January 18, 2019

Iran Says It Will Keep Military Forces In Syria Despite Israeli Threats

Iran will keep military forces in Syria, the head of the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corp said on Wednesday (16th), defying Israeli threats that they might be targeted if they do not leave the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday (15th) that Israeli forces would continue to attack Iranians in Syria unless they quickly get out of there.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces and its weapons in Syria,” Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards top commander, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Jafari called Netanyahu’s threats “a joke” and warned that the Israeli government “was playing with a lion’s tail.”

“You should be afraid of the day that our precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head,” he said.

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighboring Syria, says it has carried out hundreds of attacks against Iranian targets in the last two years.



Report: ‘Israel May Need To Invade Iran To Stop Its Entrenchment In Syria’

Israel needs to prepare for the possibility that its battle to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria may have to be expanded to Lebanon or to Iran directly, according to an assessment by the Institute for National Security (INSS).

That is one of the recommendations that appeared in INSS’ Strategic Assessment for Israel 2018-2019 that was released and rolled out by the Tel-Aviv think tank at a ceremony at Beit Hanasi on Wednesday (16th).

“Israel maintains a very strong basic deterrent against security challenges that are below the threshold of war,” according to the report.  “At the same time, most of the fronts facing Israel are very volatile: Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. In all three, despite the existence of mutual deterrence between the sides, there is a potential for escalation of a broad confrontation and a general war, more than one front at a time.”

According to the report, the most serious threat facing Israel in 2019 would be an all out war in the north – The First Northern War – that would include Iran, Hizbullah and Syria.  Such a confrontation would also likely spill over to the south, and Israel would additionally find itself battling the terrorist organizations from the Gaza Strip.

This “whole case scenario”, according to the report, “is a possibility that Israel must be prepared for.”

Regarding Iran’s efforts at entrenching itself in Syria, the report stated that “for the time being” Israel can continue to base its campaign on preventing this by its intelligence superiority and its “various offensive precision capabilities.”

At the same time, the report said, “Israel must also be prepared for the possibility that the war will expand to Lebanon or Iran directly.  The process of rehabilitation of the Syrian army has already begun, and it is liable to lead to a greater assertiveness of the regime against the actions of the Israeli Air Force in Syrian skies.  Every effort should be made to avoid a clash with the Russian forces there.”

The time has come, according to the report, “to weigh additional operational possibilities.”



New Threat From Gaza; Landfills And Sewage Build Up Along Israeli Border – Matan Tzuri

The residents of Israeli communities bordering Gaza are now battling polluted sewage being pumped from Gaza into the Israeli side of the border after the local wastewater treatment plant serving Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in Gaza collapsed.  Palestinians are draining sewage into Nahal Hanun, which crosses Israel and empties into the sea, polluting the groundwater in the process. In order to stop wastewater flow and reduce the environmental damage, the Israel Water Authority has recently set up a pumping station near the Erez border crossing.

In addition, massive piles of trash have accumulated in three giant landfills along the border fence, leaving Israelis to cope with a putrid and toxic smell being carried by the wind across the border.  Insects and rodents that breed in the landfills then make their way across the border, infesting Israeli communities. Disease-ridden cats and dogs that feed off the landfills constantly breach the fence.

“It a daily war, and even though it may sound as something insignificant, swarms of mosquitoes invading from Gaza could result in a disaster for Israel,” said a source in the Water Authority.

A source from one of the local authorities along the Gaza border called the current environmental situation “hopeless.”

He said, “The environment is the last thing right now that the residents of Gaza are concerned with.  Their solutions are temporary and usually do more harm than good.”

(ynetnews.com; water.gov.il)


US Army Seeks To Buy Iron Dome Batteries From Israel

The United States Army has asked Congress for $373 million to buy two batteries of the Israeli-made Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been protecting residents of southern Israel from Gaza rockets for over a decade.

The Americans rarely buy weapons systems from other countries, mostly due to national security considerations but also because the US normally has the technological advantage.  While Israel has sold the US technological systems in recent decades, this would be the first time Jerusalem sells Washington a full weapons system.

According to American news site Inside Defense, the US Army wants to acquire the two batteries off-the-shelf from Rafael and seeks to have them delivered by 2020.

The batteries will include 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.

While the Iron Dome batteries are stationed inside Israel’s borders to defend its citizens from rockets fired from Gaza, the Americans plan to station the batteries abroad, to defend its troops in sensitive areas around the globe.

The Americans have already tested the Iron Dome system.  In September, 2017, Israel loaned the US an Iron Dome battery, which was flown to the missile range in White Sands, New Mexico, where it successfully intercepted different types of threats that were launched at it – the Americans were impressed by the high interception rate.

(ynetnews.com; insidedefense.com)


Florida Governor Hits Hard At Airbnb Over Judea And Samaria Boycott

Newly-inaugurated Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis warned Tuesday (15th) that Airbnb will face sanctions in his state in response to the company’s decision not to list Israeli properties in Judea and Samaria.  The governor argued that Airbnb’s policy was discriminatory and may violate a state law that prohibits Florida from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.

Israeli officials have called on US states to take action, and Illinois became the first to do so in December.

DeSantis said that Florida’s State Board of Administration is preparing to present findings at the end of the month on whether the popular tourism service should be placed on a state list of companies which boycott Israel.  Before becoming governor, DeSantis was known for his strongly pro-Israel stance serving in the US House of Representatives. While still a member of Congress, DeSantis attending the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem in May.

DeSantis said he hoped that the company, which serves as a home-sharing platform, would solve the problem itself by reversing its recently-adopted Judea and Samaria policy, but announced that he was already instituting a directive that state employees will no longer be reimbursed for stays at Airbnb properties while on government business.

Speaking on a visit to Boca Raton headquarters of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, the governor charged that the Airbnb policy was anti-Semitic.

“Airbnb claims it’s a company of inclusion and yet this policy only affects Jews in Judea and Samaria.  It doesn’t appear to apply to anyone else on the face of the earth,” said DeSantis.