News Digest — 8/3/21
Report: Israel Given Green Light To Retaliate Against Iran By 3 Countries
The US, Russia and Britain have given Israel tacit approval to retaliate against Iran for a deadly drone strike on an Israeli-operated ship on Thursday (7/29).
A report, in Kuwait’s Al Jarida, quoting unnamed Western intelligence sources, suggested that Israel might target Iranian vessels, the ship from which the drones were launched, or an Iranian port.
Officials in Washington and London said they held Iran responsible for the attack on the Mercy Street, a ship owned by Israel tycoon Eyal Ofer. It was in the Gulf of Oman heading towards the United Arab Emirates when multiple suicide drones struck the ship’s bridge and living quarters.
The Romanian captain and a British security guard were killed. The Mercer Street was able to sail on its own power to an undisclosed safe port, escorted by the US Navy.
In a statement issued on Sunday (1st), British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the attack “deliberate, targeted, and a clear violation of international law by Iran,” adding, “the UK is working with our international partners on a concentrated response to this unacceptable attack.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was “no justification for this attack, which follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior.”
However, Iran denied responsibility for the strike on the ship.
Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke with his British counterpart Gen. Sir Nick Carter on Sunday (1st). According to unsourced reports in the Hebrew media, Kochavi and Carter agreed to share information and coordinate a response on Iran.
Over the course of 2021, Iran has attacked several Israeli ships in the Gulf of Oman. Israel is widely believed responsible for the attacks on an Iranian intelligence-gathering ship in the Red Sea and the Iranian Navy’s largest vessel.
Israel is also said to have carried out attacks on Iranian ships carrying illicit weapons and oil to Syria in 2020.
Testing Troops’ Readiness, IDF Launches Drill Along Lebanon Border
The Israel Defense Forces began an exercise Monday night (2nd), simulating fighting with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The drill, dubbed “Sunbeam,” aims to test the readiness of soldiers during a potential escalation with the Iran-backed terror group that could last a number of days, the military said.
The IDF added that during the exercise, forces will examine ways of applying lessons learned from the recent military conflict in Gaza with Palestinian terrorists.
Israel and Hamas concluded 11 days of fighting in May during which the terror group launched some 4,300 rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and Israel launched hundreds of retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
During May’s fighting, as well as last month, a number of rockets were launched from Lebanon into northern Israel. The military assessed the rockets had been launched by a local Palestinian group and not Hezbollah.
However, Hezbollah maintains tight control over southern Lebanon, making it unlikely that such attacks would be conducted from this area without its tacit approval.
The military said the implementation of lessons learned from the 11-day war in the current drill in northern Israel will be part of a joint investigative and learning process with the military’s Gaza Division.
The army said the current drill was planned in advance as part of the 2021 schedule.
However, it comes amid increased tensions in the region, after an oil tanker managed by an Israeli-owned company was struck by a drone, apparently by Iran on Thursday (7/29).
The Iran-backed Hezbollah, which maintains an arsenal of some 140,000 rockets and mortar shells, is considered the most significant military threat to the IDF.
With that many projectiles, should a war break out, the IDF believes Hezbollah could fire 1,000 to 3,000 rockets and missiles every day for at least the first week of fighting. In comparison, Hezbollah fired roughly 4,000 rockets in total during the entire 34-day Second Lebanon War in 2006, which was at the time an unprecedented level of attack.
However, earlier this year, the military assessed that in the future, Hezbollah would likely initiate more limited rounds of violence, rather than a full-scale war, as it previously assessed.
Israel has fought against the terror group in numerous operations throughout the years.
The IDF drill will likely end Tuesday evening (3rd).
New Fiber-Optic Cable Project To Link Israel To Saudi Arabia
Although Israel and Saudi Arabia still don’t share peace, they’re about to be connected via fiber-optic cable.
On Tuesday (3rd), Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and representatives from Google are expected to announce the official launch of the “Blue Raman” route that will link the two countries and which is part of a larger internet infrastructure project that will ultimately connect Europe with India.
The underwater cable project, named after Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, will be more than 5,000 miles long and is expected to cost $400 million. It will begin in Italy and then pass over Israel before reaching Saudi Arabia, Oman and finally India.
The 16 fiber-optic cables to be used in the Blue Raman project will be capable of transmitting massive amounts of data and will significantly upgrade Israel’s digital connection with the rest of the world.
