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The Daily TIP: New York Times: Iran Using Hezbollah as Instrument in Drive for Regional Supremacy

Posted by Tip Staff - August 29, 2017

New York Times: Iran Using Hezbollah as Instrument in Drive for Regional Supremacy
New Hamas Leader Says after Five-Year Rift, Relations with Iran Repaired
Netanyahu, Rivlin Ask UN Secretary General to Stop Bias Against Israel
Israeli Emergency Workers Head to Texas to Help in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey


New York Times: Iran Using Hezbollah as Instrument in Drive for Regional Supremacy

Hezbollah has evolved from a Lebanese terrorist organization into the spearhead of an international militia network led by Iran, a major investigative article has revealed, published in The New York Times on Sunday.

The group, which is in complete political and military control over Lebanon, “is not just a power unto itself, but is one of the most important instruments in the drive for regional supremacy by its sponsor: Iran,” Ben Hubbard wrote.

Tehran is currently trying to secure a corridor from its border, through Iraq and all the way to the Mediterranean - providing it unhindered land access to its allies in Syria and Lebanon for the first time---a plan of which Hezbollah is a central component.

Israel is concerned that “Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment.” Photos revealed that Iran is airlifting troops to fight on behalf of Assad, in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which implemented the nuclear deal, and prohibits Iran from transferring weapons to other nations or provide services that involve the use of arms.

Based on months of interviews with officials, fighters, commanders and analysts, and with members of Hezbollah itself, Hubbard reported that Hezbollah has become Iran’s central instrument in all conflicts that matter to Tehran and that the group “has helped recruit, train and arm an array of new militant groups that are also advancing Iran’s agenda.”

Hezbollah has drastically increased its area of operation under Iranian guardianship. No longer just exercising power over Lebanon, the group sent legions of fighters to Syria to support the Assad regime, trained other Iranian-backed militia in Iraq, and supported the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

According to Hubbard, “Israel also says Hezbollah is so integrated into the Lebanese state that it may not differentiate between the two in a new war.” It is an assessment shared by other experts. “Hezbollah can’t pretend to be just a terror group in southern Lebanon. It is the state. It is Lebanon,” Seth Frantzman wrote in The Tower Magazine’s June/July edition.

New Hamas Leader Says after Five-Year Rift, Relations with Iran Repaired

The new leader of the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza said on Monday that the group has successfully reset ties with Iran after a five-year rift, using the newfound assistance for “rebuilding and accumulating” its military infrastructure to “liberate Palestine” from Israel.

“Thousands of people work every day to make rockets, (dig) tunnels and train frogmen,” Yehiyeh Sinwar said. “The relationship with Iran is in this context,” he added.

The Associated Press reported that, in his briefing with journalists, the Hamas leader would not reveal how much financial assistance the terrorist group receives from the Islamic Republic. But in June 2017, the intelligence chief of the Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, detailed how Iran contributes $50 million to Hamas’ annual budget.

Hamas and Iran fell out after the group refused to back Syrian regime President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, a key ally of the Islamic Republic. But Sinwar said ties now have been restored and are stronger than ever. “Today, the relationship with Iran is excellent, or very excellent,” Sinwar stated. He added that Iran is “the largest backer financially and militarily” to Hamas.

Sinwar made his comments at the time the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres heads to the West Bank on Tuesday and a visit to Gaza is scheduled for Wednesday. Guterres is not meeting with Hamas.

On Monday, Guterres also met with Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, commander of COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs. Mordechai blamed Hamas, the group in complete political and military control of Gaza, for the poor conditions in the Strip.

“The terror organization Hamas does not hesitate at all and repeatedly exploits the Gaza residents by attempting to take advantage of Israel’s assistance, despite the severe civil hardships in the strip,” Mordechai said.

Netanyahu, Rivlin Ask UN Secretary General to Stop Bias Against Israel

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has called on the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to stop bias against Israel at the UN by singling out “the world's only Jewish state,” Haaretz reported.

Speaking at a meeting with Guterres, the President said: "This targeting of Israel, this singling out of the world's only Jewish state, and even actions and statements that threaten to destroy Israel are unacceptable and should come at a price.” He added: “No member state in the UN should be allowed to behave like that. These actions weaken cooperation between states and are against the rule of law."

In a separate meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Guterres that he appreciated his desire "to turn a new page" in the UN's relations with Israel, echoing Rivlin’s earlier remarks.

Guterres reassured Netanyahu that "As Secretary General of the United Nations, I am totally committed to be ... adamant" in regards to Israel's right to exist.

The two men also discussed Israel’s concerns over Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon, where the Islamic Republic is said to construct precision guided missiles factories.

Speaking ahead of the meeting with Guterres, Netanyahu accused Iran of using Syria as a "base of military entrenchment as part of its declared goal to eradicate Israel." He added: "It is also building sites to produce precision-guided missiles towards that end, in both Syria and in Lebanon. This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”

Guterres replied that he will "do everything in my capacity" to ensure UNIFIL, the UN’s peacekeeping force in Lebanon, is fulfilling its mandate. "I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective," Guterres said.

Israeli Emergency Workers Head to Texas to Help in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Two teams of Israeli aid experts are on their way to Texas to provide vital relief and psychosocial support to the thousands of people who have lost everything in the catastrophic hurricane Harvey.

The storm, which was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday, first hit Texas on Sunday and continues to plague the beleaguered state with pounding rain, has left nine dead, and tens of thousands of people homeless as flood waters have poured through city streets in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States. The storm is thought to have affected 6.8 million people in 18 counties, a quarter of the Texas population.

Humanitarian aid organization IsraAID aims to provide a two-stage response to the disaster, focusing on helping remove debris and clean homes in the wake of the catastrophic flooding, and offering psychosocial trauma support to shocked residents.

IsraAID, an international aid organization based in Israel, is also sending a team of 9-10 Israeli relief professionals to offer support to the national guard and other non-governmental American aid groups, to help families and communities affected by the storm.

The organization, which is working closely with Jewish communities, the local government in Texas, and the Israeli Consul General, plans to deploy 5-7 experts from both Israel and the US, to offer psychological support to vulnerable population groups evacuated to shelters in Austin and Dallas. They will create and facilitate child-friendly spaces within the shelters to help support homeless children, and offer psychological and emotional support and tools for both individuals and for community resilience-building.

The organization will also send a relief team to help local communities remove debris, clean out destroyed homes and help residents sift through the wreckage of former homes to salvage belongings.

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