News Digest — 7/10/24

Hezbollah: Nasrallah’s Former Bodyguard Killed In Airstrike In Syria

Hezbollah confirmed on Tuesday (9th) that Yasir Nimr Qaranbash, the former bodyguard of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and the one responsible for arms transfers to Lebanon, was killed in an Israeli strike on his car while traveling the Damascus-Beirut Highway near the Syrian capital.

“The target of the attack was responsible for transferring manpower and arms from Syria to Hezbollah,” officials told al-Hadath.

Qaranbash was reportedly killed in an Israeli Air Force drone strike.  Another individual who was killed in the strike has yet to be identified.

Sources in Lebanon reported that Qaranbash was the operational commander in Marjayoun before the year 2000 and participated in the “heroic battle” of El-Ghandourieh in 2006.

Israel has been increasing attacks on high-value Hezbollah targets lately.  Last week, Muhammad Neamah Naser, the commander of the Hezbollah terrorist organization’s Aziz unit, was killed in an airstrike.  The Aziz unit is one of three regional units Hezbollah operates in southern Lebanon and is responsible for the terror group’s activities along the eastern portion of the Israel-Lebanon border.



Man and Woman Killed In  Direct Rocket Hit In The Golan Heights

As the Israel-Hamas war entered its 277th day, intense military activity continued on multiple fronts.

A man and a woman were critically injured on Tuesday (9th) from a direct rocket strike on their car in the Golan Heights.

Firefighting teams who arrived at the scene rescued the two from the burning vehicle, which had sustained a direct hit, and transferred them to medical personnel for treatment at the site.  Both victims, a husband and wife, died.

Approximately 40 rocket launches were identified crossing from Lebanon into the central Golan Heights area.  This is likely in response to the assassination of the former bodyguard of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah near Damascus, as Hezbollah announced that “in response to the assassination in Syria, we launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at bases in the Golan Heights.”

At the same time, at least eight fires broke out in open areas as a result of the barrages.  Firefighting teams began extinguishing efforts to keep the fires under control.



Legislation Labeling UNRWA A ‘Terror Organization’ Passes Knesset Committee

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee unanimously approved legislation designating the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) a “terror organization” on Tuesday (9th).  The bill now heads to the Knesset plenum for its first reading.

In addition to designating the agency as a terror organization, the legislation would also strip UNRWA of its diplomatic immunity, tax-exempt status, and other legal benefits.

“UNRWA’s crimes on October 7 and the agency’s cooperation over the years with the terrorist organizations are unforgivable.  There is no other way to define them except as a terror organization and they must be immediately removed from the law,” said MK Yulia Malinovsky, who initiated the legislation.

“An organization whose employees, social workers, doctors and teachers during the day are terrorists at night is a terrorist organization for all intents and purposes,” the Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker added.

UNRWA, which supports Palestinian refugees, has been under fire for months, with Israeli officials demanding the agency be stripped of its authority in Gaza and defunded amid revelations that members of the agency’s staff participated in Hamas’ October 7 attacks.

Israel’s largest bank froze UNRWA’s account in February over suspicious financial transfers that the agency failed to adequately explain.

That same month, Israeli forces discovered a Hamas complex located directly under the UNRWA’s Gaza City headquarters and connected directly to the agency’s electricity system.

The facility included numerous computer servers belonging to the terror group.

More than 100 survivors of Hamas’ October 7 attacks filed a $1 billion lawsuit against UNRWA, accusing the agency of “aiding and
abetting” the terror group.

The Israel Lands Authority in May ordered UNRWA to vacate its Jerusalem offices over violations of its lease.

Palestinian refugees are the only refugee population with its own dedicated UN agency.

The rest of the world’s refugees fall under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Israeli officials have called for UNRWA to be closed and for Palestinian refugees to be brought under the responsibility of the UNHCR.

At least 1,200 people were killed, and 251 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’ attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7.  Of the 116 remaining hostages. More than 30 are believed dead.



Israel Offers To Take In Children With Cancer From Bombed Ukrainian Hospital

Following a Russian attack that claimed the lives of 34 people and wounded 150 others, Israel has offered to care for Ukrainian children with cancer in a hospital in central Israel; Israel is awaiting a response from President Zelensky.

Israel has informed Ukraine that it is prepared to receive Ukrainian children with cancer who were left homeless after the Okhmatdyt Hospital in Kyiv, where they were being treated, was bombed on Tuesday (9th) by Russia.  If the children do come to Israel, they will be admitted to the Sheba Medical Center.

The exact number of children to be transferred to Israel has not yet been determined and it will depend on their medical condition and diagnosis.  The offer was conveyed to the Ukrainians by Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky.

“The embassy has a long history of cooperation with the affected hospital,” Brodsky said on Wednesday (10th).  “At the beginning of the war, several children with oncological diseases, who were hospitalized there, were evacuated to Israel for treatment.  I thank the Sheba Medical Center for its willingness to help.  Israel has a reputation as a country with a big heart, and we are doing everything to maintain that reputation.”

The world reacted with shock to the scenes of numerous sick children injured Tuesday (9th) by a Russian missile strike on Kyiv”s largest children’s hospital, where many were killed.

The Russians denied their missile hit the hospital, claiming the hospital was hit by a Ukrainian missile.  However, intelligence in Ukraine and senior UN officials clarified that all findings show that the hospital was directly hit by a Russian missile.

