SINCE THE RAPTURE OCCURS BEFORE THE FUTURE 7 YR TREATY IS SIGNED, I WONT BE AROUND TO HAVE THE ACTUAL TREATY SIGNING. BUT UNTIL THEN THIS SITE IS DEDICATED TO THE BEGININGS OF THE ISRAELI / ARAB PEACE PROCESS. AND AS CLOSE TO THE 7 YEAR SIGNING THAT WE GET BEFORE THE RAPTURE OF THE SAVED TO HEAVEN. UNTIL WE MEET JESUS IN THE CLOUDS BODILY, AND COME TO EARTH 7 YRS LATER.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NETANYAHU-ISRAELI STRIKES DEALT SERIOUS BLOW TO IRAN AND SYRIA.

JEWISH KING JESUS IS COMING AT THE RAPTURE FOR US IN THE CLOUDS-DON'T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD.THE BIBLE TAKEN LITERALLY- WHEN THE PLAIN SENSE MAKES GOOD SENSE-SEEK NO OTHER SENSE-LEST YOU END UP IN NONSENSE.GET SAVED NOW- CALL ON JESUS TODAY.THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH - NO OTHER. 1 COR 15:23-JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS-CHRISTIANS RAPTURED TO JESUS-FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT-23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.ROMANS 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.(THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE)

LUKE 21:28-29
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)

JOEL 2:3,30
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)

ZECHARIAH 14:12-13
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)

EZEKIEL 20:47
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

ZEPHANIAH 1:18
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

MALACHI 4:1
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE

Netanyahu: Israeli strikes dealt ‘serious blow’ to Iran, Syria-After exchanges of fire on northern border, PM tells ministers Israel will 'continue to strike back at any attempt to harm us'-By TOI staff and AP-FEB 12,18

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said airstrikes targeting key Iranian military facilities in Syria over the weekend inflicted heavy damage on the Iranian and Syrian militaries, and vowed that Israel would act decisively to counter any further provocations.“Yesterday we dealt a serious blow to the armies of Iran and Syria,” Netanyahu told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of engagement have not changed in any way.”“We will continue to strike back at any attempt to harm us,” Netanyahu said,  according to a statement. “This has been our policy and will remain our policy.”The wave of Israeli airstrikes came after the IDF intercepted an Iranian drone that had infiltrated its airspace and an Israeli F-16 was downed upon its return from Syria on Saturday. It was Israel’s most serious engagement in neighboring Syria since fighting there began in 2011 — and its most devastating air assault on the country in decades.The IDF said it destroyed the drone’s Iranian launching site along with four additional Iranian positions and eight Syrian sites, including the Syrian military’s main command and control bunker.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said Sunday that at least six Syrian troops and allied militiamen were killed in the airstrikes. The six included Syrian troops as well as non-Syrian allied troops, the Britain-based Observatory said.It began at approximately 4:25 a.m. on Saturday, when an Iranian drone from Syria entered Israeli territory from Jordan and was shot down by an Apache attack helicopter near the northern Israeli city of Beit She’an, according to the army.During retaliatory airstrikes later on Saturday, the Israeli jets came under heavy Syrian anti-aircraft fire. The pilots of one of the F-16s had to eject and the plane crashed in northern Israel. One pilot was seriously wounded and the other one lightly.Israel would not confirm whether its aircraft was actually shot down by enemy fire, which would mark the first such instance for Israel since 1982 during the first Lebanon war.Israel has recently issued several stern warnings about the increased Iranian involvement along its borders with Syria and Lebanon, which it attributes to Iran’s growing confidence following Syrian President Bashar Assad’s successes in the Syrian civil war, thanks to support by main allies Russia and Iran.On Sunday, members of the high-level security cabinet said Israel’s retaliatory strikes sent a clear message to Tehran that it would not tolerate an Iranian military foothold on its doorstep and vowed that Israel would continue to act against efforts to violate its sovereignty.Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio that Israel was not seeking to inflame tensions along the northern border, and indicated the strikes caught Iran by surprise.“They, and we, know what we hit and it will take them some time to digest, understand, and ask how Israel knew how to hit those sites,” he said. “These were concealed sites and we have intelligence agencies and the ability to know everything that is going on there and yesterday we proved that.”Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the radio station Israel won’t show restraint when its sovereignty is violated, and warned that Saturday’s strikes were “a small example of what we know how to do.”Israel fears Iran could use Syrian territory to stage attacks or create a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon that could allow it to transfer weapons more easily to the Lebanese Hezbollah — an Iranian-backed Shiite militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction. Hezbollah’s fighters are also fighting on Assad’s side in the Syrian civil war.Though Israel has largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict, it has reportedly struck weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah dozens of times since 2012.Israel has also shot down several drones that previously tried to infiltrate its territory from Syria, but the capture of an Iranian drone and the direct targeting of Iranian sites in response marked a dramatic escalation in the Israeli retaliation.

