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Today’s Top Stories
1. UN finds chemical weapons used in Syria – by the rebels.
The UN commission looking into chemical weapons use in Syria has testimony that rebels used sarin gas. Reuters picked up on one investigator’s comments on Italian TV. Meanwhile, US officials admit they lost track of where the Syrians are storing their chemical weapons.
The assessment that Syria is moving large amounts of its chemical weapons around the country on trucks means that if Obama wanted to send in U.S. soldiers to secure Syria’s stockpiles, his top generals and intelligence analysts doubt such a mission would have much success, according to the three officials. “We’ve lost track of lots of this stuff,” one U.S. official told The Daily Beast. “We just don’t know where a lot of it is.”
Israeli officials say the chemical weapons remain under Assad’s control, and that Hezbollah is not trying to get them.
Gilad said Assad had huge quantities of chemical weapons, missiles and rockets. “The good news is that this is under full control (of the Syrian government),” he said in a speech.
“Nor is a group like Hezbollah … keen to take this (chemical) weaponry. It is keen to take weapon systems, like rockets that can reach, say, all the way here,” added Gilad, who was speaking in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
2. Bibi is visiting China. Abbas is visiting China too. Hmmmmm.
People’s Daily Online quotes a former Chinese official playing up the significance of both being in China at the same time.
Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran and an expert in Middle East studies, said it’s hard to say whether the timing is coincidental or intentional, but the fact that Abbas and Netanyahu “don’t mind showing up in China at the same time has left the world with a lot of expectations for their visits”.
Palestinian and Israeli leaders seldom have overlapping schedules when visiting another country, except for the United States, Hua noted.
Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Affairs correspondent Herb Keinon, meanwhile, has some tips for Netanyahu for the trip.
3. Haifa preparing for possible retaliation from Syria.
Haifa mayor ordered the city to open shelters and coordinated with Home Front Command on the possibility that Syria would attack the city in response to two Israeli airstrikes against weapons meant for deliver to Hezbollah.
The AP looks at the capabilities of the Fateh-110 Missiles, the Iranian-made guides missiles believed to be the main target of Israel’s attacks on Syrian military areas.
Michael Totten accuses the BBC of broadcasting “ludicrous accusations” against Israel for its headline on the attack:
Assad is especially adept at this game. Everyone, especially journalists who quote people for a living, needs to understand that. Yet they don’t. The BBC let Assad write their headline. Israeli strikes on Syria ‘co-ordinated with terrorists’ it says. That’s the actual headline. It was literally written by Assad’s foreign ministry.
Of course the words “co-ordinated with terrorists” are inside quotation marks, and the article makes it clear that this accusation comes from the Syrian government, but most people who see the headline won’t read the article. Casual readers of the BBC Web site won’t even notice the quote marks. Israel is coordinating with Al Qaeda in Syria? Really, BBC? You’re broadcasting that ludicrous accusation with a straight face?
Also see HR’s commentary on the BBC’s headlines.
Robert Fisk questions whether Syria was really planning on sending advanced missiles to Hezbollah. He also claims that Western support for the Israeli action pulls The West into the war in Syria. Additional commentary in the Syria strike from Israel Hayom, Times of Israel, BBC, The Telegraph.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Arabic media reports claim that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood collaborated with Hamas ahead of Hosni Mubarak’s fall as Egypt’s dictator. Phone transcripts between the two groups show the Brotherhood pressing Hamas to create disturbances to keep Egyptian security forces busy during the period of turmoil as Mubarak fell.
• The Palestinian street is not impressed with recent the Arab League’s decision to accept land swaps as part of the Arab peace proposal.
The Rest o’ the Roundup
• A policy wonk from the University of Ottawa says Canada’s support for Israel is behind the country’s refusal to support measures to bring Syria before the International Criminal Court.
• The Independent reports on the rising anti-Semitism in Hungary.
As in Greece, where the far-right bully boys of Golden Dawn make political hay by blaming all Greece’s disasters on illegal immigrants, Hungarian populists have come from nowhere in only a few years by attributing all their country’s ills to the enemy within – in this case, half-a-million Roma and 100,000 Jews.
• Two Iranians were found guilty in a Kenyan court of planning terror attacks against Western targets. Officials said they were planning to hit Israeli, American, British, or Saudi interests. Police said the men were are members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force and some 187 pounds of explosives they brought with them remains missing.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.