News Digest — 4/15/24

Israel Debates Response To Iranian Assault

Israel’s airspace reopened on Sunday morning (14th) following an unprecedented direct attack by Iran during the overnight hours that saw over 300 drones, and missiles fired at the Jewish state.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held an operational situation assessment on Sunday morning (14th) with other senior security officials.

He praised the coordinated defensive efforts in the attack, which stopped the vast majority of missiles and drones, but warned the public to remain vigilant as the campaign continues.

“Overnight, the whole world saw the face of Iran – a terrorist state that attacked the state of Israel from a distance of 932 miles, and in doing so, also attempted to employ all of its proxies,” said Gallant.

“On the other hand, the world also saw the power of a coalition, and how Israel together with the United States and additional partners, stood together and thwarted the attack in a way that is unparalleled,” he added.

“The State of Israel was attacked with “hundreds” of missiles and drones, which the Israel Defense Forces stopped “in an impressive manner,” he said.

“Together with the United States and additional partners, we managed to defend our state  with very little damage caused.”

The campaign is not over yet – we must remain alert and attentive to the instructions published by the IDF and Home Front Command.  We must be prepared for every scenario.  Having said this, we have thwarted the most significant wave of the attack, and we did so successfully,” he continued.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Sunday (14th) that Israel is “preparing plans for the continuation, discussing alternatives and will do everything necessary to protect the citizens of the State of Israel.  The IDF was fully qualified last night and is today for the continuation of the missions ahead.”

Haragi said that Israel intercepted 99% of the threats, calling it a “significant strategic achievement” and noted that none of the 170 drones that Iran launched penetrated Israeli territory.

They were shot down by fighter jets, the air defense array and defense systems of allied countries.

Additionally, Hagari noted that some missiles penetrated the Nevatim Air Base in the Negev Desert, causing minor damage.  The base continues to function.

Earlier, Gallant spoke with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin about the Iranian attack, thanking him for standing with Israel emphasizing that the defense establishment was prepared for any further attacks on the Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with US President Joe Biden following deliberations by the security war cabinets overnight Saturday .

Biden reportedly told Netanyahu that Israel should see its defense against Iran’s attack as a “win” but that Washington wouldn’t participate in any attack on Iran.

Meanwhile the Israeli President Isaac Herzog wrote on Twitter, “Bless you dear soldiers and commanders of the IDF and IAF.  Bless the coalition of nations led by the US.  Bless my sisters and brothers, the people of Israel, for their exceptional show of resilience.  Together, the forces of good will overcome the forces of evil.  Am Yisrael Chai! (The people of Israel live!).”

While Israeli airspace reopened on Sunday morning (14th), Air France and KLM announced they are canceling flights to and from Tel Aviv.

The Iranian attack threw flight schedules into disarray, stranding passengers across the world.

Jordan also opened its airspace on Sunday morning (14th) after Amman assisted in thwarting the Iranian attack by shooting down drones and missiles over its territory.  The United Kingdom and France also helped in the US coalition.

Meanwhile foreign governments continued to express condemnation of the Iranian assault, with Tokyo stating, “Japan is very concerned about this attack, which will further exacerbate the current situation in the Middle East, and strongly condemns this escalation.”



Col. Richard Kemp: Iranian Attack Wasn’t Symbolic, Was Meant To Cause Destruction

Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander  of the British military forces  in Afghanistan spoke to Israel National News on Sunday (14th) about the Iranian assault on Israel in which the Jewish state was attacked with hundreds of UAVs and missiles.

Saturday night’s attack included 170 UAVs, 20 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles.  According to Col. Kemp these weapons are deadlier than the majority of rockets that have been fired from Lebanon and Gaza by the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations.

“I witnessed many of the air defense intercepts over Jerusalem last night.  The explosions they caused were far greater than any rockets I have seen intercepted from Gaza or Lebanon.  There is no doubt that every projectile that hit its target would have caused immense destruction and potentially significant loss of human life,” he noted.

This attack was noteworthy because it was the first time Iran has launched a direct attack on Israel in the 45 years since the Islamic Revolution.  According to Col. Kemp, the Iranian government decided on a direct attack rather than the use of one or more of its proxies as in the past, because it “decided it needed to hit back directly against Israel following the April 1 airstrike on what it claims to be sovereign Iranian territory in Damascus.”

He added that Iran “was encouraged to do so by widespread global condemnation of this strike including  by the UN Secretary-General.  Many suggested Israel’s action was illegal, a war crime.  This is the opposite of the truth.  Israel justifiably and legitimately targeted IRGC commanders who were responsible for directing and coordinating attacks against Israeli territory including from Lebanon and Syria.  It was a lawful act of self defense.”

“Iran was also encouraged by the increasing isolation and severe criticism of Israel over the Gaza war by the international community including the US.  Because of this Tehran believed its aggression against Israel would not meet global hostility and Israel would not be backed up by its international allies.”

He warned that “constant US appeasement of Iran since the start of Biden’s presidency has also emboldened Iran which understood that the US Administration would seek to restrain Israel from serious counter-action, which has turned out to be accurate.”

“The IDF has stated that 99% of all projectiles launched by Iran overnight Saturday were shot down, not only by Israel,” Col. Kemp noted, “but the US, UK and France as well as some Arab countries played a major role in bolstering Israel’s air defenses in the face of such a massive bombardment.  Not only did some allies down Iranian missiles but they also assisted by deploying sensors to help track the threat array.”

