News Digest — 9/9/19

18 Iranian-Backed Fighters Killed In East-Syria Airstrikes, Many Wounded

Air strikes hit positions of pro-Iranian forces and allied militias in eastern Syria overnight, killing 18 fighters, a war monitor said Monday (9th).

It was not clear who carried out the attacks in the region of Albu Kamal near the border with Iraq, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based Observatory, which has a vast network of contacts across Syria, said “18 fighters were killed and many wounded in strikes at Albu Kamal  by unidentified aircraft.”

The targets reportedly belonged to multiple Iranian militias including Iraqi Hezbollah.  Israel has reportedly carried out similar strikes in that region in the past.

According to Sky News Arabia, the sites targeted belonged to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

On Tuesday (3rd), Fox News reported that Iran was building a major military base near Albu Kamal to hold thousands of troops and precision missiles.

According to the report, the secret project, called the Imam Ali Compound, was approved by top leadership in Tehran and was being completed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Forces.

The large military base, being constructed near Albu Kamal border crossing with Iraq, is said to be less than 186 miles from an American position. 



Israel Strikes Gaza Terror Squad After Drone Drops IED On IDF Troop-Position

The IDF struck a terror squad in the southern Gaza Strip Saturday (7th) after a drone dropped an IED on a military position along the border fence, the Israeli military said in a statement.

While no troops were injured, there was damage to military vehicles by the drone attack.

According to Palestinian reports the cell was hit near Rafiah in the southern Strip.

The incident came hours after the IDF struck several Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday night (6th) in retaliation for five rockets which were fired towards southern Israeli communities bordering the Hamas-run enclave.

The military said an IDF tank shelled a Hamas outpost north of Beit Hanoun and an IDF drone struck a Hamas observation point near Beit Lahia.  The strikes came shortly after incoming rocket sirens were activated in the college-town of Sderot and the communities of Ibim and Kibbutz Or Haner.

“The exchange of fire came hours after two Palestinian teenagers were killed during the weekly Great Return March along the Gaza border fence which saw 6,200 Palestinians riot, while throwing explosives at troops.
The demonstrations were exceptionally violent in nature, which included a large amount of IEDs, grenades and Molotov cocktails thrown towards IDF forces along the fence,” read a statement provided by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.  “There is noticeable damage to the fence in several locations, and there has been a rising number of attempts to approach it.”

On Sunday night (8th), Palestinians in Gaza tried and failed to send a rocket into Israel, which reportedly landed back in the Strip.

While sirens rang out in the southern portion of Israel, they were not set off within any communities, Times of Israel reported.

This latest rocket launch arrives amid heightened tensions between terror factions in Gaza and Israel. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas on Saturday night (7th) that any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or soldiers would be met with a “forceful response” from Israel.



Opinion: Israel Must Launch A Campaign In Gaza To Counter Dangerous Drone Threat – Yossi Yehoshua

The use of a drone operated from Gaza to drop a bomb on the Israeli side of the border fence is a disturbing escalation of events.

Israeli military was well aware that Gaza militants had this capability but didn’t actually think Islamic Jihad would try to create a new equation where the use of drones was on a par with the use of rockets.

The use of drones is a new stage in the challenges posed by the Gaza factions to the IDF. 

The first challenges were the rockets, but the military found an answer to that threat with the Iron Dome defense system.  Then there were attack-tunnels burrowing under the border, but the IDF found another way to counter that threat – the NIS 3 billion underground barrier.

Now Hamas is entering the world of UAVs, which poses a significant threat not only to IDF troops stationed along the border but to the residents of Israeli communities bordering the enclave as well.

The real solution to this challenge, like other threats originating from Gaza, is to restore Israeli deterrence and change the policy of containment.

Israel has the ability to foil drone attacks.  Just two weeks ago, we saw how vigorously Israel stopped a dangerous drone attack meant to be launched at Israel by Iranians from Syria.  The IDF’s response to the UAVs from Gaza on the other hand, have been minor in comparison.

In order not to allow Hamas to grow into a monster the size of the Lebanese Hezbollah, the threat of drones on the southern border must be addressed as soon as possible.  We can’t wait for more advanced weapons to be transferred into the enclave, preventing a necessary Israeli campaign in the Strip.



Israeli Students Harassed, Two Brutally Beaten In Poland

Several Jewish students were viciously set upon by a group of Arabs in Warsaw on Sunday (8th) who recognized them as Israelis, news site 0404 reports.  Two students, including one named Yotam Kashfitzki, were knocked unconscious and required medical attention.

According to Yotam’s twin brother Barak, who posted to Facebook a description of the events, “A group of Israelis, including Yotam, were on the way back to their hotel after an evening out, when a group of Arabs approached them and asked if they were Israelis.”

“When they answered in the affirmative they were immediately attacked with anti-Israel shouts.”

“Yotam who was already in a cab,” according to his brother’s account,” jumped out and tried to calm the situation.  An Arab, holding brass knuckles, punched him in the face and knocked him out.” 

“Another friend came to help and he too was knocked out.”

Barak posted pictures of his beaten brother on Facebook.  “This is my twin brother.  He was attacked in Warsaw in what was a racial attack.  Yotam is a law student who traveled as part of a student delegation for a summer semester at the Warsaw School of Law,” he wrote.

“He was attacked, not because he provoked them.  Not because he approached them. Not because he came into conflict with them.  The Arabs started beating him and his friends just because they are Jews.”

Kashfitzki also had harsh criticism for the response of the Polish people nearby.

“In case you were wondering, none of the 100s of Poles came to the scene to offer help.  None of the Poles called police. Even the security guards who were called for help did not reach out,” he said.

“Yotam was evacuated to the hospital an hour later by a taxi driver called by a friend.  He suffered an eye socket fracture and will return to Israel for treatment,” added Barak.

“Yes, 2019, Warsaw-Poland is repeating itself.  Poles stand by and watch, while people ‘not from their people’ are beaten to the point of losing consciousness.  Today, it’s my twin brother. Tomorrow it will be your close relative,” Kashfitzki wrote.



Global Jewish Population in 2019: 14.6 Million

The global Jewish population in 2019 is 14.6 million, according to research by Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Sergio Della Pergola, released by the Jewish Agency for Israel.  84% of global Jewry lives either in Israel or the U.S., while there are 175 countries where the Jewish population is 100 or more.

Here are the top 10 countries compared with 2012: Israel: 6,153,500 (+10.2%), U.S.: 5,700,000 (+5.1%), France: 453,000 (-5.6%), Canada: 395,000 (+5.3%), UK: 290,000 (-0.3%), Argentina: 180,300 (-0.8%), Russia: 172,000 (-11.3%), Germany: 116,000 (-2.5%), Australia: 113,400 (+1.3%), Brazil: 93,000 (-2.2%)