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We’re ba~~ack! Zio-Watch News Roundup, January 4, 2018

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Netanyahu: IDF has attacked 40 Hamas targets in Gaza in recent weeks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back at critics who said his government has failed to take action to stop rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.

“Israel views Hamas as responsible for any firing at us from the Gaza Strip. Since we destroyed the terrorist tunnel that penetrated into our territory several weeks ago, the IDF has attacked approximately 40 Hamas targets including an additional attack by the air force last night,” Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu was referring to an Israel Defense Forces strike on Saturday night on a Hamas observation post in the southern Gaza Strip. It was the second retaliatory strike on Hamas in Gaza for three rockets fired as southern Israel late Friday morning. Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile protection system. One of the rockets disrupted a memorial concert near Kibbutz Kfar Aza marking the 24th birthday of slain Israeli soldier Oron Shaul, who was killed in the 2014 Gaza War and whose remains are held by Hamas in Gaza.

Labor party leader Avi Gabbay on Saturday night criticized Netanyahu for failing to stop the rocket fire and for not taking stronger action against Gaza.
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From PressTV

Mon Jan 1, 2018 06:42PM
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a joint press conference with French president following their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace, in Paris, on December 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a joint press conference with French president following their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace, in Paris, on December 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has strongly denounced a vote by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in support of annexing large parts of the occupied West Bank, lambasting the US for its silence on the provocative move.

“We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli” regime, “with the full support of the US administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace,” the Palestinian leader said on Monday.

Abbas’s comments came a day after the central committee of Likud voted in favor of a non-binding resolution, asking Israeli law to be applied to “the freed settled expanses of the West Bank,” referring to the parts of the occupied land where Israel has built illegal settlements since 1967. The resolution also called for “unimpeded construction” there.

The Palestinian president further said that Tel Aviv’s “main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine.”

Israel has occupied the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, which the Palestinians consider as the capital of their future state. It has also been erecting illegal settlements across the land in a move seen as de facto annexation of the territory.

Taking such a contentious step could effectively shatter hopes for a so-called two-state solution to the persisting Israeli-Palestinian conflict as there would be practically little area left for a Palestinian state.

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From PressTV

Mon Jan 1, 2018 05:54PM
This handout picture released by Syria's official news agency on December 18, 2017, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking to the press in Damascus. (Via AFP)
This handout picture released by Syria’s official news agency on December 18, 2017, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking to the press in Damascus. (Via AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has partially reshuffled his cabinet by replacing three key ministers.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported on Monday that Assad had issued a decree appointing new defense, industry and information ministers.

The Syrian president appointed General Ali Abdullah Ayoub as defense minister, Mohammed Mazen Ali Yousef as industry minister and Imad Abullah Sarah as information minister, according to the report.

Ayoub, a former chief of staff in the army, replaced Fahad Jassim al-Freij, who had held the post since 2012. The new information minister, Sarah, was previously the head of Syria’s radio and television.

SANA did not elaborate on reasons behind the replacements.

The ministerial reshuffle comes at a time when Syrian government troops and allied forces have been gaining more ground against terrorists over the past two years.
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From PressTV

Mon Jan 1, 2018 02:48PM
A picture taken on September 5, 2017 shows smoke billowing out following a US-led coalition airstrike in the western al-Daraiya neighborhood of the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqah. (Photo by AFP)
A picture taken on September 5, 2017 shows smoke billowing out following a US-led coalition airstrike in the western al-Daraiya neighborhood of the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqah. (Photo by AFP)

A so-called monitoring group says at least a dozen civilians have lost their lives when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group carried out a series of aerial assaults in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Monday that twelve members of a family, including five women and children, were killed in US-led aerial attacks against civilian areas in Soussa village.

The Britain-based observatory noted that the death toll is expected to rise as some people had been critically wounded in the airstrikes.

The London-based Airwars organization, which tracks civilian deaths in US-led airstrikes, says a total of at least 5,961 civilians have been killed as a result of the attacks in Iraq and Syria.

The SOHR reported on November 23 that 2,759 civilians, including 644 minors and 470 women, had been killed in US-led aerial attacks against civilian areas in Syria over the past 38 months.

The monitoring group added that the US-led air raids had claimed the lives of 98 people, including four children and as many women, between October 23 and November 23 this year.
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From PressTV

Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:00AM
This file image shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shaking hands with his Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in the Russian resort city of Sochi on November 20, 2017. (By AFP)
This file image shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shaking hands with his Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in the Russian resort city of Sochi on November 20, 2017. (By AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will continue to assist Syria in protecting the Arab country’s sovereignty.

