News Digest — 3/6/19

Two Soldiers Wounded In Car-Ramming, 2 Terrorists Killed

An Israeli Defense Forces officer was critically wounded in a ramming attack near Jerusalem early Monday morning (4th), which also left a Border Police officer lightly wounded.  A Molotov cocktail was also thrown at the troops.

Two of the Palestinian attackers were killed by nearby soldiers, and a third was wounded.

The soldiers that were targeted in the attack had stopped their vehicle by the side of the road because it had broken down.  They had been deployed to the area in an operation to seize wanted Palestinian terrorists.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “IDF soldiers acted swiftly and killed the terrorists who threatened to run over all of them.  We send blessings for a speedy recovery to those injured.”

Hamas praised the attack several hours later.

“The martyrs’ actions west of Ramallah is a message of the young revolutionaries in the West Bank against the occupation, aimed at liberating the holy sites and preventing the Judaization of Jerusalem,” the terrorist group said.   

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the two men were shot in cold blood in a “brutal execution.”



IDF Helicopters Pound Hamas Positions In Response To Explosive Balloon

IDF attack helicopters hit two positions of the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday (4th) in response to an explosive device that was carried into Israel by balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave, the army said.

It was the fourth retaliatory air strike against the terror group in the past three days.

It came after a bunch of balloons carrying explosives came down between two buildings in the Eshkol Regional Council, the council said in a statement.  The bomb exploded but caused neither injury or damage.

On Sunday night (3rd) an Israeli military drone bombed a Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip in response to a violent riot by a “Palestinian Confusion Unit” along the border nearby, according to Palestinian media.

Members of the so-called “Unit” held violent demonstrations along the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip, burning tires and setting off many explosive devices near the border.



IDF Shells Quneitra District In Syria

Israeli forces fired a single shell at the Syrian village of Khader just across the Golan Heights border late Sunday night (3rd), Syrian state media reported.

According to State-run SANA news agency, the shell did not cause any injuries or damage.  It was not immediately clear what the target was and the IDF had no comment.

Last month Syrian state media reported that Israel had shelled targets in the nearby deserted city of Quneitra.

While Israel did not comment on the strike at the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the incident the next day, saying, “We are working all the time to block Iran.  We operate everyday, including yesterday against Iran and its efforts to entrench itself in the region.”

Khader lies just across the demilitarized zone between the two countries on the Golan Heights and is in Syria’s Quneitra province.

Israeli military reporters were told that the strike on Quneitra targeted Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen trying to set up a base of operations near the Israeli border.  The tank shelling was also meant to serve as a warning to Syria and Iranian proxies that Israel would not tolerate Tehran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in the Syrian Golan.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria to thwart attempts to smuggle weapons to the Hezbollah terror group and keep Iranian-backed forces from entrenching themselves near the border.



In Rare Visit to Iraq, Abbas Offers Palestinian ‘Expertise’ To Help Rebuild

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday (3rd) that he had offered Palestinian “expertise and companies” to help with Iraq’s postwar reconstruction, the official PA news Wafa said.

Abbas, who is making his first visit to Iraq in several years, said at a press conference in Baghdad that he made the offer to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, the Wafa report said.  He met with Abdul Mahdi on Sunday (3rd).

The PA Leader said Palestinians were “ready to contribute to rebuilding Iraq,” which has suffered major material losses in armed conflicts over the past 17 years.  

It is not clear how much resources Ramallah, which is heavily cash-strapped, could provide to help rebuild Iraq.  The Palestinians are themselves very reliant on international assistance.

Meanwhile, on Sunday afternoon (3rd) in Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that the government is determined to pay the full salaries of the Palestinian political prisoners (terrorists) in Israeli custody and the families of those (terrorists) killed by Israeli forces.

Hamdallah said that the government would only be able to pay a portion of the monthly salaries of its civil servants for the month of February, in light of the financial crisis affecting the Palestinian Authority as a result of Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues.

In February, Israel’s security cabinet approved the deduction of $138 million from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA under the Oslo agreement.

The deduction is deemed to be relative to the said amount that the PA allocates for stipends paid to Palestinian prisoners (terrorists) in Israeli prisons, as well as the families of dead Palestinian terrorists.



Israel Ranks As 8th Most Powerful Country – US News Report

Israel was ranked the 8th most powerful country in the world, according to the US News and World Report’s power-ranking in 2019.

The power-ranking was based on leadership, economic influence, political influence, international alliance and a strong military.  This ranking was part of a sub-category ranking for the US News’s annual Best Country ranking. Israel received a high ranking because of its strong military, along with its strong political influence and international alliances.

The top nine most powerful countries, according to the report, have not changed since 2018.  The United States of America snagged the No.1 spot because it has the largest economy and biggest military budget in the world, spending more than $610 billion on military hardware and personnel in 2017, according to the report.  In 2017, the US also spent slightly more than $35 billion in economic aid and nearly $15 billion in military aid.

Other powerfully-ranked  countries included Russia, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

Israel was also rated No. 13 in the “Mover” category.  These are countries that the World Bank predicts will have the fastest growing economies over the next couple of years.  Mostly Middle Eastern and Asian countries dominate this ranking, with the United Arab Emirates in first place and Singapore as No. 2.

The country that was ranked as best country in the world according to the report was Switzerland, which has held its title since 2017.  The ranking was based on the categories of adventure, citizenship, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, heritage, movers, open for business, power and quality of life.

Some 80 countries were ranked in total, while there are 193 United Nations member states.