News Digest — 8/27/19

IDF Limits Movement On Northern Border Ahead Of Possible Hezbollah Attack

Israeli military on Tuesday (27th) ordered the restriction of movement of military vehicles along Israel’s border with Lebanon after the leader of Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah threatened to retaliate against an alleged Israeli drone attack in Beirut.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the alleged attack of two Israeli drones – which the terror group claims were rigged with explosives and came down over Lebanon’s capital early Sunday (25th) – would not go unanswered.

Ynet defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishai wrote later that the images of the drones suggest that they were Iranian-made, not made in Israel.

“After an assessment, it was decided the movement of certain military vehicles along several intersections would only be possible on the basis of individual approval and in accordance with the security situation,” said the military in a statement.

Spokesman for the terror group, Mohammed Atif said on Sunday (25th), a small unmanned reconnaissance drone fell on the roof of a building housing Hezbollah’s media office in the Moawwad neighborhood in Dahiyeh, the group’s stronghold in the southern part of the Lebanese capital.  He said a second drone later exploded in the air and crashed nearby.  



Netanyahu: ‘Israel Will Do Whatever Is Necessary To Defend Itself’ – U.S., Bahrain In Support

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised on Monday (26th) that Israel would not hesitate to thwart Iranian terrorist measures planned against it.

“Iran acts on a broad front to bring out murderous terrorist attacks against the State of Israel.” Netanyahu said.  “Israel will continue to defend its security however that may be necessary. I call on the international community to act immediately so that Iran stops these attacks.”

Earlier, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz attended a security briefing at the Prime Minister’s residence in light of recent security incidents, including the thwarting of an Iranian drone attack from Syria, Saturday night (24th).  

On Sunday (25th), Iranian Al Quds commander Qassem Soleimani threatened Israel on Twitter in response to the thwarting of the Iranian drone attack.

“These insane operations will surely be the last steps of  the Zionist regime,” he wrote.

Also on Sunday, (25th) the IDF released footage from the attempted drone attack by Iranian-linked terrorists in southern Syria.  In the video, Iranian Quds Force members can be seen carrying one of the drones from the failed attacks from its planned launch site adjacent to the Syrian village of Ameh.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said on Sunday (25th) that Israel held Soleimani personally responsible for the planned attack on northern Israel over the weekend, adding that the attack would have included multiple unmanned warplanes against multiple targets in Israel.

Meanwhile, on Sunday (25th), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself from threats from Iran.

“I spoke with Israeli PM Netanyahu today, regarding recent Israeli airstrikes in Syria.  I expressed my support for Israel’s right to defend itself from threats posed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps & to take action to prevent imminent attacks against Israeli assets,” tweeted Pompeo.

Bahrain appeared to back Israel also saying “strikes on Iran targets were self defense.”

On Twitter, Khalid bin Khalifa, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, said: “Iran is the one who has declared war on us, with its Revolutionary Guards Corps, its Lebanese party [Hezbollah in Lebanon], its Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, its Houthi arm in Yemen and others.”

“So one who strikes and destroys the piles of their ammunition is not to blame.  That is self-defense,” he added.

Khalifa also tweeted a picture of Article 51 of Chapter 7 in the United Nations Charter and said, “it very clearly affirms the right of states to self-defense against any threat of aggression.”

In May 2018, Khalifa tweeted that Israel had the right to defend itself, after Iran-backed groups shot some 20 rockets at northern Israel from Syria.



Soleimani Is Frustrated But Won’t Rest – Oded Granot

For many months now, Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, has tried settling the score with Israel over the hundreds of airstrikes it has conducted in recent years on Iranian facilities, military bases and weapons warehouses in Syria.  In these Israeli attacks, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias have been killed.

These attempts, last May and in January of this year, largely consisted of rocket fire from Syria toward the Golan Heights, that didn’t achieve, from Soleimani’s perspective, the desired effect.  The appetite of the Iranian architect of terror in the Middle East, however, didn’t wane and has only intensified in recent weeks.

