Archive for the ‘Golan Heights’ Category

Dina Powell Spoke at Gala that Honored Palestinian Extremist, Conspiracy Theorist

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NEW YORK — Dina Habib Powell, the Trump administration’s Deputy National Security Advisor, was a featured speaker at the gala dinner of a George Soros-financed group that honored a notoriously anti-Israel Palestinian legislator.

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September 29, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Hezbollah using combat drones against Daesh terrorists in Syria – Press TV

This video grab shows munitions being dropped from a drone at suspected Daesh positions in Syrias Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon on August 21, 2017.

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says it has usedweaponized unmanned aerial vehicles to strike the positions of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in thestrategic and mountainous region of Qalamoun close to the border with Lebanon.

Hezbollahs media bureau announced in a statement on Monday that it had deployed the drones to hit Daesh positions, bunkers and fortifications in the area, located about 330kilometers(205 miles) north of the Syrian capital Damascus.

Video footage released by the media unit, seemingly taken from a drone, showed two types of missiles, one of them with a tail fin, cruising towards the ground and subsequent explosions as they struck the designated targets.

Earlier on Monday, Hezbollahs media bureau reported that the Lebanese resistance fighters and Syrian government forces hadwrested complete control over Shoubat al-Dowab and Shoubat Beit Shuker heights in the western outskirts of Qalamoun.

It added that Hezbollah fighters and Syrian army soldiers werein control of the strategic Qornat Shoubat Aakko district near al-Jarajirvillage in Syrias southwestern province of Rif Dimashq.

On Saturday, Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an operation to purge Qalamoun from Daesh terrorists.

Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria ofarmed terrorists.

In August 2014, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Arsal, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah andthe Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the countrys northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups from neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

The movement has accused Israel of supporting Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle East.

Israel, which continues to occupy Lebanons Shebaa Farms and Syrias Golan Heights, is widely reported to be offering medical help to Takfiri terrorists injured in Syria. In December 2015, British newspaper theDaily Mailsaid Israel had saved the lives of more than 2,000 Takfiri militants since 2013.

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Hezbollah using combat drones against Daesh terrorists in Syria – Press TV

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Family marks 20 years to disappearance of IDF soldier Guy Hever – Ynetnews

The family of missing IDF soldierGuy Hevermarked 20 years to his disappearance on Thursday, with his mother telling Ynet she has “no doubt he’s still alive.”

Hever, a soldier in the Artillery Corps, left his army base in the Golan Heights on the morning of August 17, 1997, carrying his weapon. He has since disappeared without a trace, despite extensive search efforts throughout the years.

Guy Hever (Photo: Shaul Golan)

Criticizing the Israeli government for not doing all it can to find her son, Rina argued that “There’s no such thing as the prime minister wanting to get information and not getting it. If he threw all of his weight behind the efforts to get information about Guy, he’d get it. It’s a matter of deciding to do so. We have no doubt about it.”

Rina Hever (Photo: Raanan Ben-Zur)

She lamented the fact that “the truly serious search efforts began so many years after he disappeared that the belief was established among the public, and as a result in the media as well, that Guy ran off, killed himself, or was hidingall sorts of strange theories.”

The Prime Minister’s Office offered the following response, “The mission to learn of the fate of missing IDF soldiers Guy Hever and return him home continues at all times. The search is conducted by security forces, the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Police.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s representative on the matter of captives and missing persons has been coordinating all of the activities on the matter and maintains contact with the family.

Searches for Guy Hever (Photo: Avihu Shapira)

“This activity will continue at all times until this important mission is completed.”

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Family marks 20 years to disappearance of IDF soldier Guy Hever – Ynetnews

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What happened to Guy Hever? – Arutz Sheva

America has Amelia Earnhart. Israel, unfortunately, has Guy Hever.

The IDF soldier vanished from his Golan Heights base on August 17, 1997 and has not been seen since. His disappearance is considered unprecedented in the IDF’s history. No other soldier has vanished during a period of such relative calm. Many minds have dedicated themselves to solving the mystery, with theories ranging from him having run away to the soldier being abducted by the Syrians.

Hever, from Nahariya, was last seen on his base in IDF fatigues and carrying his Galil rifle. He had been confined to his base against his will, and friends in his artillery unit say that he seemed troubled. Since then, there has been no trace of Hever.

One theory says that he went to spend some time alone, and became trapped in one of many caves that exist in the Golan Heights. They point to his friends’ testimony that he seemed troubled, and wonder why the IDF has never found anything that would point to his fate.

Hever’s mother has been waging a long campaign trying to convince the public that Hever was kidnapped by the Syrians. Israel only recognized him as an MIA 3 years later, in 2000. “The fact that he was never found means that he’s not here. He’s in Syria” she told Channel 2.

“Guy is alive, in Syria, and will return one day. I live for that moment, and I am angry over my inability to shout more than I have about this, burn tires, set the streets on fire, and chain myself to a post outside the Knesset.”

A German woman, Miriam Koinike, told Israeli police in 2010 that she met with Hever in a Syrian prison when she was confined there for 12 days in 2005. Her story has been backed up by former German Intelligence Chief Ernst Uhrlau and Dr Mordechai Kedar, an Arutz Sheva colunist and Middle East expert, who then headed the Syrian desk in IDF Military Intelligence.

Koinike, a researcher of Judaism by profession, had visited several Muslim countries in recent years, among them Iran and Syria. Seven years ago, during a visit to the Syrian city of Aleppo, she was arrested by Syrian intelligence and taken for questioning in Damascus. Koinike claimed that the translator during the interrogation was none other than Hever.

She was later released and returned to Germany, where she was questioned by German intelligence. Channel 2 showed footage of a meeting a few months ago between Koinike and Hevers mother, Rina, in which Koinike is seen saying, His face was very narrow. The color of his skin was brown. He was shy.

She insisted that the man before her was indeed the missing soldier, in part because he spoke Hebrew.

He did not speak one word in Arabic, Koinike said. There were three people in the room: one writing the protocol, one who translated and one asking the questions.

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What happened to Guy Hever? – Arutz Sheva

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What Does Israel Want From the Civil War in Syria? – Newsweek

For the past six years David Spelman has had a front row seat at the bloody and protracted spectacle that isSyriascivil war. His home in the Golan Heights is just two miles from the Syrian town of Quneitra, across Israels heavily-fortified border. It is, he says, like being in the eye of the storm.

