Day: March 18, 2017



With a modest population of 12 million, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Uganda to the north, Rwanda today is renowned for its green highlands, active volcanoes and rare silverback gorillas.

In the 1990s, the narrative of the Rwandan people revolved around stories of political strife, genocide and war, but today it is one of the safest places in Africa for volunteers, tourists and entrepreneurs alike.

Relative to its sub-Saharan neighbors, Rwanda is a small, landlocked country lacking valuable natural resources with a population that does not fit the criteria needed to support a labor-based economy.

As a result, the country developed a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, often teaching its students not to “find a job, but to create a job.”

At the geographical heart of Rwanda lies its capital Kigali, which has put its start-up scene at the center of its initiative to rebrand itself as a city of tech and creativity.

Now two Israeli entrepreneurs, Hezi Bezalel and Guy Cherni, have tagged along for the ride. Their goal? To use all their hometown resources to help support the small African city on its journey to become the African Start-up Nation.

“In a lot of aspects, they [Rwanda] are pretty similar to Israel; there is a great commonality that the two countries share,” explains Cherni, who has an MA in global community development from the Hebrew University and in 2012 was one of the first proponents of the Jerusalem start-up ecosystem.

“Both grew out of a tragedy; Israel, in Europe, and Rwanda, with its genocide 21 years ago. This has created a link between us.”

Bezalel first arrived in Rwanda in July 1994, and has been taking part in the development of the country ever since through investments in fields such as infrastructure and telecom. During his frequent trips to the country, Bezalel, a Ramat Gan native specializing in banking and private equity, began to take notice of the city’s start-up potential.

Through chance encounters, the two met and began brainstorming possibilities of what could be done to support the developing ecosystem in Kigali. But to have a real impact on the Rwandan ecosystem, they would first have to understand it – as locals. Next thing he knew, Cherni was on a flight to Rwanda to spend the next month mapping out the start-up ecosystem.

He began working on identifying the local resources that were available to the community to assess the key challenges Kigali’s tech scene had been facing.

He spoke to everyone and anyone who could provide information, interviewing local entrepreneurs, government officials and existing companies in the region.

His findings concluded that there was a thriving local tech scene, including co-working spaces, academic initiatives, and active stakeholders – yet almost no link between them.

A start-up ecosystem, according to Startup Commons, is formed by people, startups in their various stages and various types of organizations in a location (physical and/or virtual), interacting as a system to create new start-up companies.

“We realized what was missing was an incubator, investments and a way to connect them. Based on this, we decided to build an incubator, invest in some later- stage companies, and work on creating connections between the different parts of the ecosystem,” Cherni explains.

Interestingly, his observations in Kigali were quite similar to his experiences when first arriving on the Jerusalem hi-tech scene seven years ago. All ingredients for a successful ecosystem were there but not working collectively with one another. At the time, this led to the creation of Jerusalem’s first start-up accelerator program, Siftech, a grassroots project of the Hebrew University Student Union that is now preparing for its sixth batch of start-ups.

Today, the 42Kura project is the outcome of all their planning. Starting its new program this month, 42Kura will accept 10 early-stage start-ups and provide them with Israeli and Rwandan expertise, mentorship and support.

The program will operate on two core agendas.

The first agenda is a communal aspect that attempts to act as a connector between all the different islands of innovation that already exist in Kigali. This includes weekly mentorship sessions from Israeli and Rwandan experts and monthly meet-ups for the Kigali entrepreneurial community.

Entrepreneur Alex Genadinik, who often provides mentoring for Rwandan entrepreneurs from abroad, agrees with Cherni’s findings, citing a lack of community focused around entrepreneurship as a key challenge faced by the locals he advises.

“It can be more talks and lectures, co-working spaces, grants or start-up competitions, but the main idea should be to create a culture of entrepreneurship by bringing entrepreneurs closer together to form a nucleus.”

