stabbed her to death, before also stabbing a civilian security guard who arrived at the scene. Tarayrah was shot and killed by other guards.
- Hallel Yafa Ariel, 13 and a half years old, was on summer vacation, having just finished the 8th grade.
- Hallel was related to Israeli Minister Uri Ariel.
- The terrorist-murderer was 17 years old, Muhammad Taraiyre, from the village of Bani Naim. He climbed the fence at 8:44 AM, was spotted by security cameras, but made his way quickly to the Ariel house and murdered Hallel Yafa by stabbing her dozens of times while she was asleep in her bed.
- The terrorist was neutralized by a member of the civilian Rapid Response Team. Another member of the team, Yehoshua Gilboa, was severely injured. The determination and drive of the RRT stopped this terror event from spreading any further.
- The funeral will begin at the family’s home in Ramat Mamre “Kharsina” neighborhood of Kiryat Arba. The procession will conclude at the Ancient Jewish Cemetery in Hebron where the burial will take place. The funeral is expected to draw Ministers, Knesset Members, Rabbis and other spiritual and cultural leaders.
Shuki Gilboa, the 31-year-old man who was wounded fighting the terrorist in Kiryat Arba was taken to Hadassah hospital.
As of Thursday afternoon, the man is being treated in the ICU. He’s conscious, stable and now listed as moderately wounded.
Update: 4:42 PM: Gilboa is being brought into the operating room in order to save the vision in his eye.
The man is a security volunteer in Kiryat Arba where he lives. He was stabbed by the terrorist, but also inadvertently shot by Israeli security forces as they killed the terrorist.
Prayers can be said for Yehoshua ben Esther.
Fatah’s official Facebook page immediately posted his picture, declaring him a Martyr – “Shahid,” the highest honor achievable in Islam according to the Palestinian Authority.
WAFA, the official PA news agency, likewise honored the terrorist, referring to him as a Martyr – “Shahid.”
According to Palestinian Authority law, the family of today’s murderer will immediately start receiving a monthly PA stipend that the PA pays to the families of all the “Martyrs.”
The mother of the terrorist told a local Hebron news network that her son was “a hero” who made her “proud”:
Mother of terrorist Muhammad Taraireh: “My son is a hero. He made me proud. My son died as a Martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, he [my son] has joined the Martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine. Allah be praised.” [Local Hebron News Network http://alkhalil.ps/, June 30, 2016]
The Israel Defense Forces closed off the Palestinian village of Bani Na’im Thursday, hours after a Palestinian from the town stabbed and killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba, a spokesperson said.
On Thursday morning, 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah sneaked into the West Bank settlement. He broke into the home of the victim, Hallel Yaffe Ariel, and stabbed her repeatedly. A 31-year-old man from the settlement’s emergency response team was also wounded in the terror attack.
Tarayrah was shot and killed, according to the IDF.
Following the incident, Israeli forces entered Bani Na’im and visited the terrorist’s home “in order to investigate,” the army said in a statement.
According to Palestinian media reports, Tarayrah’s father was arrested by IDF troops.
JPost Editorial: Ongoing incitement
The standing ovation European parliamentarians last week accorded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s shameless blood libel against Israel was startling, but not unexpected. The Palestinian leader’s technique of making vile anti-Semitic slurs about the Jewish state, then cynically and insincerely retracting them after they have done their damage, is well known.
Such remarks reflect Abbas’s true attitude toward a peace settlement with Israel. It is the latest escalation of the incitement of terrorism that has become a trademark of his rule, now in the eleventh year of a four-year term.
One of the obligations the Palestinian Authority has consistently failed to meet under the Oslo Accords is to eliminate the anti-Israel incitement it has cultivated throughout its official institutions and civil society.
When Abbas glorifies terrorists who murder innocent Israelis by referring to them as “holy martyrs” and naming streets and public institutions after them, it is no wonder that Palestinian culture reflect this – and that so many young Palestinians are incited to commit acts of terrorism.
