News Digest — 4/22/21

IDF Strikes Syria After Missile Explodes Near Israeli Nuclear Facility

Israeli Air Force jets attacked targets in Syria early Thursday (22nd) after a Syrian anti-aircraft missile triggered alarms in southern Israel, the IDF said.

The older model Russian-made SA-5 missile was apparently fired at Israeli planes, missed its target and kept flying until it reached southern Israel in the area of Dimona, near Israel’s nuclear facility.

Air raid alerts were given in the Bedouin towns that dot the area where the missile crashed, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.  Unconfirmed reports said Patriot anti-missile batteries were activated to intercept the missile.

A Palestinian resident in the Judean mountains underneath the flight path of the missile told World Israel News he was awakened in the middle of the night by loud explosions.

The IDF said following the incident that it launched retaliatory strikes on Syria.

“A surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria to Israel’s southern Negev.  In response, we struck the battery from which the missile was launched and additional surface-to-air batteries in Syria,” the IDF said in a statement.

“There was a surface-to-air missile fired, apparently  a SA-5 model, that drifted into Israel and fell in the Negev,” IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman told a briefing of military reporters.  “There was no deliberate thing here or there.  They fired at Israeli Air Force planes over the Syrian Golan.  The range of the SA-5 is hundreds of kilometers.”

The head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, told Israel Army Radio the incident was not connected to any Iranian revenge attack on Israel.

“The arena is very tense.  The Hezbollah terror group leader Hassan Nasrallah and the Iranians have open accounts with Israel.  However, I suggest taking a deep breath – this is not an Iranian missile destined for Dimona, although there is a desire to connect it with the incident in Natanz,” Yadlin said, referring to an attack earlier this month at the Iranian nuclear facility that Iran blamed on Israel.  Yadlin said that the missile involved was known for its shortcomings in battle.

“The missile that was fired is an old missile against transport planes,” Yadlin said.  “When I was a major, in ‘83, we were already planning how to attack it.  When it does not hit the plane, it flies to the end of its range.

Both Yadlin and Zilberman said it was simply a coincidence that the range of the SA-5 took it from northern Israel to the vicinity of Dimona, and the nearby Israeli nuclear facility.



Danon: US Jewish Leaders Must Choose Between Supporting Iran Deal Or Israel

Israel’s 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations and current Chairman of the World Likud, Danny Danon, clarified at a recent conference on Israeli-US relations that there is an expectation that the Jewish leadership in the United States will side with Israel in the struggle against the emerging agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Ambassador Danon called on America’s Jewish leadership to stand with Israel in opposition to the US administration’s intention to return to an agreement with Iran.

“We are reaching a period when America’s Jewish leaders need to decide whether they will stand with Israel or support the decision to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran” said Danon in his address to a panel of experts at the annual conference of the Ruderman Program at the University of Haifa.

“The last time the nuclear agreement was debated, the American Jewish leadership supported Israel and that is the expectation of them today also.”

“The position of the Jewish leadership in the United States has great significance and a proven ability to act to strengthen the security of the State of Israel” he said.

Danon further noted that the line taken by the new administration is clear, “We recognize the US administration’s desire to reach a quick deal with the Iranians.  This will sadly come at the expense of adhering to sound principles.”



Big Blast At Rocket Factory Jolts Central Israel in “Controlled Test”

A large explosion occurred at a state-owned rocket factory in central Israel on Tuesday morning (20th), causing no injuries or damage, in what a defense contractor called a “controlled test.”

The blast sent up a massive plume of fire and smoke outside the central Israeli town of Ramle, which could be seen from miles away.

The explosion took place at the government-owned Tomer defense firm, which manufactures propulsion systems for a variety of rockets and missiles.

Videos of the blast were widely shared on social media, prompting speculation that it was the result of a malfunction or sabotage, especially in light of ongoing tensions between Israel and Iran.  Indeed, the explosion at the sensitive military site was featured prominently in Iranian media, which insinuated that it may have been a form of retaliation by Tehran for the recent blast at its Natanz nuclear facility that has been widely attributed to Israel. 

