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Lebanon-Israel border fire: Scandal or victory for Tel Aviv?

Photo: Fear of Hezbollah Pushes Israeli Artillery to Bombard Israeli Military Site
Middle East Observer | July 31, 2020

Description:

Senior Lebanese political analyst Anees Naqqash provides his analysis of the recent flareup on the Lebanese-Israeli border, an incident which is becoming the subject of many questions, theories and debates.

In this interview on Al-Manar TV, Naqqash says something ‘very strange and major’ occurred in this incident, and perhaps the ambiguity will be removed in the future. However, the senior analyst, who is closely-tied to Hezbollah, affirmed that the events at the border were a ‘major scandal for the entire state of Israel’.

Here’s the necessary context:

For days Israeli forces had been on high alert on the Lebanese border after Tel Aviv understood that a Hezbollah reprisal attack was imminent after the Lebanese group announced that one of its cadres (namely Ali Kamil Mohsen) had been killed by an Israeli airstrike near Damascus International Airport.

On the 27th of July, 2020, a military incident occurred at the border between Lebanon and Israel. Much debate ensued regarding what actually occurred. As the apparent cross-border fire unfolded on that Monday afternoon at the Shebaa Farms border region, Israeli media reported the developing situation minute by minute, albeit with contradictory accounts. Meanwhile, Hezbollah remained silent, while Lebanese media outlets like Al Mayadeen TV largely relayed Israeli media’s breaking news reports.

The final account that Israeli media and officials generally settled on hours later was this: the Israeli army had thwarted a Hezbollah infiltration attempt into Israeli-controlled territory, and that the army remains alert for any future attempts to breach the border.

Thereafter, when the dust had settled, Hezbollah issued a statement denying Israeli media reports that a Hezbollah infiltration attempt was foiled, and asserted that all the fire that was opened was carried out unilaterally by the Israelis. Hezbollah unequivocally asserted that there were no ‘clashes’, nor exchange of cross-border fire, nor ‘martyrs’ that fell from its side, but rather ‘terrified and anxious’ Israeli forces ‘firing at each other’.

The Hezbollah statement also assured that the reprisal for Israel’s killing of Ali Kamil Mohsen, one of its cadres in Syria, is undoubtedly coming.

Source: Al-Manar TV

Date: July 27,2020

Transcript:

Host:

Mr. Anees, let us return to the point raised by Mr. Hijazi (Al-Manar journalist) regarding the (various) scenarios. What are the potential scenarios that led the enemy entity (Israel) to this situation today? Is it truly the case that the huge (Israeli) confusion and tension (in anticipation of the promised Hezbollah reprisal), this idea (invoked initially by Nasrallah, that the Israelis ought to wait for the reprisal by) “standing on a leg and a half” , also after Hezbollah’s (media) statement, which we’re going to mention after a while, and I don’t know how much they’ll last standing on a leg and a half moving forward… what are the scenarios that led to this scene? Or is it truly a trick (by Israeli officials) aimed at getting rid of the burden of (Hezbollah’s promised) reprisal through any way possible, by say fabricating a story or scenario to reach this end?


Naqqash:

This scenario, in which (the Israelis purposefully) commit an attack against their own selves in order to prevent Hezbollah from responding by drawing a statement from Hezbollah (in which the Lebanese group can claim) that “We have retaliated and carried out our reprisal”, this (possibility) is abit unlikely, unless of course (the Israelis) are that stupid, But whoever knows Hezbollah well, knows that they won’t engage in such a game.

There’s something that I don’t know how we will reach one day, but something (in what occurred today) looks like the Ansariya operation (of 1997, which occurred at the Lebanese coastal town of Ansariya). When the Ansariya operation took place, Robert Fisk, the famous correspondent from The Independent, came to me and said, “Anees, my estimation of this operation is that it is impossible for it to have occurred in the manner in which it did.” In what sense (did Fisk mean)? (He meant that) Hezbollah (during the Ansariya operation) was awaiting the Israeli special forces in order to trap them, and these (Israeli special) forces do not move into action except by the command of the (Israeli) Prime Minister and (Israeli army’s) Chief of Staff, so this means complete secrecy, a large part of the (Israeli army) does not know about the movements (of these special forces).

