Ten killed in Israeli attack in Syria following rocket fire

A battery of Israel's Iron Dome defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, stands in Mount Hermon in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on January 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 June 2019

Ten killed in Israeli attack in Syria following rocket fire

  • Two rockets were fired from Syria at Mount Hermon late Saturday
  • The Israeli attack left three Syrian soldiers and seven foreign fighters dead

BEIRUT: Israel carried out air strikes in Syria on Sunday in response to rare rocket fire from the neighboring country, its military said, with a war monitor reporting 10 killed including Syrian soldiers and foreign fighters.
Israel’s army said two rockets were fired from Syria at Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights late Saturday and one had been “located within Israeli territory.”
In response, the army attacked “two Syrian artillery batteries, a number of observation and intelligence posts on the Golan Heights, and an SA-2 aerial defense battery,” its statement said.
The Israeli attack left three Syrian soldiers and seven foreign fighters dead, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
According to the Britain-based war monitor, which did not specify the nationality of the foreign fighters, they died in missile strikes close the capital Damascus where Syrian troops, Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters are stationed.
Syrian anti-aircraft defenses fired against “enemy missiles” from Israel targeting positions in southwest Damascus, the official SANA news agency quoted a military source as saying.
The Israeli army said its own aerial defense systems were activated due to the Syrian anti-aircraft fire, but none of the Syrian fire hit Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the strike.
“We won’t tolerate fire at our territory and will respond forcefully to any aggression against us,” he said.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, most of them against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
Israel says it is determined to prevent its arch foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where Tehran backs President Bashar Assad in the country’s eight-year war which has killed more than 370,000 people.
The Jewish state insists that it has the right to continue to target positions in Syria held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah out of self-defense.
On May 27 Syria said Israel carried out a missile attack in Quneitra, in what the Israeli army said was retaliation for anti-aircraft fire targeting one of its fighter jets.
Syrian air defense batteries also intercepted projectiles from Israel and downed a number of them on May 17, according to SANA.
The Syrian province of Quneitra includes the Golan Heights, most of which is occupied and annexed by Israel.
In January, Israel hit Iranian positions in Syria, saying it was in response to Iranian missile fire from the war-torn country. According to the Observatory, 21 people, mainly Iranians, were killed in those raids.
The latest reported strike comes amid soaring tensions between Iran and the United States.
The stand-off had been simmering since the United States last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear treaty which Iran reached with major world powers.
In recent weeks the United States has accused Iran of alleged threats and deployed an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.


Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

Updated 18 August 2019

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

  • Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel

RAMALLAH: Relatives of a US congresswoman say they support her decision to decline Israel’s offer allowing her to visit them in the West Bank because the “right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions.”

Rashida Tlaib said she would not see her family, even after Israel lifted a ban on her entry, because the government had imposed restrictions on her trip.

“We totally understand her position and support her in her efforts. The right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions,” her uncle Bassam Tlaib told Arab News.

He was speaking from the family home in Beit Ur Al-Fuka, which is 3 km from the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was flanked by his elderly mother.

He said his niece had visited them many times in the past, but there had never been any conditions attached to her travel.

“She said we will meet when she can come without conditions,” Tlaib said. “One idea has been floated of flying the grandmother to the US or finding a way to have the two meetings in a third country. You know my mother is nearing 90 and it is not easy for her to travel but we are checking out all options.”

Tlaib, a Democrat, has criticized Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and had planned to make an official visit to the country.

Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel, local media reported.

But the congresswoman, who is Palestinian-American, lashed out on social media.

“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother. “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The NGO hosting and organizing the trip, Miftah, has been criticized by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hanan Ashrawi, the NGO’s founder, said her staff had organized other congressional trips. “This was the third trip we have organized, and we try to do our work professionally and seriously,” Ashrawi told Arab News. “Our very mission is to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Ashrawi said the attacks on Miftah were unwarranted.  “Miftah has been targeted with the expressed goal of trying to discredit us even though our record is clear. We believe that they are trying to keep organizing congressional delegations within the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) monopoly, while we are trying to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about Palestinian life under occupation and to understand the Palestinian narrative by providing opportunities for delegations to see and engage with Palestinians of all walks of life.” 

Ashrawi said Miftah had been “vetted” by the US Congress’ ethics committee. “We might not be able to bring hundreds of congress people like AIPAC, but we can bring a few and have them see, hear and interact with Palestinians.”

US President Donald Trump had called on Israel not to allow Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel as admitting the two “would show great weakness.”

He tweeted that the pair “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace.”