News Digest — 5/27/21

Lebanon Will Tremble If Northern Border Erupts, Defense Minister Warns

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday (26th) warned that if Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group based in Lebanon, would attack Israel, “Lebanon will tremble.”

Speaking at an event marking the 39th anniversary of the 1982 First Lebanon War, in an apparent response to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s belligerence from the day before, Gantz said, “We are ready as ever to protect Israeli citizens.  If an attack comes from the north, Lebanon will tremble.”

Warning that “the houses in which weapons and terrorist operatives are being hidden will become rubble,” the defense minister said, Israel’s list of targets for Lebanon is bigger and more significant than the one for Gaza, and the score is ready to be settled if necessary.”

Gantz spoke on Wednesday evening (26th) at a memorial ceremony for those who died in the First Lebanon War in 1982.

“We left Lebanon in an act of leadership that ended the campaign that had been going on too long, knowing that our right to defend ourselves would remain and be preserved.  We do not want to fight.  The State of Israel always reaches out to its neighbors, we did the same when we offered aid to Lebanon after the disaster at the Beirut port.  We maintain freedom of worship for all religions – throughout the State of Israel, and in Jerusalem, the capital of the state, sacred to three religions.  We will not allow any violations of the holy places or civil rights.  At the same time, we will not allow any violation of our sovereignty,” Gantz stressed.  “We are as ready as ever to protect Israeli citizens,” he added.

“It is the State of Lebanon that will bear responsibility for any aggression that comes from it.  

“Regarding Gaza – the reality of the past is what will be the reality in the future.  We aspire for Gaza to be quiet and rehabilitated with the help of the world and the Palestinian Authority, from the rubble, provided our boys return home, when everyone can enjoy the fruits of growth.  But if Hamas chooses to prevent the residents of Gaza from rehabilitating and continues to harm Israeli citizens, we will act until we reach a quiet that will serve everyone.  There is no other way,” he stated.   

The defense minister added that Israel will not permit Gaza’s reconstruction until Hamas releases two Israeli citizens – Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed – and returns the remains of two soldiers – Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul – killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.



‘Inside Israel,’ We Have More Than 10,000 Suicide Bombers, Warns Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar

In his first public address since the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls ended, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, said, “This is just a small maneuver for next time.”  

“This was just a general rehearsal – al-Aqsa is a red line,” he said in a warning to Jews that “the Temple Mount is an Islamic site.”

(In fact, the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third-holiest, after Mecca and Medina.)

“The enemy and the world must know that this was just a general rehearsal – a small maneuver, which shows what could happen if Israel tries to harm al-Aqsa again.”

Sinwar congratulated the Israeli Arabs and eastern Jerusalem residents who rioted and carried out attacks against Jews, for taking up the fight.

“Inside Israel we have more than 10,000 suicide bombers – in case Israel tries to harm al-Aqsa,” who will each carry out a stabbing attack or a car-ramming,” he said.

Hamas “has the ability to launch hundreds of missiles per minute at ranges of 62-124 miles.  We have more than 300 miles of tunnels in the Gaza Strip – of which 62 miles have been destroyed,” he said, adding that it would take only a few days for repairs.

“Hamas wanted to end the war by firing 300 missiles at Gush Dan [the greater Tel Aviv area],”but decided not to fire due to the intervention of Egypt, Qatar and international mediators.”

Contrary to what was said by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and other Israeli security officials, Sinwar claimed that “the Israeli attacks did not reach the infrastructure of the factions in Gaza.  We failed their plan to damage the resistance capabilities and destroy the tunnels… .”

“Israel’s plan for a victory ended in great failure.”

“The occupation has failed to destroy the Hamas metro,” he said, referring to the terror tunnels.  “The occupation did not achieve anything.”

Regarding the ceasefire, Sinwar said there is no agreement.

He also blasted US Secretary of State Blinken, who is currently in the region, for trying to strengthen America’s partnership with the Palestinian Authority at Hamas’ expense.  At a press briefing in Jerusalem Tuesday evening (25th), Blinken promised a “significant contribution” towards rebuilding Gaza, saying that the Biden administration would work hard to “ensure that Hamas does not benefit from the reconstruction assistance.”

