News Digest — 2/23/22

Alleged Israeli Strike Targets Sites Near Border With Syria

Syrian state media reported early Wednesday morning (23rd) that Israel had fired a number of surface-to-surface missiles from the Golan Heights toward a military post and other sites in Quneitra, near the border, causing material damage.

Independent reports indicated that the targets of the strikes were near Madinat al-Baath and Rwihinah, both located near the border with Israel.

The strikes are the second alleged Israeli attacks in a week.  On Thursday (17th) a number of sites were targeted by surface-to-surface missiles near Zakyah, south of Damascus.  According to the Syrian capital Voice site, Iranian militias control sites and warehouses there.

Two weeks ago, an anti-aircraft missile fired from Syria set off rocket sirens in and near Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, as Syrian state media reported an alleged airstrike near Damascus.  According to Syrian state news agency SANA, there were casualties in the strike.

One of the sites targeted was the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamraya, according to the Damascus Voice.  A report stated that there was a large explosion seen at the site.



Israel Accuses Iran Of Providing Venezuela With Munitions For Drones

Israel accused Iran of planning to arm Venezuelan drones with precision-guided munitions on Tuesday (22nd).

These munitions appear to be aimed at raising American alarm, as world powers try to conclude a new nuclear deal with Iran.

Venezuela said in 2012 that Iran was helping it build drones for self-defense.  The two countries, both OPEC members and long at loggerheads with Washington, also cooperate on oil exports.

While briefing US Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Defense Minister Benny Gantz showed photographs of what he described as an Iranian Mohajer UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) in Venezuela.

“Our assessments show that Iranian PGMs (precision-guided munitions) are being delivered for these UAVs and other similar models,” Gantz said.

“I can tell you that in my meetings with partners from around the world, including Africa and Latin America, I heard extreme concern about Iranian support for terrorism.”

Iran denies supplying military drones to any of its allies and has denied seeking nuclear arms or supporting terrorism.  Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment on Gantz’s remarks.

Israel supported the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and, with Washington now taking part in negotiations to revive the pact, has urged caution.

“A nuclear deal, if signed with Iran, does not mark the end of the road,” Gantz told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations.  “We need to have offensive capabilities and a set of sanctions  ready in our back pockets in case Iran violates a future agreement.”



PA Expelling Bedouin Families To Build Vacation Village Near Jericho

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas has consistently taken the side of the Bedouin residents of Khan al-Ahmar, an illegal community of approximately 130 families, located near Ma’ale Adumin.

The PA leader has accused Israel of expelling the Bedouin from their lands.  In 2018, for example, he called for “popular resistance” against Israel.

“Everyone, officials and the public, should be going to Khan al-Ahmar.  Our goal now must be to stay there and not allow the Israelis to set up their projects, because we know that they will tear apart the West Bank if they take over the area,” Abbas stated.

“This is a critical issue that we must keep in mind,” he said, stressing the need to block the expansion of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria according to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency.

However, despite PA’s claims that Israel is expelling the Bedouins in Khan al-Ahmar, it appears that it is the PA that is throwing these tribes out of their homes.

Indeed, the PA has expelled the Bedouin tribes from the Jericho area in favor of establishing an upscale vacation village, Tazpit Press Service (TPS) reported Tuesday evening (22nd).

In October, Abbas inaugurated the development of the sophisticated “Moon City” project in the Jericho area.

Dr. Muhammad Mustafa, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Palestine Investment Fund, which launched the project, said the area will be transformed into an “investment attraction,” with sophisticated infrastructure, tourist and recreational facilities and an investment of $500 million, WAFA reported at the time.

According to the current TPS report, the Bedouin in the area are now grumbling about having been used as political pawns by the PA.

Now that Israel has refrained from evacuating Khan al-Ahmar, “the PA changed its attitude towards the Bedouin families and has expelled them from Jericho to make way for the establishment of Moon City, which is being built with huge sums, and will be the largest tourism venture in the region,” TPS reported.

But Moon City is not merely a “tourism venture,” the article explains.

“The construction of the city will strengthen the Palestinian residents in the Jordan Valley area,” said Muhammad Mustafa, head of the Palestinian Investment Fund that finances the project, as quoted by TPS.

“The development of the Jordan Valley is one of our main goals, as it is a disputed Palestinian area and we are working to increase the Palestinian population in the area and protect it from Israeli occupation and prevent the expansion of Israeli settlements,” Mustafa said.



Lebanese Army Probe:  Who’s Painting The Star Of David On Main Roads?

The Lebanese Army’s intelligence chief has launched an investigation following the appearance of Star of David symbols spray-painted on the main roads near the city of Zahle and is trying to locate the vandals.

Zahle is the capital and the largest city of Beqaa Governorate.  With around 150,000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in Lebanon.

The appearance of the Jewish symbols is reportedly driving the army crazy.  After sending a unit to erase the symbols on the asphalt, unknown individuals re-painted them, in a cat-and-mouse game that has been going on for three days.

The bizarre affair is causing a stir on social media in Lebanon with a long line of guesses, and it is estimated that the appearance of the paintings on the roads is meant to mock Hezbollah.

The appearance of the Star of David paintings in Lebanon comes a few days after Hezbollah published a video about its Alpinist unit’s training, with members seen firing at targets bearing the Star of David emblem.  Hezbollah’s elite unit, Radwan, which according to various sources is supposed to occupy parts of the Galilee in an upcoming war in the north, is also training on targets bearing the Star of David.

In 2019, social networks in Lebanon were in turmoil when an Israeli-looking statue was photographed in a central square in the capital, but it turned out that it was a cubic statue that when viewed from a certain angle, created the illusion that it was a Star of David.



FBI, Police Investigate Anti-Semitic Fliers Found In Colleyville

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the police department in Colleyville, Texas, are investigating anti-Semitic fliers found on Saturday morning (19th) just weeks after an armed assailant held a rabbi and three congregants hostage at a local synagogue.

“We are aware of anti-Semitic and white-separatist materials distributed in clear sandwich bags to driveways around the city overnight.  We have been in contact with the FBI who are investigating this as a hate crime,” the Colleyville police said in a statement on Sunday (20th).

On January 15, a man entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and as services began, pulled out a gun and held the synagogue’s leader, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and several congregants hostage for nearly 11 hours.

In a Twitter post, officials noted that the fliers do not appear to be targeting Colleyville.  Fliers have shown up in San Francisco, Miami and Denver” which were linked to a news story highlighting other recent anti-Semitic leafletting.

Over the past few months, individuals have left anti-Semitic fliers on homes in California, Florida, Colorado and Texas.  Some have been distributed by supporters of the Goyim Defense League, a virulently anti-Semitic group, which tie Jewish individuals to the coronavirus pandemic.

A different set of written materials were discovered last week in Fort Myers, Florida which were both anti-Semitic and contained slurs against Blacks.

The fliers said, “Anti-Semitism is a human right.”

“What they say is just awful, and to me, it reminds me of what happened in Nazi Germany,” Carolyn Gora, a member of the local Jewish community who found the fliers, told WINK news.  “To say something like ‘anti-Semitism is a human right?’  That’s disgusting.”