The second agenda is to provide capital by investing in more mature, established companies. In Rwanda, there are no venture capital funds, and only a few angel investors, who invest at most $25,000. This translates into a minimal amount of capital available for start-ups in the region.

The lack of investor money creates two phenomena; the first is that entrepreneurs do not understand the world, and jargon, of investment (cap tables, investment options, equity). The second is that it forces many of them to take loans from the bank, with up to 17% yearly interest, a non-sustainable approach for a start-up company.

There are several local advanced companies that have 40+ workers and create optimal revenues, but there are only 10 middle-stage start-up companies. Most deal with mobile payments, service and ‘localized’ solutions, which Cherni says is one of the biggest problems with international development.

“Some Western organizations come to developing countries and try to solve their problems using one-size-fits-all products, without evaluating the assets that the local terrain has to offer. Part of what we really wanted to do is help local talent develop their own solutions, since a lot of the time, they know their problems better than we do,” he explains.

The program is looking for companies in three of the fastest growing sectors in Africa today; alternative banking, supply chain efficiency, and smart transportation.

Development of financial technology is part of a large focus in Africa where less than a third of sub-Saharan Africans have a bank account. Until mobile money, that meant that more than 65% of financial transactions in Africa were P2P, or hand-to-hand (World Bank). Mobile money enables people who cannot get a bank account to transfer money, get loans and make online purchases.

Cherni works closely with several local partners and plans to pass the program on to them to manage. The goal of any work done within developing countries is to create a system that will ultimately become self-sufficient. The team’s vision for 42Kura is no different, hoping it will one day become a program that’s sustainable for local capacity, for people to help develop and support local Rwandan start-ups.

“We’re not creating anything. We’re assisting the local entrepreneurs in creating a better ecosystem that is more connected. We’re doing this by providing them with the tools they need, and by becoming part of the stakeholders who really believe in this ecosystem and its ability to become the African Start-up Nation.”




It was beyond a doubt the most serious incident between Israel and Syria since the outbreak of the latter’s disastrous civil war, which marked a bloody sixth anniversary last week.

Israeli jets, which had carried out air strikes against several targets in Syria, were targeted by anti-aircraft missiles, one of which was shot down by Israel’s advanced Arrow missile-defense system in its first use in a combat situation.


According to Arab media, the jets had targeted a convoy of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, and the Syrian Army claimed to have hit one jet and shot down another with their Soviet-era SA-5s, a claim denied by the Israel Air Force.

While there are few doubts about the IAF’s ability to prevail in such circumstances, it is curious as to why the decision was made to use the advanced Arrow interceptor.

The Arrow system has been in use by Israel since 2000, and in January the air force took delivery of the first Arrow-3 interceptor, the most advanced Arrow system.

It is a highly maneuverable system designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The Arrow-3 is considered one of the world’s best interceptors due to its breakthrough technology.

Produced by IAI, the Arrow- 3 forms the uppermost layer of Israel’s multi-layered defense system, along with the Arrow-2, David’s Sling and Iron Dome system.

Syria’s air defenses are largely Russian, with SA-2s, SA-5s, and SA-6s, as well as the more sophisticated tactical surface-to-air missiles such as the SA-17s and SA-22 systems.

And while the majority of them have been neglected during the war, it is not the first time that they have been used against Israeli jets.

In September 2016, Israeli jets that had carried out retaliatory strikes in Syria were targeted with surfaceto- air missiles as they were on their way back to base. That time, too, no Israeli aircraft were endangered, despite Syria claiming to have shot down one of the jets. While this resembled Friday morning’s incident, Israel did not use any missile-defense countermeasures during that encounter.

For about a month after the incident, Israel enjoyed air superiority in the Middle East, despite the Russian intervention in Syria.

