How must Israel prepare for what appear to be inevitable wars on one or both of its northern and southern fronts? The Institute for National Security Studies, based in Tel Aviv, has laid out a plan.
Former IDF Intelligence Director Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute, writes that on both fronts, "Hezbollah and Hamas [have] institutionalized and taken on characteristics of states… [They] have not given up on the intent to destroy Israel, and both organizations regard military conflict as a central path to achieve this goal. Stopping them requires strong deterrence and damage to their respective military buildups."
Yadlin mentions the "buildup issue" of Hezbollah's arms and rocket arsenals in passing, noting that Israel is addressing it "carefully," including by "focusing on preventing quality arms supplies to Hezbollah."
He notes that the northern front is more stable than the south, because "despite limitations, Israel and Hezbollah can anticipate the other side’s moves and halt deterioration toward fighting with relative ease." On the Hamas front, however, "there is constant friction, including restrictions on entering and exiting, a naval blockade, tunnel digging into Israel, and tension surrounding the humanitarian need to rebuild civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the southern front is extremely complex due to its many players," some of which occasionally fire at Israel, "more to defy Hamas than to harm Israel."
Before full-scale military hostilities resume on either of the fronts, Israel’s political leadership and the IDF must study and clarify critical strategic and tactical issues, Yadlin recommends, including the following:
* What strategic purpose does Israel seek to achieve? Does achieving this goal include attacks on the enemy’s national infrastructure? How can the operation be shortened, and how?
* How will the political campaign be conducted at the international and regional level? Will international and regional actors intervene with threats, sanctions, or even military involvement?
* What is the correct timing for the operation? What is the quality and level of Israel's intelligence about the capabilities and intentions of the enemy? Should Israel prepare for occupation or a temporary presence?
* How should the Israeli civilian arena be prepared for the campaign? What are the risks that a second front could be opened simultaneously, and how can Israel prepare for this?
"If Israel is fated to be dragged into another confrontation in the north or the south," Maj,-Gen. Yadlin concludes, "it must prepare wisely and diligently - in contrast to the last rounds of fighting in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip."
Only once in the last thousand years (since the second Muslim conquest of the Holy Land - the first was in the 7th century after the rise of Islam) has a Yom Kippur service been carried out on the Temple Mount. Kept secret for nearly 50 years, the prayer leader at the time recently told the story to correspondent Haggai Huberman.
The service was complete with prostrations as in Temple times, though without sacrificial and incense offerings. The main participant was none other than Rabbi Menachem HaCohen (the name Cohen means priest and almost always denotes someone descended from Moses' brother Aaron, the first Priest), who served in the past as Labor Party Knesset Member, Rabbi of the national Histadrut Labor Organization, and top aide to IDF Chief Rabbi Maj.-Gen. Shlomo Goren. In the famous photo of Rabbi Goren blowing the shofar atop the Mount upon its 1967 liberation by Israeli forces, Rabbi HaCohen can be seen at his side.
After the Six Day War, a sharp dispute arose between Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who “returned the Temple Mount keys” to the Waqf, and Rabbi Goren, who felt that Jews must be allowed to pray at their most sacred site and wanted to build a synagogue there. After Rabbi Goren held a Tisha B’Av prayer service atop the Mount just six weeks after the Six Day War, Dayan forbade him by military order to pray there again.
For Yom Kippur, just two months later, Rabbi Goren had an inspiration. On the morning of Yom Kippur eve, he appeared at Rabbi HaCohen’s home in Ramat Gan with ten IDF Rabbinate soldiers, and told him, “Dayan has forbidden me to hold a prayer service on the Mount, but he said nothing about you. Here are ten soldiers, and a Torah scroll – I ask you to please take my place and make a minyan [prayer service] there.”
Huberman reports that Dayan knew of Rabbi Goren’s plan, but did not stop it. He feared that a minyan run by the Chief Rabbi, with the rank of Maj.-Gen. [today, IDF Chief Rabbis are not ranked as high] would cause an international uproar.