The Kremlin said on Saturday that Putin had conveyed a congratulatory message to the Syrian head of state, Bashar al-Assad, on the occasion of the New Year.

In that message, Putin stressed that Russia would “continue to render every assistance to Syria in the protection of state sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity, in the promotion of a political settlement process, as well as in efforts to restore the national economy,” the Kremlin said.

Russia started delivering aerial support for Syrian military operations against rampant extremism in September 2015.

Also receiving advisory military support from Iran, the Syrian government gradually retook much of the territory that had been overrun by militants, including those of the Daesh terrorist group.

Earlier in the month, Putin ordered Russian forces in Syria to start withdrawing from the country as Daesh had been defeated.
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From PressTV

Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:25AM
A helicopter with the US-led coalition flies over the site of Turkish airstrikes near the northeastern Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, known as al-Malikiyah in Arabic, on April 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A helicopter with the US-led coalition flies over the site of Turkish airstrikes near the northeastern Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, known as al-Malikiyah in Arabic, on April 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

US helicopters have reportedly evacuated commanders of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr to the neighboring province of Hasakah. 

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, citing information received from local residents, reported on Friday that the American helicopters had evacuated Daesh commanders from several districts of Dayr al-Zawr province on Wednesday, adding that this was the second time the US military evacuated Daesh terrorists.

Earlier this week, the Syrian government sent a message to the United Nations, accusing the US-led coalition of reaching deals with Daesh and coordinating its actions with the terror group’s commanders.

The US-led coalition of 68 countries claims to have been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Such air raids began in Iraq in August of the same year.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh, which has already lost all of its urban strongholds in Syria and is just in control of some small pockets of land in the Middle Eastern country.

Nusra terrorists evacuated from Western Ghouta 
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From PressTV

Fri Dec 29, 2017 01:29PM
A Palestinian child walks in his house that was damaged in an Israeli airstrike on a nearby Hamas base, in Khan Yunis town in the southern Gaza Strip on December 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A Palestinian child walks in his house that was damaged in an Israeli airstrike on a nearby Hamas base, in Khan Yunis town in the southern Gaza Strip on December 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli military aircraft and battle tanks have carried out a series of attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip amid rising tensions in the occupied territories over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel despite widespread international opposition to the measure.

The Israeli assaults hit positions belonging to the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, east of Tuffah district of Gaza City, on Friday afternoon.

Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said in a statement that nobody was injured by the Israeli fire.

The Israeli army asserted that Palestinian fighters had fired three rockets at occupied lands, two of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile system.

Police said the third rocket hit a structure in a community near Gaza, causing damage but no casualties.

On December 6, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

A Palestinian man prepares to throw stones towards Israeli forces during clashes following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on December 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

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From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

German foreign minister under fire for accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’

BERLIN (JTA) — German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has come under fire for his suggestion that Israel pursues an “apartheid” policy.

Now, a Jewish woman in Cologne has addressed Gabriel in an open letter, demanding an apology for “providing further ammunition to
youths who were fed anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” according to a report in the German Jewish weekly, the Juedische Allgemeine.

As yet, there has been no such apology.

At issue is an event in Berlin in mid-December, at which Gabriel addressed the issue of anti-Semitism among Muslims in Germany, with a group of Muslim communal representatives. The event was hosted by the Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism, a non-governmental organization that works in schools with children of migrant background, trying to combat anti-Semitic attitudes from an early age.
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From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Auschwitz guard, 96, must serve prison sentence, Germany’s highest court rules

Oskar Groening, 93, arrives for the first day of his trial to face charges of being accomplice to the murder of 300,000 people at the Auschwitz concentration camp, April 21, 2015, in Lueneburg, Germany. (Andreas Tamme/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Germany’s highest court has ruled that a 96-year-old former Auschwitz guard should serve his prison sentence for his role in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at the concentration camp.

Oskar Groening was convicted and sentenced in July 2015 to four years in jail for his role in the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. A federal appeals court rejected his appeal a year ago. He had remained free while waiting for a determination of his fitness to serve time in prison after requesting that the sentence be suspended.

After a regional appeals court in November ruled that Groening could receive the care he needs due to his advanced age in prison, attorneys for the former Nazi guard challenged his prison sentence to the constitutional court in Germany, arguing that it violates his “right to life.”
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From PressTV

Sun Dec 31, 2017 08:34AM
This photo shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an official welcoming ceremony in Ankara, Dec. 11, 2017. (Via AFP)
This photo shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an official welcoming ceremony in Ankara, Dec. 11, 2017. (Via AFP)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has written to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the occasion of the New Year, lauding normalization of bilateral ties over the past year.

