News Digest — 4/2/24

Report: Israeli Airstrike In Damascus Kills Top Iranian General

Mohammed Reza Zahedi, the top commander in the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for Lebanon and Syria was assassinated in an airstrike on Monday (1st).

Zahedi is the highest-ranking Iranian killed since the current war started, even higher than Sayyed Reza Mousavi, who was killed in December, the Jerusalem Post has learned.

Besides his wide ranging responsibilities for terror on Israel’s borders, he was the highest level interlocutor for Tehran with Hezbollah.

This means that although Israel has not taken credit, Iran and Hezbollah are already accusing Jerusalem of involvement, since removing Zahedi could be seen as a blow to the management of the Lebanese terror groups’ rocket attacks on Israel.

The Iranian press reported that Zahedi was meeting with leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad at the time of the strike, but these reports could not be independently verified.

Zahedi also commanded the Quds Force’s Unit 18000, responsible, among other things, for smuggling ammunition and precision weapons into Lebanon.  He had also commanded the IRGC’s Air Force and Imam Hussein Division in the past.

Initial reports indicated that at least six people were killed in the strike, which targeted a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy.

Some reports indicated that the building targeted served as the residence for the Iranian ambassador in Damascus.  Striking such a high level target in such a sensitive area would be a dramatic escalation, if it was Israel.

The strike came less than a day after the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamraya, near Damascus, was hit in alleged Israeli airstrikes.



Iranian Opposition Activist: ‘The People Of Iran Support Israel’

Israel and Iran have long engaged in proxy battles throughout the Middle East, exemplified by the Iranian regime’s support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.  However, while the regime continues to combat Israel externally, tensions and criticisms roil the regime from within.

As such, a rarity occurred on Sunday evening (3/31), when an Israeli flag was seen flying in Azadi Square, in the heart of Tehran.  This was revealed to be an expression of support for the Iranian opposition activist Vahid Beheshti, an Iranian journalist and human rights activist who spoke at a special conference at the US Congress during the past weekend.

While speaking at the conference, Beheshti expressed support for Israel and called for the US to help overthrow the Iranian regime, stating, “90 percent of the Iranian people are against the regime.  As soon as the Americans and their allies harm the Iranian regime, the people of Iran will rise up and finish the job.”

The hanging of the Israeli flag coincided with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran.  Haniyeh’s visit sought to promote cooperation and alignment between Iran and Hamas against Israel.  

Beheshti said that “despite all the propaganda of the Islamic Republic, the people of Iran continue to risk their lives and show their support for Israel.”

According to the journalist and activist, this is “another sign that the Iranian people are ready to overthrow the regime, and send the message to Israel and the West: ‘Give us the support we need to end this regime.’”



‘Enemy Collaborators’ – Hamas Arrests PA Officers In Gaza

Member’s of the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence agency were arrested by Hamas after they covertly entered the Gaza Strip, according to Arabic language media reports.

The PA officers are believed to have entered the coastal enclave in order to ensure that humanitarian aid would be distributed to civilians.

The Israeli army and NGOs have reported that Hamas gunmen and armed local clans often seize truckloads of humanitarian aid, robbing the drivers at gunpoint.

Allegedly entering the Strip in coordination with Egyptian officials via the Rafah border crossing, the PA officials were said to be supervising the aid convoys before being discovered by Hamas.

At least ten people were arrested and “dealt with” by the terror group, a Hamas official told Al-Aqsa TV.

The official told the outlet that the PA officers had not, in fact, entered the Strip in order to help civilians receive aid.  Rather, the official charged, the PA sent operatives on a mission to create mayhem in the enclave, at the behest of Israel.

Their aim was to sow a “state of confusion and chaos among the ranks of the home front, [and were supported by] the Israeli Shin Bet service and the enemy army,” he said.

The Hamas representative did not provide any evidence for that claim.

In a media statement, the PA flatly denied the version of events presented by Hamas.

“The statement of the so-called Hamas Interior Ministry about the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip yesterday is baseless, and we will continue to provide everything necessary to bring relief to our people,” it stated.

Hamas and the PA have been bitter rivals for decades, with tensions often spilling over into bloodshed.



‘The Aliyah Of Physicians To Israel Will Greatly Enhance Our Healthcare’

In a landmark initiative aimed at combating the critical shortage of medical professionals in Israel, the first European Medex event, a collaborative effort between the Israeli government and Nefesh B’Nefesh was held in Paris, France.  This pioneering conference is a key component of a national strategy designed to recruit 2,000 physicians from around the globe over the next five years to bolster Israel’s healthcare system.

The Aliyah and Integration Ministry, Health Ministry, and Nefesh B’Nefesh, in partnership with the Jewish Agency, have launched the International Medical Aliyah Program to streamline the immigration and integration process for medical professionals.  This initiative seeks to ensure a seamless transition for these professionals into the Israeli medical sector.  The event in Paris marked the beginning of this ambitious program in Europe , gathering over 400 doctors and dentists from France and Belgium.

