News Digest — 9/13/21

Gantz Says Israel Looking For 2 Remaining Fugitives ‘With All Means Available,’ 4th Rocket Fired At Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday (12th) said the manhunt to bring about the capture of two remaining Palestinian prisoners who escaped a high-security facility last week continues with Israel using “all forces and means available.”

Their escape on Monday (6th) through a hole in their cell floor at Gilboa Prison in northern Israel, delighted Palestinians, sparking a massive manhunt.

“We are deployed on all fronts,” the defense minister said in a terrorism conference at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

“Israel has no intention of harming Palestinian residents of the West Bank or Gaza.  We are attempting to promote policies to help develop economic stability there,” Gantz said.  “But if terror organizations try to use the current situation to work against local Palestinians who only want stability and economic development, they [the terrorists] will risk paying the price.”

The IDF, Israel Police and other security services continued searching on Sunday (12th) for the two remaining fugitives Munadil Nafayat, 26, and Iham Khamaji, 35, both affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group, who remain at large after four others were captured on Friday (10th) and Saturday (11th).

Mayor of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council, Eyal Bezer said there has never been such a large force participating in a manhunt.  “We were sent the best quality forces in the country in order to capture the fugitives,” he said.

“Our residents are not concerned.  They are vigilant and many who had served in elite units during their military service have joined the search in cooperation with the IDF and the police,” he added.

Palestinian terror factions in Gaza on Friday (10th) and Saturday (11th) fired rockets at southern Israel in protest over the arrest of four of the fugitives.

The IDF responded with airstrikes on Hamas targets, claiming the Gaza rulers must be held responsible for any acts of aggression against Israeli civilians.

Meanwhile another missile was fired into Israel Sunday (12th) marking the third consecutive day of rockets being launched toward the State of Israel.

In response Israeli forces struck Hamas sites in the northern and southern areas of Gaza, including training complexes, weapons manufacturing and storage centers and a terrorist tunnel.  Fighter planes struck other targets after a fourth rocket was fired during the retaliatory strike.

Magen David Adom (MDA) reported that paramedics  treated a 53-year-old man and a child who were lightly injured while running to a shelter.  A total of five residents were injured according to the Sderot Municipality, including a city council member.



Victims Of 9/11 Honored At Jewish Memorial On 20th Anniversary

Jewish National Fund-USA, the US Embassy in Israel and Keren Kayemet Leisrael-Jewish National Fund held their annual memorial ceremony on Sunday (12th) in Jerusalem to honor the victims that died 20 years ago in the 9/11 attacks.

The 9/11 Living Memorial is the only monument outside the United States that lists the names of all the victims of the attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania in 2001.

Many New Yorkers who were at the scene when the tragedy occurred have described their trauma from the event.

The Jewish National Fund says the monument “perfectly characterizes strong, enduring Israeli-American relationships based on shared democratic principles, peace, and cooperation in the fight against terror.”

Among the attendees at the ceremony were former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Elisha Peleg, as well as representatives from Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Knesset and the Foreign Ministry.

Fewer than 100 people participated in the ceremony because of COVID regulations.

Last week many of those working at The Jerusalem Post shared their experiences when the tragedy occurred on September 11, 2001.



EU Security Chief: Growing Support For ‘End Of Western Civilization’ Among Young Extremists

The European Union’s top-ranking security official said Europe is contending with a “more diverse landscape” of terror groups than ever before, citing Islamists and right-wing extremists as the biggest security threat facing the region.

Laurent Muschel, Director of Security for the European Commission, outlined the security challenges posed by various groups during a conference held by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Reichman University.

Although ISIS has somewhat been contained, radical Islamists and wannabe jihadis inspired by Islamist ideology still pose a major challenge for Europe.

“We believe this threat will potentially increase with European jihadi returnees from Syria and Iraq…There are a couple hundred that we don’t know where they are, and they could come back at any moment,” said Muschel.

During the peak of ISIS’ takeover of the territory in Iraq and Syria during 2015, thousands of European citizens are believed to have joined terror groups in the Middle East.

Some were killed in the fighting abroad, while others languish to this day as prisoners of war in Kurdish-run internment camps.

But some European jihadis, Muschel said, remain unaccounted for, and could theoretically re-enter Europe and commit terror attacks.

