Netanyahu: Greatest threat to Israel and USA is marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu and Pompeo address the press; Talks centered on Iran, Syria, peace process and bilateral relations; US Embassy to move to Jerusalem May 14.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu met with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both leaders addressing Iran and bilateral relations to the press following.

Netanyahu spoke first, thanking Pompeo for his visit to Israel, starting off “This is your first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. I think it’s significant that you chose, as did the President, to include Israel on this important itinerary. I think it’s symbolic of our friendship, which is deep and getting even deeper and stronger,” referring to President Trump’s first foreign visit having been to Saudi Arabia followed by Israel, just as Pompeo did.

On their meeting, the prime minister confirmed “We’ve just had very productive, very focused conversations on our common interests and how to defend our common values,” thanking again “President Trump for his historic decision on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” He stated “I must tell you that the bold decision by President Trump has prompted other countries, quite a few now, who are planning to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well. It says something about American leadership and about the forthright way in which simple truths are being put forward, and the effect this has on the international scene,” referring to Romania, Honduras, Paraguay, Guatemala and Czech.

He then spoke of nuclear Iran- reiterating the threat it places on the globe, specifically Israel. He stated “I think the greatest threat to the world and to our two countries—and to all countries—is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and specifically the attempt of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We’ve had a very productive talk today on this subject as well. I appreciate the President’s leadership and your position on stopping Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Specifically on Iran’s growth and advances in its missile and nuclear programs since the nuclear deal, he stated “[Iran’s] aggression has grown many-fold since the signing of the Iranian deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened, and Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other. Iran must be stopped. Its quest for nuclear bombs must be stopped. Its aggression must be stopped, and we’re committed to stopping it together.”

He ended stating “I was very much encouraged once again by the steadfast support of the United States for Israel and for this common effort, which encompasses many other countries, as you know… But our bond is special. It’s based on shared values of democracy, freedom, the quest for security and peace. And I can say that today America and Israel are closer than ever before, and I have no doubt that our alliance will grow even closer in the years ahead.”

US Secretary of State Pompeo spoke following, stating “It is a great honor to be here on my first trip as Secretary of State. I’ve been the Secretary for a handful of hours, as I was saying earlier. I haven’t been to my office yet. As you said, this relationship’s never been stronger, and I think we should both be proud of that. We had fantastic conversations today on difficult issues facing each of us.”

On the US Embassy relocation scheduled for May 14th, he started “This step comes as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary of independence, and 70 years of recognition and steadfast support for Israel from the American people as well. By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality.”

He reiterated President Trump who stated that “the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.”

He then addressed Iran, echoing the prime minister when he stated “Strong cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world. We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”

He added “we are also working to counter the broad set of non-nuclear threats: Iran’s missile systems, its support for Hezbollah, the importation of thousands of proxy fighters into Syria and its assistance to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. We look forward to working closely with strong allies like Israel in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence.”

Specifically on Syria, Pompeo referred to the “barbaric Assad regime is propped up by Iran”, citing the United States top priorities as the “defeat [of] ISIS, deescalate violence, deter the use of chemical weapons and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and support an ultimate political resolution to the conflict.”

He ended stating that “The United States and Israel, I know, together can achieve that.”

 

 

 

Photo: Pompeo and Netanyahu in Israel, Screenshot, 2018.

Airstrikes on numerous bases in Syria carried out overnight

At least 18 of 30 + casualties Iranian soldiers; Numerous bases targeted including 47th brigade and airbase in Aleppo; Strikes follow reports of 19 Iranian bases in Syria.

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The Assad regime reported numerous airstrike on its military bases in Aleppo and Hama Sunday night, the death toll of Iranians at 18 as of Monday morning.

Monday morning reports claimed as many as 36 fighters and soldiers were killed, majority Iranian, and over 50 injured. The Syrian army reported the “new aggression” as missiles targeting military outposts in northern Syria. It confirmed the strikes, stating “Syria is being exposed to a new aggression with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets.”

A source from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed “At least 26 fighters were killed, including four Syrians… The others are foreign fighters, a vast majority of them Iranians.”