However, in October Russia deployed the mobile S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft batteries, which are capable of engaging multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles up to 380 kilometers away – covering virtually all of Syria as well as significant parts of Israel and other neighboring countries, such as Turkey and Jordan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met several times since then, including just last week, and the two have implemented a system over Syria to coordinate their actions in order to avoid accidental clashes.

Netanyahu is said to have reiterated to Putin Israel’s “clear and understandable” redlines, which oblige Israel to act to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of Hezbollah, as well as Jerusalem’s resolute opposition to the consolidation of Iran and its proxies in Syria.

Israel is believed to have carried out numerous attacks targeting Hezbollah terrorists, weapons convoys and infrastructure in Syria since January 2013, preventing what Netanyahu says would be “game-changing weaponry” falling into the hands of the terrorist group.

Israel has also reportedly carried out air strikes inside Syria against senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders, such as Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of the late Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh, near the city of Quneitra in January 2015, and prominent Hezbollah leader Samir Quntar in December 2015.

Following another reported Israeli air strike in January against a target at Damascus’s Mezze airbase, the Syrian Army command warned Israel against further strikes, stressing its “continued fight against [Israeli] terrorism and [aim to] amputate the arms of the perpetrators.”

While Syria usually refrains from commenting on alleged Israeli strikes and threatening against further strikes, the recent successes by the Syrian Army, backed by Russia and supporting militias, maybe have upped the confidence of the regime.

But despite the recent battlefield win and Russian air defenses, Israel chose to fire a costly ballistic missile to shoot down an antiquated surface-to-air missile. Perhaps Israel might be sending a warning to its northern neighbors: If Hezbollah continues to receive weapons supplies, Jerusalem is ready to use everything in its arsenal to protect its citizens.



PARIS – Security forces shot dead a man who seized a soldier’s gun at Paris Orly airport in France on Saturday soon after the same man shot and wounded a police officer during a routine police check, the interior minister said.

The man was known to police and intelligence services, Interior Minister Bruno le Roux told reporters. A police source described him as a radicalized Muslim but did not identify him by name.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation.

The busy Orly airport south of Paris was evacuated and security forces swept the area for bombs to make sure the dead man was not wearing an explosive belt, but nothing was found, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters.

“The man succeeded in seizing the weapon of a soldier. He was quickly neutralized by the security forces,” Brandet said.

Noone else was injured at the airport.

Flights were suspended from both terminals of the airport and some flights were diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport north of the capital, airport operator ADP said.

Earlier, a police officer was shot and wounded by the same man during a routine traffic check in Stains, north of Paris.

The incidents came five weeks before France holds presidential elections in which national security is a key issue.

The country remains on high alert after attacks by Islamic State militants killed scores of people in the last two years -including coordinated bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people were killed. A state of emergency is in place until at least the end of July.

The attacks would have no impact on a trip to Paris by Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, and his wife Kate, who are due to end a two-day visit to the French capital on Saturday, a British spokesman said.

The soldier whose gun the man tried to seize was a member of the army’s “Sentinelle” operation responsible for patrolling airports and other key sites since January 2015 when Islamist attackers killed 12 people at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. It was reinforced after the Paris attacks.

Around 3,000 passengers were evacuated from the airport, the second busiest in the country.

In March 2016, Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital which killed 35 people, including three suicide bombers.



In a dramatic widening of an academic antisemitism scandal at the Max Planck Institute for the promotion of lectures delivered by a pro-Hezbollah instructor, German Green Party lawmakers began a parliamentary inquiry on Friday into Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s talks.

The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of the Green Party questionnaire sent to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration, which includes her Education Ministry’s criticism of allegedly shoddy scholarship practiced at the Max Planck Institute in Halle.


Stefan Müller, an undersecretary of the Education Ministry, wrote that the ministry “sees with concern that in the context of a controversial academic discussion possible antisemitic theses were given a platform.”

Müller, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said the government called on the president of the Max Planck Institute, Martin Stratmann, to clear up the alleged misconduct. Stratmann, according to Müller, has not provided answers to the Merkel administration.