The reason: Israel, according to media reports, has expanded and redrawn the boundaries of its campaign against Iran’s entrenchment efforts in Syria and has begun targeting Shiite militia bases in Iraq.  We can assume that the four attacks attributed to Israel in Iraq since July, together with Sunday’s report about the targeted assassination, via airstrike, of senior members of an Iraqi militia on the Syria-Iraq border, deeply unsettled Soleimani.  Israel is successfully striking inside a country that shares a border with Iran, benefits from the blind eye being turned by the United States and Iraqi government, and is inflicting heavy casualties on the militias tasked with fighting American forces stationed in Iraq if tensions between Tehran and Washington boil over into open conflict.

This time, Soleimani plotted a different type of revenge: explosives-laden drones launched at civilian and military targets in Israel.  He believed the odds of success would be better this time: quiet, under the radar preparations, drones that are easier to smuggle and hide in remote locations (and in private homes), and only a small handful of operatives in on the secret, including at least two members of Hezbollah.

Had the plot come to fruition, Soleimani would have achieved two objectives: He would have gotten his revenge against Israel while restoring his “lost-honor,” and without risking a harsh and painful Israeli response because he would have limited the scope of the drone attacks to specific targets only.

The revenge plan failed, yet Soleimani won’t rest.



State Department Erases “Palestinian Authority” From Website

The U.S. State Department has removed the “Palestinian Authority” from its list of countries and areas on its website, it was reported Sunday (25th).

Israeli media did not say when the change was made but noted that “until recently” the word “Palestinians” appeared under the heading “Palestinian Authority.”

Under the Trump administration and the leadership of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department has changed other terminology concerning Israel and the territories under Palestinian control.

In April 2018, the month that Pompeo took office, the State Department announced it would cease using the term “occupied” in reference to various regions of Israel, including Judea and Samaria.

The credit there may go to U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who advised the department in December 2017 to stop using the “misleading” term “occupied.”

Relations between the Palestinian Authority and the Trump administration have deteriorated since December 2017, when the PA announced it would boycott the White House after the president said he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

The U.S. administration took further steps against the PA, including cutting roughly $200 million in financial aid to it and the Gaza Strip in August 2018.  One of the reasons cited was the PA’s “martyrs’ fund,” which provides money to terrorists and their families.

The PA was set up as part of the Oslo Accords.  The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expressed the hope that it would fight terrorism.  The opposite has occurred as the PA openly admits it is funding terrorism.



Israeli Medical Clowns Cheer Romanian Kids With Cancer

When Israeli Ambassador to Romania David Saranga visited MagiCAMP, a summer camp for kids with cancer in the city of Branesti, recently, he had an idea: to arrange for two of Israel’s Dream Doctors, professional therapeutic clowns, to work their own magic at MagiCAMP for a few days.

“Olive” (Iris Leah Sofer) from Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer and “Yoyo” (Yuval Ben-Eli) from Bnai Zion and Carmel medical centers in Haifa answered the Israel Foreign Ministry’s call to help put smiles on children’s faces at the Romanian camp.

“The MagiCamp Village was an extraordinary experience with amazing people and children.  We very quickly fell in love with them,” Yoyo texted in a message to Dream Doctors, headquartered in Tel Aviv.

About 100 Dream Doctors work in 29 hospitals and often travel to areas across the world where they assist healthcare personnel in treating disaster victims and/or train local staff in techniques of medical clowning.

During their three days in Romania, Olive and Yoyo also visited hospitals with Saranga’s team.  “The reactions have been amazing,” reported Aviram Blumenkrantz, Dream Doctors project coordinator.

“As an ambassador, I sit in the office all day at the embassy.  I said, ‘We want to do something different, to see how to make the world better.’  That’s how we took this initiative,” David Saranga told the local press. “I took all my team from the embassy, all the diplomats and other people working for us, and we came here to MagiCAMP.  The main goal was to bring smiles to the faces of children.”  

“Two of the The Dream Doctor’s medical clowns were able to do that,” he said