Sword-wielding man injures 4 worshipers at Indonesian church-Perpetrator's motive in bloody assault during Sunday Mass is unknown, police say-By AFP-TOI-FEB 12,18

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police have shot a sword-wielding man who attacked church congregation during Sunday Mass, injuring four people including a priest.Around 100 people were attending the mass at the church in Sleman town, Yogyakarta province when a man wielding a one-meter-long sword and began attacking people seemingly indiscriminately.“Four people have been injured in the incident — quite seriously — but we still cannot determine the perpetrator’s motive,” Yogyakarta police spokesman Yulianto told AFP.A congregation member Andhi Cahyo said a few minutes after the mass started, a congregation member barged into the church with a bleeding head. A young man holding a sharp weapon was chasing him.“Everybody started panicking and screaming, I was scrambling to save my wife and children,” Cahyo told AFP.People in the church ran out through another door and the assailant pursued them while also destroying church property.He also attacked a priest who was standing at the altar.Police arrived on the scene shortly after the attack and fired a warning shot into the air to subdue the perpetrator, who refused to surrender.“After the warning shot was fired, the attacked charged towards the officer with his sword. The officer then shot him below his stomach, but he managed to injure the cop before being subdued,” Cahyo said.All victims have been taken to Panti Rapih hospital for treatment.The incident was the latest attack in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country against a minority group in Indonesia, which is home to significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.In 2016 several children were injured after a man allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at a church during a Sunday service.

Visiting injured pilots, Rivlin says Israel ‘proved’ it can deal with Iran-President praises aviators' 'persistence,' says Netanyahu was right to have warned world of 2015 nuclear deal-By Michael Bachner and TOI staff-FEB 12,18

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday visited the two injured IAF pilots whose F-16 fighter jet was downed by an apparent Syrian anti-aircraft missile on Saturday, praising them for their quick response and issuing fresh warnings to Iran.“We have proven that we are capable of dealing with Iran,” he told the aviators, referring to the interception of an Iranian drone over Israel and to reprisal strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.“Once again we have seen the teams, who operate following training and whose DNA is to persistently pursue their objective, refusing to return before completing the mission.”Shortly after the meeting at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, one of the airmen, who was lightly wounded while ejecting the plane, was released from hospital.The other pilot was seriously hurt during the ejection, suffering injuries to his chest and abdomen and undergoing emergency surgery. On Sunday, he regained consciousness and was taken off the respirator, with his injuries now classified as moderate.Thanking the country’s security forces during the visit, Rivlin added a warning directed at Iran and its regional allies.“We have Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, and today we have Iran, and everyone must understand that Israel will not sit idly by when someone tries to disrupt our state and our citizens’ daily lives,” he said. “We aren’t just talking about a nuclear threat, but about a state sponsor of terror.”Rivlin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was right to have repeatedly warned the international community of the Iranian threat over the past years, including in his vocal criticism of the 2015 nuclear deal signed with world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.“Everyone in all the world powers and in all countries knows that we won’t be able to accept Iranian involvement on our border,” Rivlin continued.Rivlin on Saturday spoke over the telephone to the lightly injured pilot.”My heart is with you and your comrades, and I hope that I will meet you soon. You and the entire squadron have proven that you do not come back until your mission is fulfilled, and I thank God together with the entire nation that you have returned,” Rivlin told the pilot, according to his spokesperson.The F-16 jet took part in Israeli airstrikes in response to an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria in the early morning hours on Saturday.The Israeli Air Force said it was investigating what caused the pilots to eject and if the aircraft was hit by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles. If the plane was in fact shot down by enemy fire, it would mark the first such instance for Israel since the 1982 Lebanon War.An initial Israeli Air Force investigation indicated that crash was caused by explosion of an anti-aircraft missile next to the plane, the army said early Sunday.An army spokesperson stressed that the investigation into the crash is ongoing, but said that the current assessment is that the missile brought down the F-16, known in Israel as a Sufa.The Israeli Air Force conducted a series of reprisal strikes in Syria.Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar, the Israeli Air Force’s second-in-command, said the Israeli planes faced a massive barrage of Syrian anti-aircraft fire, which reportedly included at least four different types of Russian-made air defense systems, specifically the SA-5, SA-17, SA-6 and SA-3.While the Israeli Air Force has developed a reputation for aerial superiority in the region, Saturday’s crash served as a stark reminder of what many Israeli defense officials and analysts have been saying for years: no military system is perfect and unbeatable.The more advanced Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets have a significant advantage over the generally older Russian air defense systems — to say nothing of the F-35 stealth aircraft, which was declared operational in December — but that advantage is not total.On Saturday, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former fighter pilot and head of Military Intelligence, dismissed claims that the downing of the F-16 showed that Israel had lost its air superiority.“True, sometimes there are losses, or mistakes on our side, but the balance is unequivocal,” Yadlin tweeted.“Israel demonstrated its abilities to defend its skies; it struck for the first time directly Iranian forces in Syria and exacted a price from Iran; it destroyed many Syrian SAM sites and left Damascus exposed to future attacks,” he said.Agencies contributed to this report.

