Jerusalem – The Israel Defense Force confirmed a joint search and rescue (SAR) exercise this week by the Turkish, American and Israeli Air and Naval Forces. Israel was the event’s host country, but most of the exercise took place westward in international waters.

According to an Israeli army spokesperson, the objective of this exercise was “to practice and improve coordination and cooperation between the forces.” This was done by conducting practices of SAR procedures and the providing medical care at sea. The drill largely contributed to the ability of the three forces’ air and naval vessels to respond faster and more efficiently to future maritime emergencies as to provide humanitarian aid when required.

Seven naval vessels, three helicopters and two SAR airplanes engaged in various drills conducted during the exercise. As part of the exercise, the forces held joint discussions, preliminary training on land, joint tours and more. The three naval forces declared the exercise a success.

Ignoring Palestinian Incitement?

Addressing a press conference this week, Irwin Cotler, a professor of Law at Montreal’s McGill University, and a member of the Canadian House of Commons Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights, said official Palestinian Authority (PA) incitement to hatred and murder is being ignored by Western governments and media. “People don’t realize that [Palestinian Authority leader ] Mahmoud Abbas signed a law, on the very day there was a suicide terrorist attack in December 2005 against Israel, providing monthly stipends for the families of suicide bombers. In January 2007, Abbas addressed a large crowd that was estimated as being over 100,000, in which he said ‘the sons of Israel are mentioned in the Quran as those who are corrupting humanity on Earth’ … Abbas has never recognized Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state … The official PA media promotes anti-Israeli libels and breeds hatred and contempt for Jews.”

Mr. Cotler said Mr. Abbas’ statements and hatred promoted have been ignored by the West and those promoting Middle East peace. Yet, that incitement, Mr. Cotler concluded, is “the greatest threat to a just and lasting peace.” Mr. Cotler also noted other parts of the Arab world have bred a similar hatred. The recent ransom agreement between Israel and Hezbollah, in which the Lebanese terror organization released the bodies of two IDF soldiers it kidnapped in 2006 in exchange for several terrorists held in Israeli jails, was greeted in Lebanon joyously. In Mr. Cotler’s view, “Knowing that Israel was in mourning was, tragically, a national day of celebration in Lebanon.”

Mr. Cotler also said Hamas, with its charter’s “genocidal objective, anti-Semitic ideology and terrorist instrumentality,” is not alone in its incitement in the PA public sphere.

Iranian Army Wraps Up Stealth Maneuvers

According to an official Iranian news agency, www.FarsNews.com, “Iran has wrapped up three successful military maneuvers aimed at strengthening the country’s defensive prowess,” according to Brig. Gen Abdul-Rahim Mousavi who said, “Iran’s Army forces have held aerial, naval and ground drills over the past two months.”

The Iranian commander said, “maneuvers had been held in secret to prevent Western governments from acquiring intelligence on Iran’s defensive and combat capabilities.”

The announcement comes amid reports circulated by Iran which suggest that an armada of U.S. and European naval vessels had been stationed in the Persian Gulf in an unprecedented build-up, towards “military strikes on nuclear facilities in Iran should the country continue its uranium enrichment program.”

The statement emphasized, “Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.”

Iran also insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it “needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.”

Syrian-Russian Ties Increase

SANA, the Syrian news agency, reported Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov has expressed Russia’s readiness to supply Syria with new defensive arms that do not violate the balance of power in the world.

In a statement which summarized summit talks between President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President, Dimitry Medvedev, the Syrians report “Lavrov expressed readiness to look into the Syrian demand for purchasing new Russian arms.”

During the meeting, Mr. Assad offered Mr. Medvedev the right to deploy Russian missiles within Syrian territory, in response to U.S. military in Poland.

The Syrian president may have been referring to the Russian S-300 anti-plane missiles, which could threaten U.S. aircraft in the Middle East. The missiles, placed on Syrian territory, would also make an Israeli air strike more difficult.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday his country is considering fulfilling Mr. Assad’s bid for new Russian artillery, but did not specify the type of weaponry Damascus wants to purchase.

Russia’s Itar-Tas news agency reported Mr. Lavrov said the weapons were defensive, and “would not harm the region’s strategic balance.” The foreign minister spoke after a meeting with Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Assad.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.