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12 people hurt in stabbing, car-ramming outside UK Parliament

March 22, 2017

Source: 12 people hurt in stabbing, car-ramming outside UK Parliament | The Times of Israel

Building on lockdown after ‘terrorist incident’ sees assailant stab an officer, vehicle plow into pedestrians on nearby bridge

March 22, 2017, 5:30 pm
Armed police officers guard at a police cordon outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

Armed police officers guard at a police cordon outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

At least 12 people were reported injured in a stabbing and car ramming outside the British parliament in London and on the nearby Westminster Bridge.

The parliament was on lockdown after an assailant stabbed an officer, then was shot dead by police, officials said. London Police also said officers were called to an incident on Westminster Bridge nearby.

Police said they were treating the attack “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.” They said in a statement that the incident was ongoing and urged people to stay away from the area.

It was not immediately clear exactly what happened or how many people were injured. On the bridge, witnesses said, a vehicle struck several people, and photos showed a car plowed into railings. Witnesses in Parliament reported hearing sounds like gunfire.

London's air ambulance arrives at the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 22, 2017 during an emergency incident (AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

London’s air ambulance arrives at the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 22, 2017 during an emergency incident (AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

Witness Rick Longley told the Press Association news agency that he saw a man stab a policeman outside Parliament.

“We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out,” he said. “They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben. A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman.

“I have never seen anything like that. I just can’t believe what I just saw.”

Lawmaker Adam Holloway told the AP he saw people running and immediately ran into his offices in Parliament to be with his staff. “A lot of us are locked in with our staff at the moment,” he said.

A police officer stops traffic as the Jaguar car of British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) is driven away from the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 22, 2017 during an emergency incident. (AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

A police officer stops traffic as the Jaguar car of British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) is driven away from the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 22, 2017 during an emergency incident. (AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

David Lidington, the leader of parliament’s lower House of Commons who is responsible for arranging government business, told MPs: “What I am able to say to the house is there has been a serious incident.

“It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police. There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster,” he said.

He said he could not go into further details until there was confirmation from the police and security authorities.

Prime Minister Theresa May is safe, a statement from her Downing Street office said, and she was seen getting into a car and being driven away from parliament.

Lidington said a helicopter was at the scene to take away casualties.

Video from Westminster Bridge showed apparent casualties moments after the attack.

British lawmaker Grant Shapps said on Twitter that he was walking through the cloisters of the House of Commons to vote when he heard four gunshots. Police told lawmakers to get down on the ground and crawl to cover.

“Police response instant. Heard commotion, looked round. Police weapons drawn, 4 shots, police ordered us to hit ground & get back, get back,” he said.

Journalists there said they were told to stay in their offices. The Press Association reported that two people were seen lying within the grounds of Parliament.

George Eaton, a journalist with the New Statesman, said that from the window of Parliament’s Press Gallery, he saw police shoot a man who charged at officers.

“A large crowd was seen fleeing the man before he entered the parliamentary estate,” he wrote on the publication’s website. “After several officers evaded him he was swiftly shot by armed police.”

A staff member in parliament, who did not want to be named, told AFP: “I definitely heard shots. I saw someone in dark clothing go down.”

Passengers evacuating the Brussels Airport, in Zaventem, after a string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station, March 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/Belga/Dirk Waem/Belgium OUT)

Passengers evacuating the Brussels Airport, in Zaventem, after a string of explosions rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station, March 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/Belga/Dirk Waem/Belgium OUT)

The incident came on the same day that Belgium was marking a year since its most deadly attack, when 32 people were killed in suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and a metro station.

In July 2005, four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people.

Two weeks later, there was an attempt to carry out a second wave of attacks.

Breaking Now | TERROR ATTACK UK PARLIAMENT – YouTube

March 22, 2017

Report: Iran accuses Russia of giving Israel codes for Syrian air defenses

March 21, 2017

Source: Report: Iran accuses Russia of giving Israel codes for Syrian air defenses – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

ByYASSER OKBI/ MAARIV HASHAVUA
March 21, 2017 15:53

 

Kuwaiti daily quotes Iran Defense Ministry source as saying Iran was able to change the codes without Russia’s knowledge, enabling Friday’s missile launch against Israeli aircraft.

