BREAKING: Islamic State Seizes Town In Syria And Tries Again To Set Up Camp On The Israeli Border

Today the Islamic State again won a major battle, this time in Syria.

After being pushed out of some neighborhoods of the ancient town of Palmyra on Monday, Islamic State fighters now control almost all of Palmyra after violent clashes with Assad’s forces and its Shiite allies, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an hour ago.

Syrian state television reported earlier this evening that Assad’s forces were battling large groups of ISIS fighters and citizens of Palmyra were evacuated.

The BBC reported that Syria’s head of antiquities, Maamoun Abdul Karim, said the world has the responsibility to save Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Known as Tadmor in the Bible, tradition holds the city was first fortified by the Israelite King Solomon over 3,000 years ago.

Hundreds of statues have been moved to safety, but large monuments could not be moved.

IS militants have ransacked and demolished several ancient sites that predate Islam in Iraq, including Hatra and Nimrud, leading to fears that it might attempt to damage or destroy Palmyra.

In southwest Syria, ISIS is still trying to set up camp in the vicinity of Kuneitra, close to the Israeli border. Israeli news radio station Reshet Beth reported today that two days ago, the Free Syrian Army, in cooperation with the Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra, overpowered fighters of the Islamic State affiliate Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades. This was the second time in a month Islamic State fighters were driven out of the area.

Over the last two weeks, a number of mortar shells landed in Israeli territory on the Golan Heights, but this time Israel chose not to respond in order to avoid undermining the effort to drive out ISIS from the area.

The fighting against ISIS on the Golan Heights is solely carried out by the Free Syrian Army, which is backed by the West and reportedly receives aid from Israel and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which declared war on the Islamic State last week. Israeli defense officials claim the fighters of al-Nusra on the Golan Heights are simply local residents who joined the organization to benefit from the logistical and financial support it offers them.

Elsewhere in Syria, ISIS last week launched an offensive, supported by multiple suicide operations, in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor against President Assad’s regime holdouts at the military air base.

Islamic State also recently clashed with Syrian rebels and the regime in the eastern countryside of Aleppo and the provinces of Homs and Hama.

The Islamic State’s gains in Iraq are not confined to Ramadi. The group has advanced deep into the Baiji oil refinery, the largest in the country. Islamic State has, since the fall of Ramadi, pushed on with an attack on the town of Khalidiya. If ISIS succeeds to seize the town, it will provide the necessary territorial depth to advance on Baghdad.

It is clear from all these developments that the U.S. policy of airstrikes and a sporadic ground action to take out an ISIS commander has failed. It will never be enough to stop the Islamic State from taking over more territory in Iraq and Syria because this strategy is allowing the group immense space for planning, maneuvering, and redeployment.

The White House, however, insists its overall Iraq policy is a success.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Iran Again Violates Sanction Regime – U.S. Administration Tipped Off By Israel But Remains Passive

Reuters reported today that Iran violated international sanctions when an Iranian airline bought 15 used Airbus jets recently.

The U.S. administration was fully aware of the violation of the sanctions regime but did nothing to stop the purchase of the planes. The administration was tipped off about the illegal purchase by Israel.

A senior Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters that “Israel learned from intelligence sources about this very significant breach of the sanctions in advance of it occurring.”

“We flagged the issue to the U.S. administration,” the official said. “Unfortunately, the deal still went through and there was no success in preventing it.”

Aother Israeli official said today that the aircraft were sold to an airline that had been blacklisted by the United States “because of its involvement with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards” and Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas.

Iranian Transport Minister Abbas Akhoondi was quoted on May 11 by the Iranian Students News Agency as saying that Tehran bought 15 used commercial planes in the last three months. He did not say who sold them or how they had been acquired.

The Iranian state news agency IRNA reported on May 12th that Iranian company Mahan Air — which is blacklisted by Washington — recently acquired nine used Airbus commercial aircraft.

Airbus, a European consortium, does not sell planes to Iran; and IRNA did not identify who supplied the aircraft.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that Mahan Air had purchased the aircraft through an Iraqi airline, which, in turn, transferred the planes to Mahan.

A long-standing ban on the export of aircraft spare parts to Iran was eased under an interim nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in late 2013.

Reuters quoted an U.S. official who said the Obama administration was aware of the report and that “if there is sanctionable activity, we will take action.”

He said that while the export to Iran of U.S.-made spare parts needed for safe operations of Iranian civilian airliners was now permitted with a U.S. Treasury Department license, the sale of U.S.-origin aircraft was not.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Did Canada Just Give Leftist Hate-Speech Bullies Taste Of Their Own Medicine?

You just have to love this.

According to a report, which has been disputed, the Canadian government intends to use hate crime laws against advocates of boycotting Israel. (Whether or not this particular report is true, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s entire record puts most world leaders to shame–especially President Obama.)

