News Digest — 6/7/22

Syria Reports Israeli Missile Strike In Damascus

Israel fired several missiles toward the southern part of Syria’s capital Damascus on Tuesday morning, (7th) causing material damage but no casualties, state media reported.

The state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Israeli jets fired several missiles while flying over Syrian airspace.  It added that air defense systems were activated in the capital against “hostile targets” and some missiles were shot down.

The last time Syria reported an Israeli attack was two weeks ago, when three people were killed near Damascus in a surface-to-surface attack, but the media did not say if they were soldiers.

The targeted locations were Jamraya and Al-Kiswah – areas that were repeatedly attacked over the past few years where pro-Iranian militias were located.

The Syrian Army’s announcement stated then that “the Israeli enemy carried out an attack using a surface-to-surface missile barrage from the Syrian Golan region, on several targets on southern Damascus.  Air defense systems were activated and intercepted most of the missiles.”

Israel has been mounting attacks on its northern neighbor for several years, mainly on what has been described Iranian-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have built up a presence since deploying to help President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war which broke out in 2011.



Israeli Forces Fire Warning Shots After Lebanese Troops Cross Blue Line

An Israeli Defense Forces Unit stationed on the Lebanese border in the Ramim Ridge area fired warning shots on Sunday morning (5th) after spotting Lebanese soldiers crossing the Blue Line, according to Israeli media reports.  The Lebanese troops withdrew following the warning fire, and the IDF continued its operations as normal, according to Ynet.

The Blue Line, which runs for approximately 75 miles along Lebanon’s southern frontier, is a “line of withdrawal” set by the United Nations in 2000 for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area.

This was the third time in the past seven days that the IDF and LAF came into close contact, according to the report, which cited IDF sources as saying that Lebanese “operatives” dressed in civilian clothes had accompanied LAF forces during Sunday’s (5th) incident.

The IDF unit involved in the incident comprised officer-course cadets from the Geffen Battalion.  Lebanese media outlets released footage of the unit.

“The IDF has this year enabled infantry cadets from the officer’s school battalion to conduct operational activity on the Lebanese border as well, as part of their training,” according to Ynet.  In the past, the battalion was only operationally active in Judea and Samaria.



Palestinian Authority Facing Mounting Civilian Unrest In Hebron

Along with the political tension in Fatah and the deterioration of relations between Fatah and Hamas, the socio-economic unrest in the Palestinian Authority and especially in Hebron is now worsening.

The “Want to Live” protest movement has been very active in Hebron recently and is demanding that the Palestinian Authority government adopt a fair price policy, formulate a solution to socio-economic problems, reduce the salaries of senior ministers, and cancel agreements with Israel.

The unrest is due to a sharp rise in bread and oil prices, which have risen by more than 30% – including fuel prices which have also risen.  Protesters are threatening to block the entrance to the city with 400 trucks.

The movement stated their demands in 16 sections in the shadow of an economic crisis plaguing the Palestinian Authority, which is suffering from budgetary distress.

Many salaries are not paid in full.  The PA, it should be noted, currently pays about 245,000 salaries worth $300 million a month while its revenues stand at only $330 million.  A Palestinian economist estimates that the poverty rate now stands at 27%.

The Palestinian Authority is also facing difficult decisions on its relations with Israel.  A senior Palestinian official told TPS over the weekend that “our position is that all forms of political security and economic relations should be cut off immediately and the recognition of Israel abolished.”



America Continues To Appease The Palestinians – Melanie Phillips

What the Palestinians have been doing recently hardly justifies their description by State Department spokesman Ned Price as America’s “partners,” for the PA repeatedly incites violence against Israeli Jews.  The official PA daily ran a column attacking Israel’s Jerusalem Day parade while ludicrously claiming that a Palestinian nation had existed for 5,000 years with Jerusalem as its capital.  It also claimed that the Western Wall of the Temple Mount belonged “only to believers of the religion of Islam,” and called on them “to expel from it the Zionist hordes.”

Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, which runs the PA has named as “heroic martyrs” the two Palestinian murderers who killed eight people in two separate terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak this year.  A Fatah official declared that “we love martyrdom-death as we love life,” while Palestinians chanted: “How sweet it is to kill Jews.”  The PA routinely instructs its children that their highest calling is to kill Israelis and continues to pay terrorists’ families a reward for murdering Israeli Jews.

