News Digest 7/2/24

Soldier Killed, Another Seriously Hurt By Roadside Bomb In West Bank’s Nur Shams

An Israeli soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb during a counterterrorism raid in the West Bank on Monday (1st), the military said.

The slain soldier was named by the Israel Defense Forces as Sgt. First Class (res.) Yehuda Geto, 22, from Pardes Hanna-Karkur.  Two Palestinians were also killed during attempts to evacuate the two from Nur Shams near Tulkarem.

The two soldiers were inside a Panther armored personnel carrier when the bomb exploded, Geto was the driver, and the seriously wounded soldier was a commander in the Duvdevan commando unit.

According to an initial IDF probe, the vehicle was waiting in an area of Nur Shams where explosive devices were not believed by the army to have been planted.  Other Duvdevan troops had disembarked from the APC to carry out operations on foot.

Armed groups in the West Bank frequently plant improvised explosive devices under roads to attack Israeli forces carrying out arrest raids.  The military regularly rips up roads with armored bulldozers as a precautionary measure before entering with lighter-armed vehicles.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

While trying to extract the two soldiers, the IDF attempted to carry out a drone strike against a group of gunmen in the area, though the missile did not explode, the probe found.

Later, several Palestinian gunmen attempted to tamper with the missile, setting it off.  The explosion killed a Palestinian woman, who was standing nearby, according to a military probe.

Separately, Duvdevan  troops shot dead a Palestinian gunman who opened fire on the forces, the IDF said.

The incidents came days after a similar attack in the Jenin area, in which a soldier was killed and 16 others were hurt when Islamic Jihad operatives detonated bombs against army vehicles during a raid.

Tensions have been high in the West Bank amid the war in the Gaza Strip, which began on Oct. 7 when thousands of Hamas terrorists attacked southern Israel under a barrage of rockets fired at population centers all over the country.  They brutally killed some 1,200 people, amid instances of torture and rape and seized 251 hostages.

Since October 7, troops have arrested some 4,200 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,750 affiliated with Hamas.

During the same period, 21 Israelis, including security personnel, have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank.  Another five members of the security forces were killed in clashes with terror operatives in the West Bank, including in Monday’s (1st) incident.



Netanyahu: ‘We’re Approaching End Of Stage Of Eliminating Hamas Army’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Monday (1st), at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, met with Israel National Defense College cadets  and briefed them on the combat in the Gaza Strip, Israeli policy and activity in all sectors, especially the northern sector, and the overall security challenges facing Israel, first and foremost, Iran.

The prime minister described the significant achievements of the security forces, particularly the IDF, in all sectors but especially in the Gaza Strip.  He encouraged the cadets to continue their determined efforts for the security of the State of Israel ahead of their integration into key positions in the security establishment.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said to the cadets: “I returned Sunday (6/30) from a visit to the Gaza Division.  I saw very considerable achievements in the fighting being carried out in Rafah.  We are advancing to the end of the stage of eliminating the Hamas terrorist army, we will continue striking its remnants.”

“I was very impressed by the achievement above and below ground and by the commanders’ fighting spirit.  With this spirit we will achieve our objectives: returning our hostages, eliminating Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, ensuring that Gaza will not constitute a threat, and also returning our residents securely to their homes in both the north and the south,” he said.

“We are on very extensive fronts, and I am convinced that our forces –  reservists and conscripts, IDF and our security services – can overcome our enemies,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, MG Roman Gofman and Head of the IDF Depth Corps and the Military Colleges, MG Nimrod Aloni participated in the meeting.

Also present were cadets from the militaries of Germany, Singapore, Japan, Italy, the Czech Republic and South Korea.



Iran Surging Weapons Transfers To Hezbollah As War Looms With Israel

As the threat of an all-out Israel-Hezbollah war grows, Iran has stepped up its efforts to supply its chief proxy with more weapons, missiles and air-defense systems, Ynet reported Monday (1st).

The air-defense systems are among the most important items Tehran is smuggling into Lebanon, as they are Hezbollah’s only defense against Israeli air strikes.