Spelman has lived in the Ein Zivan Kibbutz since the end of the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel seized the Golan from Syria. Since Syrias Arab Spring-inspired revolution began its descent into war in 2012, Israelis have watched rebel fighters being transported to and from the frontlinein pickup trucks.

Read More:Israel Tried to Derail Syria Ceasefire at Secret Meetings With U.S. And Russia Over Iran

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Spellman has seen Quneitra descend from a relatively prosperous if rugged frontier town to a battered shell sat amidst a devastated no mans land.

You have the Syrian army taking over a village, then a week later you will have another faction take it back. You can literally see people killing one another on a day-to-day basis, Spelman tells Newsweek.

Up in the hills of the Golan, Spelman may be on the edge of the front linehe recounts how, in 2015, stray shells landed near the kibbutz and one tank round hit a winerybut for a man who was evacuated from the area during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the danger still feels remote.

It is tragic to know and to hear and to see, he says, but it is the fringes of slaughter.

But while the 104 families that make up the Ein Zivan settlement have observed the Syria conflict quietly over the past six years, Israel has not stood idly by, interveningsporadicallybut forcefullyto prevent the 21st Centurys deadliest conflict from spreading over its borders.

In June 2017, Israel targeted Syrian military positions with air strikes in Quneitra after ten tank shells from inside Syria hit the Golan Heights. Israel described the overspill, which occurred in clashes between militant rebel groupal-Nusraand the Syrian regime’s military as an unacceptable breach of sovereignty.

Officials in the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel of aiding jihadists with its strikes.

As an Iranian ally and an enabler of Shiite militant group Hezbollah long before the civil war, Assad has never been a friend of Israelbut neither are the various Sunni militias that rose against him, even the most moderate of which have radical anti-Zionist agendas. As such, the Israeli policy towards the war has been primarily about containment, and particularly geared towardsHezbollah.

An Israeli soldier stands on top of a Merkava tank stationed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on July 16, 2013 , after mortar fire from inside war-torn Syria exploded in northern Golan. JACK GUEZ/AFP

On April 24, the Israeli military struck a Hezbollah weapons cache in Damascus. It was the latest in a series of more audacious attacks to contain the war. One month earlier Israeli jets carried out airstrikes deep in Syrian airspace in Palmyra. Officials in Tel Aviv said theytargeted advanced weapons systems bound for Hezbollah.

Major General Yaakov Amidror, former national security adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu from 2011-13 tells Newsweek thattwo decisions were made in the corridors of power in Tel Aviv from the earliest days of the war: firstly, that Israel had nothing to gain from direct intervention in a bitter sectarian conflict, and secondly that Hezbollah could not be allowed to use the war to strengthen its hand for any future engagement with Israel.

Amidror says that the response in the Israeli Prime Ministers office was more prescient than perhaps in other world capitals. The prime minister clearly understood…that it was going to be long and bloody.

If one common cause could unite most, if not all, of the militias and armies fighting the warit would be a commitment to the eventual destruction of Israel. After six years of brutal fighting, Newsweek examines the possible outcomes of the conflict in Syria and how Israel might deal with those situations when Syrias combatants stop pointing their guns at each other.

Bashar al-Assad takes power after the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) is crushed. He concedes Kurdish areas to the Kurds and makes small concessions to the Sunnis. Hezbollah, triumphant, holds parades in southern Lebanon and Hasan Nasrallah begins fiery speeches calling for a new war with the old enemy, Israel. In Tel Aviv, Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet prepare for war.

Israel faces its worst possible outcome from the war with a stronger and emboldened Hezbollahspoiling for a fight,backed byTehranand a newly victoriousAssad.

The main mission that we have today is to make sure that the Syrian side of the Golan stays under our control and no one uses it as a platform to attack us, Brigadier General Nitzan Nurieltells Newsweek.

A former deputy commander responsible for the Lebanese front during the 2006 war, he says theIsraeli military successfully prevented attempts by Hezbollah and other Iran-backed forces in the past, as it looks to do in the future.

A man takes a photo of his friend in front of a poster of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad at Umayyad Square in Damascus May 16, 2014 REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

The long term is no better for Israel. Increased Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq combined with a strengthened Hezbollah in Lebanon could create a corridor of influence stretching from Tehran to Aleppo and then on to Damascus and Beirut.

Amidror says the outcome, which he describes as very likely, would lead to a huge change in the geostrategic and political landscape of the Middle East. One of the principal shifts Amidror envisages in response to Iranian expansion will be a closer relationship between Sunni Arab states and Israel, to counter the threat.

Pressured by his new allies in the White House, Putin withdraws backing for Bashar al-Assad and without Russian logistics and guns, the Syrian leaders forces quickly collapse. Assad retreats to his Alawite heartlands and a coalition of Sunni militias, including al-Qaeda, take power in Damascus.

If a victory for Assad and the Iranian proxy forces backing him looks likely, the outcome of a Syria dominated by radical Sunni rebels seems to be fading fast. But, in the summer of 2014, as ISISmilitantsraced across Syria capturing Raqqa, the prospect of a radical Sunni entity sitting on Israels doorstep was a real possibility.

ISIS and its rival Al-Qaeda in Syria have regularly threatened attacks on Israel and vowed to capture Jerusalem. Rafaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at RUSI, says while the threat Sunni militants pose to Israel isreal, Tel Aviv has not needed to intervene against ISIS or Al-Qaeda as the U.S.-led coalition has focused on this.

The Israelis aren’t really attacking them and they are attacking their enemies Hezbollah. Maybe now is not the time to pick that fight, Pantucci says.

Israel has a more pressing fight over itssouthernborderwith ISIS in the Sinai and its forerunner Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.

Pantucciis confident that Israel canmanagethe threat from Egypt.

[Israel is] very aggressive in managing itsresponse to these problems, he says. Jihadi groups are starting torealizethat Israel has a formidable military force [and a]willingness and a capacity to deploy that force.

