Netanyahu warns foes after Israeli retaliatory strikes in Syria

Above, an Israeli soldier aboard an armored personnel carrier as it maneuvers in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights near the Israel-Syria frontier August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 August 2020

Netanyahu warns foes after Israeli retaliatory strikes in Syria

  • Israel launched air strikes on military targets in southern Syria late Monday
  • Monday’s actions were in response to an increased threat from the Iran-backed Hezbollah

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday pledged a tough response to any threats against Israel after the Jewish state struck Syrian military targets in retaliation for an attempted attack in the occupied Golan Heights.
“We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves,” he said during a tour of a military facility in central Israel.
“These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the (military) behind them and this should be taken seriously,” the veteran premier added.
Israel launched air strikes on military targets in southern Syria late Monday. The army said it was retaliating after an attempt to lay explosives in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Syrian state-run news agency Sana said Israeli helicopters rocketed Syrian army positions near Quneitra in the south but caused only material damage. It also said air defenses had gone into action near the Syrian capital.
Tensions are already high between bitter rivals Israel and Syria.
Last month, Israeli army helicopters struck military targets in southern Syria in retaliation for earlier “munitions” fire toward Israel.
Earlier Monday, the Israeli army said it had killed four men laying explosives near the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights.
Several Israeli media outlets reported that Monday’s actions were in response to an increased threat from the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which has a significant presence in Syria.
Last month, five Iran-backed fighters were killed in an Israeli missile strike south of Damascus, according to Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Then last Monday, Israel said it had thwarted an infiltration attempt from Lebanon by up to five Hezbollah gunmen, a claim denied by the Iran-backed group.
Israel reported an exchange of fire that forced the “terrorists” back into Lebanon. It said it fired artillery across the heavily guarded border for “defensive” purposes.
Since 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria, targeting government troops and allied Iranian and Hezbollah forces and vowing to end Iran’s military presence in Syria.


Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to notorious Tehran jail

Updated 55 min 30 sec ago

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to notorious Tehran jail

  • During a previous stint at Evin, Moore-Gilbert reported being held in restrictive conditions and needing psychiatric medications for “gravely damaged” mental health
  • Friends believe she is now being held in the same ward as before, a facility controlled by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps

SYDNEY: An Australian academic held in Iran for more than two years has been returned to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, friends said Friday, prompting fresh concern about her wellbeing.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert — who is serving a 10-year sentence on charges of espionage — had disappeared inside Iran’s prison system a week ago, sparking frantic efforts to learn her whereabouts.
“I’m relieved that the Australian government has finally managed to locate Kylie six days after she went missing,” friend and fellow Middle East expert Dara Conduit told AFP. “But make no mistake: this is not a win for Kylie.”
Conditions at Evin are believed to be marginally better than Moore-Gilbert’s previous jail at Qarchak — a women’s facility that has been blacklisted under UN human rights sanctions and is notorious for the ill-treatment of political prisoners.
During a previous stint at Evin, Moore-Gilbert reported being held in restrictive conditions and needing psychiatric medications for “gravely damaged” mental health.
Friends believe she is now being held in the same ward as before, a facility controlled by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Australia’s foreign ministry has said securing her release is an “absolute priority,” but was forced to admit this week that her whereabouts were unknown.
“We do not accept the charges upon which Dr. Moore-Gilbert was convicted, and want to see her returned to Australia as soon as possible,” the ministry said after ambassador Lyndall Sachs was able to visit her in Qarchak Prison on October 19.
Throughout Moore-Gilbert’s internment, friends and family have become increasingly critical of what they say is Australia’s ineffective diplomatic approach.
According to Conduit: “Not one iota of progress has been made in her case, despite the government’s assurances that Kylie’s case is under control.”
She called Moore-Gilbert’s transfer back to Evin “an utter indictment of the Australian government’s failure on Kylie’s case.”
“After 778 days, she is back at square one in the prison in which she was originally held.”
Moore-Gilbert was reportedly arrested at Tehran airport by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in September 2018 after attending a conference in Qoms.
She is just one of several Westerners being held in Iran on national security grounds.
Negotiations with Tehran are notoriously difficult, with governments and families forced to decide if quiet discussions are less likely to antagonize captors, often against a fraught geopolitical backdrop.
Iran’s complex political and judicial system — which sees hard-liners, reformists and myriad state institutions vying for influence — can make things more complex still.