Freed from shroud of ‘foreign reports,’ Israel-Iran fight steps out from shadows-Long-heard warnings about a clash between Jerusalem and Tehran are poised to become reality -- unless someone can stop it-By Judah Ari Gross-FEB 12,18-TOI

On Thursday, the International Crisis Group think tank and advocacy firm warned in a new comprehensive report that Israel and Iran (plus its proxies) were barreling toward open conflict in Syria.Those prescient warnings came true — in part, at least — throughout Saturday morning, beginning shortly before 4:30 a.m., with the violation of Israeli airspace by a drone that the Israeli military says was piloted by an Iranian operator from an airfield that Tehran had taken control of months before, with Syrian permission.Israeli jets conducted reprisal raids in Syria, during which one of the F-16 fighter planes was apparently hit by shrapnel from an exploding anti-aircraft missile and crashed in northern Israel, in what appears to be the first downing of an Israeli plane since 1982.The aircraft’s pilots bailed out; one of them was seriously injured.Air force jets then completed a second set of retaliatory strikes. In the two rounds, the Israeli military said, its aircraft targeted several Syrian air defense systems as well as four Iranian positions in the country.This was the first time Israel publicly acknowledged conducting airstrikes against Iranian-held locations in Syria, though not the first time it had done so, according to foreign reports.In the aftermath of the Saturday morning clash, Israeli, Syrian and Iranian politicians released tough, threatening statements aimed at one another. The United States backed Israel’s right to self-defense. Russia called for calm on all sides, but singled out Israel for violating Syrian sovereignty with its strikes, while conspicuously ignoring the Iranian drone’s airspace violation.The aerial exchange thrust what had previously been a long-simmering but largely quiet conflict into the international spotlight and raised concerns that this bout will be the first of many clashes — and, in the nightmare scenario, the start of a full-fledged war across Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel.I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll see such an event, but for the time being both sides will restrain their responses-However, the prevailing belief among Israeli defense analysts is that Saturday’s events were not the prelude to open war, but the beginning of an extended period of increased tension, which is liable to see additional clashes.“I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll see such an event, but for the time being both sides will restrain their responses,” Sima Shine, a career defense official and current senior researcher at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies think tank, told reporters on Sunday.She added, during the phone briefing organized by the Media Central group, that escalation is in neither side’s best interest.Amos Yadlin, a former fighter pilot and Military Intelligence chief, described Saturday as the “most significant day of fighting” in what Israel describes as its “campaign between wars,” often referred to in Hebrew by its acronym, Mabam.“Despite the containment of the incident, the campaign is expected to continue,” Yadlin said.In its report, released two days before Saturday’s flareup, the Crisis Group laid out how this campaign between Israel and the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis has developed and how it can be prevented from escalating further.The organization tracks the current tensions to the Syrian regime’s battlefield victories over the past two and a half years, which it has achieved in large part due to support from the Russian military, which has provided significant air power since September 2015.These have opened the Iran-led axis to shift toward preparing for a future conflict with Israel.Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering of the deescalation agreement. Unless it does, the rules of the Syrian game are likely to be worked out through attack and response, with risk of escalation-According to the think tank, Russia is also the only entity able to prevent such a bloody war, having emerged from the Syrian civil war as the region’s sole remaining superpower after the United States dramatically scaled back its involvement in the conflict.“Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering of the deescalation agreement. Unless it does, the rules of the Syrian game are likely to be worked out through attack and response, with risk of escalation,” according to the report.The group outlines three main issues that need to be addressed: the presence of Iranian and Shiite forces near the Israeli Golan Heights; the construction of Iranian military infrastructure in Syria; and ensuring any clashes that do take place remain confined to Syria.The Crisis Group has also been working directly with Russia to try to persuade it to accept the role of mediator between Israel, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.“And we are seeing some traction with Russian officials,” Ofer Zalzberg, a senior Jerusalem-based analyst for the group and one of the report’s authors, told The Times of Israel last Wednesday ahead of the document’s publication.-The recipe for disaster-As Syrian dictator Bashar Assad vanquishes the remaining pockets of resistance in the country, the Israeli concern is that his allies — Iran, Hezbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias — will be freed to focus on establishing positions along the Israeli border from which to antagonize the Jewish state, as well as permanent naval and air bases to bring in more advanced weaponry and conduct attacks.Israel has designated these issues to be “red lines,” which it will not allow to be violated, and has said it will take military action if they are.In its report, the Crisis Group warned that if the Iranian axis presses on with these efforts and Israel retaliates in kind, there is significant potential for escalation or even a large-scale war that could destabilize the entire region.The military assessments of what a war between Israel and Hezbollah would look like are chilling: Hezbollah launching over 1,000 rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and strategic sites each day, along with attempted infiltrations of Israeli communities along the Lebanese border. Israel conducting wave after wave of airstrikes against Hezbollah infrastructure, which the terrorist group has embedded