News Digest — 12/30/20

Report: Israeli Missiles Hit Targets In Syria. 1 Killed, 3 Injured

Syrian state news reported early Wednesday (30th) that air defense intercepted Israeli missiles over targets near the capital Damascus and in the country’s southwest.

According to a Syrian military source, rockets were fired from northern Israel at 1:30 a.m., targeting air defenses in the Nabi Habil area near Damascus.

The source said one soldier was “martyred” and three others wounded in the attack, which also caused material damage.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based watchdog group, Israel also struck Hezbollah positions near Zabadani, a town close to the Lebanese border.

Video footage posted to Twitter shows Syrian soldiers filming a large blaze caused by an explosion near Zabadani.

“We do not comment on foreign media reports,” an IDF spokesperson said.

Israel allegedly attacked Iranian-backed militias at Masyaf in the northwestern part of the country early Christmas day (25th).  The attack left at least 6 pro-Iranian fighters dead, according to reports.

Israel did not comment on that attack either, but it has said that it will not tolerate Iranian-backed militias in Syria.

In the past few years, Israel has acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes in Syria, most of them aimed at suspected iranian weapons shipments believed to be bound for Hezbollah.

In recent months, Israeli officials have expressed concern that Hezbollah is trying to establish production facilities to make  precision guided missiles.

Meanwhile, the airspace above the Golan Heights east of the Jordan River was closed to flights over 5,000 ft. until Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the airstrikes were reported in Syria.

On Wednesday (30th) the IDF announced that it would be conducting an exercise in the Golan Heights on both Wednesday and Thursday (30th-31st) and that explosions and gunfire would be heard in the area at that time.  

It announced that the exercise is part of planned exercises for 2020.



Gaza Terror Groups Unite For Joint War Games Simulating Conflict With Israel

With a cry of “Allahu akbar,” Hamas fired a barrage of six rockets out to sea from Gaza on Tuesday (29th) to launch what appears to be the first-ever joint military exercise by all of the different terror groups in Gaza.

“We have not failed in our pledge and promise to our people to continue the path of resistance, jihad and struggle, with a pure rifle and a weapon brewed with the blood of the martyrs and the beads of sweat of the fighters in the fields,” said a joint statement posted on the Hamas website.

With the Gaza economy in shambles under 13 years of Hamas military rule and unemployment at 50%, the distraction of the misery of daily life in Gaza began several days ago with Hamas announcing the military exercise and posting signs and billboards across the seaside enclave that is home to roughly two million people.

Large posters featured the face of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in January of this year in Iraq by an American drone strike.  Senior Hamas official Mahmoud a-Zahar revealed that during a visit to Tehran in 2006, the terrorist organization received $22 million in cash from Soleimani, reported Arab Affairs analyst Yoni Ben Menachem of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The belligerent joint statement that launched the exercise was issued by all Palestinian factions, declaring that “the Zionist enemy must be careful if he attacks Gaza, for there will be many surprises.”

“The exercise is a message to Israel that the factions are united under one word, one rifle, one missile, which will be activated simultaneously to defeat it as soon as the factions decide,” the statement said.

The exercise was also a distraction from the coronavirus pandemic, with Palestinian statistics showing 542 new cases in Gaza on Monday (28th).

The military games included the rocket launching, together with land, sea and air exercises using drones, as well as a simulated raid on an Israeli army convoy.

“The message of opposition to the whole world is that the failed normalization agreements will not change anything on the ground,” the statement read, reflecting the terror groups frustration at several Arab countries having recently established diplomatic relations with Israel which bypassed the Palestinian demand that no Arab state open relations with the Jewish State before the Palestinian issue is resolved.



Poll: Half Of Iranians Unhappy With Rouhani’s Performance As President

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Iranian people’s top pick for the role of the country’s president, a new poll by the Iran Wire news site has found.

At 37%, over one-third of respondents aged 18 and over said they wanted to see Ahmadinejad return to the presidency, compared to the 10% who named conservative politician Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf as their first choice for the job.

The poll’s findings reflect the Iranian public’s disillusionment with the reformist movement, whose supporters have largely given up hope they will be able to replace the ayatollah regime through elections and voting.  Although turnout was particularly high, the conservatives won parliamentary elections held in February with a large majority.

Around 48% of the 1,000 people surveyed said they were unhappy with current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s performance and 16% said they were very unhappy.  Considered something of a compromise-pick by the reformist camp, Rouhani has been criticized by both camps for his handling of the country’s economic situation.

Elected in 2009, Ahmadinejad is considered the country’s most radical president to date.  He is known for his frequent threats against Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

  Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad is seen as a humble politician who supports the lower classes in Iranian society and fights corruption.

Iran is set to go to elections in June, and it is not yet clear who will be allowed to run for office.  In 2017, Ahmadinejad’s candidacy was disqualified by the country’s election council, which is subject to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.



Israel Offers Immediate Assistance To Croatia After Magnitude 6.4 Quake

Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Alon Ushpiz tweeted on Tuesday evening (29th) that Israel has offered immediate assistance to Croatia that was shaken by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake earlier in the day, killing five and injuring many others, and shook several neighboring countries, officials and residents said.

Rescuers pulled people from the rubble of collapsed buildings in the town of Petrinja and army troops were sent to the area to help.

The tremors were also felt in Croatia’s capital Zagreb and as far away as Austria’s capital Vienna.  Slovenia shut its only nuclear power plant as a precaution.

It was the second quake to strike the area in two days.

The GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences said it hit at a depth of 6 miles, with the epicenter in Petrinja, 31 miles south of Zagreb.

The mayor of the nearby town of Glina said four people had been killed there, Croatian state TV reported.  In Petrinja, a 12-year-old child was killed, a town official was quoted as saying.

Another official said “There are many fractures, concussions and some are in surgery in the hospital at Sisak.  The hospital reported treating 20 people, two with severe injuries. 

Many private homes were destroyed, plus a kindergarten, with blocks, stones, bricks and tiles littering Petrinja’s streets.  Parked cars were smashed when falling debris landed on them.

Patients and medical staff in Zagreb’s damaged Sveti Duh Hospital had to be evacuated and were left sitting in the street wrapped in blankets.

Croatia’s state news agency Hina said in total the quake was felt in 12 countries.

On Monday (28th) a magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit central Croatia, also near Petrinja.  In March, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit Zagreb causing one death and injuring 27 people.



Pro-ISIS Media Urges Muslim Youth To Become Hackers

The pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Al-Taqwa Media Foundation has released a poster urging Muslim youth to study computer programming and join the cyber war against the “enemies of Allah,” according to a new report by the Middle East Media Research Institute’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (MEMRI JTTM).

According to the MEMRI report, shared exclusively with JNS, the poster shows a masked, armed fighter and features the Arabic text, “Oh youth of the Islamic ummah: study hacking and programming.  Become an army among the armies of Islam.”

The message further noted that “hackers can cost the enemies of Allah: Jews, Crusaders, and apostates, billions of dollars.  This [computer] science is more dangerous than you can imagine.”

“If a hacker manages to infiltrate the computer systems of electric companies or obstruct water supplies, for example, he will then greatly exhaust America financially,” states the poster.

“Those who can learn to hack and become professionals in this field should ask Allah for help and rely on Him.  Such a person can be an army unto himself that is equal to hundreds of improvised explosive devices,” it concludes.