The Medex event provided a comprehensive platform for potential immigrants to engage directly with representatives from Israeli healthcare institutions.  This included opportunities to convert medical licenses, explore employment possibilities, and learn about the various incentives available to medical professionals making aliyah.  Originating in the US eight years ago, this initiative has now extended to European shores, signifying a global effort to address the shortfall of healthcare workers in Israel.  An OECD report highlighted this urgency, noting Israel’s falling doctor numbers compared to the OECD average.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer emphasized the strategic importance of attracting medical professionals to Israel, especially to the Negev and Galil regions.  This initiative, according to Sofer, is vital for enhancing the national healthcare system and has been met with enthusiasm from Jewish doctors worldwide, demonstrating their solidarity and commitment to Israel.

Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, highlighted the role of aliyah in strengthening Israel, particularly in challenging times.  He praised the new immigrants‘ commitment to the state and their crucial role in enhancing the healthcare sector.

The event in Paris was attended by a host of distinguished guests and representatives from Israel’s healthcare sector, including hospitals and HMOs.  This gathering underscored the collective effort and commitment to addressing Israel’s medical professional shortage and improving public medicine in the country.

Since its inception, Nefesh B’Nefesh has facilitated the aliyah of over 940 physicians and more than 3,000 medical professionals, integrating them into Israel’s healthcare system.  This effort underscores the critical role of international cooperation and dedication in securing a robust and resilient healthcare infrastructure for Israel.



Pro And Anti-Israel Protesters Clash Outside NJ Synagogue

About 1,000 Jewish and pro-Israel activists gathered outside a synagogue in Teaneck NJ last night (Monday, 1st) to protect the synagogue from a crowd of anti-Israel activists who came to protest an event at the synagogue featuring the ZAKA search and rescue operation.

The counter protesters had gathered by 6 p.m., ahead of the event’s start at 8 p.m.  The counter protest was organized after a previous  anti-Israel protest outside a Teaneck synagogue turned violent last month.

Anti-Israel and pro-Israel protesters shouted slogans at each other while local police attempted to keep the peace.  The anti-Israel protesters shouted “shame on you” and repeated their claims that Israel is committing “genocide.”  The protest also included chants of “free Palestine” and “long live the Intifada.”

A rabbi told the pro-Israel protesters: “This harassment stops here and tonight.  The Jewish community of Teaneck will not stand and let our houses of worship be targeted again and again.  They will not run us out of town.”

A truck was parked in the area with a video screen that displayed messages over an image of an American flag.  The messages displayed included “Harassing Jews is not a civil right,” “We will not be intimidated.  We will not be threatened.  We will not be attacked,” and “Proud to be an American Jew.”

Counter protesters held signs calling for the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas and stating, “Hate has no home here.”  One protester held up a sign that read, “Literally, just don’t attack us.  It’s easy.”  Chants of “Bring them home” were common.

The anti-israel protesters carried Palestinian Authority flags, while the pro-Israel counter demonstrators carried a mix of Israeli and American flags.

The protest was organized by the Within Our Lifetime (WOL) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) organizations, which accused ZAKA of “lies” and fabricating evidence of Hamas atrocities on October 7 in order to justify Israel’s retaliation in Gaza



Silver Linings In An Ongoing Nightmare – David Horovitz

During a meeting with a group of Jewish leaders on a solidarity visit to Israel recently, one of them asked me for some “good news.”  Amid the ongoing nightmare of Oct. 7 and a war we have yet to decisively win, much about this country remains inspirational.

Our people are widely resilient, competent, wise and patriotic.  We rebuilt our ancient homeland in spectacularly unpromising circumstances, focused innovation and inspiration to make it thrive, and have been ‘fighting as one’ to defend it and restore its security through six hellish months.  3/4 of the terrorist army that Hamas established next door, and which Hamas believed Israel would never have the guts to confront, has been dismantled.  The IDF is battling Hamas gunmen in their death-trap tunnels.

Israel has to dismantle the Hamas army so that we, ‘as victors,’ get to write the history of this war, and to emphasize that Israel destroyed a terrorist army widely supported by the Gaza populace, in a conflict murderously imposed upon it by the government of a territory from which Israel had withdrawn.  Somehow, this remarkable people of ours, hundreds of thousands of whom constitute its army, has managed to both fight the war and maintain some semblance of what used to be normality.     

The writer is the founding editor of the Times of Israel.



IDF Doctor Chronicles Evacuations Of Wounded Soldiers In Gaza  – Hilla Alroy

Lt. Col. Dr. A. completed 77 days of reserve duty as a physician in the Air Force Search and Rescue Unit 669, specializing in evacuating the wounded under fire.  On Oct. 7, a family member was murdered in the Nova music festival, and one of his patients was abducted by Hamas.

He wrote in his war diary on Oct 9: For the past two days, the unit evacuated more than 200 wounded from the Gaza border area.  This is an unimaginable number of evacuations.  An endless stream of civilians and soldiers was flown from the carnage to hospitals.

Oct. 17: I spoke with a younger doctor for a long time.  He’s relatively experienced in treating shock patients from road traffic accidents in the emergency room or a hospital, but less experienced in treating combat casualties.  On that cursed Saturday, he was on the base in routine reserve duty and was therefore among the first to deal with evacuating casualties.

He talked about seeing dead parents lying on their dead children.  Dozens of cars with bodies of parents who tried to shield their children.  Both the parents and the children were hit by countless  bullets.  Bodies of children burned inside cars that were set on fire while they were in them.  “The mission was to locate and treat the wounded,” he said.  “I didn’t find one wounded, just bodies.”  (Ynet News)