deep inside civilian areas, ensuring significant noncombatant deaths, as well as large-scale IDF ground force maneuvers in southern Lebanon.Zalzberg said a major part of the problem is that there are no established “rules of the game” between Israel and Iranian proxies in Syria, as there are in Lebanon, where Israel has been fighting Hezbollah off-and-on for decades.That means the “rules” will be sorted out through back-and-forth, tit-for-tat clashes like Saturday’s. But this is a perilous path, fraught with opportunities for miscalculation and resulting in unintended casualties on both sides.For instance, Israeli officials often refer to the “proverbial kindergarten” — the type of target that if hit, even accidentally, would prompt Israeli citizens to demand harsh and swift reprisals. As Iran and Hezbollah lack civilian targets in Syria, their equivalent might be a case of significant casualties from an Israeli airstrike, which would forced them to retaliate.This is a current concern, following Saturday’s exchange, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog group, reported that at least six pro-regime fighters — including both Syrians and foreign nationals — were killed in Israel’s strikes and that “the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation.”Zalzberg added the potential for escalation in Syria is driven higher by the fact that different sides do not have a clear grasp of one another’s goals and viewpoints, citing a year’s worth of interviews by the Crisis Group with officials in Jerusalem, Tehran, Beirut, Amman, Moscow and Washington.The report and its authors argue that it is ultimately in Russia’s best interest to avoid an all-out war between Israel and the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed Hezbollah, which would have the potential to completely destabilize the region.Unlike in the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah when the fighting was primarily limited to northern Israel and southern Lebanon, the view of both Israeli and Hezbollah officials is that the next conflict between the two groups would also include fighting in Syria.“A massive campaign by Israel will do enormous damage to [Damascus and its backers’] achievements, perhaps even destabilizing the regime itself,” the report noted.According to Zalzberg, this is not a desirable situation for Russia, as Moscow would like to see Assad regain near-total control over Syria.The analyst noted that this is at odds with Iran, which wants to see Assad in power, but does not necessarily want to see him becoming too powerful, preferring instead to have Syria controlled by a coalition, similar to Lebanon, so that its Shiite militias could play a more significant role in the country.Russia and only Russia-Moscow’s active support for Assad and his other main supporters, Iran and Hezbollah, has left Israeli officials decidedly wary of their Russian counterparts.The Crisis Group report quotes an unnamed Israeli Foreign Ministry official as saying of the Russians, “It’s hard to trust them. They tell us they are not selling weapons to Hezbollah, but we know for a fact that they do. Their policies are cynical. They are not an enticing mediator.”Yet there is an understanding among some in Israel that, while not enticing, Russia is the only mediator that has significant leverage over Iran and Hezbollah.Israel has already had to maintain a close, if uneasy, relationship with Moscow due to its involvement in the region.After Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jets that had invaded its airspace, Moscow installed an S-400 missile defense system in Syria. With the system, one of the world’s most advanced anti-aircraft batteries, Russia can monitor the overwhelming majority of Israel’s active airspace, including Israeli military flights.Or, as one Israeli official told the Crisis Group, “A fly can’t buzz above Syria without Russian consent nowadays.”This came as a shocking blow to the Israeli Air Force, which had, until then, enjoyed aerial superiority in the region, and required Jerusalem and Moscow to set up a hotline to prevent any potential conflicts between the two militaries.Israel has also worked diplomatically with Russia to secure a buffer zone around the southwestern Syrian border, in which Hezbollah and other Iran-backed Shiite militias would not be allowed to maintain a presence.The border area has naturally been of significant concern for Israel, which is loath to see Hezbollah set up military positions along the Golan Heights to join the significant infrastructure it has already put in place in southern Lebanon.Last month, the Syrian military, with some assistance from Shiite militias, regained control over the area of Beit Jinn, or Beit Jann, which is located just 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Israel’s Mount Hermon ski resort.Though it is currently focused on retaking the area of Idlib in northwestern Syria, this coalition is likely to soon focus its attention on the Quneitra and Daraa regions, near the Israeli border.Though Israel secured its buffer zone for that area this summer, the Crisis Group report notes that it would be relatively easy for these groups to get around the restriction, “for instance by integrating the fighters into the Syrian army or simply having them don its uniforms.”The advocacy group argues that before the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis moves toward the southwest, Russia should work to negotiate an agreement between it and Israel.There is still time for Russia to try to broker a set of understandings to prevent a confrontation, protecting both its investment in the regime and Syrian, Israeli and Lebanese lives-The Crisis Group notes that Israel’s insistence that Iranian and Iran-backed troops stay out of southern Syria will be the most difficult to negotiate, as Hezbollah and the Shiite militias would not be inclined to accept it and could easily cheat by disguising themselves as Syrians.However, the authors say this could be resolved by getting Russia to agree to prevent Iran from setting up the types of infrastructure most concerning to Israel, like a seaport through which the Islamic Republic could carry out attacks against Israeli natural gas fields, an airport to transport weapons to Hezbollah, or a factory for the production of precise missiles.“There is still time for Russia to try to broker a set of understandings to prevent a confrontation, protecting both its investment in the regime and Syrian, Israeli and Lebanese lives,” the Crisis Group wrote.

