News Digest — 5/1/20

Second Wave Of Airstrikes Attributed To Israel Within A Day

Explosions were reported in northern Syria Friday morning (1st), in broad daylight, hours after airstrikes attributed to Israel rocked southwestern Syria, near the Israeli border.

The latest explosions were again attributed to Israeli warplanes, which reportedly struck Hezbollah targets on the road between the city of Homs and Palmyra.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitored the attack, explosions were the result of Israeli missile strikes on weapons depots at a Hezbollah base called the “Hassan bin Al-Haytham” camp – a former school now used by Hezbollah terrorists as a regional headquarters.  Late Thursday night (4/30) explosions were heard in southern Syria. In the Quneitra district near the Israeli frontier.

Syria’s state media outlet SANA, reported that Israeli aircraft had attacked multiple targets in southern Syria with missiles.  A radio station affiliated with the Syrian regime said that the attack had taken place in the Quneitra area, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, near the border with Israel.

According to Yediot Aharonot, Thursday’s (4/30) strikes also targeted Hezbollah forces, and were aimed at preventing the Lebanon-based terror group from entrenching itself on Israel’s northern border.

There are currently no reports of casualties from either Thursday (4/30) or Friday’s (1st) airstrikes.

Earlier this week, Syria’s air force reported that it had identified a “hostile Israeli attack” on southern Damascus.

The SANA news agency reported that Syria’s missile detection systems intercepted the “Israeli aggression” which came from Lebanon’s airspace.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization which monitors military activities in Syria, said that nine pro Iranian militia and Hezbollah members were killed in Israeli air strikes, Monday, April 27,  near the city of Palmyra.



Germany Bans Hezbollah Terror Group In Its Entirety

Germany’s Ministry of Interior announced Thursday morning (4/30) a ban on all activities by the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah in Germany.

According to the ban, it is prohibited to use symbols of Hezbollah publicly, in an assembly, in print, in audio or visual material.

In addition, the assets of Hezbollah in Germany are to be confiscated and forfeited to the government to the extent allowed by law.

The Ministry of Interior said in a statement that it “is of the opinion that Hezbollah openly calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel and questions the right of it to exist.  The organization is therefore fundamentally against the concept of international understanding, regardless of whether it presents itself as a political, social or military structure.”

To ensure that “evidence” of potential Hezbollah cells in Germany could not be destroyed when the ban was announced, police conducted searches at 6 a.m. Thursday morning (4/30) in four mosque associations accused of belonging to Hezbollah in Berlin, Dortmund, Bremen and Munster as well as the private residences of the leaders of each association.

The associations under investigation are suspected of forming part of Hezbollah due to their financial support and propaganda for the terrorist organization.

Security officials estimate that Hezbollah has approximately 1,050 active members in Germany.

The ban follows a nonbinding resolution passed by Germany’s parliament in December 2019 calling on the government to forbid all activities of Hezbollah in Germany whether military or political.

The European Union, of which Germany is a member, banned Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization in 2013, but did not extend the ban to the group’s political wing.

The United Kingdom banned Hezbollah’s military wing in 2008, and Hezbollah in its entirety in February 2019.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz applauded Germany’s decision to ban the group.  “I would like to express my appreciation to the German government for the move.  I am certain that many governments in the Middle East and victims of Hezbollah terrorism share in my thanks,” he said.

Katz also called on the EU to adopt the same policy and “to recognize the organization for what it is,” saying it “constitutes a terror organization, and that’s how it must be treated.”



Hezbollah’s Growing Internal Challenges – Mona Alami

Hezbollah has reduced its intelligence footprint within Lebanon, due to operational and financial constraints.  “Hezbollah has shut many of its secret outposts it had across Lebanon.  Some of these were mainly tasked with intelligence gathering operations,” said Hassan, a veteran Hezbollah fighter.

Sources close to Hezbollah say many of its commanders are deployed regionally, away from Lebanon.  “Some are in Syria, others are in Iraq, and some are in Yemen.  This is effecting deployment on the Lebanese front,” said one source.  Hezbollah expert, Lokman Slim said that after the U.S. killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps top commander Qassem Soleimani, Hezbollah was forced to send dozens of cadres to Iraq to shore up the Iranian faction within the Popular Mobilization Units there.

Hezbollah’s sources of funding have dried up with growing U.S. sanctions targeting its front companies and middlemen.  Resources funneled to Hezbollah via Iran have also been on the decline due to U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic.  Last year, Hezbollah merged many of its institutions, froze hiring, and closed around 1,000 offices and apartments throughout Lebanon, expert Hanin Ghadder reported.



Why Netanyahu’s West Bank Plans Are Closer To Reality – Zev Chafets

→ 53 years after Israel defeated three Arab armies and took control of the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to begin the process of annexing the Jordan Valley area and most of the Jewish communities in the territory this summer. 

→ He will do so at the head of a large government coalition that represents ⅔  of Israelis, and with the blessing of the Americans.

→ The arguments haven’t changed much in decades.  What has changed is reality.  Today over 400,000 Jews live in the West Bank.  They are a heterogeneous mix of homeowners who commute to work in nearby Israeli cities.

→ The Jordan Valley has become Israel’s strategic eastern border.  It is these communities and that border area that Israel intends to annex in accordance with the American plan.

→ That plan doesn’t leave the Palestinians homeless, as some have suggested.  It offers them roughly 70% of the West Bank (and all of Gaza) for a demilitarized state.

→ Israel can live with that.  The Palestinian leadership, so far, cannot.

The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office.



Iran’s RGC Force Commander General Amir Ali Hajizadeh: “We Are A Super Power Now”

IRGC Aerospace Force Commander General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said in a Channel 2 Iranian interview that he would like to thank the start-up companies, the universities, and the people from Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Aerospace Industries Organization for their help in the construction of the first-stage engine of the missile that launched the Noor satellite into orbit on April 22, 2020, reported the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

Saying that Iran is now a superpower, he said that the Noor satellite’s orbit passes over the United States and other countries that Iran can’t fly planes over, and he went on to explain that the first-stage engine used liquid fuel that is also used in surface-to-surface missiles because it was a cheaper option.

He elaborated that the first-stage engine had belonged to an old missile that had been in storage, and that in the future, Iran will develop a solid-fuel first-stage engine.  Furthermore, he said that since Iran used a portable launch pad, it has no need for a stationary command center.

He also promised to advance Iran’s space technologies, to strengthen Iran every day, and to secure Iran so that “no one would ever dare threaten it.” 

Later in the interview, General Hajizadeh said that Americans have a false sense of security, and that they only threatened to attack Iran and its cultural sites after hearing the Iranian people’s chants of revenge following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.   He said that Iran had a plan to strike 400 targets in the event that the U.S. retaliated immediately after the Iranian rocket attack on the U.S. base Ayn Al-Asad, in Iraq.