News Digest — 8/13/2021

IDF Says It Downed Hezbollah Drone That Crossed Border

Israel downed an unarmed Hezbollah drone that crossed the border from Lebanon, the army said Thursday (12th).

In a statement, the army said it downed the small copter mode drone after it crossed the border into Israeli airspace.  The incident on Wednesday (11th) was the latest uptick in activity along Israel’s northern border.  The IDF said the drone was not armed and likely engaged in surveillance.

The IDF said it had monitored the drone the entire time before bringing it down.  The military didn’t indicate how it was brought down.

Last week the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group claimed responsibility for firing 20 rockets toward Israel.  That was preceded by a rocket attack launched from Lebanese territory, though it remained unclear by whom.  Israel responded to both attacks with artillery and rare airstrikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he holds the Lebanese government responsible for attacks launched from Lebanon toward Israel, no matter by whom.

Israel estimates that Hezbollah possesses over 130,000 rockets and missiles capable of striking anywhere in the country.  In recent years, Israel launched airstrikes on weapons storage sites in Syria to prevent Iran from transferring precision-guided missiles to the Lebanese terror group.

On other occasions, the IDF has intercepted drones belonging to Hezbollah and Iran that crossed into Israel from the north.   



Report: Hezbollah Has Inter-Regional Tunnel Network Stretching Hundreds Of Kilometers

A new report released by the Alma Center has exposed a large-scale inter-regional tunnel network belonging to Hezbollah, stretching across Lebanon and designed to allow the group to move personnel and weapons.

The report titled “Land of Tunnels” was released on Thursday (12th) by the center which researches security challenges facing Israel on its northern front.

According to the report authored by Major (ret.) Tal Beeri, Hezbollah began its tunnel project after the Second Lebanon War in 2006 with the help of the North Koreans and Iranians and “is much larger than the Hamas ‘metro’ project in the Gaza Strip.”

The network supposedly connects the Beirut area, Hezbollah’s central headquarters, and the Bekaa area used by the group as its logistical operational rear base, to Southern Lebanon.  According to the report the tunnels allow for “hundreds of combatants, fully equipped to pass stealthily and rapidly underground.”

The tunnels are also large enough for motorcycles, ATVs, and other small vehicles to move through them to allow for troops to maneuver from place to place “for the purpose of reinforcing defense positions or for carrying out attacks in a safe, protected, and invisible manner.”

The cumulative length of the network can be in the hundreds of kilometers and in one area stretches some 45 kilometers (approx. 30 miles), connecting the area of Sidon to the Bekaa.

According to other findings, it seems that part of the project was conducted in the geographical area of the Jensnaya Wadi in addition to the geographical area of al-Tswuan-al Roummaneh and continued to the Western Bekaa,” the report read.

Like Hamas, the tunnels contain underground command and control rooms, weapons and supply depots, field clinics, and specific designated shafts used to fire missiles of all types (rockets, surface-to-surface missiles, anti-tank missiles, and anti-aircraft missiles.)

Beeri wrote that the tunnels are also used for artillery attacks, with the shafts opening for a short period of time before closing.  These shafts are hidden and camouflaged and cannot be detected above ground.

The tunnels in Lebanon, which do not cross the border with Israel, are the same as the tunnels in North Korea.

The report stated that Hezbollah’s tunnel network was built with the assistance of the “Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation,” a company that specializes in the development of underground infrastructure.  The actual construction of the tunnels was done by Hezbollah’s Jihad Construction Foundation.

In 2018 the IDF launched Operation Northern Shield to discover and destroy all cross-border tunnels dug by Hezbollah into northern Israel.  The military said it found and destroyed six such tunnels.

The destruction of Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels was a significant hit to the group, and according  to the IDF, they haven’t tried to rebuild them since.



Family Of French Murder Victim, Sarah Halimi, Files Complaint In Israel Against Killer

The family of Sarah Halimi, a Jewish woman murdered four years ago in Paris, has filed a criminal complaint in Israel against the perpetrator, who was found unfit for trial in France due to drug consumption, Israel media reported on Tuesday (10th).

Involving a law allowing Israeli citizens to file complaints in Israel about anti-Semitic crimes committed abroad, lawyers Mordechai Tzivin and Gilles-William Goldnadel, representing the Halimi family, are demanding that the perpetrator be tried in the Jewish state.