Col. Kemp stated that Iran was counting on more of its drones and missiles getting through Israel’s defenses and striking their targets.  “They were probably calculating on the penetration rates the Russians have achieved in Ukraine, which have been far higher.   Had even 10% of projectiles gotten to their targets there could have been severe devastation in Israel which is what Iran wanted in its ‘severe punishment.’  Do not make the mistake of thinking this was a symbolic attack designed to fail and send a message as some have suggested,” he cautioned.  “That could have been done with far fewer projectiles with less embarrassment to Iran if it failed, which this one very clearly did.”

When asked what Israel’s response to the Iranian attack should be, Col. Kemp responded, “It’s up to the Israeli war cabinet how it responds, with full knowledge of all the facts and hazards involved.  We can be sure that Israel planned its response options in detail well in advance of this attack.  However, in my view, the response against Iran should be devastating and disproportionate, not a like-for-like retaliation which can only encourage further rounds of tit-for-tat strikes and likely escalation.  This is the opportunity for Israel to decisively deter Iran from any further such violence.  That can only be achieved by heavy attacks against multiple high-value targets.  Nor should we forget that Iran is on the cusp of gaining nuclear capability and this demonstration of direct aggression by Tehran should redouble in our minds the vital need to ensure that a future Iranian strike does not include nuclear warheads.  In other words, this is an opportunity for Israel to destroy or at least significantly set back Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Israel’s allies especially the US, UK and France, who all joined the IDF’s air defense efforts on Saturday night (13th), should give whatever military support Israel needs to strike back at this dangerous regime which has caused so much violence and suffering across the region and will continue to do so until it is stopped,” the colonel concluded.



Al Quds Will Be In ‘The Hands Of The Muslims’ –  Ayatollah Khamenei Tweets In Hebrew

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote a message in Hebrew saying, “Holy Al Quds will be in the hands of the Muslims, and the Muslim world will celebrate the liberation of Palestine,” on his X account on Sunday (14th).

The tweet in Hebrew was written by the Supreme Leader of Iran above footage of missiles and drones that were intercepted in the sky over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In the documentation were dozens of interceptions of missiles launched from Iran on Saturday night which could be seen as sirens sounded in the background.

The tweet comes following Iran’s historic barrage against Israel, ending a four-decades-long shadow war between the two countries.  The barrage contained about 350 drones and missiles.

Khamenei tweeted in Hebrew multiple times during the war in Gaza.

In January, the Ayatollah referred to the war in Gaza in Hebrew, saying, “The crimes of the Zionist entity will not be forgotten.  Even after the disappearance of this entity from the face of the earth these crimes and the murder of women and children will be recorded in the books.”



Hundreds Attend Funeral Of Israeli Teenaged Shepherd Killed In West Bank Attack

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of slain teenager Benjamin Achimeir on Sunday (14th) in the Givat Shaul  neighborhood of Jerusalem, a day after his body was discovered in the West Bank.

The 14-year-old from Jerusalem was killed on Friday (12th), in what the IDF and Shin Bet security agency designated as a terror attack, which resulted in violent clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.

Speaking during the funeral service, Achimeir’s mother, Miriam, said tearfully that her son was simple hearted and sacrificed his life for his beliefs.  “You were so kind, you always thought of others and took everyone into account.  You made sure not to hurt anyone, not even joking at others’ expense,” she said.

Among those in attendance were Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef and religious Zionist MK Zvi Sukkot.

Achimeir went missing after setting out in the early morning hours of Friday (12th) from a farm near the outpost of Malachei Shalom to go shepherding, according to the IDF.  Hours later the sheep returned to Gil Farm without him.

Achimeir’s body was spotted on Saturday morning (13th) by a drone operated by the Border Defense Corps’ 636th Combat Intelligence unit, close to the farm where he initially went missing.

The murder was believed to have been carried out by Palestinian terrorists, and to have occurred in the late morning hours or early afternoon of Friday (12th), according to an initial investigation.

As of Sunday evening (14th), the suspect or suspects responsible for Achimeir’s murder had yet to be identified or apprehended.

Another Jewish shepherd was attacked by a Palestinian mob in the West Bank within the past month, with rocks and clubs.  He was able to call for help, and was rescued by IDF security forces.

“Security forces are continuing the pursuit of those suspected of carrying out the attack,” the IDF and Shin Bet said, adding that they send their heartfelt condolences to the Achimeir family.  



NYPD Beefs Up Security Around Jewish Institutions

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Saturday night (13th) that he had directed the New York Police Department to beef up security around Jewish institutions in the city in the wake of the Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel.

Adams stressed that there was no direct threat to Jewish institutions in New York City at the time but the decision to increase security was made as a precaution.

“As mayor of the largest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel, the significance of Iran’s attack for Jewish New Yorkers – many of whom have family in Israel – is not lost on me, especially with Passover just days away,” said Adams, adding, “New York City stands with Israel.”

“While there is no direct or imminent threat to New York City at this time, we have directed the NYPD to deploy additional resources to Jewish communities and houses of worship citywide out of an abundance of caution,” the mayor added.

Our administration has also begun outreach to both Jewish leaders and elected officials across the five boroughs to keep them apprised of the situation.  Our intelligence and counterterrorism teams will continue to closely monitor the situation,” Adams stated.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul also expressed solidarity with Israel and wrote: “New York stands with the people of Israel as they faced a horrific attack by Iran.”

“We are not aware of any domestic threats.  As a precautionary measure, New York State Police, the NY National Guard and the NYS Division of Homeland Security are on high alert to protect houses of worship and high-profile locations,” she added.