News Digest — 8/22/19

Israel Hits Hamas Naval Targets In Response To Rocket Attacks

“In response to the rockets fired from #Gaza to #Israel, we just struck a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip,” the IDF tweeted around 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning (22nd).

Terrorists launched six rockets into Israel overnight Wednesday (21st) and into Thursday morning (22nd).

“The IDF will continue to counter terrorist attacks and views the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for anything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

During his visit to the Ukraine this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that he was prepared to carry out a large-scale campaign into the Gaza Strip.

“I’m advancing a broad campaign against Hamas, he said.  “And it will be different from what we’ve seen in the past.  I can’t detail the preparations, but we are developing a broad campaign and it could be that it will happen.”

Hamas warned this week that violence will escalate unless Israel quickly lets in the monthly $11 million payment that Qatar transfers into the Strip.  The terror group also demanded that Israel increase the amount of electricity to the Strip over the next few days..

Qatar is expected to send money to Gaza this week.



Two Israeli-Arabs Arrested For Supporting The Islamic State Group

Two Israeli-Arab residents of the city of Tamra have been arrested and charged with supporting and assisting the Islamic State group, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency announced on Wednesday (21st).

The two, identified as 22-year-old medical student Amin Yassin and 28-year-old Ali Al-Aroush, who had previously been arrested and questioned on suspicion of committing security offenses in connection with ISIS, were arrested in July in a joint operation by Shin Bet and Israel Police.

The indictment filed on Wednesday (21st) accuses the two of contact with a foreign agent, terrorist training and conspiracy to commit murder.

According to the Shin Bet, the investigation found that the two support ISIS – “and even see themselves as envoys, until the establishment of an Islamic State in Israel” – and spread the group’s ideology as part of their attempt to promote the terrorist group’s goals.

“The Shin Bet will continue to work with the police to expose suspects operating for the Islamic State terrorist organization, and will take the necessary enforcement measures to prevent any activity that is detrimental to state security, including the dissemination of the Islamic State terrorist-organization material in Israel,” the agency said.



Report: Israeli Attacks In Iraq With U.S. Russian Approval

Israel has attacked Iranian targets in Iraq at least three times in the past few weeks as part of “understandings” reached with the United States and Russia, the London-based, Arabic-language Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Wednesday (21st).

According to the report, which cites Western diplomatic sources, the strikes targeted missile warehouses of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  Tuesday’s (20th) strike was one of a series of explosions in recent weeks at weapons depots, bases, or positions belonging to Iran-backed military groups in the country.

The sources said that Russia and the U.S. have agreed that Israel’s actions in Iraq and Syria are vital “in ensuring Israel’s security,” and – according to the understandings – the officials in Jerusalem are not obliged to claim the attacks in order not to escalate the already volatile situation in the region.

On Tuesday (20th) several explosions rocked the military positions held by the Popular Mobilization Forces – a state-sponsored umbrella military organization which includes Iran-backed militias – near Balad air base north of Baghdad.

Iraq’s Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari visited the sites shortly after the incident, telling Iraqi state television that fires resulting from the blasts had been put out and that some military personnel had suffered minor injuries.

Witnesses said the explosions caused stored rockets to fly into nearby farmland and into Balad air base itself.

Sky News Arabia reported that at least 50 missiles had exploded at the warehouses that were targeted.

“Iraq’s air defenses have a very high capability, but one thing they couldn’t detect was an advanced Israeli air attack,” said Baghdad-based security analyst Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises the government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the attacks on Tuesday evening (20th) shortly before his flight from Ukraine’s capital of Kiev.  “There are major security challenges which are explained in the report I just received a few minutes ago,” he said, adding that he receives intelligence reports on a daily basis.



A New Saudi Perspective For Peace – Abdul Hameed Al-Ghabin

→ The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a very open stance of seeking better ties to the Jewish people and to Israel.  Some call this “normalization.” I call it plain common sense.

→ Saudi Arabia is strong – financially, politically and militarily.  We have the second-largest air force in the Middle East. We operate tactical fighter aircraft like the F-15 that provide air superiority and we have advanced long-range missile systems.  Iran knows this.

→ We see Israel as a logical future partner for us as we have mutual enemies: Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and a handful of reckless rulers who remain in power in our region.

→ Sadly the Kingdom of Jordan’s state media and state-controlled writers have been attacking Saudi Arabia ever since the latter began seeking improved relations with Israel.  Jordan’s sidekick, the Palestinian Authority, has been doing the same.

→ Our message, as Saudis, is clear to everyone: We want a fair, just, lasting, and prosperous peace for the region.  We want prosperity instead of misery, stability to replace unrest, and love to eradicate radical ideology. This could never be done without extending a peaceful hand to the Israelis.

Abdul Hameed Al-Ghabin is a Saudi writer and a political and tribal-figure.



Muslim-Majority Chad Eager For Cooperation With Israel

An Israeli government delegation visited the Republic of Chad during the first week of August at the initiative of the National Security Council.  It must be noted that relations were resumed with Chad, which has a Muslim majority, this past January after an almost 50-year break, according to a spokesperson for the ministry of Economy and Industry.

Following the resumption of relations, Chad President Idriss Deby asked the Israeli government to send representatives to evaluate the advancement of bilateral economic cooperation and the transfer of information on – inter alia – agriculture, water management and education.

The delegation, led by Dr. Itai Melchior, head of Israel’s Trade and Economic Office met with ministers and directors of Chad’s ministries of Economy, Finance, Agriculture, Water, Energy, Mines, Communications, Education and Health.  Meetings were held with international officials, including representatives from the World Bank and the U.S. Embassy, in order to consider increased foreign investments in Chad.

Chad’s Chamber of Commerce invited the delegation to meet with leading local entrepreneurs in order to consider cooperation with the Israeli business sector.

It was agreed – inter alia – that senior Chadian officials, including the Minister of Agriculture and Mines, and those from the business sector would visit Israel.   

Melchior noted that members of the delegation were impressed by the desire of the Chadian government, and of the private sector to cooperate with Israel.

“After an intensive two days of meetings, I can say with certainty that there is definitely room for cooperation with both the government and the business sector.  I assume that we will see Chadian visits to Israel soon in order to continue the dialogue,” he said.

According to Regional Cooperation Ministry Director-General Dr. Joseph Draznin, “The developing ties between Chad and Israel are part of the fabric of Israel’s relations with countries in the region.  This fabric combines both bilateral and regional cooperation between Israel and African, Mediterranean and Persian Gulf countries in energy, water, agriculture and technology.”