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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit back at critics following a series of recent air strikes across the Middle East.  Mr Netanyahu also accused Iran of producing "terror attacks" and said Israel would defend itself "by any means necessary".

It comes after reports of strikes against Iranian targets and Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. An Israeli official said on Monday that some of the attacks "aren't ours".

Israel's military rarely acknowledges operations in Syria, but said on Saturday that it had struck several sites and thwarted an Iranian attack on Israel "using killer drones".

To curb Iranian influence, Israel is believed to have carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since the country erupted into civil war 2011.

In a video statement issued on Monday, My Netahyanu said: "Iran is working on several fronts to carry out deadly attacks against the state of Israel. Israel will continue to defend its security by all means necessary."

On Sunday, two drones that the Lebanese army said were Israeli crashed in the southern Beirut district of Dahia, which is dominated by Hezbollah. One of the drones hit a building that houses Hezbollah's media office, while the other exploded and crashed nearby, causing material damage.

A Palestinian militant group also said on Monday that Israel had struck one of its positions in Lebanon's Bekaa valley. Israel has not said it carried out these attacks, but Lebanese President Michel Aoun has blamed Israel, saying it was "similar to a declaration of war".

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has also pledged that the group's fighters would shoot down any drones that entered Lebanese airspace. Meanwhile, in Iraq, paramilitary factions blamed Israel for strikes on Sunday against military sites and weapons depots.

The country's President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi have called them an "attack on Iraqi sovereignty".

Israel has not officially declared it was behind those strikes either, but Mr Netanyahu has hinted at its involvement in a series of blasts over the last few weeks.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon - a member of Israel's security cabinet - said on Monday: "There are things being attributed to us that aren't ours". However he would not go into detail.

Israel has put its military on high alert along its borders with Syria and Lebanon. Also on Monday US Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted that America "fully supports Israel's right to defend itself from imminent threats" --BBCi


Police in the US state of Ohio have arrested a man they believe threatened to carry out a shooting at a Jewish community centre.  James Reardon, 20, posted a video online of a man firing a gun with a caption identifying the centre in Youngstown, north of Pittsburgh.

A search of his home revealed several weapons, body armour and a gas mask, police said.

A shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year left 11 people dead.

James Reardon was arrested in New Middletown, near Youngstown, on Saturday and charged with menacing and harassment.

Investigators said the alarm was raised when a post appeared on Instagram showing a man firing a gun with the caption: "Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as white nationalist Seamus O'Reardon."

New Middletown Police Chief Vince D'Egidio said they believed Seamus O'Reardon was a pseudonym for James Reardon.

"He was implying that he was going to be identified as the shooter of the Jewish centre. That kicked off a very intensive investigation, a very rapidly evolving investigation," he said, quoted by WKBN-TV.

Security at local Jewish facilities was increased and the FBI was contacted, Chief D'Egidio added. –BBCi

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A powerful Iran-backed paramilitary force in Iraq has said it holds the US responsible for a series of blasts at its bases in recent weeks.  The deputy head of the Popular Mobilisation, which is dominated by Shia militias, alleged that US forces had brought four Israeli drones into the country to target its positions.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said the force would use "all means at its disposal" to prevent and deter future attacks.  The US and Israel have not commented.  However, the US-led multinational coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group, which has facilities in Iraq, denied any involvement.

"The mission of CJTF-OIR in Iraq is solely to enable our Iraqi security force partners in the mission of an enduring defeat of [IS]," it said. "We operate in Iraq at the invitation of the government of Iraq and comply with their laws and direction."

On Tuesday night, a large blast hit a Popular Mobilization arms depot near Balad airbase in Salahuddin province, about 80km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.

The exact cause is not yet known, but a Popular Mobilization source told Reuters news agency that the depot was targeted by an aerial bombardment.

On 12 August, an even bigger explosion at a Popular Mobilization arms depot at the al-Saqr military base near Baghdad killed one civilian and wounded 29 others.

The incident, which was blamed by some on hot weather and poor storage, prompted the Iraqi government to order all such facilities to be moved outside cities and to ban unauthorized military flights over Iraq - including by the US-led coalition.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that an Iraqi government fact-finding committee had concluded the explosion was the result of a drone strike by an unidentified party.

An Israeli satellite imagery analysis company, ImageSat International, has said it was "probable that the explosion was caused by an air strike".

Last year, Israel's then defense minister suggested that it might attack suspected Iranian military assets in Iraq, as it has done repeatedly in Syria since the start of the country's civil war.

When asked by reporters on Monday about the explosions in Iraq, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Iran has no immunity, anywhere."

"We will act - and currently are acting - against them, wherever it is necessary."

The Popular Mobilization's fighters played a key role in the war against IS.

With the help of Iranian military advisers, weapons and funding, they prevented IS militants reaching Baghdad in 2014 and later helped Iraqi security forces regain control of the country.

The US, which also supported Iraqi security forces against IS, has said several of the Shia militias in the Popular Mobilization are directly controlled by Iran. It has accused the militias of targeting US diplomatic facilities in Iraq and warned that they may have been given Iranian ballistic missiles.

The US has designated one of the militias in the Popular Mobilization, Kataiib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades), as a terrorist organization.

It has also listed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as a "specially designated global terrorist". It alleges that he advises Iran's Revolutionary Guards and that he has been involved in the bombings of Western embassies and attempted assassinations in the region. -BBCi

EXTENDED VACA   25 Av-1 Elul, 5779                                   Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2019 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES --  628th Web Ed.