Israeli drone shot down by Syria forces

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Times of Israel

    A soldier training with the man-portable and hand-launched skylark mini UAV

An Israeli drone was downed in Syrian territory on Monday, the Israeli military said, confirming an earlier report in the Syrian and Lebanese media that the unmanned vehicle was shot down by Syrian aerial defense systems.

Syria said the drone, a Skylark, was downed over Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights. Lebanese terror group Hezbollah posted pictures of the downed drone on its social media pages.

The Israeli military said the circumstances of the incident were being checked, but that there were no immediate suspicions that classified data could be retrieved from the device.

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Israel to declare air defense shield fully operational: officer

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Reuters

    An inactive version of Israel’s air defense system, David’s Sling

Israel’s multi-tier air defense missile system will be fully operational early next month with the deployment of the David’s Sling interceptor, a senior Israeli air force officer said on Monday.

David’s Sling, designed to shoot down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometers away, will be the final piece of a shield that already includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles.

“In the next two weeks we will declare operational the David’s Sling and at that time we will have completed our multi-tier (defense capability),” said the officer who could not be identified under military rules.

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US boycotts UN Human Rights Council session on Israel

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JTA

    A United Nations Security Council meeting at U.N. Headquarters in New York, Dec. 21, 2016

The Trump administration is boycotting a U.N. Human Rights Council session on Israel and “other occupied Arab territories,” citing the body’s bias against Israel.

A State Department statement said the United States “unequivocally” opposes the council’s agenda item for Monday titled “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

“As an expression of our deeply-held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the Council to realize its legitimate purpose, the United States decided not to attend the Council’s Item Seven General Debate session,” the statement said. “It does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter. Later this week, the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.”

The statement concluded by calling on U.N. member states “to pursue much-needed reforms in the UN Human Rights Council.”

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Israel said to strike Syria for second time in 24 hours, amid threats from Damascus

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Times of Israel

    An Israeli F-15I fighter jet

Israel is said to have struck Syria overnight Sunday-Monday, the second strike in 24 hours and third in three days as tensions escalated between the two countries over the weekend.

Syria media reported early Monday that Israeli jets took out a number of targets near the Lebanon-Syria border including a Hezbollah weapons convoy and Syrian military sites.

The reports have not been confirmed.

Earlier Sunday, an Israeli drone strike reportedly killed a member of a Syrian pro-regime militia, an attack that came two days after Israeli jets, in an early Friday morning operation, hit an arms transfer meant for Hezbollah near Palmyra, with Syrian air defenses firing missiles at the planes.

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Top American Jewish Official: Middle Eastern Leaders Relieved to See Obama Go, Want US to Take Tougher Line Against Iran

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Algemeiner

    Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Middle Eastern leaders are looking for the Trump administration to re-engage with the region and take a tougher line against Iran, a top American Jewish official told The Algemeiner this week.

Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — recently returned to the US from a trip that included stops in Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Cyprus. “What we heard in all the countries was a sense of relief over the change of administrations and anticipation about what the new administration will be, who will be in it, what they will do and how they will govern,” he said. “There is a feeling that America is back in the game. But there is also some anxiety and uncertainty.”

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Israel threatens to destroy Syrian air defenses

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CNN

    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has warned Syria that Israel will destroy its air defense system if Syria fires an anti-aircraft missile at Israeli aircraft again.

Speaking on Israel public radio Sunday morning, Liberman said, “The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our airplanes, we will destroy all of them without thinking twice.”

His threat comes after Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli military jets overnight Thursday into Friday.

The Syrian military said the jets struck a military site near Palmyra, while Israel says they targeted a weapons shipment to Iran-backed Hezbollah. Syria claims their missiles downed one Israeli jet and hit another, which Israel rejected as “absolutely untrue.”

“Our central problem, and this above and beyond all of the other issues, is the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon,” Liberman said.
“Every time we identify a transfer like this, we will work to prevent the transfer of game-changing weapons. On this issue there will not be any compromise,” the outspoken Defense Minister added.

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Israel aims to become world’s 15th largest economy by 2025 — minister

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Times of Israel

    Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen speaks during the 14th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 13, 2017

Israel aspires to become the world’s 15th largest economy by 2025, Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen said Sunday, arguing that Israel’s power depends on its economic growth.

“A country’s strength depends on the strength of its economy,” Cohen told reporters accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his delegation to the Chinese capital for a three-day visit to mark 25 years of diplomatic ties and to boost bilateral trade.

“Why is the US the world’s biggest superpower? Because they have the largest economy. China is getting increasingly strong and is projected in nine or 10 years to become number one, also in terms of defense, and this is happening against the background of economic strength,” said the politician, a member of the center-right Kulanu party, which focuses on socioeconomic issues.

“The State of Israel, with only 8.5 million citizens, also stands in a very respectable place,” Cohen added, “especially when you take into account Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox (sectors that are relatively under-represented in the workforce). We want to include them even more into the workforce. Our goal is to become the 15th largest economy in the world in eight years. And therefore we focus on the economy. We understand that Israel’s strength is an economic strength.”

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Israeli PM Netanyahu Receives ‘Warm Welcome’ in Beijing as He Kicks Off Five-Day China Trip Meant to Bolster Economic Ties

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Algemeiner

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrive in Beijing on Sunday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Beijing on Sunday, kicking off a five-day China visit meant to bolster economic ties with the Asian power.

“Warm welcome in China. A great honor for Israel!” he wrote on Facebook after landing in the Chinese capital.

Later, the prime minister added, “We have arrived for an official visit in China in order to mark 25 years of relations between Israel and China. We will strengthen the cooperation between our countries.”

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Hezbollah says U.N. ‘weak’ after critical Israel report pulled

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Reuters

    Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

The leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement denounced the United Nations on Saturday as weak after the withdrawal of a report accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on Palestinians.

A senior U.N. official resigned on Friday after the secretary-general asked her to remove the report, published by the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), from the internet.

U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said she was leaving after “powerful member states” had pressured the world body and its chief with “vicious attacks and threats”.

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Russia summons Israeli envoy following IDF strikes in Syria

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JTA

    Israeli soldiers at the Israel-Syria border in the Golan Heights, Nov. 27, 2016

Russia summoned its ambassador to Israel for clarifications following Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

Russia, which backs Syria’s embattled president, Bashar Assad, summoned its envoy, Gary Koren, on Friday less than 24 hours after the Israeli military action on Thursday night, according to The Times of Israel.

In a rare statement, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to having carried out aerial strikes in Syria and intercepted missiles launched at its aircraft from the ground.

No Israelis were hurt during the strikes Thursday night or from the anti-aircraft fire, according to a statement by the IDF spokesman.

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