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Israel to Russia & US: Don’t allow Iran & Hezbollah to increase their influence in Syria

Posted by Albert Gersh - March 16, 2016

 
On an official visit to Russia on Wednesday, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin insisted to Russian President Vladimir Putin that any future agreement on Syria must not strengthen Iran and Hezbollah. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who visited Washington, D.C. recently, similarly stated at a discussion held at the Wilson International Center that “to allow Iran now to dominate Syria, don’t make this mistake.” According to a Haaretz reporter, Rivlin also stated that Iranian and Hezbollah outposts on the Israeli-Syrian border would be considered by Israel to be a red line.
Yaalon pointed out that in the last couple years, all ten of the attacks perpetrated against Israel from Syrian soil were directed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxies from territory governed by Syrian armed forces, rather than opposition-governed territory. Last August, Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group financed and armed by Iran, launched rockets into northern Israel from Syria. Israel has in the past acted to prevent the IRGC from establishing terror infrastructure along the Golan Heights, killing Jihad Mugniyeh, a Hezbollah commander responsible for operations against Israel from Syria. Last September, the State Department sanctioned Samir Kuntar, a terrorist with links to the IRGC, for his role “in building up Hizballah’s terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights.” He was killed a couple months later in what was believed to be an Israeli strike.
The Jewish State has refrained from taking sides in the five-year long Syrian civil war. However, the IDF has interfered to halt the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon that could alter the balance of power. Israeli officials believe a victory for Bashar al-Assad’s regime would be a victory for Tehran. Yaalon expressed concern that Iran is exploiting the international legitimacy and financial windfall it gained from the nuclear deal to continue pressing for regional hegemony in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. He warned against misperceiving Iran “as a central player in solving or settling, or bringing about stability to the region.” According to a Haaretz reporter, Rivlin indicated that Israel would like Russia’s assistance in returning the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) monitors to the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan as part of a Syrian ceasefire deal, arguing that the peacekeepers’ presence could help stabilize the border area.
 

Hamas, the Iran-backed terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, is “exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Strip to pad its own coffers,” Times of Israel Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff reported on Saturday.A new neighborhood in Gaza consisting of 1,040 housing units, called “Hamad City” in honor of the father of Qatar’s ruler, was recently established by Muhammad al-Amadi, a Qatari official in charge of his nation’s financing of the rebuilding of Gaza after the 2014 war with Israel. Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since its violent overthrow of Fatah in 2007, allocated “free” apartments to homeless Gazan families to winners of a lottery. But while the houses were technically free, Hamas charged the winners $40,000 a unit, ostensibly for hooking up utilities to the residences. This fee will allow Hamas to profit around $36 million from Qatar’s generosity. Issacharoff wrote that while $40,000 is reasonable for an apartment, “it’s still a princely sum in Gaza, where unemployment is rampant and the average person makes $174 a month, according to a 2014 UNRWA report.”

Citing Palestinian sources, Issacharoff reported that Hamas could have made even more money, but it waived the $40,000 fee for about 150 of the lottery winners who are considered to be close to Hamas.

There are many other examples of corruption provoking anger against Hamas in Gaza. If Gazan fishermen wander past the accepted fishing boundary, Israel will often seize their boat due of concerns over weapons smuggling. But after an investigation clears fishermen of suspicion and their boats are returned, Hamas will charge the fishermen to get the boats back.

Furthermore, Gazans who require help from police must first pay a tax. Hamas has lagged in paying wages to government employees, but pays some 40,000 members of its terrorist force and policemen out of funds it receives from Iran. Hamas also exploits Gazans who receive permits to seek medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel, by using them to smuggle cash or carry messages to Hamas operatives in the West Bank.

In contrast to the poverty that is prevalent in Gaza, several of Hamas’ leaders are reportedly billionaires. One of the reasons for Hamas’ victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections was frustration with the corruption in the PA and Fatah, the main party in the PA. In a critique of Hamas’s prioritizing of building its weapons arsenal at the expense of ordinary Gazans, veteran Palestinian affairs reporter Khaled Abu Toameh wrote than when a terror tunnel collapsed, killing seven members of Hamas, the myth that “Hamas will somehow transform itself into a ‘peace partner’ for Israel, the Palestinian Authority or even the Palestinian people” also died. (via TheTower.org)

 
Some 1.3 million Israelis took part in Good Deeds Day 2016, a project that highlights volunteering and community involvement. This year, Israel marked the 10th anniversary since Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison launched the initiative. “Every year, we get excited all over again, seeing the huge turnout by masses of people in Israel and around the world who step up to do a good deed for their fellow people. The Good Deeds Day has become a day of giving. Private people, soldiers, students, retirees, and companies all join in the activities and contribute a lot to their fellow people, each according to their abilities and skills – and it’s wonderful to see,” said Arison. Design students helped six-year-old Brian become Superman for the day. Photo courtesy of Beit Issie ShapiroDesign students helped six-year-old Brian become Superman for the day. There were a whole range of volunteer activities underway in Israel: design students made Purim costumes that incorporated the wheelchairs and walkers of special-needs children, school and youth groups cleaned up forests and beaches, businesses sent employees to renovate and paint community centers, and experts in a range of fields offered free advice. The Good Deeds Day project is now marked in 68 countries. (via Israel21c)
 


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