News Digest — 6/30/23

Mossad Abducted Leader Of Terror Squad In Iran To Thwart Attack

The Mossad Thursday evening (29th) revealed additional details about the planned Iranian terrorist attack against Jewish and Israeli targets in Cyprus which was thwarted recently, including the fact that the leader of the terrorist squad was abducted from Iran itself, as well, as a video in which the would-be-assassin gives a detailed confession and account of the planned attacks.

The terrorist cell leader, Yousef Shahbazi Abbasalilo, described how his Iranian handler instructed him to enter Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and how a group of Pakistani men were to bring him from there to southern Cyprus.

The handler Shoustari Zadeh, told Abbasalilo that the Pakistani men were trustworthy because they had successfully carried out an assassination recently.

Abbasalilo was seized by Mossad agents while still in Iran, leading to the attack being thwarted.

The Mossad stated: “In a counter-terrorist operation on Iranian soil, the Mossad apprehended the head of the cell, who gave his investigators a detailed confession bringing about the dismantling of the attack cell in Cyprus.”

“Yousef Shahabazi Abbasalilo received detailed instructions and weapons from senior Revolutionary Guards personnel in Iran.  During questioning, he admitted to his involvement in an attempted attack and described how he tried to carry it out.  In the wake of the information he gave to investigators, the cell was dismantled in an operation by the Cypriot security services.”

The uncovering follows a series of arrests in Cyprus last week in which Iranian activity on Cypriot soil was revealed in a continuing effort to carry out terrorist attacks and harm Israelis and Jews around the world.  

The Mossad said it will continue to take determined action to prevent attacks on Jews and Israelis both locally, and throughout the world.



Netanyahu Says Israel Will Not Provide Ukraine With Iron Dome

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out providing the Iron Dome aerial-defense system to Ukraine.

“I think it’s important to understand that we’re concerned also with the possibility that systems we would give to Ukraine would fall into Iranian hands and could be reverse-engineered and we would find ourselves facing Israeli systems used against Israel,” the premier said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, published on Wednesday (28th).

Kyiv has requested Iron Dome batteries to defend itself against Russian aerial threats, including Iranian-made drones.

Israel is also preventing the United States from transferring to Ukraine two Iron Dome batteries in its possession.

“We can save more Ukrainian lives today if we transfer those batteries.  However, due to serious concerns, the government of Israel has blocked the United States from transferring them,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said in a letter sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee last Friday (23rd).

Israel developed Iron Dome and initially funded it.  While subsequent rounds of funding were provided by the United States, Israel has veto power over any foreign transfers or sales.

Netanyahu also pushed back against accusations that Israel is not doing enough to support Ukraine in its war with Russia.  He noted that Israel has provided Kyiv with a rocket and drone alert system.

“We are also helping Ukraine.  We’re helping them in civilian defense, a civilian alert system that will obviate the need to get half the country in shelters for every missile fired.  So we’re helping them with that.”

The prime minister also addressed accusations by the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel that Jerusalem is actually taking a “pro-Russian stance” in the conflict by maintaining a neutral position.

“We’re not neutral.  We’ve expressed our sympathy and position with Ukraine, but I am saying there is a limit, limitations that we have and concerns and interests that we have,” Netanyahu said. 

“My first interest, regardless of sympathy and the steps that we take, is to ensure the security of the one and only Jewish state.  We have the concerns that I told you.  Also, our pilots are flying right next to Russian pilots in the skies over Syria in order to block the attempts of Iran to establish a second Hezbollah front in Syria.”

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem summoned Ukraine’s ambassador after he accused Israel of taking a pro-Russian stance.

The dressing down is scheduled for Wednesday, July 3rd when  Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk will meet with Aliza Ben-Nun, the head of the ministry’s Strategic Affairs Directorate.



Herzog To become Second Ever  Israeli President To Address Congress

Israeli President Isaac Herzog will address a joint session of Congress on July 19, lawmakers announced on Thursday (29th).

The speech is meant to “commemorate the 75th anniversary of the statehood of Israel and reaffirm the special relationship between our two nations,” said a statement issued by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The only other Israeli president to address both chambers of Congress was Herzog’s father Chaim, in November 1987.

“The world is better off when America and Israel work together,” McCarthy said in a statement, noting that the United States was the first nation to recognize Israel, 11 minutes after it declared independence in 1948.

“Today we continue to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two democracies.” he added.

McCarthy traveled to Israel in May and addressed the Knesset, becoming only the second-ever person in his post to address the legislature in Jerusalem.

Schumer said in the statement, “I am pleased Congress will have the opportunity to hear from President Herzog, who has always been a great leader and is particularly influential at this time, to commemorate 75 years of the success of the State of Israel and the strong, enduring US-Israel alliance.”

During his trip, Herzog will meet with US President Joe Biden in Washington and visit with Jewish community leaders in New York City.



Graduation Ceremony Held For 33 New IAF Pilots

The 186th Pilots Course Graduation Ceremony was held Thursday (29th), at the Hatzerim Air Force Base.  During the ceremony wing insignias were awarded to 33 new IAF pilots who constitute the IDF’s operational spearhead and will lead the IAF’s missions in upcoming years.

In attendance were the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Isaac Herzog, the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Mr. Yoav Galland, the Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi, the Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, additional IDF commanders and the families of the graduates.

