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The Daily TIP: IDF Chief of Staff: Hezbollah Has Forces in “Every 3rd or 4th House” in Southern Lebanon

Posted by Tip Staff - June 21, 2017

IDF Chief of Staff: Hezbollah Has Forces in "Every 3rd or 4th House" in Southern Lebanon
Israel and Jordan Intensify Cooperation as Iran Tightens Grip on Southern Syria
Amb. Haley Urges Security Council to Designate Hamas as a Terror Group
Israeli Study Reveals Possible Trigger for Multiple Sclerosis

IDF Chief of Staff: Hezbollah Has Forces in "Every 3rd or 4th House" in Southern Lebanon

The IDF's chief of staff said on Tuesday that the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah has a presence in "every third or fourth house" in southern Lebanon, in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the removal of all armed groups from the area.

Speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said that Hezbollah was ensconced in some 240 villages and towns in southern Lebanon, and remains the most immediate threat to Israel. He added that the Islamist group receives sophisticated weaponry from Iran, some of which is supplied by Russia.

Another Israeli military official warned on Wednesday that if Hezbollah launches an attack against Israel, "thousands" of Lebanese would be put at risk when Israel strikes back. Major-General Amir Eshel, commander of the Israeli Air Force, explained that Hezbollah has established thousands of bases in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon, both "above and below live civilians whom we have nothing against --- a kind of human shield."

"And that is where the war will be," he added. "That is where we will have to fight in order to stop it and win. Whoever stays in these bases will simply be hit and will risk their lives. And whoever goes out will live."

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explained in July of last year that Hezbollah’s widely-reported tactic of hiding military assets in civilian areas would lead to mass casualties. Reports emerged in 2013 that Hezbollah was offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allow the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 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. A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah bolstered the Israeli assessment.

Hezbollah hasn't just embedded its military infrastructure among civilians; it is also increasingly entrenched within Lebanon's government.

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in a policy brief earlier this month that the Lebanese government now primarily aims "to defend Hezbollah, and to align its policies with the preferences of the group and of its patrons in Tehran."

Badran pointed to a statement issued by the United States and Saudi Arabia during President Donald Trump's visit to the Middle East last month, which called for "supporting the Lebanese state in enforcing its sovereignty on all of its territory, disarm terrorist organizations such as Hizballah, and bring all weapons under the legitimate supervision of the Lebanese army.”

The Lebanese government rejected this joint U.S.-Saudi statement, Badran observed. It also rejected a final communique at the Riyadh summit, which took place during Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, condemning Iran's regional subversion.

Badran added that in January 2016, at summits of both the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League, Lebanon was the only Arab state not to sign on to resolutions condemning the attacks on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran.

Later that year, Lebanon's interior minister was the only Arab interior minister to refuse to sign a statement calling Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even after Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council had done so.

Saudi Arabia has cut off all aid to Lebanon due to its ongoing support for Hezbollah, and it is now time for the U.S. to "adopt a similar cut-off," Badran argued.

While there was once a reason to believe that the Lebanese state could check Hezbollah's influence, now "that paradigm is as obsolete as it is counterproductive," he wrote.

"In the best case, continued support for the 'Lebanese state' to disarm Hezbollah will merely fail," Badran concluded. "More likely, it will counterproductively bolster Hezbollah, which controls the institutions the U.S. is funding."

Israel and Jordan Intensify Cooperation as Iran Tightens Grip on Southern Syria

Israel and Jordan have intensified diplomatic relations over the last weeks as a response to the changing situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

The two countries have noted with growing concern the renewed strength of the Assad regime in southern Syria, particularly in regards to the role played by Iran. Tehran is propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in order to consolidate power in Syria and Iraq, as well as to ensure that its proxy Hezbollah has the continued capability to wage war against Israel.

The United States has also warned about gains made by Iran-backed Shiite militia along the Iraqi side of the border, which eventually linked up with forces affiliated to the Assad regime in Syria.

Iran will likely try to exploit recent territorial gains made by the Assad regime and its proxies by deploying forces from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and allied Shiite militias along the Syrian borders with Israel and Jordan.

The Hashemite kingdom is both under threat from Sunni Islamist groups like Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Iran's growing influence in the region. Since the stability of Jordan is a priority for Israel, American and Arab sources have reported that Jerusalem has provided the kingdom with intelligence and security assistance to better equip the Jordanians against the threats they face.

