Daily TIP

Hezbollah and Lebanese military deepen cooperation

Posted by Tip Staff - March 03, 2017
 
 
Uh-oh. The Lebanese president’s recent remarks that Hezbollah’s armaments are legitimate indicate a close relationship between the terrorist organization and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), wrote Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, on Thursday. Last month, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said in an interview that Hezbollah’s weapons "do not contradict the state... and are an essential part of defending Lebanon. As long as the Lebanese army lacks sufficient power to face Israel, we feel the need for (Hezbollah's) arsenal because it complements the army's role."

Shapira wrote that due to Aoun’s comments, Israel can expect a deepening of the relationship between Hezbollah and the LAF – he noted a Hezbollah military parade in Qusayr, Syria in November, in which the group showed off a variety of arms and vehicles, including American M113 armored personnel carriers. The United States provides military aid to the LAF, so there is concern among Israel’s security establishment that American weapons and vehicles will continue to end up in the hands of Hezbollah. This undoing of “the separation between Hizbullah’s military power and the Lebanese army” means that Israel will face “a single force, [which] will enable Israel to operate freely against the Lebanese state, including its army and civilian infrastructures, at any time that Hizbullah acts against Israel,” Shapira wrote.

In The Times of Israel last month, journalist Avi Issacharoff explained that the Israeli military is increasingly concerned about this Hezbollah-LAF relationship and will take to take this into consideration in the next war against Hezbollah. 

“In southern Lebanon, it’s Hezbollah that calls the shots,” Issacharoff wrote. “There is no village in the south (with the possible exception of several Sunni villages) that has not been transformed into a fortified bastion of Hezbollah, which possesses an entire array of command and control, communications systems, and a variety of arms including rockets (of course) and anti-tank weapons.” An Israeli defense official explained that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk.

Hezbollah reportedly has an arsenal of 130,000 rockets, more than the combined total of all 27 non-U.S. NATO member states.

 
 
No wonder she dumped him. A St. Louis man was arrested on Friday for making threats against at least eight Jewish Community Centers across the United States.

Juan Thompson is accused of calling in bomb threats to multiple JCCs and the headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League. According to authorities, Thompson made the calls as part of an effort to harass an ex-girlfriend, and used her name when making the threats.

According to the FBI’s official complaint, Thompson emailed the ADL on February 21 to say that the woman was “behind the bomb threats against the jews. She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow.” He allegedly made a similar threat to JCCs in San Diego and Dallas.

Thompson also allegedly emailed threats anonymously to other Jewish institutions accusing himself of planting bombs, and then tweeting that his ex-girlfriend “sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.” He even tweeted sympathy for victims of the bombing threats.

Thompson worked as a journalist for the online publication The Intercept from late 2014 to early 2016, before being fired for fabricating quotes and using fake email accounts to impersonate people, including his own boss. He is being charged with one count of cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. He is scheduled to appear in court in St. Louis later on Friday.

Thompson is believed to be a copycat and not responsible for the vast majority of the bomb threats, which have targeted more than 100 Jewish institutions across the United States and Canada so far this year. No bombs were found at any of the threatened locations.

 
 
Iran says no to peace. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Thursday titled “The Gulf States Are Ready for Peaceful Coexistence—if Iran Is,” the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba makes clear that “Iran’s hostile behavior is only growing worse.”

“When the Iranian nuclear deal took effect more than a year ago, there were high hopes that it would set Tehran on a new course of responsible engagement in world affairs,” wrote Al Otaiba. “Instead, the country has chosen increased conflict and aggression.” He welcomed the newly placed sanctions on Iran and called the move long overdue. Strict enforcement of United Nations resolutions barring Iranian arms transfers and ballistic-missile tests would likewise be supported by the ambassador.

Al Otaiba also brought up Defense Secretary James Mattis’s statements that Iran is “the biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East” and “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” and backed up the sentiment coming from his country’s perspective.

 
 
Last week, Fortune magazine released “Here are 50 Companies Leading the AI Revolution,” and the prestigious list includes three hot Israeli companies in the artificial intelligence sector: Logz.ioVoyager Labs and Zebra Medical Vision. Fortune’s infographic includes only six countries and features an equal number of notable AI companies from Israel (population 8.5 million) as China (population 1.38 billion) and the United Kingdom, and more than France and Taiwan. Only the United States has more companies on the graph. Fortune relied on research firm CB Insights’ AI 100 list of the most promising artificial intelligence startups globally, based on factors like financing history, investor quality, business category and momentum. The CB Insights list also includes Israeli companies Prospera Technologies  (ag-tech at work in Spain, Mexico and New York) and Chorus.ai  (conversation intelligence for sales teams). “A look at the 50 largest startups on the list, ranked by total funds raised, shows that investment in AI is surging worldwide,” Fortune writes. That number in 2016 was $5 billion. (via Israel21c)
 
 

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