Man stabbed to death in apparent terror attack named as IDF soldier
The 19-year-old Israeli stabbed to death at a bus station in an apparent terror attack in the southern city of Arad on Thursday night was an IDF soldier, the Israeli army said late Thursday.
The soldier, whose name was not initially cleared for publication, was later identified as Ron Yitzhak Kokia, of Tel Aviv. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
Kokia served in the Nahal Brigade, an infantry unit whose home base is located just outside Arad.
On Thursday night, police said officers were searching the area for two assailants who fled the scene and set up roadblocks and “heightened security measures” in the area. Helicopters were also taking part in the searches.
The fact that the victim of the soldier and eyewitness testimony, along with other evidence, led police to suspect that the stabbing was a terror attack.
“Following an initial investigation by police forces at the scene it appears that the motivation for the stabbing … was nationalistic,” police said in a statement.
According to the Ynet news website, the soldier was waiting for a ride when he was attacked.
Police were investigating the possibility the soldier’s weapon was stolen by the assailants.
Israel’s leaders vowed that the attacker who killed an IDF soldier at a bus station in the southern city of Arad on Thursday night would be caught, as police continued a large-scale manhunt for the assailant Friday morning.
Nahal Brigade Sergeant Ron Yitzhak Kokia, 19, was stabbed to death Thursday night in an apparent terror attack while waiting for a bus near a shopping mall.
Police said forces in large numbers were carrying out searches overnight and into Friday morning in the Arad area to locate the assailant or assailants, publishing pictures of searches in agricultural fields and animal sheds.
They also said extra police had been deployed in Arad following the attack.
“This morning police were deployed at key locations and classrooms through the city to ensure that normal life continues,” a statement from the police read.
Police earlier said officers were searching the area for two assailants who fled the scene and set up roadblocks and “heightened security measures” in the area. Helicopters were also taking part in the search.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said security forces were working to capture the attackers.
“They will be brought to justice and we will continue to fight terror with all our strength,” he wrote on Facebook, offering condolences to Kokia’s family.
Caroline Glick: From Amman to Jerusalem
This week, the White House announced that it would stop this practice. As a National Security Council spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon, “The United States is not planning to purchase any Iranian heavy water. We have made it clear to Iran that it is their responsibility to remain under the heavy water limit.”
The sky didn’t fall when Trump bucked the collected wisdom of the entire foreign policy elite in Washington, including his top three national security advisers. By basing his policy on reality, he expanded his maneuver room, empowered US allies and began basing US policies toward Iran on reality.
By the same token, if Trump disregards Abdullah’s warnings and those of his many friends in Washington and moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, the sky will not fall. By recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is and always will be Israel’s capital, Trump will give himself the ability to develop Middle East policies that are similarly grounded in reality.
By calling the bluff of the myriad experts that insist recognizing reality will bring war, Trump can expand US power, credibility and deterrence in an unstable region. Far from causing a war, Trump can diminish the chance of war by demanding that Jordan and other disingenuous allies stop empowering jihadists and terrorists.
To this end, rather than heeding Abdullah’s threats of violence, Trump can tell Abdullah to prevent that violence by ending his media’s antisemitic incitement; extraditing Tamimi to the US; accepting the credentials of the Israeli ambassador; and reopening the Israeli embassy in Amman.
Truth is a powerful weapon. Once you base your foreign policy on it, there is no limit to the potential effectiveness of that policy in preventing war and expanding the prospects of true and lasting peace.
Elliott Abrams: Israel’s Mythical “Isolation”
There are two points worth making. The first is that Israel is succeeding in an extraordinary campaign of outreach across the globe, to India and China, to Africa, and recently to Latin America. The second is that this is no automatic development, but a tribute to the energy, dedication, and perspicacity of Prime Minister Netanyahu. They aren’t just welcoming Israel; they are welcoming him. They are interested in his extraordinary country, obviously, but also in his personal understanding of economic change, of the role of military strength, and of world affairs. Similarly, in September 2016 Netanyahu was a hotter ticket at the UN General Assembly than even Barack Obama: more African leaders sought meetings with Netanyahu than with the President of the United States.
Netanyahu’s critics are legion in Israel, but even they ought to be honest enough to acknowledge what he has achieved for his country in countering isolation, BDS, and anti-Semitism and greatly widening and deepening Israel’s global ties.
And it has just been announced that Netanyahu has been invited to address all 28 EU foreign ministers at their December meeting. QED.
