‘The biggest threat is Iran’: Israel aware of possible Syrian spillover, but doesn’t see it as largest danger


Originally posted on National Post | News:

SATURDAY INTERVIEW

To hear Miriam Ziv tell it, Israelis are not complacent about the prospect of war spilling over their northern border from Syria. Batteries of the Iron Dome air defence system have been moved north to intercept missiles and citizens have been lining up for new or refreshed gas masks in Tel Aviv

“They are like part of our furniture,” said Ms. Ziv, a diminutive bundle of energy who leaves her post as Israel’s ambassador to Canada on Sunday, after five years in Ottawa. “Life goes on in Israel. There is no panic. We have had wars and been attacked before.”

In an exit interview about the Canada-Israel relationship in her Ottawa office, the news, as always in the Middle East, gets in the way. But she said the big concern for most Israelis is not what is happening in Syria.

Rather, she said, more sleep is lost over…

View original 1,039 more words

Israel braces for worst with Syria as army calls up reserves, nervous citizens line up to receive free gas masks


Originally posted on National Post | News:

Israel ordered a special call-up of reserve troops Wednesday as nervous citizens lined up at gas-mask distribution centres, preparing for possible hostilities with Syria.

With the U.S. threatening to attack Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons, Israel fears that Syria may respond by attacking Israel, a close American ally. While Israeli officials believe the chances of a Syrian strike remain slim, people were clearly preparing for the possibility.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent the day huddled with his top security advisers discussing the situation. Afterwards, he sent a mixed message, urging people to remain calm while also approving special precautionary measures.

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

“There is no reason to change daily routines,” he said. “At the same time we are prepared for any scenario.” He said the Israeli military “is ready to defend against any threat and to respond strongly against any attempt to harm Israeli citizens.”

An…

View original 452 more words

Israel keeps close watch on rising sectarian tensions as Syria’s escalating civil war spills over into Lebanon


Originally posted on National Post | News:

As the international community focuses its attention on Syria and how to respond to the growing likelihood that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has used chemical weapons on a civilian population, Israel’s attention is focused as much on Lebanon as on Syria.

Lebanese security forces arrested a suspect over the weekend in a double bombing in the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli on Friday that killed at least 47 people, and wounded some 500, including dozens who were said to be in critical condition. The Lebanese National News Agency said the suspect, Sheikh Ahmad al-Ghareeb, has ties to a Sunni organization that has close ties with Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbullah group.

The attacks raised sectarian tensions in Lebanon, which had already been tense. Hundreds of well-trained Hezbullah troops have been fighting in Syria on behalf of Assad, supporting his Alawite regime. The Alawites are an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

View original 475 more words

Turkey clears bird suspected of spying for Israeli secret service


Originally posted on National Post | News:

DULUTH NEWS-TRIBUNE

DULUTH NEWS-TRIBUNE

Istanbul — Authorities in eastern Turkey have cleared a small bird detained on suspicions of spying for Israel.

The kestrel was discovered by residents of Altinavya, a village in Elazig province, wearing a metallic ring stamped with the words “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel.” Suspicious that the bird may have been on a spying mission for the Jewish state, villagers turned the bird over to local authorities.

[related_links /]

Medical personnel at Elazig’s Firat University initially identified the kestrel as “Israeli Spy” in their registration documents. Medical examinations — including xrays — determined that the bird was, indeed, just a bird. There were no sign of microchips that might transmit information back to Israel, local media reported. The kestrel was allowed to fly off after authorities determined there was no need to press charges.

This isn’t the first time Turkish authorities appear to have become concerned about an animal…

View original 63 more words

U.S. promised Israel’s pre-1967 borders as basis for peace negotiations, Palestinian officials say


Originally posted on National Post | News:

JERUSALEM — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel only after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave him a letter guaranteeing that the basis of the negotiations will be Israel’s pre-1967 borders, two senior Palestinian officials said Saturday.

The officials, both of whom are close to the Palestinian leader and privy to internal discussions, said the U.S. letter also stipulated that both sides are to refrain from taking any steps that would jeopardize the outcome of the talks. Israel is not to issue new tenders for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, while the Palestinians are not to pursue diplomatic action against Israel at any international organizations, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.

“The talks with Kerry were about to collapse, and the letter came as a lifeline in the last minute bargaining,” one of…

View original 922 more words