News Digest — 2/1/21
Report: Unidentified Aircraft Targets Pro-Iranian Militias In Eastern Syria
Unidentified aircraft targeted sites belonging to pro-Iranian militias near Al-Bukamal in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria on Saturday night (1/30), according to local news source Step News Agency.
Deir Ezzor 24 said that over 15 airstrikes were reported and believed to be carried out by Israel, adding that the target may have been the Imam Ali base in the area controlled by Iran. The base includes tunnels, buildings and warehouses built over the past two years at the site located near a strategic border crossing between Syria and Iraq.
A number of vehicles were targeted in the strikes, according to Step News Agency.
On Friday (1/29), Iranian-made missiles were reportedly transported to the area through the Syria-Iran border crossing.
No information was available on damages or injuries as of Sunday morning (1/31).
Earlier this month, airstrikes, allegedly carried out by Israel, targeted dozens of sites in the Deir al-Zor region of eastern Syria and in Al-Bukamal near the Syria-Iraq border.
Sites belonging to Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias in the Deir Al-Zor area have been hit repeatedly by airstrikes, often by ‘unidentified aircraft’ in recent years.
If the strikes were in fact carried out by Israel, this would mark the fourth alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria in January.
The IDF rarely, if ever, confirms airstrikes reported in the media.
IDF Eliminates Terrorist Committing Stabbing Attack In Gush Etzion
An Arab terrorist was shot dead Sunday morning (1/31) as he attempted to stab IDF forces securing the Gush Etzion Junction.
Security footage of the incident shows the terrorist approaching the soldiers who were securing a bus stop at the junction. The soldiers noticed the terrorist and shot him dead. No Israelis were harmed in the incident.
Corporal I, a combat soldier from the Nachshon Battalion who neutralized the assailant, said, “I was standing at the southern bus station of the junction in order to protect the civilians that were at the scene. I spotted a suspect who was coming toward the bus station where civilians were present. I began to operate to stop the suspect when he came at me with a knife. I immediately shot him. I have been here for about a month with my battalion. We always stay alert to prevent situations of this kind. We will continue to protect residents of Gush Etzion,” he said.
Several attacks have occurred at the Gush Etzion Junction in recent weeks. The area has been the scene of multiple terrorist attacks, several of them lethal.
Last Tuesday (1/26), IDF troops thwarted an attempted stabbing attack at Gitai Avisar Junction, near Ariel in Samaria, which is southwest of the Arab-populated town of Nablus. IDF troops at the military post there spotted an assailant, who attempted to stab two IDF soldiers guarding the junction. One of the soldiers blocked the assailant’s multiple stabbing attacks, and the commander of the troops fired toward the assailant and killed him. No IDF injuries were reported.
India: Iran ‘Obviously’ Behind Israeli Embassy Attack
Indian security officials investigating last week’s explosion in front of the Israeli embassy believe that Iran is behind the attack, according to Indian media.
On Friday (1/29), an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was detonated in front of Israel’s embassy in New Delhi. No injuries or deaths were reported.
Local Indian media reported that investigators believe Iran is responsible for the attack.
“Deliberate efforts have been made to hide the real perpetrators behind the terror incident with false flags and deniability built into the attack that obviously was carried out at the behest of Iran,” a security official told the Hindustan Times.
Another official said, “New Delhi has taken the heinous attack against Israel very seriously and its position is that India cannot be used by any other country to target its perceived enemies.”
“Once we have concrete evidence we will take up the matter in very serious terms with the country behind the attack.” the official told the Hindustan Times.
According to Indian media, a Telegram user named VikarUdDin claimed credit for the attack hours before the blast. In a message posted to several Islamic Telegram groups, VikarUdDin wrote that the attack was perpetrated by a previously unknown terror group called Jaish ul Hind.
Indian security officials discovered that VikarUdDin’s IP address was located in Herat, Afghanistan, a Shiite city heavily influenced by Iran.
But the officials could not definitely confirm that the message was posted from Herat, as NikarUdDin could have used a false IP address.
A note found at the scene called the blast “just a preview,” suggesting that there is more violence to come.
The note also contained references to the assassinations of Iranian Quds Commander Qassem Soleimani and Iranian nuclear physicist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
“All the participants and partners of the Israeli terrorist ideology will no longer exist. Now get ready for a bigger and better revenge of our heroes,” the note read.
PA Arrests Hamas Supporters Ahead Of Elections
Despite the talks about holding new general elections, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are continuing to crack down on each other’s supporters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The clampdown comes as representatives of several Palestinian factions, including the ruling Fatah faction and Hamas, are expected to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo soon to discuss ways of ensuring the success of the elections.
On January 15, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that the parliamentary election would be held on May 22. He said that the PA Chairmanship election would be on July 31st. In late August, Palestinians will also vote for the PLO’s legislative body, the Palestinian National Council.
Abbas’ announcement was made despite the fact that his Fatah faction and Hamas have failed to reach an agreement to solve their disputes, which reached its peak with the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has expressed readiness to participate in the elections. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, the second-largest terror group in the Gaza Strip, has indicated that it may boycott the elections, as it has done in the past.
No date has been set for the start of the discussions in Cairo.
On Sunday (1/31), Palestinian sources said that PA security forces arrested five men in the West Bank on suspicion of being affiliated with Hamas. One of the detainees, Ameed Shehadeh, is a journalist from Nablus. The sources said he was arrested for criticizing the PA in a Facebook post.
“It it also noted that Hamas is continuing to harass and intimidate Fatah members in the Gaza Strip,” said a Palestinian official in Ramallah. “Hamas’ actions are aimed at intimidating Fatah and foiling the upcoming elections,” he added.
Israel Discovers Royal Purple Cloth From King David Era
Researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), Tel Aviv University, and Bar-Ilan University have discovered 3,000-year-old remnants of purple fabric amazingly preserved in the desert climate of the Timna Valley, an ancient copper production district in southern Israel, the IAA announced last week.
This is the first time the purple-dyed textiles from the Iron Age have been found in Israel, though mollusk-shell waste and potsherds with patches of dye have provided evidence of the ancient dye industry.
“Now for the first time, we have direct evidence of the dyed fabrics themselves, preserved for some 3,000 years,” said Dr. Naama Sukenik, curator of organic finds at the IAA.
The purple dye was associated with the nobility, priests, and royalty in ancient times and is often mentioned in the Bible.
“The gorgeous shade of the purple, the fact that it does not fade, and the difficulty of producing the dye, which is found in minute quantities in the body of mollusks, all made it the most highly-valued of the dyes, which often cost more than gold,” Sukenik said.
According to Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University, the dramatic finds should revolutionize our concepts of nomadic societies in the Iron Age.
Ben-Yosef identifies the copper-production center at Timna as part of the Biblical kingdom of Edom, which lay to the south of the Kingdom of Israel.
“The Edomite kingdom was a kingdom of nomads,” he said, noting the lack of evidence of any permanent settlements in the Edomite territory.
“Our new research at Timna has showed us that even without such buildings, there were kings in our region who ruled over complex societies, formed alliances and trade relations, and waged war on each other,” Ben Yosef said.
“The wealth of a nomadic society was not measured in palaces and monuments made of stone, but in things that were no less valued in the ancient world – such as the copper produced at Timna and the purple dye that was traded with its copper smelters,” he said.
Ben-Yosef suggested that the findings may inform our understanding of the existence of the mighty Kingdom of Israel during the reigns of David and Solomon.