Rabbi HaCohen told Huberman that he was very excited to fulfill the request, and even took his two sons, aged 8 and 5, along with him. Rabbi HaCohen’s father Mordechai authored scholarly books proving the existence of a synagogue on the Temple Mount during the Middle Ages, as well as Maimonides’ visit to the holy site.
Rabbi HaCohen led most of the prayer services, and the highlight was when he reached the phrase recited by the High Priest on Yom Kippur [in free translation]: “Please, G-d, I have sinned, as have the other Priests [and the Nation]. Please, atone for our sins, as is written in Your Torah: ‘On this day G-d will atone for you and purify you of your sins.’” The High Priest would then recite the Ineffable Name of G-d, at which point the entire congregation would bow down and fall on their faces – which is precisely what the participants in the modern-era service of 1967 did, just meters away from where the service was held for hundreds of years in purity and holiness.
The worshipers did not leave the Border Guard position near the Al Aqsa mosque the entire day, by order of Rabbi Goren. Only 8-year-old Meron managed to sneak out and actually stood at the entrance to the mosque.
Following the final prayer service, as Yom Kippur ebbed away, the worshipers went out and stood in the middle of the plaza, where Rabbi HaCohen actually blew the shofar signaling the end of the holy day. “As I blew the shofar,” he recalled, “I could hear the shofar being blown below us, at the Western Wall plaza.”
The return of the Yom Kippur service once again to the Temple Mount may appear far off at present, but the Jewish People continue to pray every day: “Restore the service to Your holy house… May our eyes see Your return to Zion.”
JTA - A Republican Party event scheduled for Jerusalem, which was to feature addresses by presidential candidate Donald Trump and his vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence has been downsized.
The event, scheduled for Wednesday, was originally set to be a rally featuring thousands of Israelis showing their support for Trump, but now the event will be closed to the public.
The event now will honor volunteers in Israel who worked to register American voters in Israel. It will be geared to American Evangelicals watching the event at home on Christian television networks, citing organizers of the event.
Trump will speak in a two-minute pre-recorded speech, and Pence in a four-minute taped speech, according to the newspaper.
The event was to be held on the roof of the Aish HaTorah yeshiva, which overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been moved to a Jerusalem restaurant, however, after Aish HaTorah has to decline to host the event explaining its status as a non-profit organization which cannot host political activity, according to the report.
Former CIA chief James Woolsey and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, did not accept invitations to speak at the event - Woolsey, due to a scheduling conflict. Bolton did not give a reason for his refusal.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi responded to the arrest of four of his Palestinian Arab neighbors, who are still being held by the Palestinian Authority for the "crime" of visiting Revivi's home and drinking coffee in his sukkah while speaking about the neighborhood's future and peace.
"I call upon the Palestinian Authority to immediately release my Sukkot guests. It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority. Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It's time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together," said Revivi.
PA sources claimed the four were being held in prison to protect them from the vengeance that other Palestinian Arabs might wreak on them for visiting a Jew. They gave no indication of how it is possible to know that the danger is over. Either way, the PA reaction to a pleasant Sukkot visit does not bode well for any hopes of peace.
As Kurdish-Iraqi Peshmerga forces advance on ISIS capital Mosul, the last of its strongholds in Iraq, ISIS's tunnels in the region are being discovered. Fox News featured an exclusive peek into one such tunnel, which is part of a large network linking strategic buildings. The tunnels were dug as air strikes on Mosul became more intense, forcing ISIS to move underground.
According to the video report, the tunnels serve multiple purposes: as storerooms, dormitories, bomb shelters and living quarters. ISIS also reportedly began depending on tunnels to hold its meetings. They were dug by hand, and are "extremely hot" to stay in. The sand excavated from the tunnels was stored in the house from which the tunnel begins, so as not to disclose the tunnel's location.
Iraq’s elite special forces are closing in on Mosul from the east, slowly retaking Christian towns and villages that were seized by ISIS two years ago. Advancing Iraqi forces on Saturday entered the town of Qaraqosh, about 30 km south of Mosul.
According to reports in November, ISIS expanded its tunnel system in Mosul, moving all its control posts – that used to be on the city outskirts – to heavily populated residential areas.