While one can see why the Lebanese would not be keen to challenge the organization that controls the country through force of arms, it also seems fair for the Saudis to decide they don’t have to keep paying just because the Lebanese want them to. Saudi Arabia just cut up the credit cards and Lebanon acted out. If you don’t pay us, you’re destabilizing Lebanon!
That message resonated with the Beirut-based Western press corps and local social media activists. But the reason tiny Lebanon roared so loudly is because the Beirut-based echo chamber was supported by the communications expertise and media platforms of Obamaworld back in Washington. So Robert Malley filed for the Atlantic from Beirut, explaining the sources of instability in Lebanon and the region within the frame in which those details mattered back home: “the Trump administration calling into question the Iranian nuclear deal and considering ramping up sanctions against Tehran, which unnecessarily heightens tensions, coupled with the absence of the kind of regular, high-level contact between the two countries that could de-escalate them.”
The Obama administration’s former ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, now living in Israel, tailored his argument for the local audience. In Haaretz, Shapiro dismissed the Netanyahu government’s cautious enthusiasm for Israel’s growing relationship with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh’s no friend, argued Shapiro—rather “it is plausible that the Saudis are trying to create the context for a different means of contesting Iran in Lebanon: an Israeli-Hezbollah war.” It was a strangely familiar conceit, with a novel twist—Saudi wants to send Israeli boys to fight and die in Saudi wars. Amos Harel picked up the same theme, again in Haaretz, where he quoted Shapiro’s article. The information campaign’s essential takeaway was that Obama was right to go with Tehran over Riyadh. And now that fool Trump is going to blow it apart!
The peculiar twist here is that unlike the Saudis, in practice Trump doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with Iranian control of Lebanon. His administration is continuing to fund the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is at this stage little but a Hezbollah auxiliary, covering the Party of God’s flank and providing logistical support for its war in Syria. But it’s the big picture that has the echo chamber worried.
President Donald Trump is considering recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that could upend decades of American policy and ratchet up Middle East tensions, but is expected to again delay his campaign promise to move the US embassy there, US officials confirmed Thursday.
After months of intense White House deliberations, Trump is likely to make an announcement next week that seeks to strike a balance between domestic political demands and geopolitical pressures over an issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the status of Jerusalem, home to sites holy to the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions.
Trump is weighing a plan under which he would declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the officials said, deviating from White House predecessors who have insisted that it is a matter that must be decided in peace negotiations.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and the international community does not recognize Israel’s claim on the entire city.
Such a move by Trump, which could be carried out through a presidential statement or speech, would anger the Palestinians as well as the broader Arab World and could undermine the Trump administration’s fledgling effort to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
It could, however, help satisfy the pro-Israel, right-wing base that helped him win the presidency and also please the Israeli government, a close US ally.
The State Department clarified on Thursday that no decision had yet been made on moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“No decision has been made on that matter yet. My understanding is that the waiver is actually due to Congress by December 4th,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in her daily press briefing, when asked whether President Donald Trump is going to sign a waiver delaying the embassy move for another six months.
“The President has said that he has given serious consideration to the matter, and we’re looking at it with great care. That’s all I have for you on that,” she added.
The remarks followed reports in Israel that senior officials in Jerusalem said that the Israeli government expected an announcement from the White House in the coming days, announcing the embassy move and the formation of a special team to implement the move.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later denied that any such announcement was imminent.
“This is a premature report,” said Huckabee Sanders. “We have nothing to announce.”
Earlier on Thursday, a senior U.S. administration official said that Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel without moving the embassy to the Israeli capital, at least for the time being.
Tomorrow, the six-month waiver that President Donald Trump issued pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act earlier this year will expire. If and when this happens, certain funding restrictions that are designed to force the United States to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will snap back into effect. Until recently, Trump had been indicating his intent to extend the waiver for another six months in order to “give [his peace plan] a shot[.]” Yet in the last 24 hours, media outlets have reported that Israeli officials now expect Trump to instead let the waiver expire and announce that the U.S. Embassy is relocating to Jerusalem, possibly in a matter of days. Such reports may be accurate, or they may have been planted by individuals wishing to force the issue through the media. Regardless, the president’s intended path of action remains unknown.
