News Digest — 8/6/19

Iran Increases Hamas Funding In Exchange For Intel On Israeli Missiles

Iran has increased its funding to Hamas to the tune of $30 million per month in exchange for intelligence on Israeli missile capabilities.

The major increase of funding, up from $100 million per year, came following a recent meeting in Iran’s capital Tehran between Hamas officials and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who expressed willingness to increase the funding, Israel’s Channel 12 News reported.

The Hamas delegation was led by the group’s deputy chief Saleh Arouri and included Moussa Marzouk, Maher Salah, Husan Badran, Osama Hamdan, Ezzat al-Rishq and Ismail Radwan.

The Hamas delegation said they would convey the request to the group’s leadership in the Gaza Strip.

The delegation also reportedly asked Iran to act as a mediator with Syrian President Bashar Assad to restore ties following a falling-out during the Syrian civil war.

While ties between Hamas and Iran cooled due to Tehran’s support for Damascus, Arouri has advocated for the rehabilitation of ties in order to increase support from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force.  He has visited Tehran numerous times meeting with its commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as well as other senior Iranian officials.

“We are on the same path as the Islamic Republic – the path of battling the Zionist entity and the arrogant ones,” Arouri was quoted by Iran’s Fars News Agency, during the delegation’s visit.

According to a recent report in Ha’Aretz, Iran and Hamas have agreed to open a second front in the South from the Gaza Strip should a war break out in Israel’s North.  Israeli officials have warned that any war that breaks out in the North will not be confined to only one border – Lebanon or Syria – but will be fought on both.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday (6th), in a speech broadcast live on State TV from the Foreign Ministry, spoke about the tensions that have risen between Iran and the West since last year when the United States pulled out of the International Nuclear Agreement.  He praised Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the United States imposed sanctions on him in July 31.

Rouhani said if the U.S wants to negotiate with Iran, it must lift all sanctions and allow Iran to export oil, adding that “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”



United Nations: Hamas Recruits Children For Terror Activity

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a special report on “Children in Violent Conflict” which strongly criticizes the use of children by terrorist organizations.

Guterres notes in the document that one of the UN’s biggest challenges in this regard is preventing the recruitment of minors for terrorist organizations.  “Children who work for terrorist organizations are victims,” Guterres said. “They are exposed to high-level violence and exploitation that influences them physically and mentally.”

The report detailed the various terrorist organizations which recruit children, including Hamas and Hezbollah.  The report confirmed that children in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, have been recruited by Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist groups.

The UN also warned  that in Lebanon similar recruitment of children is carried out by Hezbollah, a Palestinian terrorist group called Ansarullah and other groups.  The common denominator of these terrorist organizations is that they act against the State of Israel, most of them openly.

Hamas, among other things, recruits children in the Gaza Strip for its demonstrations on the border during which they are required to throw stones and serve as human shields, an activity officially condemned by the United Nations.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said that “a young generation continues to grow up on violent incitement against the State of Israel under the auspices of terrorist organizations.”

“This is an important step for the United Nations but in order to significantly damper terrorist activity, the Security Council must first recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations and impose immediate sanctions on them,” Danon added.



Navy Hosts Major Multinational Earthquake Drill To Prep Rescue, Recovery

The Israeli Navy on Sunday (4th) launched a large-scale multinational exercise off the Haifa coast simulating an earthquake in which 10 foreign navies took part.

The Israel Defense Forces said the drill is scheduled to end on Thursday (8th).

The exercise is focusing on the after-effects of a powerful earthquake, including the transfer of humanitarian aid, the army said.  As a result, residents of northern Israel can expect to see increased helicopter flights overhead, as well as large numbers of Israeli and foreign naval vessels off the coast.

The military said 10 foreign fleets are participating but did not disclose the countries involved.

The IDF said the exercise is part of its training schedule for 2019 and is aimed at improving preparedness.

Israel is situated along the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust running the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan, and which is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends from Northern Syria to Mozambique.

The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 – a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700.

Northern Israel and areas around Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are at high risk of a quake measuring 5 to 5.9 on the Richter Scale, according to the World Health Organization, with the central and southern coastal areas and the Negev Desert at medium risk in the 4 to 4.9 range.

Experts have warned a large earthquake could strike Israel in the near future.  Col. Itzik Bar from the IDF’s Home Front Command last year put expected casualties from a major earthquake at 7,000 dead and 200,000 homeless.

Last year the state ombudsman said Israel was woefully unprepared for a major earthquake, having failed to implement most of the recommendations outlined in numerous reports.

“So Far, schools, hospitals, tourist sites, and public buildings are not equipped to withstand  a big quake,” State Comptroller Yosef Shapira warned. He said in a report that an earthquake could seriously damage underwater natural gas pipelines, fuel lines, water mains, airports and general transportation.



Two Jewish Boys Assaulted North Of Toronto

B’nai B’rith Canada on Sunday (4th) expressed concern after two Jewish boys were assaulted in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area Jewish community.

The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon (3rd), when two boys wearing kippot were walking near the Garnet A. Williams Community Center in Thornhill, north of Toronto.

The two boys were approached by another youth who began swearing at them from behind. As the Jewish boys tried to leave the area, the youth punched one of the boys in the face and proceeded to follow him and his friend for some distance before fleeing the scene.

The victims were unable to record the incident because it took place on the Sabbath, when observant Jews do not carry electronic devices such as cellphones.

One of the victims later visited the emergency department to seek treatment for his injuries, said a statement from B’nai B’rith.

The York Regional Police Hate Crimes Unit is now investigating the incident.

“This is an extremely serious incident, and we trust that law enforcement will give it the attention that it deserves,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

“It is inconceivable that Jewish families will be afraid to send their children to the park, in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, on the Jewish Sabbath” he added.

Saturday’s (3rd) attack followed an anti-Semitic attack in Montreal last week in which a Jewish man was assaulted by a taxi driver amid a barrage of anti-Semitic slurs.  The victim was punched repeatedly and his cell phone was smashed.

In total, police across Canada reported 347 hate crimes targeting Jews in 2018.  Jews account for only about 1% of the Canadian population.



Israel’s Genesis Lander Splashed “Tardigrades” On The Moon And They Might Still Be Alive

When Israel’s Genesis lander crashed into the moon on April 11, few knew that it carried samples of a tiny life form with extraordinary powers of regeneration.  So much so, that it might have survived the space craft’s disintegration on the lunar surface.

Genesis carried a payload belonging to the Arch Mission Foundation whose goal is to create “a backup of planet Earth.”  The foundation’s project was a “DVD-sized archive,” a lunar library packed with “30-million pages of information, human DNA samples, and thousands of tardigrades,” Wired magazine reported on Monday (5th). 

Tardigrades, or “little water bears,” are tiny, eight-legged, segmented creatures measuring about 1.5 millimeters long.  They are considered among the most resilient creatures ever discovered and can survive extreme conditions, including radiation, dehydration and starvation.  They can even survive space.

The founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, Noah Spivak, told Wired that Tardigrades can enter dormant states “in which all metabolic processes stop and the water in their cells is replaced by a protein that effectively turns the cells into glass.”  Tardigrades have been revived after 10 years in dormancy.

The little creatures are a favorite of space buffs.  Spivak said that based on analysis of the crash and the location of the disc-sized library on the lander, he’s confident that the payload survived.