There were numerous targets, including the 47th brigade military base and an airbase in Aleppo. The strikes following reports that both Israel and the United States have began monitoring what they believe to be Iran’s Revolutionary Guards using of a Russian base in Syria for logistics and transferring soldiers and militants.

Over the weekend reports surfaced in London’s Al-Quds Al-Arabia newspaper that claimed Iranian forces have been using a Russian airbase in Latakia, the report additionally claiming that Iran has a total of 19 bases in Syria. The base is reportedly used for logistics, intelligence and transfer and deployment of fighters. General Qassem Suleimani of the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards elite unit, was reported to have visited the base numerous times.

Both Israel and the USA detected at least two Syrian Air Force IL-76 cargo jets between Iran and Syria, with several other flights between cities in Iran and Syria. The cargo may have been targeted in the strikes.

Hezbollah took to blaming Israel with varied Arab news sources blaming the United States or Israel, or both. The airstrikes follow a meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem and following a call between the prime minister with President Trump. The two leaders reportedly discussed “the continuing threats and challenges facing the Middle East region, especially the problems posed by the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities.”

Israel and the United States have not yet commented on the reports.

You can find Amir’s commentary on these events here.

 

Photo: Explosion on 47th Brigade, Arab media source, 2018

Report: Iran using Russian base in Syria to transfer soldiers.

Syrian rebel forces report that Russian air force base in Latakia being used by Iran to transfer soldiers and logistics; Report claims 19 Iranian bases in Syria; Israel shows proof of Iranian absorption and training base for Shia fighters in Syria to UNSC.

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A report released Sunday claims that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been using a Russian base in Syria for logistics and transferring soldiers and militants.

London’s Al-Quds Al-Arabia newspaper released the report that claims Iranian forces have been using a Russian airbase in Latakia, the report additionally claiming that Iran has a total of 19 bases in Syria. The base is reportedly used for logistics, intelligence and transfer and deployment of fighters. General Qassem Suleimani of the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards elite unit, was reported to have visited the base numerous times.

Reports released this weekend claimed that both Israel and the United States suspect Iran is again transporting weapons to Assad’s regime via cargo planes. The reports cited intelligence from both the USA and Israels with concern that Iran may have shipped weapons to Syria following the US airstrikes mid-April. At least two Syrian Air Force IL-76 cargo jets have flown between Iran and Syria since that time, with several other flights between cities in Iran and Syria. There is concern that the weapons shipped could be used against Israel.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been very vocal to the media regarding threats from Iran. He addressed the Islamic Republic’s threats against the State of Israel, particularly since Israel’s strikes on the Iranian T-4 base. He reiterated again over the weekend “What our problem is and what we will not allow is for Iranians to establish a base in Syria against Israel,” Lieberman said during his speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank, adding Israel does not pursue a policy of being involved in the Syria crisis…. An Arab base or navy hub or base for their ground operations we [Israel] will not allow. I think it’s also this position that we explain to everybody in the world. We have a political will and determination to protect ourselves.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, gave a speech to the Security Council ahead of the weekend, showing satellite images of an Iranian base that could be used for “Iran’s central induction and recruitment center in Syria”. The base, located five miles outside of Damascus, is used mostly for training, Danon reported that “There are over 80,000 Shia militants in Syria under Iranian control. It is at this base, just over 5 miles from Damascus, where they are trained to commit acts of terror in Syria and across the region.”

Danon warned that “Israel has a very clear policy and it has been so since the administration of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. We will not allow regimes that seek our destruction to acquire nuclear weapons. Period.”

 

 

Photo: Ambassador Danny Danon shows photo to UNSC, Danon’s FB page, 2018.

 

 

Pompeo to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem Sunday

New US Secretary of State to visit with PM in Jerusalem following meetings with Saudi leadership Saturday; Meeting to center on Iran and developments in Syria; Houthi rebels fired missiles on S. Arabia.

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United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Israel on Sunday. Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu later today, their meeting to center on nuclear Iran and developments Syria.

He began his Middle East tour in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, meeting with Saudi officials in Riyadh in attempts to gain support for sanctions on Iran as President Trump nears his May 12, 2018 deadline.

President Trump will decide in two weeks whether to place sanctions on the Islamic Republic and/or leave the nuclear deal. Trump met this week with French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, both leaders committed to the nuclear deal. Macron, who addressed the US Congress, called for an alternative to the nuclear deal before the US leaves it.