Fisk continued, “So, I believe that Hezbollah was awaiting (the arrival of these forces at Ansariya), and there’s no way (this ambush could have occurred) except by (Hezbollah) having penetrated the Israeli (Chief of) Staff Command.” (Fisk) wasn’t joking at all. He said “my estimation”, and you know Fisk’s (journalistic) experience, he has extensive experience in the (Middle East) region for over 30 years. I replied to Fisk’s claim and told him, “No, I don’t think it required (Hezbollah) to penetrate the (Israeli Chief of) Staff Command. There’s something major that happened, maybe one day it will be clarified.”

What was the major thing (that was revealed later)? That an (Israeli) spy drone had been capturing images of an area (in the Lebanese town of) Ansariya, (Hezbollah) operatives (had intercepted this drone) and were collecting these images, which allowed them in turn to uncover the enemy’s intended target (i.e. Hezbollah anticipated where the Israeli special forces were intending to land and strike). They uncovered the enemy’s intended target via the enemy’s eye (in the sky). Through the enemy’s eye they prepared for them an ambush.

I believe the day will come when the major fact (behind today’s events) is revealed, because what happened today was very strange. It wasn’t merely a confused Israeli soldier who was firing a M16 or PKM, or even a single tank firing at an invisible target. Rather, it consisted of extremely heavy shelling from several (Israeli) sources of fire, all of which were targeting an (Israeli) military base, and this lasted for several minutes. The information was delivered to the (Israeli) prime minister and he (immediately) issued threats and assessed the (magnitude of the) situation. Something major occurred at this (military) site. I think that the enemy today is extremely confused to the maximum level possible. What happened to its forces? Who gave the order to open fire? What (is the nature of the) penetration that took place? What camouflage (tactics) were used?

During war, armies carry out spy missions, deception operations, I give him fake targets (to shoot at), and perhaps behind these fake targets his own forces could be stationed. All this occurs. What happened today? No one can say exactly what happened, but one thing could be said, “It is a scandal for the Zionist enemy and its army and its (entire) state as a (political) entity, because it is not just the (Israeli) Northern (Army) Command which is involved in this scandal, as I said in the beginning, from the Prime Minister, to the ‘Minister of War’, to the (local commanders) on the ground, all are embroiled in this scandal.

Something major has happened today, which is forcing (the Israelis) to reconsider their calculations. Great powers today are looking at this (Israeli) entity today and saying: something major has happened. This is an entity that cannot be relied upon (to achieve any military advances). This reminds us of reports written by great powers after 2006 which said that this army cannot win any (future) war, because its performance in 2006 was one of the worst performances, (a war waged against) only two thousand fighters from Hezbollah. Today the situation is (even) totally different in terms of (Hezbollah’s) numbers, equipment and weapons, but this is another issue. Yet the confusion that took place today, the scenario that caused a total collapse of the (Israeli) media and intelligence (apparatus), of the Chief of Staff, of the Prime Minister, to the (actual) Israeli base on the ground that bombarded the other military base.

Recently I received information that large plumes of smoke were rising from some (Israeli) bases. My estimates were that the enemy was evacuating from these bases and did not want (Hezbollah) to know that it had evacuated. This base (that was bombarded by Israel) was part of the scenario. Did the enemy evacuate this base in order to create this scenario? This would indicate the level of disgrace of the Zionist enemy, as it imagines Hezbollah would feel satisfied with this scenario and claim that it carried out this operation. It’s as if (the Israelis) are convincing themselves that (Hezbollah) might do such a thing. And this is impossible (Hezbollah would never do it) . As you heard today (the Israelis) saying: “What annoys us more is that Hezbollah did has not issued a statement yet.” And when the situation became clear, Hezbollah issued that very clear statement, and by doing so, revealed the weakness of the enemy, as it revealed Hezbollah had no hands in the clashes, and that the Israelis were clashing with themselves. Today there is a great defeat for the enemy at all levels, and this must be further closely studied.

