WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

On Topic Links

Firing at Golan, Iran Seeks New Balance of Deterrence with Israel; It May Fail: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2019

Why Did Canada Let This Terrorist Off the Hook?: Clarion Project, Jan. 20, 2019

New York Times Columnist Cheers for Boycotting Israel: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Jan. 20, 2019

Hillel Neuer Blasts UN Human Rights Council for the “Big Lie”: Israel Unwired, Jan. 17, 2019

 

WEEKLY QUOTES 

“Let our enemies who seek to destroy us know that Israel’s crushing fist will reach all those who seek our harm, and we will hold them accountable…We will continue to successfully develop the most advanced weapon systems in the world to ensure the security of Israeli citizens and the security of the State of Israel.” — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a visit to the Israel Aerospace Industries division that manufactures and develops the Arrow missile. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2019) 

“We’re ready for the decisive war that will bring about Israel’s disappearance from the earth. Our young airmen are prepared for the day when Israel will be destroyed.” — Iranian Brig. Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh. Amid fears of escalation, hours after Israeli airstrikes destroyed Iranian installations and reportedly killed military personnel in Syria, Iran’s air force chief said Monday the country’s youths were “impatient” to fight a war for “Israel’s disappearance.”  (Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2018)

“We have not changed our position on this issue, which is based on the principles of international law…The practice of arbitrarily launching strikes on the territory of a sovereign state, in this case Syria, should be simply excluded.” — Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. The comments by Zakharova came days after a flare-up between Israel and Iran on the Syrian frontier. She warned that such strikes encourage an “atmosphere of hostility in the region” and “do not serve the long-term national interests of any of the Middle Eastern states, including, of course, Israel… We urge everyone to think about the possible consequences of provoking a new round of chaos in the Middle East.” She added that Syria should not “become an arena for settling geopolitical accounts.” Israel has said repeatedly that its airstrikes on military and terror targets in the war-ravaged nation are aimed at curbing Iran’s efforts to entrench itself militarily in the country. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2019)

“At the moment, all parties are not interested in a comprehensive war. At the same time, wars break out even when neither side wants them.” — Amos Yadlin, a former general in the Israeli Air Force and former military attache to Washington. Iranian aggression against Israel is becoming more open and mounting daily, causing experts concern both over where it might end and how the pullout of US troops in Syria will affect the region. Yadlin noted the Russians have the power to prevent such an escalation in the conflict, but so far have not. Although they have sent messages to Israel not to attack the airport in Damascus, they have stood by while Israel has done so. As Yadlin commented, Israel has conducted the strikes late at night “with the intention of not harming civilian and Russian aviation.” (Clarion Project, Jan. 22, 2019)

“The Iranian regime’s obsession with Israel is not just well-known…It is expensive. Seven billion dollars annually are directed toward the never-ending attempts to destroy Israel…Follow the bloody trail of money starting in Tehran and you will arrive at the terror tunnels in Lebanon and Gaza and the weapons warehouses in Syria…It is now trying to infiltrate Judea and Samaria.” — Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon. Iran has spent $7 billion annually on terror in the Middle East, including in the West Bank, where it wants to open a fourth front against Israel, Danon told the Security Council. He blamed the 2015 Iran deal for providing the Islamic Republic with billions of dollars, which it has used to finance terror. Iran’s spending broke down was divided as $4 billion to Syria, $1 billion to Lebanon, $50 million to Hamas in Gaza and $70 million to the Islamic Jihad, Danon explained. “With the help of Saleh Al-Arouri, Hamas’s deputy political chief, and Saeed Izadi, the head of the Palestinian branch of the Iranian Quds Force, Iran is trying to turn Judea and Samaria into a fourth military front against Israel,” Danon said. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2019)

“Israel is pursuing Hamas in Sinai and is spearheading a big battle against its growing military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in this border region, by foiling dozens of arms shipments heading from Sinai to Gaza. Israel managed to destroy 15,000 advanced missiles on their way to Hamas warehouses in the Gaza Strip.” — Amir Bohbot, an expert on Israeli military affairs, citing Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot on condition of anonymity. The escalation Nov. 13 between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip revealed Hamas’ use of a Kornet missile that hit an Israeli military bus north of Gaza. Israel said one soldier was wounded. Israel considers Sinai its weak southern underbelly because Egyptian security and military control is not strong, and the security situation on Israeli borders is volatile. Israel is concerned about the ties between Sinai terrorists and Hamas in Gaza and the smuggling of weapons. (Al-Monitor, Jan. 18, 2019)