Allowing the waiver to expire would represent a sharp break from past Democratic and Republican administrations, which–despite their own campaign promises and pressure from Congress–have resisted moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem for fear doing so could alienate Arab allies, trigger protests in the Middle East, and damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, among other outcomes. Critics of this longstanding position, however, contend that these policy concerns are at best exaggerated and only serve to deprive Israel of the right to choose its own capital. Trump favored the latter view during his presidential campaign, repeatedly promising to relocate the embassy and appointing an advocate for such a move as U.S ambassador to Israel. And while Trump elected to continue the waiver in June to “maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” his associated statement underscored that “the question is not if th[e] move happens, but only when.”
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem as part of six anti-Israel resolutions it approved on Thursday in New York. The vote was 151 in favor and six against, with nine abstentions.
The resolution came as the Trump Administration was rumored to be actively considering relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.
“The president has said that he has given serious consideration to the matter, and we’re looking at it with great care,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
She added that US President Donald Trump had until December 4th to make a decision on the embassy relocation or waive the matter for another six months.
In New York, only six countries out of 193 UN member states fully supported Israel’s ties Jerusalem: Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the United States and Israel itself.
The nine countries who abstained were: Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan and Togo.
The resolution stated that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”
UN Watch Analysis & Comment
The resolutions adopted today “made no mention of Hamas stabbings, shootings or vehicular attacks against Israelis,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch.
While some called the resolutions balanced because some refer to “provocations, incitement and violence” by “all sides,” in fact Israel is repeatedly condemned and singled out expressly, while no such accountability or condemnation is applied to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
By contrast, in this year’s session there will be a total of 6 condemnatory resolutions for the rest of the world combined — with one each on Syria, North Korea, Iran, Crimea, Myanmar, as well as one on criticizing the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
“The U.N. assault on Israel today with this torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said Neuer.
“Today’s resolution on Jerusalem refers to the Temple Mount exclusively by its Islamic name, Haram al-Sharif. At a time when even UNESCO no longer tolerates this terminology, the General Assembly should not be engaged in the denial of Jewish and Christian heritage.”
“While there will be a total of 20 resolutions against Israel this session, not a single U.N. General Assembly resolution is planned today or this year for gross human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, China, Cuba, Pakistan or Zimbabwe.”
“At a time when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his state-controlled media incite to the continued stabbing and shooting of Israeli Jews, the U.N.’s response is to reflexively condemn Israel in six separate resolutions, each of them one-sided, each of them utterly silent on Palestinian abuses.”
UN Watch commended the United Kingdom for “breaking with the EU common position for the first time and opposing the UN General Assembly’s annual Syrian-backed resolution that condemned Israel for not giving the Assad regime control over the Golan and its 20,000 Druze residents,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group.
The resolution is part of the annual 20 Arab-sponsored resolutions criticizing Israel directly or by implication. By contrast, the UNGA this year passed only one resolution each on Iran, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar, Crimea and the U.S. embargo of Cuba.
The British delegate voted No, he told the assembly, because “resolutions which undermine the credibility of UN bodies risk hardening positions on both sides, and do little to advance peace or mutual understanding.”
“This is why we have voted against the resolution proposed by the Syrian regime regarding the occupation of Syria’s Golan.”
In addition to one Palestinian-backed resolution on the Golan, “this second resolution on the Golan Heights, proposed by the Syrian regime, repeats much of the same language , and adds nothing new. It is unnecessary, and disproportionate.”
“The Syrian regime’s intent is to use this additional resolution to deflect attention from its own criminal actions and indiscriminate slaughter of its own citizens. “
“The duty of the General Assembly is to draw attention to international humanitarian law violations, wherever they occur. This resolution risks discrediting that vital responsibility.”
UK breaks with EU, votes No on Syrian-backed U.N. resolution condemning Israel for Golan
The Argentina Senate passed a law for an annual memorial day remembering the 1992 terror attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.
The law passed unanimously by the upper house of parliament on Wednesday also calls for a week of events surrounding the March 17 day of remembrance to raise awareness about the consequences of global terrorism.
The car bombing on that day 25 years ago killed 29 and injured hundreds. The building was destroyed.
The new law establishes the “Day of Memory and Solidarity with the Victims of the Attack against the Embassy of Israel.”
It calls for activities in schools throughout the country coordinated by the Ministry of Education “to raise awareness about the consequences of international terrorism and in favor of peace and nonviolence.”
Palestinian officials on Friday accused the organizers of the Giro d’Italia cycle race of being “complicit in Israel’s military occupation” by starting the 2018 race from Jerusalem.
“By organizing such an event, Giro d’Italia is being complicit in Israel’s military occupation and its egregious violations of international law, conventions and consensus,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said in a statement.
