News Digest — 1/2/24

IDF  Responds To Rockets From Syria – 4 Hezbollah Terrorists Killed In Lebanon

Five rockets were fired from Syrian territory into Israel on Monday (1st), the IDF stated.  The rockets reportedly fell in open areas. 

Separately Hezbollah said that four of its fighters were killed in Lebanon.

An earlier report regarding the rocket attacks noted that they landed on a road near two communities in the Golan Heights.  In response to the attacks. The IDF targeted the sources of the rocket fire.

Also on Monday (1st), the IDF said that it had struck Hezbollah infrastructure that had been used earlier in the day to fire rockets towards Adamit, an Israeli community located less than a mile from the border with Lebanon.

Late on Monday night, (1st), Reuters reported that four terrorists were killed in south Lebanon, and that Hezbollah had updated its list of fighters killed in southern lebanon to include the four.  The report stated that Hezbollah said its fighters “were martyred on the road to liberate Jerusalem,” but did not specify how they’d been killed. 

The international news agency added that security sources reported the first three were killed in the town of Kafr Kila in southern Lebanon.  This comes after the IDF said on Saturday (12/30/23) that Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck Hezbollah terror infrastructure in the town.

On Tuesday morning (2nd), Israel allegedly attacked targets in and around the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Syrian news agency SANA reported.  The strike from the air occurred at 4:35 a.m. local time and was said to cause damage.  Other details are unknown at this time.




IDF Kills Hamas Nukhba Commander Who Helped Lead October 7 Massacre

Israeli forces killed Adil Mismah, a commander in the Hamas Nukhba force who helped lead and direct the October 7 massacre of southern Israeli communities, the IDF said Monday morning (1st).

Mismah, the Company Commander of Nukhba’s Deir al-Balah brigade, led Hamas terrorists into the ravaged Kibbutz Kissufim and directed Hamas gunmen to other devastated communities such as Kibbutzim Niram and Be’eri.

Following October 7, Mismah was heavily involved in fighting with Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, the IDF said.

As per the Israeli military, the Nukhba commander was killed in an Israeli Air Force airstrike directed by Israeli ground troops.

In operations in northern Gaza’s Shejaiya, Israeli forces struck several terrorist targets including a “compound for conducting warfare” used by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

In the same operation, IDF troops raided a command and control center near a mosque, locating and seizing large quantities of weapons used by the terrorist organizations.

The Israeli Navy was also active in the Gaza Strip on Monday (1st), striking terror targets across the Strip.  The same day, In Khan Yunis, fighter jets under the direction of ground soldiers, targeted and killed a terrorist launching rockets at Israel.



Iranian Warship Enters Red Sea Amid Tensions With Houthis

An Iranian warship, the Alborz, has entered the Red Sea through the strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait, AFP reported Monday (1st), citing Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

The agency did not give specific reasons for its deployment but noted that Iranian military vessels had operated in the area since 2009.

“The Alborz destroyer entered the Red Sea…by passing through the Bab al-Mandeb,” waterway at the southern tip of the Red Sea, connecting the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean,” the agency said.

It added that Iran’s naval fleet has been operating in the area since 2009 “to secure shipping lanes, and repel pirates, among other purposes.”

The entry of the Iranian warship comes amid tensions in the Red Sea as the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have upped their attacks in recent months, since the start of the Israel- Hamas war on October 7.

On Sunday (12/31/23), US helicopters sank three Houthi boats in the Red Sea.  According to US Central Command (CENTCOM), the container ship Maersk  Hangzhou issued a second distress call in less than 24-hours reporting being under attack by four Iranian-backed Houthi boats.

The incident came hours after the USS Gravely missile destroyer shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles while responding to a Houthi attack on a merchant vessel.

The Houthi rebels have threatened to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports unless more humanitarian aid is allowed into the Gaza Strip.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last week officially announced the creation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a maritime task force set up by the US and allies to respond to Houthi provocations.

Later the Pentagon said a total of more than 20 countries have agreed to participate in the new US-led coalition.

On Sunday (12/3123), the White House national security council spokesperson John Kirby said the US is not seeking a wider conflict in the Middle East but will continue acting in its own self defense. 



Could Hezbollah Attack from Jordan?  Israeli Officials Note Worrying Signs

The IDF has fundamentally been altering its operational deployment on the border with Jordan, following a spike in arms smuggling from the kingdom and fears of Iran-sponsored terror attacks that could occur along it in 2024.

A military source told Israel Hayom that the baseline scenario for which the Central Command is preparing are attempts by Hezbollah, or other pro-Iranian militias, to infiltrate from the Jordanian border into one of the communities near the border.

The eastern border with Jordan stretches 190 miles, and is the longest border Israel has with any of its neighbors.  In the past two years, there has been a dramatic increase in arms smuggling from Jordan to the West Bank, and the IDF estimates that Iran is behind the shipments.  This involves more than 1,000 different kinds of weapons interdicted along the border.  Among other things, smugglers carry M-16 air rifles, with the air gun mechanisms in the country replaced with ones fitting live ammunition.  In one case, a shipment of a directional fragmentation anti-personnel mine (similar to a Claymore mine) manufactured in Iran was even caught at the border.  The IDF knows that only some of the smuggling attempts are foiled.  This partially explains the rise in terror attacks and the availability of weapons in Judea and Samaria over the past two years.