“(UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn) has been willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA without preconditions but he will not meet with me to talk about Brexit.” — British Prime Minister Theresa May. May attacked Corbyn for his refusal to meet with her over Brexit, asking the Labour party chairman why he met with members of terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah and the Irish Republican Army, but not with her. May opened her speech by mentioning the upcoming International Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying: “We must all challenge prejudice and hatred.” The exchange came after the House of Commons rejected May’s withdrawal deal last week, leaving Britain on course to exit the EU on March 29 with no deal. Corbyn reportedly sat on a panel at a 2012 conference in Doha with several Palestinian terrorists sentenced for murder and shared the platform with then Hamas head Khaled Mashaal. (Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2019)

“Linda Sarsour is an antisemite and even when she is apologizing to the Jewish community on the one hand, she is condemning it on the other. She can’t help it. This is who she is and as long as the five board members are in power you will continue to see these sharp divisions they themselves foster.” — Mercy Morganfield, former head of the DC chapter of the Woman’s March. Morganfield took to Facebook to upbraid Sarsour after the latter posted a link to an article that accused the Jewish community of waging a “profound war on black people.” Alluding to the failure of Women’s March leaders to repudiate infamous antisemite Louis Farrakhan, she added, “During this entire fiasco who has continually attacked whom? Jewish people asking you to condemn an antisemite and antisemitism is not an attack. Writing that Jewish people are waging war on black people is an attack. It is vicious. It is vile. And it is not true. They are their own worst enemy. An appalling lack of judgment on Linda’s part. On this day, during this ongoing controversy.” (Algemeiner, Jan. 20, 2019)

“Professor (Irwin) Cotler’s work in the name of civil rights defenders has no borders, and his impact is felt throughout Canada and around the world.” — Paul Martin, former Canadian Prime Minister. Cotler is chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights and has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Martin. A former Canadian justice minister, attorney general, parliament member, McGill law professor and overall advocate of human rights, Cotler is one of the staunchest defenders that Israel has around the world. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2019)

“Tu Bishvat (Jan. 20-21, 2019) is not mentioned in the Bible, but in the Mishnah – the collection of Jewish oral laws, compiled by Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi around 200AD…Trees have been critical to the ingathering of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, representing longevity and permanence, underlying the inherent linkeage/bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land – the eternal attachment of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. Hence, Tu Bishvat is a day of planting trees, in Israel, by school and kindergarten children, as well as by pilgrims and tourists. The 18th century Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, a Biblical, Talmudic and kabalistic genius prayed: “May God merit me to plant, with my own hands, fruit trees around Jerusalem.” During (Mussaf) prayers on Shabbat and holidays, Jews ask God that they be planted in the Land of Israel. Trees were not planted during the transient 40 years of wandering in the desert. Trees are planted in the permanent, everlasting, immutable, indestructible Jewish environment of the Jewish Homeland.” — Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators. (Jewish Press, Jan. 20, 2019)

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

ISRAEL STRIKES IRANIAN TARGETS IN SYRIA (Damascus) — The IDF said its jets struck Iranian military targets in Syria, an announcement that was a departure from Israel’s policy of ambiguity regarding activities in Syria. The military said the targets included munition storage facilities, an intelligence site and a military training camp. The strikes were in response to a rocket Iranian forces fired toward Israel that was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system over a ski resort in the Golan Heights. That followed a rare Israeli daylight air raid near the Damascus Airport. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 21, 2019) 

ANOTHER BOMB ATTACK TARGETS U.S. TROOPS IN SYRIA (Damascus) — An explosion has gone off in Syria’s northeast, inflicting casualties among America’s Kurdish partners. The blast reportedly targeted a convoy of the U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish-led fighters. While no U.S. forces appear to have been seriously injured, it was the second bombing aimed at a convoy including U.S. forces in Syria in less than a week. Last week, an I.S. bomber blew himself up at a restaurant in Manbij, killing four Americans. The attack renewed criticism  of President Trump’s claim that I.S. is defeated in Syria, on which he has said he based his decision to pull the remaining 2,000 troops out of the country. (CBS, Jan. 21. 2019)

ISRAEL, US TEST-FIRE ARROW 3 (Jerusalem) — Israel and the U.S. carried out a successful test of their advanced Arrow 3 missile defense system. A dummy missile was launched off the coast of Israel that was meant to simulate the type of long-range ballistic missile the Arrow 3 system is designed to intercept. The Arrow 3 system, developed as a joint project with the US, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles — like those Israel fears Iran may one day launch at it — while the incoming projectile is still outside the earth’s atmosphere. The Arrow was launched from the Palmachim air base in central Israel and the trail it left behind was visible from as far away as Jerusalem. (Times of Israel, Jan. 22, 2019)