Prime Minister Netanyahu  addressed their meeting scheduled for later today during his weekly cabinet meeting. He stated “Today we will welcome US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a true friend of Israel. I think that it is important that he is coming to Israel as part of his first visit outside the US as Secretary of State. I will discuss with him developments in the region, Iran’s growing aggression and – of course – the nuclear agreement with Iran, about which there will be a decision soon.”

He added “Relations between Israel and the US are stronger than ever and I would like to take this opportunity to again to thank President Trump for the decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, which will take place in a few days.”

Meanwhile Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, fired eight ballistic missiles on Jazan, four of the missiles were intercepted and one Saudi national killed by shrapnel. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike was carried out on a Houthi interior ministry building on Saturday, killing two significant Houthi commanders.

Brian Hook, a senior political advisor to the Trump Administration confirmed to the press that “We are urging nations around the world to sanction any individuals and entities associated with Iran’s missile program, and it has also been a big part of discussions with Europeans,” referring to Pompeo’s meetings with European leadership during a NATO meeting in Brussels before his Middle East tour.

Pompeo will travel to Jordan following his meetings in Jerusalem. He is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah II.

 

 

Photo: Pompeo, Wikimedia Commons, 2018. 

Czech Republic to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem

Czech follows USA, Guatemala, Honduras and Romania, announcing embassy move; Czech to open “honorary consulate in May” as part of three phase process; President Zeman: A few years ago, I said that our embassy should be transferred to Jerusalem. The time has come.

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The Czech Republic announced it will begin the process of relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem.

Czech President Milos Zeman made the announcement on Wednesday in a meeting with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. He stated “A few years ago, I said that our embassy should be transferred to Jerusalem. The time has come.”

He announced that the process would include “three phases” for the final embassy move, the first the opening of a consulate in Jerusalem.

The Czech Foreign Ministry reported that while it “fully respects the joint policy of the European Union, which views Jerusalem as the future capital of the State of Israel and the future state of Palestine,” it would first open an “honorary consulate in May” followed by a “new Czech Centre by the end of this year, both in West Jerusalem.” It did not give an official timeline.

Hotovely praised the Czech Republic, calling for “historical justice”. She thanked President Zeman, stating “You were one of the first leaders in the world to speak about the importance of the embassy’s transfer four years ago. In light of the special relations between our two countries, we look forward to celebrating the opening of the Czech embassy in Jerusalem soon.”

Romania announced over the weekend that it would also relocate its embassy to Jerusalem. Both Romania and the Czech Republic follow the United States, Guatemala, Panama and Honduras. Guatemala and the United States are set to relocate it’s embassy to Jerusalem next month.

Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked President Zeman on Wednesday evening, writing “‏I thank my good friend, Czech President Milos Zeman, for the important declaration that the Czech embassy will move to Jerusalem. I hope that the decision will be implemented quickly. I look forward to welcoming President Zeman here in Israel with the great respect that he deserves.”

Netanyahu met with Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Their meeting was centered on “bilateral issues, strengthening cooperation and the holding of joint projects in security, health, technology and cyber defense.”

The Office of the Prime Minister reported “Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed appreciation for the Romanian government’s approval of a draft decision on initiating the transfer of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem and welcomed the statements of the president of the parliament in support of the move.”

 

 

Photo: Czech flag, Wikimedia Commons, 2018. 

Israel: If anyone’s shooting at our planes, we’ll destroy them.

Report claims Israel requested Russia not provide S-300 system to Syria; Russia claims it has not decided whether to deploy system; Lieberman: What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us.

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A report Tuesday claimed that Israel requested that Russia not provide its S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Assad’s regime.

The report cited a “senior Russian official” who confirmed Israel made the request. Israel has not yet commented or confirmed such a request.

The development follows after reports from the Russian Kommersant newspaper last week that Russia intended to deliver the S-300 system to Syria, free of charge. It claimed that Russian defense officials threatened “If Israel decides to carry out rocket strikes on the deployment locations of the S-300, the consequences will be catastrophic for all sides.”