The murder of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel Thursday morning may have been inspired by an exceptionally vile statement made this week by a high PA official, Abbas’ advisor and Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu Al-Einein, who on Monday urged Arabs to seek out Israelis in order to cut off their heads.
The statement was made during an interview with Donia Al-Watan, an independent Palestinian news agency, about building peaceful and normal relations with Israel, according to Palestinian Media Watch. Abu Al-Einein explained that he rejects “negotiations, meetings, and normalization” activities and believes that when a Palestinian meets an Israeli he should kill him.
“Regarding the matter of normalization [with Israel] and the participation of members of the Fatah leadership and members of the PLO Executive Committee in Israeli conferences, Abu Al-Einein said: ‘If you would ask me about my personal position, I would tell you — every place you find an Israeli cut off his head. Likewise, I am against talks, negotiations, meetings, and normalization in all its forms with the Israeli occupation,’” Donia Al-Watan reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the enlightened nations of the world to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to stop incitement following the murder of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel by a Palestinian terrorist in Kiryat Arba on Wednesday.
“The horrifying murder of an innocent child in her bed sheds light on the bloodlust and lack of humanity displayed by the terrorists we are facing, brainwashed by incitement,” Netanyahu stated.
“The entire nation feels deeply the pain of the family and says to the murderers – you will not break us,” he said.
Netanyahu vowed to continue to fight terror wherever it may be and called on the world to condemn the attack, just as they condemned the terror attacks in Brussels and Orlando.
“I expect the Palestinian leadership to condemn this cruel murder in a clear and decisive manner, and to act to stop the incitement immediately,” Netanyahu said, adding that he expects the international community to join him in this call.
The US State Department on Thursday condemned a terror attack earlier in the day in which a 13-year-old Israeli girl was stabbed to death in her bed, calling it “simply unconscionable.”
Denouncements were also issued by the German Foreign Ministry and the US, UK, and EU envoys to Israel, who all said there was no justification for such attacks.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the outrageous terrorist attack this morning in the West Bank where a 13-year-old girl, Hallel Ariel, was stabbed to death in her home,” the US State Department said in a statement. “This brutal act of terrorism is simply unconscionable. We extend our deepest condolences to her family. We also understand another individual who was responding to the attack was wounded by the attacker. We extend our hopes for a quick and full recovery.”
Mohammad Tarayrah, the 17-year old Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba Thursday morning which resulted in the death of 13-year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was planning to become a martyr, a post written on his Facebook page reveals.
Tarayrah, who resided in the Nablus area village of Bani Naim, was greatly inspired by Majd al-Hadour, an 18-year old woman from his village who carried out a car ramming attack against IDF soldiers near Kiryat Arba last Friday. Hadour was shot and killed by the IDF following the attack.
In the posts he published about her on his Facebook page, Tarayrah mentions Hadour under the hashtag #Asistertobravery. In addition, he wrote a special poem for her, telling her that “Jerusalem is now proud of you.”
The teen murderer was hailed as a “martyr” by official PA media, who failed to note . Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party tweeted praising “the martyr Mohammad Tarayrah, who carried out the operation today that resulted in the killing of a settler and in the injuring of another.”
Honest Reporting: NBC News: “Suspected” Terrorist Murders Israeli Teen
How appalling an atrocity does a Palestinian have to carry out before media accepts that it is an act of terrorism?
Thirteen-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death in her bedroom this morning by a Palestinian terrorist. According to NBC News, the murderer was a “suspected terrorist”:
It seems crystal clear that this horrific incident is an act of terror carried out by a Palestinian terrorist. How can NBC News attribute the “suspected” terrorist to the Israeli military or Israeli officials when embedded tweets from both the IDF and IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner appear in the article stating clearly that this is a terrorist attack?
The headline has been amended and the word “suspected” removed. The opening paragraph, which had already seen the same word removed (see update below) has now been further altered. “The accurate word “terrorist” has unfortunately and unnecessarily been replaced with “attacker.”