No less important – and similar to the oil pipeline linking Israel’s southern Red Sea port of Eilat to the city of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea, which is intended to be used to expedite oil supplies from the Persian Gulf to Europe – the fiber-optic cables will also cross Israel on land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and from there, as stated, to Saudi Arabia, Oman, and finally India.
The Blue Raman route is expected to be completed in three years.
Beyond the technological aspects of the global project and the benefits it will provide in that regard, the selection of Israel as the “conduit” country is diplomatically and geopolitically significant.
Officials familiar with the details told Israel Hayom that the project solidifies Israel’s importance as a bridge country between Asia and Europe.
Spanish Pro-Israel Organization Denounces Political Party ‘Glorifying’ Palestinian Terrorist Group
A top Spanish pro-Israel group has denounced a major regional political party for engaging in what it called “shelter and justification” for a major Palestinian terror organization.
The denunciation came in the wake of an event organized by the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), which the pro-Israel group ACOM accused of “glorifying terrorism” by promoting and giving “public coverage” to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The left-wing BNG is a decades-old separatist movement in the Galicia region that has at times advocated both secession from Spain and more recently, greater regional autonomy.
Founded in 1967, the PFLP rejects Israel’s right to exist and has engaged in numerous massacres, atrocities, and other acts of violence against Israelis, Jews, and others. It is listed as a terror organization by both the European Union and the US.
A statement from ACOM called it “absolutely deplorable” that a political party “contributes to the justification of the genocidal and Judeophobic-violence that the State of Israel has faced from the very beginning of its existence.”
The group pledged that it would report the event to the provincial prosecutor – as both ‘glorifying terrorism’ and ‘incitement to hatred’ may qualify as criminal acts under Spanish law.
August 2, 1943: Treblinka Extermination Camp Uprising
On August 2, 1943, 78 years ago, the prisoners at Treblinka Extermination Camp revolted, causing damage to the camp infrastructures and allowing several hundred prisoners to escape.
The camp became operational July 23, 1942, the third camp created by the Germans as part of the “Reinhard” action with the purpose of exterminating Jews. Operation Reinhard was responsible for the murder of 1.7 million Jews.
The idea for an armed uprising and escape came from the few that were left alive after being transported to the camp. The majority of prisoners brought to Treblinka were murdered. The few left were put to hard labor emptying wagons and gas chambers, burning or burying bodies, and separating items taken from those murdered.
On August 2, 1943, on a day that the gas chambers didn’t operate, prisoners waited for a single gunshot – this was their signal. They then seized arms – including 20 hand grenades, 20 rifles, and several revolvers – set the camp building aflame, and attempted to rush the main gate. Of the roughly 700 workers, only a couple hundred succeeded in escaping.
The revolt ended operations at Treblinka. Prisoners who didn’t escape were shot by Nazis. The camp was dismantled and evidence of its existence was destroyed.
Historians estimate that more than 900,000 people were murdered at the Treblinka camp.
According to History.com, prisoner, Rudolf Masaryk stood on top of a roof in the burning camp during the revolt, yelling down to Nazi guards as he shot them:
“This is for my wife and my child who never lived to see the world!”
100-Year-Old Former Death Camp Guard To Be Tried In Germany
A 100-year-old former guard at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp outside Berlin will go on trial in October, reported German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
76 years after the end of World War II, the Neuruppin district court charged the centenarian with accessory to murder in 3,500 cases.
A court spokesperson told the publication that the court has determined the defendant is strong enough to stand trial for between two and two-and-a-half hours per day.
The former guard’s identity was not revealed in accordance with German media law protecting the privacy rights of suspects.
The man is charged with working as a guard at Sachsenhausen from 1942-1945, during which 200,000 people were imprisoned and 20,000 murdered.
In 2011, a precedent-setting case that found working in a concentration camp was grounds enough for conviction, even if there was no proof of a specific crime occurring, allowed German prosecutors to try more former concentration camp guards, reported Deutsche Welle.
Tens of thousands of prisoners died at Sachsenhausen due to hunger, disease, mistreatment, forced labor or “were victims of systematic extermination operations by the Nazis,” said the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum website.
The concentration camp located in Oranienburg, near Berlin, operated from 1936 until the end of the war in 1945.