Putin wrote the letter Saturday, stressing that the two sides had not only succeeded in putting their bilateral ties back on track over the past year, but also achieved significant progress in boosting cooperation in many areas, Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported.

The relations hit their lowest ebb on November 24, 2015, when a Turkish warplane shot down a Russian one near the Syria–Turkey border. The pilot lost his life in the crash, while Syrian government forces rescued the Russian navigator, who had been on board.

In June 2016, however, Turkey and Russia put an end to seven months of strained relations after Erdogan “apologized” in a letter to Putin over the downing of the Sukhoi Su-24. Since then, the two leaders have met on eight occasions.

Putin’s Saturday message said that “by working closely together our countries have succeeded in preventing the terrorist threat from spreading further across the Middle East and created conditions for launching the political settlement of the Syrian conflict.”

Alongside Iran, the two countries have been working towards resolving the crisis in Syria.

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From PressTV

Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:20AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on December 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on December 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that a recent bomb blast in a busy supermarket in Saint Petersburg was “a terrorist act.”

“You know that yesterday, in St. Petersburg, a terrorist act was carried out,” Putin told the audience at a ceremony in the Kremlin on Thursday, referring to a explosion that rocked Russia’s second-largest city and left 13 shoppers injured in a branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain.

Investigators said the homemade bomb used in the assault contained 200 grams of explosives and was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.

No group or individual has so far claimed responsibility for the blast.

‘When in danger, kill, don’t capture’

Putin said that if there was a threat to the lives of law enforcement officers, they needed to “act decisively, not to capture anyone and to kill on the spot.”
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From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jewish life in Germany in danger, Jewish leader says

BERLIN (JTA) — A Jewish leader in Germany is pressing the government to do more to combat anti-Semitism; specifically, by appointing a special commissioner.

Charlotte Knobloch, former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said she feels Jewish life in Germany is in danger. The close of 2017 has been marked by numerous violence-tinged anti-Israel protests in Germany and a spectacular old-style, neo-Nazi outburst that set social media on fire.

The incidents prompted debate and discussion about how best to combat the problem and ensure the viability of Germany’s Jewish communities. There are some 100,000 identified members of Jewish communities nationwide, and another 100,000 who identify as Jews but are unaffiliated.

The best way to fight back is to appoint a commissioner to deal with such issues, Knobloch said in a radio interview with Heilbronner Stimme on Friday. Vandals in Heilbron, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, recently attacked and damaged a large public Hanukkah menorah.
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From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

NBA removes reference to Palestinian occupied territories from its website

When Anthony Parker returned to the NBA after playing in Israel, he chose to wear the number 18, which means life in Hebrew, to show his love for the country. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Culture and Sport minister praised National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver for removing a reference to Palestinian “occupied territories” from the NBA’s website.

A section of the NBA website allowing fans from around the world to vote for their favorite players to play in the upcoming All-Star game offered “Palestine – occupied territory” as an option for the voter to select as his or her country of residence.

Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev sent a strongly worded letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver demanding that he “immediately act” to change the listing.
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From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Houston imam walks back sermon calling for Muslims to kill Jews

(JTA) — A Houston imam walked back a sermon in which he called for Muslims to kill Jews without specifically apologizing for his comments.

Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan of Houston’s Tajweed Institute earlier this month delivered what he called an “impassioned sermon,” according to a statement about the speech issued on Wednesday.

“I unequivocally affirm and uphold the dignity, sanctity and value of all human life, including – of course – people of the Jewish faith,” Al-Rousan said in the statement. “I must also state in no uncertain terms that I am absolutely and completely opposed to and disgusted by all forms of terrorism, all terrorists, and I oppose anyone who would commit, call for, or threaten violence against civilians.  This is why as a person of faith and a religious leader, that I am mortified that an impassioned sermon I gave in light of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration is being seen as a call for the very things I despise.”

Al-Rousan had delivered his inflammatory speech on Dec. 8, two days after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
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From PressTV

Wed Dec 27, 2017 09:56PM
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City, May 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City, May 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli transport minister says he wants to build a train tunnel under Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City and name a station located next to the Haram al-Sharif after US President Donald Trump.

Yisrael Katz made the announcement on Wednesday, noting that the move is to honor Trump for his decision to recognize the city as the Israeli capital.

The proposed tunnel and station, which is planned to open next year, would become a part the high-speed line connecting the city to Tel Aviv.

Katz was quoted by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth as saying that the extension of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem al-Quds line was the “most important project” for the regime.

Excavation work around the al-Aqsa Mosque located behind Haram al-Sharif has on multiple occasions drawn censure and protests by Palestinian authorities and the UN cultural agency UNESCO, which has designated the Old City a World Heritage site.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.
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