While the headline change is welcome, the decision to state that Israeli officials said that a Palestinian “attacker” was responsible is inaccurate. Israeli officials most certainly described the assailant as a terrorist.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Bir Zeit Mathematics Students Aim To Prove Equivalence Of Terrorists, Victims (satire)
Undergraduate researchers at this institution north of the Palestinian capital have launched a project aimed at developing a mathematical proof that equates the deaths of terrorists with the deaths of their victims.
Hedd Stabr, Souss Adbamr, and Qid Qilr, all juniors pursuing BS degrees in Bir Zeit University’s mathematics department, announced today they had received approval from their professors and academic advisers to pursue such a proof as part of a multi-year project required for the degree. The three students received final approval this morning, and decided to make their announcement immediately after they received news that a 17-year-old Palestinian had just stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli girl in her bedroom.
“My friends and I realized there is no better time than right now to get started on this project,” said Stabr, 20. “We aim to develop a mathematical proof that demonstrates empirically that on a moral plane, the death of, for example, the seventeen-year-old Palestinian heroic martyr at the hands of the brutal occupying Zionist pig security forces, in the aftermath of his heroic commando operation to infiltrate the quarters of a squatter pig and eliminate her, is morally equivalent to her death, and can be treated as such without qualms by the media.”
“Of course the proof will be of use in other situations, as well,” added Adbamr. “For example, when Hamas or allied groups fire rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip and Israel takes military action to suppress the rocket fire, any Palestinian deaths will be mathematically proven as equivalent to Israeli casualties suffered in the initial rocket barrage.”
Two decades of failed peace talks cannot be understood without understanding this simple fact: Whereas the Palestinian leadership talks constantly about the refugees’ sufferings to drum up sympathy for its quest for statehood, it has no intention of actually doing anything to help them. And therefore, it sees no urgency in actually acquiring a state that would enable it to do so; it can afford to keep saying no to every Israeli offer.
In fact, far from wanting the refugee problem solved, Palestinian leaders would prefer that it continue to fester, in order to keep international attention on “the Palestinian problem,” as the Egyptian statesman accurately said. That’s also why they keep insisting the only acceptable solution is one that’s completely unfeasible: a mass “return” of refugees to Israel, which would eradicate the Jewish state demographically. Were they instead to say “yes” to a statehood offer, not only would it deprive them of the ability to keep exploiting the refugees as cannon fodder in their diplomatic war on Israel, but it would require them to actually start caring for their people–which is the last thing they want.
That’s precisely why more such “candid words” about the Palestinian refugees are so badly needed. It’s long past time to admit, as the Egyptian statesman did, that they aren’t actually refugees and shouldn’t be treated as such; this would free up money and manpower to help the real refugees who need it so desperately. And it’s also past time to admit that as long as Palestinian leaders show no interest in caring for their so-called refugees, it’s a sure sign that they have no interest in actually saying “yes” to a Palestinian state.
Gold said from an Israeli perspective there are two clear factors that have held up the diplomatic process.
The first has been Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and negotiate. “You can’t have a negotiated solution if there is no negotiations,” he said. “It is very simple.
The second reason is because of Palestinian incitement and violence. The Oslo process of 1993 “was predicated on the assumption that the parties were putting their hostile relationship behind them, that violence cannot coexist with the quest for peace,” he said.
But since then, he noted, successive governments had to deal with violence – first the suicide bombing in the heart of the country’s cities, then rockets from Gaza, and finally a new wave of incitement that led to the knifing attacks of the last several months.
Violence, he said, has become more prevalent despite the peace process, “and if you want to have a meaningful move toward a negotiated solution, you have to get the violence under control, and you have to get the incitement under control.”
Regarding the incitement, Gold termed “disgusting” the European Parliament giving a standing ovation to Abbas last week after he delivered a speech in which he charged that some rabbis were urging the government to poison the Palestinian water supply.
