News Digest — 2/10/21

IDF Chief: Israel Operating In Enemy Territory Almost Every Week

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi admitted Monday (8th) that Israel’s military has been operating “almost every week” in enemy territory.

“In the last year, almost every week, we have worked in the depths of enemy territory to destroy weapons that were intended or planned to attack the State of Israel and its citizens,” Kochavi said in a speech, Channel 12 News reported.

Speaking at the annual ceremony of the 1997 helicopter disaster that claimed 73 lives, Kochavi noted that in the past year Israel has had a time of “security and protection” with the “lowest death toll and quiet at the borders.”

“This is the result of hard work in all branches, in all commands and in all dimensions, 360 degrees around us 24/7,” Kochavi said.  “We prevented intrusions in the north and south, prevented rocket fire, exposed many tunnels under the Gaza border, [and] prevented attacks in Judea and Samaria on a daily and weekly basis.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the ceremony as well, also emphasizing that the IDF’s ongoing operations take place beyond Israel’s borders.

“Even today, the IDF operates and will continue to operate on the border line and far beyond it,” Gantz said.

“We do not hesitate to prevent the establishment of Iran beyond our borders, and Nasrallah [head of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group] knows full well that his decision to build ammunition and missile bunkers, and to perfect Hezbollah’s capabilities, endangers it and endangers the citizens of Lebanon,” Gantz said.

Gantz warned the Lebanese government that they “should also know this and take responsibility,” adding that if Hezbollah starts hostilities on Israel’s northern border, “the state of Lebanon will be the one to pay the heaviest price for the weapons dispersed amidst civilian concentrations.”

Israel has carried out numerous airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria with a focus on its transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and attempts by Iran to establish its military proxies close to the Israeli border.



IDF Holds ‘Lightning Storm’ Drill On Israel-Lebanon Border

The IDF rolled out a two-day Ground Forces exercise on Tuesday (9th) along the Israel-Lebanon border.  The “Lightning Storm” drill was held against growing tensions on the northern front, but the military stressed the maneuvers were part of its routine training plan for the troops.

The exercise is expected to conclude on Wednesday afternoon (10th).  The IDF said it is designed to boost the army’s wartime readiness for a possible conflict in the area.

The military warned of increased traffic in the area and said that explosions would be heard during the maneuvers, with checkpoints set up, but no roads blocked.

As part of the drill, the IDF would look into ways to use experience and knowledge obtained from past operational activities in the area, using a wide variety of scenarios, the IDF said.

“The IDF will continue to prepare and improve its readiness along the border with Lebanon while carrying out the task of protecting the residents in the area,” the military said.



Israel’s Allies Slam The ICC Over War Crimes Ruling

Many of Israel’s allies worldwide lambasted The Hague over its ruling last week, asserting it has jurisdiction to launch an investigation against Israel for alleged war crimes.

The United States was the first to censure the ICC.  The State Department said in a statement that the US “objects to the International Criminal Court decision regarding the Palestinian situation.  Israel is not a State Party to the Rome Statute.  We will continue to uphold President Joe Biden’s commitment to Israel and its security, including opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”

Canada, Germany and Australia also issued statements slamming the decision.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry stated that “Palestine is not a state and therefore international conventions do not apply to it, including the Rome Treaty, on which the ICC Tribunal was founded.”

The Australian Foreign Ministry expressed “deep reservations over the ICC’s ruling.  We have made this clear to the pre-trial chamber. The International Criminal Court should not exercise jurisdiction in this matter.”

A German government spokesman said Monday (8th) that “alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories in Israel is not an issue that falls under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction.”  

The Axios News website reported Monday (8th) that the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem sent a classified cable to dozens of Israeli ambassadors around the world, instructing them to lobby their hosting governments to issue public statements of opposition to the ruling issued by The Hague. A report cites an unnamed Israeli official as saying that some of Israel’s allies “sent discreet messages” to ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asking her “not to move forward with the investigation against Israel and to not give the case a high priority.”



International Criminal ‘So-Called’ Court Makes Up Rules As It Goes – Alan M. Dershowitz

The highly politicized International Criminal Court just declared statehood for Palestinians.  It did it without any negotiation with Israel, without any compromise, and without any recognized boundaries.  It also did it without any legal authority, because the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, makes no provision for this criminal court to recognize new states.

