News Digest — 7/9/24

Report In Syria: Israel Struck An Iranian Target In The Northwest Of The Country

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is affiliated with the opposition and is based in Britain, reported two explosions that were heard in the port city of Baniyas in the northwest of the country early Tuesday morning (9th).

The Saudi TV channel Al-Hadath reported that an air-defense system belonging to the pro-Iranian militias was attacked.

The Syrian Ministry of Defense claimed that Israel was responsible for the attack in a statement, saying one target was attacked in the Baniyas area which caused damage.

The reports said that the country’s air defense systems had been activated following the strike.

Sources in Syria identified with the regime and the opposition, attributed the attack to Israel.

The strike took place in the town of Sayyidah Zaynab, where there is extensive activity by pro-Iranian militias, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Hezbollah terrorist organization.  

The Syrian army reported that shortly before midnight, Monday (8th), the Israeli Air Force launched an attack from the direction of the Golan Heights against several targets in the south of the country.

The army also claimed that two Syrians were killed, a soldier was injured and property was damaged.  It added that the air defense systems intercepted some of the missiles.



‘The Next Step May Be The Capital:’ Airstrike On Baalbek A Warning To Hezbollah

Israel’s airstrike killing Hezbollah air defense commander Meitham Mustafa Altaar in Baalbek was a message to Hezbollah.

“The attacks carried out by the IDF in the town of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, a distance of over 62 miles from the northern border, are a serious signal to Hezbollah,” a high-ranking Israeli military official told TPS-IL.  “The next step may be the capital, Beirut.”

While Israeli strikes have hit Baalbek in the past, Saturday night’s (6th) attack was the first to deliberately target a Hezbollah figure there.

Following the strike, Hezbollah launched more than 60 missiles and drones at northern Israel.

Altaar was noted for his expertise in managing and advancing Hezbollah’s air defense capabilities, often traveling to Iran for training and to receive shipments of weapons smuggled  through Syria into Lebanon.

While tourists know Baalbek for its well-preserved ancient Roman ruins, the city is also a logistical hub for and strategic rear for the Iran-backed Hezbollah, located just 19 miles from the Lebanese-Syrian border.

It houses critical Hezbollah assets, including stockpiles of ballistic missiles and SAM6 missile batteries.

Reports from the Alma Center for the Study of Israel’s Security Challenges further indicate extensive tunnel networks in the area, some reaching depths of 263 feet, used for storing weapons and facilitating movement between Lebanon and Syria.

Baalbek also functions as a de facto Hezbollah stronghold, often referred to as a “mini  Hezbollah state” within Lebanon.

The area, recognized as an independent district in 2003 at Hezbollah’s request, houses numerous municipalities and village councils predominately loyal to the Shiite terror group.

Institutions such as schools and hospitals are reportedly built and operated  by Hezbollah, further solidifying its control over the local population there.

The Baalbek district, known historically for its cultivation of hashish  and role in drug trafficking routes, also plays a critical role in Hezbollah’s strategic planning and community influence.

Around 60,000 Israelis living in northern communities  were forced to evacuate in October when the Hezbollah terror organization began daily rocket and drone attacks.

Leaders of the Iran-backed terror group have said they will continue the attacks to prevent Israelis from returning to their homes.

Meanwhile, Israel said its strike on Baalbek was a warning to Hezbollah – the next attack could be the capital, Beirut.



“No Time:” Liberman Calls On French Jews To Flee To Israel After Far-Left Victory In France

Following Sunday’s (7th) French elections result, Avigdor Liberman, head of Yisrael Beytenu, called on French Jews to make Aliyah before it is too late, in statements at a party meeting on Monday (8th).

Liberman called for French Jews to leave after  the broad-left New Popular Front (NPF) election bloc received the most votes.

“I call the French Jews to leave France and immigrate to the State of Israel, No time,” Liberman declared.

The bloc is headed by the far-left strong anti-Israel figure Jean-Luc Melenchon, who Liberman, along with various other figures, including the president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) has accused of anti-Semitism.

“His party represents pure anti-Semitism and expresses a significant increase in hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism,” Liberman said at the party meeting.

French Jews were plagued on both sides of the political spectrum by extreme candidates, some with a long history of anti-Semitism and some with a very recent one.

The elections led to no overall winner but saw the NPF come out with the largest vote share and, thus, the greatest chance to form a coalition.

However, the NPF comprises five major parties and many smaller ones, ranging from center-left to far-left, leaving the total number of member parties in the dozens.

In contrast, the Right formed a much smaller bloc composed of the traditional conservative party of France, Les Republicans, and the Far Right National Rally, which is the ideological descendant of the Nazi collaborators and the extreme right.

In the center lies the ailing Ensemble party of President Macron which took heavy losses to both the left and the right, losing 77 seats in the election.

French Jews were effectively disenfranchised by the current political climate, which saw them unwilling to vote for Macron’s party due to the rising anti-Semitic violence experienced by French Jews, unable to vote for the left due to their alliance with far-left anti-Semites and strong anti-Israel stances, with some even justifying October 7, and regretting being forced to look to the far-right as ironically the only party willing to tackle anti-Semitism in France.

Liberman’s call for a mass French Aliyah is not the first call for such a move, with the Rabbi of Paris’ Grand Synagogue Moshe Sebbag telling the Post, “There’s no future for Jews in France.”



Iran’s President-Elect Reaffirms Country’s Anti-Israel Stance

President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian reaffirmed Iran’s anti-Israel stance on Monday (8th), saying resistance movements across the region will not allow Israel’s “criminal policies” towards the Palestinians to continue.

“The Islamic Republic has always supported the resistance of the people of the region against the illegitimate Zionist regime,” Pezeshkian said in a message to Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group.