Of course, so-called hate crime laws long have been a weapon the left has used to silence free speech. And now, an Al Jazeera article deliciously discovers the virtues of freedom of speech – at least for the very people who would destroy Israel, many of whom sympathize with murdering people because of “offensive” cartoons.

According to the article:

If freedom of expression were truly a Canadian value, the Harper administration would not be seeking to systemically dismantle the BDS movement.

Justin Trudeau, the leader of Canada’s unofficial opposition Liberal Party, has also come out against BDS. Trudeau said, in a tweet shared prior to a democratic BDS vote at McGill University, that, “The BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses.”

The government opposes BDS because it allegedly undermines “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” according to Harper, who believes this right is “absolute and non-negotiable.” Regardless of the reasoning, the crackdown on BDS makes it clear that Harper’s forceful calls for freedom of speech and expression since the Jan. 7 attack at the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are hypocritical. If freedom of expression was truly a Canadian value, as Harper claims, his administration would not be seeking to systemically dismantle the BDS movement.

Does it really have to be pointed out that there is a huge difference between enforcement of democratically enacted laws–however objectionable many find them–and unlawful murders by self-appointed assassins?

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Is The Vatican At The Precipice With Its Support For A Palestinian State?

The Roman Catholic Church chose the eve of Israel’s Independence Day to announce her recognition of Palestine as an independent nation. Rome is not the first church body to issue recognition to a purported nation that lives on stolen land and – despite poverty that crushes her people – lives on lust to kill body and spirit.  But when Rome does this, it introduces a new dimension of evil.

The Vatican is headquarters to the largest portion of the Body of Christ; it is at the same time a sovereign nation. That makes it unique in Christendom. Theoretically, it can undertake any policy that pleases its leader. I say “theoretically” because – unlike other sovereign nations – the Vatican’s identity lives outside itself. That Identity expresses Himself through the Bible; it lays out parameters that make or break the legitimacy of communities – and nations – that swear to live by it. When the Vatican announces its recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state, it cancels its legitimacy by spitting in the eye of its founding documents.

I do not like calling out Pope Francis. There is much that is both good and Godly in this leader of 1.2 billion faithful who carries his own luggage and so physically reaches out to the poor and disenfranchised – not as constituencies but as individual persons. He reaches out to gays – who live in defiance of Church doctrine – not to compromise doctrine but to love as Jesus loves. He would do well to love the Palestinians as Jesus does without compromising the doctrine and overwhelming witness of the sacred Scriptures he swore to breathe when he was baptized, confirmed, and ordained.

A Palestinian state does not meet internationally accepted criteria for nationhood. These are well known: recognized borders; permanent residents; independence; an organized transportation, economic, and educational system; and international recognition. The so-called state of Palestine falls woefully short. Its residents are citizens of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, not the mythical Palestine. Its economy is non-existent but for the subsidies paid by sympathetic nations, including Israel. They have neither shared history nor institutions. They are so non-independent they would have neither water nor electricity if the Israelis stopped supplying them. This is an independent nation?

The so-called Palestinian state is nothing but a staging area for terrorism that shields its fighters with its children. This was thoroughly exposed during the battles with Israel last summer – in the tactics used and the terror tunnels opened – tunnels stocked with hand-cuffs and tranquilizers for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Israeli children and civilians. Any nation recognizing this outfit as legitimate has caved in to terrorism; an avowedly Christian Body should know better and expect more courage of itself – at the very least.

But the primary issue remains primary. The Roman Church and pope are sworn to conform their belief and behavior to the tenets of the Bible. Nobody forces them; it is their chosen foundation.  The Bible is shot through and through with God’s permanent plan for the Jews and the Jewish homeland. Every Old Testament prophet affirms the dimensions laid in the first books as timeless; the New Testament (Romans 9-11) makes clear we Gentiles depend on the Jews to guarantee our existence, not the reverse.  For pre-believers, there is no obligation in Scripture. But for leaders sworn to uphold these truths, such a gross deviation as this recognition of a non-Jewish state occupying Jewish land and dedicated to Jewish destruction is nothing less than apostacy. Gross apostacy.

Break scripture and earn the title ‘apostate’ – as do the Episcopal Church and other progressive denominations – it is that simple. The good news is it is not too late for the Catholic Pope or for any of these other denominations and their leaders off wandering in the weeds. All they have to do – and this goes for the British, the French, and the other United Nations types who have thrown their lots after a terrorist organization as well – is get a clue and pull an about-face to embrace the reality that the only nation consistently practicing decency in the region is Israel–and the only nations practicing intermittent sanity are those joining her in opposition to Iran. So-called Palestine is not one of these. And the about-face of which I speak is the essence of what we call repentance.

For these nations, it remains a question of good albeit essential policy, this repentance of which I speak. Their lives depend on backing the right horse in the nuclearized Middle East. But for Pope Francis and those he leads, it is a question of identity. At stake for them is their eternal life.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Israel Helps Victims Of Earthquake In Nepal, Gets Vilified For It

After a devastating earthquake struck Nepal at the beginning of May Israel sent a large delegation of 260 search and rescue experts to Kathmandu.