S-300

S-300 anti-aircraft missile. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Iran has accused Russia of giving the codes for Syria’s anti-aircraft missiles to Israel, a senior official in the engineering department of Iran’s Defense Department told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida on Monday.

According to the report, much remains unknown about Israel’s attack on a Hezbollah weapons convoy and the Syrian response to the Israeli fighter jets early Friday morning. Israel has reportedly attacked dozens of times in Syrian territory since Hezbollah joined the Syrian civil war in 2012, but Friday marked the first time that an anti-aircraft missile had been fired at an IAF jet.
Al-Jarida’s Tehran correspondent, Farzad Qassemi, cited a source in the Iranian Defense Ministry as saying that Iranian experts had changed the operation codes for the Syrian air defense system, which is what enabled the anti-aircraft missiles to be used against the Israeli Air Force on Friday morning.

According to the source, Damascus and Tehran “were shocked” every time the Russian-made air defense system did not work to defend Syria’s airspace, or even give notification that the air space had been penetrated in order to evacuate outposts prior to the airstrike. The systems are supposed to identify the takeoff of Israeli Air Force jets from their bases because of the small distance between the countries and is even supposed to attempt to target the planes and any missiles that are fired from them.

According to the source, the Iranians and the Syrians suspected that Russia gave the codes for the air defense system to Israel and even refused the requests of Tehran and Damascus to check the codes. “Iran has the ability today to change the Russian security codes since it received the advanced Russian S-300,” the source added. “This came after it received reports that Israel got the operation codes for the missile system. In Iran, they even expanded their knowledge when they built the Bavar-373 air defense system – which is a domestic copy of the Russian S-300 – in order that the systems would work together during an attack.”

According to the source, three weeks ago, during Iranian military maneuvers, Iranian engineers hacked into the codes of the S-300, but when the Bavar-373 was not working in conjunction with the Russian air defense system the experiment was suspended.

The source said further that the Iranian Defense Ministry sent several engineers to Syria to change the codes of the air defense system that was under the control of the Syrian army, without Moscow’s knowledge. “They succeeded in changing some of the codes last month and therefore when the Israel fighter jets took off from their bases – the air defense system succeeded in identifying them and firing interceptor missiles at them and at the missiles they had launched.”

The source added that “the Syrian radar treated Israeli fighter jets as friendly planes in the past and not as enemy planes, which proves that Israel knew the codes of the missile system.”

According to the source, the identification of the Israeli fighter jets taking off enabled Hezbollah to evacuate the outpost and even to launch a missile toward the military base from which the fighter jets had taken off. “The missile launched by Hezbollah toward Israel was worth some $2,000, whereas the missiles used by Israel to intercept it were worth some $3 million,” the source added.

The Iranian source said further that in a report sent to the Russian military command, the Russians were asked if someone penetrated the Syrian air defense system. Both the Iranians and Syrians were awaiting an answer.

Netanyahu: Israel policy in Syria unchanged

March 21, 2017

Source: Netanyahu: Israel policy in Syria unchanged | Live Updates | The Times of Israel

Russia has not changed its policy vis-a-vis its coordination with the Israeli air force over the Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, denying reports that Moscow over the weekend decided no longer to allow Israel to attack targets in the war-torn country after one such strike nearly hit a Russian asset.

“If there’s intelligence and operation feasibility, we strike, and so it will continue,” he tells reporters in his Beijing hotel as he wraps up the official part of his three-day visit to Chinese capital.

Netanyahu says that he told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their recent meeting in Moscow that Israel will continue to thwart attempts by Iran and its terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah to smuggle advanced weapons to Lebanon via Syria.

“Our policy is consistent, and this is what I told Putin,” the prime minister says.

Israel launched several attacks targets in Syria in recent days, one of which nearly hit a Russian asset. Moscow subsequently summoned Israel’s ambassador to Russia, Gary Koren, to note its protest. Syria’s ambassador to the UN later said that Russia had changed its policy and no longer grants Israel freedom of action over Syrian skies.

Israel does not inform the Russian forces stationed in Syria ahead of attacks there, out of fear for the Israeli pilots.

“We are very careful not to hit whoever is not supposed to be hit,” Netanyahu says.