“We urge Giro d’Italia to stop placating Israel at the expense of our fundamental human rights and freedoms and to move the race outside of Israel.”
The 101st Giro d’Italia is to begin in Jerusalem on May 4, 2018, the first time one of cycling’s three major races has started outside Europe.
But organizers have come up against local political sensitivities, the status of Jerusalem being one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The additional airstrikes came even as the Israel Defense Forces said it was not looking to escalate the security situation in the Gaza and would only conduct further attacks in response to aggression by the terror group.
At approximately 2 p.m., operatives from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched 12 mortar shells at an Israeli military post northeast of the Gaza Strip. The attack appeared to be retaliation for the army demolishing the group’s attack tunnel, which stretched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, exactly a month ago, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
The army said no soldiers were injured in the barrage, but some light damage was caused to equipment.
A short while later, the army retaliated with tank fire and airstrikes that targeted two Palestinian Islamic Jihad and two Hamas positions in the northern Strip.
Before the second round of strikes, Conricus said “it was too early to say” if the army would carry out additional attacks in Gaza, but that it would depend on “actions taken by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
The spokesperson added, “we are not looking to escalate the situation or initiate hostilities.”
Following an initial investigation, the army determined on Friday that settlers were attacked first by Palestinians throwing rocks during a hike outside the village of Qusra and only then did they open fire at them, killing a Palestinian man.
In a statement, the army said there was an approximately 20-minute delay in response by soldiers due to difficulties in locating the scene of the clash. A small contingent arrived after 20 minutes and additional forces were then called to assist, the army noted.
The Israel Defense Forces said the hikers, a few dozen children and two armed adult escorts did not coordinate their trip ahead of time or get permission from the military to enter the area, as required by protocol.
Future visits to the area would only be possible with military accompaniment, the army said.
“The IDF has a system of coordinating trips that allows all hikers to be kept safe while in an area that requires security preparedness,” the military said in a statement.
Ever since the Palestinians redrew the boundaries of their “non-violent popular resistance” and turned rocks into weapons, they have managed to use this “non-violent” method to kill a number of Israelis. On Thursday, during a bar mitzvah hike not far from the village of Qusra, things came close to another Israeli casualty. The use of a weapon prevented that.
A group of rioters from Qusra went about a kilometer (less than a mile) outside the village, seeking to lynch some of the local Jewish kids. Obviously, the fact that a Palestinian was shot and killed in the incident will be investigated by the IDF, but it appears that the Jews were required to defend their lives, in the simplest and truest sense of the term.
Since the First Intifada, 14 Israelis have been murdered by rocks thrown by Palestinians, most recently Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan in 2011, 4-year-old Adele Biton and Alexander Levlovich.
In some ways, the incident Thursday is reminiscent of a similar event back in 1988 in which Jews were attacked while hiking in Samaria, not far from the village of Beita. Tirza Porat, 15, was killed, Romem Aldobi was seriously wounded, and three Arabs were also killed. The hike near Beita became a watershed event in terms of security protocol for hikes and how Jews coordinated hikes in Judea and Samaria. The parents who were with the kids yesterday say the outing had been coordinated with the local military forces.
Yisrael Medad: Use of Quotations Marks
Dov Lieber tweeted this news alert on the group of 13 year old Jewish children, actually, some, siblings, much younger, accompanied by two adults who were attacked by scores of Arabs while hiking:
Queried why he employed quotation marks, he replied
At the time it wasn’t clear who was there. Army said hikers. Simple.
I’m confused and even dumbfounded.
Of all the words, he chose to bracket in scare quotes, why hikers?
He could have selected shot, or throwing rocks, responded or even dead.
Now let’s analyze.
Part One: Plausibility
The palestinians claim “settlers..raided Palestinian lands near Qusra and attacked a farmer” who was working his land. What we know is these “settlers” were 2 men and 20 schoolboys. It makes absolutely no sense to me that two men would bring 20 children along to raid someone’s farmland for fun, and then put their life in danger by attacking a farmer for no reason. Based on my experience, they are not only not murderers, but also love their children more than life itself.
I have no doubt this was a hike per the IDF version, and that the group was attacked by palestinians. I also believe the shooting was in self-defense. Plus looking at the video of the group trapped in the cave with the palestinians outside looks very much like an attempted lynching.
Not only that, but the palestinians admit attacking the children! Even though they claim it was after the supposed unprovoked murder of the farmer, what kind of person would attack children?