A picture taken from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights shows smoke rising from the Syrian Druze village of Hader, on June 16, 2015. Al-Nusra Front, one of al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, are reportedly engaging offensive operations against Syrian government forces around Hader, located approximately 15 kms east of the Israeli-held Golan AFP PHOTP / JALAA MARE

Its 2022. Syrias conflict continues and the country is in ruins. The long and bitter war of attrition has proceeded at a grinding pace infavor of Assad and Hezbollah. Israel is far more cautious in its interventions after one of its jets was downed by a Russian S-400 missile system, acquired by the Shiite militia in the wars ninth year.

As peace talks in Geneva stall and Russia and Iran set up their own rival mediations in Astana, the probability of the deadly stalemate in Syria rolling on for months or even years looks set to rise.

For officials in Israel, this prospect islikely to deliver yet more bad news. In the fog of war, Iran has alreadystrengthened its proxy force Hezbollah and other Shiite militias fighting alongside the Assad regime.

The longer the war, the longer Iran is able to provide Hezbollah with greater capabilities and become more involved in the area. The longer the war, the more reliance on Iran will become crucial to the regime, Amidror explains.

As the conflict in Syria continues, so too do Israeli fearsthat a game changing piece of weaponry will fall into the hands of Hezbollah.

Six years of fighting in Syria has transformed the Shiite group from an armed militia into a full-fledged army that, if and when the war in Syria ends, will turn its guns on its old enemy.

Hezbollah militants are now battle-hardened, they have a lot of experience in fighting in Syria and even with Israeli interdiction exercises they have been able to upgrade their arsenal, Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations tells Newsweek.

Exhausted by a bitter stalemate and with no clear clear victor, the combatants lay down their arms and a patchwork of Balkanized states emerges in Syria. In Tel Aviv, satisfied ministers court potential client nations rest assured that their divided neighbor will never again threaten Israel over its northeastern border.

For Lovatt, the best outcome Israel could hope for in Syria would be a peace settlement creating any number of federated or independent states divided on ethnic or religious lines.

The best case scenario in terms of what it would like to see would be a decentralized or even [a] fractured Syria where you see the emergence of a number of so-called proto-states, he says.

Members and supporters of Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah carry the coffin of Hezbollah’s militant Jalal al-Effeh, who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in Syria, on October 18, 2016 during his funeral procession in a southern suburb of the capital Beirut. AFP / ANWAR AMRO

Over the last decade, Israel has consistently looked to forge ties with non-Arab Muslim entities as well as other minorities. Lovatt points to Israels cultivation of the Druze, a distinct ethnic and religious Arabic speaking group, and Christian Maronites in Lebanon as well as increasingly good relations with Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria.

General Amidror thinks Israel would be able to forge strong ties with an Alawitestate isolated from Iran. Ultimately he sees a weakened Syria as one less likely to attack Israel.

The disintegration of Syria is not the worst situation from our point of view. If the Kurds and the Sunnis and Alawites, each had their own area of control they will not be in a position to harm Israel maybe as Syria did in the past or Hezbollah and Iran might try in the future, he says.

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Oil bonanza in Golan may help grease wheels for BRI | Asia Times – Asia Times

A burgeoning oil bonanza in the Golan Heights could be paving the way for China to strengthen its role as a peacekeeper in the troubled region, while at the same time smoothing the way for its Belt and Road Initiative.

Since regional stability is key to Chinas continued access to Mideast energy sources and to push forward the BRI, Beijing is stepping up efforts to help resolve the Syrian crisis and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is becoming more proactive in supporting a negotiated political settlement in Syria, proposing atrilateral dialogueamong China, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and moving ahead with regional infrastructure projects inSyria,Jordanand Israel where it will be importing20,000infrastructure workers.

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China is thus becoming a de facto regional stakeholder in the Middle East, as it is increasing resources to protect its growing portfolio of assets and citizens there. In July it deployed its first batch of troops to the new naval base inDjiboutito augment its ongoing United Nations peacekeeping presence in South Sudan(UNMISS) and Lebanon (UNIFIL), has offered8,000peacekeeping troops on permanent standby to conflict zones, and may join the GolansUNDOFin the future.

In November 2015, Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the UScompany Genie Energy, discovered an oil bonanza in the Golan Heights with the potential of billions of barrels. In an interview with Israels Channel 2 News, Afek chief geologist Yuval Batov said the layer was 350 meters thick, which is 10 times as large asthe average oil find worldwide.

Genie Energy managed to obtain exploratory licenses despite opposition from environmentaland local groups. These groups were concerned that drilling could pollute the largely unspoiled Golan countryside and the Sea of Galilee below, the source of most of Israels drinking water.

Indeed, there is still an ongoing debate over which is more important to Israel,access to water or energy independence, as spelled out in a recent analysis at the Begin-Sadat Center. Moreover, the quality, quantity and cost-effectiveness of extraction are still unknown, while other legal and planning battles await.

However, the biggest problems revolve around the issue of sovereignty.

Israel annexed much of the Golan in 1981, but the heights are still regarded internationally as illegally occupied Syrian territory. In the past, Israels leaders have offered to pull back from the Golan, which was captured in 1967, in return for a comprehensive peace treaty with the Syrian government. However, any such deal has been ruled out since Syria began disintegrating in 2011, and now there are efforts to demand recognition of Israeli control of the 1,200 square kilometers it occupieson the Golan.

Israels defense of the Golan intensified in June when it was caught in the crossfire between the Syrian Army and armed opposition forces in that country. After a mortar shell landed in the Golan, the Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian Army positions in the village of Samadanieh al Sharqiyah in Quneitra province. Israel also supports a rebel group called Knights of the Golan as a buffer force to keep the Syrian Army and Iran-backed Hezbollah at bay, adding to the complex and delicate environment in which Genie Energy needs to navigate on the Golan.

Nonetheless, there is another potential oil bounty that is within Israels territory and has escaped much media attention Zion Oil & Gass exploration of the Megiddo-Jezreel Valley.

Since 2005 Texas-based Zion Oil has been drilling near Haifa for potential 484 million barrels of oil, which geologists confirmed in 2004 to contain Triassic oil and gas fields.

Now, Zion Oil holds the Megiddo-Jezreel Petroleum Exploration License that comprises approximately 40,000 hectares, and is drilling about 42 kilometers south of the recent Genie oil discovery.

