News Digest — 9/3/19

Israel Called Off Devastating Strike On Hezbollah, Says IDF Source

One day after Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli positions near the Lebanese border, the Israeli military revealed that it was ready to deliver a decisive blow to the terror group’s missile program, according to a report by Channel 12 News.

The IDF sources that relayed the information to Channel 12 claimed that IAF fighter jets had taken flight on Sunday (1st) to initiate the counter-strike but were sent back to Israeli territory when Hezbollah’s attack on Israel failed to cause any casualties.

According to Israeli officials, the terror group’s inability to inflict damage on Israeli positions “saved” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah from Israel “crushing Hezbollah’s rocket project.”  According to the quoted officials, the Israeli jets were armed and ready to strike Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon.

On Monday (2nd), Israeli officials also announced that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri contacted France, Egypt and the United States after the confrontation on Israel’s border to communicate that Hezbollah sought to avoid any further escalation.

Hariri took action after Israel launched around 100 shells at targets in Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah’s strike.

“The bottom line is that Hezbollah sent us messages to hold our fire,” said an Israeli official quoted by Times of Israel.

According to the Times, the same official implicitly took credit on Israel’s behalf for recent strikes in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria that had been pinned on Israel.

All of these strikes involved factions and proxies backed by Iran.

“We were in simultaneous attack mode in multiple places,” the official stated.

On Monday (2nd), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement, directly referencing Hezbollah terror chief Nasrallah, stating, “The man in the bunker in Beirut knows exactly why he is in a bunker.”

“We will continue to do everything necessary to keep Israel safe – at sea, on the ground and in the air – and we will continue to confront the threat of precision missiles,” Netanyahu added.



Pence, Pompeo Register Support For Israel After Hezbollah Attack

U.S. administration officials made it clear that they backed Israel and blamed Iran for Sunday’s (1st) round of hostilities on Israel’s northern border, warning Hezbollah after it fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli base earlier in the day from over the Lebanese border.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “Under President @realDonaldTrump, America will always stand with Israel.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office issued a statement: “The Secretary expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself against threats posed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and to take action to prevent imminent attacks against Israeli assets in the region.’

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s representative for international negotiations, tweeted, “Missiles fired from Lebanon into Israel.  Iran has proxies in Lebanon and Gaza that harm Israel, undermine chances for peace & threaten a better future for Palestinians. The U.S. stands with Israel & fully supports its right to defend itself against all attacks.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often warned Beirut that the country as a whole would be held responsible for any attack on Israel, as Hezbollah is officially part of the Lebanese government.

Lebanon also has not obeyed the strictures of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War.  The relevant part calls on the Lebanese national army to take over the security of the southern region that borders Israel instead of leaving it in Hezbollah’s hands.

Hezbollah has well over 100,000 rockets and is trying, with Iran’s help, to add precision guidance systems to a portion of them.



In Response To Iran’s Expanding Attacks, Israel Is Approaching Iran’s Borders – Amos Harel

→ Two former military intelligence officers, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shimon Shapira and Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segali, wrote in a publication of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last week that the many strikes at Iranian targets around the Middle East have “led to sharp internal discussion within Iran concerning the continuing lack of success – especially on the important front against Israel – in establishing attack capabilities and a significant military traction along its borders.”

→ “This is in contrast to the Iranian successes in managing the campaign against Saudi Arabia from Yemenite territory and the repeated attacks on strategic targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

→ According to the officers, “Iran feels that Israel is changing and expanding the boundaries of the campaign it is conducting against it and against its allies in the region and even getting closer to its borders, against the background of the attacks in Iraq and the concern that Israel will be a part of a maritime police force in the Persian Gulf.”

→ “Thus far, Iran has succeeded in managing the campaign against Israel and its regional rivals far from its borders.  Now it has to make adjustments to its national security policy in light of the way the campaign is drawing closer.”



U.S. Considering Including ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ On Passports

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration is considering allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their U.S. passports.

While the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, State Department policy still does not allow for the indication of Jerusalem as being part of Israel on passports of U.S. citizens.

“We’re constantly evaluating the way we handle what can be listed on passports,” Pompeo told JNS.  “It’s something that’s actively being looked at.”

The announcement comes as a major development after a State Department spokesperson told JNS last October, “The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs.  We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”

Pro-Israel organizations praised the development to JNS.

B’nai B’rith International CEO and Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin praised the development, saying, “It’s encouraging news.  This is a logical follow-up to moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and in the process, it corrects a historical wrong which denied this designation for over seven decades.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the passport issue is within the purview of the administration, which has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” American Zionist Movement President Richard Heideman said.  “It is most appropriate for passports of those born in Jerusalem, such as my three grandchildren born at Hadassah Hospital, to be listed as born in Jerusalem, Israel and not simply born in Jerusalem as if they were stateless, which they are not.”

“This is a very important and significant decision which affirms the long-standing fact that Jerusalem is Israel and isn’t in dispute,” said Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks.  “Once again President Trump and his administration enacts a policy that the Jewish community has long-sought, and it underscores why he’s the most pro-Israel president in history.”



In First, UN Panel Calls On Palestinians To Halt Hate Speech Against Israelis

The United Nation’s anti-racism committee criticized Palestinian authorities in a Thursday report (8/29), calling on the “State of Palestine” to act against “racist hate speech and hate crimes,” including incitement to violence against Israelis and Jews.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in a report on the Palestinians said it was concerned about “hate speech in certain media outlets, especially those controlled by Hamas, social media, public officials’ statements and school curricula and textbooks, which fuels hatred and may incite violence, particularly hate speech against Israelis, which also fuels anti-Semitism.

The report marked the first time the panel had criticized Palestinian officials, according to UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization that addressed the session leading to the report.

The committee called on Ramallah to better-protect  journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents; to act against incitement to violence by public figures, politicians and media officials; and to remove inflammatory and discriminatory images and text from school curricula and textbooks.

“What happened this week was unprecedented,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said after the session.  “Since 1974 when Yasser Arafat and the PLO were welcomed into the United Nations, this is the first time that the world body’s spotlight was officially placed on Palestinian racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism.”