Acknowledging that the ovation came for the speech, not for the statement about poisoning the water, Gold asked, “How on earth can European parliamentarians applaud a statement that comes out of the deepest any-Semitic mythology of the Middle Ages?”
A report by the Middle East Quartet about the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, slated for publication this week, has been delayed once again.
Quartet officials kept mum Thursday about the exact publication date, though it was rumored that it could take another few days.
One official said that it was possible that the Quartet — a consortium consisting of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia — would release a paper with the report’s key points but will delay publication of the entire report to a later date.
The UN’s special envoy to the peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, was scheduled to brief the UN Security Council Thursday afternoon.
Originally, the report was supposed to come out ahead of the June 3 peace summit in Paris, but was pushed off, presumably due to pressure by Israeli diplomats who frantically tried to have the document’s wording be modified in Israel’s favor.
With a reconciliation deal between Turkey and Israel finalized, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for the first time lambasted the group behind the 2010 flotilla to the Gaza Strip that sparked years of strife between the nations.
Erdogan, who has been attacked by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) for signing the accord with Israel, said Wednesday the aid group had no business criticizing him, as its unsanctioned actions were the cause of years of diplomatic crisis.
“Did you ask for my permission before setting out on the flotilla?” Erdogan said at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner at his residence in Ankara. “When you launch a flotilla you need to ask [permission].”
He added that at the time of the flotilla “we were already delivering the same amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but without making [a show if it],” according to Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper.
“Now we have Israel’s promise, all aid supplies to Gaza will be permitted from now on,” Erdogan said.
On the heels of the newly approved reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey, a senior Hamas official on Wednesday said that Turkey has started mediating a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The prisoner swap would involve the return to Israel of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two Israeli soldiers who were killed during the 2014 Gaza war.
“An important meeting between a big delegation of Hamas and Turkish intelligence took place in Turkey a few weeks ago to discuss a number of Palestinian issues related to the Gaza Strip, among them a possible prisoner swap,” the anonymous Hamas official said in an interview with the Saudi news website al-Khaleej Online.
“Turkey is currently acting as a mediator to conclude a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. It is making important moves and holding important talks, and it went to great lengths in order to reach a good launch point that will enable the parties to conclude a deal,” said the official.
Isi Leibler: Herzog’s intolerable deceit
The somewhat insipid response by the media to these revelations is a byproduct of our dysfunctional political system, having inured Israelis to political deceit and made them highly cynical.
Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog is the scion of one of Israel’s most distinguished families. His late father, Chaim Herzog, served with distinction as president, and his grandfather, whose name he carries, was one of Israel’s most respected and beloved chief rabbis.
I have been lauding Herzog over the past year, relating to him as a Labor Zionist of the old school who had the ability to revive the party and rid it of the delusional leftists who alienated many of its former supporters and weakened it almost to the point of destruction. I bemoaned the fact that a unity government was not formed, insisting that Herzog, like the head of all Zionist parties, would basically be implementing the same policies as the current government.
In this context, I believed that he would make an excellent foreign minister and enable Israel to display unity in the face of the concerted diplomatic pressures being exerted against us.
In January, after the elections, while as leader of the opposition Herzog continued castigating Netanyahu, he nevertheless publicly endorsed the consensus policy toward the Palestinians adopted by Professor Shlomo Avineri, Labor Zionism’s foremost intellectual.
Although he emphasized that he remained committed to a separation from the Palestinians, Avineri maintained that the Oslo Accords were no longer relevant as the Palestinian leadership refused to accept Israel’s right to exist and considered Israel’s destruction a greater priority than achieving their own statehood. Avineri concluded that under such circumstances, efforts to implement a two-state solution were delusional.
Israel’s Mission to the United Nations on Wednesday called for the return of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers to the Israel-Syrian border in the Golan Heights, amid fears Iran and the ISIS terror group are looking to gain a foothold on the Syrian side of the prized strategic area.