Egypt invites Hamas for talks on ‘security,’ sparking rumors-Some Palestinians believe visit linked to Cairo's war on Sinai jihadists, others say it's meant to salvage Hamas-PA reconciliation efforts or address Gaza crisis-By Khaled Abu Toameh-TOI-FEB 12,18

A surprise visit by senior Hamas officials to Cairo has sparked a wave of speculation on the reasons behind Egypt’s invitation.Some Palestinians claimed the visit was linked to the deteriorating security situation in Sinai, while others argued that it was aimed at salvaging the Egyptian-brokered “reconciliation” agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction.The Hamas delegation, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, left the Gaza Strip on Friday to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. Three senior Hamas officials are accompanying Haniyeh on his visit to Egypt: Khalil Al Hayya, Fathi Hammad and Rouhi Mushtaha.Last week, the Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah terminal for three days (between Wednesday and Friday) for the first time since the beginning of the year.Hamas said the visit, which coincided with a major military operation waged by the Egyptian army against terrorists in Sinai, came at the invitation of the Egyptian government.The visit also came on the heels of reports claiming that the Egyptian authorities had helped Hamas thwart a plot by the Islamic State to assassinate Haniyeh.Hamas has neither confirmed not denied the reports, which first appeared in Egyptian media outlets.It was Haniyeh’s first trip outside the Gaza Strip since the recent US decision to add him to the American list of global terrorists.Sources in the Gaza Strip said on Saturday that the talks between Hamas and Egyptian officials would focus on security-related issues.According to the sources, Egyptian security experts who visited the Gaza Strip recently discussed with Hamas officials ways of strengthening cooperation between the two sides along their shared border.“The Egyptians want Hamas to step up security measures along the border to thwart terror attacks in Sinai,” the sources added.Hamas is hoping the security cooperation would prompt the Egyptians to help solve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, the sources said.Palestinian political analyst Hamzeh Abu Shanab said the visit by the Hamas delegation to Cairo was mainly aimed at strengthening security coordination between the two sides, especially along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.Abu Shanab claimed that the visit was also connected to Egypt’s effort to prevent Qatar from regaining influence in the Palestinian arena.Last year, Egypt and three other Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — decided to cut off their diplomatic relations with Qatar, citing the emirate’s continued support for terrorism.Hours before he headed to Cairo, Haniyeh received a phone call from the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who pledged urgent aid worth $9 million to the Gaza Strip.Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the visit was in the context of joint efforts to “alleviate the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip.”But according to Barhoum, the Hamas officials’ discussions in Cairo will also deal with ways of removing obstacles hindering the implementation of the “reconciliation” accord with Fatah, which was signed in Cairo in November 2017.Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, said that the discussions would focus on the “conditions of our people in the Gaza Strip and their suffering as a result of the siege and sanctions.”The talks will also focus on the “floundering reconciliation” agreement and ways of “putting the Palestinian house in order,” he added.According to Abu Marzouk, the Egypt-Hamas discussions will also focus on the US administration’s “deal of the century” – a reference to a US plan for peace in the Middle East, the details of which remain unknown.It was unclear whether the Hamas officials would meet with Fatah representatives during their stay in Cairo.But Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesperson, said that his movement was not opposed to any meetings with Fatah officials.Radwan refused to comment on reports that suggested that the Hamas delegation was also planning to meet with ousted Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan.Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah after falling out with Abbas, has since been living in exile in the UAE.Last year, Hamas and Dahlan were reported to have struck a deal that would have seen the former Fatah leader return to the Gaza Strip, paving the way for the UAE and other countries to provide financial aid to the Palestinians living there.The deal was apparently foiled by Abbas’s sudden decision to sign the “reconciliation” accord with Hamas.Abbas and his top aides believe that Dahlan wants to replace the PA president and have accused him of working together with some Arab countries to undermine the PA leadership in Ramallah.

IDF apologizes for portraying Golan as outside Israel-Army says 'honest mistake' led to Heights being marked as disputed territory, stresses map does not reflect the military's position-By Judah Ari Gross-FEB 12,18-TOI

The Israeli military on Sunday apologized for a map it produced the night before in which the Golan Heights does not appear as fully part of Israel.A military spokesperson said it was an “honest mistake” and was in no way indicative of the Israeli army’s position on the status of the Golan Heights.“Yesterday during the production of an illustration to show the air force’s attacks in Syria, an honest mistake was made and the wrong map was used,” the army said in a statement.“Naturally, there was no intention behind sending out the map as it was. We regret the error, and it has been corrected,” the military said.The map, sent to reporters, showed four sites in Syria that were targeted in a series of Israeli reprisal raids after, first, an Iranian drone violated Israeli airspace and then an Israeli F-16 was apparently shot down by Syrian air defenses.IDF releases map of sites targeted in Saturday's strikes, notably SA-5, SA-17 and SA-2 batteries, as well as the mobile command unit from which the army says an Iranian operator flew a drone into Israeli airspace. pic.twitter.com/kFOHiwbPpb— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) February 10, 2018-In the document, the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and formally annexed in 1981, is portrayed as a disputed territory, with clear borders separating it from the rest of Israel and coloring as though it were both Israeli and Syrian.Israel’s annexation was never recognized by the international community and, as such, it generally appears in open-source maps as disputed territory.The officer noted that the map was created late at night, which contributed to the error. It was not widely distributed.

