Israeli air force chief to give Moscow findings on Russian plane downing

Israel's air force commander will lead a delegation to Moscow to share the military's findings on the Syrian downing of a Russian warplane. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Israeli air force chief to give Moscow findings on Russian plane downing

  • Israel's air force commander will lead a delegation to Moscow
  • On Monday, Syrian air defences shot down a Russian military plane, killing 15 soldiers

JERUSALEM: Israel's air force commander will lead a delegation to Moscow to share the military's findings on the Syrian downing of a Russian warplane following Israeli air strikes, the army said Wednesday.
The delegation, led by Major General Amikam Norkin, would on Thursday "present the situation report... regarding all aspects" of the incident, the army said in a statement.
"In addition, they will present the continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organisation and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria."
On Monday, Syrian air defences shot down a Russian military plane, killing 15 soldiers, after Israeli missiles had struck the coastal region of Latakia.
The Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using "the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences".
Israel denied the allegations, saying its jets were already back in Israeli airspace when Syrian forces launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his "sorrow" to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday, offering to assist Moscow in the investigation.
Putin had said the incident was the result of "tragic accidental circumstances," warning Netanyahu against carrying out such operations in the future and pledging to beef up security for Russian forces in Syria.
Accompanying Norkin on the Thursday visit will be officers from the intelligence and operations directorates, the army said in its Wednesday statement.


Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed praises Jacinda Ardern and lights up Burj Khalifa to honor New Zealand

Updated 22 March 2019
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Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed praises Jacinda Ardern and lights up Burj Khalifa to honor New Zealand

DUBAI: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, thanked Jacinda Ardern on Friday for her ‘sincere empathy’ following the attack on two New Zealand mosques that killed 50 Muslims.

The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was illuminated in a gesture of solidarity with New Zealand and its prime minister.

Ardern has received widespread praise from around the world and in particular from Muslim countries and their leaders for the way she has handled the aftermath of the terrorist attack carried out by a white supremacist.

“New Zealand today fell silent in honor of the mosque attacks' martyrs,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. “Thank you PM Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand for your sincere empathy and support that has won the respect of 1.5 billion Muslims after the terrorist attack that shook the Muslim community around the world.”

Ardern led thousands of people in a two minute vigil on Friday as the shocked nation came together to remember those killed in the attack. 

She told those gathered in a park opposite the Al Noor mosque, where 42 people died, that: "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”

The prime minister’s response to the killings has been widely admired in helping the country come to terms with the atrocity. In the hours after the shootings she wore a black headscarf and visited members of the Muslim community.

She moved to reassure those caught up in the attacks and hugged survivors at a community center in Christchurch.

“We represent diversity, kindness, compassion,” Ms Ardern said on the day of the attack. “A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

She did not hesitate to describe the killings as a terrorist attack and said she would refuse to say the name of the killer who carried it out.

But she has also acted quickly with legislation. Her government banned on Thursday the sales of semi-automatic weapons.

“Ardern’s performance has been extraordinary - and I believe she will be strongly lauded for it both domestically and internationally,” political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington told Reuters.

Social media has been flooded with messages of admiration for Ardern, with many using her as an example for their own politicians to follow.