Referring to European citizens who had been preemptively convicted of terror offenses and incarcerated, which prevented them from leaving the continent to fight overseas, he said that “prison leavers” are also a huge risk.

Many are soon to be released from European correctional facilities, and “they’ve been further radicalized” during their time in prison, he added.

Muschel said that right-wing extremists pose a large risk to European security.  Fears over the “end of Western civilization” and the concept of “replacement theory,” in which governments are said to be allowing uncontrolled immigration in order to replace the native population of a country, have become more mainstream.

Islamists and right-wing extremists, said Muschel, have a lot in common, like “anti-Semitism, misogyny, and anti-globalization views.” 

Extreme right-wing groups were celebrating the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on Telegram, Muschel claimed, as a victory over globalization.



Israel Reveals Secret Iran Base Used To Train Terrorists To Operate Drones

Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed during a conference Sunday (12th) the presence of a secret training base in Iran whose specialty is teaching terrorists throughout the region how to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Speaking at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Reichman University (IDC Herzliya), Gantz said, “The Kashan base located north of the city of Isfahan is used to train terrorists from Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.  These terrorists are trained to employ UAVs produced by Iran.  This base is a key point from which Iranian aerial terrorism is exported to the region.”

According to the defense minister, dozens of the “deadly, accurate weapons that, like a ballistic missile or airplane, can cross thousands of kilometers,” have been already exported to Iran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon.  In another point of direct concern to Israel, “Iran is also attempting to transfer the know-how needed for UAV production to Gaza,” both to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), he said.  The PIJ is under Iran’s direct control, while Hamas, being Sunni Moslem, is more of an ally with convergent interests.

The aerial terror threat that Iran is honing is region-wide, Gantz stressed.  Dozens of the UAVs have also gone to its Houthi proxies in Yemen, who have used them in recent months against Saudi Arabia.  Hundreds more have been sent to the groups that the Islamic Republic backs in Syria, which is still divided into regions controlled by diverse and opposing forces such as Turkey, Russia, the Syrian government and the United States.

Dozens more are in the hands of Iran-backed forces in Iraq as well, according to Gantz.  This is a threat to American forces and those of its allies that have already been realized in the country’s Kurdistan region, as they have been the target of drones allegedly operated by such proxies for the past several months.

Just on Saturday night (11th), the regional government’s foreign media spokesperson wrote that the capital Erbil’s “international airport has been attacked with a drone tonight,” which is where allied troops are stationed.  Several local newspaper reports had multiple explosions being heard in the area, including the air defense measures taken by soldiers on the ground.  No casualties were reported.

Iran’s malign influence will only get stronger unless the world unites against it, said Gantz, because it is “callously breaching the [nuclear] agreement to which it is still obligated and …is closer than ever to an amount of enriched uranium that will bring it to the brink of becoming a nuclear state.”  This will lead to a global arms race and an even greater increase in the threat of terrorism, and “is a threat to the whole world, and to the region.  Iran must not be allowed to do this in any way.”

“Iran does not honor the agreements it has signed,” he warned, “and there is no reason to believe that it will honor any future agreements.  The time has come for action.  I call on the countries that are still members of the nuclear agreement to impose the sanctions set out in the current agreement.”



Osama Bin Laden’s Son Ashamed Of Father’s Crimes, Wants To Visit Israel

The Son Of Osama bin Laden, the slain leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group said he hopes to visit Israel in an interview with the Israeli media.

Omar bin Laden, 40, the youngest of Osama’s sons, was expected to be his father’s heir and take on the leadership of al-Qaeda but turned down the offer.  He said he felt “shame and horror” toward his father for the crimes he committed during his life.

He said after the devastation of the September 11 attacks orchestrated by his father on the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington, and in an open field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, that “It was hard for me to believe that he had the ability to organize such a thing.  That day changed our lives forever, and it was very hard to continue to live afterwards.  During these years of loss and pain, I was forced to come to terms with the truth about my father.”

An artist, Omar bin Laden lives in Normandy, France.  He longs to visit the United States and Israel, noting that his wife, whose maternal side of the family is Jewish and originally from Israel, received an offer to give lectures on peace at Israeli universities.

“I know that Israel is a beautiful country, and many people in it want peace with the Palestinians.” he said.  “I know that since 1948, the Palestinians have been living alongside the Jewish nation.  We believe that the world needs to live as one and that neighbors from every religion can live alongside each other in peace,” he added.