News Digest — 5/10/22

IDF Opens Largest Training Drill In Israeli History

As tensions boil over in the West Bank amid a string of deadly terrorist attacks in Israel, the IDF launched the largest exercise in its history on Sunday (8th).

Thousands of soldiers and reservists will take part in the drill, dubbed “Chariots of Fire,” including the Air Force and Navy.  The four-week drill will simulate a multifront and multidimensional war against Israel’s enemies in the air, at sea, on land and on the cyber front.

“There won’t be a unit that doesn’t take part in this drill,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kohav said.

The goal of the drill is to improve the readiness of the entire military and examine the ability of troops to carry out a powerful and prolonged campaign against enemy forces.  It will also reveal logistics and firepower issues that soldiers might face in a war.

The drill aims to improve cooperation between the IDF, government ministries, security organizations and civilian bodies, including their capabilities to transition from routine to a full emergency scenario with multiple areas that are constantly evolving.

A “cabinet” was also established to simulate the political echelon that would be an active partner in the decision-making process during war.  The cabinet is made up of former reserve officers, including Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror and Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen.

The drill will also see the implementation of the IDF’s victory concept, emphasizing achieving operational goals at a fast pace, with attacks, defense and multidimensional maneuvering.  The military said it would also implement all lessons learned from Operation Guardian of the Walls.

The drill will examine the dilemmas faced by the Chief of Staff, the General Staff and troops in the battlefield.  The exercise will combine two large-scale division exercises of regular and reserve forces from the 162nd Division and the 98th Division.

The drill is unique and unprecedented in scope and will enable the army to maintain a high level of readiness in an ever-changing environment, the IDF said.  It aims to improve the military’s capabilities in an intense, multifront and prolonged war on all borders.

Alongside the massive exercise, the military will continue with its operation to thwart terrorist attacks, the IDF said in a statement.

“Along with the exercise, the IDF’s paramount mission is to protect the security of the citizens of the State of Israel,” it said.  “IDF forces will continue to carry out offensive activities to thwart terrorism and will work to strengthen the defenses along the Seam Line as part of Operation Break the Wave.”

The IDF believes it is unlikely Hezbollah will attack Israel in the near future, but the northern border remains the most explosive.  Both sides have warned that the next conflict would be devastating.

Hezbollah has an estimated arsenal of 130,000-150,000 missiles and rockets, the majority face Israel’s home front and strategic infrastructure.

A war with the terrorist group would see intensive rocket fire against the home front, and the military, including the IAF who wants to improve its ability to strike targets deep inside enemy territory with the help of ground forces.



Hamas ‘Invested Everything In It’ And The IDF ‘Destroyed It:’ New Details On War In Gaza

A newly revealed mission that killed dozens of top Hamas terrorists and destroyed a large part of Hamas’ rocket production ability during last May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls was called “Goliath City,” Walla reported in an exclusive Monday (9th).

On Monday, May 10, 2021, the first day of the 11-day war with Hamas, Israel’s air force hit 130 terror targets in the Gaza Strip.  The next day, after getting intelligence that a top unit had entered a tunnel leading into Israel in order to kidnap soldiers, the IDF destroyed it, killing the 18 terrorists inside.  It then hit two more offensive tunnels with fighters inside.

The decision to strike the first decisive blow against the tunnel network that had been built over the course of 15 years under Gaza City came on Wednesday night, according to the Walla report.  Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi ordered tha4t Operation Goliath City be executed to demolish a huge underground bunker about 82 feet deep that hid a Hamas weapons research, development and production facility.  

The air force would have to conduct a series of carefully pinpointed strikes in order to prevent civilian deaths, as the terrorist organization had purposefully built the bunker under ordinary urban dwellings.  Numerous plans were examined and practice-runs made before the 5:20 a.m. attack Thursday, in which the air force, within four minutes, hit more than 10 tunnel shafts that led to the bunker.

“We told ourselves that it was better not to attack the heart of the bunker, due to the fear of harming civilians, so we attacked the openings and so they were buried,” said a source who knew of the operational plan before its execution.  “The results were impressive and accurate.  If they had missed one shaft, the terrorist operatives would have managed to escape from the bunker.”

According to IDF estimates, said the report, aside from the senior Hamas figures who were killed, the operation damaged half of Hamas’ rocket production capacity and 75% of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s production capacity.

Kochavi then decided to finish off the entire tunnel network, which the army had dubbed the “metro.”

By executing some subterfuge and deception, the IDF also tried to ensure that hundreds of terrorists would think it safe to stay in the underground chambers.  At the end, perhaps Hamas suspected something, for while the physical network was destroyed, only some 70 operatives were killed rather than hundreds. 

Research Division head in the Intelligence Directorate Amit Saar said the operation was an unqualified success nevertheless.

“You ask me if we achieved something significant in attacking the ‘metro?’  My answer is yes with 10 exclamation points.  The main thing we took away from Hamas is the understanding that it could function in this dimension as it wanted.  Hamas thought they had cracked something big, and that they found a solution to our superiority in air, intelligence and maneuvering.  They invested everything in it – and the IDF destroyed it,” said Saar.    