Hezbollah has managed to use their systems successfully several times so far, intercepting and destroying five IDF UAVs, including the downing of a large Hermes 900 drone with a surface-to-air missile a month ago.

The report says that the IAF has destroyed “a significant number of such systems” since Hezbollah began supporting Hamas just one day after Hamas’ October 7 massacre in Gaza envelope communities.

Hezbollah’s main threat to Israel so far has been the firing of thousands of missiles, UAVs and anti-tank rockets over the border.  These have killed 16 soldiers and 10 Israeli civilians to date and wounded many more, including 18 troops in a drone strike on the northern Golan Heights on Sunday (6/30).

The only reason the death toll is so low is because Israel evacuated some 60,000 residents from the border communities at the start of the war.  The property damage has been huge, however, and fires from downed rockets have also destroyed hundreds of dunams of land.

According to the Ynet report, one of the airborne threats Iran is smuggling in as quickly as it can is the Almas (“Diamond”), a precision, anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) that has an advanced warhead and guidance system and versions that can reach 10 miles into Israel.

It is based on the Israeli Spike missile, which Iranian specialists reverse-engineered after one was captured by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

In a March report, The Telegraph described how Tehran smuggles its weapons now to Hezbollah, to avoid Israeli airstrikes on its land convoys.  The arms are first shipped to Syria, then loaded on vessels that go to Belgium, Spain and Italy.  Properly “laundered” with fake paperwork, they are then sent back to Syrian and then southern Lebanon ports.

According to the IDF, Hezbollah’s annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars comes almost entirely from the Islamic Republic, as do almost all of its weapons.

In addition, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force superintends its puppet’s “force build-up, strategic and operational architecture… and training of commanders and fighters,” said an army explainer.

In what would be a change of policy, Iran threatened last week to support Hezbollah directly instead of only behind the scenes if the mullahs see that an Israeli offensive is seriously endangering its proxy.

If Israel launches a full-scale attack, “a war of annihilation” would ensue, the Iranian UN delegation wrote on X on Friday (6/28), in which “all options, including the full involvement of all resistance fronts are on the table.”

Iran attacked Israel directly in April with a few hundred missiles, including cruise missiles, after the IDF assassinated top Iranian generals in Damascus.  Working together with an international coalition, Israel shot down 99% of the aerial threats.

The recent increase of war rhetoric stems in part from Hezbollah’s recent escalation of rocket and UAV launches into Israel, with a surveillance drone even reaching Haifa.

As Israel has repeatedly stated, no government would allow missiles to hit their countries without making every effort to end the threat.

Jerusalem has waited for nearly nine months, shutting down its whole northern region instead of taking the war to Hezbollah, even though a majority of Israelis agree that this is necessary if they are to live freely in their own country.



Preparing For Action In Iran?  IAF Practices Strikes On Distant Targets

The Israeli Air Force has been conducting extensive training exercises simulating long-range strikes on distant targets, potentially in preparation for action against Iran.  These drills come amid growing concerns that Tehran is exploiting Israel’s current focus on the war against the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip as well as against Hezbollah in Lebanon to accelerate its nuclear program.

According to reports obtained by Israel Hayom, the IAF has carried out several such exercises in recent weeks.  These drills involve long-distance flights and operational activities targeting remote locations, incorporating refueling aircraft, transport planes, and additional units to prepare for potential operations in Iran.

The heightened focus on Iran stems from intelligence assessments suggesting Tehran is making “alarming and unprecedented” progress toward a military nuclear capability.  This development has raised concerns within the security establishment, prompting the creation of an Iran department within the Air Force’s operational headquarters during the ongoing war.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in a recent meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “Now is the time to fulfill the commitment made by all recent US administrations: preventing a nuclear Iran – time is running out on this issue.”

Israel’s defense officials have long maintained that once Iran makes the decision, it could potentially enrich enough uranium for several nuclear facilities within a short timeframe, possibly as little as a month.  However, for years, Israel had diverted resources from Iran-focused preparations to other defense priorities.  It was only about two years ago that funding began to shift backward toward readiness for operations in the “third circle” – a term often used  to refer to Iran.

