Israel urges Assad to ‘throw out’ Iranian forces: ‘They only harm you’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

LIBERMAN: ‘WE DID NOT CROSS IRAN’S BORDERS. THEY CAME HERE’

Israel urges Assad to ‘throw out’ Iranian forces: ‘They only harm you’

Defense minister reassures residents of the north that things are ‘back to normal’ following massive airstrikes in Syria

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (C) meets with Golan Regional Council head Eli Malka (L) and Katrzin Regional Council head Dmitry Apartzev (R) during a tour of the Golan Heights town of Katzrin on may 11, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (C) meets with Golan Regional Council head Eli Malka (L) and Katrzin Regional Council head Dmitry Apartzev (R) during a tour of the Golan Heights town of Katzrin on may 11, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Speaking in the north of Israel on Friday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman sent a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad, telling him to “throw” Iranian forces out of his country.

Liberman visited the northern city of Katzrin to debrief residents following Israel’s largest air campaign in Syria in more than 40 years, in which it says it bombed over 50 Iranian targets.

The sortie came after Iran fired 20 missiles toward Israel just after midnight on Thursday morning, the IDF said, forcing residents of the north into bomb shelters. Four of the missiles were knocked down by the Iron Dome air defense system and the rest fell short of Israeli territory, according to the military.

Liberman urged Syria to expel the Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds Force, which Israel blamed for the missile attacks early Thursday morning.

“I want to use this opportunity to give Assad a message,” he said. “Throw out the Iranians, throw out Qassem Soleimani and the Quds force. They don’t help you, they only harm you, and their presence causes only problems and damage.”

Liberman also told Israelis they should not let the threat from Syria deter them from visiting the north. “You can come, you can return to the bed and breakfasts, to tour, to hike,” he said. “There are truly amazing views and among the most beautiful places, and there is no problem. We are back to normal.”

He said that it was a mistake to think that Thursday morning’s attacks on the Iranian bases had completely solved the problem, but that the army was ready for anything and would continue to do whatever necessary to ensure Israel is secure.

“I don’t think it’s all over,” he said,” but we certainly have our finger on the pulse.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 9, 2018. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AFP)

Liberman said Israel was in a unique position of being able to speak with the leaders of both the US and Russia, though he refused to say whether Israel was responsible for Russia refusing to send better air defense systems to Syria.

The defense minister welcomed Iran’s statement that it did not want an escalation between the two countries and stressed that Israel was also not looking for more confrontation with anyone.

“We did not cross Iran’s borders,” he said. “They came here.”

He reassured residents that if anyone was planning to launch missiles against Israel the IDF would try to carry out preemptive strikes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday Iran had “crossed a red line” and that Israel’s bombardment against targets in Syria “was a consequence.”

Israel has long warned it will not accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria, where the Islamic Republic backs Assad’s regime in the country’s seven-year civil war.

Israel was blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that have killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged those raids.

The Jewish state said it had conducted dozens of operations in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to Iran-backed Hezbollah, another key foe of Israel.

Amid a series of retaliation threats from Tehran, Israel had been preparing itself for weeks for possible Iranian retaliation.

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With BBQs And F-35’s, Israelis Delight In 70 Years Of Independence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

With BBQs and F-35’s, Israelis delight in 70 years of independence

Some 200,000 people flock to national parks around the country, with many more taking to beaches to watch flyover of fighter jets

  • A woman smiles during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    A woman smiles during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • People watch as an Israeli acrobatic team fly over during Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    People watch as an Israeli acrobatic team fly over during Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israeli and tourists watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
    Israeli and tourists watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony awarding outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem. April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony awarding outstanding soldiers as part of Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s residence in Jerusalem. April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • An Israeli man celebrates Independence Day marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    An Israeli man celebrates Independence Day marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    Paratroopers drop into the Mediterranean Sea during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
  • People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
  • US-made Israeli air force T-6 Texan II planes fly over while performing during an air show as part of the 70th Independence Day celebrations on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.
Israel marks 70 years since the founding of the country according to the Hebrew calendar (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
    US-made Israeli air force T-6 Texan II planes fly over while performing during an air show as part of the 70th Independence Day celebrations on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv. Israel marks 70 years since the founding of the country according to the Hebrew calendar (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    People celebrate the Israeli Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in Gush Etzion, on April 19, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
  • Israelis watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
    Israelis watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)
  • Israelis watch as the Israeli air force aerobatic team fly during a military training for the upcoming Israel's 70th Independence day in Tel Aviv on April 17, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 )
    Israelis watch as the Israeli air force aerobatic team fly during a military training for the upcoming Israel’s 70th Independence day in Tel Aviv on April 17, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 )
  • People dance during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    People dance during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israelis play with foam spray during Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis play with foam spray during Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • People celebrate Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to beaches and parks, lighting grills, waving flags and craning their necks for a glimpse of Israel’s fighter jets to mark the country’s 70th Independence Day on Thursday.

After a night of fireworks, concerts, parties and an emotional crossover from Memorial Day to Independence Day, most Israelis were spending the day, a national holiday, celebrating the country’s birthday.

Some 200,000 Israelis were at the country’s national parks, with 48,000 visiting the Banias Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights and 18,000 camped around the Sea of the Galilee, according to the parks authority.

A highlight of the day was the cross-country flyover of military jets and helicopters, which for the second year included Israel’s fleet of F-35 jets, considered the most advanced plane in the world.

Celebrations in Jerusalem kicked off Thursday morning at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, where President Reuven Rivlin was hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot and others for a musical ceremony honoring over 100 soldiers receiving commendations for excellence.

People celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“It is no secret that during these celebratory moments IDF soldiers and security forces are on high alert,” said Rivlin at the ceremony, addressing Iran tensions on the northern border. “It is no secret that we are facing Iranian attempts to directly harm the State of Israel. Dear soldiers, we see the burden of responsibility placed on your young shoulders. Thank you.”

Israelis watch an air show during the festivities of the 70th Independence Day, on April 19, 2018 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv.(AFP PHOTO / Ahmad GHARABLI)

The annual international Bible Quiz competition finals took place after the ceremony. The winner of the contest was named as Azriel Shilat, from Hatzor Haglilit.

The IDF also opened its bases to the public, displaying jeeps, tanks and other equipment throughout the country.

More than 20,000 Israelis attended an open house day at a national training facility for police officers, hosted by the Public Security Ministry. Police said around 3 p.m. that all parking spots allocated to visitors filled up and asked the public not to near the area.

On Wednesday night, the mournful and somber speeches of Memorial Day gave way to joyful celebrations, with flags promptly raised back from half-staff.

The juxtaposition of the two days is a key element of Israelis’ experience of national independence, ensuring that no commemoration completely excludes the achievement wrought by the sacrifice of the fallen and their families, and that the elation of independence is never far removed from an awareness of its cost.

People celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, the transition was marked with an extravagant state ceremony featuring the lighting of torches by 12 people who are seen to have made an outstanding contribution to society — as well as one by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and another by Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein — and much singing and dancing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the annual Bible Quiz held at the Jerusalem Theater on Israel’s Independence Day, on April 19, 2018. (Shlomi Cohen/FLASH90)

The ceremony featured an elaborate musical flashback of Jewish history, with actors singing and dancing through events dating back to the biblical era.

Israelis play with snow during Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
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