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July 31, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Russia vows to respond ‘reciprocally’ to EU sanctions over ‘politically motivated’ & ‘far fetched’ hacking allegations

RT | July 31, 2020

Russian officials have dismissed as “baseless” restrictions imposed by the European Union on individual Russians and an intelligence unit accused of cybercrimes. Moscow has hinted at a mirrored response to Brussels’ sanctions.

“Obviously, the EU’s hostile action will not be left unanswered. As we know, everything in diplomacy is reciprocal,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Thursday, the EU blacklisted four Russian individuals and the special technologies unit of Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, which Brussels accuses of committing cyberattacks. A number of nationals and entities from China and North Korea were hit by sanctions as well.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations as “baseless” and illegal under international law. Moscow said that the sanctions were enacted “under a far-fetched pretense,” and were strictly politically-motivated.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

US’ global media agency launches probe into ‘election interference’ after VOA runs Biden campaign ad targeting Muslims

RT | July 31, 2020

The head of the US agency for Global Media has announced an investigation into state-funded Voice of America (VOA) for possible election meddling, after its service in Urdu promoted a clip of Joe Biden courting Muslim votes.

The probe, announced by the newly-appointed agency CEO Michael Pack on Thursday, aims to determine whether federal employees of the broadcaster, funded exclusively through taxpayer money, “transgressed the VOA Charter, VOA’s Best Practices Guide, VOA’s Journalistic Code,” and whether they committed US election interference and a federal offence by airing a video “that can only be described as an apparent election advertisement for [the] presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.”

The clip, which was branded with a VOA logo, shows Biden addressing the Million Muslim Votes Summit earlier this month and citing a hadith (saying of Islam’s Prohet Mohammed), while making a series of election pledges such as the ending of travel restrictions to countries with substantial Muslim populations, labeled by US President Donald Trump’s detractors as a “Muslim ban.”

“Your voice is your vote. Muslim American voices matter. I’ll be a president who seeks out and incorporates the ideas and concerns of Muslim Americans on everyday issues that matter most to our communities,” Biden says in the clip.

The ad, which also features the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, sees Biden’s promise of “having Muslim American voices as part of my administration.”

The video urges American Muslims to go out and vote, calling the effort “the largest Muslim voter mobliziation in America.”
Also on rt.com Envoy demands VOA ramp up anti-Iran efforts to ‘support’ Iranians… because what they really need is more US-funded propaganda

The clip was shared on the VOA’s Urdu website as well as across its social media, before it was scrapped.

In his statement, Pack said that the agency is seeking to find those behind “this significant content and editorial breakdown.”

“USAGM staff members who attempt to influence American elections will be held accountable.”

Ever since Pack was confirmed by the Senate in early June to lead the agency, mainstream media and Democrats have been sounding alarms over the VOA, initially set up in 1942 as a propaganda arm of the US government, potentially becoming an outlet for the wrong kind of propaganda – that is, a mouthpiece for the Trump campaign. However, that does not seem to be the case, at least, for now.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Taliban Group Says Completed Release of 1,000 Afghan Prisoners Under Agreement With US

Sputnik – 31.07.2020

KABUL – The Taliban movement has completed the release of 1,000 Afghan prisoners as per the Doha deal agreed with Washington, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said on Friday.

“According to the Doha Agreement, in which the Islamic Emirate promised to release 1000 prisoners in exchange for 5,000 prisoners, this number was completed by us today,” Shaheen said.

Earlier in the day, the Taliban completed the process by releasing 82 prisoners in the Afghan provinces of Herat, Farah, Ghor, Nimroz, Zabul and Balkh, the spokesman added.

The Afghan government and the Taliban committed to releasing each other’s prisoners — 5,000 and 1,000, respectively — as part of a peace deal negotiated by the group and the United States in the Qatari capital of Doha on 29 February, with the outlook to launch intra-Afghan talks. Kabul has so far freed only 4,400 detainees, according to the Taliban.