Pro-Hezbollah activist and US academic Finkelstein delivered two lectures, including one titled “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom.”

The talks were held in January at the Max Planck Institute branch in the city of Halle, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The institute under Stratmann’s leadership has been mired in turmoil since the Halle branch of the institute allegedly lied to the public about the content of Finkelstein’s pro-Hamas talk. The US and the EU classify Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

Finkelstein has defended Hamas violence against the Jewish state, saying: “Now, under international law, Hamas, the Palestinians – nothing in international law debars them from using armed force to end the occupation…. For me that’s not an important question. Legally, they have the right. Morally, in my opinion, they have the right.”

In a statement to the Post, Green Party deputy Volker Beck, who along with fellow lawmakers jump-started the parliamentary investigation into Max Planck Institute’s management, said, “The invitation [to Finkelstein] was certainly not academically kosher.

And the public was lied to multiple times.”

Beck said the institute must explain why academic Marie-Claire Foblets, who vigorously defended Finkelstein, “did not tell the public the truth about the topic and the form of the event, and how the entire incident was justified for a scientific institution.” Marie-Claire Foblets is the managing director at the institute’s Department of Law & Anthropology.

Beck said the Max Planck Institute deceived the public by saying Finkelstein’s lecture was open to the public admission.

After rising criticism of the event in the media, largely in the Post, the institute changed the event to an internal workshop and barred the public from attending, according to critics.

The Green Party inquiry seeks answers from the MPI about its flyer with the institute’s logo promoting Finkelstein’s event.

The Max Planck Institute flyer said Finkelstein “will argue that dominant depictions of [Operation] Protective Edge were replete with misinformation and disinformation: on the one hand, Israel did not launch the deadly attack in ‘self-defense,’ it did not engage in a ‘war’ with Hamas and its Iron Dome anti-missile defense system did not save many Israeli lives; on the other hand, Hamas did not fire ‘rockets’ at Israel and it did not construct ‘terrorist tunnels’ targeting Israel’s civilian population.”

In the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, Israel sought to stop Hamas rocket attacks and the kidnapping of citizens. The IDF also uncovered a vast Hamas tunnel system used to launch attacks within Israel’s borders.

In a January email to Beck, Stratmann said, “There are perhaps things that are factually false” in the flyer. He energetically defended Finkelstein’s academic credentials in a letter to the Education Ministry.

Numerous Post press queries to Stratmann were not returned In response to accusations that the institute spreads academic antisemitism, the institute wrote on its website: “Seventy years after the Holocaust, employees with a Jewish background are now active at Max Planck.”

The German government provides public funds for the Max Planck Institute.

The Green Party’s six-page inquiry form said there “is a series of inconsistencies, contradictions…

that raise doubts about the scientific quality, truthfulness and transparency” of the institute’s communication about the Finkelstein talks.

In early March, the Student Council of the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg hammered the MPI-Halle’s invitation to Finkelstein for “legitimizing antisemitic and anti-Israel positions” and failing to work with scientific methods and a basis of facts.

The student group called on the Max Planck Institute to investigate the incident at Halle and ensure that MPI-Halle will not provide a platform to Jew-hatred events in the future.

Foblets, the Belgium-born professor from MPI-Halle, doubled down on her defense of Finkelstein in an interview with a Munich paper on Friday.



BUENOS AIRES – Hundreds of people gathered in the Argentinean capital on Friday afternoon at the memorial park where the Israeli Embassy used to stand, to remember the victims of the terrorist attack that destroyed it more than two decades ago.

On March 17, 1992, a car bomb exploded, killing 29 civilians and wounding 242 others. The perpetrators were never captured and Argentineans continue to demand justice.


Iran is widely believed to have been behind the attack.

Argentine Vice President Gabriela Michetti, Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, relatives of the victims, the presidents of the AMIA and DAIA Jewish organizations, and several ambassadors were among those who attended Friday’s commemoration.