Part Two: Inconsistencies
IDF forces together with Border Police and the Civil Administration destroyed on Thursday night the home of terrorist Muhammad Ziyad Abu Al-Roub from Qabatiya.
Al-Roub and Yousuf Khaled Mustafa Kamil murdered Shmerling on the eve of the Sukkot holiday in Kafr Qasim. Shmerling had employed the Arabs at his place of business and had gone to check the facility before the start of the holiday when he was murdered..
Shmerling’s body showed signs of severe abuse.
During the demolition, dozens of Palestinian Arabs rioted violently, burning tires and hurling stones at the Israeli security forces, who responded with crowd dispersal methods. No one was injured and no damage was caused.
Several weeks after the signing of the October 12, 2017 reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the euphoria that had initially been felt on the Palestinian street, and even more so in political circles, seems to be waning, and there are increasing doubts as to the possibility of reaching an understanding between the sides. The disagreements are over several issues: the weapons of the various Palestinian factions; the transfer of responsibilities, including for security, from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority (PA); control of the border crossings, in particular the Rafah crossing, and the future of Gaza civil servants. In the background are also Hamas’s demands that the PA lift its sanctions on Gaza, stop the arrests of Hamas operatives in the West Bank, and halt the security coordination with Israel.
The tension and disputes between the PA and Hamas came to a head at the conference of Palestinian factions in Cairo on November 21, 2017, at which representatives of Egyptian intelligence were forced to wield all their influence to keep the talks from falling apart. The PA insisted that Hamas first of all meet the demand of tamkin (i.e., allow the PA’s national consensus government, headed by Rami Hamdallah, to exercise full authority in Gaza), in all spheres, including security. Hamas’s representatives claimed that this has already been done, and demanded to focus on other issues, such as the PLO reform and the holding of elections. As for Hamas’s demand that the PA lift its sanctions on Gaza, the PA objected to the use of the term “sanctions”. Eventually it was agreed that an Egyptian delegation would oversee the handover of authority. PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani tried to bring up the issue of the weapons, but the factions rejected this out of hand and stopped the discussion.
The crisis between Fatah and Hamas was sharply reflected in an interview given by PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh, who said: “So far Hamas has not allowed the [PA] government to govern [Gaza] on the administrative, financial or security [levels]. The scope of the PA’s authority in Gaza is only about five percent.” An editorial in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida likewise stated that Hamas merely wants the PA to extricate it from its economic and social crisis, and does not intend to grant it any genuine authority in Gaza.
The long-awaited reconciliation between Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions has hit widely expected bumps in the road requiring the Egyptian brokers to extend by ten days the agreed-upon deadline for Hamas to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to Fatah.
Formal notice of the delay was provided by the deputy secretary of Fatah Revolutionary Council, Fayez Abu Eita, after a meeting of the factions in the Gaza Strip. “In order to achieve the goal of our people to achieve the reconciliation and end the division, the two movements request [a delay in] the handing over of the government tasks in Gaza, as agreed in the Cairo agreement, until the 10th of December.” Political analyst Abdl Al-Satar Qasem sees the delay as more than a logistical postponement. Rather, he told The Media Line that “based upon the circumstances, Palestine is not ready for a reconciliation. The Palestinian political positions are so different: Fatah recognizes Israel and Hamas is fighting Israel.” He admonished the Palestinian people not to allow the “confusing situation” to kill the deal. “Palestinians must move, and shouldn’t be quiet about what we see as trivialities.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas placed a gag order on comments relating to the issue widely believed to be the undoing of the agreement: Hamas’s refusal to hand its weapons over to the national government of reconciliation.
Lest the Hamas position be unclear, one of its senior officials, Khalel Al-Haya, insisted at a Monday news conference following the latest talks in Cairo that] retaining “the resistance weapon” [read: armed fighters] is nonnegotiable” and all Palestinians should stop asking about it. Admittedly, the idea of Hamas retaining its arms and its commitment to fighting Israel is not objectionable to all Palestinians, even those who are not Hamas loyalists. One long-time Fatah official, commissioner for international relations Nabil Sha’ath, told The Media Line that the main idea is not to “kill” the “Palestinian resistance,” [read: Hamas fighting force] but to recruit it “to defend the Palestinian people’s cause and rights.”
The November 2017 summit of the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents in Sochi is a contemporary Yalta Conference, but one in which Washington was relegated to the role of an extra while Moscow enjoyed top billing. That is how the Russian pro-Kremlin researchers and commentators summed up the Sochi summit, in which Putin presided over talks to decide Syria’s future.
