News Digest — 8/21/20

IDF Carries Out Three Waves Of Airstrikes As 12 Rockets Launched From Gaza

The IDF struck targets belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip during three rounds of airstrikes, as 12 rockets were fired towards southern Israel from the coastal enclave on Thursday night (20th).

Of the 12 projectiles fired from the Strip, 9 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and others landed in open fields or within Gaza.

As a result of the major uptick in violence, emergency services said three people were treated for shock after a rocket fell on a house, and two others were injured while running for safety following siren alerts.

A house in the college town of Sderot was also severely damaged by rocket fragments which landed on it destroying a boy’s bedroom windows and blasting a hole in the wall.  The boy was at a birthday party at the time.

In response to the rocketfire, Israeli military said that IAF jets and helicopters struck sites belonging to Hamas in three waves, including underground facilities, a rocket-building site, and a cement factory used to provide materials to build tunnels used by the group.

According to Palestinian media, at least one person was injured in the strikes targeting the sites east of Khan Younis.

“The IDF takes all terror activity against Israeli territory very seriously and is prepared and ready to act as much as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli citizens and their sovereignty,” an IDF military statement said, adding that “we hold Hamas responsible for all terror activity emanating from Gaza.”

President Reuven Rivlin commented on Friday morning (21st) saying the “Israelis living in the area around Gaza had another tough night, including some serious damage to property.  This morning, we are with them and full of appreciation for their resilience.”

“We will not stand by while Hamas is out of control.  The IDF will respond with force and determination, sortie after sortie, and will continue even if it requires patience and time,” Rivlin continued.  The president concluded his statement saying, “Fires, rockets and explosive balloons will not become routine.  We put our faith in the IDF and its capabilities and are sure it will not relent until quiet returns.”

On Thursday (20th) the IDF deployed additional Iron Dome batteries out of concern that Palestinian groups in Gaza would increase their rocket fire towards southern Israel.

Channel 13 cited Palestinian Arab sources which claimed that the rockets fired Thursday night (20th) were launched after Egypt warned Hamas against further escalation, and were intended to signal Hamas’ willingness to expand the conflict.  



Netanyahu To UAE Jews: I Hope To Visit You Soon

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a ZOOM conversation with the leaders of the Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates Thursday (20th).

“This is a very big day for the State of Israel and the people of Israel,” Netanyahu said.  “We are at the beginning of a historic era of peace for peace.  Of peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates – of peace that will expand between Israel and the Arab world.”

Netanyahu told the leaders of the UAE Jewish community: “This peace is good for the State of Israel, it is good for our people and it is good for all the peoples of the region.  I hope to visit you soon, this year.  If we get over the corona plague by then, I’m also ready to shake your hand.  Thank you very much and much congratulations from Jerusalem.



Iran Seizes UAE Ship As Tensions Mount In Gulf

Iran announced Thursday (20th) it had seized a UAE-flagged ship after claiming the UAE Coast Guard had opened fire on Iranian fishing boats earlier this week, killing two fishermen and arresting a third, Iranian media reported.

The Foreign Ministry in Tehran issued a statement saying it summoned the United Arab Emirates envoy and filed a formal complaint, stating Emirati Coast Guard vessels on Monday (17th) fired at several Iranian fishing boats.

The ministry statement said that Iran expressed its anger to the charge d’affaires from the UAE embassy in Tehran, calling on the Emirates to release the detained fisherman and the two bodies.  The ministry also demanded the UAE pay compensation and take appropriate measures to prevent such incidents from happening again.

The state-run Emirates news agency WAM reported Monday (17th) that several fishing boats had illegally entered UAE territorial waters in the area of the strategic Straits of Hormuz and when they failed to heed warnings from UAE forces, “rules of engagement were applied.”

The UAE provided no other information on the incident.

Tensions between the two countries have been rising since the announcement last week that the UAE, which faces Iran across the strategic waterway leading into the oil-rich Gulf region, was establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

Iranian national policy seeks the “total annihilation” of Israel, and Iranian leaders condemned the UAE for making peace with the Jewish State.

The Gulf states share Israel’s fear that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, and issued a harsh statement calling on Iran to back off from its threats.    

The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council that represents the six Arab nations neighboring Iran, called on the Islamic Republic to respect the “non-interference in internal affairs” of the UAE and “to cease threatening language that does not serve security and stability in the region and the whole world.”



Iran Unveils 2 New Missiles, Including One Named For Slain General Soleimani

Iran’s state TV reported Thursday (20th) the country has unveiled two new missiles amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.

State TV said officials unveiled the two new missiles on Thursday (20th) – National Defense-Industry Day in Iran.  They are named after top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who were killed outside Baghdad’s international airport in a US airstrike in January.

The “Martyr Hajj Qassem” surface-to-surface ballistic missile has a 840- mile-range, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.  State TV said the “Martyr Abu Mahdi” naval cruise missile has a 620-mile-range.

Also on Thursday, Iran unveiled a fourth-generation light turbo-fan engine for its advanced drones.

They also inaugurated the production line of its domestically produced “Owj” engine for the Iranian-made twin-seat Kowsar fighter jet.

Iran routinely unveils technological achievements for its armed forces, its space program and its nuclear efforts, usually in parades on special days for the world to see.

President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, signed in 2014.  Since then, tensions between the two countries have escalated.



The Arab World Is Fed Up With The Palestinians – Ben Dror Yemini

The biggest surprise following Israel’s peace accord with the UAE is that there was no division within the Arab world about it.  In fact, almost all Arab countries – except for Yemen and Qatar – have expressed their support for the agreement and hopped on the peace train.  The Arab world is fed up.  It realizes, albeit belatedly, that wherever Islamic radicalism is involved – whether Shiite or Sunni – the result is always destruction and ruin.  The Arab world refuses to continue entertaining every Palestinian whim.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Arab leaders realized that the “Palestinian problem” was not an asset, but a burden.  After all, being hostile to Israel never benefited anyone.  Although Abbas stopped the violence, he stuck to Arafat’s diplomatic policy of always saying “no,” regardless of what was on offer.  Both men never wanted a state for the Palestinian people, they just didn’t want one for the Jews.

Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians and it resulted in Hamas rule.  Arab leaders know that Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, hates them.  When the Palestinians choose peace over the fantasy of destroying Israel, their situation will improve drastically.



I Grew Up With Anti-Semitism In The UAE – Peace With Israel Is A Dream Come True – Mujahed Kobbe

From the age of eight until adulthood, I called the UAE home.  Calling Israel and its Jewish inhabitants the enemy of Islam and God was as common as breathing while I was growing up.  Anti-Semitism was in my home.  It was in the school hallways and yards.  You heard it at the cafes.

At Friday prayers, a religious cleric at any given mosque was sure to make a comment about how Allah would one day destroy Israel from the map.  Believing in conspiracies, like the idea that Israel was the true mastermind behind 9/11 or that Israel is funding ISIS was prevalent, mainstream, part of the culture – passed down through generations by people who had never once interacted with a Jew.

It is so weird looking back at it now, trying to understand how it was that I had this hate in my heart for an entire group of people I had never met.  Watching high-level Emiratis on Twitter show their support for Israel, actually tweeting the UAE flag and Israeli flag together, sparked hope in me.  Seeing the UAE let go of its hate for a country and a people, just as I did, made me so proud of the country I had called home and grew up in.