Israel’s delegation was the second-largest in Nepal, just behind India, which sent the world’s largest team to the quake-hit area. The next-largest delegation, from the United Kingdom, numbered 68 people, followed by China’s 62, the US’s 54 and South Korea’s 40. Taiwan sent 20 personnel, Italy 15 and France 11.

Among the things Israel sent was an advanced multi-department medical facility, equipped with approximately 95 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies and a medical staff of 122 doctors, nurses and paramedics that was rapidly established in the city of Kathmandu to provide medical care for disaster casualties.

The Israeli action inspired notorious Israel bashers such as Max Blumenthal and Electronic Intifada reporter Rania Khalek to write posts in which they maligned the effort. Blumenthal suggested that “the main purpose of Israel’s mission was to rescue newborn infants of Israelis who had used local surrogate mothers”,  to which Khalek responded:  “Israel maybe headed to Nepal to learn from the earthquake how to kill better”

Another critic of Israel’s humanitarian aid was Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth, who tweeted the following message:” Easier to address a far-away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza. End the blockade!”

It was another example of Roth’s bias against Israel and the double standards evident in HRW condemnations of Israel. The Israeli organization NGO Monitor has published numerous reports documenting HRW’s double standard and its obsession with Israel.

Roth’s comment drew immediately sharp condemnations from pro-Israel bloggers like Avi Taranto who wrote in his blog at The Times of Israel:

“ the 140 characters in Roth’s message give evidence a psychology so warped that many more characters are needed to address it. In plain English: the two have nothing to do with each other.  What is wrong with you that your hatred of Israel would have you call for others to go without assistance they desperately need? Because that’s what you said.”

Yesterday Dr. Giora Weiser, an Israeli doctor in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem who was part of the Israeli medical delegation and the field hospital in Nepal decided to react. In an op-ed published by The Jerusalem Post, Weiser wrote about his horrific experiences in Nepal where he worked around the clock to save the lives of scores of Nepalese citizens.

He also had to say something about Roth’s Tweet:

“I saw and read the inflammatory reports and statements leveled against Israel for sending medical delegations to Nepal, especially the inhumane questioning of Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW). There we were, covered in blood, drenched in sweat, and sometimes tears, and exhausted, both mentally and physically after ending another 12-hour shift during which we saved multiple lives and mended broken bodies as best we could.

It is ironic that Roth can pontificate from the safety of a nice warm home thousands of miles away from the grief and devastation on his computer or smartphone about a nation he constantly maligns as non-caring and heartless.

Here in the depths of despair, when the Nepalese cried out for assistance, Israel sent its sons and daughters to their aid. This is how someone who is serious about human rights acts.

Less than a year ago I joined my Nachal Brigade as they entered Gaza to end the rocket barrages on our population centers. There too my task was to heal the sick and treat the wounded.

It mattered little whether it was my fellow soldier or a Gazan youth that required attention.

Regardless of headline-grabbing reports and anonymous sources pounced on by the international media like those from Breaking the Silence, we who serve in war and in peace know the truth.

We don’t seek acclaim or thanks, our sense of collective solidarity even with strangers across the world impels us to assist, to treat and heal.

This is Israel, Mr. Roth. Perhaps if you came out and saw us from behind your computer screens, you would understand what motivates us and what binds us to one of our founding doctrines of Tikkun Olam, fixing the world.

I am deeply proud to be part of a nation which does not hesitate for a moment to assist those in need wherever they may be.”

Dr. Weiser opened his article with the Jewish prayer for physicians written by the great sage Maimonides:

‘Grant me the physical and mental strength to be forever prepared to help the poor and the rich, the good and the bad, my love and my enemy, and may I always see the human in the infirm.”

This is a moral imperative and a duty as a Jew, Weiser wrote.

The same moral imperative is causing the IDF to treat scores of wounded Syrian rebels in a field hospital on the Golan Heights and drives IsraAID Israel’s disaster relief organization which provides humanitarian aid to regions that are traditionally hostile to the Jewish State.

When seven months ago Islamic State slaughtered the Yazidi people, and many of them tried to escape to Kurdistan but got trapped on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq IsraAID provided them with blankets. Later in total 5,000 mattresses and blankets along with powdered milk for babies were distributed in a refugee camp for Yazidi’s and persecuted Christians in Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. The IsraAID staff in Dohuk was careful not to disclose they came from Israel because of the fear that Islamic State supporters might have infiltrated the camp.

IsraAID also provided humanitarian aid to Jordan, Sudan and Sierra Leone and many other countries. Among them, the United States where IsraAID provided aid to residents of New York City after super storm Sandy and after hurricane Katharina struck New Orleans. The organization also helped with tornado recovery in Oklahoma.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth