News Digest — 6/10/19

Palestinians Planning ‘Popular Uprising’ Against Trump Plan

The Palestinians said on Sunday (9th) that they are planning a “popular uprising” later this month to protest US President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East.

The protests, scheduled for June 25 and 26, will coincide with the launching of the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain – where the US administration plans to unveil the economic portion of its long-awaited plan.

The Palestinian Authority leadership has called on Palestinians and Arabs to boycott the Bahrain conference.

Representatives of PLO factions, Palestinian civil society organizations and independent Palestinian presonalities called on all Palestinians to participate in the protests against the peace plan and the Bahrain conference.

They issued the call after a meeting in al-Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah.  Wasel Abu Yusef, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that Sunday’s meeting was the first in a series of gatherings to arrange “popular activities to confront American-Israeli schemes aimed at eliminating the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinians, he said, need to engage in “struggling action to foil the ‘Deal of the century’ and its economic aspect, and voice their rejection of all American policies.”

Abu Yusef pointed out that the Palestinians were in agreement about boycotting the Bahrain workshop and urged Arabs to follow suit, “because the rights of the Palestinian people can’t be traded for money.”

The planned protests will take place at “friction points” and not inside Palestinian cities, he added, implying that Palestinians should protest at IDF checkpoints.

Tayseer Khaled, another senior PLO official, said it was time for the Palestinians to “change the rules of engagement with the US and Israeli governments.”   He called for a “comprehensive revolt” against Israel.



From Gaza To Iraq: Fire Is New Weapon Of ISIS, Hamas And Others

In 2018, Hamas hit upon a new way to terrorize Israel.  Its activists and supporters began attaching incendiary devices to balloons and floating them over the border from Gaza.  In Iraq Islamic State is also now burning fields across the center and north of the country to terrorize Iraqi farmers and to target various areas, including Sinjar where members of the Yazidi minority live.

More than 2,000 fires have been set in southern Israel and 8,700 acres were burned between May 2018 and May 2019, according to Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center.  The use of balloons to transport burning material over the border has increased according to Meir Amit’s report. It is obviously an innovative strategy that Hamas set upon when it realized that it’s Great Return March mass protests  and other activities, such as tunneling, had been thwarted.

The relationship between ISIS using burning fields to terrorize people and Hamas’ use of incendiary balloons is not clear, but in the past extremist groups have borrowed tactics from Hamas to use across the region and the world.  For instance, suicide bombings, vehicular attacks, mass stabbings and other attacks, were common methods of attack in Israel before they became common abroad.

Thousands of acres of land have been burned in Iraq and Syria in the last few months as ISIS began using fire as a weapon.  In Iraq alone, more than 8,000 acres of wheat and barley fields have been destroyed, and farmers are losing their livelihoods, according to one Iraqi security official who has closely observed the destruction.



Iran Unveils New Advanced Missile Defense System It Says Can Destroy Enemy Jets

Iran unveiled a locally developed advanced missile defense system on Sunday (9th) that it says is capable of destroying fighter jets and enemy drones from as far as 75 miles away, state media reported.

The weapons system referred to as the “Khordad 15” was displayed in a ceremony attended by Iranian defense Minister Amir Hatami in Tehran, during which he said that it could detect targets as far away as 93 miles.

“It can also trace stealth targets in areas 53 miles in distance, and destroy them at a distance of 28 miles,” the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Hatami as saying.

He added that the system is capable of destroying six targets simultaneously and can be set up for operation within five minutes.

The system uses locally-made missiles that resemble the HAWK missiles that the US once sold to the Shah and later delivered to the Islamic Republic in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.

Iran has worked in recent years to build its own weapons locally, rather than relying on foreign actors.  In February, the Islamic Republic said it had successfully fired a new long-range cruise missile, dubbed Hoveizeh, amid events marking 40 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 840 miles and accurately hit it’s set target, according to footage shown on state television.

(; timesofisrael,com)


38 Years Later, Pilots Recall How Iran Inadvertently Enabled Osirak Reactor Raid

Thirty-eight years ago after Operation Opera – the Israeli air attack that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak – surviving pilots gathered to mark the event, noting “one of the greatest ironies in history:” that the attack was enabled by the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

When Israel discovered in 1977 that Iraq was building a plutonium reactor that could be used to make nuclear weapons, the fighter jets at its disposal – F-4 Phantoms and Skyhawks – were not capable of flying the over 1,000 miles into enemy territory and returning safely, recalled retired Maj. Gen. David Ivri, the IAF commander at the time, in a TV interview at the recent gathering.

