News Digest — 6/16/21

IDF Hits Gaza In Response To Arson Terror, First Attack Since May Conflict

For the first time since Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, when over 4,000 rockets were fired into southern and central Israel over an 11-day period, the IDF hit terror targets overnight in Gaza in response to fire-terror launched from the Strip on Tuesday (15th)

It was the first time that the IDF attacked Gaza since Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett became the new prime minister.  In the past, Bennett has referred to the explosive balloons and kites launched from Gaza as “killing tools,” saying that the IDF should respond to such attacks as it would to rocket fire.

The IDF said that it hit Hamas military bases.  “Arson balloons were launched from Gaza into Israel yesterday, causing multiple fires.  In response, IDF fighter jets struck Hamas military compounds last night, which were used as meeting sites for Hamas terror operatives in the Khan Yunis and Gaza Brigades.  Hamas will bear the consequences for its actions,” the IDF tweeted Wednesday morning (16th).

“The IDF is prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terrorist operations from the Gaza Strip.”

The army and police were on high alert Tuesday (15th) as the Hamas terror group had warned of attacks ahead of the flag march in Jerusalem.  The event normally takes place on Jerusalem Day, which fell this year on May 10, but was postponed due to Arab violence throughout the capital.



Arson Balloons From Gaza Sparked Fires, Terror Groups Threatened More

Terrorists in Gaza sent incendiary balloons into Israel that sparked at least 11 separate fires Tuesday (15th) and threatened that Israelis should expect more “flames and fire” ahead of a flag march in Jerusalem that took place later in the day. 

Israel’s National Firefighting Service reported that most of the fires in the Negev area near the Gaza border were not serious and were brought under control, but that all the fires were ignited by arson balloons launched by Palestinians in Gaza.

One of the terror groups in charge of the balloon launches issued a statement saying it was “officially announcing alert among our ranks throughout the Strip, and we say to the settlers – wait for flames and fire.”

The Palestinians regularly refer to all Israelis as “settlers.”

The annual flag parade was canceled last month when Hamas terrorists fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem just before the parade was due to begin.  Despite Palestinian threats to react with violence, the march – which marks the anniversary of the city’s reunification during the Six Day War in 1967 – was rescheduled for Tuesday (15th).

On Tuesday (15th), the Islamic Jihad terror group posted a statement on its website calling on Arabs “to mobilize … to confront the incursions of the Israeli occupation and its desecration of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and to confront the march of Zionist flags.”

“The Palestinian people are all united in the battle to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and they are ready at all times for a comprehensive confrontation,” the statement said, calling the flag march “a provocative act and a dangerous escalation that affects the most sacred sanctities, and an aggression targeting all Arabs and Muslims.”

Despite the claims, the flag march does not go to the Al Aqsa Mosque, but only to the large plaza adjacent to the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple, located below the mosque.

“We will not allow the occupation and herds of settlers to violate Al Aqsa’s sanctity,” the terror group said, calling on Palestinian youth  “to confront the settlers’ arrogance, and to thwart the march of the flags, to reaffirm that Jerusalem is ours, not the invading Zionists.”

Later Tuesday (15th), the Jerusalem Flag March was held with an estimated 5,000 participants, and not one rocket fired from Gaza.  2,000 security personnel were deployed.

Clashes broke out when Arab protesters began throwing rocks at police.  33 protesters were reportedly injured and 17 were arrested.    



‘Jerusalem Will Be Capital Of Reconquered Palestine’

Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh, speaking from just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday evening (15th), declared that Israel’s capital would one day become the main city of “Palestine.”

“On these walls, the flag of Palestine will be hoisted and Jerusalem will be the capital of reconquered Palestine,” he told the Kan public broadcaster amid heightened security tensions highlighted by a flag march in the city by Israelis and cross-border arson attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

“Our people will shame them and they will withdraw from these places,” he said, referring to the parade participants, who the Israeli Police said numbered 5,000.

Odeh has been vocal in his opposition to the new coalition, declaring it a “bad government.”

He maintained that the new government would harm the Arabs of Jerusalem and the Negev, and will not represent any sort of “ideal” of Judeo-Arab cooperation due to the inclusion of the Ra’am party.



IDF Chief Aviv Kochavi To Fly To Washington To Discuss Iran And Gaza

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi will fly to Washington on Saturday evening (19th), a month after he was set to go to discuss the Iranian threat and other regional challenges.

During his trip, which will be his first as Israel’s top military officer, he is expected to meet with his American counterparts in an attempt to persuade them not to reenter the Iranian nuclear deal.

Kochavi is initially set to meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, head of the US Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and head of the US Special Operations Command Gen. Richard D. Clark.

Chief of Staff Kochavi will also discuss the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, Iranian entrenchment in Syria and Operation Guardian of the Walls that led him to postpone his trip in May.

It will be the first trip by an Israeli official with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leading the government: Kochavi will meet with him ahead of his trip.

The two have worked together closely during Bennett’s time as defense minister and both are considered hawks on the Iranian issue.

Two weeks ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz flew to Washington and met with the same officials to discuss the same topics.  He also presented the need to deepen supervision of Iran and to stop its regional aggression as well, noting that he and Israel will have to prepare a military option.  Prior to his meeting with US Secretary of State Austin, Gantz stressed the need to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Stopping Iran “is certainly a shared strategic need of the United States, Europe, the countries in the Middle East and Israel – and for the people of Iran as well,” he said, adding that, of course, given the scope of the threat, “Israel must always make sure that it has the ability to protect itself.”



Israeli Camouflage Tech Makes Soldiers Invisible

Israeli survivability products company Polaris Solutions has developed a camouflage technology that renders soldiers on the battlefield virtually undetectable.

In cooperation with the Defense Ministry, the company recently unveiled Kit 300, an innovative camouflage sheet made out of a material that provides multispectral concealment in all types of settings and landscapes.

According to Polaris Solutions, nothing else like its camouflage sheet exists on the market today.

“As far as we know, or as far as we saw in other armies around the world, we are very unique,” Asaf Picciotto, co-founder and CEO of Polaris Solutions, told The Media Line.  “To establish that, we actually registered a patent on it in many countries around the world.”

The lightweight sheet is made out of a special thermal visual concealment (TVC) material composed of metals, polymers and microfibers.  Thanks to TVC, soldiers are much more difficult to see both with the naked eye and with thermal imaging equipment.

Thus it can be used for counter-surveillance in a wide variety of military scenarios.

The idea for the technology was born in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War.  At the time, Picciotto was in a special IDF unit and saw firsthand that soldiers on the ground required better protection from their enemies’ thermal cameras and night-vision equipment.

Polaris Solutions was founded a few years later, in 2010, and is now headquartered in the Israeli port city of Caesarea.

A number of technical hurdles remain before a true invisibility cloak is developed.

While invisibility  was once the realm of science fiction or fantasy, Polaris Solutions has revealed that it is in the process of developing products that could soon turn the idea into a reality.  But it is going to take between five and 10 years to develop “real deep tech” that can be turned into a line of products, according to Picciotto.