News Digest — 5/28/19

IDF Blasts Syrian Missile Battery After It Fired On Israeli Fighter Jet

Israel struck a Syrian missile battery after it launched a missile at one of its fighter jets in Israeli airspace on Monday (27th, the IDF said.  The missile landed in Syrian territory after missing the target.

“Earlier today, a Syrian anti-aircraft system fired at an IDF aircraft as it was carrying out a routine flight in Israel.  The projectile landed in Syrian territory. In response, we targeted the Syrian launcher that was responsible for firing it,” the IDF tweeted on Monday (27th).

SANA, the Syrian news agency confirmed the strike.  “An Israeli missile targeted Tel al-Shaar in Quneitra… a military vehicle was targeted and there are wounded,” it said.

Two Syrian soldiers were killed, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based information service.  Its director earlier reported that three Syrian soldiers were wounded.

It also reported that one Israeli missile was downed by Syrian fire.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday (27th), “A short while ago the Syrian army attempted to hit an Israeli plane; it did not succeed.  In response the air force destroyed the launcher that fired on the plane. Our policy is clear – we will not tolerate any aggression against us, and we will respond forcefully.”

In September 2018, the IDF revealed that it had carried out approximately 200 air strikes in Syria since 2017.  According to the IDF, the attacks used more than 800 missiles and bombs dropped on selected sites, mostly from fighter jets.

Israel’s main goal is to prevent Iran from establishing a presence in Syria and from transferring munitions to its proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.



Israel Salutes International Crews Who helped Combat Massive Fires

The Israeli Air Force (IAI) on Sunday (26th) held a special ceremony at Tel-Nof AFB saluting the teams from around the Middle East which arrived in Israel to help it fight the massive blazes that hit the country.

Firefighting aircraft and crews from Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, arrived in Israel on Friday (24th) to provide assistance in fighting wildfires which began raging in Israel Thursday (23rd) as a result of a heavy heat wave.

“Their response warms our heart.  We take them in with much appreciation,” said IAF Brig. Gen. Peleg Niego Commander of Tel-Nof AFB.

The teams were awarded a certificate and a small token from the Ministry of Public security.

“We express our gratitude to the countless countries extending assistance in combating our forest fires as well as those who have expressed willingness to help. Thank you all for your friendship.  A friend in need is a friend indeed,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon stated.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked “my friend Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for sending two helicopters to help put out fires across Israel.”

“We came here in order to help our Israeli friends in extinguishing the fires,” said Joseph Diolas, a Cypriot pilot.  “This is the second time we came to help with fires in Israel – our coming here signifies cooperation and mutual assistance.”

International crews have come to help Israel in the past, while the Jewish State also periodically dispatches firefighting teams to countries combating fires in the region.



Mossad Team That Swiped Iranian Nuclear Archive To Get Defense Prize

The 2019 Israel Security Prize will be awarded to the Mossad for its success in breaking into a Tehran archive last year and spiriting out thousands of documents that proved Iran had worked on developing nuclear weapons long after the Islamic Republic said it had stopped.

The decision announced Sunday (26th), was made by a committee that took into consideration many factors, including the significance of the intelligence material found, the level of risk in the operation, and how much its success meant to the security of the country.

The group was headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister.

Israel shared the archive information with the U.S., giving the Trump administration additional ammunition to back out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which it did shortly after.  The documentation was therefore of prime importance to Israel’s security, as Netanyahu had stated for years that the deal was a strategic threat to the Jewish state.

The extreme riskiness of the operation is also unquestioned.  A number of operatives had to sneak into the capital city of Israel’s most powerful enemy, break into a warehouse, crack its safes, pack half a ton of binders and compact discs onto a few trucks, and drive them out of the country without being noticed or even pursued.  According to reports, they did indeed have Iranian security forces “hot on their tails.”

The fact that the Mossad even discovered the location of the archive in a nondescript building is considered an intelligence coup.

“From the outside, the building was an innocent looking compound – a dilapidated warehouse,” said Netanyahu, “but from the inside, it contained Iran’s secret atomic archives locked in massive files.”  Few Iranians knew where it was, very few, and also a few Israelis.”

President Reuven Rivlin will present Israel’s most prestigious defense prize to the Mossad and two other security bodies next month in a ceremony at the presidential residence.

The Mossad will be honored as an institution.  Though it is safe to assume that the actual team which carried out the James-Bond-style heist will be at the closed-door event.



German Tabloid Publishes Cut-Out Kippah In Solidarity With Jews

Germany’s most-read tabloid, BILD, has printed a cut-out kippah for readers to wear in solidarity with their Jewish neighbors.

The publication follows controversial comments by Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner on anti-Semitism, that he could not recommend that Jews wear Kippahs in public at any time and place in Germany.

Klein told the Berlin Morgenpost on Friday (24th) that his concerns had grown amid a 20% rise in reported anti-semitic crimes last year.

Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told BILD: “It has long been so, that Jews in some large cities are potentially exposed to danger if they are recognized as Jews.”

Meanwhile, many Jewish leaders blasted Klein’s comment as a suggestion that Jews hide their identity in public.  And BILD’s response echoed their concerns.

Under the headline “Show solidarity with your Jewish neighbors: Make the BILD-Kippah,” Bild commentator Julian Roepke said “if even only one person here can’t safely wear a kippah, then the answer can only be, we’re all going to wear a kippah.”

The item, a blue and white, Star-of-David studded circle, comes with a religious explanation and instructions on how to cut it out and paste it together, ending with: “Place the kippah on the back of your head and attach it to your hair with a hair clip.  Done.”

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman on Monday (27th) stressed the country’s responsibility to ensure security for all Jews wearing kippahs anywhere in the country without having fear of an anti-semitic attack.

“It’s the job of the state to ensure that anybody can move around securely with a skullcap at any place in our country,” said Steffen Seibert.



“No Room For BDS,” Florida Governor Says In West Bank Settlement Visit

Governor Ron DeSantis visited the West Bank settlement of Ariel Wednesday (22nd), including the university there, to underscore his strong support to Judea and Samaria and his opposition to the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement.

“In Florida there is no place for BDS,” DiSantis said.

Florida has been a strong opponent of the BDS movement.  Its cabinet has recognized Jerusalem as “Israel’s eternal capital.”  It also blacklisted the global company Airbnb after it announced that it planned to boycott West Bank settlements.  Airbnb has since rescinded that boycott.

Ariel University presented DeSantis with an Honorary Fellowship Award for his commitment to the State of Israel.

During the governor’s visit, Ariel University signed a memorandum of understanding with Florida Atlantic University.

“I promised to be the most pro-Israel Governor in America and I sincerely thank Ariel University for presenting me the Honorary Fellowship Award,” DeSantis said.  “This recognition means a lot and I am humbled to be the recipient. Let it be known that Florida will always stand with Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.”

DeSantis is in Israel leading a large trade-mission from May 25-31.