On the wall in my office hangs a map of the Entebbe airport in Uganda. The rudimentary map has just a few notations, written in Hebrew. It's not a travel map or an outline of the vendors at the airport; it is a diagram of the facility used in what is recognized as one of the first modern anti-terrorism operations conducted by the Israelis at the Entebbe airport in 1976.
The successful raid resulted in the rescue of 102 hostages that were held for over a week when their plane was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a part of the larger Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Three of the Israeli hostages and one commando were killed in the operation. The one commando was a unit commander Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The map was a gift from one of the force commanders of the Entebbe raid, given to me back in the late 1980's when I had the opportunity to work with a number of Israeli anti-terrorist experts. My interaction with the Israelis taught me a lot about how people live and deal with neighbors who not only refuse to recognize their right to exist as a nation, but in many cases want to eliminate them and their people. more >>
The Republic of Cyprus has entered the maelstrom of the world's most volatile region thanks to new-found gas and oil reserves combined with an erratic Turkish foreign policy and a civil war in Syria. Even as leaders of this Mediterranean island show skill dealing with these novel threats and opportunities, they need support from a strong U.S. Navy, something not now available.
Cypriot underwater gas and oil discoveries follow directly on ones found earlier in Israeli seas, located adjacent to them and uncovered by the same American (Noble) and Israeli (Delek, Avner) companies. The current estimate of 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) as well as some oil has a value estimated at US$800 billion, a huge sum amount for a small country whose current GDP is a mere $24 billion.
The great majority of this energy will likely be exported to Turkey or Europe. A pipeline to Turkey would be cheapest and easiest but so long as Turkish troops continue to occupy 36 percent of Cyprus, this will not happen. A recent court decision permitting the Israeli government to decide what quantities of energy to export now offers other possibilities: Cyprus could swap gas with Israel that then goes to Turkey or the two allies could jointly build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Cyprus. more >>
Hundreds of attendees of the World Council of Churches' Tenth Assembly participated in a "pilgrimage of peace" taken in the 60th year since the armistice that ended the combat phase of the Korean War was signed.
An estimated 800 WCC participants joined the peace pilgrimage on Saturday, calling for the unification of the Korean Peninsula after generations of tensions between the North and South.
Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has insisted he is still the country's legitimate leader at the start of his trial on Monday, which has now been adjourned until Jan. 8, following several interruptions.
"This is a military coup whose leaders must be put on trial in accordance with the constitution," Morsi declared before the court, according to The Associated Press.
"I am the president of the republic and I am here against my will. What is happening here is providing cover for the military coup." The 14 other Muslim Brotherhood co-defendants reportedly chanted "down, down with military coup." more >>
More than 30 bodies of Christian civilians have been uncovered in mass graves in the Syrian city of Sadad, which was destroyed in an attack by Islamic militants, with the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop describing the incident as "the most serious and biggest massacre" of Christians in the past two years and a half.
A total of 45 Christians were reported to have been killed in the small town halfway between Homs and Damascus, after Islamist militants apparently invaded on Oct. 21. Fides News Agency reported that representatives of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate and relatives of the victims found the mass graves when they returned home, and later provided a proper burial for their dead relatives and friends.
"45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing," explained Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama. more >>
The Vatican news agency Fides reports today that two new mass graves containing a total of 30 bodies were found in Sadad, an ancient Christian town of some 15,000 people between Damascus and Homs, bringing to 45 the number of residents killed there by Islamist militias since October 21.
Surviving relatives and friends uncovered the graves after government forces recently recaptured the town from rebels. Those killed were reported by the local Syriac Orthodox metropolitan, who presided over 30 of their funerals this week, to be Christian civilians, including women and children. A list of their names was provided to the Catholic press. The Islamist rebel militias of Al Nusra Front and Daash were identified by eyewitnesses as responsible for this war crime.
The battle also resulted in the destruction and looting of the town, including its homes, hospitals, schools, government buildings and electrical, telephone, and water capabilities. St. Theodore's Syriac Orthodox Church and a number of the 4,000-year-old Assyrian town's 14 other churches and a monastery have been desecrated. more >>