Rabbi Tzvi Grumblat, representative of Chabad- Lubavitch in Argentina, recited kaddish for the victims, followed by the sounding of a siren representing sorrow and pain. Then a minute of silence was observed in honor of those who died.

Gabriel Pichon, one of the survivors, opened the event by saying: “In this place there used to be a beautiful house, the Israeli Embassy, which is now a memorial park. We, the survivors, stand here to remember all the victims, because forgetting would mean they die twice.”

Pichon said that although many years have passed, the Jewish community will keep demanding concrete measures, from whatever government is in office in Argentina, to bring the criminals involved to justice.

Yuval Rotem, the director- general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, spoke next.

“Beneath the ruins and the blood stains there is a clear idea that we’ve kept in mind since 1992. Definitely, the Iranian government was the one that conceived, planned and carried out the attack, along with its ally Hezbollah.”

He stressed that Israel will never rest and concluded by saying, “The ones who rise against us will finally be destroyed someday.”

Last to speak were the Israeli ambassador, Ilan Sztulman, and Vice President Michetti.

Sztulman condemned Iran for spreading terrorism and acting as if nothing had happened.

He promised that the memory of the victims would be forever honored.

Michetti made clear that the attack affected every Argentinean, not just the Jewish community. She continued: “Peace is still triumphing over terrorism, as we remain together standing against hate. Everyone must make a special effort to bring peace in our country.”

In 1992, just after the bombing, then-president Carlos Menem declared at a press conference that the government would discover who was responsible, and promised to take every precaution to prevent another attack.

However, two years later, on July 18, 1994, another suicide car-bomb attack killed 85 people and wounded more than 300 at the AMIADAIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Iran is also thought to have been behind that attack, but no one has been brought to justice for it.

No handshake: Tensions show as Trump, Merkel meet for first time


WASHINGTON (AFP) — Stark differences between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on everything from trade to immigration were in full view during an icy first meeting at the White House Friday.

In a frequently awkward joint press conference, Trump and Merkel showed little common ground as they addressed a host of thorny issues including NATO, defense spending and free trade deals.

For most of the 30 minutes in the East Room, Merkel was stony-faced as Trump ripped into Washington’s NATO allies for not paying for their “fair share” for transatlantic defense and demanded “fair and reciprocal trade” deals.

The veteran German chancellor had arrived at a snowy White House, hoping to reverse a chill in relations after Trump’s incendiary election rhetoric.

The visit began cordially, with the pair shaking hands at the entrance of the White House.

But later, sitting side-by-side in the Oval Office, Merkel’s suggestion of another handshake went unheard or ignored by Trump — an awkward moment in what are usually highly scripted occasions.

Trump told photographers to “send a good picture back to Germany, please.” He said the leaders had had “very good” talks so far, while Merkel praised the “friendly reception.”

Photographers then shouted “handshake!” and Merkel quietly asked Trump “do you want to have a handshake?”

There was no response from the president, who looked ahead with his hands clasped.

German weekly Der Spiegel commented that “the overall impression of this meeting was rather cool.” German daily Bild wrote on its website: “Trump didn’t want to give Merkel his hand in his office!”

Awkward allies

There was never going to be an easy rapport between the cautious German chancellor and impulsive US president.

For years, Merkel — a trained physicist — had been president Barack Obama’s closest international partner, with the two sharing a strong rapport and a similar deliberative approach.

Before coming to office in January, Trump had set the tone by calling Merkel’s acceptance of refugees a “catastrophic mistake” and suggesting she was “ruining Germany.”

In a similar vein, Merkel has sought to remind — some in the White House would say lecture — the real estate mogul about democratic values.

Comments like that have prompted some of Trump’s fiercest critics to declare Merkel the new “leader of the free world” — a moniker normally taken up by the occupant of the White House.

During the press conference, Merkel said “it’s much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another, and I think our conversation proved this.”

