Tensions rising as Iran vows to destroy Tel Aviv, Haifa and says US forces should leave

Iran President

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Iran will destroy Tel Aviv, Haifa at slightest Israeli action – Raisi
  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi threatened to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa
  • “The slightest mistake against our country will be responded with a harsh response and will be accompanied by the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv,” Raisi said according to an English language translation of his speech posted on his office’s web page.
  • “The extra-regional and American forces should leave the region as soon as possible because it is in their own interest and in the interest of the region.”
  • “The enemies of the Islamic Revolution, especially the Zionist Regime, have received the message of the power of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he explained.

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Israel declares curfew, boosts police in Arab-Jewish town hit by violence

By Rami Ayyub and Ronen Zvulun

LOD, Israel (Reuters) -Jews cleared Torah scrolls from a torched synagogue on Wednesday and burnt-out cars lined nearby streets in an ethnically mixed Israeli town hit by violence denounced by the president as “unforgivable” acts by Arabs incensed at air strikes on Gaza.

Moving to head off further violence in Lod, which has also seen assaults by Jews on Arab passersby, police declared a night-time curfew and deployed heavily armed reinforcements.

In several other areas populated by Israel’s 21% Arab minority, Palestinian flags adorned electricity poles and hundreds of residents have turned out for protests, sometimes clashing with police or Jewish residents.

“We have lost control of the city and the streets,” Lod Mayor Yair Revivo told Channel 12 News after nightly confrontations in which an Arab townsman was shot dead, a killing in which two Jewish suspects have been arrested.

Scores of other people have been arrested in Lod and in majority-Arab towns in central and northern Israel, including Umm al-Fahm along the West Bank border and Jisr al-Zarqa on the Mediterranean coast, police said.

In Lod, men carried Torah scrolls through the blackened and debris-strewn yard of the torched synagogue. President Reuven Rivlin described events in terms recalling anti-Semitism abroad.

“The sight of the pogrom in Lod and the disturbances across the country by an incited and bloodthirsty Arab mob … is unforgivable,” he said, calling the flying of the Palestinian flag by protesters “a brutal assault on shared existence”.

Israel’s Arab minority – Palestinian by heritage, Israeli by citizenship – is mostly descended from the Palestinians who lived under Ottoman and then British colonial rule before staying in Israel after the country’s 1948 creation.

Most are bilingual in Arabic and Hebrew, and feel a sense of kinship with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They often complain of systemic discrimination, unfair access to housing, healthcare, and education services.

Tension in Arab-Jewish towns has risen as Israel conducted air strikes in Gaza and Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel in an escalation of violence since clashes in East Jerusalem on Monday morning.

Ibrahim, an Arab councilor with the Lod municipality, said: “What is happening now is (an) uprising that is going on (in) cities like Ramle, Lod, Jaffa, Acre and Haifa,” calling events in Gaza and Jerusalem a “red line” for Arabs.

In the coastal city of Acre, Uri Buri, a Jewish-owned fish restaurant, was set fire to and some Arab residents said they were scared to leave home.

In Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, Arab protesters clashed with police firing stun grenades to disperse them.

“We condemn that our people’s solidarity and cohesion with our brethren in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip is being channeled through acts of sabotage to public and private property, as is now happening at Umm al-Fahm’s entrance,” said Samir Mahamid, Mayor of Umm al-Fahm.

Neighbourhoods with Arab residents, including Lod and Jaffa, were among those where sirens were triggered by rocket fire. An Arab resident of Lod and his daughter were killed on Wednesday when a vehicle was hit by a rocket, Israeli authorities said.

In Haifa and Jaffa, and in the Arab city of Nazareth, protesters have chanted slogans in support of Palestinians facing eviction from an East Jerusalem neighborhood under a long-running legal case.

Arab citizens of Israel were among the thousands of protesters who have faced off in recent days with Israeli police near Al-Aqsa mosque and elsewhere in Jerusalem’s Old City.

A spokesman for the Hamas Islamist militant group in Gaza encouraged Arab citizens to “rise up” against “our enemy and yours”.

(Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Michael Perry, Timothy Heritage, William Maclean and Giles Elgood)

Israel arrests 13 on suspicion of arson over mass wildfires

Firefighters work as a wildfire burns in the village of Beit Meir near Jerusalem

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police arrested 13 people on Friday on suspicion of arson, authorities said, after massive wildfires tore through central and northern Israel, a conflagration that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded as “terrorism”.

Firefighters kept battling the flames in wooded hills around Jerusalem and in northern areas on Friday, with support from Palestinian firemen and emergency teams from Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, Russia and Turkey.

Netanyahu said he had also accepted offers of help from Egypt and Jordan.

Unseasonably dry weather and easterly winds helped kindle the fires, which erupted on Tuesday and now stretch across half the country.

Arson appeared to be behind some of the blazes, Netanyahu said. “A price will be paid for this arson-terrorism,” he told reporters on Friday. He said the arson was carried out by “elements with great hostility toward Israel.”

A resident stands next to burnt cars from Thursday's fire in the northern city of Haifa, Israel

A resident stands next to burnt cars from Thursday’s fire in the northern city of Haifa, Israel November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

“We cannot tell yet if this is organized, but we can see a number of cells operating,” Netanyahu said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a dozen people had been detained either while attempting to set fires or fleeing the area, but he provided no further details. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan told reporters 13 people were arrested.

Erdan said those arrested were “minorities”, an allusion to either Arab Israeli citizens or Palestinians. “The highest likelihood is that the motive is nationalistic,” Erdan told Army Radio. Police, however, stopped short of declaring any motive.

The fires are the biggest in the country since 2010, when 44 people were killed in a killed in a massive blaze in the north. Investigators concluded that fire was caused by negligence.


Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of a far-right party, said on Thursday the fires could not have been started by Jews and on Friday blamed them on “nationalist terrorists”, a reference in Israel to Palestinians.

“There is no coincidental ‘wave of fires’,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is a nationalist terrorist wave by fire terrorists meant to murder civilians and cause fright.”

A living room burnt in Thursday's fire is pictured in the northern city of Haifa, Israel

A living room burnt in Thursday’s fire is pictured in the northern city of Haifa, Israel, November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

There has been no official response from Palestinian leaders. But Ayman Odeh, a leading Israeli Arab politician from Haifa, rejected the suggestion Arabs were responsible for arson attacks and accused the Israeli government of taking advantage of the situation to incite against the Arab minority.

Nearly a third of the residents of Haifa, a coastal city of around 250,000 people, including a large Arab population, spent the night in shelters and nearby towns and villages after being ordered to leave on Thursday in the face of walls of flame.

Smoke billowed over the city on Friday morning as firefighters worked to douse the remaining fires. City officials said the situation was under control but that at least 700 homes had been badly damaged or destroyed.

About 80,000 evacuees from Haifa were allowed to return to their homes on Friday as firefighters curbed the flames.

Israel’s chief of police said on Thursday people may have decided to start fires after seeing the trouble they were causing. “We’re in an area where if someone sees on the news there is an opportunity, he can take advantage of the opportunity,” said Roni Alsheich.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces had arrested a Palestinian man caught trying to set a fire near the Israeli settlement of Kochav Yaakov in the occupied West Bank. Footage aired on Israeli television showed three people setting a fire in an open area near the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Police said one man from the Bedouin village of Rahat in southern Israel had been arrested for incitement after he posted a message on his Facebook page calling on others to start fires.

Palestinians seek an independent state in territories including the West Bank that Israel took in a 1967 war. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; editing by Luke Baker and Mark Heinrich)