News Digest — 6/10/22

Israel Attacked Targets South Of Damascus, 2nd Time This Week

For the second time this week, Israeli jets allegedly targeted sites south of the Syrian capital Damascus early on Friday (10th), a Syrian military official told a state media outlet.

Syrian air defenses reportedly intercepted some of the missiles, but the attack caused at least one injury and material damage.

On Tuesday (7th), meanwhile, Israeli warplanes reportedly struck an Iranian weapons depot near Damascus causing massive damage.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli strikes targeted sites in the suburb of al-Kisswah, south of Damascus, and near the Damascus Airport, southeast of the city.  One of the targets was a building in the heart of Damascus, believed to house weapons Iran had smuggled into the country, other outlets reported.

The Syrian Capital Voice website said the strike was carried out in a single wave, resulting in the complete destruction of the building.  However the opposition-affiliated Halab Today TV said a warehouse near the Damascus airport was also hit.

There were conflicting reports on casualties, with most suggesting at least five pro-Iranian militia members had been killed and at least six injured.

Israeli sources told the news media that the target was most likely a facility linked to Iran’s efforts to assist Hezbollah-its largest proxy in the Middle East, which is based in neighboring Lebanon – in its efforts to develop precision-guided missiles.

The Israeli defense establishment has made thwarting these efforts a priority as any such capability in the terrorist group’s hands would be a regional game-changer.

Hezbollah is believed to be in possession of as many as 150,000 rockets and missiles, the range of which covers all of Israel.  This arsenal includes anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles and anti-tank missiles, which its operatives are skilled at using.



U.S. Embassy’s Palestinian Unit Renamed, To Report Directly To State Department

The Biden administration is restoring a line of communication for the Palestinians that had been canceled by former President Donald Trump.

The move, announced Thursday (9th) ahead of a possible visit by President Joe Biden to Israel and the West Bank, means Palestinians will deal directly with the State Department in Washington rather than go through the U.S. Embassy in Israel first.  Reflecting the change, the former Palestinian Affairs Unit changed its name Thursday (9th) to the Office of Palestinian Affairs (OPA).

The decision falls short of the Palestinian demand that the United States reopen its Jerusalem consulate, which for years functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians.  The Trump administration shuttered the consulate while he was in office.

Under Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged to reopen it, a move that Israel said would challenge its sovereignty over the city.  The US has so far failed to reopen the consulate, apparently in fear of upsetting ties with Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said there was no room in Jerusalem for another American mission.  The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it views the reopening of the consulate as part of the international community’s commitments to ending Israel’s decades-long “occupation.”

A spokesperson for the embassy said that the name change was done to “better align with State Department nomenclature” and that the OPA, while operating under auspices of the embassy, “reports on substantive matters directly to the near Eastern Affairs Bureau in the State Department.



Israel’s Rafael Unveils Next-Generation Anti-Tank Missile

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled on Thursday (9th) the sixth generation of its Tammuz electro-optic anti-tank missile.

The new Tammuz missile is based on an older Tammuz model that has been used in IDF operations for some four decades and sold to dozens of armies in the world.

Rafael reports that the new system can fire a salvo of up to four missiles at a time, using a single controller.  This new capability increases the number of targets that can be attacked at long-range.

Moreover, the new system can target high-quality enemy targets through the use of images based on proprietary algorithms that process images supplied by electro-optic sensors, allowing images of targets to be transmitted to the missiles while they are in the air and strike with precision, minimizing collateral damage.

Whereas, Tammuz missile operators used to have to identify targets and aim the missile at them, the new technology allows the missile to “aim” itself through the use of the images.  The technology can be vital in distinguishing targets located among similar targets, such as a single enemy tank surrounded by other armor vehicles or a car moving through traffic in a crowded urban area.

According to Rafael, the sixth-generation Tammuz has longer-range strike capabilities and can now hit targets up to 31 miles away when fired from a helicopter, and up to 20 miles when fired from the ground.

Dr. Ran Gozali, GM of Rafael’s Land and Naval Division, said, “The Tammuz missile is the first in Rafael’s electro-optic family (SPIKE) and is already in operational use in the IDF and 39 other countries around the world.”



Trump Heights In Heart Of Northern Israel’s Real Estate Craze

A small community in northern Israel named after former US President Donald Trump has become a lodestone for families seeking to build their new home as local authorities report massive demand for land in the nascent hamlet.

