News Digest — 11/12/19

Israel Assassinates Islamic Jihad Commander

Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in the city of Gaza early Tuesday (12th) in a rare targeted killing that threatened to unleash a fierce round of cross-border violence with Palestinian terrorists.

Air raid sirens wailed throughout southern and central Israel as terrorists retaliated with heavy rocket fire.

The IDF operation to assassinate Baha Abu Al Ata was extremely skillful, reportedly targeting not just the building where Ata was staying, but the very room he was in.  The army’s goal was to avoid civilian casualties.

“Over the last week, we have been waiting for the opportune moment to conduct the surgical strike,” IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

Conricus added that the airstrike had been carried out with a warplane that destroyed only the floor of the building where Abu Al Ata was hiding in order to minimize “collateral damage.”

The airstrike damaged half of the second and most of the third floor of a house in the Shejaiya neighborhood, in the eastern part of Gaza City.  The house was known as Abu Al Ata’s home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision to kill the Islamic Jihad commander was made on Sunday (10th) by the cabinet.

“Senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu Al Ata was targeted overnight in Gaza.  He was responsible for many terrorist attacks and the firing of rockets at Israel in recent months and had intended to carry out imminent attacks,” Netanyahu’s office tweeted.

“The IDF action was recommended by the IDF Chief-of-Staff and ISA Director and was approved by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister after it had been presented to – and approved by – the Security Cabinet.”

Conricus called Abu Al Ata a “ticking time bomb,” saying he had been responsible for a number of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel and claimed that he was actively planning new attacks.

The Islamic Jihad terror group said Abu Al Ata, 42 was undergoing “a heroic act” when he was assassinated.  It did not elaborate, but vowed revenge.



Terrorists Release Savage Rocket Attack In Reprisal For Killing Of Senior Commander

Sirens sounded across Israel’s southern towns and cities on Tuesday morning (12th) as incoming rockets descended from the Gaza Strip. Terrorists launched the rockets on civilian areas in response to the targeted killing of Islamic Jihad senior commander Baha Abu Al Ata.

Approximately 70 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel as of Tuesday morning (12th), the IDF reports.  The Iron Dome system intercepted approximately 20 of them.

Alerts went off as far as Tel Aviv as terrorists expressed their rage at the loss of their terror chief.

The IDF urged residents of southern Israel to stay close to bomb shelters on Tuesday (12th) as the region went on high alert.

 Schools were canceled in cities and communities near the Gaza Strip and Israel’s railways canceled routes in southern Israel.

The National Roads Authority released video footage of a rocket striking near an intersection, narrowly missing passing cars.  The incident took place at Gan Yavne junction just east of Ashdod.

Tuesday’s alert also affected places much farther north, including the Tel Aviv area – Israel’s main population center.  

As Israelis in several parts of the country went scurrying for cover on Tuesday (12th) to protect themselves from rocket attacks, an 8-year-old girl was reported in serious condition after collapsing as she ran for shelter in the city of Holon, south of Tel Aviv.  The girl had lost consciousness, medics reported. She was taken to the hospital in serious but stable condition, they said. She was responding to a siren that sounded in Holon, warning residents that the city was under attack by Palestinian terrorists.

In southern Israel, prematurely-born babies were evacuated from the preemie unit at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.  To protect against Gazan rockets, Barzilai constructed an underground facility to ensure that emergency care can continue under such conditions.

A far larger facility was built at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, in northern Israel, in case of rocket attacks from terrorists in Lebanon.



UN Discovers ‘Secret Atomic Warehouse’ In Iran That Israel Exposed Last Year

The United Nations nuclear watchdog says uranium of a man-made origin has been discovered “at a location in Iran not declared to the agency.”

The revelation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the first time it has acknowledged in a report that allegations made by the U.S. and Israel against Iran, is true.

The IAEA did not identify the site in the confidential quarterly report distributed to member states and seen by The Associated Press on Monday (11th).

However, Israel and the U.S. say the site was on the outskirts of Tehran, a location previously described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “secret atomic warehouse.”

Israel has alleged that material at the site comes from an Iranian military program involving work on nuclear weapons.

The IAEA confirmed that Iran is now enriching uranium at its underground Fordo facility, a move prohibited by the 2015 nuclear deal.

In addition to Iran’s illegal nuclear program, the Islamic Republic funds and trains terror militias throughout the region, which engage in proxy wars and skirmishes with host nations.

Iran’s proxies include Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.  In addition to terrorism, these proxies also engage in narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and other criminal enterprises.

The United States consistently ranks Iran as the world’s top state sponsor of terror.



Top US General In The Middle East Visits Israel To Meet With IDF

The commander of American military forces in the Middle East arrived in Israel on Saturday (9th) for meetings with the  Israel Defense Forces’ top brass, amid ongoing turmoil in the region after the US withdrew many of its forces from northern Syria last month.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. touched down on Saturday (9th) for his first visit to Israel since becoming head of the US military’s Central Command, or CENTCOM, in March. 

The US refused to disclose McKenzie’s itinerary in Israel.

McKenzie’s trip was the second-ever by a commander of US CENTCOM to the Jewish state.

Though Israel is in the Middle East, it does not often work directly with CENTCOM, and instead cooperates with the US military’s European Command, EUCOM.  This is widely seen as an attempt by the US military to avoid conflict with other countries in the Middle East whose populations generally have a negative opinion of Israel.

MeKenzie’s predecessor, Gen Joseph Votel, was the first US CENTCOM commander to travel to Israel, visiting last spring with little fanfare.

Military ties between the US and Israel have been somewhat strained in recent months, as the US has begun withdrawing from the region, leaving Israel alone to confront an increasingly aggressive and emboldened Iran.

Though Israeli officials have refrained from specifically criticizing US President Donald Trump for the withdrawal, they have more obliquely expressed concerns about the trend.

“Iran’s brazenness in the region is increasing and even getting stronger in light of the absence of any response to its attacks on regional countries,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month. 



On Kristallnacht Anniversary, Yellow Stars Appear On Jewish Sites In Scandinavia

Stickers shaped like yellow stars that Nazis made Jews wear during the Holocaust were placed on multiple Jewish sites in Denmark and Sweden on the Kristallnacht pogroms’ anniversary (9th).

In Denmark, the stickers were found on Saturday (9th) on the mailbox of Ella and Henrik Chievitz, a Jewish couple from Silkeborg, a town located 150 miles west of Copenhagen, on the home of another Jewish family in the Copenhagen area and on the Jewish cemetery of Randers, a town located some 30 miles north of Silkeborg, according to Rabbi Yitzi Loewenthal of Copenhagen.

In Sweden, the same stickers were found at the Bajit Jewish Cafe near the Adat Jeshurun Synagogue and also on the Great Synagogue of Stockholm.

Jewish buildings in Helsingborg, Sweden, where a Jewish woman was stabbed and severely injured earlier this year, and Norrkoping also received the stickers on Saturday (9th), the 81st anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria, which marked the beginning of wide-scale violence by Nazis against Jews.

Authorities in Sweden and Denmark are treating the stickers as anti-Semitic hate-speech, according to Lowenthal and Aron Verstandig, President of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities.

“It is no longer possible for anbody, Jew or non-Jew alike, to be shocked by the callous reminders unleashed against our communities in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe this past Shabbat – anti-Semitism is alive and well, and right at our doorsteps,” Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, wrote in a statement.  He called for “deliberate and targeted action.”