CANADIAN CAUGHT IN SYRIA WAS REPORTEDLY COMMANDER OF I.S. UNIT (Toronto) — The latest Canadian captured in Syria was the commander of more than a dozen fighters who clashed with U.S.-backed forces in the last remaining I.S. enclave, according to a local official. The former Toronto resident, Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed, was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun when he was detained. Mohammed allegedly told interrogators he was a 31-year-old Canadian citizen of Ethiopian origin. Under questioning, he said he had joined I.S. over the internet and left Canada in 2013 with the aim of spreading the Islamic faith in the world, a local commander said. (Global, Jan. 15, 2019) 

NASRALLAH REPORTEDLY EMBEZZLED MILLIONS FROM HEZBOLLAH FUNDS (Beirut) — Saudi news outlet Al-Watan says Iranian forces have Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah under house arrest and are pressuring him to divulge what happened to the tens of millions of dollars reportedly missing from Hezbollah bank accounts. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is suspected of embezzling millions of dollars from the terrorist organization’s coffers. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are arch enemies and are waging several proxy battles across the region. (Israel Hayom, Jan. 20, 2019)

NETANYAHU HEADS TO CHAD TO RENEW DIPLOMATIC TIES (N’Djamena) — Israel and Chad officially renewed diplomatic relations during a visit by Netanyahu to the Chadian capital. Relations between the two countries had been severed since 1972, when Chad was one of a string of African nations to break off ties with Israel after the 1967 war. Shared concerns about Iran and Islamic terrorism and the lure of Israeli technology and weaponry have made Arab and Muslim countries more amenable to ties with Israel even before a peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians. (Bloomberg, Jan. 20, 2019)

ISRAEL SET TO HOST MALI’S PM (Bamako) — Israel is preparing for an historic visit by Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, officials said, a day after Netanyahu cemented the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Chad. The West African country, whose population is also majority Muslim, severed ties with Israel in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War. Last year, Netanyahu met with the Malian president on the sidelines of a summit in Liberia. Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is aimed mainly at widening Israel’s circle of relations, boosting trade, improving its international status, and is also driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. (Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2019)

MOST PALESTINIANS KILLED IN GAZA PROTESTS HAVE TERRORIST TIES (Gaza) — The vast majority of Palestinians killed in response to weekly violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border are affiliated with Hamas and other terrorist groups, reports the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Since the end of March, when the “return marches” started, 187 Palestinians were killed – including 150 (80%) members or affiliates of terrorist organizations. About half of those killed are either associated with Hamas or are full-blown members. Hamas military wing operatives represent almost a quarter of the total fatalities. (IPT News, Jan. 22, 2019)

U.S. AIRSTRIKE IN SOMALIA KILLS 52 AL-SHABAB EXTREMISTS (Kismayo) — The U.S. says it carried out its deadliest airstrike in Somalia in months, killing 52 al-Shabab extremists after a “large group” mounted an attack on Somali forces. The airstrike occurred near Jilib. There were no reports of Americans killed or wounded. The U.S. statement did not say whether any Somali forces were killed or wounded by the al-Qaida-linked extremists. Al-Shabab asserted that its attack on two Somali army bases killed at least 41 soldiers near the port city of Kismayo. (Daily Beast, Jan. 19, 2019)

GERMANY SANCTIONS IRANIAN AIRLINE (Berlin) — Germany announced it had banned Iranian airline Mahan Air from its airports, in an escalation of sanctions adopted by the EU against Tehran. Mahan, Iran’s second-largest carrier after Iran Air, flies between Tehran and the German cities Duesseldorf and Munich. Iranian security agencies have in the past secretly transferred wounded and dead soldiers and ammunition from the battle sectors in Syria and Yemen via Mahan Air’s civilian flights. The airline was blacklisted by the US in 2011, as Washington said the carrier was providing technical and material support to an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards known as the Quds Force. (Arutz Sheva, Jan. 22, 2019)

BDS PROTESTERS JOIN NETTA BARZILAI ON STAGE AT EUROVISION QUALIFIER (Paris) — A group of anti-Israel protesters jumped on stage during a Eurovision qualifying competition in Paris. Israeli Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzilai was on stage when the protesters appeared holding signs reading “No to the Eurovision 2019 in Israel.” Barzilai had just finished performing her Eurovision-winning entry ‘Toy’ for the live broadcast. BDS France took credit for the incident. The protesters were immediately removed from the stage by security officials. Musicians and other artists from at least 14 countries have called for a boycott of Eurovision because it is being held in Israel. (CJN, Jan. 22, 2019)

