News Digest — 7/6/23

IDF Strikes Lebanese Targets After Rockets Fired Towards Northern Israel

Two rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel on Thursday (6th), one of them landing in Lebanese territory and the second near a disputed area at the border, three security sources in Lebanon said.

This was confirmed by the IDF who also stated that they were striking the area from which the rockets were launched.

Israel’s military spokesman said on Twitter that its army had “found no incident within Israeli territory” but that an explosion had taken place “beyond the border fence.”

Lebanon had not fired rockets at Israel since April, when three Israelis were injured and a number of buildings were damaged as a result of a 34-rocket barrage.

Of the 34 rockets, 25 were intercepted in the air, while five landed on Israeli territory.

There was no claim of responsibility for the reported rocket fire and no immediate comment from the Lebanese army or the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The sources in Lebanon said one rocket landed near the Lebanese border village of Wazzani and the second near the disputed village of Ghajar, which straddles the Israeli-Lebanon border.

The rocket fire came after Israel concluded one of the largest military operations in years in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Hezbollah, the powerful, Iran-backed Lebanese group that controls southern Lebanon and has fought several wars with Israel, expressed support for the Palestinian cause during the Israeli operation.

Hezbollah did not comment on the reports of rocket fire.  In a separate statement, the armed group condemned what it called “dangerous measures” by Israeli forces in the northern part of Ghajar, which Lebanon considers its territory.

Hezbollah accuses Israel of erecting a wire fence and building a cement wall.  Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday (4th) said it was concerned by the moves, saying they were creating a “new reality on the ground.”  There was no immediate response from Israel’s military to the Hezbollah accusation.



Gallant: The Terrorists Acted Like Cowards In Jenin

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that the IDF’s mission during the military operation in Jenin this week was successful in destroying terrorist infrastructure and combating the use of Jenin as a haven for terrorists.

“In the last 48 hours, we significantly damaged the terrorist production infrastructure and brought down the terrorist production factory that was established in Jenin.  It must be understood that there were many dozens of sites where there were: workshops for the production of explosives, laboratories, storage sites, and also security measures in which they guarded the entrances to the camp, and monitored the routine activities of the security forces.  There were snipers there, and a tunnel that some of you saw on patrol there.  We arrested a lot of people involved in terrorism,” Gallant said, in a conversation with military reporters on Wednesday afternoon (5th).

“In terms of the objectives – the objectives of the operation have been fully achieved – starting this monting the IDF and the Shin bet have a different freedom of action in Jenin.”

The defense minister stated that two divisions participated in the operation in a manner which allowed the security forces to divide into smaller forces for specific tasks than has been possible in past operations.

Gallant also said that “any terrorist who returns to the refugee camp in Jenin will not recognize it, for him it is no longer a sanctuary, certainly not at the same level.  He’ll feel that he always has to look over his shoulder.”

Gallant hinted that this would not be the last military operation in Jenin.  “From our point of view, this is not the end of the story.  Just as we acted with strength here, we will act after this with whatever strength is required in a specific place or in the entire refugee camp.  In fact, if I connect this operation to the operation of several months ago against the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, there is a connecting line between them.  That connection is the instructions I gave on the first day in my position against terrorism, proactive moves, and attacks.  We don’t have to wait for them to act to respond over and over again.  We are taking an offensive and proactive position and going to the places from which they operate, this is what we did in Jenin.  We have the ability to copy this formula for other places, and to adopt changing methods.”

“Despite all the talk on TikTok, at the moment of truth the terrorists in Jenin chose to hide or flee.  And the last two days proves that this is not about some kind of army or suicide militia, it is about terrorists who fight for money to show their friends and acquaintances that they are ‘heroes.’  Most of them left their places of residence, and those who remained, hid in places where they were protected by the civilian population, such as hospitals and around children. I think this is something that indicates more than anything the cowardice and the lack of courage that they try to portray to the world.  You should know that the hands are Palestinian hands, mainly those of the Islamic Jihad which is the more dominant factor in the Jenin refugee camp, but there are others as well.  But the funding is Iranian funding.  We have seen a long period of Iranian attempts to promote terrorism from Judea and Samaria through financing, guidance, and the attempted transportation of weapons,” Gallant said.



