News Digest — 11/12/20

German Missile Ship To Arrive In Israel

The German company ThyssenKrupp on Wednesday (11th) delivered to Israel the Sa’ar 6 missile ship, the Magen, the first ship in the Israeli missile fleet.

Delivery took place at a hand-over ceremony in Germany attended by Israeli commander of the navy force, Gen. Eliyahu Sharvit and the head of the Defense Ministry’s procurement division Avi Dadon.  During the ceremony, the Israeli flag was hoisted on the new ship.

The navy has purchased four of the Sa’ar 6 craft, including the ‘Magen,’ the ‘Oz,’ the ‘Atzmaut’ and the ‘Nitzahon.’  The vessels will be gradually integrated into the naval forces in the coming years.

The first ship that will reach the shores of Israel the INS ‘Magen,’ was first launched in Germany in May 2019.  From the moment the ship arrives in Israel and after completing the process of installing the combat systems, the vast majority of which are made by Israeli industries, Magen will begin its operational service.

The Sa’ar 6 ships will form an integral part of the cornerstones of the IDF’s naval defensive wall, as well as a central pillar in the State of Israel’s economic water and marine energy defense system.

Commander of the Marine Corps. Gen. Eliyahu Sharvit said the INS Magen is well-positioned to meet Israel’s strategic needs in the naval arena.  “Magen, as well as its sister ships, is an excellent, accurate, optimal, and versatile product for the protection of the strategic assets of the State of Israel in its waters.”

“This is precisely why we are here in Germany today.  We are excited to hoist the Israeli flag on the head of the Magen’s mast, a symbol of an independent, sovereign, secure and prosperous Jewish State.  Magen will be armed with the best defensive and offensive systems, with combat systems at the forefront of global military technology, the vast majority of which is made by Israeli industry.  Today we send our sailors, soldiers and commanders to sail the ship to the Port of Haifa.  I wish you all a good and quality voyage, a voyage that is a combination of history and future.  Leave safely, sail safely and enter the home port safely,” Sharvit said.



Israel Preparing Gaza Border For Anniversary of Terror Leader’s Death

Israel is preparing for the possibility that the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza will carry out attacks to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of one of its senior leaders, Channel 12 reported Wednesday (11th).  Last November 12, the IDF killed notorious Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu Al Ata with a targeted rocket strike, sparking a barrage of over 150 rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.  There have been sporadic incidents since then, but in anticipation of possible revenge attacks on the anniversary, the IDF deployed an additional Iron Dome anti-missile defense battery in the area, the report said.

Israel defense officials are concerned that terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip will try to carry out an act of revenge including the possibility of rocket fire into the south of the country and even reaching the Tel Aviv region, leading to Ben Gurion Airport flight routes being changed.

Al Ata was the commander of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad’s forces in the Gaza Strip and was in charge of the terrorists on the ground and is known to have received direct instructions from the Iranian leadership.

Although a Sunni organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is inspired by the Shiite revolution in Iran.  According to the organization, the Iranian revolution proved that “Islam was the solution and Jihad was the proper means.”  Iran is a major funder of the organization.

The most serious incident since the Al Ata killing came in February when the terror group fired more than 80 rockets at Israel after IDF soldiers killed an Islamic Jihad terrorist who was planting a bomb on the border fence.

Although subservient to the Hamas terror group that has controlled Gaza with an iron fist since it seized power in a bloody 2007 military coup, the Islamic Jihad has made inroads in Judea and Samaria – trying to gain recruits and challenge both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas.



Hezbollah Presence In South Syria Much Larger Than Previously Revealed

Hezbollah’s presence in southern Syria is much larger than previously revealed to the public, a new report by the Alma Research and Education Center has found, with some 58 sites where the terrorist group’s Southern Command and Golan Project have been deployed.

The report, which is based on Syrian opposition websites and cross-referenced with actual locations of sites (some military) damaged by Israel, revealed 58 locations belonging to the group in the southern Syrian provinces of Quneitra and Dera’a.  

“In our estimation, the operational and intelligence infrastructure, which is widely deployed in southern Syria, constitutes a quality basis for Hezbollah’s ongoing activities in the sector, with an emphasis on intellectual gathering and operational planning,” the report said.

Syrian troops recaptured southern Syria seven years ago after losing the area to rebel groups and returned to their positions along with Hezbollah operatives and Iranian-backed troops.

Though the Israeli military revealed Hezbollah’s network on the Syrian Golan Heights last year, the deployment of the group’s forces was not completely known, with less than a dozen places known in the province of Quneitra.