— Raphael Ahren

Israeli drone crashes. Russia fails to de-escalate

March 21, 2017

Source: Israeli drone crashes. Russia fails to de-escalate

DEBKAfile Special Report March 21, 2017, 8:27 AM (IDT)

The IDF Tuesday confirmed that an Israeli miniature Skylark drone had crashed over a technical fault Sunday, March 19, in the same Quneitra area of the Golan as the attack which killed a Syrian soldier. Hizballah claimed earlier that the drone was shot down by the Syrian army and published photos of drone fragments with Hebrew writing.

debkafile’s military sources report that the publicity given by the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hizballah to the incident – beating Israel to the draw – seriously pricked Moscow’s efforts, with Damascus’ compliance, to cool the crisis that was developing after Israeli planes struck a Hizballah target near the northern Syrian town of Palmyra last Friday, March 17.

The Russian government, according to debkafile’s Moscow sources, made it clear to Bashar Assad that he had better hold back from a heated response to the Israeli air strikes. If he decided to play with Israeli fire, he was warned, he need not expect Russia to intervene in his defense.

The Syrian ruler, who is fully engaged at the moment fighting off a rebel offensive on eastern Damascus, indicated his compliance with Moscow’s advice by a face-saving comment Tuesday to the Russian Interfax: “Russia has an important role in preventing a future confrontation with Israel,” he said.

However, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah is playing its own game. His forces are battling through Syrian rebel villages on the slopes of Mount Hermon in a headlong drive to deploy on the Golan border wit Israel. He therefore acted to force Assad’s hand and disrupt Moscow’s efforts at de-escalation by publishing the downing of an Israeli drone by Syrian anti-air fire.

It must be said that publication of this incident by Israel directly after the event Sunday would have deprived Hizballah of this initiative.
Moscow is a finds itself pushed into an awkward corner. While seeking to dampen the flames of an Israeli-Syrian crisis, the Russians are at the same time holding back from interfering to stop Hizballah’s drive for a presence at the Golan town of Quneitra. Therefore, the flames will remain high so long as Hizballah’s advance on its objective continues..

US boycotts UN discussion on Israeli human rights abuses

March 20, 2017

Source: US boycotts UN discussion on Israeli human rights abuses | The Times of Israel

( GOD BLESS AMERICA ! – JW )

State Department slams Human Rights Council for ‘longstanding bias’ against Jewish state that ‘threatens its credibility’

March 20, 2017, 3:13 pm

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas is seen on a TV screen while speaking during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas is seen on a TV screen while speaking during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

The US on Monday issued a strongly worded statement accusing a United Nations body of longstanding bias against Israel.

Amid threats from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to withdraw entirely from the United Nations Human Rights Council, the State Department announced it would boycott the council’s entire discussion about human rights abuses committed by Israel and vote against any resolutions that came from it.

“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven: ‘Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,’” acting spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.

Agenda Item Seven is a permanent fixture requiring the council to discuss three times each year any alleged abuses of human rights committed by Israel against Palestinians. Toner said that the item threatens the credibility of the council.

Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“Today’s actions in the Council are yet another reminder of that body’s longstanding bias against Israel,” he said. “No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council. It does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter.”

Israel is the only country-specific issue that has a permanent place on the council’s agenda, an opening for discussion about the Jewish state that often sees anti-Israel invective delivered at council meetings from Arab and Muslim states.

“Later this week, the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same,” Toner said.

Michael Lynk, the UN's special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, on October 28, 2016 (Courtesy)

Michael Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, on October 28, 2016 (Courtesy)

Earlier, Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on Palestinian territories held by Israel since 1967, warned that the “illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace” this year.

The US has always boycotted the discussion of the agenda item on Israel, and for the past several years Jerusalem has encouraged other nations to do the same.

Last month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called out the Human Rights Council for “breathtaking double standards” and “outrageously biased resolutions” against Israel, during a press conference after her first meeting with the UN Security Council.

US United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at the Security Council meeting on February 21, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR)

US United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at the Security Council meeting on February 21, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR)

Earlier this month US envoy Erin Barclay said the United States’ commitment to human rights “is stronger than ever.” However, she slammed the council for its focus on Israel.

“No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item… The obsession with Israel… is the largest threat to this council’s credibility,” said Barclay, a career diplomat. “It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council. The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel.