MALAYSIA SAYS IT WON’T LET IN ANY ISRAELI DELEGATES FOR SPORTING OR OTHER EVENTS (Jakarta) — Malaysia’s foreign minister said the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel. Malaysia is among the Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The government has said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. (Times of Israel, Jan. 16, 2019)

ISRAEL WINS VP SPOT ON UN COMMITTEE OVERSEEING HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS (Geneva) — On Martin Luther King Day, the United Nations—in a rare move—elected Israel as Vice-Chair of the 19-nation Committee on NGOs, which oversees the work of human rights groups. It was Israel’s turn to represent the Western Group. A big defeat for Iran which tried but failed to get elected to this committee. Israeli is represented on the committee by Nadav Yesod. (UNWatch, Jan. 22, 2019)

FINLAND ORDERS ELM-2311 C-MMR RADARS FROM IAI ELTA SYSTEMS (Helsinki) — Finland is ordering ELM-2311 Compact Multi-Mission Radars (C-MMRs) from Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI’s) Elta Systems division. The Finnish Ministry of Defence announced on its website on that Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö had tasked the Defence Forces’ Logistic Command to procure counter-battery radars from IAI Elta Systems. The number of systems was not disclosed, but the ministry said they would also be used for fire observation and air surveillance. (Janes, Jan. 21, 2019)

ISRAELI DOCTOR HELPED SAVE ABBAS’S LIFE (Jerusalem) — PA President Abbas’s health had declined over the past year and his doctors feared for his life, but thanks to secret treatment by a specialist from Israel, his condition improved significantly. On May 20, 2018, Abbas was hospitalized in Ramallah with pneumonia, a complication of a severe ear infection. Doctors feared the 83-year-old Abbas would suffer a complete systems failure. Israel learned of his condition and offered to treat Abbas at an Israeli hospital. The Palestinians decided to reject the offer. Israel, in turn, sent a specialist to Ramallah, who joined the team of foreign doctors already treating the PA leader. After two days of intensive care, Abbas got better, and a week later he was discharged from the hospital. (Ynet, Jan. 23, 2019)

ISRAEL UNVEILS MEMORIAL TO PROSECUTOR WHO SOUGHT JUSTICE FOR IRAN-LINKED BOMBING (Jerusalem) — Israel marked the fourth anniversary of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s murder by unveiling a memorial plaque in his honor. Nisman’s body was discovered on Jan. 19, 2015 — hours before he was due to unveil a complaint against the former government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over its alleged collusion with Iran in effectively exonerating the Islamic Republic of responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were murdered and more than 300 wounded. (Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2019)

ISRAEL OPENS NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (Eilat) — Prime Minister Netanyahu hailed a “historic day” for Israel as the new Ramon Airport near Eilat was inaugurated on Monday. The NIS 1.7 billion ($460 million) airport, named in memory of Ilan and Assaf Ramon and located 18 kilometers north of Eilat, will replace the Eilat and Ovda airports currently serving domestic and an increasing number of international flights. Ramon Airport, the first entirely civilian airport to open since Israel’s independence, is set to welcome up to two million passengers a year, with expansion works planned to more than double its capacity to 4.2 million passengers by 2030. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2019)

AHEAD OF HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, TRUMP SIGNS ELIE WIESEL ACT (Washington) — January 27 marks the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act is aimed at improving the US response to mass atrocities. The Act passed final votes in the Senate and the House of Representatives in December, 2018. On January 14, 2019, President Trump signed the Act into law. The Act, among other things, prioritizes the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities as a matter of national security interest and ensure that foreign service officers receive adequate training in conflict and atrocity prevention.  (Forbes, Jan. 15, 2019)

 

On Topic Links

Firing at Golan, Iran Seeks New Balance of Deterrence with Israel; It May Fail: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2019 —The Israeli assault on Syrian territory early Monday morning was one of the broadest in recent years, and certainly the most substantial since an IDF airstrike last September during which Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian spy plane, killing its 15-member crew.

Why Did Canada Let This Terrorist Off the Hook?: Clarion Project, Jan. 20, 2019—Rehab Dughmosh was found guilty of terrorism charges in Canada last week for an Islamist attack at a store in Scarborough, Ontario in 2017.

New York Times Columnist Cheers for Boycotting Israel: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Jan. 20, 2019 —“Time to break the silence on Palestine,” is the headline over New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Alexander’s article, and a pretty good indication of where it’s going, because there’s no “silence” to break on the issue, and because “Palestine” isn’t a country and never has been.

Hillel Neuer Blasts UN Human Rights Council for the “Big Lie”: Israel Unwired, Jan. 17, 2019— If you have ever heard Hillel Neuer speak for UN Watch at the United Nations, you know that he is worth listening to.