In the newly released report, Alma identified 28 locations with Hezbollah forces deployed as part of the Southern Command unit and another 30 locations where there is a presence of cells operating under the Golan Project.

“These two units, the ‘Southern Command’ and the ‘Golan File,’ pose ongoing operational and intelligence challenges for the State of Israel and stability in the region,” the report said, adding that it was “able to reach exact coordinates in some places and a general location in the rest.”

The Southern Command, led by Munir Ali Naim Shaiti, is the Hezbollah unit in charge of southern Syria, whose main function is to create a Hezbollah infrastructure in the area and not only gather intelligence on the IDF but train the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) 1st Corps for war with Israel.  The Golan Project is under the command of Ali Mussa Daqduq and has its headquarters in Damascus and Beirut.  Last year, there were tens of operatives working in the Syrian towns of Hadar, Quneitra and Erneh who collected intelligence on Israel and military movement on the Israeli Golan Heights.

Since then, another 10 villages in Quneitra province and another 14 villages in Dera’a province have acquired active cells belonging to the Golan Project, bringing the total number of cells near the Israeli border to 30.

Cells belonging to the Golan Project and Southern Command have already carried out attacks against the IDF; and Israel, which has stated that it will not allow Hezbollah to entrench itself on the Golan Heights, has, according to foreign reports, carried out several strikes against operatives belonging to the two.

Should a war break out in the north, the IDF expects it will not be confined to one front but will be along the entire northern border with both Lebanon and Syria.



Israeli Watchdog Sets Sites On Undermining Hezbollah’s Grip On Beirut Airport

Several major international airlines could face legal action for flying into Lebanon’s international airport, which is notoriously controlled by Hezbollah.

The Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, which fights the financing of terrorist activity, has sent unprecedented cease and desist warnings to a host of international airlines and insurance companies demanding they halt all services to the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut – or be implicated in allegedly aiding a terrorist group in the commission of war crimes.

The letter was sent to 15 companies, including Air France, British Airways, Italy’s Alitalia and Germany’s Lufthansa, warning them that the airport in the Lebanese capital has become a “hotbed” of Hezbollah activity and is also in the vicinity of known, extensive terrorist activity by the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group.

The letter warns that airlines operating routes to and from the airport not only endanger their passengers and crews, but knowingly provide Hezbollah with human shields, thus allegedly allowing terrorist activity to take place.

This, the legal watchdog group said, exposes the airlines and insurance companies to potential lawsuits and criminal charges for aiding Hezbollah.

Shurat Hadin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, further warned the airlines that continued flights into Beirut’s international airport constitutes “knowingly supplying Hezbollah with human shields” and therefore could constitute a war crime under international law.

“We are en route to halting all flights to Beirut and this will soon become a matter of fact,” she told Israel Hayom.

“The purpose of this unprecedented move is to force the world to take action against Hezbollah’s hold on the airport and the terrorist activity that is taking place in its vicinity,” she explained.



IsraAID Guatemala Brings Relief In Wake Of Storm Eta

Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID has launched an emergency response in Guatemala following tropical storm Eta, which has killed more than 150 people and affected the lives of 200,000 residents of the Central American country.

IsraAID’s locally-based team arrived in Alta Verapaz, among the worst-affected areas, on November 9.  They immediately began offering psychological first aid, medical support, relief items, hygiene kits, and water filters.

IsraAID has had a permanent team on the ground in the country since the 2018 Volcan de Fuego eruption, which caused significant damage across the southern area of Escuintla.

This Year, IsraAID Guatemala has provided guidance on psychosocial support and resilience to Guatemalan households in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with hygiene promotion and food distributions for vulnerable communities.

Eta first made landfall in neighboring Nicaragua on November 3, before moving slowly throughout the region, beginning heavy rain, flooding, and mudslides.  Tens of thousands were evacuated from their homes and more than 7,000 are in temporary shelters.

“Alongside its immediate emergency response, IsraAID’s team is performing a rapid needs assessment, focusing on recovery needs in affected communities,” said CEO Yotam Polizer.

“Amid the current global pandemic, the recent storm created a double disaster for Guatemalans.  For the over 7,000 displaced persons that have been sheltered in 86 centers, maintaining social distancing and regular hand-washing can be challenging.  Our team will continue to provide hygiene products and sanitation supplies to minimize the spread of the virus, Polizer added.”

Founded in 2001, IsraAID has responded to crises in 54 countries.