However, the Israeli contractor maintained that the images were misleading and that it was a deliberate explosion as part of a trial.

“This was a controlled test, without any irregular incidents,” a spokeswoman for the firm said.

The explosion was not announced in advance or reported after the fact by the Defense Ministry or the company.

Tomer, which was formed in 2015, serves as the main producer of propulsion systems for some of Israel’s most important missiles and rockets, including the Arrow air defense system, the Shavit satellite launcher and the EXTRA artillery rocket.



It’s Lucky The Palestinians Have Israel To Blame – Daniel Siryoti

There is still no clear answer to the question about whether the Palestinians will be holding legislative elections.  Still, more and more people are starting to think that in light of the fracture in the Fatah movement – which has split into three different parties, in contrast to the unified Hamas list, which also has the support of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whose own representative decided to boycott the elections – and the polls that paint a grim picture for Fatah and its leader Mahmoud Abbas, both in the legislative and presidential elections, Abbas might tell thr international community that there is no point in holding elections at all if Israel will not allow them to take place in east Jerusalem and celebrate PA democracy there.

It’s no coincidence that high-ranking PA officials like Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki have started pointing the finger at Israel as the entity doing everything to torpedo the PA elections through various bans.

Plenty of PA officials are willingly admitting that cancelling the scheduled elections and blaming it on Israel offers Abbas an ideal way out of the corner into which he has backed himself and a way to continue ruling with an iron fist like he has for 15 years, all the while firing barbs of criticism at Israel.

However, in closed talks those same officials say that the situation is actually much more complicated and that Israel’s denial of the PA election commission’s request is a lifeline for Abbas.  

It’s not only Israel that is worried about a sweeping Hamas win.  Recently, there have been more reports from Ramallah about visits by high-ranking delegations representing the Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence and security apparatuses, who are pressuring Abbas to take steps to cancel the elections.

This pressure from Jordanian and Egyptian security officials who are worried about Hamas gaining power in the PA, as well as US President Joe Biden and his administration’s lack of interest in the PA elections and their failure to be impressed by Abbas’ democratic gesture, may be the catalysts for Abbas to announce that despite “the Palestinians” determination to hold elections, “there can be no point to them when Israel prevents Palestinians in east Jerusalem from exercising their right to vote.

Still, it’s lucky the Palestinians have Israel to blame, and a way of avoiding responsibility.



Jerusalem Museum Open 5-Star Hotel For Holocaust Survivors

Holocaust survivors will now be able to stay in Jerusalem at a 5-star hotel especially for them.  The Friends of Zion Museum opened a guesthouse Monday (19th) for survivors to stay free of charge.

The project was the brainchild of museum founder Dr. Mike Evans and was built at the cost of approximately $3 million.

The guesthouse can accommodate up to 14 visitors and will be operated jointly with the Yad Ezer La-Haver foundation that works with survivors.  The site includes seven units, tailored and accessible for the survivors, featuring 5-star hotel amenities including a clubroom,kitchen and dining hall, laundry rooms and warehouses.

The museum is putting together a program to be launched in the coming months, through which the survivors will be hosted for a visit to Jerusalem, lodging at the guesthouse, and will participate in an event at the Western Wall, where they will celebrate their bar and bat mitzvahs of which they had been deprived because of the circumstances at the time.  

Some 300 Holocaust survivors have already registered for the project and will be participating in groups this coming year.  The first occupants checked in this week, and on Monday (19th), the first bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies took place at the Western Wall together with the site’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.

“I am proud and thrilled to inaugurate this guesthouse today,” Evans said at the opening ceremony.  “This home will always be open to them, and we are deeply honored to be their hosts.  The Holocaust survivors are close to our hearts, and we are working hard to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.”