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Canadian parliamentarians across the political spectrum have joined together to launch the third annual Iran Accountability Week to sound the alarm on the Iranian regime’s many threats: nuclear, terrorist, hateful incitement, and, in particular, the widespread and systematic violations of human rights.

 

The events of Iran Accountability Week include hearings with international and Iranian experts before the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights, public forums, press briefings, advocacy on behalf of Iranian political prisoners, and a concluding call to action.

This year’s Iran Accountability Week comes at a most appropriate time, with the P5+1 group of nations resuming nuclear negotiations with Iran. We all hope this will result in a comprehensive nuclear agreement, but the process risks overshadowing, if not sanitizing, the Iranian regime’s massive domestic

Tens of thousands of Israelis have come out in support of a soldier who was caught on video cocking his gun at two Palestinian youths in Hebron who appeared to try to taunt him into a confrontation.

Soldiers from around Israel have been posting photos on Facebook, holding signs in support of the soldier known as “David” who serves in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Nahal infantry brigade. As of this writing, a Facebook page set up in support of the soldier received more than 90,000 “likes,” an enormous number considering the population of Israel is 8 million. More than 3,000 photographs supporting the soldier were sent to the Israeli news site 0404.

The Jerusalem Post described the outpouring as “unprecedented.”

Friday, 16 May 2014 10:16

Hagel Meets US, Israeli Soldiers

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"When the world is full of great opportunities, it's also full of great threats," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today during a troop talk to U.S. and Israeli troops taking part in the Juniper Cobra 14 exercise at Hatzor Airbase.

Hagel thanked the troops for their efforts, adding that they were doing "important work at an important time," reported American Forces Press Service.

Defending a nation and helping build a peaceful world is about three things, the defense secretary said: people, capability and partnership.

"It wouldn't happen without people, no matter how sophisticated the technology and the systems. ... We must assure that our people are not only capable, but have the most significant capacity of any force in the world," he said.

The Juniper Cobra exercise is a "clear demonstration” of an effective, relevant, important and timely partnership, Hagel said.

Juniper Cobra is a joint U.S. Israeli missile defense and humanitarian response exercise. Held every two years since 2001, this year's exercise involves more than 700 U.S. troops in Israel.

Other American service members will participate remotely from U.S. European Command and other locations, defense officials said, bringing the total number of participating U.S. troops to more than 6,000. Two U.S. Navy Aegis-class ships will also take part from off the coast of Israel.

Planning began 18 months ago, the officials said, and the exercise is not tied to any specific regional threat or situation.

"You are essentially pioneers in building missile defense capability and capacity," Hagel told the gathered troops. "You are defining an important time in our world as we go forward."

Joint exercises and training like Juniper Cobra are essential for building partner capacity, the defense secretary said.

"This is as complicated and dangerous a part of the world as there is, and what you're doing as you build for the future and give people hope for that future is one of the most important assignments any of us can ever have,"

The annual Singing Independence event at the President’s Residence featured soldiers and politicians doing their best renditions of Israeli icon Arik Einstein, who died in November at age 74.

 

Longtime reality singing competition host Tzvika Hadar hosted the event, humorously addressing an audience of dignitaries which included IDF Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Peres — with a little help from Iranian-born diva Rita — then led the troops in a rendition of Uf Gozal, one of Einstein’s most popular songs, or “Fly Little Bird.”

“Two soldiers who have confessed to having posted photographs of themselves calling for a refusal to obey orders have been dismissed from their unit,” the army said in a statement.

 

“Use of the social media for protest is not acceptable in view of the values of the IDF,” it said.

The two soldiers had posted a photo with their faces concealed behind a poster reading: “Soldiers of Battalion 50… do not evacuate Jews.”

The battalion could be called upon to take part in the eviction of Jews from illegally built settlements on the West Bank.

On Thursday, as the two soldiers’ photo became viral on Facebook, they were joined by soldiers from other units, including members of the Armored Corps’ 7th Brigade, Givati Brigade, Border Police and from the Netzah Yehuda battalion, who uploaded their own images.

IDF sources told Ynet that, as opposed to a similar case in late April, when soldiers posted pictures of themselves in support of a comrade who had been filmed threatening a Palestinian teen in Hebron, soldiers who agitate online for the refusal of direct orders will be “severely punished.”

On Wednesday, military forces demolished structures in Maale Rehavam, a settler outpost southeast of the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, after attempts at a voluntary evacuation failed, the army said.

Hebrew media said the army was also to raze more than a dozen structures in two other outposts, Ramat Gilad and Givat Assaf, by the weekend. However, on Thursday the Supreme Court issued a ruling delaying the evacuation of several outposts in response to residents’ petitions, in order to allow them to voluntarily leave the sites.