This is the first time the law has been invoked, according to reports.

Halimi, 65, was killed in 2017 by 27-year-old Kobili Traore, her Muslim neighbor, who beat her and threw her out the window of her apartment, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” [“God is great” in Arabic].

The French Court Cassation’s Supreme Court of Appeals in April upheld a 2019 ruling by a lower tribunal that Traore, an immigrant from Mali with French citizenship, was not responsible for his actions at the time of the killing due to a delusional state caused by heavy cannabis consumption.   

In the wake of the ruling, Jewish communities in Paris, New York, London and Tel Aviv staged mass demonstrations in April to demand that Traore be prosecuted.  An online rally with the same purpose was held in May, with some 40,000 participants, including leaders from France and Canada.



Fed Up With Fatah’s Corruption, Palestinians Protest Across The West Bank

Ongoing protests in recent weeks in the West Bank against the Palestinian Authority over the killing of opposition activist Nizar Banat by security forces have led to heavy criticism of the PA for suppression.

According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published on Tuesday (10th), the protests have expressed deep dissatisfaction over ongoing corruption and the absence of democracy.  The unrest followed the decision this spring by PA head Mahmoud Abbas to postpone elections out of a fear of losing to other factions.

Denouncing the authorities, protesters have chanted for the “overthrow of the regime.”

In response, the PA has launched counter protests where Fatah members claim the opposition is “a coup-attempt led by Hamas.”  For example, Fatah’s deputy chairman, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, said at a Ramallah rally: “Don’t provoke Fatah, for we will not show mercy to anyone!”

In response, according to the report, the Palestinian press strongly criticized Fatah’s handling of the Banat incident and the conduct of the movement’s officials.

Articles by Academics and intellectuals, as well as by current and former politicians, have voiced disappointment that Fatah, which was originally founded as a national liberation movement, has become a ruling party  which is said to “blindly defend the PA against legitimate criticism.”



Central American Nations Come Together To Combat Anti-Semitism

Recently, the Inaugural Central America Forum for Israel saw assembled political leaders from the region issue a joint declaration that called for a collective response to the rise of global anti-Semitism and expressed solidarity with Israel.

During the event, parliamentarians spoke about their opposition to anti-Semitism and called for the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Anti-Semitism.

They also urged governments to list the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Speakers also expressed solidarity with Israel in the aftermath of the May conflict with Hamas in which over 4,000 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza.

The conference, organized by participating countries along with the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the Center for Jewish impact, the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, the Guatemala-Israel Friendship League, and the Jewish community of Guatemala, celebrated the third anniversary of the Guatemala ‘Israel Friendship Law.’

The law mandates that Guatemalan school children be taught about Israel and its historical connection with Guatemala.

Earlier in the year, the Guatemalan Congress adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.  During the May fighting in Gaza, its parliament displayed support for Israel, passing Resolution 042021 that denounced Hamas for firing rockets at Israel.

At the conference, Guatemala’s President Dr. Alejandro Giammattei spoke of the strong bilateral ties between his nation and Israel that go back to the Jewish’s State’s first years.

He also talked about his country and government’s commitment to Holocaust remembrance and education.

“Guatemala adheres to, respects, and supports the fight against anti-Semitism,” he said.

The forum took place amid surging anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, including physical attacks, vandalism of synagogues and cemeteries, and unprecedented online hate.

During the forum, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Guatemala for its historic support for Israel.  He also praised Giammattei and the forum’s attendees who came from South, Central and North America.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against global terrorism.  One key step is banning Hezbollah, and I am thankful for those who have taken that step, and I call on every country to follow suit,” Lapid said.



Israeli Machines That Produce Water From Air In UAE Parks, Beaches

In a pilot program by the Abu Dhabi Municipality, 15 medium-size WaterGen water-from-air machines were installed in parks and beaches in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and the Abu Dhabi Emirate’s Western region in May.  700 additional machines have been ordered, of which 500 are the newly released Genny home devices.

Israel’s WaterGen and Abu Dhabi-based Al-Dahra Holding signed an agreement in November to establish a permanent center in Abu Dhabi for manufacturing and distribution of equipment to produce drinking and irrigation water for the entire Middle East and Africa.  “Every household in the UAE will have an air-to-water generating machine within the next two years,” said WaterGen CEO Michael Mirilashvili.