News Digest — 8/10/20

Gaza Strip Hammered After Fire Balloons Destroy Fields In Israel

IDF aircraft struck an observation post belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday (9th).  The attack was in response to explosive balloons launched into Israeli territory.

On Thursday (6th), Palestinian terrorists floated 20 explosive balloons into Israel, signaling a new round of floating-arson into the Jewish state.  It breaks several months of relative calm in Israel’s south.  Since then, balloons have arrived daily.

Also, on Sunday (9th), tensions escalated when an Israeli construction crew came under attack as they worked on the underground barrier that Israel built along the entire 35-mile border with the Gaza Strip to prevent tunneling into southern Israel.  

When an IDF unit arrived to investigate the reports of gunfire, they too were fired upon.  The IDF responded with mortars – there were no Israeli injuries.

Last week, terrorists launched a rocket from the Gaza Strip that was intercepted by the Iron Dome.  Israel again responded to the Hamas attack.

The rise in attacks coincides with the expiration come September, of monthly cash-payment-transfers from Qatar.  The Lebanese paper Al Ahbar noted that Hamas members said that one of the reasons for the renewed arson attacks was the fact that the money from Qatar would soon stop.  Hamas officials said the calm had come to an end and Israel should expect an escalation.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller terror group in the Strip, also threatened Israel on Sunday (9th).  It said Israel “will bear the consequences of anything that happens to the residents or farmers of Gaza as a result of the escalation.”

According to Ynet, Islamic Jihad called the escalation “the continuation of Israel terror” that will lead to “Palestinian responses.”

Gaza terrorists have launched incendiary devices on and off since March 2018 when Hamas announced its weekly “March of Return,” which included thousands rioting at the border.



Israel Marks 19th Anniversary Of Deadly Sbarro Bombing

On the afternoon of August 9, 2001, a Palestinian terrorist from the Hamas terror group walked into the crowded Sbarro Pizza restaurant in downtown Jerusalem and blew himself up, killing 15 innocent people and wounding 130 more in one of the more brutal attacks celebrated by the Palestinians.

The dead included seven children and almost wiped out the Schijveschuurder family, killing the parents Mordechai and Tzira along with three of their children, 2, 4, and 14.  Two other children, 11 and 8, were critically injured.  Three brothers had stayed home that day.

Although several of the perpetrators of the bombing were caught and convicted for their crimes, they and the family of the suicide bomber have received close to $1 million in payments from the Palestinian Authority in its pay-for-slay compensation for committing terrorism, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

Two of the Sbarro bombing victims were American citizens, Malki Rath, 15, and Judy Greenbaum, 31, who was pregnant when murdered.

US-based Sbarro Pizza sold its Israeli operations in 2011 to a local company, and the last Sbarro-branded outlet in Israel closed in 2013.

Today, the location is operated by the Israeli bakery chain Neeman Bakery.



‘Extend UN Arms-Embargo On Iran,’ Says 6-Nation Arab Bloc

A six-nation bloc of Arab states endorsed on Sunday (9th) an extension of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire.

The Gulf Cooperation Council said it sent a letter to the UN Security Council backing an extension of an arms embargo that’s kept Iran from purchasing foreign-made weapons like fighter jets, tanks and warships.

The GCC – made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – says Iran had “not ceased or desisted from arms interventions in neighboring countries, both directly and through organizations and movements armed and trained by Iran.”

A Saudi-led coalition continues to battle Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which are armed by Iran.

“As such, it is inappropriate to lift the restrictions on conventional movement of weapons to and from Iran until it abandons its destabilizing activities in the region and ceases to provide weapons to terrorist and sectarian organizations,” the GCC said.

Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the GCC statement.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have long-viewed Iran far more suspiciously for stirring up dissent among Shiite populations in the region.

The united GCC statement comes after recent visits by outgoing US special representative for Iran Brian Hook amid the coronavirus pandemic.



Beirut Public Blames Hezbollah Post-Explosion

After last week’s massive explosion at the Port of Beirut that killed at least 158 people, wounded 6,000, and left hundreds of businesses destroyed, Hezbollah has tried to distance itself from blame for the blast.

Despite a speech by party leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday (7th), in which he said that Hezbollah had no knowledge of the ammonium nitrate stored at the port, Beirut locals took to the streets to demand that Hezbollah be held accountable.

Protesters marched on Saturday (8th) with a cardboard cutout of Nasrallah, a noose around his neck.  Other cardboard cutouts symbolically hung by the protesters included the likenesses of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, President Michel Aoun, and Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri.

While some Lebanese are blaming Hezbollah for the explosion, Israeli intelligence officials have expressed concern that the incident may strengthen the terror group.

Public anger toward the Lebanese government could mean a large number of career politicians will be forced to leave office creating a power vacuum that could serve as an opportunity for Hezbollah to strengthen its grip on the nation.

Aya Majzoub, a Beirut resident and human rights campaigner, has called for an independent investigation with international experts, while Nasrallah and President Aoun have spoken out against such an investigation by a third party into the origin of the blast.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters attempted to storm the parliament building, but were stopped by security forces.  Later demonstrators successfully broke into the Foreign Ministry building and destroyed portraits of President Aoun.

Euronews reported that the Foreign Ministry takeover, broadcast live, on local news channels featured a speech by Sami Rammah, a former career officer in the Lebanese Army. 

“We are taking over the Foreign Ministry as the new headquarters of the revolution,” said Rammah, standing on the building’s front steps and speaking to the media via a loudspeaker.

“We call on all the anguished Lebanese people to take to the streets to demand the prosecution of all the corrupt officials.”



IDF Settles Score With Terrorist Behind Deadly 2010 Attack

The Shin Bet security agency has recently taken into custody a Gaza Strip resident who was responsible for the killing of two Israeli soldiers in 2010.

The arrest was conducted after the man, 38-year-old Abdullah Darma from the city of Rafah, approached a crossing point and asked for humanitarian asylum in Israel.

Only after he was taken in for questioning, it became apparent he was wanted by Israeli security for masterminding an attack that killed Major Eliraz Peretz and St.-Sgt Ilan Sviatkovsky on March 26, 2010.  

According to prosecutors, under Darma’s orders, a massive booby-trap was planted in the area.  When IDF soldiers spotted the terrorists, they approached the area in order to dismantle the improvised explosive device, resulting in a battle that killed the two IDF soldiers and wounded several others.

Darma, according to his indictment, was also a top member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’ terrorist organization, who began planning the attack as early as September 2008.