ISRAEL ACKNOWLEDGES AIRSTRIKE ON SYRIA
Israel recently acknowledged that its air force had struck an unspecified military target deep inside Syria in September. But the military censor’s office continued to bar Israeli media from disclosing other information about the Sept. 6 raid, including the target, the forces that took part, and the degree of the mission’s success. Everything about the operation has been a tightly held secret in Israel.
Reports in foreign media quoting unidentified US officials have speculated that Israel attacked a weapons shipment destined for Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon or a nuclear facility built with North Korean technology.
Israeli media were permitted to cite foreign reports about the airstrike, but a special directive prohibited them from disclosing anything they learned on their own. The policy’s aim was to allow Syrian leaders and their allies to pretend that nothing had happened and avoid pressure to retaliate.
The clearance to report officially that the raid had taken place came from the Israeli censor’s office a day after Syrian President Bashar Assad gave his government’s first official acknowledgment of the airstrike in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation. Assad said Israeli warplanes attacked “an unused military building.”
While keeping details of the raid secret, Israeli officials previously hinted at motives when Gideon Frank, deputy chairman of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, warned delegates at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in September that Israel could not ignore the efforts of Middle Eastern countries to develop weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.
The British newspaper, The Sunday Times, reported Israel Defense Forces commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a raid on a secret military site in Syria before the IAF allegedly bombed it. The report, based on what the newspaper called “informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem,” said the air strike was carried out with United States approval after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related.
The paper quoted Israeli sources as saying Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, and had located the nuclear material at a compound in the country’s north. According to the paper, the site was destroyed by the IAF strike. The report said the operation was personally directed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was said to have been preoccupied with it since assuming the post on June 18.
In another report, Newsweek quoted a former senior Mossad official and ex-policy advisor to then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as saying of the reported operation: “I do know what happened, and when it comes out, it will stun everyone.”
TBS — EXPERIENCES IN ISRAEL
Recollections from our March, 2007 trip to Israel:
On our first Sabbath morning at the Har Zion Hotel, I fell ill and called the desk for a physician. “We have one on call”, they reassured me. In due time the doctor came to our room. He was an Australian-Israeli. He examined me, asked about my medical history, and recommended I go to the hospital for further care. He called the ambulance service — the Magen David Adom. They had the most caring, professional crew, who took me to the closest hospital, Share Zedek Medical Service, Emergency Room. A few hours later I was surprised when the crew returned to my bedside to see how I was. We felt like family.
Another day while in Jerusalem, David, our daughter, June, and I went by taxi to the Israel Museum. We had tickets for the Jerusalem Symphony that evening so we asked the taxi driver if he would meet us at the museum at a designated time and take us back to the Har Zion Hotel. He refused the one-way fare and said we could pay him later for the round trip back to the hotel. We had never been on a taxi ride whose driver expected to be paid at the end of the complete trip and not in the middle. We learned that in Israel it is common practice. By: Helene Axelrod
Iran Seeks Help From Israel In Air Crash Probe
Officials from Israel and Iran put aside political animosity last month to work together in the use of Israeli forensics expertise to identify their dead from the crash of a jetliner on the Thai resort island of Phuket.
Six Israelis and 18 Iranians were among the 89 people killed when the One-Two-Go Airlines jet crashed and burned while trying to land in heavy rain and wind carrying 130 passengers and crew.
The team, from an emergency rescue service, has long experience in dealing with victims of traumatic injuries from the decades of Arab-Israeli conflict. It tries to match bodies with dental records, fingerprints, DNA, and distinguishing features described by relatives.
“We always are willing to help people in need, and it includes, I guess, the Iranians also,” said a spokesman for the Israeli government delegation in Phuket. “In situations like this you forget the division,” an Israeli police official said. “The main thing is to help. You don’t think about the politics.” The Iranian official, said it was natural for people to work together after a humanitarian disaster.
This action was a change in Iranian policy. After an 2003 earthquake killed more than 20,000 Iranians the government of Iran requested help from every country in the world — except Israel.
You Can Help Israel By Knowing The Facts About Israel!
Researchers at the Tel Aviv University have developed a nasal spray which can ease the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The spray, packed with viruses called bacteriophages, is said to have the potential to break up beta amyloid, a sticky protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer’s patients destroying connections between brain cells. Tests on mice demonstrated that regular treatment for a year improved the mice’s memory and learning, and restored their sense of smell that is often lost early in the onset of Alzheimer’s. The study has been hailed by scientists, but with a warning that it may take many years before the treatment becomes saleable. “We are a long way from this novel way of administrating treatment being translated into practice”, said one of the lead researchers.
Israel is considering downgrading its relations with Venezuela in light of the extremist anti-Israel line taken by the country’s government under President Hugo Chavez. Israel is concerned about the growing alliance between Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A highly-placed source in Jerusalem said only preliminary talks have been held on the issue and no decision has been made. Relations between Israel and Venezuela have deteriorated significantly since Chavez came to power.
The British University and College Union (UCU) has announced that after seeking legal advice, it had come to conclusion that academic boycott of Israel would be unlawful and could not be implemented. The UCU said that “legal advice made it clear that making a call to boycott Israeli institutions would run a serious risk of infringing discrimination legislation.”
Israel Recognizes Chinese Hero
The Israel Herald recently reported that Israel’s ambassador to China has remembered the good deeds of a man known as “China’s Schindler”. Fengshan Ho has been honored by Ambassador Amos Nadai who joined Ho’s family in scattering the ashes of the late diplomat, who died in 1997 at the age of one hundred and six.
From 1938 to 1940, Ho was the former Chinese consul general in Austria. He defied the Nazi threat and the warnings of the Chinese ambassador in Germany, his immediate superior, to issue more than 2,000 visas to Jews to help them flee Vienna. More than 50,000 Jews are estimated to have fled Europe to China during the war. The Jewish community in Shanghai was the largest in the Far East at that time. Ho’s heroic deeds only came to light after his death. Ambassador Nadai presented an Honorary Commemorative Citizenship certificate to Ho’s family on behalf of the Israeli government. Ho was also honored with Israel’s highest award for non-Jews, the Righteous Among the Nations.
His name has been carved on the Honour Wall of the Garden of the Righteous of Nations, with the inscription ‘a Chinese who should never be forgotten’.
From The Chair . . .
An effective – and personally satisfying – way to support Israel is to make your voice heard on its behalf on issues of critical importance. Such an occasion occurred recently when the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appeared in New York to speak at the United Nations. Thousands turned out in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to voice their opposition to the Iranian ruler and to show their support for Israel. The message sent by those attending the rally was reported by all of the major media networks and, thus, was heard around the world.
Please continue to send your comments about Israel Matters! to Ed and Randy Berns, Co-chairs of the TBS Israel Affairs Committee, at: IsraelAffairs@tbshamden.com