News Digest — 4/16/21

IDF Strikes Hamas Targets In Gaza In Response To Rocket Fire

The IDF struck targets belonging to the Hamas terrorist group throughout the Gaza Strip late Thursday night (15th) in response to rocket fire earlier from the Strip toward Israel, according to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit.

The targets included a munitions manufacturing site, a weapons smuggling tunnel and a military post, according to the IDF.  At least six strikes were carried out according to Palestinian media.

A rocket landed in an open area in Israeli territory earlier on Thursday evening (15th), setting off rocket sirens in Sderot, Ibim and Nir Am, in southern Israel just as Israel’s Independence Day celebrations were coming to a close.

Earlier in the day, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip was detained by the IDF after he infiltrated into Israel.

This is the first rocket fire towards Israel since late March, when a rocket that was fired from Gaza fell in an open area near Beersheba as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting a restaurant in the city.

Rocket fire targeted Netanyahu’s campaign events in the past, with two separate events in Ashkelon disrupted by rocket fire from Gaza in recent years.



Hamas Has Not Broken The Spirit Of Israel’s South

After 20 years of rocket fire, Israel’s southern residents have adapted despite their daily life, with their safety and wellbeing coming under repeated attack from Gaza terror groups even when the rockets and missiles increased in range and accuracy.

The south received direct hits at times, some of them especially painful.  The fabric of daily life was fractured.  Still, despite all that, the communities around the border grew in strength and the resilience of civilians prevailed.

If you visit these agricultural communities along the Gaza border fence, you see children at play, new shopping centers filled with young families building their homes there, of all places, with so much war and trauma, and you realize that the terror groups did not win.

However, off in the distance, Gaza remains the same.

Two worlds exist on either side of the fence which cannot be more different – and they communicate through force.

It is clear to everyone that if another violent conflict erupts, it will end as it always has, with the residents of Israel’s southern region picking up their lives, while inside the Strip there will be even more destruction.

Obviously these cycles must end, but clearly, that day is far in the future.

The Israeli government is doing all it can to prevent further escalation.  It facilitates the delivery of humanitarian aid and goods into the coastal enclave and weighs its response to rocket fire, carefully.

It was exactly 20 years ago when the terror groups began firing rockets into Israel.  The first one fell in an open field outside Sderot, on April 16, 2001, and over the years, the city became the main target of an increasing amount of rocket fire, along with the border-lying communities.

The Gush Katif settlements inside the Strip were also bombarded by mortars until they were evacuated in 2005 when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pulled the settlers and the military out of Gaza.

After the evacuation, Hamas’ grip grew stronger, their rockets became more precise and with longer range – the southern communities were still targeted, and rocket sirens became a familiar sound track for the residents of the area.  

The Gaza Strip was a threat to those living near it from the early years of statehood.  There were periods of quiet when cooperation and commerce developed, but they never lasted very long, and terrorists often infiltrated from Gaza to attack targets inside Israel.

Civilians had to adapt to the dangers to their lives and wellbeing over time.

Currently, even on quieter days the tension is always present – along with an understanding that the resumption of fire is only a matter of time.



As Of Sunday, Masks No Longer Required Outdoors In Israel

With the dramatic reduction in morbidity in recent weeks due to the success of Israel’s vaccination campaign against the coronavirus, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein instructed the director general of his office to sign an order that would allow the removal of face masks beginning Sunday (18th).

The decision, announced Thursday evening (15th), was made following the recommendation of health professionals.

According to the Health Ministry, only 196 new cases of coronavirus were recorded on Wednesday (14th).  Of the 55,470 tests performed Sunday (11th), 0.4% came back positive.  

“The masks are meant to protect us from the coronavirus.  After the professionals came to the conclusion that they were no longer needed in the open, I decided to allow the masks to be removed according to their recommendations,” Edelstein stated.

“The morbidity in Israel is very low, and together we will keep it there,” he said.

Masks should still be worn when entering closed buildings, he clarified.

The final order will be signed by the Ministry’s director general, Prof. Hezi Levy, over the weekend.

Schools are also expected to fully reopen next week.



Iranian Official Admits Israel Swiped Nuclear Archive

An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel stole the country’s nuclear archive, in what appears to be the first admission of the 2018 Mossad operation by an Iranian official.

Momeen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council that reports directly to the supreme leader, told Iran’s Mehr News on Wednesday (14th) that the country needs a major revamp of its security.

“The country has been widely exposed to security violations, and the example is that in less than a year, three security incidents have occurred: two explosions and one assassination,” said Rezaei.

The two explosions took place at the Natanz nuclear site, first in July 2020, taking out about three-fourths of the above-ground centrifuge assembly facility, and then on Sunday night (11th), when the site’s electric grid and backup system were destroyed, along with large numbers of centrifuges.  The assassination was of the head of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in November, 2020.

“Before this, documents from our entire nuclear archive had been stolen, and before that, a few suspicious drones came and did some work,” Rezaei added.

When the Mossad smuggled the nuclear archive out of Iran in 2018, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presenting evidence that the Islamic Republic aimed to develop a nuclear weapon, Iran denied that it was real.  Iran nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi called it “a very childish and even a ridiculous play.”  Mohammad Marandi, one of Iran’s negotiators in the 2015 nuclear deal, said Israel had “fabricated evidence.”

Rezaei said this week’s attack on Natanz was “a bad event in terms of prestige,” and that “they did it to break our resistance in diplomacy.”

Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said earlier this week that Sunday’s (11th) attack damaged thousands of centrifuges.  “The design of the enemy was very beautiful,” he said.



The False Comparison Of Zionism And Colonialism – Jordana Schiff

A 2019 article in the McGill Daily defines Zionism as “a modern political movement advocating for the colonial establishment of a Jewish state.”  It is demeaning to accuse Zionists of establishing “control over an indigenous people” because Jews themselves are indigenous to the Land of Israel.  The Jewish people’s ancestral homeland has always been Israel, and ample historical evidence exists to prove such claims. 

There was no Jewish “conquest” of Palestine.  Jews have resided in the land for thousands of years, and when many began returning in the 19th century at a time when many Arabs also arrived, the Jews legally purchased property from landlords.  Following the overwhelming Arab rejection of the UN Partition Plan in November 1947, the Arabs started their nationalist war against the Jews, with five surrounding Arab armies invading the nascent state.

Zionism is strikingly different from colonization in another crucial respect: The motivation of Zionism was (and is) to develop the land and create a thriving society for all of its people, not to control the area and exploit its resources on behalf of a foreign power.

The writer is President of the Israel on Campus Club at McGill University in Montreal.