News Digest — 1/5/21

Netanyahu: Iran’s Race To Uranium Enrichment Proves It Wants The Bomb

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran on Monday (4th) saying that the country’s move to enrich uranium to 20% purity was proof Iran is developing nuclear weapons, something that Israel will not tolerate.

“Iran’s decision to continue violations of its commitments, raise the level of enrichment and promote industrial capacity for underground uranium enrichment cannot be explained in any way other than to further the realization of its intention to develop a military nuclear program,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“Israel will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu added, repeating his warning to the regime in Tehran.

The European Union also warned Iran on Monday (4th), saying the advanced enrichment would be a violation of Tehran’s commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal that limited uranium enrichment to 3.67% purity.

Early Monday (4th), Iranian state television reported President Hassan Rouhani gave the order to begin enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility, a short, technical step to weapons-grade levels of 90% amid escalating tensions with the United States. 

In 2018 the United States dropped out of the 2015 agreement, but the EU, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China all remained committed to the deal and have tried to persuade Iran to honor it.

Iranian political and military leaders have over the years repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel, calling it a “cancer’ that must be removed.  At one point, Iranian Armed Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi told the Iranian Fars News Agency that “the Iranian nation is standing by its cause, that is, the full annihilation of Israel.”



Iran Warns Its Lebanese, Gaza Proxies Can Level Haifa, Tel Aviv To The Ground

A senior Iranian commander has warned that the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given the green light for Tehran-backed proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip “to level” two of Israel’s three largest cities.

Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, told Al-Manar TV that the terrorist groups would destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv “if any foolishness is committed against Iran,” warning that the Islamic Republic has been working for years on developing the capabilities of its proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

“All the missile capabilities of Gaza and Lebanon have been supported by Iran, and they are the front line of confrontation,” he added.

Noting that “the capabilities of the resistance axis” are much advanced from what they were 10 years ago, Hajizadeh said, “today the Palestinians fire rockets instead of throwing stones.”

Hezbollah and Iran have threatened both Haifa and Tel Aviv in the past.  Israeli military intelligence believes Hezbollah has as many as 150,000 missiles secreted around various silos and launching sites throughout mostly southern Lebanon and can target any area of Israel.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday (3rd) that Tehran did not ask its proxies to avenge the US killing of top Gen. Qassem Soleimani as it can retaliate “independently.”

“I want you to know – Iran is strong and does not need its friends or its allies, it will respond in a time, place and manner that suits it.”

Arab media reported Sunday (3rd) that the United Arab Emirates recently thwarted an Iranian terrorist attack that was slated to take place Jan. 3 – the first anniversary of Soleimani’s killing.

According to local reports, the terrorist plot sought to target an Israeli tourist destination and business districts.  UAE intelligence agencies have reportedly arrested an Iranian squad in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on suspicion of plotting the attacks.



Israel Nabs Palestinian Suspect In West Bank Murder Of Esther Horgen

The Palestinian alleged to have murdered Esther Horgen in the northern West Bank last month did it to avenge the death of a Palestinian prisoner who died in prison, the Shin Bet (Israel Securrity Agency) said on Monday (4th). 

The name of the suspect is Mohammad Maroh Kabaha, a 40-year-old resident of the village of A-Tura near Jenin.

Kabaha has formerly served time in prison for terror-related activities.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the security services and said that “we will be strict in our judgment of him,” adding that Israel will seek all those who aided him.

“Let all those who wish us harm know,” Netanyahu said, “Israel’s long reach will get to them anyplace, anytime.”

Along with Kabaha, four more suspects were arrested who  helped him hide from the Israeli security forces who were looking for him after the attack.

The Shin Bet added that during his interrogation, Kabaha said that he planned the attack some six weeks in advance.  

Looking for a place to carry out an attack, Kabaha went through a hole in the security barrier, and found that Israelis walked in the Reihan Forest.

“On December 20, in the forest near the fence, he spotted an Israeli woman walking alone and murdered her,” a Shin Bet statement read.

The investigation into the case continues, and at the end of it, Kabaha is expected to go on trial in the military court of Samaria.

In a Cabinet meeting on Monday (4th), Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the Shin Bet, IDF and police for catching the suspect.

“We need to keep battling terrorism in each and every front, and at the same time, we must improve our security infrastructures in the IDF – and especially in Judea and Samaria,” Gantz said.



France Gives $10M To Pro-BDS Palestinian Group

The French Development Agency has given $10 million to the Palestinian NGO Development Center that supports boycotting Israel, despite the fact it is illegal in France to promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS).

The Development Center was behind the 2008 Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct, a document that states a rejection of normalization of activities with Israel, “neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.”

The Center has provided funding to pro-BDS groups and organizations with alleged ties to terrorism, according to NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that profiles anti-Israel NGOs.

The French Development Agency, or AFD, is a public financial institution that implements the policy defined by the French Government and focuses on “climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance.”

AFD spokesperson Magali Mevellec said that the funding “conforms to French Law.”  Nevellec said that France “supports strengthening local capabilities that improve the lives of populations” in what the country considers Palestinian territories.  She added that “the sole purpose of France and AFD is improving the welfare of [those] populations.”



Second Intifada Was Yasser Arafat’s Biggest Mistake, Says Widow Of Terror Mastermind

Yasser Arafat, known as the “Father of Modern Terror,” made a mistake in starting the Second Intifada, according to his widow Suha.  She made the surprise statement in a post to her Instagram account in Arabic on January 1.

Suha Arafat doesn’t seem to regret the decision because it cost the lives of 1,000 Israelis, mainly civilians, but because the Palestinians were outmatched.  If the Palestinians had won, it appears her reaction would have been different.

“The [intifada] was wrong because we lost a lot, and our war with them [Israel] was unequal,” she said of the conflict, which lasted from 2000 to 2005.  Palestinian fatalities numbered 3,200.

Suha also indirectly reiterated comments she made to Dubai TV in 2012, in which she confirmed the Israeli version of events, in which Arafat planned the Second Intifada beforehand and holds responsibility for the bloody uprising.

The Palestinian narrative had maintained that the Second Intifada was caused by a visit to the Temple Mount by soon-to-be Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Sept. 2000.

She also said, “I cannot accuse anyone for killing my husband, even Israel, because I have no evidence.  I also don’t want to throw accusations into internal Palestinian malicious political battles without conclusive evidence.  I have no evidence against anyone so far.”