Earlier this week, Shaheen said that the Taliban would release the remaining Afghan prisoners before the Muslim sacrifice festival of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday, as a goodwill gesture. The movement expects the peace talks with the Afghan government to start in August following the release of the prisoners.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Unsealed docs: Clinton was on ‘pedophile island’ w/ ‘young girls’ & cite Epstein saying former president ‘owed him favor’

RT | July 31, 2020

Newly unsealed files tied to the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking case imply that former US President Bill Clinton visited the investor’s private island along with “young girls,” and that the FBI knew well about the minors’ abuse.

Comprising hundreds of pages of documents, the trove was released on Thursday night following a judge’s order last week to have it unsealed, over the objections of Ghislaine Maxwell, a former girlfriend to Epstein who has recently been charged as an accomplice in his alleged sex-trafficking operation.

The records stem from a 2015 defamation suit filed by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, which was placed under lock and key after the case was settled in 2017, but was recently unsealed, as a result of a lawsuit brought last year by conservative blogger Mike Cernovich and the Miami Herald newspaper.

Among other revelations, the documents indicate that former US president Bill Clinton consorted with “young girls” during at least one visit to Epstein’s private resort in the Virgin Islands, where the billionaire was said to host regular “sex orgies.”

“When you were present with Jeffery Epstein and Bill Clinton on the island, who else was there?” one witness – presumably Giuffre – was asked during an interview, to which she replied that Epstein, Maxwell, an unidentified woman named “Emmy” and “2 young girls” had been on the island with the former POTUS. The witness did not elaborate on Clinton’s interactions with the girls, however.

The same witness also told her attorney in 2011 that she had overheard Epstein saying that Clinton owed him “favors,” but noted she couldn’t tell whether he was joking.

“He would laugh it off. You know, I remember asking Jeffrey ‘What’s Bill Clinton doing here?’… and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor,’” she said. “He never told me what favors they were. I never knew. I didn’t know if he was serious.”

“He told me a long time ago that everyone owes him favors. They’re all in each other’s pockets.”

One of America’s top law enforcement agencies was also apparently aware that underage girls were still being abused at Epstein’s properties as far back as 2011 – years after he was sentenced for similar crimes in his first criminal case. During her defamation suit, Giuffre said she had provided the FBI a now widely circulated photo of herself and the UK’s Prince Andrew – where he is pictured smiling with an arm around her bare waist.

In 2014, moreover, Giuffre contacted the FBI to request evidence they had previously seized from Epstein’s residences to aid her civil case, suggesting the bureau had for long been informed of her allegations regarding Epstein and his continued involvement with minor girls.

President Donald Trump also made an appearance in the unsealed papers. However, an associate of Epstein, Juan Alessi, said in an interview that Trump “never” stayed overnight while visiting Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, and that he did not receive any “massages” there, as “he’s got his own spa.” An alleged victim also maintained that while Trump and Epstein were “good friends,” Trump made no attempts to “flirt” with her.

Despite repeatedly insisting he had no ties to Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring, legal scholar and former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz is directly accused in the documents of having “sexual relations” with an underage girl. He is also said to have witnessed “the sexual abuse of many other minors by Epstein and several of Epstein’s co-conspirators,” and would later help to negotiate an undisclosed immunity deal for himself during Epstein’s first criminal case.

More than 1,000 pages of documents from Giuffre’s civil defamation case had previously been released in August 2019, indicating that a long list of wealthy and powerful figures regularly spent time with Epstein at his lavish properties. One day after that trove was unsealed, Epstein was found hanging in his Manhattan prison cell, dead from an apparent suicide after being charged with sex trafficking and imprisoned some weeks previously.

Maxwell was arrested and charged with procuring minors for sexual abuse earlier this month, after keeping a low profile in the period following Epstein’s death. She has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts and remains in custody without bail, after prosecutors had labeled her an “extreme” flight risk.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 5 Comments

New ceasefire reached in Donbass, but for how long?

By Uriel Araujo | July 31, 2020

The war in Donbass (part of a broader Russo-Ukrainian conflict) is often called the “forgotten war” in Europe. It has killed over 13,000 people since 2014. The conflict has been described as “frozen” since Minsk II agreement (February 2015). Such did not put an end to war itself – periodic shelling and fighting along the line of contacts never stopped – but since then, the number of casualties decreased and no further territorial changes occurred.