Thousands Attend Funeral For Fallen Soldier

Sergeant First Class David Yehuda Yitzhak, who was killed on Tuesday (4th) during the Israeli counterterrorism operation in Jenin, was laid to rest on Wednesday (5th) at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem.

Thousands attended the ceremony, among them IDF representatives, soldiers from his unit, family and friends.

Lt. Col. M., the commander of the Egoz unit, recalled that David Yehuda Yitzhak was a motivated fighter who was an important part of Israeli security.

“You were a fighter and an angel.  A man with a heart of gold, dedicated and full of faith, which kept you going.  For your entire service, you were a leading part of the mission, and now, you risked your life for the citizens of Israel.  A strong warrior, professional and sharp, and during this battle as well, you pushed to succeed.  Anywhere you went, you left a mark.  You always pushed to be ethical, on the best side, because your values were instilled at home.  You are the ideal Egoznik.”  Lt. Col. M. stated in the name of the unit that “the unit lost an amazing man and warrior.  All Egoz soldiers and the unit wish to join in the family’s pain.  We bow our heads and will always be with you.  David, in the name of us all, I salute you for who you were, and you will always remain.”

David Yehuda Yitzhak was also eulogized by his father.  He leaves behind his parents and six siblings.

Speaking in the name of the government, the Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich turned to  David Yehuda Yitzhak’s fellow soldiers and stated: “Dear warriors, you were sent by us to a persistent fight against terror to restore security to Israeli citizens.  You succeeded in your mission, just as you know, in the best way.  We love you and your dedication to Israel’s security.”



Visiting Jerusalem, Liberian President Vows To Open Embassy In Israel

Liberian President George Weah told Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Tuesday (4th) that his nation planned to open an embassy in Israel.

Visiting Jerusalem, Weah also held meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, along with a senior delegation that included ministers and senior officials from Liberia.

There was no official announcement of a date for the opening of the embassy, or whether it would be in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

Last year, it was reported that Liberia planned to open a trade office in Jerusalem that would eventually become an embassy.

In his welcoming remarks to Weah, Cohen called Liberia “one of Israel’s biggest friends in Africa.”

The Liberian leader’s last official visit to Israel was in 2019 and the two countries share strong ties.  There is extensive cooperation on energy, water and agriculture since the establishment of relations in 1983, and Israeli exports to Liberia have increased in recent years.

According to a statement released by Netanyahu’s office, the two leaders held a private meeting and then expanded discussions alongside officials.

“They discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, especially in innovation, agriculture and making Israeli knowledge more accessible for the challenges facing Liberia,” read the statement.

Netanyahu also thanked Weah “for Liberia’s strong diplomatic support.”

In recent years, Israel has made a push to improve its relations with African countries, including Liberia.

Israel considers Liberia a key ally in Africa and also in international forums.  Liberia has frequently voted alongside Israel at the United Nations and the African Union.

Earlier this year, an Israeli delegate to the African Union was expelled from the forum’s annual summit, despite Israel holding observer status.  The union is deeply divided on Israel’s membership, and Jerusalem has relied on support from countries like Liberia.

Before meeting with Netanyahu and Cohen, Weah met with Herzog, whose office said the Israeli president “reiterated the importance of Israel’s Observer Status at the African Union.”

Herzog also addressed the issue of the Liberian embassy in Israel and told Weah it was ‘important’ in order to “greatly increase the opportunities for cooperation.”

While Israel does not have a formal embassy in Monrovia, it has an ambassador to Liberia, Ghana and Sierra leone.

“There are many issues we can work on together – there is a need to advance cooperation in agriculture as soon as possible, and we spoke about other fields of interest including health, defense, and foreign affairs – there are many issues that can be upgraded dramatically,” Herzog said in a statement.

