The Guardian Recants: Tel Aviv Isn’t Israel’s Capital

Israel and the Palestinians

• While Syria burns, Scandinavian activists are organizing another “humanitarian aid ship” to bust the Gaza blockade. It’s a publicity stunt, as there is no humanitarian crisis in the strip. Israel would normally tell the Ship to Gaza organizers to deliver their aid overland across uh, Sinai.

“This time around it will be an easy task for the Israelis to stop us because we will be so few and strictly non-violent,” Dahle told Reuters at Oslo harbor.

Israeli security arrested 14 Israeli-Arab citizens who helped Hezbollah smuggle explosives into the country for terror attacks. AP writes:

The Shin Bet says most of the suspects are drug dealers and presumed the packages they were asked to transfer were drugs. About 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of explosives were smuggled in.

Iranian Atomic Urgency

With Ban Ki-moon attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, Haaretz (paywall) reports that Israeli officials are worried the visit will undermine the fight against Iran’s nuclear program.

According to Chris Dickey of The Daily Beast, Iran’s spooks are losing the shadow war with Israel and the West.

According to sources in the Iranian capital, concerns about IRGC inadequacies are fueling the bitter infighting among Iran’s elites at a critical time: the war in Syria threatens to bring down Iran’s most vital Arab ally, the confrontation with Israel and the West over Iran’s nuclear program has provoked devastating sanctions, and a military attack on Iran by Israel still looms as a distinct possibility. This is a bad moment for the Iranians to discover their fearsome covert operatives are essentially incompetent.

Arab Spring Winter

NY Times: The Golan Druse community’s divided over Assad.

An opposition fact-checking fail? Rebels claimed to Reuters that they killed a Russian general advising Syria’s defense ministry:

A video statement from a group calling itself the “Hawks Special Operations Battalion . . . a division of the Military Leadership of Damascus City and Province”, gave the name of the general as Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev. The video, sent to Reuters, showed what the rebels said was a copy of his ID, as issued by the Syrian military.

But later in the day, a Reuters follow-up indicated the rebels were wrong:

Iran says that some of its people abducted in Syria were “former” Revolutionary Guards and army personnel making a pilgrimage to holy sites. But the Wall Street Journal contradicts the regime:

“Everyone on this trip was either a Guard or a Basij militia. This wasn’t a regular tour group,” said an employee of the tour agency that organized the trip, reached by telephone. Agency officials could not be reached.

The reason for their journey, at the height of one of the most violent periods in Syria, is not clear. But the people familiar with the trip said the men were active members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, on a mission to train Syrian forces in counterinsurgency methods as its armed forces fight a decisive battle in Aleppo.

Bashar Assad made his first appearance on TV in several weeks — with a visiting Iranian envoy. AP coverage.

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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