Sinwar said Hamas has ample military assistance from other countries.



‘Not Welcome:’ Palestinians Protest Blinken’s Ramallah Visit – Lauren Marcus

Taking to the streets of Ramallah with signs reading “Blinken, you are not welcome” and chanting “America is the head of the snake,” hundreds of Palestinian protesters demonstrated against US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday (25tth).

The protests were organized by the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, an umbrella group representing various factions.

“Blinken’s visit is the [theater] of politics and bad-will-diplomacy in an attempt to fragment our unified struggle and further entrench a settler-colonial and capitalist agenda that strikes at the heart of the liberation movement,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We reject the imposition of the US to broker false negotiations between our colonizers and the defunct and corrupt leadership in Ramallah.”

Hebrew language media reported that protesters also chanted “Security coordination is shameful,” and “the Oslo Accords are gone.”

The vocal displeasure against PA cooperation with Israel comes against the backdrop of Hamas’ increased presence in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

In recent weeks, Hamas-affiliated Palestinians have repeatedly raised the terror group’s flag on the Temple Mount, and according to NGO Your Jerusalem, are now openly operating out of eastern Jerusalem mosques.

According to a State Department transcript, Blinken’s meeting with Abbas kicked off with the PA leader referring to him by the wrong name.

“In the name of God, the merciful and the compassionate, we would like to welcome Secretary Clinton, who visits us here,” Abbas said, before being swiftly corrected by his staff.

During the meeting, Blinken said the US “will be moving forward with the process to reopen our consulate in Jerusalem.  That’s an important way for our country to engage with and provide support for the Palestinian people.”

In 2019, former president Donald Trump merged the Palestinian consulate with the US embassy in Jerusalem.  The move offended Palestinian officials, who severed contacts with the mission.

“As I told the president, I am her to underscore the commitment of the United States government to its relationship with the Palestinian Authority,” Blinken told Abbas.



The Palestinian Voices Blinken Needs To Hear – Khaled Abu Toameh

In the past few weeks, thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been demonstrating in support of Hamas.  These Palestinians are telling US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he is wasting his time if he thinks that they would accept “so-called peaceful solutions” or “renounce any part of Palestine.”

They are also sending a warning to PA Chairman Abbas that recognition of Israel’s right to exist and acceptance of the “two-state solution” is tantamount to treason, a crime punishable by death.

It is not clear how the Biden administration expects Abbas to work toward establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel when the Palestinian leader is being besieged by his people because of his ‘supposed belief’ in peace with Israel.   

Hamas leaders have in the past warned that if Abbas sets foot in Gaza, he will be executed by hanging in a public square for betraying the Palestinian people and collaborating with Israel.

It is only Israel’s presence in the West Bank that is keeping Abbas in power and preventing Hamas from extending its control beyond Gaza.

A recent public opinion poll showed that 57% of Palestinians are opposed to the two-state solution.  Another 57% said they support the “armed struggle.” and “popular resistance” against Israel.

These are the voices that Blinken should have heard during his visit to Ramallah.  Then he would have gotten a good grasp of the Palestinians’ profound anti-Israel sentiments and their deep support for Iran’s proxies and others who wish to wipe Israel off the map.



For Israelis, One More Battle In A Forever War For Survival – Clifford D. May

Today’s Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran have all declared: “The Jewish state does not deserve to live!” 

Those who claim to care about Gazans ought to say to Hamas and Islamic Jihad: “Look, guys, there is no military solution to this conflict!  So, you’ll just have to tolerate – among the more than 20 states that identify as Arab, and the more than 50 that identify as Muslim – one tiny state in which the Jewish people exercise self-determination on part of its ancient homeland.”

For Israelis, “Never again” means defending themselves in battle after battle in a “forever war,” ignoring those who insist that fairness requires more Jewish funerals.  For the rest of us, it should mean, at a minimum, not aligning with Jew-haters attempting to precipitate another Holocaust.

The writer is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).