News Digest — 9/12/19

Al Qaeda Chief Calls On Muslims To Attack Israel And The West In 9/11 Speech

SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of jihadist groups, reported that a video released on Wednesday (11th) by the Al Qaeda terror group shows 68-year-old chief Ayman al-Zawahri calling on Palestinians to seek “martyrdom” by attacking Israelis with suicide vests, among other calls for violence.

During another part of the address, al-Zawahri said, ”If you want jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West.  Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread.”

The coordinated Al Qaeda hijackings on September 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people, when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, including another that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Al-Zawahri’s speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group’s as-Sahab Media Foundation.

As an indicator of when the speech may have been recorded, al-Zawahri references President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which was announced on March 25th.  He calls on Palestinians to seek “martyrdom” by attacking Israelis with suicide belts in response.

Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, became leader of Al-Qaeda following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy Seals.  He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions. A July report by the UN cited that he is “in poor health” but provided no details.



Rocket Sirens Triggered In South As IDF Reportedly Conducted Gaza Reprisal Raids

Rocket sirens blared in communities north of the Gaza Strip as Israeli aircraft reportedly conducted retaliatory strikes in the coastal enclave late Wednesday night (11th), following a rocket barrage earlier in the day and rising tensions in recent weeks.

It was not immediately clear what set off the sirens in the communities of Zikim and Mavki’im, just north of Gaza; however, Palestinian media reported that terrorists in the Strip had shot at an Israeli drone with anti-aircraft fire, possibly triggering them.

Moments before the alarms, Palestinian media reported that the Israeli Air Force had begun bombing Hamas positions throughout the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Defense Forces did not immediately confirm conducting the strikes.

Earlier on Wednesday (11th), three rockets were fired toward Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip, the IDF said, and on Tuesday (10th) two rockets were fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon, both of which were interrupted by the Iron Dome defense system.

In the Wednesday afternoon (11th) attack, one of the projectiles from Gaza struck inside an Israeli community, causing damage to a home.  The other two landed in open fields.

In response the IDF targeted two Hamas observation posts in northern Gaza.

“An IDF tank attacked two military posts belonging to the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip.  This attack was carried out in response to the rocket launches at Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement.

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning (11th), Israeli jets launched air strikes on 15 targets belonging to the Hamas terror group in response to Tuesday night’s (10th) rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas Saturday (7th) that Israel would respond forcefully to any attempt to harm its citizens and soldiers, following two days of violent incidents on and near the Gaza border.

The Prime Minister said on Thursday (12th) in an interview with Kan public radio that Israel might have no choice but to go to war in the Gaza Strip given the growing escalation of violence emanating from the coastal enclave.



Netanyahu Calls For Sovereignty In Jordan Valley As Israel’s Security Border – Ben Sales 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday (10th), “Today I’m announcing my intention, with the establishment of the next government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.  This is our essential safety belt in the east.” The Jordan Valley is in the part of the West Bank that is fully controlled by Israel, with the exception of the Palestinian city of Jericho. While sparsely populated, it is home to dozens of Israeli communities and has been controlled by Israel for more than 50 years.

Successive Israeli governments have viewed control of the Jordan Valley as a strategic asset for Israel.  It essentially creates a buffer between Israel and the Arab states farther to the east. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister who launched the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said in 1995 that “The security border, for the defense of the State of Israel, will be in the Jordan Valley – broadly defined.”



Extending Israeli Sovereignty Over The Jordan Valley Does Not Mean “Annexation” – Sean Savage

The Jordan Valley lies in Area C of the West Bank, where under the Oslo Accords, Israel retains full civilian and military control.  According to the Israel Democracy Institute, 48% of Jewish Israelis support extending sovereignty over the Jordan Valley with U.S. support, with 28% opposed.

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, said, “The Prime Minister’s announcement is fully in line with Israel’s international legal rights.  Because these territories were part of the British Mandate, Israel has as much legal right to them as to Tel Aviv.” Kontorovich said such a move should not be seen as annexation because the territory currently does not belong to a foreign country and annexation means the taking of the territory of a foreign country.

“Israel waited for more than 50 years to regularize the status of these territories, giving the Palestinians opportunity after opportunity to make a peace deal that would have given them a sovereign state.  The Palestinians refused time after time, rejecting initiatives under presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. Israel has now decided that the people in these areas cannot be held in limbo forever; Israelis should not pay the price for Palestinian intransigence,” he added.



Anti-Semitic “Preaching” Targets Haredim In East London On Shabbat

A group of 20-30 men targeted Haredi passers-by with anti-Semitic “preaching” in Stamford Hill in east London on Shabbat (Saturday, 7th), according to the Jewish Chronicle.

The anti-Semitic statements included “Jews have long noses” and “Jews are taking over the world.”  The group didn’t appear to be affiliated with any organization, according to Chaim Hochhauser, a coordinator for Shomrim, a private Orthodox volunteer security organization.

Police officers were present at the scene, but did not make any arrests.

“It was extremely racist.  We have taken a number of phone calls about it,” said Hochhauser.  “People are scared – scared that a pogrom could happen to them.’

“There were a lot of Jewish people there.  It was Shabbat afternoon so they were coming out of their synagogue,” added the Shomrim coordinator.  “Even the non-Jewish people were shocked.  This is the first time something like this has happened.  The community is shocked.  It is extremely shocking for it to happen on Shabbat.”

Philip Glanville, the mayor of the borough of Hackney, told Shomrim that council officers were working with the police and “looking to assist where they can,” according to the Chronicle.

“I am disgusted by these allegations… There’s no place in Hackney for hate of any kind,” said Glanville.  “We are proud that our borough is a place for everyone and we are stronger because of our diversity, tolerance and respect for each other.  As a borough we stand against hate-crimes and I want to send a very strong message that we will do everything to ensure those who spread hate are brought to justice.”