Special Coverage: A Palestinian Died (Okay, and 6,000 Syrians Too)

(CAMERA) An Associated Press report published on April 1 noted that at least 6000 Syrians were reported killed in the civil conflict in March, the highest single month toll yet. During this same period, the main news item of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the death of a single Palestinian hunger striker, a convicted terrorist, in an Israeli prison.

According to a tally from a Lexis-Nexis media search, the New York Times published a total of 39 articles (news articles, editorials, and on its blog) in March that were mainly focused on Israel and the Palestinian conflict, plus an additional 24 on U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel. The Nexis search turned up 59 pieces — a substantial proportion were brief blog items — focused on the conflict in Syria.

More after the jump.
While acknowledging that The Times is not ignoring the Syrian conflict, considering the disproportionate toll in the two conflicts, 6,000 to 1, it is striking that the number of articles is of a similar magnitude. However, even more significant than the number of articles is the disparity in the depth of coverage. Here The Times continues to provide much greater amplification of the Palestinians plight in comparison to that of the Syrians.

In a month marked by accelerating slaughter in Syria, The Times chose to publish an 8,000-word cover story for its Sunday magazine (“Is This Where The Third Intifada Will Start?“), by Ben Ehrenreich, who has called for an end to the Jewish state and waxes poetically about the Palestinian “resisters” from a West Bank town engaged in sometimes violent protests. That story followed another extreme anti-Israel piece, a March 9 column by Joseph Levine arguing that “one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist.”

The Times might have noted — but of course, did not — that the tally of fatalities in the past month alone in Syria exceeds the total number of Israeli and Palestinian lives lost during the four most active years of the second Intifada (September 2000-September 2004).  

Preparing for Assad’s Fall: Iran Deploys 50,000 Troops in Syria

Free Syrian Army soldier in battle

(Behind the News) Israel’s intelligence community has determined that Iran deployed 50,000 troops in Syria.

Israeli military intelligence commander Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Iran has taken over much of the Syrian campaign against Sunni rebels. Kochavi said Iran deployed Hizbullah and Shi’ite fighters in Iraq to protect the regime of President Bashar Assad, whose military dropped from 220,000 to 50,000.

“The damages of the imminent fall of Syria are very high for both Iran and Hizbullah,” Kochavi said.

Iran is losing a sole ally in the region surrounding Israel. It will lose the ability to transfer weaponry through Syria to Hizbullah. Iran and Hizbullah are both doing all in their power to assist Assad’s regime.

More after the jump.
In an address to the Herzliya Conference on March 14, Kochavi cited a much greater level of Iranian military involvement than acknowledged by NATO. The military intelligence chief said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hizbullah formed a special force assigned to protect the regime in Damascus.

“They support Assad operationally on the ground, with strategic consultation, intelligence, weapons,” Kochavi said.

Kochavi said the 50,000-man force built by Hizbullah and Iran was separate from that of Assad’s military. He said the Iranian-sponsored force, called the “People’s Army” would soon reach 100,000 fighters amid repeated failures by Assad to mobilize Syrians. So far, only 20 percent of required recruits have reported for Syrian military duty.

The People’s Army was said to have been launched in late 2012 and overseen by IRGC Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani. Officials said Suleimani has been in Damascus for the last few months to direct counter-rebel operations.

Kochavi said the People’s Army represented Iran’s determination to remain in Syria even with the fall of the Assad regime. He said neither Iran nor Hizbullah could lose Syria as a strategic hub.

“Most recently, they are establishing a ‘People’s Army’ trained by Hizbullah and financed by Iran, currently consisting of 50,000 men, with plans to increase to 100,000,” Kochavi said. “Iran and Hizbullah are also preparing for the day after Assad’s fall, when they will use this army to protect their assets and interests in Syria.”

At the same time, the Syrian Air Force has also expanded operations. Kochavi said the air force was conducting between 40 and 50 sorties a week and other units were firing the Scud-B and M-600 missiles.

The Assad regime has also fired at least 600 rockets with a conventional payload of 250 kilograms. Kochavi said Assad fired 70 Scuds and M-600s during the two-year revolt.

The intelligence assessment also detected threats by Al Qaida-aligned Syrian rebel militias. Kochavi said such militias, which he termed “global jihad terrorists” were spreading throughout Syria as well as Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“The threat of a security deterioration, caused either by us attacking, or a terrorist attack on us is growing,” Kochavi said.  

Prophet Elijah’s Synagogue Bombed by Assad’s Forces in Syria

The Jobar synagogue in Syria has been severely damaged by Syrian forces in Damascus. This 2,000 year old synagogue was built in honor of the prophet Elijah. It was constructed over a cave where Elijah was believed to have hidden from persecution. Jews have made pilgrimages to this synagogue for centuries.  

Yahoo Runs Deceiving Photo with Reuters Article

(CAMERA) A Reuters article was posted yesterday on yahoo.com,with the headline”Israel Hits Target in Syria Border Area: Sources” under which was posted a large photo of children carrying a dead body. The Israeli strike was on a Syrian convoy transferring weapons to the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon. And the photo, in fact, had no connection whatsoever to the article about the Israeli strike.

