Friday, September 23, 2016
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday blamed “Zionist pressure groups” for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling he said could undermine the Iran nuclear deal, JTA reported.
“The lack of compliance of the United States with the JCPOA in the last several months represents a flawed approach,” Rouhani said at the UN General Assembly, using the acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, the formal name for the nuclear deal his country signed with world powers last year.
“The latest case in point is the United States Supreme Court ruling to seize billions of dollars of the Iranian regime’s assets,” he added. “This demonstrated that the Zionist pressure groups could go as far as having the U.S. Congress pass offensive legislation forcing the highest judicial institution to uphold peremptory violations of international law.”
In April, the high court upheld a 2012 law that allows U.S. victims of Iran-backed terrorism to claim funds from the $2 billion in Bank Markazi’s assets held in the United States. Bank Markazi is Iran’s central bank.
Litigants include families of Marines killed in the 1983 Hezbollah attack on barracks in Beirut, and the Rubin family, whose family member was injured in a 1997 double suicide bombing on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem.
Rouhani said such rulings should be seen as a “wrongful international act” in violation of the deal. READ MORE
Syrian and Russian aircraft pounded rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Friday, a monitor said, after the army announced a new offensive aimed at retaking all of the divided second city.
At least 30 strikes hit the rebel-held east of the city during the night and early on Friday, killing at least three people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Britain-based monitoring group said that dozens of people were wounded and that more dead were feared buried under the rubble.
Two civil defense centers were damaged in the bombardment, an AFP correspondent reported.
Russian warplanes were carrying out strikes alongside Syrian aircraft, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
"The Syrians are dropping barrel bombs and the Russian planes are launching strikes," he told AFP. READ MORE
Thursday, September 22, 2016
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf.
At a parade in Tehran on Wednesday, shown on state TV, the military displayed long-range missiles, tanks, and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system.
At the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf, the navy showed off 500 vessels, as well as submarines and helicopters, at a time of high tension with the United States in the strategic waterway.
U.S. officials say there have been more than 30 close encounters between U.S. and Iranian vessels in the Gulf so far this year, over twice as many as in the same period of 2015. READ MORE
Immigration shifts roughly $500 billion in wages away from Americans and from established immigrants, directing that money toward new immigrants and to major employers, according to a dramatic report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist's storeroom for decades, too brittle to open. Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a biblical text in its standardized form.
The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years.
The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using "virtual unwrapping," a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the text of an ancient scroll without having to physically open it.
"You can't imagine the joy in the lab," said Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who participated in the study. READ MORE
A survey by the European Jewish Association suggests few Jews in Europe will attend synagogue for this year’s Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur holidays as security fears grow and with harassment by Muslims on the rise.
According to the study, which spanned 700 Jewish communities from England to the Ukraine, 70% of European Jews said they would not be attending synagogue during the holiday season.
The study also showed that membership in Jewish organizations and local communities had dropped significantly, with 50% of Jewish communities registering a decline in the number of active members, compared with only 11% who showed an increase.
EJA General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin noted that three-quarters of Jewish communities in Europe had reported increased security presence by local and national authorities due to elevated terror threat levels over the past year.
The overwhelming majority of community leaders, Rabbi Margolin added, said that other security precautions, including increased private security, had been undertaken over the past year.
“The challenge faced by most Jewish communities has been doubled in recent months,” said Rabbi Margolin. “On the one hand, the surge in harassment of Jewish individuals, institutions, and communities by, among others, Muslim refugees and migrants – and on the other, as a result of the refugee crisis there has been a substantial increase in activity among far-right extremist groups across the continent.”
The primary focus of the far-right lately has been on Islamic immigration, Rabbi Margolin said, but “based upon testimony by rabbis and community leaders, we have a worrisome picture signaling a significant increase in the level of nationalism and xenophobia, targeting European Jews as well.”
Iran's chief of staff of the armed forces said on Wednesday that the $38 billion aid dealbetween the United States and Israel makes Iran more determined to strengthen its military, The Associated Press reported.
In comments broadcast live on Iranian state TV and quoted by AP, Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said the U.S.-Israel aid deal "will make us more determined in strengthening the defense power of the country."
Iran regularly boasts of its military capabilities. Last May it test fired a long-range ballistic missile which it claimed can reach Israel.
In February, in open defiance of American sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced the country would be rolling out an upgrade of its nuclear-capable medium-range Emad missiles.
The Emad is said to have a 1,700 kilometer range, putting Israel and much of eastern Europe squarely in its sights.
On Wednesday, during a separate parade in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Iran unveiled a new missile known as Zolfaghar, according to AP.
It was carried by military truck which bore a banner printed with a 2013 anti-Israeli quote by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying that Iran will annihilate the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa should Israel attack Iran.
The semi-official news agency Tasnim said the missile is a "long range ballistic" with a cluster warhead. It did not provide further details.