Abbas Grants Relative Of Terrorist ‘State Of Palestine’ Award

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas hosted the family of the terrorist Karim Younis at his compound in Ramallah on Monday (9th), to mark the passing of Younis’ mother several days ago.

Younis and his cousin Maher – Israeli Arabs from the Wadi Ara region – have been behind bars in Israel since 1983 for the murder of IDF soldier Avraham Brumberg in 1981, making them the longest-serving Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.

Each receives a monthly salary of $3,266 from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

During the ceremonial meeting, Abbas granted the family an honorary citation from the ‘State of Palestine.’  Several members of the Fatah Central Committee were also in attendance.

The mother, Sabiha Younis, was hailed as a “patriotic fighter” and Karim Younis was called the “great commander and hero.”  Abbas, for his part, expressed his hope that Younis would be released from jail.

The mother was granted the posthumous citation for “her ongoing struggle, suffering, steadfastness, and 40-year opposition to the occupation, which made her a symbol of the fight of the prisoners’ families.”  A mourning tent was erected in her honor in Ramallah.

Abbas occasionally hosts relatives of terrorists who are in Israeli jails.

Last January, the mother of the terrorist Islam Abu Hamid, who killed IDF Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky four years ago during a raid operation in al-Amari, near Ramallah, was honored by Abbas.  Several of her children were terrorists and sentenced to life in prison – one of them for the murder of Shin Bet agent Noam Cohen in 1994.

Abbas, it should be noted, has thus far refrained from condemning terrorist attacks beyond the Green Line and his denouncement of the latest attack in Elad was weakly worded. 



Jewish Cemetery Bombed In Northeastern Ukraine

A Jewish cemetery in Hlukhiv, Sumy Oblast in northeastern Ukraine was bombed on Sunday (8th) by Russian forces, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information, Oleksander Tkacjenko wrote on Telegram.

Jews killed in a 1918 pogrom are buried in the cemetery, he said, and the mass grave is also the tomb of the “tzaddiks” (righteous men), Menachem Nohim David Geselyov and Israel Dov Ber Nohimov Shumyatsky.  The cemetery is special to the Jewish people, Tkacjenko said.

One of the Ukraine chief rabbis, Reuven Asman, corroborated the attack, writing on his Telegram channel: “On the eve of May 9, the Russian army ‘denazified’ the Jewish cemetery in the town of Hlukhiv.”

The event was reported by the press office of the United Jewish Communities of Ukraine, he said.  According to the organization, “A rocket hit the Jewish cemetery in Hlukhiv.”  The information became known from open sources and was confirmed by the UJCU.

According to Asman, more than 600 tombstones have been preserved in the ancient cemetery, the oldest dating back to 1824.

The Ukrainian Jewish Encounter reported that in the summer of 2020, a monument to the victims of the anti-Jewish pogrom of 1918 was unveiled at the ancient Jewish cemetery, on the initiative of the Jewish community.

“Resting in this cemetery are those who perished during the pogrom of 22-23 February 1918.  May their souls be tied into the knot of life,” proclaims the inscription on the monument. 



Another Significant Gas Discovery Found Off Israel’s Coast

A new natural gas reservoir has recently been discovered off Israel’s coast, giving another significant boost to Israel’s rapidly developing energy industry.

The Greek Energean Oil and Gas pic. announced Monday (9th) that it made “a commercial gas discovery” at the Athena exploration well of 58 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

The Athena exploration well was drilled on Block 12 and is located 12 miles from Karish and 12 miles from Tanin A, at a water depth of 5,803.8 feet.  It was drilled in 51 days and came in below the budget of $35 million.  The Athena exploration well is the fifth well in a row that has been drilled successfully by Energean in Israel.

Energean CEO Mathios Rigas stated that the company is “considering a range of strategic commercialization options both for a standalone and wider Olympus Area development, including domestic and multiple export routes.”

“This discovery and the broader de-risking of several prospects in the Olympus Area reaffirms the role of the east Mediterranean as a global gas exploration hotspot.  It strengthens our commitment to provide competition and security of supply to the region, enables the optimization of our Israel portfolio and fulfills one of our key milestones for 2022,” he said.

Israel’s economy has received a significant enhancement by its gas discoveries, found in some 20 wells.

The gas fields are not only economically important to Israel, but politically as well.  In 2013, the Israeli government decided that the country should export 40% of its gas production and invest the profits in economic development.

Israel has signed contracts to supply gas to Jordan and Egypt and plans on building a pipeline through Cyprus to Greece, to provide Europe with gas.

According to the Natural Gas Authority, the Israeli economy has saved about NIS 65 billion in the last year alone due to the transition to the use of natural gas, which price in Israel continues to be significantly lower than in the rest of the world.

The economic savings in energy costs in the years 2014-2021 resulting from the use of natural gas instead of other fuels in the energy economy are estimated at NIS 116 billion.