News Digest — 9/7/22

Alleged Israeli Airstrikes Target Syrian Airports For Second Time In Week

Alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted the Aleppo and Deir al Zor airports in northern Syria on Tuesday night (6th), according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

According to SANA, the airstrikes were carried out from over the Mediterranean Sea from the direction of Latakia and damaged the airports’ runways, putting them out of service.

The strikes come less than a week after alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted the international airport at Aleppo in northern Syria and sites near Damascus.  And those airstrikes came less than a week after alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in Masyaf, located southwest of Aleppo.

While a number of alleged Israeli airstrikes have targeted sites near Aleppo in recent years, the last alleged Israeli airstrike that targeted the airport before the strike last week was reported in 2019.

Earlier this year, after alleged Israeli airstrikes destroyed runways at the Damascus International Airport, Iranian airlines, suspected of smuggling weapons and equipment to Iran-backed militias in Syria and Lebanon, reportedly began landing in Aleppo airport instead of Damascus International.



Standing Next To F-35 Fighter Jet, Lapid Issues Stern Warning To Iran

Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited an F-35 fighter jet squadron at an Air Force base in southern Israel on Tuesday (6th) and issued a stern warning to Iran standing next to the imposing warplanes.

“If Iran continues to try us, it will discover Israel’s long arms and capabilities,” the premier said.

The prime minister’s message was made in coordination with the US administration and comes amid Mossad Director David Barnea’s trip to Washington.

“It’s too early to know whether we succeeded in thwarting the nuclear deal, but Israel is prepared for any threat and any situation,” Lapid said.

“We will continue to act on all fronts against terrorism and those who seek to harm us.  As agreed between the Biden administration and us, we have full freedom to act as we see fit in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat.” 

Lapid said that Barnea’s trip to Washington is part of Israel’s ongoing pressure campaign to dissuade the US from rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal, which Jerusalem views as an immediate threat to its security.

The Israeli spy chief will hold a series of meetings with the CIA, the White House and the National Security Council, among other government agencies.

His trip was preceded with visits from Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata.

On Monday Lapid met with a bi-partisan US delegation headed by Senators Lindsay Graham and Bob Menendez in Jerusalem.

At the meeting, Lapid briefed the American lawmakers on regional developments while underscoring Israel’s stance on the Iran nuclear deal.

“Israel is operating and will continue to operate in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” Lapid told the US delegation.

United States Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides reaffirmed Washington’s support of Israel and stressed that it will never impede the Jewish state in defending itself.  He also reiterated President Biden’s vow to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Nides added that Washington and Jerusalem have a constant dialogue on the Iranian issue, allowing Israeli officials to voice their concerns regarding the pending agreement and the regional threat that Tehran and its proxies pose.



In Speech To German Parliament, Herzog Laments Third Reich Atrocities

Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed Germany’s parliament on Tuesday (6th) about atrocities committed during the Third Reich, while at the same time praising the close and friendly relations that have emerged between the two countries since the end of the Holocaust.

“Six million European Jews were murdered by Germany’s Nazis and their henchmen during World War II.”

“Never in human history was there a campaign like the one the Nazis and their accomplices conducted to annihilate the Jewish people,” Herzog told lawmakers at the Bundestag.

“Never in history was a state responsible, as Nazi Germany was responsible, for the loss of all semblance of humanity, for the erasure of all mercy, for the pursuit of the worldwide obliteration, with such awful cruelty, of an entire people.”

Herzog also spoke of his father, former President Chaim Herzog, who was among the liberators of the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany in April 1945, as an officer of the British forces.

“I shall never forget how he described to me the horrors he witnessed.  The stench.  The human skeletons in striped pajamas, the piles of corpses, the destruction, the hell on earth.” the Israeli president told German lawmakers.

Looking at the present and toward the future, Herzog praised close relations between the two countries and their joint commitment to fight antisemitism.

“The partnership between Israel and Germany has achieved global renown, and we must continue deepening and cultivating it, for the benefit of a brilliant future and not only for our countries but for the whole of humanity,” he told the parliament.

On Tuesday afternoon (6th), Herzog and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the site of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  After touring the site, the two presidents  met with survivors and German high school students.

The Israeli president arrived for a state visit to Germany earlier this week that also included a trip to Munich on Monday (5th) where he participated in the 50-year anniversary ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Olympic Games.



Rare Ivories Discovered In Capital Could Date Back To ‘First Temple Period’

Archeologists are describing as “extraordinary” the discovery of a collection of ivory plaques from the First Temple Period recently unearthed in Jerusalem.  They are among only a few ever found and the first to be unearthed in the city.

The plaques, approximately 2,700 years old, were discovered during the excavations being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University at the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David Archeological and Tourism site, which is part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

Ivory was one of the most expensive raw materials in the ancient world, even more precious than gold, according to the IAA.  The plaques were discovered in the ruins of a palatial building in active use when Jerusalem was at the height of its power, during the eighth and seventh centuries BCE.

According to the IAA, “The assemblage of ivory objects discovered in the City of David was probably imported, and originally made by artisans in Assyria.  The ivories may have come to Jerusalem as a gift from Assyria to Jerusalem’s nobility.  Following a comparison with complete objects that appear on wall plaques from the Palace of the Assyrian King Sennacherib at Nineveh, we suggest that the ivory plaques from Jerusalem were originally inlaid in a couch-throne, and we may imagine that it had been situated on the second floor of the opulent structure.”

Ivory is mentioned a few times in the Bible, always linked with royalty or great wealth, i.e. the description of King Solomon’s throne (I Kings 10:18); an ivory palace built by King Ahab in Samaria (I KIngs 22:39); and Amos the prophet’s rebuke of Israelite nobility: “They lie on ivory beds, lolling on their couches” (Amos 6:4).

The impressive building where the plaques were unearthed was destroyed in a fire, which scholars surmise took place during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.

The ivory objects were not the only noteworthy items found at the site.  Also unearthed were an agate seal and a seal impression carrying the name “Natan-Melech servant of the king.”

The plaques will be on display September 13, at the 23rd Conference of the City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem.  They will also be displayed in October at the Jerusalem Conference of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University.



Long Island Playground Targeted With Nazi Graffiti

A Long Island playground popular with children and families was targeted with neo-Nazi graffiti, with parkgoers discovering anti-Semitic symbols carved into multiple bathroom stalls.

Nassau County police have opened an investigation into multiple swastikas found in the restrooms at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford according to Newsday.

Police were called about the antisemitic graffiti Saturday afternoon (3rd).  They said it was not clear when the vandalism took place and would not comment on whether they had surveillance footage from the park.

Local politicians condemned the incident, with state Senator Anna Kaplan calling the graffiti a “vile display of hatred.”

“I’m horrified by the latest discovery of anti-Semitic vandalism on Long Island, and I’m disgusted that once again it was found in a public park where children and families should be able to enjoy themselves without being confronted by vile displays of hatred,” Kaplan said.

She called on Nassau County to increase the police presence in parks and public facilities.

“Nassau County is a community that welcomes people of all races, religions and ethnic groups,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told the news outlet.  “This type of behavior will not be tolerated.”