News Digest — 2/14/20

Report: Israel Strikes Iranian Targets Near Damascus

The IAF launched airstrikes Thursday (13th) in the Damascus area, according to the Syrian news agency SANA.  Syrian air defenses downed several missiles coming across Israel’s Golan Heights before they hit their targets in the capital Damascus on Thursday evening (13th).  The attacks appeared to have targeted a shipment of weapons that was flown into Syria from Tehran on Wednesday (12th).

Israel has continued to strike targets in Syria, as well as Iraq, as part of a campaign to weaken Iran and to remove its forces from the region.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Army Radio on Wednesday (12th) that Israel would not allow Iran to gain a foothold along the northern border, pointing out that Israel has conducted “countless” attacks to prevent this.

Last week SANA reported that Israel had attacked military targets in western Damascus.  According to the Syrian Human Rights Organization, missiles have been launched at bases and positions of the Syrian army and pro-Iranian militias.  It was also reported that 23 people were killed in the attack last week, including pro-Iranian militiamen.

Earlier on Thursday (13th), the Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatened to target both Israel and the United States if  the airstrikes in Syria continue.

Meanwhile Friday (14th) when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked about the airstrikes in Damascus, Thursday night, (13th) he said, “I don’t know what happened last night.  Maybe it was the Belgian Air Force.”  

Seven people were killed, four Iranians and three Syrians, in Thursday’s strike, according to Ynet. 



Balloon-Borne Bomb Explodes Over Gaza-Area School, Sending Kids To Shelters

A number of balloon-borne incendiary devices exploded Thursday (13th) over Israeli communities near the Gaza border, including one that detonated above a school.

Students in the elementary school in the southern city of Sderot were rushed to bomb shelters, according to local media.

No one was physically hurt but several people suffered from anxiety.  A second explosive device was found outside another school in Sderot.

Also Thursday (13th), an air-borne explosive detonated over communities in the Sdot Negev region, which borders the Gaza Strip.  There were no reports of injuries or damages.

The balloon launches came despite a report earlier in the week that Gaza balloon-launching cells would cease fire.

The past several weeks have seen a marked uptick in the flying of balloon-borne explosives from Gaza into Israel, as well as rocket launches from the Strip.

Israel had sent a message last week through Egypt, to Hamas, that Israel would deliver a major blow to them with the help of Americans and international cover, “if there is not a return to calm.”  



Pompeo: UN Blacklist Shows Its Unrelenting Anti-Israeli Bias

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, slammed the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet on Thursday (13th) for releasing the database of companies operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  Pompeo said in a statement that he is “outraged” by the decision.  

“The United States has long opposed the creation or release of this database, which was mandated by the discredited UN Human Rights Council in 2016,” he added.  “Its publication only confirms the unrelenting anti-Israel bias so prevalent at the United Nations.”

He said the US has not provided “and will never provide any information to the Office of the High Commissioner to support compilation of these lists and expresses support for US companies referenced.”

He also called other UN members to join the US “in rejecting this effort, which facilitates the discriminatory boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) campaign which delegitimizes Israel.”

“Attempts to isolate Israel run counter to all of our efforts to build conditions conducive to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead to a comprehensive and enduring peace,” Secretary Pompeo concluded.

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman tweeted that the decision to release the database is “yet another stain on the already blemished  record of the United Nations’ reflexive bias against Israel.”



Jews Are Still “Treacherous,” According To Saudi Textbooks

In Saudi curriculum, Jews are blamed as assassins, described as monkeys, and will be fought and killed on the day of resurrection, according to a new report by IMPACT-se, a research institute that analyzes schoolbooks and curricula in accordance with UNESCO-defined standards on peace and tolerance.  Christians and Jews are still called “infidels” in textbooks, which also teach that Jews and Israelis are eternally treacherous and determined to harm Muslim holy places.  Israel is seen as conspiring and striving to control the Middle East.

“Improvements have appeared in recent years, and while they are welcomed, there remains too large an amount of unacceptable and intolerant material” in Saudi textbooks, said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff.  “Anti-Jewish hatred is still widespread…. One is left wondering why, if considerable change can be made to gender issues, a similar effort could not be made to remove anti-Jewish hate,”



Israel Turned Down Opportunity To Assassinate Khomeini

Former Mossad station chief in Iran Eliezer Tsafrir remembers better times, when Israelis were still welcomed in Iran and when Tehran “didn’t threaten to wipe Israel off the map.”  Iran was the second Muslim-majority country after Turkey to recognize the new Jewish state in 1948 and it sold oil to Israel. “For Israel, Iran was the second most important ally in the world.  In the last year of the shah, we had some 1,300 Israelis working in Iran. These were businessmen, agronomists, and engineers,” said Tsafrir. 

“We knew that the days of the shah were numbered but we didn’t know when it would all end,” he recalled.  During one of the protests that erupted in November 1978, thousands of demonstrators stormed the offices of El Al, Israel’s national carrier, in Tehran.  “They set them on fire so people had to escape the offices through the roof, jumping from one roof to another, so as not to fall into the hands of the angry mob.”  In response, Israel sent three planes aimed at getting all its citizens out.

“In December, I was approached by a top official who conveyed to me a personal request from the shah.  He wanted to know if the Mossad would be willing to assassinate Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris. I immediately informed Jerusalem of the request but received a reluctant ‘no.’  ‘Israel is not the policeman of the world,’ I was told.”

“Had we eliminated him back then, the entire world would have been against us and the international community would have never understood the magnitude of the disaster we could have saved them from.  They do understand it now.” 



Keeping Businesses Safe: State Of New Jersey To Host High-Level Security Summit In Lakewood

Following the rise of violent anti-Semitic incidents throughout the region, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the Jewish Orthodox Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a special summit in Lakewood focused on the security needs of the local community and its businesses.

The summit will take place on Tuesday, February 18, and will be attended by a cross-section of the Lakewood area government, business and community leaders.

The highest ranking leaders of NJ Homeland Security will be present at the event: Director Jared Maples, Deputy Director Andrew Campi and Chief of Staff Patrick Rigby.  They will be joined by Michael Geraghty, Director of the New Jersey Cybersecurity Communication Integration Cell. Topics to be covered will include, general security advice for businesses; cybersecurity and ransomware; active shooter training and government security grants.

Prior to the presentations, a networking system will take place for security-related vendors to showcase their services to business and nonprofit leaders, as well as government officials.

Duvi Honig, Founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, said that this event is the result of extensive collaboration between the government and Chamber.  

“The Governor takes the security of our community and businesses very seriously and is committed to dedicate the State’s most powerful officials and resources to achieve that,” Honig said.