News Digest — 1/21/20

PM To Iran: Lesson Of Auschwitz Is To Confront Evil When It Is Small

On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again drew a parallel between the Nazi genocide of the Jews and Iran’s nuclear program.

“So we now have the capacity to defend ourselves, and I think the lesson of Auschwitz is: One, stop bad things when they’re small, and Iran is a very bad thing.  It’s not that small but it could get a lot bigger with nuclear weapons, and I think the first thing is to stop that,” he said in a television interview with TBN.

“And second, understand that the Jews will never again be defenseless in the face of those who want to destroy them.  These are the two things that I think are important.”

The full  interview with the Christian network will be broadcast on Tuesday evening (21st).  In a short clip released earlier during the day, the prime minister lamented the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust and stressed that attempts to wipe out the Jewish people have not ceased.

“A third of the Jewish people went up in flames.  There was nothing we could do,” he said.

“Now, after the Holocaust and the State of Israel was established, the attempts to destroy the Jewish people have not disappeared,” Netanyahu said.  “Iran openly declares every day that it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. And by the way, Israel has a population today of more than six million Jews.”

Netanyahu has often used Holocaust commemoration ceremonies for comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Israel this week is housing nearly 50 world leaders for a massive commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

In the interview to TBN, the prime minister also decried “a full frontal attack” on the Jewish people’s right to “live in their ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel.”  He was likely referring to the intention of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate possible war crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.

So far, the US, Canada, Australia and Hungary have opposed the ICC’s intention to probe “war crimes” in Israel/PA Territories.



Israel Said To Warn Hamas Against Disrupting World Leaders’ Historic Gathering

Israel has warned Hamas that it will respond forcefully to any attempt to disrupt this week’s summit of world leaders in Jerusalem, and will not hesitate to strike the terror group in the Gaza Strip in response to such provocations, regardless of the intensified international focus, according to a report Monday (20th).

Israeli officials, Channel 13 reported, believe Hamas is behind the spate of balloon-borne bombs and incendiary devices launched into Israel in recent days, as the group seeks to signal it is unhappy with the slow progress of negotiations for a long-term ceasefire.

Officials have assessed that the group would move to undermine the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, to be held in Jerusalem Wednesday (22nd) and Thursday (23rd) – either by increasing balloon attacks at Israeli communities or by allowing other smaller groups to fire rockets into Israel, the report said.

The Fifth World Holocaust Forum is scheduled to take place on January 23rd at Yad Vashem in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

At least 47 world leaders or senior diplomats, including 26 presidents, four kings, and four prime ministers, will be in town for the event.

In lead-up to the conference, the Israel Defense Forces has boosted deployment of Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the south.

Israel has also initiated a full call-up of the Shin Bet security agency’s Protective Security Department to ensure the security of world leaders throughout the conference, it said.   

Ten thousand police officers are also being deployed to protect the leaders in Jerusalem, who will begin arriving Tuesday (21st).



Explosive Balloon Cluster reaches Jerusalem, Devices Upgraded, More Deadly

A cluster of balloons tied to an explosive device that was launched by terrorists from the Gaza Strip, landed on Monday (20th) in the town of Mesilat Zion near Jerusalem.

A police sapper who was alerted safely dismantled the explosive charge, with no injuries or damage.

Police again reminded the public that extreme caution should be exercised when encountering suspicious objects such as kites and balloons which may be connected to explosives or flammable material and may “endanger public peace if not dealt with responsibly.”

The explosive and flammable balloon attacks have returned to haunt Israel’s residents in the south in the past week.  The explosive devices are upgraded and are equipped with elements to increase casualties among the civilian population.

The IDF estimates that the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is responsible for the renewed rocket fire and balloon attacks and will likely continue to launch them this week..



Netanyahu Awards Shin Bet, 560 Terror Attacks Thwarted In 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nadav Argaman of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, attended a ceremony to celebrate outstanding Shin Bet operations and operatives on Monday (20th).

Awards went to six breakthrough operations.  Certificates of appreciation were given to Shin Bet members, Israel Hayom reports.

Argaman said the agency’s successful thwarting of terrorist plots was due to the work of every member of the Shin Bet.

“Last year was a year filled with security challenges in all our operational areas.  We thwarted over 560 significant attacks, including 10 suicide bombings, four kidnapping attacks, and over 300 shootings,’ he said.

“This success was the result of the Shin Bet’s investment, determination, perseverance, professionalism and creativity that characterize its work,” added Argaman.

 “Hundreds of Israelis have been saved because of your activity, and I thank you for it,” Netanyahu said.  “This is a very great achievement that requires the combined effort of heart and mind.”

He said many countries want to cooperate with Israel in the field of intelligence. “I can count on my hand the number of countries that don’t want to cooperate with us.  We are in touch with various countries that once we couldn’t even dream that they would cooperate with us. However, today many of them are doing so”

“They all want to cooperate with Israeli intelligence.  We are in an unprecedented diplomatic, economic, operational and military opening,” Netanyahu said.



Honduras Officially Designates Hezbollah A Terrorist Organization

On Monday (20th), a security official from Honduras indicated that his nation now officially designates Hezbollah as a terror organization, Reuters reported.

The Lebanese Islamic group is bankrolled and overseen by Iran and was voted the world’s richest terrorist organization by Forbes magazine in 2018.

Honduras joins the United States, Israel, Canada, Argentina, Paraguay, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and Germany, all of which have declared that Hezbollah is a terror group.

Guatemala’s recently elected president, Alejandro Giammattei, has also indicated his government plans to ban Hezbollah.

According to Forbes Hezbollah received a massive windfall as a result of the 2015 nuclear deal, with only the Islamic Republic benefiting more financially.

Hezbollah’s budget jumped significantly from $200 million per year to $800 million annually, according to Forbes in 2018.

Forbes also referred to Hezbollah’s “hold on the global drug industry” as the “crowning glory to its business portfolio,” with a “worldwide crime operation” involved in “constant money laundering, forgery, weapons-trade, smuggling and of course producing and trading drugs, primarily heroin and cocaine.”