But in 1979 Israel had a stroke of good fortune.

The Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reva Pahlavi, a staunch US ally, leading the US to cancel a massive deal to supply Iran with 75 top-of-the-line F-16 fighter jets.

The Americans then offered them to Israel.

“I immediately said yes, without asking anybody,” recalled Ivri in the interview with Channel 12, broadcast on Sunday night (9th).  “When someone offers you the best fighter jets , first of all you say yes…..” he said.

“The fact that the jets came to us because of the Iranian Revolution is one of the greatest ironies in history,” said Col. (Ret.) Ze’ev Raz, who led the June 7, 1981 raid and who also participated in the get-together marking 38 years since the strike.

But even with the new jets, it was far from clear that they would be able to make it to Iraq and return safely with the fuel capacity of the F-16, which led to the air force employing a wide range of work-arounds to try to make the mission possible.

“There was no mid-air fueling, no GPS, none of these technologies,” said Maj. Gen (Ret.) Amos Yadlin, who was a pilot during the mission and went on to become the head of IDF intelligence.  “The pilots had to really concentrate,” he said, noting that even the tiniest miscalculation could mean there was not enough fuel to return.

“We flew at speeds best suited to conserving fuel and not the best speed for flying in enemy territory,” said Yadlin.

Ivri said they were so worried about not having enough fuel, that they did something that was “normally forbidden.”  Once the jets were lined up on the runway ready to depart, they wheeled out a tanker to top up their tanks to the absolute limit.

To maximize the chances for success, Ivri sent eight aircraft instead of the originally planned four.  Seven of the pilots were experienced and the eighth was included because of his role in preparing the maps and examining whether the jets the IAF had at the time could make the return trip.

That was Ilan Ramon, who went on to become Israel’s first astronaut and who perished in the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster.

At the gathering to commemorate the event, the pilots reenacted their attack on flight simulators, met with current IAF personnel, and shared their experience with several youth brought there as part of the Ramon foundation set up in his memory.

“It was a very marginal operation that I don’t believe any other air force would have carried out,” said Ivri.  

Nevertheless, the pilots said they believed the true hero was then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who ordered the attack.

The bombing of the reactor was condemned by the international community.  France was especially furious because they had spent large amounts of money in the reactor’s construction.

Yadlin hailed the decision by Begin, and the doctrine established with this operation, later named after him, which said, “If there is an Arab leader who calls for the destruction of Israel, Israel will never allow them to have nuclear weapons.”

Israel again employed the Begin doctrine on September 6, 2007, in a mission known as Operation Orchard, when Israeli jets destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria.  Israel has also warned that it could attack Iran to prevent that country gaining nuclear weapons.

“The doctrine was founded in the Osirak operation, and it has not yet ended,” said Yadlin.



Young Israeli Engineers Bring Clean Water To Ugandan Community

Selda Edris and Mayes Morad, 26, were young engineering students when they were first exposed to the poor living conditions in Uganda.  When the two young women from the Galilee graduated, they knew that’s where they wanted to go to volunteer, so that they could help provide the local community with clean drinking water.

The two young engineers graduated and joined the HELPAPP organization, which aims to provide humanitarian aid to developing African countries.  Edris, from the village of Rehaniya and Morad, from the community of Beit Jann, made their dream come true when they were finally able to install a water purification device in a Ugandan village, to allow the community to purify the water of a nearby swamp.

Before Edris and Morad arrived at the Ugandan community where they volunteered, all 900 school children from the region drank water from a nearby swamp that filled up in winter.

The three schools in the community boiled the swamp water before drinking, but that was difficult and there was a dire need for another safer solution.

According to Edris and Morad, finding a solution was challenging.  However they were finally able to install sinks and taps in the schools and connect them to proper purification facilities.  When they were finished, 900 children had running water.

“We were amazed by the living conditions of the children,” said Morad.  “We were exposed to horrible poverty and were shaken to see children shivering when it got cold, with bare feet and torn shoes.”

Besides the efforts to supply the schools with running water, the two also set up a Facebook fundraising campaign to buy shoes for the needy children.

Morad said that “clean water is a basic right for every person in the world.”

“We’ve helped hundreds of children but we know there are many others in other parts of Uganda who need help,” Edris said.  “We want to come back to Uganda and initiate a larger-scale operation.”