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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

Unveiling clock showing 8,411 days left for Israel, Iranians rage against Jewish state

Protesters burn flags and chant 'death to Israel' at annual rallies held across Tehran

TEHRAN — Iran held major anti-Israel rallies across the country Friday, with protesters chanting “Death to Israel” and condemning the occupation of Palestinian land.

Marchers in Tehran headed from various points of the city toward the Friday prayer ceremony at Tehran University. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities and towns in Iran, according to state media.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard used the demonstration in the capital’s Valiasr Square to showcase three surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, including the Zolfaghar — the type that Iran used this week to target the Islamic State group in Syria. The Guard said it fired six such missiles on Sunday at IS targets in the city of Deir el-Zour, more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) away. The Guard said the airstrike was in retaliation for an IS attack earlier in June on Iran’s parliament and a shrine in Tehran that killed 18 people and wounded more than 50.

Another missile on display at the Tehran rally was the Ghadr, with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that can reach both Israel and US bases in the region.

Iran’s ballistic missile program has been the subject of persistent concern in Washington and the target of repeated US sanctions

 

Read More: Times of Israel

Multiple sclerosis study reveals possible trigger

Multiple sclerosis study reveals possible trigger

Multiple sclerosis, one of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases, affects some 2.5 million people worldwide and has no known cure.

Researchers have long speculated that MS is triggered by the body’s own immune system unleashing an uncontrolled attack on myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells (neurons).

A study published by Israeli scientists in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) pinpoints a structural instability in the myelin membranes, the “insulating tape” surrounding neurons.

This vulnerability seems to be what gives the immune system access to otherwise protected regions.

“We found that small modifications in the myelin sheaths create structural instabilities that may help the immune system to enter and attack neurons,” said principal investigator Prof. Roy Beck of Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics and Astronomy and Sagol School of Neurosciences.

“Current therapeutic approaches have focused on the autoimmune response without identifying a clear mechanism. Our research suggests a new avenue for multiple sclerosis therapies and diagnostics,” Beck said.

Breaking down the insulation

Axons, which carry electrical impulses in neurons, are surrounded by protective myelin sheaths. In MS, an autoimmune “error” mistakenly identifies these sheaths as hostile foreign entities and breaks them down.

The research, conducted by Rona Shaharabani, a doctoral student in Prof. Beck’s lab, pinpoints the precise alterations to the myelin sheaths that result in structural instabilities, creating “easy access” for autoimmune attacks.

“After years of research, we were amazed to discover that a possible trigger for the outbreak of the disease could be found in the membrane’s physical structure,” said Beck.

Read more: Israel 21c