The comments signaled no change in the regional policies of the incoming government under the relatively moderate Pezeshkian, who defeated his hardline rival in last week’s runoff election.

“I am certain that the resistance movements in the region will not allow this regime to continue its warmongering and criminal policies against the oppressed people of Palestine and other nations of the region,” Iranian media quoted Pezeshkian as saying.

Shiite Muslim Hezbollah and the Palestinian Sunni Muslim Hamas are part of a group of Iranian-backed factions in the region known as the Axis of Resistance.

Israel did not immediately comment on Pezeshkians remarks.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza began after the Islamist terrorist group that governs the Palestinian enclave led an attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 251 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.



American IDF Soldier Fought In Gaza, Now Fights For Truth On College Campuses – Interview

Sam Fried, a former soldier in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade, spoke to the ‘Post’ about returning to America after dropping everything to defend Israel  on October 7.

When Sam Fried returned to America after serving in the Israel Defense Forces, he faced a new battle – defending Israel and his people against misinformation and hostility with truth and dialogue.

Fried, originally from Queens, NY, joined the army in 2020 and finished serving in the paratroopers in the 890th battalion in 2022.  Leaving the army behind, he came back and started his career in finance with a college degree.  After the atrocities of October 7, Fried said, “I felt it was my obligation to be one of the fighting Jews in history.”

“Here I am with a history reaching its hand out to me and saying, ‘This is your chance to defend your people.’”

“I always told myself growing up that if I was in the time of the Maccabees, I would’ve been a Maccabe.  If I was living in the time of the partisans fighting against the Nazis, I would’ve been one of the partisans, and if I was living in the time of liberating Israel from the British, I would’ve been one of them.  History is giving me this opportunity, so, obviously, I had to take it.”

Soon after the war started, Fried rejoined the same combat team he had been with during his active service, but now in reserves, as a sharpshooter.  He spent almost two months between Central and South Gaza.  He then stayed in Israel for five months and came back to America after his team was released.

“I came back to an America I didn’t recognize.”  He felt that before the October 7 war, before he went back to the IDF, there had been immense sympathy toward Israel.

Yearning for a level of fulfillment upon his return, Sam explained that although he had been on the physical battlefield, the ideological one was equally as important.  “It was incumbent upon me to make it my prerogative to defend Israel, the Jewish people, and humanity itself in every single way I could.”

Going back to his job in finance, he picked up a side of joining this “ideological battle.”  He began going to debates, visiting encampments, and trying to engage in dialogue.

“My three foundational pillars are empowering Jews, having peaceful dialogue, and showing people I’m a human – who cares.”

Beginning his college tour at Queens college, there was a mob of over 200 people threatening and cursing at him.  “I want the counterparties to come hear me and speak.  I want people who are against the IDF to hear what I have to say.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been room for that.”  He spoke about the fact that the mob refused to listen to his speech and ask questions.  Getting threatened by these individuals, Fried had to be escorted back by the police.

“How can you have peace with people who refuse your right to exist?” he said.

Another case he brought up was an encampment he visited that took place at City College, in which he is an alumnus.  He came intending to have peaceful and meaningful dialogue.  “I’m asking someone, somebody who wants peace, to come and speak to me.”  Not a single person took the offer.  Not only were they refusing to speak to Fried, but they blocked him from entering a public area that is funded by taxpayers’ dollars, including himself.

After one of Fried’s recent speeches in Boise, Idaho, people came to the hotel where he was staying dressed in kafias, holding hammers and wrenches , in an attempt to lynch him.  They did $10,000  worth of damage to the hotel, luckily, Fried wasn’t there at the time.  Three out of the four people have since been arrested.  People plastered pictures all over the city portraying Fried as a villain and killer.  “Because these people are so anti-peace, I have to keep going.”

When asked about dealing with hostile and aggressive questions, Fried answered, “it’s very simple.  We are speaking the truth.  We are on the right side of history.  These people are lying, conflating truths, and  revising history.  We cannot let them. “  Fried says he arms himself with truth and history.  He fights with facts.

“The most common misconception about the IDF is that we want a war.  We are a defense force.”  Fried hopes for a time  when people are willing to listen and open to peace.

Sam Fried’s story is an inspiring reminder of the courage required to defend one’s convictions in the face of adversity.



They Came To Show Support, That’s Proof Of The Strong Bond Between Druze And Jews

Druze-Israeli NYC restaurant Gazala’s has faced several attacks since October 7 but local Israeli and Jewish communities flooded in with support.

Gazala’s, a Druze-Israeli restaurant on the Upper West Side, has faced significant challenges in the wake of the October 7 attacks but also receives remarkable support from the local Israeli and Jewish American community.

Gazala Halabi, the owner, hails from Daliyat El-Carmel in northern Israel and is proud to bring Druze cuisine to New York City.  “I brought the Druze cuisine all the way to New York City and this is the only Druze restaurant  in the United States,” Halabi told the Ruderman Family Foundation, which works to strengthen Israel and Jewish American ties.

The restaurant endured attacks following the October 7 incident.  “At first, it was hard.  They broke our door, came inside screaming and cursing.  I got lots of hate calls and threats,” Halabi recounted.

Despite these challenges, the Israeli and Jewish American communities quickly rallied to support Halabi and her establishment.  “They heard about what happened and suddenly I had a line around the corner!  Israelis and Jewish Americans all came to eat.  They came to show their support because I’m Israeli-Druze, and that’s proof of the strong bond that exists between Jews and Druze,” she explained.

The show of solidarity has been a testament to the enduring connection between the Druze and Jewish communities, strengthening Halabi’s resolve to continue sharing her unique culinary heritage.