Russia claimed on Monday that it had not decided whether it will deploy the system, its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating on Monday “We’ll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership and representatives of Syria will take,” adding “There is probably no secret about this and it can all be announced.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Russia that Israel would retaliate if the systems were “used against us,” stating on Tuesday “What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us. If they’re used against us, we’ll act against them.” Responding directly to the media reports over the past few days that Russia will supply the system in the near future, the minister responded that the reports were “unfounded” and that “One thing should be clear- if anyone’s shooting at our planes, we’ll destroy them.”

Iran confirmed it successfully tested its Russian purchased, S-300 system in May of last year, its Air Defense General Farzad Esmaili warning “The S-300 is a system that is deadly for our enemies and which makes our skies more secure.” Iran’s purchase was the result of an arms deal renegotiated before sanctions were removed from the Islamic Republic of Iran under the nuclear deal between world powers and the United States under the Obama Administration. Iran deployed the S-300 system to its nuclear sites for “defense purposes”.

The S-300 is a missile defense, surface-to-air system. It is capable of shooting 12 missiles simultaneously and can engage up to 6 targets. The system uses long-range surveillance radars to track its targets in a range of over 300 kilometers.

 

 

 

Photo: S-300 system, Wikimedia Commons, 2018.

Hamas, Hezbollah vow revenge following assassination of operative in Malaysia

Both terror organizations accuse Mossad, Israel of assassination of Hamas scientist, vow revenge; Nasrallah accuses death of “number of Lebanese minds” in past weeks on Israel; Hamas head: The fight between us and Israel has moved abroad and Hamas’ response will be at the time and place of its choosing.

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Both Hamas and Hezbollah accused Israel of assassinating a Hamas engineer in Malaysia, Hamas vowing revenge.

Fadi al-Batsh, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip and confirmed “loyal” member of Hamas, was shot by two unknown assailants on Saturday, Malaysian authorities actively investigating the incident.

Batsh was an electrical engineer and lecturer at the University of Kuala Lumpur and a renowned drown expert and even published research on power supply to UAV’s. According to reports from Malaysian media following his death, he was also rocket expert and had been involved in Hamas operations and Islamic groups in Malaysia for years.

Shortly following his death, Hamas vowed revenge, accusing the Mossad of the assassination. The terror organization erected a mourning tent in Jabalia in the Gaza Strip which was attempted by senior Hamas officials who used the opportunity to fuel flames and call on Palestinians in the strip to respond.

Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh threatened retaliation, confirming the terrorist was a loyal member of Hamas. He stated following the attack “There will be an unsettled account between us and the Mossad. We cannot give up on the blood of our sons, youth and scholars. The fight between us and Israel has moved abroad and Hamas’ response will be at the time and place of its choosing.” As with any and all action taken on Hamas, he accused Israel of a “failed attempt by Israel to draw international attention away from its crimes in the Gaza Strip,” in reference to Israel’s defense amidst weeks of violent riots on the border fence.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah also took to accusing the Mossad, claiming that Israel has an “ongoing plan… to not parade any Arab mind that contains knowledge, expertise and experience,” claiming that Israel is “pursuing Arab scientists and academics, from Iran to Tunisia to Malaysia.” He even claimed that a “number of Lebanese minds were killed in the last weeks and months under mysterious circumstances around the world,” likely by Israel.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, responded to the reports that Israel was responsible for the attack. He stated in an interview with Israel Radio that “We heard about it in the news. The terrorist organizations blame every assassination on Israel – we’re used to that. The man was no saint and he did not deal with improving infrastructure in Gaza. He was involved in improving rocket accuracy. We constantly see a settling of accounts between various factions in the terrorist organizations and I suppose that is what happened in this case.”

Malaysian police released sketches of the shooters, confirming that 14 bullets were shot. They have labeled the attack as a “targeted killing and not a terrorist attack,” Deputy Malaysian Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claiming that a possible “liability for a country that is an enemy of Palestine.”

Hamas has been known to recruit and train operatives in Malaysia. During Operation Protective Edge, operatives in Malaysia underwent training on hang gliders for infiltration into Israel, both Hamas and Malaysia denying reports.

 

 

Photo: Mourner’s tent for terrorist in Gaza Strip, Malaysian Police media report, 2018