January 25, 2019
Netanyahu Threatens Gaza, Iran After Flare-ups On Two Fronts
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (23rd) threatened the Gaza Strip after an escalation of violence on the border, saying that Israel was ready for all possible scenarios.
“Maybe there is someone in Gaza who thinks they can raise their head, but I suggest they understand that the response will be serious and very painful. We are prepared for every scenario and every escalation,” he told soldiers during a visit to the Shizafon army base in the south of the country.
Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, also threatened Iran and vowed to fight the country’s forces in Syria.
“Iran is the main enemy, and has declared its intention to destroy us with nuclear weapons, which we are committed to thwarting,” he said. “But Iran is also building forces around us, and they have established a front in Lebanon through Hizbullah, and they have established a southern fortress in Gaza, which is maintained by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“And now they wish to build a third fortress in the Golan Heights, based on the establishment of the Iranian military. We are committed to fighting all these things and to fighting the Iranian army in Syria.”
On Sunday (20th), Israel reportedly conducted a rare daylight missile attack on Iranian targets in Syria. In response, Iran fired a surface-to-surface missile at the northern Golan Heights, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the Hermon ski resort, according to the IDF.
Netanyahu’s speech also came after the Israeli Air Force launched airstrikes against multiple Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday night (22nd), following two border clashes earlier in the day, including one in which a sniper shot an IDF officer in his helmet, causing light injuries.
The IDF said the raids targeted “a number of terror targets in a military base belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip.”
“The IDF is prepared and ready to act against any terrorist action from the Gaza Strip and is determined to defend the citizens of the State of Israel,” the army said in a statement.
Danon: Iran Building Terror Network In Judea And Samaria
On Tuesday (22nd), the United Nations Security Council held a special session on the Situation in the Middle East, focusing on Israel’s actions in the region. At the meeting, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, revealed to the Council members that Iran is trying to act against Israel from within Judea and Samaria, including its annual budget dedicated to operating a terrorist network throughout the Middle East.
Danon addressed the Iranian missile fired at the Golan Heights from Syria, stating “Iran is exploiting the regime to conduct military operations against Israel, but we will respond with force and remove any threat to our people.”
“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,” the ambassador told the Council members as he displayed a map showing the extent of Iran’s financial terror network in the Middle East.
Ambassador Danon revealed Iran’s plan in Judea and Samaria, stating: “With the help of Saleh Al-Arouri, Hamas’ 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. The world’s silence allows Iran to continue with its operations and aggression to undermine stability in the Middle East.”
Danon called on the Security Council to recognize Hamas and Hizbullah as terrorist organizations and impose sanctions on them, adding that “weakening these terrorist organizations is the first step to dismantling the epicenter of terrorism that sits in Tehran.”
Syrian Opposition Activist: The Arabs Should Ally Themselves With Israel
→Syrian opposition activist and writer Issam Zeitoun, appearing on Al-jazeera on January 16, 2019, was asked: “Who is more dangerous for the region?” Zeitoun replied: “Iran without a doubt. Israel is surrounding itself with walls. It just wants to be left alone.”
→“The claim about Israel wanting to expand ‘from the Euphrates to the Nile’…every Arab and Muslim in history has believed this…The Assad regime and our media have told us that Sadat spoke in the Knesset under a banner saying: ‘Israel’s borders from the Euphrates to the Nile.’ There is no such banner. Nobody has ever heard of it.”
› Q: “Is it better to ally with Israel?”
› Zeitoun: “Absolutely, from any point of view. Ask any Arab citizen where he wants to live, and then come back to me.”
› “In all our wars against Israel, Israel was waging a defensive war. Had we not attacked Israel, it would not have attacked us, despite its capabilities. If Iran had a nuclear bomb, would it drop it on Tel Aviv? It would drop it on Riyadh or any other Arab capital. Iran exploits the issue of Jerusalem only in order to win the Arabs over, by constantly talking about Jerusalem…The Syrian issue is a thousand times more important than the Palestinian cause, said Zeitoun.”
PA Chief Abbas Owes His Life To Israeli Doctor, Reports Say
Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas could have died last May had it not been for Israeli intervention, Ynet News reported Wednesday (23rd).
Admitted to a private Ramallah hospital for a serious ear infection, the PA leader’s health went downhill quickly as he contacted a lung infection and pneumonia. Despite the efforts of his doctors, including foreign specialists, it was feared that the 83-year-old would not recover, the report said. That’s when the Israeli government stepped in.
First the offer was made to transfer Abbas to an Israeli medical center, whose advanced facilities outstrip those in the PA. This was refused because PA officials feared an angry response from the Palestinian street should the news leak out.
Instead, Israel sent a specialist to Abbas who worked together with his medical team and managed to stabilize him after two days of intensive treatment. He was released from the hospital a week later.
The octogenarian’s health is of great concern to Israel, as he has groomed no particular successor and there are many in the PA who will spar for the leadership when he leaves office or dies. It is feared that this scenario will be a bloody and protracted one, and Israel has no interest in having the relatively stable security situation in the PA come apart at the seams as a result.
Natural Gas Fields Give Israel A regional Political Boost
A decade after discovering natural gas fields off the Mediterranean coast, Israel is starting to feel the geopolitical boost.
Its new-found riches have fostered economic bonds with its neighbors, tightening relations with Arab allies, and built new bridges in a historically hostile region – even without significant progress being made toward peace with the Palestinians.
Last week’s inclusion of Israel into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo – a consortium aiming to cut infrastructure costs and lower prices – marked the first time Arab countries accepted Israel into such a regional alliance, sparking excitement in the country that its long-held hope of finally also making “economic peace” with Egypt and Jordan was fast approaching.
“I think this is the most significant economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the signing of the peace treaty 40 years ago,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the media. “The discovery of significant gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has also political value because it brings all of us…together to cooperate with each other.”
With the expected gas boon, Israel plans to wean itself off coal and emerge as an unlikely energy exporter – providing both an economic and political lift.
In the coming months, Israel will begin exporting gas to Egypt as part of a $15 billion deal signed last year to provide 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a 10-year period that will help turn Egypt into a regional energy hub.
Israel already delivers gas to the Palestinians and to Jordan.