On November 6, 2015, Zion Oil announced the public release of a resource assessment report, with estimated prospective recoverable oil volumes ranging from 20.7 million to 234.6 million barrels. If a discovery is made, the best estimate for recoverable hydrocarbons is at 69.7 million barrels.

Add to this the offshore natural-gas fields of Leviathan and Tamar in the Levantine basin, and the newly discovered oil and gas bounty could enable Israel to become an important energy exporter not just in the region, but also to Asian markets such asChina and India.

Interestingly for regional actors such as Syria and Israel, Chinese UN peacekeeping troops may be more acceptable in the Golan, given that in 2006 Beijing sent 1,000 troops to Lebanon at the request of the Israelis. This is because Israel did not want Arab troops onits border, and preferred Asian troops from China, India, South Korea and the Philippines, as they were deemed to be more impartial in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Chinese reinforcements in UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) may thus alsoserve as a confidence-building and effective buffer force between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, given Chinas good relations with both sides, and perhaps providea testing ground for constructive US-China relations in the Mideast, with eventual joint benefits of the new oil bonanza.

Dr. Christina Lin is a Nonresident Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University specializing in China-Middle East/Mediterranean relations, and a research consultant for Jane’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Intelligence Centre at IHS Markit.

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Russia Deploys Troops to Syria-Israel Border, Prepares to Build … – TheTower.org

Russia has begun moving troops to the Golan Heights border in preparation for a new military base in the area, according to Lebanese media sources.

The Al Mayadeen news channel reported that the Russian troops have replaced some Syrian army forces in the area, which has been a rebel stronghold throughout the civil war.

Online newspaper Al-Masdar News reported on Monday that over 400 Russian soldiers were deployed to the Daraa and Quneitra governorates in southern Syria to begin their policing effort. Russian soldiers have been tasked with maintaining the ceasefire between the Syrian Armed Forces and rebels in the governorates.

The new Russian troop deployment follows reports on July 26th that Russian military police were deployed to monitor two safe zones, one of which was located eight miles from the Golan Heights.

On July 9th, a new ceasefire agreement in southern Syria came into effect. It was brokered between the U.S. and Russia, with the support of Jordan. The ceasefire was announced after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during the G20 Summit in Germany. It affects the regions of Deraa and Suweida, along the Jordanian border, as well as Quneitra, near the border between Syria and the Israeli Golan Heights.

Following the announcement of the ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel opposed the agreement because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country. Israels main concerns revolve around keeping Iran, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias away from the Israeli and Jordanian borders, and preventing Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria.

Israels security cabinet was reportedly briefed this week that U.S. and Russia have yet to agree on who would guarantee the arrangements in the de-escalation zones, prevent the entry of Iranian, Hezbollah, or Shiite militia forces, and monitor the ceasefire.

(via BICOM)

[Photo: BICOM]

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Russia said deploying troops to Syrian Golan Heights | Live Updates … – The Times of Israel (blog)

Russia is deploying troops to southern Syria, near the Israeli border, Ynet reports citing reports in Arabic-language media.

According to the Lebanese-based Al Mayadeen news channel, Russia is building a military base in the area of Quneitra and Daraa, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

The report says the Syrian army is withdrawing from the area, which has been a rebel stronghold throughout the bloody civil war.

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Russia said deploying troops to Syrian Golan Heights | Live Updates … – The Times of Israel (blog)

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Groups demand Israel removes army outposts and minefields from occupied Syrian town – WAFA – Palestine News Agency

Groups demand Israel removes army outposts and minefields from occupied Syrian town

HAIFA, August 2, 2017 (WAFA) – Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre in the Golan Heights sent a letter to senior Israeli military officials on 30 July demanding that they evacuate Israeli military outposts and minefields from the occupied Syrian town of Majdal Shams located on the Golan Heights, a press release said on Wednesday.

The military outposts, constructed after Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967, are situated on dozens of acres belonging to Majdal Shams residents. The outposts, and the associated minefields which surround the outposts and the town itself, are located directly adjacent to residential homes and the some 11,000 civilians who live there.

Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad and Al-Marsad Attorney Karama Abu Saleh wrote in their letter that the military outposts and minefields present a direct danger to Majdal Shams residents.

“Their very presence near the town endangers the lives of town residents in an illegal manner Fields of anti-personnel landmines have been placed around the outposts and the town itself. These mines pose a most serious danger to the residents as they cannot be easily identified, they drift beyond the [marked] minefields particularly during the winter months, and move towards the town’s homes and orchards. Some of the mines even explode as a result of summer heat. Over the years, many village residents particularly children have tragically been harmed by exploding mines.”

Israel’s failure to remove the minefields and the military outposts is a violation of international humanitarian law, Adalah and Al-Marsad said.

“Israel’s actions on the Golan Heights are subject to international humanitarian law. Article 43 of the Hague Convention stipulates that an occupying force’s primary factor when considering any action is its benefit to the local civilian population, and [this article] obligates protection of the residents of the occupied territory. Article 46 further requires protection of the lives and property of the local population.”

Al-Marsad appealed more than four years ago to the Israeli Defense Ministry which committed at that time to removing mines from the area. In 2013, Israel began to clear mines on Al Rihani hill in Majdal Shams but stopped before the work was completed and Israeli authorities have since failed to respond to further appeals from Al-Marsad.

Israel has occupied Majdal Shams since 1967. In 1981, Israel annexed the village, along with the other small Syrian villages of Ein Qiniyye, Mas’ade and Buq’ata, under the Golan Heights Law. Most inhabitants of Majdal Shams hold permanency residency status in Israel, as do Palestinians residents of East Jerusalem.

Since 1967, it is estimated that at least 69 civilian residents of the Golan Heights have been wounded by land mines. Among these, 18 died, half of whom were children. Israeli civilians, Israeli soldiers and tourists have also been victims of landmines, however, accurate figures on casualties are difficult to obtain.

More than 9,000 acres the equivalent of over 6,000 soccer fields are suspected to be mined in the Golan Heights, distributed over around 2,000 minefields that vary greatly in size. The mines are mostly found in grazing areas, agricultural land, along the ceasefire border, and in nature reserves. There are two mine fields within Majdal Shams itself.

