News Digest — 6/10/24

In First, Hezbollah Tries To Down Fighter Jets As Border Fighting Further Ratchets Up

A cell of Hezbollah operatives launched anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli fighter jets over southern Lebanon on Sunday (9th), the military said, amid intensifying cross-border skirmishes between Israel and the Iran-backed terror organization.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the aircraft were never under any serious threat from attack.  However, it appeared to be the first time use of anti-aircraft missiles in Lebanon against Israeli jets since war broke out eight months ago, and came after several weeks that have seen Hezbollah slowly ratchet up the scale, intensity and reach of hostilities.

The IDF said a short while after the missiles were launched, an Israeli drone struck and killed the cell, near the coastal city of Tyre.

Elsewhere, the IDF said it struck buildings used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon’s Chebaa, Aitaroun, and Merkaba, alongside additional infrastructure and a rocket launcher in at-Tiri, used in a recent attack on northern Israel.

Another building where Hezbollah operatives were identified in Lebanon’s Houla was also hit by fighter jets.

Hours later, incoming rocket alerts were activated in the coastal city of Acre and the surrounding area, 10 miles from the Lebanon border early Monday morning (10th). Minutes later, sirens sounded in Kiryat Bialik, a suburb of Haifa.

There were no reports of damage.  The Magen David Adom ambulance service said a woman was lightly hurt while rushing to a bomb shelter but otherwise no one was wounded.

According to an IDF statement, the alerts were activated due to concerns about falling shrapnel from interceptor missiles, which were launched at a “suspicious aerial target” that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon.

“The incident is over,” the military said in a statement without elaborating.

The nighttime attack came after repeated rocket and drone attacks on northern Israel throughout Sunday (9th) set off sirens and sparked fires in the Golan Heights, amid fresh international calls for a de-escalation between Israeli forces and Hezbollah.  On Saturday (8th), Hezbollah boasted of using the heavy Falaq-2 rocket, which holds a 130-pound warhead, against Israel for the first time and on Friday (7th) launched a drone that struck an area 24-miles from the border in what potentially marked its deepest attack amid the war.

Since the day after Hamas’ October 7 attack, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

So far the skirmishes have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 IDF soldiers and reservists.  There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 334 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria.  In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups and a Lebanese soldier have been killed.



Urban Warfare Expert: ‘Hostages Were Not Freed, They Were RESCUED.’

John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, Author, and UWP podcast host, responded to what he calls a “Pervasive message conveyed by mainstream media and others,” that he believes needs some correction.

Spencer claims that “most headlines say that ‘Israeli hostages were freed,’  while the Israeli hostages were not freed, they were RESCUED, in a historic hostage rescue operation, involving the whole of the nation of Israel, as in the IDF, the Yamam, Shin Bet, the Police, and the Air Force, where armed Hamas members were holding Israeli hostages in different buildings, in a densely populated area, and using civilians to hold those hostages.”

He also said that we must notice the, “Number of Palestinians quoted as killed in Israel’s operation.  Headlines have been saying that there were 200 Palestinian casualties.  The number supposedly comes from the Hamas and Gaza health ministry which we know are not reliable sources of casualty numbers, especially immediately after an event.  At least the mainstream media should have written that these numbers are unverified.”

Spencer added: “These numbers should not include a single Hamas member who is resisting the IDF and its operation at all.  It is well known that there were civilians involved in holding the hostages and resisting the IDF operations, through machine gun and RPG fire.  Anyone engaging in these actions should be considered combatants, and definitely not considered in the civilian casualty count.”

He asked, “Who caused any casualties?  The law says that all feasible measures must be taken to prevent civilian casualties in the case of military operation, which Israel did through extensive planning, but it was not required to give civilians any warning, as in this case, it would have made the operation impossible, also because the civilians are the ones involved in holding the hostages.”

Lastly, he concludes: “The main casualties were caused by the civilians who returned fire and resisted the IDF operation.  This way Hamas put civilians in harm’s way as a strategy.  The death of civilians is their strategy.”



Tributes Abound For Arnon Zamona Who Was Fatally Wounded Rescuing Hostages

Arnon Zamona, a 36-year-old officer of the elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit that rescued 4 hostages in Gaza on Saturday (8th) was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl with many tributes.

He was fatally injured during the complex daylight mission that has been named “Operation Arnon” in his honor.

Arnon’s wife Michal, posted on Facebook that he was “an amazing partner, a perfect father” of two children and “a loving and loved man.”

She added, “Now, everything is filled with the image of the late hero Arnon Zamora.”

But long before he was a warrior and hero, he was a sweet and charming man,” she said.

On Saturday (8th), a joint IDF, ISA and Israel Police (Yamam) mission was carried out in Nuseirat. In two separate locations, four hostages were rescued: Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (40).

