Senior Israeli minister expresses concern about Iranian presence in the Golan


A senior Israeli minister on Tuesday expressed Israel’s concerns about Iran’s presence in Syria near the Golan Heights. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister, told Israel’s Army Radio, “Nobody wants to see Russian forces in the area of the Golan Heights, but we definitely don’t want to see Iranian forces near Israel.” Recent reports have indicated that hundreds of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops entered Syria early this month. Israel is also faced with the challenge of the newly-expanded Russian presence in Syria, especially in the Latakia region, where in the past the IDF has destroyed several arms convoys that were intended for Hezbollah. On Monday, the IDF fired on two Syrian army positions near Quneitra after errant mortar fire hit the Israeli Golan Heights on Sunday night, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to respond, “We respect Israel’s interests related to the Syrian civil war but we are concerned about its attacks on Syria.”

Russia and Iran are the two biggest supporters of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who has murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians through systematic starvation, bombardments, and chemical attacks. Both nations are coordinating intelligence with the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. According to Judah Ari Gross of The Times of Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear to Putin during his trip to Moscow last week that while Israel would “maintain its position of noninvolvement in the civil war, it would not allow Hezbollah and other terrorist groups to amass advanced weaponry systems nor would it tolerate attacks against the Golan Heights.”

In the face of Russia’s expanded military footprint in Syria, columnist Shmuel Rosner put his finger on the difficult strategic quandary Israel would confront, asking on Tuesday, “What happens…if Russia decides to equip Hezbollah forces that fight alongside Assad with weapons that Israel would not tolerate? In the past, Israel did not hesitate to attack weapons deliveries to Hezbollah. But it will surely hesitate to attack deliveries from Russia.”


In the latest example of closer ties brought on by the lifting of international sanctions and isolation as part of the nuclear deal, Iran has purchased $21 billion in aircraft and satellite equipment from Russia, the Russian state-owned news website Sputnik reported Saturday.

Manouchehr Manteghi, the managing director of Iran Aviation Industries Organization, did not specify how many Sukhoi Superjet 100s were purchased, but characterized it as a “large share of contracts.” The Superjet is a twin-engine passenger plane.

In the past two months, Russia has promised Iran to help improve its centrifuge technology, sold Iran S-300 advanced surface-to-air missile systems, and held joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea. Russia has also deployed troops and fighter jets to Syria to prop up the regime of Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad. (via


Kick the tires, check the odometer, haggle over the price and worry that you’re driving home a lemon with a wax job: That’s the typical scenario when shopping for a used car, and Israeli entrepreneurs found it absurd in the e-commerce age. “You can buy just about any product online, yet the $500 billion market of secondhand cars is more or less running the same way it ran in the 1950s, with local stores and very little transparency,” says serial entrepreneur Elie Wurtman, the Jerusalem-based cofounder of Vroom, a 21st century method for Americans to buy and sell used vehicles over the Internet. Wurtman and fellow Israeli venture capitalist Allon Bloch, the former CEO of Wix and mySupermarket, modeled Vroom as an end-to-end business rather than a brokerage. Its inventory of pre-owned cars – around 1,500 vehicles at any given time – is selected from auctions, dealers and private sellers. Vroom’s in-house technicians inspect and recondition each vehicle before it’s listed on the website. After the online buyer puts a refundable $500 deposit on the chosen car, a Vroom rep makes contact to finalize the details – without any haggling — and overnights the paperwork. Then the car is shipped from Vroom’s Texas facility to the customer’s door anywhere in the continental United States, at which time a trade-in can be picked up. Financing is available, and there’s a seven-day money-back guarantee. (via Israel21c)

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