Coalition heads delay annexation bill following Syria clashes-Party leaders agree to postpone discussion of legislation that would apply Israeli sovereignty over all areas of Jewish settlement-By TOI staff and Jacob Magid-FEB 12,18

Citing the security incidents on Israel’s northern border over the weekend, the heads of coalition parties on Sunday pulled legislation aimed at annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank from the agenda of a meeting on the coming week’s legislative timetable.The so-called Sovereignty Bill, drafted by Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), seeks to apply Israeli sovereignty over all areas of Jewish settlement in the West Bank, which are currently under military rule.It will likely be pushed off until next week’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation meeting.The measure comes just over a month after the Likud Central Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, unanimously adopted a similar resolution calling on its members to act toward achieving West Bank annexation.On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled the legislation from the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s agenda, instead sending it to coalition heads for discussion during a Sunday meeting.A spokesman for a senior committee member told The Times of Israel that the prime minister wanted to coordinate the measure with the White House first.After Netanyahu pulled the vote from the committee meeting, 18 West Bank council chairmen signed a letter initiated by the Yesha settlement umbrella council calling on the prime minister to advance the legislation.Nevertheless, settler leaders were confident that the proposal has never had a higher likelihood of adoption. “Now more than ever, the conditions are ripe to apply sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley,” Yesha Director-General Shiloh Adler said.

71 feared dead as Russian plane crashes near Moscow-Rescue workers struggle to reach wreckage of Antonov An-148 jetliner; ministry says several causes possible, including bad weather, human error-By AFP-TOI-FEB 12,18

MOSCOW, Russia — A Russian passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed outside Moscow on Sunday after taking off from the capital’s Domodedovo airport, Russian media reported.The Antonov An-148 plane operated by the domestic Saratov Airlines was flying to Orsk, a city in the Urals, and crashed in the Ramensky district on the outskirts of Moscow. Russian news agencies reported 65 passengers and 6 crew were on board.News agencies said witnesses in the village of Argunovo saw a burning plane falling from the sky.A source from Russia’s emergency services told Interfax that the 71 people on board “had no chance” of survival.Plane crashed in Moscow, 60+ people on board, rescue can't get to it as its in the middle of the forest. Its debris already being covered by snowfall. Will update more pic.twitter.com/V58D5xk4ql— English Russia (@EnglishRussia1) February 11, 2018-The same news agency reported that the wreckage of the plane was spread over a wide area around the crash site.Russian state television aired a video of the crash site, showing parts of the wreckage in the snow. Russia has seen record high snowfalls in recent days and visibility was reportedly poor.The Russian-made plane was 7 years-old and bought by Saratov Airlines from another Russian airline a year ago.Russian media reported that the emergency services were unable to reach the crash site by road and that rescue workers walked to the scene on foot.A source at Domodedovo, Moscow’s second largest airport, told agencies that the plane disappeared from radars within two minutes of takeoff.The Russian transport minister was on his way to the crash site, agencies reported. The transport ministry said several causes for the crash are being considered, including weather conditions and human error.The governor of the Orenburg region, where the plane was flying to, told Russian media that “more than 60 people” on board the plane were from the region.Prosecutors opened an investigation into Saratov Airlines following the crash.Plane crashes are common in Russia, where airlines often operate ageing aircraft in testing flying conditions.A light aircraft crashed in November in Russia’s far east, killing six people on board.In December 2016 a military plane carrying Russia’s famed Red Army Choir crashed after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, killing all 92 people on board.The choir had been due to give a concert to Russian troops operating in Syria.Pilot error was blamed for that crash.In March 2016, all 62 passengers died when a FlyDubia jet crashed in bad weather during an aborted landing at Rostov-on-Don airport.

Iranian-Canadian environmentalist dies in Iran prison after ‘suicide’-Family, colleagues of prominent professor reject authorities' account of Kavous Seyed Emami's death-By Eric RANDOLPH-TOI-FEB 12,18