“The Israeli embassy has long-standing ties with the Okhmatdyt Hospital.  At the beginning of the war, the embassy delivered medical equipment to the hospital, their doctors visited Israel, our doctors went there or advised online.  The embassy is exploring the possibility of assisting in the rehabilitation of the heavily damaged hospital.  I also spoke with the Sheba Medical Center,” Brodsky told Ynet.      



New Israeli Airline ‘Air Haifa’ To Receive Its First Plane In July

The first new Israeli airline since the 1990s, Air Haifa is expected to receive its initial plane in July.

Shortly after the new plane’s arrival, Air Haifa will seek a license from Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority, which it expects to secure in September.

Air Haifa will be a low cost alternative for residents of northern Israel who want to travel relatively short distances or fly overseas without going to Ben Gurion.

Air Haifa will be the first commercial airline based at the Haifa International Airport.  It will fly passengers from Haifa to Eilat and other places in the Mediterranean, including Greece.

The first aircraft in Air Haifa’s fleet, a new ATR 72-600 with 72 seats, will depart Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France and arrive at Haifa airport in July.

The airline expects two similar planes in the coming months.

In addition, Air Haifa CEO Usishkin said the development of an airline in the north of the country is an “important step for the region that will help to strengthen the local economy and create new jobs.” 

Usishkin added, “We are proud, especially in this period, to be the first commercial airline in the country’s history to base its operations at the Haifa International Airport.”

“Upon completion of the company’s licensing process and receipt of the required licenses from the Civil Aviation Authority, we will announce the date for the launch of operations and start selling tickets,” he said.

Establishing a new airline in Haifa will provide residents in the north an alternative and relieve the congestion at Ben Gurion airport.

According to Air Haifa’s website, “Instead of a long drive to the airport and arriving three hours before the flight to wait in lines and at the gate, our passengers will enjoy the convenience of flying internationally from their local airport and getting from their doorstep to onboard the plane in less than “90 minutes.”



Muslim Bedouin IDF Commander Recalls Oct. 7 – Amir Bohbot

Lt.-Col. Nader Eyadat, 39, a member of the Bedouin community from Beit Zarzir, enlisted in the IDF in 2005 and joined the Desert Reconnaissance Battalion, which operates around Gaza.  He was at home on Oct. 7 when reports of rocket launches against Gaza border communities began – and immediately drove south.

“We organized very quickly as an initial force,” he said.  “We had the mission to retake control of part of Route 232 and clear it of terrorists …. My fighters and I know the sector like the back of our hands, we trained on infiltration scenarios [of] one, two, three terrorists.  Who would have thought that thousands of terrorists would infiltrate?”

Since Oct. 7, members of the reconnaissance battalion have participated in a large number of additional operations.  On June 6, three terrorists who were trying to infiltrate into Israel under cover of fog were killed by battalion fighters.

Eyadat said, “We have been shoulder to shoulder in the IDF since 1948.  We have 30 fallen soldiers in the unit who were not killed in vain.  Then everyone saw what happened here on Oct. 7.   Hamas did not differentiate between anyone: it killed Bedouins and Jews all the same.  This is a terrorist organization that wants the destruction of the country.  The veteran fighters of the reconnaissance battalion came here without anyone asking them and rushed here from anywhere in the country without questions.  They told me that it is impossible to sit at home when such events take place.” 

Eyadat added, “There is a video where you see a Bedouin father begging for his life and he is holding a small child.  They [Hamas] tell him: ‘You are a traitor’ and kill him in front of his son.  This is a very difficult video.  You see the hate in the videos.  Also of the citizens of Gaza.  They hide behind religion, and are educated to hate, and they murdered and kidnapped Bedouins.



Inside Israel’s Emergency Call Center On Oct. 7 – Noam Barkan

The calls to the Magen David Adom emergency call center came in a deluge on Oct. 7.  Desperate, pleading, screaming, chilling.  They poured in from open fields, groves, and farms, from locked closets and safe rooms, from shelters, from bullet-riddled vehicles, from injured first-responder teams, from military bases, from bushes, from ditches, under relentless gunfire, deep within the flames.  They also came from parents frantic with worry, from children orphaned in an instant, from a mother during her abduction, from people fleeing death until it finally caught up with them.

MDA data shows that on Oct. 7, 315 emergency medical technicians and paramedics answered 26,627 emergency calls, saving many lives.  These calls represent an enormous repository of real-time documentation of the atrocities.  On that Saturday morning, moment by moment, the calls became more difficult and frightening.

“We all received unusual calls,” says dispatcher Yael Hadad.  “I looked to my right and left, we looked each other in the eyes and understood that we were all receiving calls that were beyond comprehension.”  Jarring sounds of screams, pain, gunfire, explosions, panic.  Whispers, final gasps, silences, and shouts in Arabic are heard in some of the calls.

At 7:32 a.m., the MDA dispatcher Avi answered a call.  A young woman said, “They’re shooting at us.  We’re near Gaza.  There are many wounded here.  Send lots of ambulances…. They’re shooting at us all the time!”  Her terrified words mingled with the gunfire and screams in Arabic.  “Ahhh,” a flash of surprised pain is heard on the phone.  “Ahhh.”  Her quick, frightened, sobbing breaths turned into three final gasps, followed by one weak one, and then silence.  At least this young woman wasn’t completely alone.  There was someone who accompanied her until her last breath.  (Israel Hayom)