The UNDOF force, which was created after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and includes deployments by UN countries from around the world, monitors the border between Israel and Syria. Its mandate, originally given by the UN Security Council in 1974 as a temporary measure, has been renewed every six months since.
But UN monitoring stations on the Golan have been abandoned since 2014, after Islamic terrorists captured UNDOF peacekeepers.
On Wednesday the UN Security Council renewed the UNDOF mandate once again and called for UN member states participating in the UNDOF peacekeeper program to renew the deployment of monitors on the ground.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, praised the renewal of the UNDOF mandate and echoed the Security Council’s call for a return of UNDOF peacekeepers to the Golan.
“UNDOF manning these positions is in Israel’s interest,” said Danon.
“The UNDOF peacekeepers play an important role and Israel is interested in them returning to the buffer zone in the quickest, and safest way, possible.”
Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi on Thursday reiterated her claims that the IDF soldiers involved in a May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla were “murderers,” saying the remarks she made a day earlier represented a “world consensus.”
“I represent not just the Palestinian consensus, not just the consensus of my people, I represent a world consensus,” she told Army Radio.
“If I stand on a stage, any stage, [with] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, you know who will be received with applause and who will convince the world,” Zoabi added.
She rejected charges by her interviewer that she was pandering to opponents of Israel and betraying her constituency by making inflammatory remarks about the IDF and focusing on the Palestinian cause instead of issues pertaining to Israeli Arabs.
Zoabi’s statements came a day after Netanyahu asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to explore legal ways to expel the MK from the Knesset. That came hours after she sparked a firestorm in the plenum when, speaking from the podium, she called IDF soldiers “murderers” and demanded they apologize for the flotilla raid.
Incitement by MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) is to blame for the death of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, MKs on the Right posited Thursday.
“The blood of the 13-year-old girl murdered today is on Zoabi’s hands,” MK Nava Boker (Likud), a Deputy Knesset Speaker, said. “This is the result of the incitement she speaks from the Knesset’s stage.”
On Wednesday, Zoabi called IDF soldiers “murderers” during a speech in the Knesset, leading to a near-brawl in the plenum when several MKs from the coalition and opposition shouted at her and tried to rush the stage. Following the melee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit to look into legal ways of removing Zoabi from the Knesset.
Boker said Zoabi “encourages terrorist attacks against Jews and the murder of children in their beds.
Nine Israeli Jews who entered the Palestinian city of Ramallah voluntarily to visit friends on Wednesday were evacuated from the area after one of their vehicles was firebombed. No one was hurt in the incident.
Eight of the nine Israeli activists left the area independently and one was escorted out by the Palestinian police.
Journalist Meron Rapaport, who works with the Two States, One Homeland organization, was among the group of Israelis.
The group, all members of the organization, reportedly drove to Ramallah in three vehicles for an Iftar meal, which breaks the fast each day during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Shortly after news of their arrival spread, one of their empty vehicles was torched. Eight of the activists left Ramallah independently through the Qalandiya crossing and the ninth was escorted through the Beit Mishpat crossing.
The IDF said that Israeli security forces will look into the circumstances of the activists’ trip to Ramallah, as Israelis are prohibited from entering Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A territories.
Nine Israeli leftwing activists from the Two States, One Homeland NGO, including journalist Meron Rapoport, on Wednesday had to be rescued from an Arab mob in Ramallah that was throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at their vehicle. According to an IDF report Wednesday night, the nine Israelis were on their way to visit a local journalist, also a member of their NGO, for the post-fast Iftar meal. Eight of them managed to flee on their own, a ninth reached the offices of the Palestinian Authority secret police and was handed over to the IDF near Beit El. All nine are under investigation for violating a martial law decree against unauthorized entry into Area A in Judea and Samaria.
But one of the activists, Eliaz Cohen, told Walla that the group had not been attacked in transit, as Israeli media reported, but that a few Arabs had thrown the stones and one, singular, small Molotov cocktail at their parked car while they were inside their host’s home, dining. According to the activists they all took their time and had not been chased away, and only when the meal was over did eight of them calmly leave, while Rapoport went down to file a complaint with the PA police.