Disturbed by a report a few months ago from Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, who painted a grim picture of the security situation inside the kingdom, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is said to have promised behind closed doors that Israel would lend support to the Jordanians if needed. It is not clear what manner of assistance he had in mind.

Amb. Haley Urges Security Council to Designate Hamas as a Terror Group

The United Nations Security Council must "condemn Hamas" and designate it as a terrorist organization, "with consequences for anyone who continues to support it," United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the council on Tuesday.

Haley noted that UN officials recently discovered a terror tunnel beneath two UN schools in Gaza. She explained that Hamas uses these tunnels to smuggle components for rockets or help terrorists infiltrate Israel. The incident showed that Hamas is "so ruthless that it will not hesitate to put the lives of innocent children on the line," Haley said.

Referring to her visit to Israel earlier this month, Haley called the situation in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip "heartbreaking" but "preventable."

"We should never forget the responsibility for this humanitarian crisis rests squarely with the one group that actually controls Gaza: Hamas," she said, observing that Israel withdrew all of its soldiers and citizens from Gaza over ten years ago.

She then elaborated:

Hamas has exercised control over Gaza since 2007. After 10 years of Hamas rule, life for the people of Gaza is worse than ever before. Rather than govern, Hamas chooses to devote its resources to building a terrorist arsenal. Rather than pursuing peace, Hamas chooses to provoke destructive wars. Rather than allowing help to reach the Palestinian people, Hamas chooses to divert untold amounts of aid to feed its military enterprise.

Haley recalled walking through a Hamas terror tunnel that the IDF uncovered, which was thickly lined with concrete. The tunnel served as evidence of "how Hamas uses the concrete Gaza receives – not to help the people, but to fortify its terrorist infrastructure."

"The Security Council must unite to say that enough is enough," Haley urged. "We need to pressure Hamas to end its tyranny over the people of Gaza. We should condemn Hamas in this Council’s resolutions and statements. We should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, or when fresh tunnels are discovered. And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it."

Israeli Study Reveals Possible Trigger for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, one of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases, affects some 2.5 million people worldwide and has no known cure.

Researchers have long speculated that MS is triggered by the body’s own immune system unleashing an uncontrolled attack on myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells (neurons).

A study published by Israeli scientists in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) pinpoints a structural instability in the myelin membranes, the “insulating tape” surrounding neurons.

This vulnerability seems to be what gives the immune system access to otherwise protected regions.

“We found that small modifications in the myelin sheaths create structural instabilities that may help the immune system to enter and attack neurons,” said principal investigator Prof. Roy Beck of Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics and Astronomy and Sagol School of Neurosciences.

“Current therapeutic approaches have focused on the autoimmune response without identifying a clear mechanism. Our research suggests a new avenue for multiple sclerosis therapies and diagnostics,” Beck said.

Axons, which carry electrical impulses in neurons, are surrounded by protective myelin sheaths. In MS, an autoimmune “error” mistakenly identifies these sheaths as hostile foreign entities and breaks them down.

The research, conducted by Rona Shaharabani, a doctoral student in Prof. Beck’s lab, pinpoints the precise alterations to the myelin sheaths that result in structural instabilities, creating “easy access” for autoimmune attacks.

“After years of research, we were amazed to discover that a possible trigger for the outbreak of the disease could be found in the membrane’s physical structure,” said Beck.

He explained that the lipid-and-protein building blocks of the myelin sheaths give the membrane a shape that is critical to their functioning.

“If the basic building blocks are straight, the membrane will be flat, which is the preferred structure for a neuron’s ‘insulating tape,’” said Beck. “However, if they exhibit a more cone-like shape, the membrane will tend to form closed round cylinders. These produce spontaneous holes in the surface of the sheath, rendering it vulnerable to attack.”

For the purpose of the research, the scientists harnessed X-ray light to examine hundreds of membrane model systems that mimicked those of healthy and diseased animal models.

In collaboration with Prof. Ruth Arnon of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, co-developer of the leading MS drug Copaxone, and Prof. Yeshayahu Talmon of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the team also used electron microscopy to determine the different nanoscopic structures of both natural myelin sheaths and model system membranes.

“The next step is to find a way to reverse the disease progression and find new techniques for early detection,” said Beck.

(via Israel21c)

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