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Questions surrounded the death of a prominent Iranian-Canadian environmentalist on Sunday after authorities claimed he committed suicide in prison a fortnight after his arrest.Iran’s academic community was in shock over the death of Kavous Seyed Emami, 63, one of the country’s most revered professors and head of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.He was arrested along with seven colleagues from the wildlife NGO on January 24, and his death was announced by the family on social media late on Saturday.“The news of my father’s passing is impossible to fathom,” wrote his son Ramin Seyed Emami, a well-known singer, on his Instagram page.He said security officials had informed his mother on Friday.“They say he committed suicide. I still can’t believe this.”Asked about the case on Sunday, Tehran’s chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed the death.“This person was one of the accused and given that he knew there were many revelations against him and that he himself had made confessions, unfortunately he committed suicide in prison,” he told the reformist ILNA news agency.Dolatabadi had said on Saturday that several people linked to environmental causes had been arrested on espionage charges, without giving further details.“A number of individuals who collected information and gave it to foreigners were identified, some were arrested and some may be arrested in the future. The case is at its initial stage and details cannot be disclosed,” Gholamhossein Esmailie, the head of Tehran’s judiciary department, told ILNA on Sunday.Multiple ‘suicides’-The Iran Sociology Association, of which Emami was an active member, released a statement on Sunday questioning the claims.“The information published about him is not believable and we expect officials to respond and to provide the public with information concerning his death,” the statement said.A source close to the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation told AFP that the other seven were still in jail.Among them was Hooman Jokar, who headed a program to save the endangered Asiatic cheetah.Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American businessman who was a member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation board, was also in detention.In November, the conservative-linked Tasnim news agency accused Tahbaz of being a big-game hunter who was trying to seize control of national park land in northern Iran.Tahbaz comes from a wealthy family who made their fortune before the 1979 revolution and once owned the renowned Kayhan newspaper, which is now controlled by the Islamic authorities.Emami’s death follows reports of at least two other “suicides” in detention that were linked to the week-long protests in late December and early January.Mahmoud Sadeghi, an outspoken lawmaker, had claimed a 23-year-old protester named Sina Ghanbari died in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, but the judiciary said he was a drug-trafficker who had committed suicide.Another man died after being arrested during protests in the city of Arak in central Iran. Local officials said he had stabbed himself to death.‘Loved Iran, the environment’-“Everyone is in shock,” an academic who knew Emami well told AFP on condition of anonymity.“He was one of the best professors. He was very profound, very composed, not at all political. He loved Iran and the environment.“He came back recently from Canada where he was doing research. On his return, he was called in several times” by the authorities.Emami had taught at the Imam Sadegh University, where many of the regime’s leading figures were educated including nuclear negotiator Said Jalili.Ali Shakourirad, head of the reformist Islamic Union Party, tweeted that the death “has caused a wave of questions and concerns among the public.”“The Tehran prosecutor’s incomplete and vague information has added to these concerns. What is going on in this country? Why doesn’t the judiciary give out information in time and transparently?” he wrote.Emami is the second Iranian-Canadian citizen to die in Iran’s prisons following the murder of 54-year-old Zahra Kazemi in 2003, who had been arrested for taking photos outside Evin Prison.The vice-president at the time, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, stated she died from “a brain hemorrhage caused by a beating.”The case overshadowed relations with Canada for years.Canada severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, after its government criticized the Islamic republic’s support for the Syrian regime, its “incitement to genocide” against Israel and its leaders’ failure to account for their nuclear program.Iran does not recognize dual nationality and treats those arrested as Iranian citizens only.After a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2015, Canada announced the lifting of economic sanctions on the country and said it was reviewing its wider relations.

Egypt hits Sinai targets, killing 16 jihadists and arresting dozens-Military says it has destroyed 66 sites in major crackdown on Islamist insurgency in war-rattled peninsula-By Agencies-TOI-FEB 12,18

Egypt’s military has destroyed dozens of targets, killed 16 fighters and detained over 30 suspects as part of its latest operation against Islamic jihadists in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, the army said on Sunday.Army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai said that airstrikes hit vehicles, weapons caches, communications centers and illegal opium fields in the sweep, which began on Friday and comes as a response to a pickup in extremist violence in Egypt.“The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks” during raids by security forces, he said in a statement.The operation, which targets “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations,” involves land, naval and air forces from the army and police, and covers north and central Sinai, the Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.The offensive comes ahead of a March vote that will undoubtedly see President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi win a second four-year term, after all serious opponents have been sidelined or driven out of the race.Sissi, who has waged a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, claims he is the only one who can restore Egypt’s security, and ordered the Sinai operation after militants struck.In November, jihadists killed 311 worshipers in a mosque attack in north Sinai, the deadliest such killing in Egypt’s modern history, prompting Sissi to give security forces a three-month deadline to restore order using “all brute force” required.But the terrorists launched another brazen attack in December, firing a missile at a helicopter that was part of the entourage of Egypt’s defense and interior ministers, who were in the provincial capital el-Arish on an unannounced visit. Neither minister was in the aircraft when the attack took place but the missile killed an officer and wounded two others.Jihadist insurgency has long been a problem in Sinai, but it spiked dramatically after Sissi led the military’s 2013 overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Violence has been concentrated in north Sinai, but has also spread to the mainland.Meanwhile, two terror groups that have carried out previous attacks on security forces, denounced the new operation in statements posted online.The group known as Hasm urged Egyptians to unite against the “traitorous regime” which was “digging its own grave” by “declaring open war on Sinai.”Another group, called Liwaa el-Thawra, said the offensive, involving tens of thousands of troops, was a sign the government was losing control of Sinai, where it vowed to continue it struggle.Authorities believe both groups, which have been designated as terrorist organizations by Egypt and the United States, to be splinter groups of Morsi’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Former Qaeda leader in Syria ‘welcomes’ Israeli airstrikes-Saleh Al-Hamwi tweets rare public support for Jerusalem, but contends Iran succeeded in creating deterrence over Syrian skies-By Dov Lieber-TOI-FEB 12,18