The NGO’s statement stressed that “despite some of the reports, at no point did we feel threatened, and our Palestinian friends were shocked by the incident. The thing that frightens the most those wishing to maintain the status quo are Israelis and Palestinians who talk and act together.”
Five Palestinians, including two Palestinian Authority security officers, were killed overnight Wednesday in separate shootings in the West Bank. Sixteen people were injured in the incidents.
In one incident, a Palestinian fugitive shot at the home of a police officer in the town of Nablus, injuring his wife and daughter before fleeing the scene. When police arrived to investigate, they came under fire and two officers were killed, according to PA police spokesman Loaie Izrekat.
The wife and daughter, as well as one other security officer, were taken to the Nablus Rafidia hospital for treatment.
It was not immediately clear if the officer whose home was attacked was one of the fatalities.
The Governor of Nablus Akram Rajoub announced an emergency inquiry into the incident and called on all parties to exercise restraint in its wake, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an said.
The family of Mohammed Said Ali, who was shot dead after he stabbed a Border Policeman at Damascus Gate on October 10, celebrated his 20th birthday with an unusual birthday cake.
A photograph showing the moment of the stabbing had been printed on the cake’s icing, and the writing on the cake said: “Mohammed Ali – the knife commando.”
His mother proudly had her photograph taken with the cake in the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al’an.
The terrorist had come from the village of Shuafat north of Jerusalem to carry out the attack.
Two Border Policemen were wounded by the terrorist’s stabbing and a third who was wounded by stray gunfire targeting the terrorist.
The terrorist pulled out his knife after the Border Policemen asked him to show identification papers.
(h/t Yenta Press)
Pictures being published from time to time by Hezbollah tell a great deal about its role in the fighting in Syria. In some of the pictures Hezbollah fighters can be seen leaning against Russian tanks, and the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces.
Hezbollah is not alone. Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and some members of Shiite militias who have come from overseas have also been fighting alongside Russian soldiers on occasion. But when it comes to Hezbollah, such developments should be raising concerns on the Israeli side. The Shiite terror group is sustaining new losses every day in the fighting in Syria, but at the same time it is gaining expertise from one of the most advanced military forces in our region.
In the 10 years since the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has been transformed from a terror group deployed against Israel to a full-scale army in almost every respect. It knows how to operate logistically over vast areas. This includes tending to the needs of its troops all over Syria, in much the same way the IDF’s network of welfare officers and staffers does. It is also capable of tending to the welfare needs of Shiite civilians in the Syrian villages under its control. It operates artillery and rockets, it has entire networks of unmanned drones, it is skilled in the use of anti-tank weaponry, and of course it carries out ground operations to conquer and hold territory.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Wednesday met with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, part of his first official visit to Ramallah since being appointed to the position.
According to Anadolu news agency, Shoukry also met with his PA counterpart, Riyad al-Malki, for talks which centered on Israel-PA peace negotiations and the French initiative for peace.
“This is my first visit [to Ramallah] since I was appointed to the position [of foreign minister],” Shoukry said at a press conference with al-Malki.
He went on to say that he brought a message of “solidarity and support” from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, reiterating Cairo’s support for an independent state of Palestine.
“During my meeting with President Abbas we discussed the Egyptian-Palestinian relationship and the French peace initiative aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said, according to Anadolu.
Shoukry also noted that Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza would be opened on Wednesday for a five-day period.
“Egypt is concerned about the interests and needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” he stressed.
There were multiple tragedies that occurred on Tuesday at Ataturk airport in Istanbul. The most immediate concerned, of course, the 41 people who were killed by three suicide bombers. The larger tragedy is the damage done to Turkey’s image of itself as a modern, secular European power.