US envoy Erin Barclay addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council March 1, 2017 (Screen capture: UNHRC)

US envoy Erin Barclay addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council March 1, 2017 (Screen capture: UNHRC)

Last week Tillerson sent a letter to nine nonprofit groups in which he explained that the United States may quit the council unless it makes reforms, Foreign Policy reported.

In the meantime, Tillerson said, the US would reiterate its “strong principled objection to the Human Rights Council’s biased agenda against Israel.”

Tillerson wrote that the US was concerned as well about membership in the council of countries accused of human rights violations, such as China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Should US President Donald Trump’s administration opt out of the UNHRC, it wouldn’t be the first to shun the body.

When the UNHRC was created out of the discredited UN Human Rights Commission in 2006, then-US president George W. Bush refused to join the new group, believing that it would lack credibility and that, like its predecessor, it would allow human right violators to become members.

In 2009, president Barack Obama reversed that decision, hoping to improve the UNHRC.

“With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system,” then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton said at the time

Israeli-Russian clash over Hizballah’s Golan grab

March 20, 2017

Source: Israeli-Russian clash over Hizballah’s Golan grab

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 20, 2017, 9:41 AM (IDT)
Pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite Al-Nojba militia

Pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite Al-Nojba militia

The Israeli drone that targeted the Syrian militiaman Yasser Sayad outside the Golan town of Quneitra Sunday, March 19, reinforced the message first carried by the Israeli Arrow 2 which shot down a Syrian SA-5 anti-air missile Friday. The Israeli ambassador was called twice to the Russian foreign ministry.

Both hits were precise: Sayad was on his way to join the Hizballah forces who are trampling Syrian rebel villages on the Hermon slopes to clear their path to the Golan; and the Syrian SA-5 was intercepted microseconds before hitting the Israeli jets attacking a consignment of Hizballah weapons outside the Syria T4 base near Palmyra, where a Russian contingent is also housed.

After the air strike, Israel’s ambassador to Moscow Cary Koren was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry to hear a warning from Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to stop interfering with Russian plans for Syrian.

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Al Jaafari reflected the Assad regime’s sense of empowerment when he said following the Israeli air strikes in northern Syria: “The Syrian response was appropriate and changed the rules of the game.” He claimed that Israel had been sternly warned by Moscow to stop such attacks and therefore its leaders “will think long before taking similar action in future.”

Nonetheless, two days later, the IDF was again in action, this time on the Syrian Golan. A-Sayad was killed outside Quneitra as testimony of Israel’s resolve to continue to wage warfare against the Iranian and Hizballah military presence in Syria and their aggressive push towards its borders.
And Sunday, Ambassador Koren was called to the foreign ministry in Moscow for a second dressing-down, this one, undoubtedly sterner than the first, seeing that Israel had escalated its face-off with Moscow on this issue and raised the stakes for a potential IDF clash with Russian forces in Syria, for better or for worse.

The government in Jerusalem has in fact drawn a strong line against Moscow’s policy of allowing hostile Hizballah and paramilitary Syrian forces, like to Golan Liberation Brigades, to gain control of territory directly adjacent to Israel – from the Hermon range through Qunetra and further west up to Daraa overlooking the Jordanian border as well.

debkafile’s military sources reveal that Jerusalem was further alarmed Sunday by discovering that an Iraqi Shiite militia was on the way, under the command of Iran’s Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleiman, to reinforce Hizballah’s Hermon-Golan offensive. This militia, called the Al-Nojba Movement, consisting of 1,500 Iraqi Shiite fighters, is the pet project of Hizballah’s deputy chief Sheikh Naieem Qassem, who sent officers to train them.

Since the Al Nojba militia has been deployed in the northern Syrian town of Aleppo, its transfer south to fight with Hizballah could not have gone unnoticed by the Russian officers on the ground. The militia’s landing on the slopes of Hermon would herald the intrusion of additional foreign pro-Iranian Shiite forces in this embattled location on the fringes of the Golan. Israel can be expected to intervene again to put a stop to this dangerous Russian-Iranian-Hizballah ploy to exploit the turbulence in Syria for allowing Israel’s enemies to grab forward assault positions in Syria.