Adalah and Al-Marsad demand the immediate removal of Israeli military outposts and minefields from Majdal Shams and its lands.

M.K.

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Dina Powell Spoke at Gala that Honored Palestinian Extremist, Conspiracy Theorist

NEW YORK — Dina Habib Powell, the Trump administration’s Deputy National Security Advisor, was a featured speaker at the gala dinner of a George Soros-financed group that honored a notoriously anti-Israel Palestinian legislator.

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Hezbollah using combat drones against Daesh terrorists in Syria – Press TV

This video grab shows munitions being dropped from a drone at suspected Daesh positions in Syrias Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon on August 21, 2017. The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says it has usedweaponized unmanned aerial vehicles to strike the positions of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in thestrategic and mountainous region of Qalamoun close to the border with Lebanon. Hezbollahs media bureau announced in a statement on Monday that it had deployed the drones to hit Daesh positions, bunkers and fortifications in the area, located about 330kilometers(205 miles) north of the Syrian capital Damascus. Video footage released by the media unit, seemingly taken from a drone, showed two types of missiles, one of them with a tail fin, cruising towards the ground and subsequent explosions as they struck the designated targets. Earlier on Monday, Hezbollahs media bureau reported that the Lebanese resistance fighters and Syrian government forces hadwrested complete control over Shoubat al-Dowab and Shoubat Beit Shuker heights in the western outskirts of Qalamoun. It added that Hezbollah fighters and Syrian army soldiers werein control of the strategic Qornat Shoubat Aakko district near al-Jarajirvillage in Syrias southwestern province of Rif Dimashq. On Saturday, Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an operation to purge Qalamoun from Daesh terrorists. Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria ofarmed terrorists. In August 2014, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Arsal, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released. Since then, Hezbollah andthe Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the countrys northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups from neighboring Syria. Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy. The movement has accused Israel of supporting Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle East. Israel, which continues to occupy Lebanons Shebaa Farms and Syrias Golan Heights, is widely reported to be offering medical help to Takfiri terrorists injured in Syria. In December 2015, British newspaper theDaily Mailsaid Israel had saved the lives of more than 2,000 Takfiri militants since 2013.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Family marks 20 years to disappearance of IDF soldier Guy Hever – Ynetnews

The family of missing IDF soldierGuy Hevermarked 20 years to his disappearance on Thursday, with his mother telling Ynet she has “no doubt he’s still alive.” Hever, a soldier in the Artillery Corps, left his army base in the Golan Heights on the morning of August 17, 1997, carrying his weapon. He has since disappeared without a trace, despite extensive search efforts throughout the years. Guy Hever (Photo: Shaul Golan) Criticizing the Israeli government for not doing all it can to find her son, Rina argued that “There’s no such thing as the prime minister wanting to get information and not getting it. If he threw all of his weight behind the efforts to get information about Guy, he’d get it. It’s a matter of deciding to do so. We have no doubt about it.” Rina Hever (Photo: Raanan Ben-Zur) She lamented the fact that “the truly serious search efforts began so many years after he disappeared that the belief was established among the public, and as a result in the media as well, that Guy ran off, killed himself, or was hidingall sorts of strange theories.” The Prime Minister’s Office offered the following response, “The mission to learn of the fate of missing IDF soldiers Guy Hever and return him home continues at all times. The search is conducted by security forces, the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Police. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s representative on the matter of captives and missing persons has been coordinating all of the activities on the matter and maintains contact with the family. Searches for Guy Hever (Photo: Avihu Shapira) “This activity will continue at all times until this important mission is completed.”

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

What happened to Guy Hever? – Arutz Sheva

America has Amelia Earnhart. Israel, unfortunately, has Guy Hever. The IDF soldier vanished from his Golan Heights base on August 17, 1997 and has not been seen since. His disappearance is considered unprecedented in the IDF’s history. No other soldier has vanished during a period of such relative calm. Many minds have dedicated themselves to solving the mystery, with theories ranging from him having run away to the soldier being abducted by the Syrians. Hever, from Nahariya, was last seen on his base in IDF fatigues and carrying his Galil rifle. He had been confined to his base against his will, and friends in his artillery unit say that he seemed troubled. Since then, there has been no trace of Hever. One theory says that he went to spend some time alone, and became trapped in one of many caves that exist in the Golan Heights. They point to his friends’ testimony that he seemed troubled, and wonder why the IDF has never found anything that would point to his fate. Hever’s mother has been waging a long campaign trying to convince the public that Hever was kidnapped by the Syrians. Israel only recognized him as an MIA 3 years later, in 2000. “The fact that he was never found means that he’s not here. He’s in Syria” she told Channel 2. “Guy is alive, in Syria, and will return one day. I live for that moment, and I am angry over my inability to shout more than I have about this, burn tires, set the streets on fire, and chain myself to a post outside the Knesset.” A German woman, Miriam Koinike, told Israeli police in 2010 that she met with Hever in a Syrian prison when she was confined there for 12 days in 2005. Her story has been backed up by former German Intelligence Chief Ernst Uhrlau and Dr Mordechai Kedar, an Arutz Sheva colunist and Middle East expert, who then headed the Syrian desk in IDF Military Intelligence. Koinike, a researcher of Judaism by profession, had visited several Muslim countries in recent years, among them Iran and Syria. Seven years ago, during a visit to the Syrian city of Aleppo, she was arrested by Syrian intelligence and taken for questioning in Damascus. Koinike claimed that the translator during the interrogation was none other than Hever. She was later released and returned to Germany, where she was questioned by German intelligence. Channel 2 showed footage of a meeting a few months ago between Koinike and Hevers mother, Rina, in which Koinike is seen saying, His face was very narrow. The color of his skin was brown. He was shy. She insisted that the man before her was indeed the missing soldier, in part because he spoke Hebrew. He did not speak one word in Arabic, Koinike said. There were three people in the room: one writing the protocol, one who translated and one asking the questions.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