The very airport that was struck is named after Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, the great strongman who created the modern Turkish state out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The sultans lorded it over much of the Middle East. Ataturk sought to turn his back on their legacy and largely succeeded. He even banned the fez because it was not the kind of hat that Europeans wore. Thanks in large measure to the efforts of Ataturk and his successors, Turkey had modernized and secularized. Istanbul reestablished its reputation as one of the world’s great cosmopolitan cities–a destination for the ordinary tourists and the jet set alike.
But while Ataturk could change many things about Turkey, he could not change its geographic location. The state he created continues to straddle Europe and Asia, with all of the problems of the Middle East on its doorstep. It was likely one of those problems–the growth of the Islamic State in next-door Syria and Iraq–that caused the terrible explosions at Ataturk airport. Much as Turkey would aspire to join the rest of Europe, it is being dragged into the maw of the Middle East.
This is yet another tragic consequence of the world’s failure to stop the killing in Syria. As long as that country remains in chaos, extremist groups such as ISIS will find a safe haven there, refugees will spill over the borders (nearly 2 million Syrians have found their way to Turkey), and terrorists will come in their wake. The ultimate responsibility for this terrible state of affairs must, of course, rest with Syria itself. Much of the blame must lie with its dictator, Bashar Assad, whose scorched earth campaign to hold onto power has been responsible for the vast majority of the estimated 400,000+ deaths in the five-year-old Syrian civil war.
Following Tuesday evening’s multiple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the world – the West in particular – to view the event as a “milestone for the joint fight against terrorist organizations, a turning point.”
He also said that the attacks, “which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, show that terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values.”
If 43 innocent people had not been brutally killed, along with hundreds of others seriously wounded, his words would be cause for a global guffaw on the part of friend and foe alike.
In the first place, as an authoritarian leader of a previously modern and democratic Muslim country, which he has spent the 14 years since his election turning into an Islamic state where critics in the press and political system are thrown in jail for any hint of opposition, he has more nerve than sense to pretend that he is in the same boat as the United States and Europe.
Secondly, as someone who is strongly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, he has shown that it is only certain terrorists he wants eradicated; the others are his allies, who do the dirty work he welcomes and supports.
There are perhaps few better ways to gauge the probable socio-cultural attitudes of Syrian nationals currently between the ages of young adulthood and late middle-age regarding Jews and Judaism than by examining the content of the state-issued textbooks comprising the curriculum for state-mandated education in Syria.
Although questions of methodology and practice are certainly important (e.g., “how” the material is taught), as are potentially “extra-curricular” sources of information (social media, etc.), the material itself is nevertheless central to a clear and accurate understanding of Syrian perceptions, within the cohort studied, regarding Jews and Judaism. As the following study will demonstrate, the state-mandated educational curriculum in Syria has, since at least 1967, presented a consistently aspersive and defamatory model of Jews and (albeit, to a lesser extent) of Judaism itself.
Established by the governing Ba’athist party in 1967, the current school curriculum is the product a joint socio-cultural initiative established amongst the nations of Syria, Jordan and Egypt of the same year. Beginning in “primary” school (corresponding to 1st through 6th grades), and continuing through three years of “lower-secondary” school (roughly 7th through 9th grades) and the final three years of “higher-secondary” school (10th through 12th grades), Syrian students are taught to believe that Jews are destined both for temporal “elimination” in this world, and “hell” in the subsequent after-life. Indeed, after reviewing sixty-eight separate state-issued Syrian school textbooks from the academic year of 2001, Dr. Arnon Groiss of CMIP (Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace) has categorically stated that:
Not a single word in favor of the Jews is to be found in the Syrian textbooks. The Jews are denied the characteristics of a nation, they are detached from their ancestors and from the land of Palestine, and their religion is racist. They are portrayed as enemies of the Arabs since antiquity, of Islam since its inception, of all mankind, of the prophets and of God himself. The hatred of the nations of the world towards them is justified. The Holocaust is justified… [and] its magnitude is exaggerated by the Jews. There is one passage in the textbooks that calls for their elimination.
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