News Digest — 12/11/23

Alleged Airstrikes Target Iranian Stronghold Near Damascus

Alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites near Zaynab, a stronghold of Iranian militias, near Damascus on Sunday night (10th), according to Syrian reports.

A site used by Iranian militias between Set Zabnab and Al-Bahdaliyah south of Damascus, was hit in the strikes, according to reports.

Video reportedly from the scene showed a structure on fire and individuals telling civilians who had gathered, to leave the area.  Nour Abo Hassan, a journalist in southern Syria, reported that about eight iranian-backed militants were killed in the strikes.

SANA, the Syrian state news site, reported that the airstrikes were carried out from over the Golan Heights, causing only material damage.

The strikes were reportedly conducted in two waves.  Simultaneously, Israeli artillery targeted sites near the town of Hader in the Quneitra region along the Syrian-Israeli border, according to the Syrian Capital Voice news site.

The strikes came just a few days after three Hezbollah members and one Iranian-backed Syrian militant were eliminated in an alleged Israeli drone strike in Quneitra, including the son of the head of Hezbollah’s terrorist operations near the Syrian-Israeli border.

The Hezbollah members killed in that strike were identified as Ali Idris Salman, Hussein Issam Taha and Hassan Ali Daqduq.  Also killed was Muhammad Anas al-Tamer, one of the commanders and founders of the Arab Nationalist Guard, a pan-Arab militia aligned with the Assad regime.  Tamer was affiliated with the “Golan File,” Hezbollah’s efforts to build up terrorist infrastructure along the Syrian-Israeli border.

Daqduq was the son of Ali Mussa Daqduq, also known as Abu Hussein Sajid, the commander in charge of the Golan File.

About two weeks ago, two members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in alleged Israeli airstrikes that targeted sites in Set Zaynab, according to the IRGC.

The two were identified as Mohammad Ali Ataee Shoorche and Panan Taqizadeh, with the IRGC saying they were carrying out an “advisory mission” in Syria.

Set Zaynab is a stronghold for Iranian and Iran-backed militias in the Damascus area.  Iranian militias have numerous facilities in the area, including those used to store weapons headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon.



Netanyahu Calls Out Western Leaders For Pressing Israel To End Gaza War

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Sunday (10th) on pressure from foreign leaders to conclude the ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip, emphasizing Israel’s need to eliminate Hamas before the cessation of hostilities.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning (10th), Netanyahu said it is imperative for Israel to destroy the Hamas terror organization.

“The war is continuing, intensively, in both northern and southern Gaza, in order to achieve all of our goals: Eliminating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will never go back to being a threat to Israel .”

More than 100 of the roughly 250 captives taken to Gaza on October 7 have been returned – nearly all of them during the 7-day ceasefire earlier this month, including roughly 80 Israelis.

However, it is believed that 138 captives remain in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu chided Western leaders who have urged Israel to wrap up the current war, saying that such pressure is inconsistent with the support Israel earlier received for its campaign to eliminate Hamas.

“Over the last two days I have spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with the President of France Emmanuel Macron, and with additional leaders as well.”

“I told them that it is impossible to support the elimination of Hamas on the one hand, while on the other pressing us to end the war, which would prevent the elimination of Hamas.  I think that in this fight, justice is on our side and unity as well.  When we are united as a people and a state, no force can prevent us from doing the right thing.”

The number of IDF soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty since Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza rose to over 100 Sunday (10th).



Defense Minister Gallant: ‘Hamas Underestimated Israel’s Response To Attack’

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant said in an interview with the British Daily Mail  that Hamas underestimated Israel’s response to the October 7th attack.

“It’s hard to bring democracies to fight wars but once we are in one, we are much stronger because we are fighting to defend our values,” Gallant stated.

“In the northern region of Gaza, Hamas is suffering massive losses, and we are achieving our military goals.  Hamas terrorists have two options: die or surrender,” he explained.

Gallant claimed in the interview that Hamas propaganda is spreading across universities.  Hamas propaganda is influencing universities and protests, and money is being poured in, which is activating terror networks around the world, Gallant told the newspaper.

“This is a collision course between civilizations.  Hamas represents a medieval phenomenon,” he added.

According to Gallant, Israel is the front line preventing Hamas’ ideology from reaching the Western world: “When there is a fire in the first house, you have to stop it from spreading in the village and reaching the church.  Israel is like the first house.  We are fighting on the frontline of the free world against terrorism.”

Regarding reports that Hamas has been commandeering humanitarian aid reaching the Strip, the Defense Minister stated: “Hamas uses every tool possible – including sacrificing hundreds of thousands of civilians.  They are capitalizing on the humanitarian situation and using the civilian population.  They have built hundreds of kilometers of tunnels under hospitals, schools, etc.  They are using hospitals and civilian infrastructure to protect terror infrastructure.”



Ambassador Erdan To UNSG: ‘Why Are You So Focused Only On Helping Terrorists Survive?’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed remorse over the failure of the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate Humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

“This week, I urged the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza & I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire. Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it.  But, that does not make it less necessary.  I promise I will not give up,” Guterres wrote.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan responded to Guterres’ statement: “Mr. Secretary-General, why don’t you care about the humanitarian catastrophe in Israel and the millions of Israelis still being attacked by missiles?  Or the 300,000 Israelis displaced since the Massacre?  Why are you so focused only on helping terrorists survive?”

