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Russia May Be Setting the Stage for Hizballah’s Next War with Israel

For several years, Hizballah forces have been deployed in Syria to defend the reign of Bashar al-Assad. The Iran-sponsored militia has thus become a de-facto ally of Russia in its fight against Syrian rebels. Jonathan Schanzer explains the implications for Israel:

Iran is . . . arming Hizballah in preparation [not just to fight in Syria but also] for the next conflict with Israel. In fall 2015, Israel’s military assessed that Hizballah had increased its rocket arsenal from an estimated 100,000 to roughly 150,000 since the Syrian war began. [In addition], Russia [has] established fusion centers so that it could coordinate its war effort with Iran, Hizballah, and the Assad regime. Hizballah has benefited from Russian air cover, and even fought alongside Russian forces against Syrian rebels.

Meanwhile Iran and its Lebanese proxy have tried to exploit both the Russian presence and the fog of war to move what Israelis have called “game-changing weapons” from the war zone to Lebanon. Israeli officials say the weapons they are attempting to acquire include long-range and high-payload rockets, lethal anti-ship missiles, and perhaps even sophisticated anti-aircraft systems. . . .

The longer Iran and Hizballah have to perfect their weapons-smuggling infrastructure, the higher the likelihood of a successful transfer of “game-changing weapons.” Hizballah already has tens of thousands of rockets, but a successful transfer of more advanced weapons would be a red line for Israel, prompting a pre-emptive strike before those weapons can be deployed.

The Israelis have warned repeatedly that the next war with Hizballah could be one in which Israel will seek nothing less than total defeat and ousting of Hizballah from Lebanon. Vladimir Putin’s foray into Syria has been described as an attempt to resurrect Russia’s past. But Soviet actions in the Middle East contributed inexorably to the Six-Day War and its own weakening in the region. Russia risks repeating the mistakes it made a half-century ago, mistakes that still have a profound impact on the region today.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war

The EU Violates International Law, Steals Palestinian Land, and Then Demands Compensation from Israel

Nov. 17 2017

Last month, the eight European countries that make up the West Bank Protection Consortium sent a formal letter demanding €30,000 in compensation for two classrooms with solar panels that Israel dismantled in August. The letter, as Ruthie Blum explains, ignores the fact that the structures, located in part of the West Bank called Area C, were built in violation of international law:

[The 1995 agreement known as] Oslo II, which created the Palestinian Authority (PA), divides the West Bank into three geographical sections—Areas A, B, and C—and specifies which government controls each. Area C is under the military and civil jurisdiction of Israel alone. . . . Yet, for years, there has been non-stop building in Area C, . . . in a transparent effort to populate Area C with Palestinians. . . .

[The] Middle East analyst Bassam Tawil [has] noted massive “behind-the-scenes” Palestinian construction, the goal of which is “to create irreversible facts on the ground” and completely encircle Jerusalem. He points out that while Israel is condemned for any and every attempt to build housing in the West Bank and Jerusalem [which it never does in Area A, assigned by Oslo to the sole jurisdiction of the Ramallah], the Palestinian Authority has been undertaking, with impunity, a “colossal” construction project that is “illegal in every respect.” . . .

On a recent tour of the area, [another] Arab affairs expert, Khaled Abu Toameh, explained that this ongoing construction, funded mainly by the EU and Qatar, is made possible through the “confiscation” of privately owned tracts of Palestinian land by unlicensed contractors whose interest is solely financial. . . All they want, he said, is to line their pockets at the expense of helpless landowners, who are told that they must sacrifice their property to help the Palestinian Authority populate the area for political gain against Israel. . . .

It takes particular gall for European Union representatives to express “humanitarian” outrage at Israel for razing illegal structures in the West Bank—while the EU is in league with Palestinian criminals who have been brazenly stealing Arab-owned land.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, West Bank