The ceremony was held following the conclusion of a three-year-long course during which the candidates were trained as combat officers and graduated with degrees from the Ben Gurion University in the Negev.

“The ceremony marks 75 years of IAF aerial combat and Israeli strength,” the IDF stated.

Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi said: “Dear graduates,the civilians of the State of Israel are looking up at you and putting their trust in you.  Together with all of the IDF soldiers and commanders, you will continue to fulfill our mission of maintaining the security of the State of Israel, due to your operational strength and moral commitment.  The IAF is a central component in the IDF’s strength and allows us to have precise, strong and decisive strike capabilities.”

“Time after time you have proved that you are worthy to be pilots in the Israeli Air Force, and I expect you to continue doing exactly that – to lead ahead and complete every single mission professionally and with devotion.”

“Today you conclude this course, a lengthy and complex training effort, and take off for a mission that will take place over the course of the next thirty years, during which you will fly in active and reserve duty.  I know you will report for duty whenever you are called to defend the country – this is the principle on which the IDF is founded.” 

“We cannot know what will happen over the thirty years, but some things are certain – the State of Israel will face security threats, and we will have to be strong when we face them.  There will be dispute – that is a sign that Israeli society is caring and vigilant.  In the face of both these things, one stable notion is demanded, and is also our insurance against disputes and threats – we will always defend ourselves, and we will always know how to unite around the goal of maintaining our security in a way that puts all disputes aside.  Since security is at stake, you will fulfill your service, you will not withhold it, you will not make it conditional.”

“We will continue to conduct operational activity at all times in every sector and we will  be prepared for any development, whether that be in Iran or nearby, whether a jet or a helicopter is required.  The next mission will be yours.  We trust you – your character, your values, your devotion for the State of Israel and your capabilities – all these were tested during the course and that is why I’m confident you will succeed,” Halevi concluded.

Commanding officer of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar said: “It is the 75th anniversary of the state of Israel and you, the graduates of the 186th Pilots Course, are standing at the finish line.  This finish line marks the beginning of a marvelous journey for our new pilots who will take upon their shoulders the privileges and responsibilities for the State of Israel’s security from this day forward.  The cooperation between all IDF branches involves technology, connectivity and AI, but is most evident in the spirit that unites all its servicemembers.”

Lately, voices have been heard attempting to harm and divide our orchestra, but we will strengthen and cultivate it, keeping it capable and united.  I know you will report for duty at any time to defend the State of Israel and its security – that is our way, the way of the Israeli Air Force.  Dear graduates, from this day forth you are part of the IAF family, and you carry this responsibility as well as this privilege with your loved ones.  Carry it courageously and professionally, cooperatively and modestly.  Spread your wings, go forth and succeed, and return home safely.”



Israelis, Palestinians Are Not Morally Equal Now – David M. Weinberg

What is missing from the glib reporting of international media from the West Bank is any reference to the political and moral implications of Palestinian terrorism.  Nobody has remarked upon the death-glorifying political culture of the Palestinians that repeatedly chooses violence over negotiations.  Few are prepared to recognize the distinction between child-murdering Palestinian terrorists and Israeli soldiers conducting anti-terrorist operations who must arrest or eliminate Palestinian combatants and who occasionally hit a bystander.

Few acknowledge that Palestinian society celebrates the kidnapping and murder of Israeli men, women, and children, while the IDF does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.  Instead, too many Western diplomats and journalists who should know better outrageously plug symmetry, presenting Israel as a violent society, not particularly different from its Palestinian neighbor.

There is no moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians in the current struggle.  In Israeli society, moral standards are clear.  Israel is not planting bombs in Palestinian markets or kidnapping Palestinian children.  Israel seeks conflict resolution, not the annihilation of the enemy.  Israel has put forth eight far-reaching compromise proposals on the diplomatic table over the past 20 years.

In 2022 there were more than 5,000 Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli Jews, including car rammings, shootings, stabbings, and fire-bombings of innocent men, women and children.  Over the past few months, Palestinian terrorists have slaughtered close to 40 Israelis.

The contrasting viciousness of much of Palestinian society is repeatedly laid bare by atrocious terrorism; the glorification of terrorists by Palestinian leadership; the financial support of Palestinian governments for such terrorism; and repeated rejection of any and all compromise peace proposals.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Misgav Institute for National Security and Zionist Strategy.



Israel’s Pursuit Of Terrorists In Jenin Echoes U.S. Actions Abroad – Stephen M. Flatow

When the U.S. carried out airstrikes on Iran-backed terrorists in Syria on March 23, killing 11 of them, President Biden said the airstrikes demonstrated his commitment to the principle that the U.S. must be “prepared to act forcefully to protect our people.”  Biden was right.  Every government must act forcefully to protect its people.  In May alone, according to CENTCOM, U.S.-led forces carried out 21 operations against ISIS terrorists in Iraq and an additional 17 operations in Syrian territory.  That’s 38 U.S.-led anti-terror operations in 30 days.

When a U.S. drone strike in Syria killed ISIS terrorist Khalid Ayyd Ahmad al-Jabouri on April 3, the Pentagon said the killing was justified because it “will temporarily disrupt the organization’s ability to plot external attacks.”  That is exactly what Israel is doing when it sends troops into PA cities such as Jenin.  Disrupting enemy attacks saves lives.  Every Israeli is grateful to the IDF for removing dangerous Palestinian Arab terrorists from the field.