Ramat Trump, or Trump Heights, was inaugurated in June 2019 by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a gesture of gratitude to the American leader for breaking with other world powers to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights where the community is situated.

The volcanic plateau was captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and was later fully annexed by it in a move not recognized by most of the international community.

Israel has long argued that the strategically important area has, for all practical purposes, been fully integrated into Israel since it was captured from Syria and that control of the strategic plateau is needed as protection from Iran and its allies in Syria.

Tens of thousands of Israelis live in the Golan Heights, which is also home to a number of formally Syrian Druze villages.

The Golan Regional Council is set to launch a land auction for 100 housing units in the community next month and it seems that the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with soaring housing prices nationwide, has led many families to seek new opportunities in the northern territory.

“Before COVID, we received 200 applications a month.  Now, we have already reached 3,500 applications per month,” said Golan Regional Council head Haim Rokach.  “This year, we are taking 500 families, four times as many as in previous years, and although this auction has not yet been officially announced, the council has already received 1,200 applications from people interested in it in particular.”

The community now has several dozen families living in trailers, awaiting permanent housing.  This is the second Israeli community named after a US leader with the other being Kfar Truman, named in honor of US President Harry S. Truman, who supported the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Late last year, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that the country intends to double the number of people living in the Golan Heights and reach 100,000 residents by 2025 with a multimillion-dollar plan meant to further consolidate Israel’s hold on the territory.



Why The Six-Day War Matters – David Harris

55 years ago, the Six-Day War broke out.  Many of its core issues remain unsolved.  In June 1967, there was no state of Palestine.  It didn’t exist and never had.  Its creation, proposed by the UN in 1947, was rejected by the Arab world because it also meant the establishment of a Jewish state alongside.

The West Bank and eastern Jerusalem were in Jordanian hands.  Violating solemn agreements, Jordan denied Jews access to their holiest places in Jerusalem.  They desecrated and destroyed many of those sites.  Meanwhile Gaza was under Egyptian rule, with harsh military rule imposed on local residents.  And the Golan Heights, which were regularly used to shell Israeli communities far below, belonged to Syria.

The Arab world could have created a Palestinian state in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza any day of the week.  They didn’t.  There wasn’t even discussion about it.  Arab leaders, who today profess such attachment to Jerusalem, viewed it then as an Arab backwater.

The 1967 boundary at the time of the war was nothing more than an armistice line dating back to 1949 – known as the Green Line.  Armistice lines weren’t formal borders.  The PLO was established in 1964, three years before the 1967 conflict, and was created with the goal of obliterating Israel.  In the weeks leading up to the Six-day War, Egyptian and Syrian leaders repeatedly declared that their objective was to wipe Israel off the map.

The writer is CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)   



U.S. Aid To Israel Is A Boon To American Taxpayers – Yoram Ettinger

The U.S. does not give foreign aid to Israel.  The U.S. makes an annual investment in Israel that provides the American taxpayer a return of several hundred percent.  Israel serves as a battle-tested, cost-effective laboratory for the U.S. defense and aerospace industries, as well as for the U.S. military itself, which enhances U.S. performance on the battlefield.

For example, the Israeli Air Force flies the U.S.F-16 and F-35 combat aircraft, providing both Lockheed-Martin and the U.S. Air Force with invaluable information on operations, maintenance and repairs that is then used to manufacture a multitude of upgrades for next-generation aircraft.  The F-16 has been improved by several hundred Israeli-driven upgrades, including to the cockpit, fire control, wings and fuel tanks.  This has spared 10-20 years of research and development which would have cost billions of dollars.  Similar advantages are enjoyed by Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-15.

Furthermore, Israel shares its battle tactics with the U.S.  Many U.S. battle tactics have been formulated based on Israeli combat experience.  For example, U.S. special operations units and urban warfare specialists are trained by Israeli experts in neutralizing car bombs, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers.  U.S. combat pilots benefit greatly from joint maneuvers with highly-experienced Israeli combat pilots.

According to a former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Gen. George Keegan, the U.S. would have to establish five CIAs in order to procure the intelligence provided by Israel.  According to the former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig and Adm. Elmo Zumwalt: “Israel is the largest U.S. aircraft carrier, which does not require American soldiers on board, cannot be sunk and is deployed in a most critical region, sparing the U.S the need to manufacture, deploy and maintain a few more real aircraft carriers and additional ground divisions, which would cost the U.S. taxpayer some $15 billion annually.”