We traced the origin of the photo. It was taken by a Reuters stringer on Jan. 25, 2012 and it showed children carrying the body of a friend that was killed by shelling during heavy fighting between the Free Syrian Army and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Jobar district of Damascus. Here is the screen capture of the article, as it appeared around noon, Jan. 30, 2013 on Yahoo’s news site.

The question is who at YAHOO made the decision to run an old photo falsely insinuating that Israelis were responsible for the death of a child? It represents journalistic bias at its worst.  

Israel Strikes Syrian Weapon Convoy As Syria Tests Israeli “Red Line”

(The Israel Project) Israeli Air Force jets struck a weapons convoy traveling from Syria into Lebanon Tuesday, in an operation that appears to have been aimed at preventing the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah from acquiring advanced SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from the increasingly endangered Bashar al-Assad regime.

Israeli officials have been warning for months, and in increasingly explicit language, that Jerusalem will not allow the transfer of Syria’s advanced weapons, including and especially chemical and biological weapons, to terrorist groups. The strike this morning may indicate that Damascus is testing the so-called Israeli “red line” regarding such transfers.

More after the jump.
As news of the operation began to emerge, The Israel Project was hosting a press briefing with a former top Mossad official on the risks posed by Syrian instability in general, by the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in particular, and on Israel’s approach to the new security environment.

Brig.-Gen Amon Sofrin (ret.) told the special briefing of foreign journalists that multiple sides in the Syrian civil war are trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. While the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front terrorist group is battling to topple Assad, Hezbollah is fighting to prop up the Syrian leader. Part and parcel of the Syrian-Hezbollah alliance have been efforts by Damascus to facilitate the flow of arms from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Nasrallah is interested today to remove to Lebanon today everything that he can that is under his custody. Everything that is on Syrian soil in the understanding that Syria is going to tear [itself] apart — they are losing control, Sofrin explained.

We are now looking very carefully to see [if there are] some convoys coming out from Syria to Lebanon transferring weapons systems and maybe some other things as well, by which I mean chemical weapons. It (the warhead) can be suitable for the Scud missiles and can be mounted on them and this is something we are looking very carefully at.

Sofrin emphasized Jerusalem’s commitment to maintaining its “red line” and preventing the transfer of chemical weapons to terror groups:

I think that if we have solid evidence shared by our own partners all over the world that chemical warheads are being transferred from Syria to Lebanon, to the Hezbollah, I think that no one will condemn Israel for trying to prevent it, he said.

U.N. Adopts 9 Resolutions on Israel, 0 on Syria

— UN Watch

GENEVA, Dec. 18 – The U.N. General Assembly today adopted nine resolutions on Palestinian rights and the Golan, sharply criticizing Israel yet making no mention of Sunday’s massacre of Palestinians by Syrian warplanes firing missiles into a mosque in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. Nor did the texts mention the tens of thousands of Palestinians who continue to flee the camp.

More after the jump.
By the end of this week, the current 2012 UNGA session will have adopted 22 country-specific resolutions on Israel – and only four on the rest of the world combined, one each for Syria, Iran, North Korea and Burma, noted UN Watch.

Today’s resolutions criticized Israel for “the continuing systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people,” and focused on “the extremely difficult socioeconomic conditions being faced by the Palestine refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

One resolution condemned Israel for holding on to the Golan Heights, demanding Israel hand the land and its people to Syria.

“It’s astonishing,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the U.N. call for more people to be subject to Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling and logically absurd.”

“What is also outrageous is that these resolutions claim to care about Palestinians, yet the U.N. proves itself completely oblivious to the actual suffering on the ground, happening right now: Palestinians slaughtered, maimed and expelled by Assad’s forces.”

“Today’s farce at the General Assembly underscores a simple fact: the U.N.’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights; the goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations remains the scapegoating of Israel,” said Neuer.

“The U.N.’s disproportionate assault against the Jewish state undermines the credibility of what is supposed to be an impartial and respected international body, and exposes the sores of politicisation and selectivity that eat away at its founding mission, eroding the U.N. Charter promise of equal treatment to all nations large and small,” Neuer added.

“With more than 40,000 killed in Syria, and millions of Syrian refugees suffering now in the cold of winter, it ought to shock the conscience of mankind that the U.N. will devoting more than 80 percent of this session’s resolutions to Israel, and just one, on Thursday, to Syria.”

Somebody Ought To Get Him A Map

Glenn Kessler reports in the Washington Post:

Mitt Romney repeated his contention that Syria is Iran’s “route to the sea.” This is a puzzling claim, considering that Syria shares no border with Iran — Iraq and Turkey are in the way — and that Iran has about 1,500 miles of coastline along the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, leading to the Arabian Sea. The Fact Checker column has looked into this before.

Romney made the same mistake at the Arizona GOP Debate, at the AIPAC’s Annual Summit, and during interviews on MSNBC, on Fox News Radio, and in the Washington Post.