Moreover, neither Israel nor the United States ratified that treaty, so the decisions of the International Criminal Court are not binding on them.  Nor is this divided decision binding on signatories, since it exceeds the authority of the so-called court.

I say “so-called” court because the International Criminal Court is not a real court in any meaningful sense of the word.  Unlike real courts, which have statutes and common law to interpret, the International Criminal Court just makes it up.

As the dissenting judge so aptly pointed out, the Palestine decision is not based on existing law.  It is based on pure politics.  And the politics of the majority decision is based in turn on applying a double standard to Israel – as the United nations, the International Court of Justice and other international bodies have long done.

There are numerous other groups – the Kurds, the Chechens and the Tibetans among them – who claim some degree of independence.  Yet neither the International Criminal Court nor other international organizations has ever given them the time of day.  But the Palestinians – both in the West Bank and Gaza – who have refused to negotiate in good faith and have used terrorism as their primary claim to recognition, have been rewarded for their violence by this decision.

Israel, which has offered the Palestinians statehood in exchange for peace on several occasions, has been punished for its willingness to negotiate and its determination to protect its citizens from Palestinian terrorism.

There are so many serious war crimes and other violations of humanitarian laws occurring around the world that the International Criminal Court deliberately ignores.  The chief prosecutor sees as one of her roles to focus attention away from third world countries, where many of these crimes occur, and toward Western democracies.

What could be a better target for this perverse form of “prosecutorial affirmative action” than Israel.  I say perverse because the real victims of such selective prosecution are the citizens of third world countries whose leaders are killing and maiming them

Israel, on the other hand, has the best record of human rights, the rule of law, and concern for enemy civilians than any nation faced with comparable threats.

According to British military expert Richard Kemp, “No country in the history of warfare has done more to avoid civilian casualties than Israel did in Operation Cast Lead.”  Israel’s Supreme Court has imposed daunting restrictions on its military and has provided meaningful remedies for criminal acts committed by individual Israeli soldiers.   

The role of the International Criminal Court, according to the treaty, is to intrude on the sovereignty of nations only if those nations are not capable of administering justice.  The principle of “complementarity” is designed to allow courts in democratic nations, like Israel, to address their own problems within the rule of law.  Only if the judiciary totally fails to address these problems does the court have jurisdiction – even in cases involving parties to the treaty, which Israel is not.

The United States should reject the International Criminal Court decision not only because it sets a dangerous precedent that could be applied against the United States and other nations that operate under the rule of law.

Israel should challenge the decision but should cooperate in any investigation, because the truth is its best defense.  Whether an investigation conducted by the International Criminal Court can produce the truth is questionable, but the evidence – including real time video and audio – will make it more difficult for ICC investigators to distort reality.

All in all, the International Criminal Court decision on Palestine is a setback for a single standard of human rights.  It is a victory for terrorism and an unwillingness to negotiate peace.  And it is a strong argument against the United States and Israel joining this biased “court,” and giving it any legitimacy.



United Arab Emirates’ Mars-Bound Probe Set To Reach Destination

The al-Amal (Hope) probe launched by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Mars last year was to reach its destination this week.

According to AFP, should the probe successfully secure itself on a steady orbit around the Red Planet, the UAE will become the first Arab nation to have mounted a successful unmanned Mars mission.

Furthermore, it would be the world’s fifth nation to reach Mars once the probe completes its voyage.

In a late January tweet, UAE Prime Minister and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that while the probe’s odds of entering the orbit stood at 50%, the expertise achieved in its development was already “90% of our goals.”

The Emirati probe is just one of the three Mars missions nearing the Red Planet this month as the US and China launched their respective projects last July, making use of a window of opportunity opened by the relative positions of the Earth and Mars.

The probe will orbit the planet for at least one Martian year, or 687 days, while the Tianwen-1 from China and the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover from the US will both land on Mars’ surface.

The UAE mission had been timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE, with landmarks across the nation lit up in red at night.

The UAE government accounts on social media are promoting the #ArabstoMars Hashtag, and on the big day Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, will be at the center of a celebratory show.