As Islamic State wanes, Iran and Hezbollah could turn on Israel

As Islamic State wanes, Iran and Hezbollah could turn on Israel

Recent developments in the war between the Syrian regime and rebel forces show that the relative comfort zone that Israel has long enjoyed along its northern border is narrowing. The recent pummeling of the notorious Islamic State group makes an escalation in hostilities between Israel and the forces of President Bashar Assad along with his staunch ally, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group, increasingly likely.

The terrible civil war ravaging Syria has for several years forced Hezbollah, deployed to the battlefield on Assad’s behalf, to limit the resources and energy it expends on confronting Israel. Some 2,000 Hezbollah fighters have been killed and 6,000 injured fighting in Syria — about a third of the organization’s fighting force. The same has been true for Syria’s standing army, which looked exhausted, almost defeated, until Russia swooped in to turn the tide.

In recent weeks, the cumulative effect of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts has helped swing the pendulum in favor of Assad, Hezbollah, and other Shiite militias active in the arena on behalf of Iran. The battle against the Islamic State group in Mosul, Iraq, is drawing to a close, and it is clear that next in line to fall will be Raqqa, the group’s stronghold in Syria.

In other fronts, too, the Syrian army is scoring major victories, including in the Deir Ezzor region in the country’s northeast, where Assad’s forces, aided by Shiite militiamen, have broken through to the area of Abu Kamal, on the Iraqi border. It is a region where Kurdish and other forces that receive US support have been very active. Hence the recent rise in friction between the US army and Syrian forces that led to the downing of a Syrian jet last week.

Read More: Times of Israel

 

Group of Top Ex-Israeli Security Officials Back US Legislation to Cut Funding of Palestinian Authority Over Terror Payments

Group of Top Ex-Israeli Security Officials Back US Legislation to Cut Funding of Palestinian Authority Over Terror PaymentsA group of former top Israeli security officials are speaking out in favor of a proposed congressional bill that would cut off American funding of the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families.

In a letter that was seen by The Algemeiner, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yosef Kuperwasser wrote that a failure to pass the Taylor Force Act would mark a “surrender to terror.”

Providing the PA with money that enables its terror payments is “illogical, illegal and immoral,” Kuperwasser said. “Most of all it’s inhuman.”

The letter — which Kuperwasser said was cosigned by ex-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and ex-National Security Adviser Uzi Dayan, as well as Maj. Gen. (ret.) Gershon Hacohen and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Oded Tira — was penned in response to a missive published last week by Commanders for Israel’s Security (a group of hundreds of former Israeli security figures) that warned of potential negative consequences of the US legislation, including the harming of Israeli security.

In Kuperwasser’s view, however, “there is no reason to believe that if the Taylor Force Act is enacted the security cooperation [between Israel and the PA] is going to stop. The security cooperation serves the interest of the PA.”

Also, he explained, “the PA is not going to collapse because of the Taylor Force Act.”

“The real threats to the PA are its commitment to unattainable political goals and to a long-lasting struggle against Israel, instead of a genuine peace process, its low-level of functioning, the corruption and the lack of a system that guarantees popular trust in the leadership,” Kuperwasser said.

“Supporting the just demand to stop paying terrorists with real pressure goes very well along with Israel’s security interests,” he continued.

Read More: Algeminer

Palestinians reportedly reinstall monument to Maalot terrorist

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Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin have reportedly reinstalled a monument to a terrorist who masterminded a notorious 1974 massacre of Israeli school children, despite intense pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel Radio reported Saturday that the monument went back up overnight as part of an agreement between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the mayor of Jenin.

Last week the Jenin municipality named a square and put up the stone memorial in honor of “martyr” Khaled Nazzal, who planned the 1974 Maalot massacre in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 22 school children and 4 adults.

The move prompted a Twitter outburst from Netanyahu who accused Abbas of lying that he wants peace and “poisoning” the minds of young Palestinians.

“Palestinian President Abbas tells the world that he educates Palestinian children for peace. That’s a lie,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Palestinian Media Watch reported on the naming of the square Monday, noting that Nazzal, a member of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine, also planned a 1974 abduction in Beit She’an which ended in the killing of four hostages, and a 1984 shooting attack in Jerusalem in which one person was killed and 47 wounded.

 Read More: Times of Israel

Robert Kraft-led trip to Israel has profound impact on Hall of Famers

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis bleeds Pittsburgh Steelers black and gold, but as he boarded an airplane Tuesday set to return from Israel to the United States, he reflected on spending a week with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and laughed.

“I told my wife [Trameka], he has a new fan,” Bettis said. “My phrase was ‘I’m a friend of him, not of them.'”

That’s how strongly Bettis — who played several high-stakes games against the Patriots during his lengthy career with the Steelers — felt about what transpired from June 13-21. Bettis was one of 18 Hall of Famers who joined Kraft on a trip to Israel.

“To have an opportunity for me and my wife to be baptized in the Jordan River, that was amazing. To have an opportunity, as a Christian, to see where Jesus Christ was born, was amazing. To walk in his footsteps. To go to the Church of Holy Sepulchre, those kind of things, things I read about in a Bible but to actually have an opportunity to walk and see it with my own eyes, they were amazing,” Bettis said in a phone interview.

Bettis was joined by Pro Football Hall of Famers Lem Barney, Jim Brown, Cris Carter, Dave Casper, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Joe Montana, Andre Reed, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, John Stallworth, Roger Staubach, Andre Tippett, Aeneas Williams and Ron Yary. Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker also made the trip.

This marks the second time in three years that Kraft has led an ambassador-type trip to Israel. Part of the trip’s mission involved increasing American football’s popularity in the region.

“I learned so much about him,” Bettis said. “When you play against a team, and whenever you play you don’t know who is going to win, that’s a true rivalry. That’s what you have with the Patriots.

Read More: ESPN