He added: “The meaning of a ceasefire in Gaza is that the Hamas reign of terror will continue.  Why do you want this reality to continue?”

He concluded, “Regrettably, the UN under your leadership, totally failed to act against and genuinely condemn terrorism.  You failed to help release the kidnapped children and women being held in Gaza or even to allow the ICRC to visit them.  YOU gave up on fighting terrorism!  WE will not give up in our mission to eradicate Hamas and bring our hostages home.”

The Security Council attempted a vote on Friday night (8th) to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

At least 97 countries supported the proposal, advanced by the United Arab Emirates, along with a call for the immediate release of the hostages and for the sides to respect their obligations under international law.

Of 15 members of the Security Council, 13, including France and Switzerland, supported the proposal.  Britain abstained, and the United States of America voted against it.  The US vote is considered a veto, and the proposal was rejected.



Israel: We Can No Longer Accept Hezbollah’s Radwan Force Sitting On Our Northern Border

• Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said Saturday night (9th) that in the wake of the slaughter of 1,200 people in Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7, Hezbollah’s Radwan force could attempt a similar murderous invasion from the north, targeting Israeli civilians in communities near the border “within minutes.”

• He said Israel was tackling Hamas “17 years too late,” and “we can no longer accept the Radwan force sitting on the border.  We can no longer accept resolution 1701 not being implemented,” referring to a UN Security Council resolution from 2006, at the end of the Second Lebanon War, that banned any Hezbollah presence within 30 km. of the border with Israel.

• Some 60,000 residents of border communities have been evacuated from the north since Oct. 7, amid relentless clashes across the border between Hezbollah and Israel.  “Residents will not return if we don’t do the same thing” in the north against Hezbollah as is being done in the south against Hamas, Hanegbi told Israel’s Channel 12

• “The situation in the north must be changed.  And it will change.  If Hezbollah agrees to change things via diplomacy, very good But I don’t believe it will.  Therefore, ‘when the day comes,’ Israel will have to act to ensure that residents of the north are no longer ‘dislodged in their land,’ and to guarantee for them that the situation in the north has changed.”

• Israel does not want to fight simultaneously on two fronts and has been “making clear to the Americans that we are not interested in war in the north, but that we will have no alternative but to impose a new reality” If Hezbollah remains a threat.

• Hanegbi said that at least 7,000 terrorists have been killed during the war so far.



Why Israel Is Entitled In Law To The “West Bank” – Melanie Phillips

During a discussion on Times Radio, a number of people were astonished to hear me state that Israel is not in “occupation of Palestinian land” and that the Jews alone are entitled in law to this territory.  These facts are never referred to in mainstream discourse.  Yet Israel is entitled to this land – all of it – many times over in law, as well as according to history, truth and morality.

There has never been any such thing in law as Palestinian land.  There never was a state of Palestine.  When the Romans conquered the Jewish Kingdom of Judea, destroyed the Jewish Temple and drove the Jews of Judea into exile, they renamed it Palestine in an attempt to erase its Jewish identity.

When the Ottoman empire fell after the First World War, the international community that carved up the Middle East kept the name Palestine to describe the territory which was now to be re-created as the homeland of the Jewish people.  This was cemented at the 1920 San Remo Conference and given the force of international treaty law by the League of Nations in the 1922 Mandate for Palestine.

After Britain sliced some 70% off this land to create (Trans) Jordan in an act of arbitrary realpolitik, Palestine consisted of what is now Israel, the “West Bank” and Gaza.  Only the Jews were given the legal right to settle these lands.  That right has never been abrogated.  From 1949 to 1967, Jordan held the “West Bank” as a military occupier.  In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel freed that territory from illegal Jordanian occupation, and allowed the legal claim of the Jewish people to that territory finally to be acted upon.

At the time of the Mandate, Palestine was only sparsely occupied.  As the Jews returned to the land, Arabs attracted by the prospect of growing prosperity poured in from neighboring states.  They considered themselves to be Arabs.  Between 1922 and 1948, when people referred to the Palestinians they were referring to the Jews.

The writer is a columnist for the Times-UK.



California: Elderly Man Injured In Anti-Semitic Attack

Police in Beverly Hills, California responded Saturday morning (9th) to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon, the police department said.

The Messenger reported that the victim was a 75-year-old Jewish man on his way to synagogue.

Alan Tzvika Nissel, principal at Wilshire Skyline and assistant professor at Pepperdine Law, on Sunday (10th), wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “Here is anti-Semitism vignette you won’t read about in papers. Yesterday, on the way to shul, my father (75) and mother (70) were attacked.  After being struck from behind on head by belt and called out as Jew, my father recomposed himself and successfully chased down ‘perp” with help of nearby Beverly Hills PD.”

Replying to Nissel’s post, Rabbi Pini Dunner noted, “And then he came to shul and read from the Torah – an absolute inspiration to all of us.”

“Patrol officers responded quickly and located an elderly victim who had sustained a laceration on the head after being struck with a belt.” the local police said in a statement.  “The victim was accompanied by his spouse during the time of the crime.  There is no relationship between the suspect and the victim.”

The statement stressed, “During the commission of the crime the suspect made anti-semitic statements to the victim.”

“The victim was treated by the Beverly Hills Fire Department at the scene and did not require further medical attention.  The suspect tried to flee the scene prior to police arrival.”