Indeed, Russia’s leadership is having a corrective emotional experience, imagining that the defeat of ISIS (which, by the way, has not yet been accomplished) is equivalent to the defeat of the Axis powers, and that the future settlement in Syria will be a replay of the partition of Europe at the 1945 Yalta Conference. This leadership feels that the insult and shame inflicted upon the Soviet body politic – namely the dismemberment of Yugoslavia by American/NATO power and the bombing of Belgrade, a kindred Slavic capital, while Russia looked on helplessly – is now avenged.
The victory over ISIS celebrated by Iran, Syria and Russia is a sham in itself. Russia and its allies in Damascus and Tehran did not bear the brunt of the fight against ISIS. It was American warplanes in the air, and the US-equipped and US-advised Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces on the ground, that defeated ISIS in Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, Kobani and Raqqa. In the meanwhile, Russia, Syria, Iran and Hizbullah spent much of their time fighting everyone but ISIS.
However, Russia is now claiming victory in Syria in order to flaunt its role as a global power on the world stage. It is even celebrating the eventual humiliating ouster of the Americans from Syria. It matters little that Trump, whether in collusion or not, is more or less volunteering to give Putin the concessions he wants.
“Russia is working so that [Syrian President] Bashar Assad will control Syria and that the country will be clean of foreign forces, including Iranian forces,” MK Avi Dichter (Likud), chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Israel Hayom on Thursday.
Dichter, a former director of the Shin Bet security agency, this week made an official three-day visit to Russia, where he headed a delegation of six Knesset members who held meetings with Russian government officials.
Delegation member MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid), meanwhile, criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Syria issue.
“The prime minister’s diplomatic failure on the Syrian matter puts Israel at risk with the presence of forces operated by Iran on our border, and with direct confrontation with Tehran,” Shelah said.
Dichter responded by saying, “It’s a shame that Shelah, who carried himself, like the other MKs, in a stately manner during our stay in Russia, reverted to talking like a politician upon our return home.”
Rebels shot down a Syrian regime helicopter Friday in a southwestern region near the borders with Israel and Lebanon, killing its two crew members, a monitoring group said.
“Rebel groups shot down a regime helicopter with a guided missile near the border with Lebanon and the (Israeli-) occupied Golan,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and later extended Israeli law to the area in a move never recognized by the international community.
Abdel Rahman told AFP that both officers on board were killed.
The area where the helicopter was taken down is an enclave controlled by Islamist rebel and jihadist groups but surrounded by regime forces.
Abdel Rahman said the fighting has increased there since October.
Saudi Arabia on Thursday intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired from war-torn Yemen, state media reported, in the second such attack this month claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The missile targeted the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait, but no casualties were reported, said a spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Shiite rebels.
“Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted the missile which was heading towards Khamis Mushait,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the Saudi-led coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki as saying.
The Houthi-run Al-Masira television channel had earlier claimed the missile hit a military target inside Saudi Arabia, but that was contradicted by the Saudi authorities.
Hours earlier rebel chief Abdulmalik al-Huthi threatened to retaliate over the coalition’s crippling blockade on Yemen, which was imposed earlier this month in response to a missile fired by the Houthis that was intercepted near Riyadh airport.
In the wake of an attack on a mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula by ISIS militants which killed 305 people, the internet community has expressed absolute shock and horror, and individuals around the world have begun to reflect on the fragility of their own lives and those of their friends and family.
According to data provided by Twitter, over 30 million people have shared the trending hashtag #StandWithEgypt, and in figures provided by Facebook, no fewer than three million users had changed their profile pictures to include an Egyptian flag.
Many prominent news sources have reposted open letters written by distraught global citizens, who have had a hard time fathoming the magnitude of the tragedy. One such letter stated “that when I first saw the horrific images coming out of Egypt, I couldn’t help but see myself in that situation. These are our fellow human beings having their lives cut short. It’s difficult to put into words how I’m feeling today.”
In one heartfelt news broadcast, a CNN news anchor discussing a video reel could not continue simply reading his script. Instead, discussing the tragedy in his own terms, he said “The images that are coming out today, it really makes you wonder how human beings could be capable of these types of ac–, what? Really? Are you sure? No one here gives a shit about people dying in Egypt? But how could — I mean, it’s no different then like Paris or anyth– ok, I guess I’ll, ehhermm, continue.
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