Arnon Zamora was fatally wounded in the operation and died in the hospital a few hours later.

One striking tribute came in from Amir Ofer, one of the rescuers of the hostages in Entebbe, who had the opportunity to meet and talk with Zamora before his death.

Entebbe was a counter-terrorism mission that took place in 1976 when 100 hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists were rescued by the IDF at Uganda’s Entebbe airport.

Ofer recounts that Zamora approached him at an event attended by thousands of people, recognized him, and asked him to lecture Yamam about his experience during Entebbe.

Ofer said Zamora contacted him on October 16, 2023, and asked for his advice on dealing with the war.

Ofer wrote: “I saw before me a man among men, a true hero, and an exceptionally moral person.  I told him – and I meant every word I said – that there is no comparison between the situations  (Entebbe and Oct. 7) and that no one could have been able to save the people in Be’eri.”

“I recommended that he take a few days quietly and write down everything that happened to him in the crazy first days of the war.  He thanked me very much,” Ofer said.

Ofer said he told Arnon at the time: “You literally saved the country.  You have already secured your place in heaven and more,”

Ofer added: “This man deserves to be known by everyone in the country.”



‘The Israeli Hostages Were Held And Jailed By Palestinian Civilians:’  LTC. (ret.) Jonathan Conricus

Following Saturday’s (8th) hostage rescue, former IDF Spokesperson LTC. (ret.) Jonathan Conricus told BBC that there are still 120 Israeli hostages in Gaza: “We still have Iranian proxies all around us aiming to kill Israelis and to kill Jews, and we still have a lot of work to do in order to return to safety and security in Israel…. There is still a lot of fighting left for us, to be safe in our homeland.”

“The whole civilian issue here really needs to be analyzed impartially and understood…. The Israeli hostages were held and jailed by Palestinian civilians in a Palestinian civilian area…. What was the role of the surrounding community and the hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians who, for sure, were aware of the fact that the Israeli hostages were being held in their midst?”

Q: Would there have been a warning to those civilians to get out on time?

Conricus: “For sure, we cannot anticipate for Israel to be warning ahead of a raid to save hostages, because then, what the terrorists would do is to kill the hostages and that would defeat the purpose, so of course we cannot expect that.”

“There was a significant firefight.  According to testimony of Israeli soldiers, there were RPGs, rockets, heavy machine gun fire, grenades being thrown, and I think we cannot rule out that at least some of the alleged Palestinian casualties were the result of reckless Palestinian fire.”

“The bottom line here…is that, again, just like we saw in Rafah three months ago, Israeli civilians were held hostage by Palestinian civilians…. We have the complicity of Palestinian civilians.”

“A ceasefire is not an aim to aspire to, but victory is what Israel aspires to; victory in order to defend Israeli civilians; in order to allow them to be back home; victory in order to get the hostages back.  A ceasefire, in my humble opinion, is defeat for Israel and a victory for Hamas, and as such it is not what Israelis aspire to do because a ceasefire would mean an existing Hamas and it would mean further attacks against Israel just months or perhaps a year from now.”  (BBC News)



Danon To Return To New York As Israel’s UN Ambassador

Likud Party lawmaker Danny Danon is slated to return to New York this summer as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, four years after leaving the diplomatic post to involve himself in domestic politics.

Danon will replace Gilad Erdan, who took over in 2020 but has decided to wrap up his term and move his family back to the Jewish State as two of his children are about to be drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.

The appointment of Danon has been authorized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz but is still subject to approval by government ministers, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

MK Danon has a lot of experience in the international arena and there is no doubt that he will express his skills and experience during this time,” stated the PMO.

In a post on X, Danon alluded to the news, noting that he has “fought to defend Israel’s global position in a variety of ways” since Hamas launched its genocidal attack against the Jewish state on October 7.

“At a time when the State of Israel is fighting on many fronts, each of us must do the best within our skills and experience.  This is how I acted in the past, and this is how I will continue to act in the future,” he tweeted.

“In the face of the diplomatic terror that rears its head these days, I am compelled to present the truth with my head held high for the sake of the people of Israel and our shared future,” added Danon.

Erdan, whose confrontational nature rattled UN officials and opposing diplomats, especially in a post-Oct. 7 environment, will depart at the end of his appointed term, which is set to expire at the beginning of July.

In a May 31 statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said Erdan intends to continue harnessing his vast experience and skills to strengthen the State of Israel in the future.

Danon, a senior member of the Knesset and the chairman of World Likud, previously served as minister of science and technology and deputy minister of defense.

In November, Danon helped launch a bipartisan initiative that called on Western countries to take in Gaza noncombatants wishing to relocate as the Israeli military works to destroy Hamas in the Strip.