There have been other ceasefires: 2017, for example, was a year of intense fighting and quite a few failed ceasefires. In 2019, an agreement (often described as the “Steinmeier formula” after its German proposer) was signed between the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, and both “rebel republics”: the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). It came of course after intense negotiation and it basically proposes that free election be held in the LPR and DPR territories – observed and verified by OSCE officials. Subsequently, these territories could be reintegrated into Ukraine with special “autonomous” status. Some Ukrainian and rebel troops did withdraw after this agreement.

Unfortunately the Coronavirus pandemic has caused the Donbass situation to go backward. However, on Sunday, a new ceasefire was decided by the Minsk Trilateral contact group (backed by Putin and Zelenskiy), starting on Monday and that has generated some hope. However, two breaches have already been claimed by the Ukraine military on Monday, minutes after midnight, involving grenades and machine guns (no casualties were reported). Besides, other issues still linger such as the situation of war prisoners.

It is indeed too early to speculate on what will be the outcome of it. For many Donbass residents, being once again a part of Ukraine became unthinkable. The Ukrainian government’s offensives did take a large toll on civilians in Donbass. Hospital, schools, the local energy company’s office and many other buildings in the city of Horlivka (Donetsk), for example, were destroyed or damaged by shelling (in 2014). Many struggled without electric power and water cut off. Such wounds take some time to heal. Furthermore, on February (2019), Ukrainian legislators repealed a bill which would have made it possible for people living in both rebel republics to get their pensions without needing to take difficult trips outside of the conflict zone and then back home.

On the other hand, experts have noted that after the hottest phase of the war, so far there have not been large-scale civilian atrocities. It could indicate neither side has an interest in further fomenting “ethnic” divisions for political gain: there have not been mass rapes, mutilations or other such type of civil war tactics.

According to a key Luhansk official, the main challenges of Donbass now are not of a humanitarian nature but rather mostly political. There is no hunger, but there are indeed economical problems, most of which would be at least ameliorated if it were not for the lack of recognition from the international community. Both rebel republics are currently recognised only by each other and by South Ossetia, which in its turn, is itself a partially-recognised state.

This being so, neither of the two republics have embassies abroad. However, some representation bureaus have been opened, in Russia, Italy, France and a few other European nations. Last year, the LNR opened its first bureau outside of Europe: a “Cultural Representation Office” in Congo. This was a “foreign policy” win for the LNR, which is increasing dialogue with Congo and seeking other potential interlocutors.

It is hard to tell whether either of the two republics would be “viable” (both are heavily dependent on Russia as of now) without gaining international recognition. And the Russian Federation in its turn shows no intent of integrating Donbass into its territory – Donbass is not Crimea.

Professor Jesse Driscoll at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego sees the conflict as a civil war and not merely as a proxy war between Russia and Ukraine. In his view, describing it as a “civil war” – thus emphasizing internal Ukrainian political problems – should not be confused with a “capitulation to Russia” of some sort. It is rather about recognizing some of the valid concerns of the Russian-speaking and pro-Russian Ukrainian population (this region after all has historical and cultural ties to Russia).

To further complicate things, one should not think of the Donbass war as an ethnic conflict plain and simple. Ukraine is of course a strongly bilingual society (both Russian and Ukrainian, with a high degree of intermarriage). Furthermore, many people may declare themselves ethnically as either Russian or Ukrainian, depending on context. In fact, many self-declared “ethnic Ukrainians” are Donbass separatists (“pro-Russian”) while there were and are “ethnic Russians” fighting on the Ukrainian side – on the Azov battalion, even. The truth is that one’s political stance is often a better predictor – regarding one’s attitude towards the conflict – than language or ethnicity. And the main dividing issue was and is of course Maidan. It is about 2 possible Ukraines: one is an European nation, closer the West and the US. The other is a natural ally of Russia and part of the “Russian world” (culturally) and is also proud of its Soviet heritage.

These are the two world-views currently clashing in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the plight of the civilian population of Donbass remains.

Uriel Araujo is a researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment