Archive for March 27, 2019

I pay my deepest respect for this Hero by posting this article

March 27, 2019

Hero pilot from hijacked Entebbe flight dies at 95

Air France captain Michel Bacos refused to leave behind his Jewish and Israeli passengers.

By Amy Spiro
March 27, 2019 17:20

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Hero-pilot-from-hijacked-Entebbe-flight-dies-at-95-584838

Michel Bacos (R) speaks to the media in 1976. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

Michel Bacos, the pilot of the Air France flight from Tel Aviv which was hijacked in 1976 and landed in Entebbe, has died at age 95.

Christian Estrosi – the mayor of Nice, where Bacos lived – announced the news on social media on Tuesday.

“He refused to abandon his passengers, who were taken hostage because they were Israeli or of Jewish origin, risking his own life,” Estrosi wrote. “Michel bravely refused to surrender to antisemitism and barbarism and brought honor to France.”

President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday that Bacos was “a quiet hero and a true friend of the Jewish people. May his memory be a blessing.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the pilot “stayed with the hostages through all their hardships, until IDF soldiers – led by my brother Yoni z”l – freed him in a daring operation. I bow my head in his memory and salute the Michel’s bravery.”

On June 27, 1976, Bacos was the captain of Air France Flight 139, from Tel Aviv to Paris, with a stop in Athens. After the plane departed Greece, four hijackers took control of the cockpit and forced Bacos at gunpoint to head for Benghazi, Libya, and then Entebbe, Uganda.

The terrorist “sat behind me with his gun pointed at my head,” Bacos told Ynet in 2016. “Every time I tried to look in a different direction, he pressed the barrel of his gun against my neck.”

Several days later, the terrorists split up the hostages between those who were Israeli or Jewish and those who were not. Bacos demanded the hijackers give him access to both groups.

“‘I’m responsible for all of the passengers and demand to be able to see all of them – be they Israeli or not – at any given moment.’” he recounted to Ynet. “I insisted, and the Germans agreed. I was able to go from one hall to the other without receiving permission, every time.”

A few days after that, the hijackers were planning to let Bacos, the rest of his crew and the remaining non-Jewish hostages go. But he refused.

“I gathered my crew and told them there was no way we were going to leave – we were staying with the passengers to the end,” he said. “The crew refused to leave, because this was a matter of conscience, professionalism, and morality. As a former officer in the Free French Forces, I couldn’t imagine leaving behind not even a single passenger.”

After the successful rescue by the IDF, Bacos was repeatedly honored for his heroic actions. That year he was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration. In 2008, he was honored by B’nai Brith International, and in 2016 by the American Jewish Committee. Bacos visited Israel several times after the incident, attending memorial ceremonies for Lt.-Col. Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed in the operation.

Bacos continued to fly with Air France for six more years, before retiring in 1982 at age 58. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary, three children and several grandchildren.

Tributes to Bacos began to pour in on Wednesday as news of his death spread.

“He refused to leave the Jewish passengers behind and stayed with them until they were rescued by the IDF,” wrote Dani Dayan, the Israeli consul-general to New York. “He passed away in France at the age of 95. We salute you, Captain.”

AJC said that it was “saddened to learn of the passing of Michel Bacos, the Air France pilot who heroically refused to abandon Jewish hostages after his plane was hijacked to Entebbe. We honored him with the AJC Moral Courage Award at Global Forum 2016. May his memory be a blessing.”

The Israeli Airline Pilots Association wrote that “this dear man passed away today after a long life. The pilots of the State of Israel salute Captain Bacos.”

AND that is what you get if you show weakness !

March 27, 2019

Hamas chief emerges from hiding in Gaza, declares victory

‘The resistance has had the last word,’ Haniyeh claims during visit to the rubble of his office, destroyed in an Israeli airstrike

Hamas political bureau leader Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas website)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday made his first public appearance since Israel destroyed his office in a retaliatory airstrike this week, claiming victory over “Zionist arrogance.”

Haniyeh visited the rubble of his Gaza City office, coming out of hiding after a two-day flare-up of violence, which ended with an unofficial Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The fighting broke out after a rocket fired from Gaza struck a home in central Israel and wounded seven people. Israel responded with dozens of airstrikes in the Strip, while Palestinian terrorists fired dozens of rockets at communities across the border.

“The resistance has had the last word, and Israel got the message,” Haniyeh said. “I am grateful to all parties who helped stop the Zionist arrogance in the Gaza Strip.

View of the Gaza City office of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on March 26, 2019, after it was destroyed a day earlier by an Israeli airstrike. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

In a statement, an Israeli diplomatic official quipped that Haniyeh “had better find a new office before he brags.”

The Hamas leader also urged Gazans to participate in mass protests along the Israel-Gaza frontier on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of a movement officially aimed at ending the Israeli-Egyptian blockade and resettling Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Israel proper.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered troops along the Gaza border to remain on alert for “various scenarios in the region,” the army said.

Earlier in the day, Kohavi visited the Gaza Division and met with its commander, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, along with Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

The IDF has sent reinforcements to the border in advance of expected clashes this weekend and has allowed the media to publicize the troop buildup.

IDF tanks stationed near the Israeli Gaza border on March 27, 2019. (Dudi Modan/Flash90)

There are fears that violence will ramp up this weekend, with Hamas hoping to draw hundreds of thousands of rioters to the fence to mark a year of so-called March of Return protests, which began March 30, 2018.

Israel says the demonstrations are orchestrated by Hamas in order to provide cover for the organization’s nefarious activities along the security fence, including infiltration attempts, the planting of explosives and attacks on Israeli soldiers.

Their organizers have said the protests aim to achieve the “return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now part of Israel, and pressure the Jewish state to lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.

The launch of incendiary and explosive devices into Israel tied to kites and helium-filled balloons became a common tactic in violent protests along the Gaza border over the past year, burning thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves, and killing livestock and other animals.

 

Avigdor Liberman: Netanyahu personally torpedoed my plans for Gaza

March 27, 2019

Avi Dichter: “We have to destroy the military infrastructure in Gaza, and it will not be by a political move or only by airstrikes.”

By Anna Ahronheim
March 27, 2019 15:25
https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Avigdor-Liberman-Netanyahu-personally-torpedoed-my-plans-for-Gaza-584877
Avigdor Liberman speaks at a Maariv conference, March 27th, 2019. (photo credit: ALONI MOR)

Former Defense Minister MK Avigdor Liberman said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally torpedoed plans to strike Gaza during a significant escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas in November.

“Netanyahu personally torpedoed the plans,” the Chairman of Yisrael Beytenu told Ben Caspit at the Maariv Security Conference on Wednesday. “We have enough tools to deal with Gaza and I had a full plan.”

Liberman resigned from his post as defense minister in November following a ceasefire deal signed between Israel and Hamas after over 500 rockets were fired towards southern Israeli communities.

The ceasefire with Hamas, he said at the time “cannot be interpreted in any way other than a capitulation to terrorism. This will severely harm our security in the long run. The response that we gave to the 500 rockets shot from Gaza was not enough, to say the least. The South should come first. Our weakness is being broadcast to other fronts.”

On Sunday the latest escalation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip saw over 100 mortars and rockets fired towards southern Israeli communities, and that, Liberman said, shows that Israel does not have security.

“Security is when people don’t have to run to bomb shelters,” he told Ben Caspit, adding that Israel is paying protection money to terror groups instead of destroying it.

“There’s no terror without money and now Israel is allowing money into Gaza for Hamas. We are paying protection to a terror organization and doing everything not to get the terror organization mad. Netanyahu said he said he struck Hamas hard, but not even one terrorist was even hurt,” he said.

Former deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, who also spoke at the conference, told the crowd that Israel’s military has been doing the same thing over and over and over again, allowing the enemy to learn.

“For the past 30 years the IDF has been acting pretty much the same and the enemy has learnt. When you are able to know how the war is going to play out, you know how deal it and how to take the blows,” he said.

In the last round of violence between Israel and Hamas, a civilian home in central Israel was destroyed by a long-range rocket launched from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and close to 100 rockets and mortars were fired to communities in the south.

“Imagine 60 rockets in Tel Aviv or Gush Dan or Jerusalem,” Liberman said. “Nobody would stand for it!”

According to Liberman, “peace will come with the Messiah, not before. There’s no way we can have peace with the Arabs around us…peace like in Finland or Canada. That won’t happen. We have to understand where we are, and who we are surrounded by.”

Also speaking at the conference, MK Avi Dichter, current Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that the Israeli homefront cannot be turned into a front.

“The homefront is facing threats from the north, south and the west–first it was Iraq but now it’s Iran.”

According to Dichter, who reminded the crowd of the Park Hotel bombing in Netanya in 2002, Israel must do an operation similar to Operation Defense Shield which saw reservists, troops and heavy weaponry deep into the hearts of six major Palestinian cities, surrounding towns and West Bank refugee camps to wipe out Hamas and other terror groups.

“Today, when the military enters Gaza, it will have significantly better capabilities than the Second Lebanon War. But in the end, when you embark on such a campaign, you want to ensure the safety of the soldiers,” he said. “Terror always has a bottom. In order to dry out terror, we must reach the critical mass. You have to kill thousands, arrest thousands more, and the rest will disperse.”

But, he said, “The reality in Gaza is that the group has terror infrastructures with military capabilities, and this is a very problematic situation. We have to destroy the military infrastructure in Gaza, and it will not be by a political move or only by airstrikes.”

Jews Must Never Be Afraid to Use Their Well-Earned Power

March 27, 2019

Ashkenazi: Must kill soldiers, not strike empty buildings, to deter Hamas

March 27, 2019

Blue and White candidate Gabi Ashkenazi, ex-IDF chief of staff, also said that the only way to remove the Iranians from Syria is to threaten Bashar Assad’s rule.

By Yonah Jeremy Bob
March 27, 2019 12:59

In order to restore deterrence with Hamas, the IDF must kill Hamas soldiers and not just attack empty buildings, former IDF chief-of-staff and Blue and White candidate Gabi Ashkenazi said at the Maariv Security Conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

Ashkenazi said it was critical to make Hamas feel the cost of continuing to periodically fire rockets on Israel as well as continuing a year long confrontation on the Gaza border.

He said that “our deterrence has crashed,” but that Hamas is “not an irresolvable problem.”

The former IDF chief acknowledged that Hamas will respond and the situation “will not be simple,” but said there was no choice if Israel is going to succeed in breaking the cycle of violence with Gaza.

Regarding the threat of Iran building threats against Israel in Syria, he said that the only way to remove the Iranians from that front is to threaten Bashar Assad’s rule.

Complimenting the IDF’s attacks on Iran in Syria in recent years, he said that it would not be sufficient to get Tehran to remove its forces.

Israel needs to “change its strategy. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin smiled, but cannot succeed” at getting Iran and Hezbollah out of Syria.

“We need to take a price from Assad,” saying that Israel would need to directly attack Syrian units and threaten Assad himself, as opposed to only attacking Iranian units in Syria.

He explained that only once Assad himself felt the price of having Iranian forces in his country would he force them to leave.

Source: Order for TLV Missile Strike Was Given by Iran

March 27, 2019

https://www.jerusalemonline.com/source-order-for-tlv-missile-strike-was-given-by-iran/

An anonymous Palestinian official has informed the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, that the recent firing of a rocket towards northern Tel Aviv earlier this week was caused by a direct order from Iran.

Initially, Palestinian reports in Gaza indicated that the rocket launched earlier this week that hit a house in central Israel and started the escalation of violence in recent hours “by mistake” or even hinted that it was because of the weather.

However since than Palestinian and Egyptian sources reported that the, was fired by orders from Iran and to influence elections in Israel.

According to this official the launch was carried out without the knowledge of the high command of the political arm of Hamas in Gaza but in coordination with some of the leaders of Islamic Jihad and even with some low class officers of of Hamas who had enoug power to approve the launch.

Israel Hayom further reported that its Palestinian source admitted that the rocket was fired as an “attempt to influence elections and the political agenda in Israel and even to get Netanyahu and Likud removed from government.

They also added that in Gaza they were expecting that Israel would not launch a significant operation in Gaza two weeks before the elections and that is why they bet that Netanyahu would not order any strong attacks while he was in Washington.

The source also said that “according to all the indications they have, Iran is the one behind the order to fire the rocket, first and foremost to hinder Egyptian efforts to reach an agreement in Gaza and to create political chaos in Israel two weeks before the elections.

Fourth Gaza War May Start Friday or Saturday

March 27, 2019

https://www.jewishpress.com/news/eye-on-palestine/hamas/fourth-gaza-war-may-start-friday-or-saturday/2019/03/27/
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
IDF tanks amassed along the Gaza border, March 26, 2019

Two commemorations of events in the short history of the Jewish-Arab conflict will take place this week, which, ironically enough, also marked the 40th anniversary of the Camp David agreement: Friday marks the first anniversary of the Marches of Return, those weekly riots along the Gaza Strip border which resulted in about 200 dead and close to 20,000 injured—85% of whom were estimated to have been paid by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad; then Saturday marks the 23rd anniversary of Land Day, commemorating the 1976 clash between Israeli Arabs and the Rabin government over the latter’s plans to expropriate state-owned land.

It’s the very definition of a gunpowder keg, two in this case, and it follows a week of alarming clashes between Gaza terrorists and the IDF which included a long-range rocket destroying a home in Israel’s Sharon region near Tel Aviv, and IDF retaliatory bombings of vital terrorist assets across the Gaza Strip.

Israeli security officials are expecting all of this to blow up this weekend, unless Hamas and the Jihad take meaningful, active steps to prevent it. Indeed, in this equation only one side appears to have a choice: the Arabs. Because, should violence erupt on schedule, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have no choice. Less than two weeks from the April 9 election, which will decide his political future, Bibi cannot appear to be appeasing the enemy. He is already being torn apart by Naftali Bennett inside the tent, and Benny Gantz and Avi Gabai who are circling the tent from the outside.

Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi and the command staff spent Tuesday in meetings that resulted, for now, in amassing firepower around the Strip and calling in the reserves. Should war become inevitable, the needed troops will all be in place. Lt. Gen. Kochavi so far has been more aggressive than his predecessor, Gadi Eizenkot, who allowed for long lags between Arab attacks and IDF retaliation, frustration the nation and confusing the troops. Should there be a clash, Kochavi is more likely to inflict great pain on the Strip.

Tuesday also saw a string of minor Arab provocations: a rocket over Ashkelon; a group of Arabs who crossed the border to set fire to an abandoned IDF post and raise the Palestinian flag; and dozens of balloon clusters carrying explosive charges into Israel, at least four of which started fires in Israeli settlements. On Wednesday Israeli schools near Gaza have opened as usual – a sign that the security apparatus is not expecting serious clashes today.

However, on Wednesday morning Ma’an reported that four youths were shot dead in clashes with Israeli forces in the Deheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem, reminding us that danger lurks not only in Gaza this weekend.

Despite his hurried departure from the US on Monday, Netanyahu did not assemble his security cabinet, most likely because he was reluctant to give his nemesis Naftali Bennett, who keeps demanding the role of defense minister, to lecture the PM in his newly adapted, take-no-prisoners style, like this recent post:

“I said from the morning that whoever runs away from terrorism – terrorism pursues him, and that’s exactly what happened. […] I call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to defeat Hamas and not allow it to turn the residents of the south into Hamas hostages. We know what needs to be done and how it should be done. I call on the prime minister – give the IDF the order to neutralize and defeat Hamas.”

It continues to be a tense weekend, folks. Stay tunes.

IDF build-up continues in Gaza sector. More Hamas rockets expected this week – DEBKAfile

March 27, 2019

Source: IDF build-up continues in Gaza sector. More Hamas rockets expected this week – DEBKAfile

As both sides gird up for a showdown, whether or not it will take place is anyone’s guess, given the dense blackout of secrecy on the duelers’ intentions.

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned home from a visit to Washington, which he cut short after a Hamas rocket hit a home in the Sharon region, he went straight into a conference with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and top security officials. Their most pressing concern was how to get around the stumbling block of Hamas’ March of Return anniversary, which the Palestinian terrorist organization means to celebrate to the full, meaning a larger than ever mass onslaught on the Gaza border and the IDF military defenders this coming Friday. After that, Hamas may – or may not – be more accommodating on terms for a ceasefire, but not before.

Intelligence reaching DEBKAfile’s sources from the Gaza Strip indicate:

  1. Hizballah is contemplating limited or token action against Israel as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian terrorists.
  2. Hiamas’ political leadership is deeply divided on whether or not to continue its rocket offensive against Israel.

Israel’s decision-makers also appear to be at cross-purposes. One school of thought advises taking advantage of the controversy in the Hamas leadership to strengthen the “moderates.” The opposite side argues that Hamas is setting a trap for the IDF. They say that Hamas leaders want the breather they would gain from a phony ceasefire in order to then catch Israel off guard. Israel was indeed caught napping by the Hamas rocket fired at Tel Aviv on March 14 and again on March 25, when a home in the Sharon town of Mishmeret, 120km from Gaza, took a direct rocket hit. Israel’s leaders and generals must on no account be lured once again by Egyptian assurances that this time, Hamas is really, really turning over a new leaf and has committed to a truce.

Lt, Gen. Kochavi leads the second camp which refuses to be taken in again by Hamas’ wiles. He is preparing the IDF for combat in the Gaza sector that could last some days.. During the conference with Netanyahu in his capacity as defense minister, Kochavi issued the order to continue boosting the forces massing on the Gaza border and mobilizing reservists.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that it still could not be said with certainty that the Israeli government and high command were decided on their next step, when the decision was taken out of their hands by another Hamas rocket fired Tuesday night against the Eshkol district. This rocket drove home the harshness of their dilemma. No serious offensive can be conducted against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza without exposing large parts of the country beyond the immediate Gaza neighborhood to the high risk of Palestinian rockets. On the other hand, inaction against Hamas; armed wing, aside from air strikes on empty buildings, only whets the Palestinian terrorists’ appetite for more escalation.

 

Hezbollah head and Hamas deputy chief said to meet over Gaza tensions

March 27, 2019

Source: Hezbollah head and Hamas deputy chief said to meet over Gaza tensions | The Times of Israel

Hassan Nasrallah and Saleh al-Arouri also talk about ‘bilateral cooperation’ and ‘coordinating positions,’ Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV reports

Hamas’s deputy political chief Saleh al-Arouri (left) holds a rare meeting with head of the Lebanese terror group leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut, Lebanon October 31, 2017. (Screenshot from PalInfo website)

Hamas’s deputy political chief Saleh al-Arouri (left) holds a rare meeting with head of the Lebanese terror group leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut, Lebanon October 31, 2017. (Screenshot from PalInfo website)

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri reportedly met on Monday amid increased tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

Hezbollah and Hamas are both Iranian-backed terror groups.

Nasrallah and Arouri discussed “the Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip,” “bilateral cooperation” and “coordinating positions regarding various developments,” according to a report from Al-Aqsa TV.