What Does Israel Want From the Civil War in Syria? – Newsweek

For the past six years David Spelman has had a front row seat at the bloody and protracted spectacle that isSyriascivil war. His home in the Golan Heights is just two miles from the Syrian town of Quneitra, across Israels heavily-fortified border. It is, he says, like being in the eye of the storm. Spelman has lived in the Ein Zivan Kibbutz since the end of the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel seized the Golan from Syria. Since Syrias Arab Spring-inspired revolution began its descent into war in 2012, Israelis have watched rebel fighters being transported to and from the frontlinein pickup trucks. Read More:Israel Tried to Derail Syria Ceasefire at Secret Meetings With U.S. And Russia Over Iran Daily Emails and Alerts – Get the best of Newsweek delivered to your inbox Spellman has seen Quneitra descend from a relatively prosperous if rugged frontier town to a battered shell sat amidst a devastated no mans land. You have the Syrian army taking over a village, then a week later you will have another faction take it back. You can literally see people killing one another on a day-to-day basis, Spelman tells Newsweek. Up in the hills of the Golan, Spelman may be on the edge of the front linehe recounts how, in 2015, stray shells landed near the kibbutz and one tank round hit a winerybut for a man who was evacuated from the area during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the danger still feels remote. It is tragic to know and to hear and to see, he says, but it is the fringes of slaughter. But while the 104 families that make up the Ein Zivan settlement have observed the Syria conflict quietly over the past six years, Israel has not stood idly by, interveningsporadicallybut forcefullyto prevent the 21st Centurys deadliest conflict from spreading over its borders. In June 2017, Israel targeted Syrian military positions with air strikes in Quneitra after ten tank shells from inside Syria hit the Golan Heights. Israel described the overspill, which occurred in clashes between militant rebel groupal-Nusraand the Syrian regime’s military as an unacceptable breach of sovereignty. Officials in the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel of aiding jihadists with its strikes. As an Iranian ally and an enabler of Shiite militant group Hezbollah long before the civil war, Assad has never been a friend of Israelbut neither are the various Sunni militias that rose against him, even the most moderate of which have radical anti-Zionist agendas. As such, the Israeli policy towards the war has been primarily about containment, and particularly geared towardsHezbollah. An Israeli soldier stands on top of a Merkava tank stationed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on July 16, 2013 , after mortar fire from inside war-torn Syria exploded in northern Golan. JACK GUEZ/AFP On April 24, the Israeli military struck a Hezbollah weapons cache in Damascus. It was the latest in a series of more audacious attacks to contain the war. One month earlier Israeli jets carried out airstrikes deep in Syrian airspace in Palmyra. Officials in Tel Aviv said theytargeted advanced weapons systems bound for Hezbollah. Major General Yaakov Amidror, former national security adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu from 2011-13 tells Newsweek thattwo decisions were made in the corridors of power in Tel Aviv from the earliest days of the war: firstly, that Israel had nothing to gain from direct intervention in a bitter sectarian conflict, and secondly that Hezbollah could not be allowed to use the war to strengthen its hand for any future engagement with Israel. Amidror says that the response in the Israeli Prime Ministers office was more prescient than perhaps in other world capitals. The prime minister clearly understood…that it was going to be long and bloody. If one common cause could unite most, if not all, of the militias and armies fighting the warit would be a commitment to the eventual destruction of Israel. After six years of brutal fighting, Newsweek examines the possible outcomes of the conflict in Syria and how Israel might deal with those situations when Syrias combatants stop pointing their guns at each other. Bashar al-Assad takes power after the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) is crushed. He concedes Kurdish areas to the Kurds and makes small concessions to the Sunnis. Hezbollah, triumphant, holds parades in southern Lebanon and Hasan Nasrallah begins fiery speeches calling for a new war with the old enemy, Israel. In Tel Aviv, Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet prepare for war. Israel faces its worst possible outcome from the war with a stronger and emboldened Hezbollahspoiling for a fight,backed byTehranand a newly victoriousAssad. The main mission that we have today is to make sure that the Syrian side of the Golan stays under our control and no one uses it as a platform to attack us, Brigadier General Nitzan Nurieltells Newsweek. A former deputy commander responsible for the Lebanese front during the 2006 war, he says theIsraeli military successfully prevented attempts by Hezbollah and other Iran-backed forces in the past, as it looks to do in the future. A man takes a photo of his friend in front of a poster of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad at Umayyad Square in Damascus May 16, 2014 REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri The long term is no better for Israel. Increased Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq combined with a strengthened Hezbollah in Lebanon could create a corridor of influence stretching from Tehran to Aleppo and then on to Damascus and Beirut. Amidror says the outcome, which he describes as very likely, would lead to a huge change in the geostrategic and political landscape of the Middle East. One of the principal shifts Amidror envisages in response to Iranian expansion will be a closer relationship between Sunni Arab states and Israel, to counter the threat. Pressured by his new allies in the White House, Putin withdraws backing for Bashar al-Assad and without Russian logistics and guns, the Syrian leaders forces quickly collapse. Assad retreats to his Alawite heartlands and a coalition of Sunni militias, including al-Qaeda, take power in Damascus. If a victory for Assad and the Iranian proxy forces backing him looks likely, the outcome of a Syria dominated by radical Sunni rebels seems to be fading fast. But, in the summer of 2014, as ISISmilitantsraced across Syria capturing Raqqa, the prospect of a radical Sunni entity sitting on Israels doorstep was a real possibility. ISIS and its rival Al-Qaeda in Syria have regularly threatened attacks on Israel and vowed to capture Jerusalem. Rafaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at RUSI, says while the threat Sunni militants pose to Israel isreal, Tel Aviv has not needed to intervene against ISIS or Al-Qaeda as the U.S.-led coalition has focused on this. The Israelis aren’t really attacking them and they are attacking their enemies Hezbollah. Maybe now is not the time to pick that fight, Pantucci says. Israel has a more pressing fight over itssouthernborderwith ISIS in the Sinai and its forerunner Ansar Bait al-Maqdis. Pantucciis confident that Israel canmanagethe threat from Egypt. [Israel is] very aggressive in managing itsresponse to these problems, he says. Jihadi groups are starting torealizethat Israel has a formidable military force [and a]willingness and a capacity to deploy that force. A picture taken from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights shows smoke rising from the Syrian Druze village of Hader, on June 16, 2015. Al-Nusra Front, one of al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, are reportedly engaging offensive operations against Syrian government forces around Hader, located approximately 15 kms east of the Israeli-held Golan AFP PHOTP / JALAA MARE Its 2022. Syrias conflict continues and the country is in ruins. The long and bitter war of attrition has proceeded at a grinding pace infavor of Assad and Hezbollah. Israel is far more cautious in its interventions after one of its jets was downed by a Russian S-400 missile system, acquired by the Shiite militia in the wars ninth year. As peace talks in Geneva stall and Russia and Iran set up their own rival mediations in Astana, the probability of the deadly stalemate in Syria rolling on for months or even years looks set to rise. For officials in Israel, this prospect islikely to deliver yet more bad news. In the fog of war, Iran has alreadystrengthened its proxy force Hezbollah and other Shiite militias fighting alongside the Assad regime. The longer the war, the longer Iran is able to provide Hezbollah with greater capabilities and become more involved in the area. The longer the war, the more reliance on Iran will become crucial to the regime, Amidror explains. As the conflict in Syria continues, so too do Israeli fearsthat a game changing piece of weaponry will fall into the hands of Hezbollah. Six years of fighting in Syria has transformed the Shiite group from an armed militia into a full-fledged army that, if and when the war in Syria ends, will turn its guns on its old enemy. Hezbollah militants are now battle-hardened, they have a lot of experience in fighting in Syria and even with Israeli interdiction exercises they have been able to upgrade their arsenal, Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations tells Newsweek. Exhausted by a bitter stalemate and with no clear clear victor, the combatants lay down their arms and a patchwork of Balkanized states emerges in Syria. In Tel Aviv, satisfied ministers court potential client nations rest assured that their divided neighbor will never again threaten Israel over its northeastern border. For Lovatt, the best outcome Israel could hope for in Syria would be a peace settlement creating any number of federated or independent states divided on ethnic or religious lines. The best case scenario in terms of what it would like to see would be a decentralized or even [a] fractured Syria where you see the emergence of a number of so-called proto-states, he says. Members and supporters of Lebanon’s Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah carry the coffin of Hezbollah’s militant Jalal al-Effeh, who was killed in combat alongside Syrian government forces in Syria, on October 18, 2016 during his funeral procession in a southern suburb of the capital Beirut. AFP / ANWAR AMRO Over the last decade, Israel has consistently looked to forge ties with non-Arab Muslim entities as well as other minorities. Lovatt points to Israels cultivation of the Druze, a distinct ethnic and religious Arabic speaking group, and Christian Maronites in Lebanon as well as increasingly good relations with Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. General Amidror thinks Israel would be able to forge strong ties with an Alawitestate isolated from Iran. Ultimately he sees a weakened Syria as one less likely to attack Israel. The disintegration of Syria is not the worst situation from our point of view. If the Kurds and the Sunnis and Alawites, each had their own area of control they will not be in a position to harm Israel maybe as Syria did in the past or Hezbollah and Iran might try in the future, he says.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Oil bonanza in Golan may help grease wheels for BRI | Asia Times – Asia Times

