News Digest — 11/14/22

‘400 Seconds’ To Tel Aviv: Iranian Media Publishes Hebrew Hypersonic Missile Threat

The IRGC-affiliated Sobh-e-Sandesh newspaper published a threat in Hebrew on its front page on Monday (14th), warning that a new hypersonic missile reportedly developed by Iran could reach Israel in 400 seconds.

“400 seconds: General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Aerospace Force, said that Iran has obtained technology for hypersonic missiles,” wrote the newspaper.

An article written by Hamza Pariyab, described as a “defense expert,” called the new missile a “game changer,” as it can avoid most modern-day missile defense systems.

Pariyab added that the missile could be used to take out a country’s defense systems and open the way for a mass launch of drones and missiles.

The defense expert also referenced a letter sent by Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the “father” of Iran’s missile program, to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei where he referenced the acquisition of a “quick response super-fast missile.”

In November 2011, Moghaddam was killed in an explosion that hit a missile base in Biganeh, killing at least 17 members of the IRGC.  While the explosion was initially reported as an accident, Western media, including The Guardian and Time magazine, reported that the incident was being blamed on the Mossad.

At an event marking the anniversary of the explosion on Thursday (10th), Hajizadeh announced that Iran had managed to develop an advanced hypersonic ballistic missile that can enter space and target missile defense systems.

Hypersonic missiles are ones that travel at a speed of Mach 5 or greater.  While ICBMs can also reach that speed, they travel in a predictable arc, making them easier to confront.  In contrast, hypersonic missiles are maneuverable, giving them the ability to dodge defense systems and evade radar.

The US, Russia, China and North Korea have successfully tested hypersonic missiles, although exact details about such weapons are still somewhat scant.  Russia used a hypersonic weapon called the Kinzhal missile in a strike on a military fuel depot in Ukraine in March.

Hajizadeh said that “Both defense systems that defend inside the atmosphere and extremely expensive systems that deal with missiles outside the atmosphere, are no match against the Islamic Republic ‘s new missile.”

“I don’t think technology will be found that can deal with it for decades to come,” he added. 



Israel Issues Travel Warning For Turkey After Istanbul Attack

Israeli security officials issued on Sunday (13th) a travel warning for Turkey following a terror attack in Istanbul that left 6 dead and another 81 wounded.

“Jerusalem urges all Israelis who are already in Istanbul to stay in their hotels and follow Turkish law enforcement’s instructions.  The recommendation is to remain in their hotels until things are clear and follow the guidelines of the security forces,” an official said following the attack Sunday (13th).

“The inquiry into the attack is ongoing, and the Turkish security forces launched a manhunt to find the suspects.”

The Israeli National Security Council (NCS) issued a Level 3 travel warning for Turkey, which is considered a medium threat level.  Thus it is generally recommended to avoid non-essential trips to the country.

In addition, the NSC recommended to all Israelis in countries with a Level 3 travel warning to be alert.

The recommendations included notifying relatives of current whereabouts during their stay, avoiding sharing locations on local media and staying away from demonstrations or gatherings.  Israeli tourists were also advised to conceal their national identity and refrain from going into unidentified vehicles.

Despite the travel warnings, all the check-ins for flights to Turkey at the Ben Gurion Airport were full Sunday (13th), and at least six flights were leaving from Israel for Turkey.

Late Sunday night (13th), Turkish Minister, Suleyman Sogli said that “the terrorist who left the bomb that exploded on a busy street in Istanbul that killed 6 and wounded over 80 people has been arrested.”  He added that “the PKK/YRG group was behind the attack,” according to TRT World.



2 Syrian Soldiers Killed After Alleged Israeli Airstrike Hits Airbase Near Homs

Israel carried out airstrikes against an airbase in northeastern Syria on Sunday evening (13th), killing two soldiers and wounding three others, Syrian media reported.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of not generally commenting on air raids in the country.

The strike came just days after Israeli missiles allegedly targeted a convoy near the Syria-Iraq border, reportedly leaving at least 10 people dead, including a number of Iranian fighters.

That strike was said to target trucks carrying fuel and weapons from Iran to Lebanon.

According to Syria’s Sham FM radio station, in Sunday’s (13th) strike Israeli jets targeted the Shayrat Airbase, used by the Russian military, south of the city of Homs.

Syria’s state-run broadcaster SANA, citing a military source, said two soldiers were killed and three were wounded, and unspecified damage was caused to the site that was struck.

