The Middle East Channel

Hezbollah claims responsibility for drone downed over Israel

Hezbollah claims responsibility for drone downed over Israel

Sheikh Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for a drone that was shot down over Israel on Saturday. Speaking to Hezbollah’s al-Manar television, Nasrallah said, "A sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft was sent from Lebanese territory and traveled hundreds of kilometers over the sea before crossing enemy lines and into occupied Palestine." It is believed to have been launched near the southern Lebanese city of Sidon and was shot down about 35 miles inland to the north of Israel’s Negev desert. Nasrallah stated the aircraft flew over "sensitive sites" which likely included Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor. In a rare reference to the movement’s links to Iran, Nasrallah said that the drone was designed by Iran and assembled in Lebanon. The move has come after heightened concerns of a preemptive strike by Israel over Iran’s controversial nuclear development program. Also, it has increased fears that Hezbollah might instigate fighting with Israel to distract attention from the civil war in Syria. Hezbollah has additionally been accused of assisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict. Nasrallah denied sending fighters to Syria. He said the group maintains the right to join the conflict in the future.

Syria

Russia is pushing for more information on Wednesday’s forced landing of a jetliner in Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan maintains there were munitions in the plane’s cargo that were being sent to the Syrian defense ministry. The recent events show a greater regional involvement in what has become an 18-month conflict in Syria. A representative from Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport asserted that everything on the plane had cleared customs and security checks. Syrian Arab Airlines head Ghaida Abdulatif said the plane had been carrying civilian electrical equipment. Turkey said it would prevent the use of its airspace for weapons transfers and deployed 25 fighter planes on Monday to protect its southeastern region from cross border violence. Meanwhile, opposition forces in Syria reportedly attacked an army base on the strategic highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo. The assault came after the opposition took over the town of Maarat al-Nuaman, on the same integral supply route. Additionally, al Arabiya has released classified documents showing the use of Red Cross vehicles by Syrian government forces to commit many crimes against humanity.

Headlines

  • Protests are planned for Friday and President Mohamed Morsi is calling for the removal of Egypt’s general prosecutor over the acquittal of 24 men accused of an attack on protesters during the 2011 uprising.
  • The White House has appointed Laurence Pope, retired Foreign Service member, as the senior U.S. envoy to Libya, after the September 11 killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced new parliamentary elections for January 22, 2013.
  • Iraq’s al Qaeda branch said it led last month’s prison break, which resulted in the deaths of several security forces.

Arguments and Analysis

Violence that dishonours Judaism and threatens Israel‘ (Adam Ognall, The Jewish Chronicle)

"The Price Tag phenomenon has forced Israel to ask hard truths, not least in August after a mob of Jewish teenagers attacked Arabs in Jerusalem, and when three 12-year-olds were arrested following a firebombing that left six Palestinians injured. After these incidents, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said it was "a microcosm of a national problem that could endanger Israeli democracy. The time has come for us to stop covering up… This is a shared responsibility."

…But the responsibility does not lie solely with the state. Questions need to be asked about how Jewish children have been taught to hate. Where are the authorities and moral voices in their lives? Have their parents, teachers and rabbis done enough? While some settler leaders have spoken out, others have remain conspicuously silent. Indeed, a number of rabbis and community leaders have been caught inciting violence."

As Benghazi Attack Controversy Simmers, Some Diplomats Say Security Is Already Too Tight‘ (Joshua Hersh, The Huffington Post)

"But while there are indeed indications that the State Department failed to take sufficient precautions to protect its diplomats in Benghazi, many active and recently-retired foreign service officers are watching the brewing controversy for another reason.

As disturbed as they are by the attacks, the wary foreign service officers say they fear that the controversy could cause the State Department or Congress to go too far in the other direction: further tightening the noose of security restrictions at diplomatic outposts that has already impeded their jobs, with only limited gains in security.

"Many of us still want less security, not more," said one active American diplomat who has served in several conflict zones and was not authorized to speak about current State Department regulations."

Gaza 2020: A Looming, Avoidable Catastrophe‘ (Robert Turner, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

"With the recent publication of the report, "Gaza in 2020: a liveable place?", it would be hard to level these accusations at the United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory. The report is a trend analysis based on data from authoritative sources, such as the UN’s Specialized Agencies, the World Bank and the IMF, which sets out where Gaza will be in less than eight years time. This is early warning writ large.

By 2020 the population of the tiny Gaza Strip will grow by half a million people: 500,000 more to be fed, housed, educated, and employed. More than half of the population will be under the age of 18, with one of the highest youth populations as a proportion anywhere in the world.

The lack of safe drinking water is the most urgent concern in Gaza today and it will only get worse in the years to come…"

Egypt’s opposition drifts aimlessly in a sea of contradictions‘ (HA Hellyer, The National)

"In fact, much of contemporary Islamist political discourse appears to be based (knowingly or not) on European political thought, adorned with Islamic vocabulary. This is more identity than politics: or, to put it another way, more identity politics.

What all these groupings have in common is that they are absent from the field of real politics; they do not proclaim comprehensive policy platforms based on the real issues facing Egyptians. Education, health service, job creation, taxation, social benefits: all these matters, and others, seems to have been swept under the rug, leaving only the polarising issues of identity as the battleground in the struggle for power.

There is another option. When citizens in next-door Libya finally had free elections, it wasn’t the Islamists who won. Those who did win were not liberal, not secularist, not Islamists. Their model may be particular to Libya, but one aspect of it can be seen as universal: the idea of coming up with something new."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey