Islamist Rebels Seize Syrian Villages in Golan DMZ

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BREAKING NEWS UPDATE, 4:35 pm: After publishing this post, an Israeli air strike killed Hamas’s top military commander Ahmad Jabari. Details at the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel.

The airstrike marked the beginning of a campaign to target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations in Gaza, IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai said.

Khaled Mashaal with Ahmad Jabari

Today’s Top Stories

1. Lots of Big Media interest in Israeli threats to cancel the Oslo accords if the PA moves forward with its UN statehood push. Judging from today’s coverage, it’s resembling a game of chicken. The Christian Science Monitor points out the PA can’t survive without tax transfers from Israel.

But Israeli and Fatah officials quoted in The Independent suggest that Israel may blink first:

“In my opinion, most of the declared measures will be empty threats, rather than serious ones, because Israel has a vested interest in maintaining the status of the Palestinian Authority,” Mr Shtayyeh said.

Israeli officials confirm that the stability of the PA has become as vital for Israel as it is for the Palestinians.

“The tax money transferred by Israel is critical, essential for the Palestinian Authority. It is in the interest of both Israel and the international community – as well as the Palestinians – to keep the Palestinian Authority afloat,” a senior Israeli security official told The Independent, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Later in the day, the Israeli press picked up on a draft document Avigdor Lieberman’s considering. The draft, according to the reports, includes carrots and sticks. Haaretz focused on the carrots, primarily, ” immediate recognition of statehood within provisional borders as an incentive for dropping their UN bid.”

But YNet focused on the stick: toppling Abbas, whose dirty laundry has him worried “he will meet the same fate as Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.”

See also PA Monetary Authority Ready for UN Bid Backlash as well as the Wall St. Journal (via Google News) which points out that statehood would give the Palestinians territorial rights to airspace and coastal waters, and boost claims on offshore gas reserves.

2. There goes the neighborhood.  Syrian rebels Foreign jihadis captured Beerajam and Bariqa, two villages in the Golan Heights demilitarized zone just south of Quneitra. The IDF brass predicts the jihadis will next cut off and capture Quneitra. The Daily Telegraph elaborates:

The military officials said the rebels in control of Quneitra are members of a radical Salafist faction calling itself “Eagles of the Golan”.

The group, made up largely of foreign fighters, including al-Qaeda militants from Iraq, boasts that that once it has ousted the Assad regime, it will focus its attention on Israel.

More on the story at McClatchy News, which noted the presence of two other radical Islamist groups with the Eagles: Descendent of the Prophet, and al-Furqan, who represent a combined 1,000 jihadis on Israel’s doorstep.

3. After four days and 150 rockets, why is Gaza suddenly quiet?

Egypt has told Hamas it will not intervene on its behalf if the current wave of violence on the Gaza-Israeli border continues, a senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom on Monday night.

While not explicitly calling for a cease-fire, the statement appears to be a message from Egypt to Hamas to stop the rocket fire. The message seems to have gotten through, as only one rocket was fired at Israel on Tuesday.

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