A burgeoning oil bonanza in the Golan Heights could be paving the way for China to strengthen its role as a peacekeeper in the troubled region, while at the same time smoothing the way for its Belt and Road Initiative. Since regional stability is key to Chinas continued access to Mideast energy sources and to push forward the BRI, Beijing is stepping up efforts to help resolve the Syrian crisis and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is becoming more proactive in supporting a negotiated political settlement in Syria, proposing atrilateral dialogueamong China, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and moving ahead with regional infrastructure projects inSyria,Jordanand Israel where it will be importing20,000infrastructure workers. The DailyBrief Must-reads from across Asia – directly to your inbox China is thus becoming a de facto regional stakeholder in the Middle East, as it is increasing resources to protect its growing portfolio of assets and citizens there. In July it deployed its first batch of troops to the new naval base inDjiboutito augment its ongoing United Nations peacekeeping presence in South Sudan(UNMISS) and Lebanon (UNIFIL), has offered8,000peacekeeping troops on permanent standby to conflict zones, and may join the GolansUNDOFin the future. In November 2015, Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the UScompany Genie Energy, discovered an oil bonanza in the Golan Heights with the potential of billions of barrels. In an interview with Israels Channel 2 News, Afek chief geologist Yuval Batov said the layer was 350 meters thick, which is 10 times as large asthe average oil find worldwide. Genie Energy managed to obtain exploratory licenses despite opposition from environmentaland local groups. These groups were concerned that drilling could pollute the largely unspoiled Golan countryside and the Sea of Galilee below, the source of most of Israels drinking water. Indeed, there is still an ongoing debate over which is more important to Israel,access to water or energy independence, as spelled out in a recent analysis at the Begin-Sadat Center. Moreover, the quality, quantity and cost-effectiveness of extraction are still unknown, while other legal and planning battles await. However, the biggest problems revolve around the issue of sovereignty. Israel annexed much of the Golan in 1981, but the heights are still regarded internationally as illegally occupied Syrian territory. In the past, Israels leaders have offered to pull back from the Golan, which was captured in 1967, in return for a comprehensive peace treaty with the Syrian government. However, any such deal has been ruled out since Syria began disintegrating in 2011, and now there are efforts to demand recognition of Israeli control of the 1,200 square kilometers it occupieson the Golan. Israels defense of the Golan intensified in June when it was caught in the crossfire between the Syrian Army and armed opposition forces in that country. After a mortar shell landed in the Golan, the Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian Army positions in the village of Samadanieh al Sharqiyah in Quneitra province. Israel also supports a rebel group called Knights of the Golan as a buffer force to keep the Syrian Army and Iran-backed Hezbollah at bay, adding to the complex and delicate environment in which Genie Energy needs to navigate on the Golan. Nonetheless, there is another potential oil bounty that is within Israels territory and has escaped much media attention Zion Oil & Gass exploration of the Megiddo-Jezreel Valley. Since 2005 Texas-based Zion Oil has been drilling near Haifa for potential 484 million barrels of oil, which geologists confirmed in 2004 to contain Triassic oil and gas fields. Now, Zion Oil holds the Megiddo-Jezreel Petroleum Exploration License that comprises approximately 40,000 hectares, and is drilling about 42 kilometers south of the recent Genie oil discovery. On November 6, 2015, Zion Oil announced the public release of a resource assessment report, with estimated prospective recoverable oil volumes ranging from 20.7 million to 234.6 million barrels. If a discovery is made, the best estimate for recoverable hydrocarbons is at 69.7 million barrels. Add to this the offshore natural-gas fields of Leviathan and Tamar in the Levantine basin, and the newly discovered oil and gas bounty could enable Israel to become an important energy exporter not just in the region, but also to Asian markets such asChina and India. Interestingly for regional actors such as Syria and Israel, Chinese UN peacekeeping troops may be more acceptable in the Golan, given that in 2006 Beijing sent 1,000 troops to Lebanon at the request of the Israelis. This is because Israel did not want Arab troops onits border, and preferred Asian troops from China, India, South Korea and the Philippines, as they were deemed to be more impartial in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chinese reinforcements in UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) may thus alsoserve as a confidence-building and effective buffer force between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, given Chinas good relations with both sides, and perhaps providea testing ground for constructive US-China relations in the Mideast, with eventual joint benefits of the new oil bonanza. Dr. Christina Lin is a Nonresident Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University specializing in China-Middle East/Mediterranean relations, and a research consultant for Jane’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Intelligence Centre at IHS Markit. continue reading

