News Digest — 3/28/19

Israel Slams Iranian Targets In Syria, 7 Reported Killed

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday night (27th) carried out a massive strike against Iranian military targets inside Syria, Arab media sources reported.

Syria’s state SANA reported that the Syrian air defense “confronted an Israeli air aggression” and downed a number of hostile missiles” which targeted “some sites in the industrial area” in the northeastern Aleppo region.

The report claimed that the damage caused by the attack was “restricted to materials only.”

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which has assets inside Syria, reported that explosions “rocked” the area of Aleppo International Airport as the IAF targeted “ammunition warehouses affiliated with the Iranian forces.”

SOHR reported at least seven people were killed in the strike.

Iran’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel.  The IAF has carried out hundreds of attacks to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

Iran uses its positions in Syria to transfer weapons and infrastructure to its terror proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, while attempting to establish another military front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.



‘You Lost,’ Sderot Mayor Tells Hamas Leader In Arabic Open Letter

After years of air raid sirens, rockets and mortar fire, the mayor of a southern Israel city hit back at one of Hamas’ leaders in the Gaza Strip, writing an open letter in Arabic in which he highlights the difference between his own thriving community and the desolation of the coastal enclave run by the terror group for more than a decade.

In his open letter to Ismail Haniyeh published on Facebook, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi included two photos – one showing Sderot’s newly built neighborhoods, while the second shows Haniyeh’s destroyed office, bombed by the IDF Monday (25th) during the current clashes between Israel and Hamas.  “You lost,” Davidi told Haniyeh in the accompanying missive.

“Good morning, ya Haniyeh,” says Davidi, in a somewhat mocking tone.  “I wanted to send you an email or a fax, but it seems your office no longer exists.”

“Usually, I address the residents of Sderot.  Now it’s time to address the other side,” he says.

“Ismail Haniyeh – can you not see that you’re losing?  You take all the money you get from the Arab world and instead of using it for food, a functioning economy and a future for Gaza’s residents, you waste it on your imaginary attempts to beat us.”

“It’s true Haniyeh, things aren’t simple here.  Sometimes it’s rough and I’ll go as far as to say we’re suffering.  But look at the results of your behavior. How does Gaza look in comparison to Sderot?”

“You’ve been launching rockets at us for 18 years,” says the mayor.  “But it seems you don’t know what goes on in this city – it’s booming!  Hundreds of new residents join us every year, new homes are being built.  We’re growing and growing stronger.”

“And what did you get out of it??  There’s nothing but destruction on your side,” he continues, referring to IDF strikes that left parts of Gaza in ruins.

“Haniyeh, between you and me – when your family needs medical care you send them to Israel.  But your residents have nowhere to go when they need help.”

“It’s true, life is difficult for us in this reality, operated by a cruel and evil enemy as yourself, who will go to any measure to launch rockets at Israeli civilians instead of fighting the IDF, who you fear.”

“You think you’ve won, but reality proves that you’ve lost again and lost big time.  You thought you’d make Sderot into a ghost town – but we’re powerful.”

“You lost, your residents are losing and will lose more in time to come.  It’s time to change course,” Davidi said at the end of the letter.



Hero Pilot From Hijacked Entebbe Flight Dies At 95

Michel Bacos, the pilot of the Air France flight from Tel Aviv which was hijacked in 1976 and landed in Entebbe, has died at age 95.

Christian Estrosi, the Mayor of Nice, where Bacos lived, announced the news on social media Tuesday (26th).

“He refused to abandon his passengers, who were taken hostage because they were Israeli or of Jewish origin, risking his own life,” Estrosi wrote.  “Michel bravely refused to surrender to anti-Semitism and barbarism and brought honor to France.”

On June 27, 1976, Bacos was the captain of Air France Flight 139, from Tel Aviv to Paris, with a stop in Athens.  After the plane departed Greece, four hijackers took control of the cockpit and forced Bacos at gunpoint to head for Benghazi, Libya, and then Entebbe, Uganda.

Several days later, the terrorists split up the hostages between those who were Israeli or Jewish and those who were not.  Bacos demanded the hijackers give him access to both groups.

A few days later the hijackers were planning to let Bacos, the rest of the crew and all non-Jewish hostages go, but Bacos refused.

“I gathered my crew and told them there was no way we were going to leave – we were staying with the passengers to the end,” he said.  The crew agreed.

After the successful rescue by the IDF, Bacos was repeatedly honored for his heroic actions.  That year he was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration.  In 2008 he was honored by B’nai B’rith International, and in 2016 by the American Jewish Committee.  

Bacos visited Israel several times after the incident, attending memorial services for Lt. Col. Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed in the operation.

When Danny Danon, the Israeli Consul-General to New York heard of his death, he wrote, “Mishel Bacos refused to leave the Jewish passengers behind and stayed with them until they were rescued by the IDF.  He passed away in France at the age of 95. We salute you Captain.”



Syria Seeks Urgent Security Council Meeting On US Declaration On Golan

Syria asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday (26th) to hold an urgent meeting on the US decision to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday (25th) in which the United States recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the strategic plateau, despite UN resolutions that call for Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan.  Israel captured the strategic territory from Syria in the 1967 Six-day War, along with the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. The annexation was never recognized internationally.

In a letter seen by AFP, the Syrian mission to the United Nations asked the council presidency, held by France, to schedule an urgent meeting to discuss the situation in the occupied Syrian Golan and the recent flagrant violation of the relevant Security Council’s resolution by a permanent member-state.

The French presidency did not immediately schedule the meeting and diplomats said there would be a discussion at the council about the request.

Last Friday (22nd), Syria wrote a separate letter urging the council to uphold resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from the Golan.



New Zealand Mosque Chairman Accuses Israeli Mossad Of Orchestrating Christchurch Shootings

The chairman of a New Zealand mosque was caught on video telling a rally in the city of Auckland that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and “Zionist business” were behind the recent shooting attack on two mosques in Christchurch.

Fifty people were killed and dozens more wounded in the attacks on March 15.  Australian citizen, Brenton Tarrant, a white supremacist, was arrested and charged with the crime.

According to New Zealand news outlet Newshub, the Saturday rally was intended to memorialize the victims of the attacks, but at one point Ahmed Bhamji, chairman of the Mt. Roskill Masjid E Umar mosque, stated, “I really want to say one thing today.  Do you think this guy was alone? … I want to ask you, where did he get the funding from? I stand here and I say I have a very, very strong suspicion that there’s some group behind him and I am not afraid to say I feel that Mossad is behind this,” he added.

A bystander then responded, “It’s the truth.  Israel is behind this. That’s right.”

After the video of the speech was posted on Twitter, the New Zealand Jewish community quickly responded.

“These conspiracy theories are dangerous lies.  They put the Jewish community at risk at a time of heightened security concerns,” said New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses.  “Conspiracy theories – particularly the idea that Jews (whether through the Jewish state or otherwise) are a malevolent controlling force in the world – are at the very core of anti-Semitism.”

“We must call-out hateful dehumanizing language, whatever the source, target, or circumstances, and even when it is not politically expedient to do so,” she admonished.

Bhamji was contacted by Newshub and proved unapologetic about his remarks.  “Mossad is up to all these things,” he stated.  “When I talk about Mossad, why should the Jews be upset about it?  Give me an answer.”