The two also discussed plans to bring Liberian students to Israel in order to study agriculture innovations.  Israeli companies that specialize in agritech, solar and other alternative energy technologies operate extensively in African countries.

“We want to work with Israel so we can continue to succeed,” said Weah.

Weah also told Herzog that he took the opportunity while in Israel to pray for his son’s success after Tim Weah signed a contract earlier this week to play for Italian Serie A team Juventus.

“I put my note in the Western Wall to God that Timothy will be the greatest player in the Italian league,” Weah told Herzog.



Israeli Doctors Reattach Palestinian Boy’s Head To His Neck In Life-Saving Surgery

The parents of 12-year-old Suleiman Hassan, a Palestinian Arab boy from the Jordan valley, never imagined that the routine ride on his bicycle near his home would end so dramatically.

The boy, who, like every other day, went out on his bicycle to get some air, was involved in a traffic accident recently and was very seriously injured.  Only the emergency surgery he underwent at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital saved his life.

After being struck by a car, Hassan was airlifted to the trauma unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem, when it was clear to rescue forces in the area that his life was in danger due to his critical injury and damage to the connection between his head and neck.

Dr. Ohad Einav, a specialist from the orthopedic department at the hospital, who operated on him together with Dr. Ziv Asa, said, “The most significant and main injury suffered by the boy was a fracture in the connection between the head and the neck, along with a tear of all the ligaments.  Additionally there was a superficial injury to the abdomen.  Due to the serious injury, the head almost completely detached from the base of the neck.

“After a thorough examination of his condition, we decided to perform surgery during which we attached the head to the neck,” Dr. Einav continued.

“We fought for the boy’s life, a large operating team, including operating room nurses and anesthesiologists, followed by the intensive care and surgical department team.”

“This is a rare and unusual case with a 50% chance of mortality.  The procedure itself is very complicated and took several hours, while in the operating room, we used new plates and fixations in the damaged areas.  It was precisely because of such cases that I chose to specialize in trauma.”

“Our ability to save the child, thanks to the most innovative knowledge and technology in the operating room, is immensely satisfying.  That’s the goal of all of us in the trauma complex.”

“Fortunately, the operation was a great success and we saved the boy’s life.  He was discharged home with a cervical splint and, of course, under the dedicated medical care and monitoring of the hospital staff and myself.

Suleiman’s father, who did not leave his son’s bedside during his days of hospitalization and recovery from the surgery, thanked the surgeons and other staff members who helped save his son’s life.

“I will thank you all my life for saving my dear only son.  Bless you all, thanks to you he regained his life even when the odds were low and the danger was obvious.  What saved him was professionalism, technology, and quick decision making by the trauma and orthopedic team.  All I can say is a big thank you.”



Little Let-Up In Israel’s Air Campaign Against Iran In Syria – Paul Iddon

Israeli airstrikes on Syria are still a regular occurance over a decade after Israel initiated its preemptive air campaign against Iran-related targets in its war-torn northern neighbor.

The strikes were a reminder that Israel’s air campaign over Syria, primarily aimed at Iranian entrenchment there, is far from finished.  Recent reports indicate that Iranian efforts to strengthen its foothold in the Arab country and bolster the capabilities of the Hezbollah group in neighboring Lebanon are still very much active.  Iranian success in either country could undercut Israel’s concerted decade-long effort to prevent the implementation of these overlapping strategic projects.

A June 30 report in the Israeli newspaper Maariv cited unnamed Israeli military sources claiming Hezbollah has doubled its air defense arsenal and could attempt to deter or actively interfere with Israeli Air Force operations over Lebanon.

“Hezbollah’s decision to restrict the Israeli Air Force with available Russian air defenses, SA-8 and SA-22 is a fundamental change in Hezbollah’s strategic concept, within which attempts are being made to restrict the Israeli Air Force’s freedom to operate.