News Digest — 2/6/20

Car-Ramming Attack In Jerusalem: 12 Soldiers Hurt, One Seriously

An IDF combat soldier was severely injured in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem early on Thursday morning (6th), the Israeli military said in a statement.

Another 11 soldiers were lightly hurt, according to the statement.

The terror attack took place near the First Station, a center located not far from the King David Hotel in the Israeli capital.

“During the incident, a terrorist sped his car toward IDF soldiers who marched adjacent to the First Station in Jerusalem as part of a military activity,” said the IDF, adding that security forces “are currently pursuing the terrorist who escaped the scene.”

The IDF said that the Golani soldiers were on a “Heritage Tour” on their way to a swearing-in at the Western Wall.

“We’re praying for the recovery of the injured soldiers being treated in the hospital today,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

“I am confident the forces pursuing the perpetrator will find him soon and bring him to justice.  We will not allow despicable terrorism to raise its head and we’ll fight it without compromise,” he added.

In an interview with Kan public radio on Thursday (6th), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri accused Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas of inciting terror.

“We have to prepare for the possibility of an escalation in acts of terror,” said Deri, who is a member of the Israeli Security Council.



Israel’s Defense Minister, Seeking Advanced Weaponry Meets With US Counterpart At Pentagon

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett held a working meeting with his US counterpart in Washington on Wednesday (5th).

According to Ynet, Bennett and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper “discussed at length the regional threats, most notably Iran’s aggression, with an emphasis on Iran’s attempts to militarily base itself on Syrian soil.”

Sources close to Bennett have said that the defense minister is looking to acquire advanced weaponry to assist Israel in removing Iranian forces in Syria.

This is the first time Bennett has made an official visit to the U.S. since assuming his official position last summer.  Until Bennett’s return to Israel, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is carrying out Bennett’s responsibilities related to Israel’s defense.

Israel’s defense minister has repeatedly made it clear that he will not tolerate Iranian forces “near our borders.”

While attending an IDF combat drill in the Golan Heights in Dec. 2019, the defense minister issued a warning to Iran if it continues to amass its forces in Syria.

“As long as Iran tries to establish itself on Syrian soil, it will sink in the sand dunes of Syria,” he said at the time.

Israel considers Iranian entrenchment along its border in Syria an unacceptable threat and has allegedly carried out hundreds of airstrikes to slow Iran’s buildup in the region and its supply of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria’s T-4 airbase has allegedly been attacked regularly by Israel over the past couple of years.  The airbase is believed to house Iranian forces, the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah, and Syrian regime forces.

In January the airbase was targeted causing material damage and the deaths of three fighters in Iranian-backed militias.  In an attack on the airbase last summer, fighter-jets destroyed an ammunition depot, several warehouses, and killed five soldiers, believed to be a part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.


The latest strikes by Israeli warplanes were carried out on Thursday (6th), near Damascus wounding eight soldiers, Syrian State Media said. An opposition war-monitoring group said the strikes targeted army positions as well as Iranian-backed militias, killing 12.  

Syrian media said that material damage was caused as well in the strikes. 



Khamenei Calls Palestinians To Jihad, Says Peace Plan Will Die Sooner Than Trump

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians to wage jihad against Israel and said the Trump peace plan will die even sooner than President Donald Trump.

He made his remarks Wednesday (5th) in a Tehran speech marking the 41st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

He also called on Palestinians to wage jihad against the United States.

Khamenei said “The Americans are taking comfort in the belief that choosing a big name for the plot against the Palestinian nation will help it to succeed, but the foolish and evil scheme has been working to their own detriment from the very beginning.” Iran’s Press TV reported.

He said the plan “will end in failure.”

“The Americans have made a deal with the Zionists over something that is not theirs to give away in the first place.  Palestine belongs to Palestinians, and making decisions concerning it is exclusive for them,” he said.

“Who are you to make decisions for other people’s lands and homes?  This indicates your evilness, cunning, and malevolent nature,” he added.

Khamenei then called for the implementation of Iran’s plan for the Palestinians – a referendum which would decide who would rule the Land of Israel.  The referendum would include Palestinians the world over. Jews would be allowed to vote, but not those who are “immigrants” – meaning nearly all Israelis. 

He posted the same message on Twitter Wednesday (5th).

“Conduct a poll of all Palestinians in the world, including Muslims, Christians and Jews – not immigrants who settled in the occupied lands – to choose a government.  Let that government decide what to do with immigrants and people like Netanyahu,” it read.



IDF Eliminates Fire Bomber Attacking Troops In Hebron

A Palestinian who had thrown firebombs at Israelis during violent riots in Hebron on Wednesday (5th) was eliminated by IDF troops at the scene.

This casualty represented the first death since tensions rose following the release of President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan, according to Palestinian officials.

The shooting came hours after Israel struck Hamas terror targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire toward Israeli communities overnight.

The Hebron fire bomber was identified by the Palestinian health ministry as Mohammed Haddad, who joined a group of Palestinians in Hebron throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli forces.

Dozens of Palestinians have taken part in violent riots in Hebron in recent days.

The Palestinians have roundly rejected Trump’s Mideast proposal, consistent with their two-years-and-running boycott of the White House.

Rioters have burned U.S. and Israeli flags as well as posters of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli military said a soldier was wounded by a firebomb at one protest.  The military has instructed forces to “try and contain” protests and not respond forcefully, unless there are “life-threatening” circumstances, as Palestinian casualties could set off further violence.



Shiite Cleric Seeks French Asylum After Death Threats Over Auschwitz Visit

A Lebanese Shiite cleric who participated in a delegation of Muslim leaders to Auschwitz ahead of the 75th anniversary of its liberation last month is seeking asylum in France due to death threats against him.

Sheikh Mohamad Ali El Husseini was one of about two dozen Muslim clerics who participated in the visit to Auschwitz, together with representatives from the Muslim World League, organized by the American Jewish Committee.

During the visit, El Husseini was the subject of death threats on social media, and criminal complaints were filed against him for “meeting with Israeli agents.”  He said this was done with the backing of Hezbollah for having violated Lebanese laws banning contact with Israeli officials.

No Israeli officials were on the AJC delegation.

El Husseini is an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and accuses it of advancing Iranian interests at the expense of the Lebanese state and people.

He has called for Muslim-Jewish reconciliation and posted messages in Hebrew on his Facebook page for the marginalization of religious texts endorsing violence.

After the three-day visit to Poland, El Husseini decided not to return to Lebanon, fearing for his life.

The AJC and Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich helped put El Husseini in contact with the French ambassador to Poland.  Following the end of the trip, El Husseini flew to France, where he is currently residing.

El Husseini is in the process of requesting asylum in France on the basis of the threats on his life.

The AJC’s Rabbi David Rosen said the organization would do everything it can to help him, including submitting a recommendation to the French authorities on his behalf.

“Mohamad Husseini is an example of courageous integrity, which is actually slowly but surely increasing in the Arab world despite the dangers, as witnessed by the Auschwitz visit,” he said.

“This story also highlights the fact that elements in the Muslim world continue to score their own goals by presenting Islam as hostile to respecting others and to acknowledging abhorrent tragedies, and they do not do the image of Islam or Arab communities any good.” Rosen said.