President Donald Trump greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 17, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

But even the lighter moments were tinged with tension.

Amid a furor over Trump’s unfounded allegations that he was wiretapped by Obama, the new president cracked a joke referring to past revelations that Merkel’s phone had also been bugged by his Democratic predecessor.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps,” he said.

Merkel appeared not to find the humor in what had been a major political scandal.

And neither side tried to make small talk about Trump’s own background.

His family hails from Kallstadt, a tidy village nestled in southwest Germany’s lush wine country. His grandparents left for America more than a century ago fleeing poverty and later, after a brief return, trouble with the law.

Although Trump has tempered his criticism of NATO and the personal attacks against European leaders, officials still fret that Trump has too closely embraced the nationalist ideology of key adviser Steve Bannon.

Bannon has championed trade protectionism and opposed the European Union and other multilateral institutions that underpin the world order.

Trump on Friday pledged to “respect historic institutions” but Bannon, also in the East Room, gave a chuckle as Merkel was asked whether she believed Trump had lied and treated the European Union disrespectfully.

Trump insisted he was not isolationist, saying: “I’m a free trader but also a fair trader.”

Merkel rejected Trump’s suggestion that individual European countries should negotiate free trade deals with the United States, rather than under existing EU-US negotiations.

“I hope we can come back to the table and talk about the agreement” between the EU and US, she said.

Iran MPs criticize social media arrests ahead of elections

Iranian MPs have criticized the arrests of journalists and social media organizers ahead of the presidential election in May, with one directly accusing the elite Revolutionary Guards in a letter published Saturday.

The arrests in recent days are alleged to have targeted unnamed people who run channels on the popular messaging site Telegram supporting reformists and the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani.

Two prominent journalists — Ehsan Mazandarani and Morad Saghafi — have also been detained.

Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist MP, wrote an open letter to Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari, calling on the organization to stay out of politics.

“Some incidents in recent days, including the simultaneous arrests of managers of Telegram channels with close associations to reformists and supporters of the government, which has apparently been done by the intelligence arm of the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards), has raised a wave of concern in society,” Sadeghi wrote in the letter published by the ILNA news agency.

Several other MPs have also criticized the arrests in open letters this week.

Outspoken moderate-conservative MP Ali Motahari threatened to seek the impeachment of the intelligence minister if he did not provide details of the arrests.

The Revolutionary Guards operate their own intelligence wing independently of the government and answerable only to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Rouhani, who will seek re-election on May 19, has united moderates and reformists with his efforts to improve relations with the West, despite largely failing to win the release of jailed opposition leaders or improve civil rights as he promised during the 2013 campaign.

Telegram, which has an estimated 20 million users in Iran, has become the leading site for political and cultural discussions in a country where Facebook and Twitter are banned.

The authorities have tried to control the site, demanding that channels with more than 5,000 followers register with the government.

A reformist newspaper also reported Saturday that Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of revolutionary founder Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had again been sentenced to six months for “spreading falsehoods” after she accused the judiciary of corruption.

Hashemi, a vocal supporter of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi during the mass protests that followed the disputed 2009 election, previously served six months in jail for “disrupting public opinion” in 2012-13.

Russia summons Israeli envoy, demands clarifications on Syria strike

Russia summoned the Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren to provide clarifications Friday, less than 24 hours after Israel struck targets in Syria, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement explaining the reasoning behind the operation.

Moscow is heavily involved in Syria and strongly supports the regime of President Bashar Assad. Assad’s forces fired missiles at the Israeli jets overnight after the latter struck what Jerusalem said was a weapons convoy destined for the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Saturday night that Moscow was particularly concerned because the Israeli strike was close to areas where Russian troops are deployed.

Netanyahu said Israel would continue to target weapon convoys.

