News Digest — 1/28/21

World Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in commemoration of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, was marked Wednesday (27th) by online events with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of large memorial services remembering the Nazi genocide of the Jews in World War II.

The worldwide event was enshrined by a United Nations resolution in 2005, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where 1 million Jews from all over Europe were murdered in gas chambers or starved to death, along with an additional 100,000 victims from Poland, Russia and elsewhere.

In a statement on its website, the UN said this commemoration comes “against a global context of rising anti-Semitism and increasing levels of disinformation and hate speech.”

“Holocaust education and remembrance is even more urgent, as is the development of historical literacy to counter repeated attempts to deny and distort Holocaust history,” the UN statement said.

“Remembering the Holocaust is a moral duty. Not only to pay tribute to victims.  But also to renew our allegiance to our deepest human values,” tweeted Charles Michel, president of the European Council.  “We, Europeans, have a special responsibility to fulfill this duty.  Anti-Semitism has no place in our societies.”



UAE, Bahrain Call For Joint Stand With Israel In Approaching U.S. On Iran Threat

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday (26th) urged Israel to join their ranks in forging an outreach effort to the United States against the Iranian threat in the region.

Speaking at a joint Israeli-Emirati-Bahraini panel during an annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani said his country saw eye to eye on many aspects concerning Iran.  These included concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ballistic missile program and Iran’s support for regional terrorist groups.

“A common regional position on these issues will allow us to have greater influence over the United States,” he said, stressing that the issues were of high importance for regional stability.

“Any future agreement with Iran must reflect the new reality in the region and be acceptable to all states in the region,” he affirmed.

UAE Minister of State For Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash also pointed out that the original 2015 nuclear deal lacked a “common regional path.”

The event also featured a speech by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who stressed that Iran’s recent advancement puts it closer to the fast acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Kochavi said that he had instructed the IDF to come up with new plans to deter the Iranian nuclear program, which will be developed in the coming year.



Iranian General: We Will Level Tel Aviv If Israel Makes The Slightest Mistake

Iranian army spokesperson Brig. Gen Abolfazi Shekarchi on Wednesday (27th) dismissed comments made a day earlier by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, as “psychological warfare” and warned that the slightest mistake by Israel would lead the Islamic Republic to “level Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

Kochavi on Tuesday (26th) said the IDF was preparing offensive contingencies against Iran to be used if necessary and warned the new U.S. administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In an address to the Institute for National Studies, Kochavi said a return to the deal, even with some improvements, “is bad operationally and it is bad strategically.”  He said allowing Iran to proceed with a nuclear program would be “an unacceptable threat and will lead to nuclear proliferation across the region.”

Shekarchi told Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency: “If we notice the slightest mistake on the part of the Zionist regime towards the regime of the Islamist republic, we will strike both the missile bases, (which according to them, are intended to strike Iran), and in the shortest time will level Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground.”

According to Shakarchi, Israel is “not yet aware” of all Iran’s capabilities.

Mahmoud Vaezi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, also responded to Kochavi’s comments, saying, “Our people and the people of the region are familiar with the language so far used by the Zionist regime’s officials, who talk more and seek to conduct psychological warfare.”

Vaezi also argued that Israel has “neither a plan nor the ability” to wage an attack on Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (27th) reiterated Kochavi’s warnings to Tehran.

“I would like to emphasize that the policy I am pursuing is clear:  We will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons.  I say this to enemies and friends alike, it is our top mission to preserve the life of our country.”



Report: Syrian Troops Take Positions On Lebanese Side Of Mount Hermon

Syrian Arab Army Troops were reportedly spotted on the Lebanese side of Mount Hermon in northern Israel on Monday night (25th), according to Syrian state media.

Recently, reports have surfaced of both Israeli and Syrian airstrikes in areas close to the border.

The IDF has repeatedly stated that it will not permit any foreign forces, whether regular soldiers or Iranian-backed proxies, to deploy anywhere near Israel’s borders and will strike their positions.

Israeli fighter jets reportedly carried out one of the most widespread attacks in approximately three years when early in January they struck 18 sites, including arms depots and military positions in eastern Syria.

A Syrian war monitor claimed that those strikes killed 9 Syrian soldiers and 31 allied fighters, thought to have been members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah and other terror militia groups who train in the area.

The cluster of mountains, known as Mount Hermon, or Jabal al-Shaykh, of which Israel controls less than 10%, is the apex of the Golan Heights and splits between Israel and Lebanon at its summit.  The very top of the mountain is controlled by UN forces.

The IDF is preparing for a massive war drill, slated for this coming summer.  The drill is expected to last a month and will simulate a full-scale war, including with Gaza, and extending to the northern threat, which will be the main focus.



Glorifying Martyrdom: East Jerusalem School Marks ‘Shahid Day’

A Waqf-run elementary school for girls in Jerusalem recently marked “Palestinian Shahid Day” and held educational activities on the subject of martyrdom.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf is an Islamic trust that controls and manages the current Islamic edifices on and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  It operates several schools in the city.

The students at the school, founded in 1969, were asked to prepare memorial presentations for terrorists, which the school teaches them were “martyrs.”

A presentation by one of the fifth graders reviewed the development of the concept dating back to Izzadin al-Qassam (1882-1935),the terrorist for whom Hamas’ military wing is named.  She spoke of PLO leader Yasser Arafat as a “martyr,” including Baha Aliyan, who murdered three Israelis in the east Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem in 2015. 

Other presentations included photos of funeral services of terrorists, singing songs of praise and reciting verses praising the act of “shahids” and glorifying martyrdom.

Maor Zemach, head of the Lach Yerushalayim (“For You Jerusalem”) advocacy group that seeks to safeguard Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, told local news media that while the school was not part of the Israeli educational system, “it is inconceivable that a school in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, would commemorate terrorists.”

“This type of incitement hasn’t been seen on social media pages of educational institutions in east Jerusalem in a very long time, and it indicates a much bigger problem.  I call on Public Security Minister Amit Ohana, to issue an administrative order to shutter the school without delay,” added Zemach.