News Digest — 3/8/21

Iran’s Defense Minister Threatens To Destroy Haifa, Tel Aviv

Iranian Defense Minister Amit Hatami dedicated an entire speech to threats against Israel, warning provocation by Jerusalem would result in Tehran destroying Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Hatami made the remarks at a youth conference organized by the Iranian Defense Ministry Sunday (7th).

Speaking at the event, the defense minister said, “Thank God that at this time, Iran has all of the important aspects for exerting power and all options available to it to protect the Islamic Revolution.”

He said, “The Zionist regime understands the new situation better than anyone.  They stopped their new occupations and now they are holed up behind walls and bunkers.  The reason for this is the victory of the Islamic Revolution.”

Hatami said, “Despite this, and out of deep desperation the Zionist leaders occasionally say things they cannot back up and make threats out of a lack of choice.  The Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Revolution] gave them an answer a long time ago, and I repeat it today: If they make the mistake of challenging us, we will take out Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

He went on to say, “The issue is being studied and developed for a broad action-plan that will allow, when the time comes, for the opening of an operation at one simple command from the leader.  I suggest the Zionists don’t make the mistake that spurs us to action, not even through words.”

Hatami’s threats come as Iran is believed to be poised to enter negotiations with the US on its return to the nuclear deal and the removal of sanctions on Tehran.  The ayatollah regime is more confident of its military abilities than it was in the past, thanks to the achievements of its emissaries in Syria, Yemen and Iran, and its rhetoric has grown increasingly more aggressive in recent months.



Israel Reveals Iranian Target Map ‘We Are Ready To Fight’

Israel’s defense minister said his country is upgrading contingency plans to strike Iranian targets if Tehran shows signs of nuclear escalation, the latest sign of rising tensions between the two archenemies.

Benny Gantz told the American cable network Fox News that Israel is still working on its plans, but that “we have them in our hands of course.”

In the Fox interview, Gantz also showed a map of Lebanon that he said includes ground forces, missiles and launching sites set up by the militant Hezbollah group, a proxy for Iran.

“This is a target map.  Each one of them has been checked legally, operationally, intelligence-wise and we are ready to fight,” Gantz said.  

His comments came as President Joe Biden considered re-joining a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear program, with some changes to toughen curbs on Tehran’s activities. 

Israel has vehemently opposed the nuclear deal, in addition to producing evidence that Iran seeks nuclear weapons.

In the interview with Fox News on Thursday (4th) Gantz was asked about the ongoing uranium enrichment and whether Israel was completing preparations to strike Iranian targets if needed. 

“We have them (plans) in our hands of course but we will continue constantly improving them,” Gantz said.  “The Iranian nuclear escalation must be stalled.  If the world stops them before, that would be good.  But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves.”

Iran denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons, and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.



Saudis Come Out Against Temple Mount

Last week Saudi Twitter pages began to promote the message that “the direction of Jewish prayers do not matter to us.”

The campaign designed to emphasize the importance of  Mecca and Medina as the holy places of Islam, and to eliminate the importance of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, has caused considerable controversy online.

Among the most prominent messages in the campaign were those who wrote that “the direction of the prayers of the Jews is not important to us, what is important to us is only our homeland,” referring to Saudi Arabia.  This tweet was written by a well-known Saudi cartoonist named Fahd al-Jabiri.

Another English-language tweet by Ibtassam from Morocco sought to bolster the Saudi campaign, as it emphasized that the Temple Mount is of no particular importance to Muslims and hoped for the building of the Third Temple and the arrival of peace with it – for all people.

According to the Saudis, the campaign is in response to the Palestinians who insult and humiliate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its cooperation with Israel, both online and in many demonstrations on the Temple Mount on Fridays.  The reaction of the Saudis is to emphasize that al-Aqsa is a mosque like all mosques, but the direction of prayer of the Muslims is to the city of Mecca and to it only.

Tom Nissani CEO of the Temple Mount and Temple Heritage Foundation, noted, “In the end, it is becoming increasingly clear that the main obstacle – the Temple Mount – is in our hands.  Now the Saudis and Moroccans also emphasize the strong connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount and the diminution of its importance to Islam.  This is a historic opportunity to expel the hostile Waqf from the Temple Mount and transfer it to full freedom of Israeli management that will allow full freedom of access and religion to the mountain in cooperation with the Emirates, Saudis, Moroccans, Jews and non-Jews who will attain shared goals.



Turkish Curriculum Takes Anti-Semitic Turn Under Erdogan

Not only did the political cooperation between Turkey and Israel deteriorate ever since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took office almost 16 years ago, but the Turkish school curriculum has been radicalized to reflect the country’s anti-Israel stance, a new report published by IMPACT-Se, an international research and policy institute that monitors culture tolerance in schools, revealed.

In his report The Erdogan Revolution in the Turkish Curriculum Textbooks, Israeli researcher Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak explained that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to take center stage in the Turkish education system, which presents Israel as the only obstacle to peace, completely ignoring the Palestinian terrorist activity.

The curriculum further tries to delegitimize Zionism, attributing to it every recent Middle Eastern conflict.  Students in Turkey are taught that Israeli’s founding in 1948 and the subsequent victory in its War of Independence would never have been possible were it not for American and European support.  It further calls the Gaza Strip “the biggest open-air prison.”

On a more positive note, the Turkish curriculum mentions the Holocaust, including Auschwitz and Kristallnacht, but briefly.

“The Turkish curriculum is a cause for concern because in 20-30 years, these students will be the decision-makers, and they will have no positive information about Israel, only negative,” Cohen Yanarocak told Israel Hayom.



3 Palestinian Fishermen Killed In Blast Off Gaza Coast

Three Palestinian fishermen were killed Sunday (7th) after a blast ripped through their boat off the Gaza shore, union officials said.

Nezar Ayyash of the fishermen syndicate, said the anglers – two brothers and a cousin – were plying their trade off the coast of the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip when the explosion happened.

While the cause of the blast was not immediately clear, Palestinian media reports initially blamed the deadly incident on Israeli naval fire.

According to a statement by the IDF though, the Israeli military was not involved in the incident, as the navy’s nearest vessels were located tens of miles away from the location of the explosion.

Minutes before the explosion, local media reported that Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, was test-firing rockets towards the sea.

The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza said it opened an investigation into the incident.

It seems that the three were sailing near a beach in the central south of the Strip, where Hamas often practices.

About two weeks ago an IDF naval force fired and sank a vessel off the coast of the Gaza Strip, which was later identified as belonging to Hamas.  No casualties were reported.

Hamas has been trying to instigate various terrorist attacks on Israeli territory via the sea in recent years, which caused the military to increase its enforcement around the coastal area of the Palestinian enclave.