“Our policy is very consistent,” he stated in a Hebrew language video released to the press. “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah — when we have the intel and the operational capability — we act to prevent it. That’s how we’ve acted and how we will continue to act…and everyone needs to take this into account. Everyone.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Moscow on March 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Pavel Golovkin)

Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on March 9, where they discussed the situation in Syria.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry earlier sent two letters to the UN secretary-general and to the director of the UN Security Council calling the strikes a violation of international law, of UN resolutions and of Syrian sovereignty.

Syria called on the UN to “condemn the blatant Israeli aggression that is considered a violation of international law.”

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck several targets in Syria and were back in Israeli-controlled airspace when several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria toward the jets. One incoming missile was shot down by an Arrow defense battery, while two more landed in Israel, causing neither injury nor damage.

Assad’s army said the Israeli strikes were conducted to support “[Islamic State] terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organizations,” the statement read.

It also claimed it had shot down an Israeli warplane and hit a second one, assertions Israel said were false.

The firing of missiles from Syria toward Israeli aircraft is extremely rare, though Israeli military officials reported a shoulder-fired missile a few months ago.

Jordan, which borders both Israel and Syria, said parts of the missiles fell in its rural northern areas, including the Irbid district. The Jordanian military said the debris came from the Israeli interception of missiles fired from Syria. Radwan Otoum, the Irbid governor, told the state news agency Petra that the missile parts caused only minor damage.

Israel has been largely unaffected by the Syrian civil war raging next door, suffering mostly sporadic incidents of spillover fire that Israel has generally dismissed as tactical errors by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. Israel has responded to the errant fire with limited reprisals on Syrian positions.

The skies over Syria are now crowded, with Russian and Syrian aircraft backing Assad’s forces and a US-led coalition striking Islamic State and al-Qaeda targets.

Israel is widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as Hezbollah positions, but it rarely confirms such operations.

Britney Spears (Jewish Slut) said set to play first show in Israel



Britney Spears will reportedly perform her first-ever show in Israel in the summer of 2017 as part of her upcoming world tour.

A date for the show has not yet been set, but according to Channel 2, the Princess of Pop will perform a one-night show in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park in early July.

The final date and ticket information would be announced by the production company in the coming days, the report said.

Shows scheduled for Israel did not appear on her website at the time of publication, nor was there mention of a trip to Israel on her social media feeds.

Local music producers have been working to bring Spears to Israel since last year, and rumors of a concert have been swirling in recent months.

Spears shot to international fame in the late 1990s with hits “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!…I Did It Again.” She has sold more than 100 million albums and 100 million singles throughout her career.

Spears joins a star-studded lineup of musical artists and groups scheduled to perform in Israel over the summer including Justin Bieber, Aerosmith, Radiohead, Tears for Fears, Rod Stewart, Nick Cave and Gun N’ Roses.

Islamic State claims Israel bombed its members in Sinai

Israeli jets bombed Islamic State targets in the Sinai Peninsula Thursday, killing several people, including two children, the jihadist group’s official news outlet claimed Saturday.

The Amaq news agency report said that Israeli planes struck the targets in the northern Sinai, near the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.

There was no independent confirmation of the report.

The reported airstrike came the same day Israeli Air Force jets struck two Hamas installations in the north of Gaza in response to rocket fire from the territory at Israeli communities. In that incident a rocket landed in an empty field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near Netivot.

The rocket exploded on impact. No one was hurt and no damage was reported from the explosion.

Two rockets were launched from the Strip Saturday morning. One rocket exploded near the city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, causing no casualties or damage. The second apparently fell inside Palestinian territory.

The Israel Defense Forces responded with tank fire and air strikes at several Hamas targets in the Strip. There were no reports of casualties.

Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, has largely refrained from firing rockets into Israel since it fought a devastating war with Israel in 2014. Launches have often been ascribed to radical Salafist groups associated with the Islamic State.

Still, Israel has routinely responded by striking Hamas targets, with the military saying it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from the territory it controls.