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August 9, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Russia Deploys Troops to Syria-Israel Border, Prepares to Build … – TheTower.org

Russia has begun moving troops to the Golan Heights border in preparation for a new military base in the area, according to Lebanese media sources. The Al Mayadeen news channel reported that the Russian troops have replaced some Syrian army forces in the area, which has been a rebel stronghold throughout the civil war. Online newspaper Al-Masdar News reported on Monday that over 400 Russian soldiers were deployed to the Daraa and Quneitra governorates in southern Syria to begin their policing effort. Russian soldiers have been tasked with maintaining the ceasefire between the Syrian Armed Forces and rebels in the governorates. The new Russian troop deployment follows reports on July 26th that Russian military police were deployed to monitor two safe zones, one of which was located eight miles from the Golan Heights. On July 9th, a new ceasefire agreement in southern Syria came into effect. It was brokered between the U.S. and Russia, with the support of Jordan. The ceasefire was announced after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during the G20 Summit in Germany. It affects the regions of Deraa and Suweida, along the Jordanian border, as well as Quneitra, near the border between Syria and the Israeli Golan Heights. Following the announcement of the ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel opposed the agreement because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country. Israels main concerns revolve around keeping Iran, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias away from the Israeli and Jordanian borders, and preventing Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria. Israels security cabinet was reportedly briefed this week that U.S. and Russia have yet to agree on who would guarantee the arrangements in the de-escalation zones, prevent the entry of Iranian, Hezbollah, or Shiite militia forces, and monitor the ceasefire. (via BICOM) [Photo: BICOM]

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Russia said deploying troops to Syrian Golan Heights | Live Updates … – The Times of Israel (blog)

Russia is deploying troops to southern Syria, near the Israeli border, Ynet reports citing reports in Arabic-language media. According to the Lebanese-based Al Mayadeen news channel, Russia is building a military base in the area of Quneitra and Daraa, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The report says the Syrian army is withdrawing from the area, which has been a rebel stronghold throughout the bloody civil war. View all entries for this Live Blog

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Groups demand Israel removes army outposts and minefields from occupied Syrian town – WAFA – Palestine News Agency

Groups demand Israel removes army outposts and minefields from occupied Syrian town HAIFA, August 2, 2017 (WAFA) – Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre in the Golan Heights sent a letter to senior Israeli military officials on 30 July demanding that they evacuate Israeli military outposts and minefields from the occupied Syrian town of Majdal Shams located on the Golan Heights, a press release said on Wednesday. The military outposts, constructed after Israel occupied the Golan Heights in 1967, are situated on dozens of acres belonging to Majdal Shams residents. The outposts, and the associated minefields which surround the outposts and the town itself, are located directly adjacent to residential homes and the some 11,000 civilians who live there. Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad and Al-Marsad Attorney Karama Abu Saleh wrote in their letter that the military outposts and minefields present a direct danger to Majdal Shams residents. “Their very presence near the town endangers the lives of town residents in an illegal manner Fields of anti-personnel landmines have been placed around the outposts and the town itself. These mines pose a most serious danger to the residents as they cannot be easily identified, they drift beyond the [marked] minefields particularly during the winter months, and move towards the town’s homes and orchards. Some of the mines even explode as a result of summer heat. Over the years, many village residents particularly children have tragically been harmed by exploding mines.” Israel’s failure to remove the minefields and the military outposts is a violation of international humanitarian law, Adalah and Al-Marsad said. “Israel’s actions on the Golan Heights are subject to international humanitarian law. Article 43 of the Hague Convention stipulates that an occupying force’s primary factor when considering any action is its benefit to the local civilian population, and [this article] obligates protection of the residents of the occupied territory. Article 46 further requires protection of the lives and property of the local population.” Al-Marsad appealed more than four years ago to the Israeli Defense Ministry which committed at that time to removing mines from the area. In 2013, Israel began to clear mines on Al Rihani hill in Majdal Shams but stopped before the work was completed and Israeli authorities have since failed to respond to further appeals from Al-Marsad. Israel has occupied Majdal Shams since 1967. In 1981, Israel annexed the village, along with the other small Syrian villages of Ein Qiniyye, Mas’ade and Buq’ata, under the Golan Heights Law. Most inhabitants of Majdal Shams hold permanency residency status in Israel, as do Palestinians residents of East Jerusalem. Since 1967, it is estimated that at least 69 civilian residents of the Golan Heights have been wounded by land mines. Among these, 18 died, half of whom were children. Israeli civilians, Israeli soldiers and tourists have also been victims of landmines, however, accurate figures on casualties are difficult to obtain. More than 9,000 acres the equivalent of over 6,000 soccer fields are suspected to be mined in the Golan Heights, distributed over around 2,000 minefields that vary greatly in size. The mines are mostly found in grazing areas, agricultural land, along the ceasefire border, and in nature reserves. There are two mine fields within Majdal Shams itself. Adalah and Al-Marsad demand the immediate removal of Israeli military outposts and minefields from Majdal Shams and its lands. M.K.

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed


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