Khamenei often launches verbal attacks against Iran’s “enemies”, mostly against the United States, to which he refers as “the Great Satan”, and Israel.
In the past, he has ruled out his country having ties with the United States or “the Zionist regime” – that is, Israel – claiming he had proof that the United States was planning a coup in Iran.
Heavy fighting gripped the outskirts of Syria's second city Aleppo on Thursday after air strikes pounded rebel-held districts through the night triggering major fires.
Opposition activists accused the Syrian government and its Russian ally of dropping incendiary bombs as volunteer firefighters battled to contain the blazes in the already devastated city.
An AFP correspondent in the rebel-held east of the city reported that his entire street had been in flames following the pre-dawn strikes.
An alliance of jihadists and Islamist rebels has been battling to break the government's siege after sustaining a major reverse earlier this month.
Fierce fighting rocked the Ramussa district on the southwestern outskirts where the rebels briefly opened a relief line last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Rebel mortar fire hit government-held neighbourhoods, the Britain-based monitoring group said. It had no immediate word on any casualties.
Air strikes on east Aleppo on Wednesday killed 12 civilians, two of them children, the highest death toll in the city since the collapse of a week-long ceasefire earlier this week.
The failure of the truce brokered by Moscow and Washington has seen a surge of fighting on all of the major battlefronts of Syria's five-year-old civil war.
An AFP correspondent in the rebel-held eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus reported shelling and air strikes early on Thursday.
Fighting was also reported in the central provinces of Homs and Hama.
Russia and the United States were to co-chair a meeting of the 23-nation International Syria Support Group in New York later on Thursday in a last-ditch bid to salvage the failed ceasefire.
A senior diplomat confirmed on Wednesday that Arab member states in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, have shelved their annual bid to pressure Israel into accepting international scrutiny of its atomic activities.
In previous years, the Arab states would annually attempt to pass a resolution at the IAEA meeting that would force Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Arab member states have accused Western countries of double standards on the nuclear issue by not putting Israel's activities under IAEA supervision, while forcing Iran to honor its obligations under the NPT.
The resolution has been rejected every time so far. Two years ago, for example, a similar measure by 18 Arab member states was rejected by 58 votes to 45, with 27 countries abstaining.
JTA - Painting a grim picture of Jewish vulnerability in the United States, a top U.S. security official said that the vast majority of funds earmarked to secure non-profits goes to Jewish institutions because their need is most acute.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the Deputy Homeland Security Secretary, speaking Wednesday to the Orthodox Union’s annual leadership mission to Washington, said rising extremism in the United States and its threat to the Jewish community keeps him awake at night.
He said the threat had shifted in the last year from the relatively small number of Americans who were radicalized overseas, to homegrown extremists whom the Islamic State terrorist group had reached through the Internet. The FBI was tracking more than one thousand suspected extremists across the United States, and they were to be found in all 50 states, he said. READ MORE
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
General of the Southern Command, Eyal Zamir, at a conference for southern residents explained that Hamas is preparing for the next round of fighting.
Zamir emphasized that, "we have no intentions to make the situation worse but we will react to any shot fired with the appropriate level of force."
Regarding Hamas he said, “unfortunately they are utilizing this quiet period to prepare for the next battle.”
In the conference, the Major-General said, “in the last decade, and since the withdrawal from Gush Katif and the IDF’s exit from the Gaza Strip, we have had three military operations.” He explained that the past two years have been the quietest, relatively, in the past decade, and they are being used to expand settlements around Gaza.
Zamir clarified that the “IDF won’t let terrorist organizations, led by Hamas, harm Israeli citizens. We have no intentions of escalating the situation, but we will react to every hit with the appropriate amount of force.”
“On the idea of trying to lengthen the period of quiet, we are continuing to address the threats below and above ground in order to protect Israel’s citizens and destroy the threats.”
Yesterday an Israeli Air Force fighter jet shot down an unmanned aircraft from the Gaza Strip an army spokesman said.
The unmanned craft, believed to be controlled by Hamas, was detected flying along the Gaza coastline.
Russia's defence minister said Wednesday that Moscow was dispatching its flagship aircraft carrier to bolster its forces in the eastern Mediterranean off Syria.
The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier would be sent to join Russia's current naval deployment there, Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a televised meeting.
"Currently the Russian naval deployment to the east Mediterranean consists of no less than six battleships and three or four support vessels," he said.
"In order to bolster the military capabilities of the group we plan to add the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the group," Shoigu said, without specifying a timeframe.
Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria for the past year in support of Bashar al-Assad and has deployed a naval contingent to back up its operation.
This is the first time that the Soviet-era Kuznetsov - Russia's only aircraft carrier that is part of its Northern fleet based in Murmansk - will join the Russian deployment after undergoing a refurbishment.
Russia has a base in government-controlled Syrian territory from which it has flown most of its bombing raids in the country.
It has flown long-range bombing raids from bases in Russia and fired cruise missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea and a submarine in the Mediterranean.