While Israel is enhancing its preparedness, there is an acknowledgment within the country that its ability to prevent an Iranian nuclear program is limited compared to that of the United States.  As a result, the IAF is refining its plans while hoping that American intervention will ultimately deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has condemned Iran’s lack of cooperation, to which Tehran responded by announcing an increase in the number of centrifuges at its Fordo and Natanz facilities, effectively planning to boost its enriched uranium stockpile.



Germany Conditions Citizenship On Acceptance of Jews And Israel

Germany’s naturalization questionnaire now includes questions requiring that immigrants accept Jews in Germany and the right of Israel to exist.

New immigrants to Germany seeking citizenship will now be required to affirm that they accept Israel’s right to exist, and to tolerate the presence of Jews in the  country, the German Interior Ministry announced last week.

On Thursday (27th), Germany’s Interior Ministry announced that it has modified the naturalization process for gaining German citizenship, with the goal of cutting down the time required to become a citizen while also imposing tighter conditions for citizenship.

“In response to increased  anti-Semitism in Germany, the list of questions in the naturalization test has been expanded,” the Interior Ministry said Thursday (27th).  “New exam questions have been added on the topics of anti-Semitism, the right of the state of Israel to exist and Jewish life in Germany.”

At the same time, the Interior Ministry has streamlined the immigration process, dropping the requirement that new citizens must surrender their citizenship to their previous country, and lowering the residency requirement for immigrants employed in Germany from eight to five years.

The new questionnaire now includes two questions related to “Germany’s special historical responsibility for the National Socialist unjust regime and its consequences, especially for the protection of Jewish life.”

One of the new questions asks prospective citizens: “Which action relating to the State of Israel is forbidden in Germany?”

The correct answer is “publicly calling for the destruction of Israel.”

However, according to a statement by an Interior Ministry spokesperson to Deutsche Welle, if an applicant incorrectly answers the question, they would not be automatically rejected, but would instead be questioned further regarding their views to ascertain whether they reject Israel’s existence.”

By contrast, the German state of Saxony-Anhalt requires naturalization applicants to “actually affirm” their acceptance of Israel’s right to exist.



 Israel Struggles Against Global Amnesia – Elliot Kaufman

• “We pray that one day there will be peace,” says Nina Tokayer, half of the Israeli musical duo Yonina.  “Sometimes that means eliminating our enemies, who hate peace and want to destroy us.  For some reason, a lot of people around the world don’t understand that.”  Israelis don’t understand what the world doesn’t understand about Oct. 7.

• Hamas is the Palestinian majority party.  It will try to do Oct. 7 again if Israel quits Gaza too early, and it will do worse if Israel surrenders the West Bank.  Yet the world demands both, leaving Israelis to conclude that the world has little problem subjecting them to more massacres.

• Micah Goodman, a leading intellectual of the Israeli center, says, “We had Oct. 7 before – in 1929,” when Arab mobs massacred more than 100 Jews across Hebron, Safed, Jerusalem, and Jaffa and left more than 300 wounded.  “Jews were attacked in the streets, in their homes, with all the terrible atrocities that we saw on Oct. 7.”

• The story the West tells itself is that after the Massacre, Israel had the world’s sympathy and support.  But Israel went too far, and the world turned against it.  The truth is darker.  Most of the world didn’t condemn Oct.7 or repudiate Hamas.  Qatar and Egypt, the mediators, both blamed Israel on Oct.7.  On Oct, 8, China called on Israel to “immediately end the hostilities.”  Russia still hosts Hamas delegations.  None of Hamas’ patrons have abandoned it.

• The big human-rights groups equivocated on Oct.7 about “civilians on both sides.”  Ever since then, they have pretended the war began on Oct. 8, representing the Israeli effort as pure malevolence.

• US support for Israel has been essential, but it has strings attached.  At every stage of the war, President Biden has worked to slow and scale down Israel’s military response.  US generals advised Israel not to invade Gaza, senior Israeli officials said.  The Americans insisted that raids from the perimeter would defeat Hamas.  By January the Biden administration was pressing hard for a Palestinian state.  Never mind that the polls show 2/3 of the Palestinians support the Oct. 7 attack.  (Wall Street Journal)