In a rare public expression of support for Israel by a radical Islamist figure in Syria, a former leader in al-Qaeda’s Syrian militia on Saturday welcomed Israeli airstrikes against Syrian and Iranian targets in the country after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace, and called on the Jewish state to quickly “uproot” Iran from its northern neighbor.“We welcome any Israeli aerial or naval bombardment against the [Syrian] regime and Iran in Syria. We urge them to do more. And we say to Israel: Your silence over Iran’s intervention in Syria will turn against you. It’s inevitable. Act with haste to uproot them,” Saleh Al-Hamwi wrote on Twitter.Hamwi was a founder of the Nusra Front in 2012. In July 2015, the jihadist group said it dismissed him for not falling in line with the group’s internal politics.He is now reportedly affiliated with the hardline Islamist group Ahrar il-Sham.On Saturday, tensions flared on the Israeli-Syrian border, after the IDF intercepted an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace from Jordan and an Israeli F-16 was apparently hit while flying over Syria during a retaliatory raid. The Israeli plane managed to return to Israel, where its two pilots ejected. One of the airmen was severely injured, while the second was lightly wounded.In response, the Israeli Air Force quickly conducted a series of reprisal strikes in Syria.Hamwi contended that Iran had intentionally sent the drone into Israeli airspace in order to draw Israeli planes into the range of anti-aircraft weaponry stationed at the base where the UAV had taken off from.“[Iran] sent a drone and penetrated Israeli airspace with the prior knowledge that Israel would respond and bomb the launch site of the UAV,” he tweeted.“A decision was made in advance to bring down any Israeli fighter plane that would bomb the airport” using the Russian-made S-200 air defense system, Hamwi added.The outspoken Syrian militant concluded that neither Iran nor Israel are interested in war right now. He argued, however, that Iran had succeeded in its goal of deterring Israeli airstrikes, which have reportedly become commonplace in Syria in recent years.“It certainly opens a new stage,” he wrote.The Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which has been fighting for the Assad regime, hailed Syria’s air defenses, saying Saturday’s incident marked the start of a new era.“This is the beginning of a new strategic era that puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territory,” the terror group said in a statement published by Lebanon’s ANI news agency.During Israel’s widespread retaliatory offensive on Saturday in Syria, the IDF said, it hit four Iranian positions and eight Syrian sites, causing significant damage.Israel also said it destroyed the Syrian military’s main command and control bunker in its most devastating assault in the country in decades.Saturday’s exchange marked Israel’s most serious engagement in neighboring Syria since fighting there began in 2011. The events also seemingly marked the first direct combat between Israel and Iran.Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

On revolution anniversary, Rouhani decries US, Israeli ‘plots’ to divide Iran-Addressing hundreds of thousands in Tehran, president says mass attendance a response to 'Zionists' moves in the region'-By Agencies and TOI staff-FEB 12,18

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for a “year of unity” in the face of “Israeli plots” to create division, as Iran celebrated 39 years since the Islamic Revolution Sunday in the wake of protests that rocked the country last month.“The plots by the United States and Israel to create division among the Iranians, Iraqis and the Lebanese were defeated,” Rouhani said in a speech before a huge crowd in Tehran, as hundreds of thousands converged on the city’s central Azadi Square.“The Americans wanted to interfere in our internal affairs, but our people turned its back to them,” Rouhani said, as demonstrators chanted traditional slogans of “Death to the United States” and “Death to Israel.”Earlier, Rouhani said the widespread attendance was a “response to the new US conspiracies against our nation and the Zionists’ moves in the region,” apparently referring to IDF strikes on Iranian targets in Syria over the weekend and the downing of an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace.“I request that the 40th year of the revolution, the coming year, be the year of unity,” he added. “I ask conservatives, reformists, moderates and all parties and all people to come and be together.”Abroad, Iran has successfully helped push back the Islamic State group in Iraq and assisted embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in regaining strategic ground in his country’s long war.At home, however, the country’s economy still struggles despite its 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers.In late December and early January, protests across the country began over the economy. They later changed into demonstrations directly challenging the government.Rouhani, a long-time regime insider who won power in 2013 and again in 2017 with the backing of reformists, has faced tough criticism from conservatives over his efforts to rebuild relations with the West and ease civil liberties.“We should trust the people. We must allow all inclinations to participate in elections,” he said. “In the last 39 years, we have progressed in many fields, but at the same time we have had shortcomings. Maybe in decision-making, we have had delays. Maybe we haven’t been speaking transparently with our people.”The conservative-dominated Guardian Council has the power to veto candidates in all elections, and has in the past barred hundreds of reformists from standing for the presidency and parliament.The ceremony comes a day after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated its airspace and launched a widespread retaliatory offensive against Iranian targets in Syria.The IDF said it destroyed the drone’s Iranian launching site along with four additional Iranian positions and eight Syrian sites, including the Syrian military’s main command and control bunker.An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was apparently hit while flying over Syria during the raid, but managed to return to Israel, where its two pilots bailed out of the plane, which crashed into a field in the Jezreel Valley, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. One of the airmen was severely injured, while the second was lightly wounded.Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday the Israeli strikes sent a clear message to the Islamic Republic that Jerusalem won’t tolerate an Iranian military foothold on its doorstep.Katz told Army Radio it would take the Iranians time to “digest” the Israeli airstrikes.“They, and we, know what we hit and it will take them some time to digest, understand, and ask how Israel knew how to hit those sites,” he said. “These were concealed sites and we have intelligence agencies and the ability to know everything that is going on there and yesterday we proved that.”