In any sane and morally functioning universe, such people would be treated as social and political pariahs and held to account for their murderous agenda.  So why is the Biden administration so determined to elevate them?

There is a fundamental misconception that the war of extermination waged against Israel is instead a conflict between two rival claims to the same area of land.  But all such attempts at compromise serve instead to legitimize, incentivize and reward Palestinian aggression.  By insisting on equivalence between victim and aggressor, it always ends up favoring the aggressor and placing the victim in even greater jeopardy. 

The writer is a columnist for The Times – UK.



Belgian Woman Who Saved Jewish Children From Holocaust Dies At 100

A schoolteacher and a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War II and the Holocaust, Andree Geulen -Herscovici died on June 1 in Ixelles, Belgium, at the age of 100.  As a member of the clandestine Committee for the Defense of Jews, she assisted in the rescue of almost 1,000 Jewish children during the Holocaust, risking her own safety to do so.

Geulen was honored in 1989 with the title of Righteous Among the Nations, and in 2007, was granted honorary Israeli citizenship in a ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.  Upon accepting the honorific, she said, “What I did was merely my duty.  Disobeying the laws of the time was just the thing to do.”

When Geulen noticed one of her students at the Gaty de Gamont School in Brussels wearing the yellow star mandated by the Nazis to identify Jews, she instructed all of her students to wear aprons in order to shield her Jewish students from humiliation.  After learning the fate of Jews captured by the Nazis, she assisted a Jewish friend at the Belgian Jewish Defense Committee in hiding Jewish children at school.

The principal, Odile Obart, also helped.  He and his wife were arrested after a raid on the school and sent to German concentration camps, where they both died, and were later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

Geulen warned Jewish students not to return to the school before going undercover for more than two years, providing children with false identities and stealing them away to hideouts in Christian homes and monasteries, returning occasionally to check on their welfare.

Most of the parents of the children Geulen saved were murdered during the Holocaust.  Geulen kept coded records of each child’s original name and their places of shelter to enable those who still had family remaining, the ability to reunite with them after the war.  Between 1943 and the fall of 1944, Geulen escorted more than 300 Jewish children to safety.

Israeli Ambassador to Belgium Emmanuel Nahshon was saddened upon learning of Geulen’s passing, saying: “She was a true hero of humanity, and we will carry her memory forever.  She was an amazing and wonderful woman who saved many Jews during World War II.

A statement from the Belgium Jewish community read: “We received the news of Andree Geulen-Herscovici passing with deep regret.  We are all orphans because we just lost a lady who showed exemplary behavior in the face of Nazi barbarism.  She did not look away when the Jews needed help and she saved them from death.  If there were more women and men like Andree Geulen-Herscovici, the world would be a better place.”



The Latest U.S. Intelligence Leak: Is America Trying To Curtail Israel’s Freedom Of Operation? – Amb. Ron Dermer And Dr. Michael Makovsky

A United States Intelligence official told the New York Times that Israel was behind the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodayari in Tehran, who was responsible for executing cross-border attacks on Israelis and Jews.  Israel has denied  involvement in the killing.  But why did the leak occur?

This wouldn’t be the first leak that came from U.S. intelligence officials.  They are trying to distance themselves from Israel, to put the blame on Israel and keep the U.S. out of it.  For the U.S. to think that they are going to stabilize the situation by distancing themselves from Israel not only endangers Israeli citizens and officials but it also actually makes the chance of an attack much higher.

This is also a message to Israel that the U.S. disagrees with the action that was taken.  Essentially, what that means is they are trying to curtail Israel’s freedom of operation.  This was one of the concerns of the past, that should a nuclear deal be signed, the U.S. would immediately try to restrict Israel’s freedom of operation.  If they do a deal with Iran, and everybody starts applauding, then Israel will find itself as the skunk at the post-Iran deal garden party.

Israel will continue to do these operations which we have to do against Iran in Syria or other places, but the U.S. may try to handcuff Israel through leaks like this or in other ways to prevent us from acting.  This happened in the past.

After the deal in 2015, rather than stand with Israel and fight Iran in different areas around the region as was promised at the time – to push back against Iranian aggression – that didn’t happen.  There was almost no pushback.  You remember the humiliation of the captured U.S. sailors.  Everything was done to avoid confrontation.

Ron Dermer is a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.  Michael Makovsky is President and CEO  of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.