The shift from a “peace border” to a “hot border” has been an ever-increasing challenge for the Hashemite Kingdom by Iranian proxies in recent months.  Iran-backed forces have tried to infiltrate Jordan from both Iraq and Syria, undermining the kingdom’s sovereignty.  The Jordanians, for their part, are making great efforts to stop the infiltrators.

Some two weeks ago, an especially serious attack occurred, which according to a statement by the Jordanian Army, “lasted 14 hours, and large quantities of weapons, rockets and various firearms were seized.”  In that same incident, a Jordanian Air Force F-16 fighter jet was even used against the infiltrators to repel the attack.

The IDF maintains contact with the Jordanian Army, to jointly combat these developments.  This contact has also been maintained in recent weeks, during which Israeli residents along the Jordan Valley have reported frequent sounds of shooting from the border area.  Social media has even featured videos documenting the sounds of gunfire heard from Ashdot Ya’akov and the surrounding area.

The IDF is not concerned over a scenario in which the Jordanian Army turns its weapons against Israel but the conventional wisdom is that there could be rogue soldiers who open fire, as has happened in the past.  In 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire at female students.  As a result, seven Israeli girls were murdered and four girls and one teacher were injured, in an event called “the Island of Peace Massacre.”

However, the IDF is preparing for an equally severe scenario in which Iranian militias succeed in infiltrating Jordan, and subsequently attack Israel from there.



Israel’s Skeptics Just Don’t Want It To Win – Jonathan S. Tobin

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first said that the objective of his nation’s response to October 7 was to eliminate Hamas, his comments were put down as rhetoric and not a serious policy.  No matter how wrong Hamas had been to breach the border and commit mass murder, any response on Israel’s part was doomed to failure.  Every blow struck at Hamas would “create more terrorists.”  The “experts” are still convinced that the Israeli war against Hamas is unwinnable and that the Israelis have to concede defeat.

The skeptics are right that the IDF is still a long way from complete victory in Gaza.  Still the notion that the Gaza tunnel complex is an impregnable fortress that cannot be destroyed or that Hamas gunmen are so clever that they cannot be killed or captured in the small geographic area of Gaza is nonsense.

The Palestinians have rejected every compromise peace offer that would have given them statehood for the last 75 years.  They don’t see a peace that would give them a state as an “opportunity,” if it means accepting the legitimacy or even the existence of a Jewish state., no matter where Israel’s borders are drawn.

The Western press has framed the Palestinians’ war to destroy Israel as a conventional insurgency against a foreign occupier.  But Israel can’t simply pack up and leave as the Americans did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam.  Gaza isn’t halfway around the world  from Israel.  It’s next door.  And Hamas is never going to be satisfied with merely being the lords of an Islamist tyranny in Gaza.

The current war wasn’t caused by the Israeli “occupation” of Gaza because it wasn’t occupied on  Oct. 6.  The Israelis withdrew every civilian and soldier from Gaza in 2005.  Hamas’ objective on Oct. 7 was not advancing the two-state solution.  It was in continuing and winning the Arabs’ century-old war on Zionism.  The only path to peace is to be found in a decisive end to the war in which the Palestinians will be forced to rethink their objectives.  (JNS)



To Hamas, All Civilians Are Tools Of War – Douglas Murray

I spoke last week with “Major Y.,” an American who went to Israel to fight in a special forces unit in the immediate aftermath of October 7.  He told me that Hamas routinely uses civilian houses as weapons stores, in complete violation of the laws of war, including the Geneva conventions which mandates that armies must not use civilian sites for military use.  Major Y. and others I have spoken with, say one in every two or three homes in Gaza they go into has military weaponry, including AK-47s, grenades and rocket launchers.

They routinely find entrances to Hamas tunnels inside civilian houses, most often in the children’s bedrooms.  This is such a pattern that when they search a house they now go straight  to the children’s bedrooms to uncover weapons caches and tunnel entrances.  Every single mosque they go into has a Hamas weapons store, as has every UN school, violating every rule of  war.

On one occasion recently, Major Y’s unit spotted an old lady in a wheelchair alone on a street corner in the south of Gaza.  As they approached her, they were suddenly fired on by a Hamas terrorist who was under her wheelchair.  On another occasion, the soldiers saw a 13-year-old boy running with a bag near  an UNRWA school.  He put it down and ran away.  A few minutes later it detonated, badly wounding an Israeli soldier.

Recently a group of old women and old men came out of a building waving a white flag.  Then someone from within their ranks started shooting at the soldiers.  Because of the civilians, the Israelis did not shoot back at the terrorist.  Situations like this happen every day, says Major Y.  (New York Post)