Several pro-Hezbollah news sites also reported the meeting took place, without providing additional details.

The Al-Aqsa TV report did not say where the Nasrallah and Arouri met. In November 2017, the two met in Lebanon, where Nasrallah is believed to be in hiding.

Hezbollah is directly supported by Iran and Hamas’s armed wing also enjoys a level of backing from the Islamic Republic.

The meeting came as tensions around the Gaza Strip spiraled following a rocket fired from Gaza early Monday that hit a home north of Tel Aviv, injuring seven people, and intense Israeli bombardments in retaliation.

It also occurred as the US recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is claimed by Syria, an ally of Hezbollah.

An unofficial ceasefire appeared to be in place starting Tuesday morning, after Israel bombarded dozens of targets in Gaza, including Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s office in Gaza City, and the terror groups fired some 60 rockets and projectiles into the Jewish state.

Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the town of Mishmeret in central Israel on March 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

While Hamas has said Egypt successfully brokered a ceasefire between Israel and the terror groups, a senior Israeli official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s entourage denied the claim.

“There was no ceasefire,” the senior official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.

 

Rouhani slams Trump’s ‘colonial’ recognition of Israeli Golan Heights

March 27, 2019

Source: Rouhani slams Trump’s ‘colonial’ recognition of Israeli Golan Heights | The Times of Israel

Iranian president says US move to accept Israel’s sovereignty over plateau it captured from Syria is ‘unprecedented in the current century’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the inauguration ceremony of four projects at the South Pars gas field on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, in Asaluyeh, Iran, March 17, 2019. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the inauguration ceremony of four projects at the South Pars gas field on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, in Asaluyeh, Iran, March 17, 2019. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday criticized the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights the previous day, saying the move was contrary to international law and reminiscent of the way colonial powers used to divide up countries.

“No one could imagine that a person in America comes and gives land of a nation to another occupying country, against international laws and conventions,” Rouhani said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

US President Donald Trump broke with decades of US policy on Monday by signing a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, a strategic plateau it captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War.

“At a time when colonialism dominated, some colonial powers were doing these things and giving part of a country to another, but this is unprecedented in the current century,” Rouhani said during a meeting in Tehran with ministers and other senior officials to discuss flash flooding in some areas of his country that has killed at least 17 people.

His condemnation of Trump’s move followed critical statements from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which both said the development would threaten regional stability. Russia, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey have also denounced Trump’s proclamation.

Iran is a major ally of Syria and has been providing the Damascus regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad with military assistance in quashing a bloody civil war that has dragged on for over eight years.

None of Trump’s allies have followed his policy U-turn, which came in the form of a proclamation signed by the president Monday in the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side.

At the White House, Netanyahu thanked Trump for the “historic” recognition of the Golan Heights, and for his administration’s “incredible support” for Israel.

He recalled the long Jewish history of the mountainous plateau along the Syrian border, while stressing it was “invaluable” to Israel’s self-defense and saying the “historic decision has profound meaning for me and us and all Israelis.”

A warning sign of a minefield near the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and extended Israeli law to the territory in 1981, a step tantamount to annexation.

The UN Security Council and successive US administrations have always regarded the Golan as occupied territory whose return would be negotiated as part of a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and Syria.

In the wake of Trump’s proclamation, fellow veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent members Britain and France have both said they will continue to consider the Golan Heights Israeli-occupied in line with council resolutions, as have China and Russia.

Earlier this month Israel said it had identified a Hezbollah terror celloperating on Syrian-held areas of the Golan Heights. The Iran-backed, Lebanon-based group has been trying to create a front on the Syrian Golan for years, but was unable to gain a sufficient foothold in the area until now. However, Syrian leader Assad’s conquest of the border area last year gave the regime-allied group an opportunity to again try to establish the necessary infrastructure with which it could threaten Israel near the border.