Israel – Suspected Jewish extremists slashed the tyres of some 30 Palestinian cars and sprayed racist slogans in Hebrew in a neighbourhood of annexed East Jerusalem, police said on the 19 Feb 14. The attack took place in Sharafat, a Palestinian neighbourhood in the southern sector of East Jerusalem, with the attackers spraying “No coexistence” and “Arabs = thieves” on walls. A similar attack took place on the 10 Feb 14 when suspected Jewish extremists punctured the tyres of 19 vehicles in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ein Aluza just south of the Old City, and daubed the site with racist anti-Arab graffiti in Hebrew. Both incidences of vandalism bore the hallmarks of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for hate crimes that generally target Palestinians. Initially carried out in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorised settler outposts, the attacks have become a much broader phenomenon targeting non-Jews and anyone seen as hostile to the settlers. Earlier this month, three settlers were indicted for a Nov 13 arson attack on two Palestinian vehicles, but in the vast majority of cases, the authorities have failed to catch and prosecute those involved, who are largely understood to be young Jewish extremists.
Lebanon – A senior official in a Lebanese Alawite party supportive of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was shot dead in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on the 20 Feb 14
“Masked gunmen opened fire on Abdelrahman Diab,” said a senior official in the Arab Democratic Party also adding that Diab was in charge of “military” affairs. As news of the attack spread, one person was killed and eight wounded in clashes between Alawites and Sunnis in the Bab al-Tebbaneh district of the port city, closing local schools and shops, security sources said. Diab, in his 50s, is the father of Youssef Diab, who has been detained by Lebanese authorities on suspicion of involvement in the twin bombings of a Tripoli mosque in Aug 13 that killed 45 people. The almost three-year Syrian conflict has accentuated sectarian differences in Lebanon. The assassination of the official comes after six people were killed and more than 129 others were wounded in two explosions that hit a southern area of the Lebanese capital on the 19 Feb 14. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al-Qaeda-linked group that has claimed previous bombings in Lebanon, said it was responsible for the attacks in Bir Hasan, a residential and commercial neighbourhood that is home to the Iranian and Kuwaiti embassies. Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah, have also been hit by seven bomb attacks since July, the most recent of which occurred on the 3 Feb 14.
19 Feb 14, Two suicide bombers blew up their cars near an Iranian cultural centre killing at least four people and wounding others, including children in an orphanage, in the latest attack targeting Shiite areas in Lebanon. An Al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the bombings, saying they were retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces. But the attack, like a dozen other similar bombings since Jul 13 against Shiite areas of Lebanon, killed and wounded civilians. They included a dozen boys and girls living in a home for abandoned and orphaned children, said Dr Hussam Bitar, a surgeon at Al Zahraa Hospital, where the youngsters were treated. The blasts have embittered and angered residents, who say they are facing an unknown enemy seeking to kill them because of their faith. The Lebanese army said the bombers drove vehicles packed with explosives and mortar shells to maximise the damage. The explosions seriously damaged the white facade of Iran’s cultural centre, despite blast walls recently erected around the building. The state-run Lebanese news agency quoted the Iranian embassy as saying no diplomats or workers were wounded. But one wounded man in the hospital said he was an Iranian embassy worker. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades said on its Twitter account that the “invasion of the Iranian cultural centre” was in “retaliation for Iran’s party fighting along the criminal regime in Syria”. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades said the attacks in Lebanon will continue until Hezbollah fighters withdraw from Syria and scores of detainees are released from Lebanese jails. It said Hezbollah will not “enjoy security in Lebanon until the people of Syria feel secure”. Lebanese troops recently detained an alleged mastermind of similar attacks. Officials said he led them to several vehicles rigged with explosives.
Syria – A senior Al-Qaeda operative and envoy in Syria of its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been killed by a suicide bomber in factional fighting near Aleppo. Abu Khalid al-Suri worked for Osama bin Laden from at least the 1990s, according to Western intelligence agencies, and had been appointed by Zawahiri as his personal envoy to mediate disputes among followers in the Syrian rebel movement. The group Suri helped found, Ahrar al-Sham, is now one of the most powerful factions in Syria but had fallen out with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the most violent jihadist group that was formally disavowed by Al-Qaeda earlier this month. The two bombers managed to get inside the Ahrar al-Sham base in Aleppo and blow themselves up on the 23 Feb 14. The attack was immediately blamed by Ahrar al-Sham on ISIS, setting off furious arguments by supporters of each on the social media used avidly by many jihadist groups in Syria.