Images shared on social media appeared to show a large fireball and prolonged secondary explosions following the attack.

SANA claimed Syrian air defenses managed to intercept several of the Israeli missiles in Sunday’s (13th) attack.  Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country. 

The IDF said it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah.  Additionally airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as Jerusalem’s ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent months.  Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

In June, Israeli airstrikes put Damascus airport out of service for nearly two weeks.  A pair of sorties targeting the Aleppo airport in early September also forced that facility to shut down.



President Herzog Tasks Netanyahu With Forming Next Israeli Government

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday (13th) assigned the task of forming a new government to Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu.

Opposition leader Netanyahu will now need to complete coalition agreements with his right-wing allies in order to secure the support of at least 61 Knesset Members.

The right-wing bloc, including the Likud, Religious Zionist Party, Shas, and United Torah Judaism, won a total of 64 seats in this month’s Knesset elections.

For coalition talks, however, the Religious Zionist Party has split up into its constituent factions, with Otzma Yehudit’s six MKs and Noam’s lone MK negotiating separately from the Religious Zionist Party.

Barring a scenario in which Netanyahu can convince lawmakers from the bloc of parties which unseated him last year to cross the aisle, the Likud chairman will require the support of every faction in the right-wing – religious bloc in order to reach a majority, with the exception of the Noam party and its single MK.

Netanyahu has 28 days to present a new coalition, though he is permitted to request a 14-day extension to complete negotiations.

While the Likud had planned to complete coalition talks this week and submit a new government to a Knesset vote shortly after the swearing in of the 25rh Knesset this Tuesday (15th), a report by Kan Reshet Bet cited an official who said delays in negotiations would likely preclude the formation of a government before next week.

Meeting with Herzog at the President’s Residence Sunday afternoon (13th), Netanyahu said he would work to represent all Israelis, including those who did not support him in the November 1st election.

“I intend to work to broaden the zone of consensus among us, without exception.”

At the top of his agenda, Netanyahu listed  confronting Iran’s nuclear aspirations, followed by expanding the Abraham Accords peace deals with moderate Arab states, pledging “further peace deals” and “peace through strength” in order to “end the Israeli-Arab conflict.”

“I did not say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in my opinion this is the prelimnary stage that would also bring that outcome.”

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said Israel must determinedly take action against Iran’s belligerence, and above all, foil its effort to arm itself with nuclear weaponry, which has direct designs against our existence.”



UN Votes To Seek ICJ Opinion On Israeli ‘Occupation’

 The United Nations on Friday (11th) voted in favor of seeking an International Court of Justice opinion on Israel’s activity in Palestinian territories in the West Bank.

The motion brought up at the request of the Palestinian Authority but officially submitted by Nicaragua, passed with 98 votes in favor, 17 votes against and 52 abstentions.

Israel, the US, Canada and Australia were among those who opposed the move.  Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan denounced the move and the United States representative noted that the Biden administration opposes unilateral decisions.

The text asks the ICJ to consider that, due to its continuing nature, the “Israeli occupation” constitutes annexation.  A court ruling affirming that Israel illegally annexed the West Bank and east Jerusalem would not be legally binding on the Jewish State, but it would be a blow to Jerusalem.

“The Palestinian proposal is part of an anti-Israel campaign infected with antisemitism that aims to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and its right to self-defense,” said Erdan when the motion was proposed.

“[Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud] Abbas is once again acting in a destructive way, in a way that will only harm the Palestinians themselves.  We will make it clear to every country that supporting this move is a price for terrorist organizations and will only perpetuate the conflict,” he added.



3 New F-35 Fighter Jets Land In Israel

Three new F-35 fighter jets were delivered by Lockheed Martin to Israel on Sunday (13th), joining the 33 already based in the country.

The fighter jets will join the 140 Squadron (Golden Eagle) and begin taking part in operational activities in the coming weeks.

Israel was the first country to purchase the F-35 as part of a foreign military sale with the US in October 2010.

The aircraft became operational in the Israeli Air Force in December 2017 and have been in full operational service since.

Last week, two Israeli Air Force (IAF) ‘Adir’ F-35 fighter jets escorted two American B-52 bombers above Israeli airspace on their way back from the Persian Gulf, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said on Thursday (10th).

The flyover was carried out as part of ‘increasing cooperation’ between the Israeli and US militaries, the spokesperson’s unit added.

This marked the first time US jets were accompanied by Israel’s fleet of F-35s, with such escorts usually carried out using ‘Sufa’ F-16s.