Israel Update: 7 February 2018
THE IRANIAN THREAT (and see Comment & Opinion below)
On Feb. 10, Iran launched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Syria which violated Israeli sovereign airspace. The Israel Air Force (IAF) intercepted the UAV and destroyed it, then targeted the control vehicle from which the UAV was operated in a Syrian T-4 Airbase. During the attack, multiple surface-to-air missiles were launched at IAF aircraft and hit an F-16 fighter jet. The two pilots were forced to eject and parachuted to safety in Israeli territory. The IDF then targeted 12 military objectives, including 3 air defence batteries and 4 targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria. “What we’ve known for a long time is now clear to everyone: Iran wants to establish a front in Syria that is aimed at harming Israel,” said Israel’s Head of the Northern Command.
The Iranian drone shot down by Israel appears to be a new stealth model whose design was stolen from an American RQ-170 Sentinel UAV captured by Iran in 2011, according to aviation analysts.
P.M. Netanyahu said: “I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression
The navigator of the F-16 downed on Saturday described how he and the injured pilot evacuated the plane, both safely landing in Israeli territory.
Saturday’s military escalation between Israel and Iran in Syria shows that “Iran is at the helm of what remains of Assad’s military, and has supplanted any semblance of Syrian sovereignty,” said an analyst at the New America Foundation. “The Assad regime’s military suffered a major blow as a result of Iran’s military incursion. The Israeli airforce counterattack destroyed a significant portion of Assad’s long-range SA-5 integrated air defence network outside Damascus.”
Israeli police have recommended criminal charges against PM Netanyahu. Allegations include bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu called the allegations baseless as well as “biased” and “extreme” and vowed to complete his fourth term in office. The next step will be for Israel’s attorney general to decide whether or not to accept the recommendation and issue an indictment, and this process could take several months. The Israeli Democracy Institute has some additional background on the technical legal aspects.
The IDF Northern Command recently began work on a high concrete wall along the Lebanese border at high-risk spots near Israeli towns and kibbutzim to prevent infiltration by Hizbullah special forces into Israel. The wall is being constructed on Israeli territory exclusively and does not involve Lebanese territory.
A spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said Tuesday that the barrier Israel is building along two sections of the border with Lebanon is on the Israeli side of the border between the two countries in areas that are not sensitive.
P.A. PAYMENTS TO TERRORISTS
Israel’s Defence Ministry is proposing a bill to deduct sums paid to Palestinian terrorists from tax monies collected by Israel on behalf of the P.A. The money would be set aside in a special fund for remuneration for victims of terror who were awarded damages in court, financing a project that fights terrorism funding, and improving infrastructure such as roads and lighting, thus boosting security.PA payments to prisoners and families of terrorists are said to be a direct incentive for terrorists, since the average wage among West Bank Palestinians is NIS 2,000, while a terrorist serving a life sentence can receive NIS 10,950 a month
Shots fired from Syrian territory at an Israeli drone last Thursday hit a house in the Druse village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights.
Recently, the Israel Foreign Ministry hosted a delegation of nine Arab journalists from Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. The Palestinian Authority denounced the visit saying that it was aimed at “promoting normalization” between the Arabs and Israel, and called the visit an “inexcusable and unjustified disgrace.”
ISRAELI HEALTHCARE INNOVATIONS
“Roughly almost half of (our) healthcare revenue is based on innovation stemming from Israel,” according to the CEO of Performance Materials at Germany’s Merck pharmaceutical and chemicals firm. The Rebif drug helps decrease the frequency of relapse symptoms of multiple sclerosis while the Erbitux drug for patients with cancer of the head and neck is also based on Israeli technology.
TURKEY & HAMAS
A senior Israeli defence official said that the Turkish government has encouraged Hamas’ wide-ranging operations in Turkey. In January a Turk and an Israeli-Arab were arrested by Israel over involvement in a Hamas effort to funnel money for terrorism to the West Bank and Gaza via Turkey
Two IDF soldiers, a man and a woman, were attacked by a Palestinian mob who encircled their military vehicle after they accidentally entered Jenin on Monday. Palestinian police helped rescue them. The female soldier sustained light to moderate wounds in her face and legs from the windshield glass. Images showed her face bleeding. She was evacuated to an Afula hospital.
The PA’s political opponents and some social media users strongly denounced the P.A.’s security forces for rescuing the IDF soldiers.
Israeli Defence Minister praised the PA security officers who helped rescue the soldiers. Reportedly more than 100 members of the PA security forces in civilian and official attire worked to bring the soldiers to safety. Both the military vehicle and one soldier’s weapon were returned to the Israelis.
According to official Palestinian figures, in 2017 alone over 500 Israelis strayed into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank; they were all detained safely by PA security forces and returned to Israel unharmed. This is only one facet of Israeli-Palestinian security coordination, which also includes intelligence sharing, counterterrorism, deconfliction during Israeli military raids into PA-controlled areas of the West Bank, and riot control. Israeli and Palestinian officers are in constant contact to discuss common threats in the West Bank
A Palestinian armed with a pipe bomb was arrested at the Samaria Military Courthouse in the West Bank – the fifth arrest since October.
Three Palestinians armed with four pipe bombs were arrested outside the same army courthouse the next day.
Israeli security forces on Friday arrested a Palestinian armed with a knife at the entrance to the Jewish town of Hashmonaim in the West Bank. Earlier Friday, Border Police officers in Hebron arrested a Palestinian man trying to enter the Tomb of the Patriarchs armed with a knife.
Israeli start-up Toibot has developed a battery-powered robot that cleans your toilet at the touch of a button. It attaches to any toilet and automatically brushes its entire surface while dispensing capsules that clean, disinfect and polish, keeping the toilet 99.9 percent bacteria free.
Paul McCartney was announced as a winner of the 2018 Wolf Prize on Monday, paving the way for an expected visit by the former Beatle to Israel at the end of May.
COMMENT & OPINION ON THE IRANIAN THREAT
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Eyal Ben-Reuven:Iran has brought into Syria thousands of Shi’ite militiamen whom they wish to turn into a fighting force against the State of Israel. In addition, they plan to install Iranian air and navy military forces alongside Hizbullah troops. Their plan is to surround the State of Israel with proxy forces, including Hamas in Gaza. Israel has made it absolutely clear that it will not allow Iran and its cohorts to control land that touches Israel’s border. However, diplomatic efforts with the Russians have not borne any fruit.
Israel Facing Growing Danger from Advanced Iranian Weapons Factories in Lebanon: “We have a concrete threat…from the north,” according to an analyst who referred to an Iranian-built factory which can produce missiles with a range of close to 300 km. with a half-ton warhead. Reportedly another factory is located in southern Lebanon, capable of producing surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles as well as unmanned aerial vehicles able to carry explosives. The IDF has stated that Israel is “determined to prevent Lebanon from becoming one large factory for the production of precision missiles.”
- Todd Wood: We’ve predicted for some time that once the fight between pro-Assad Shia elements (Iran/Hizbullah) and Sunni Islamists in the Middle East wound down, Iran and its proxies would turn their attention towards Israel to achieve their longstanding dream of wiping the Jewish state off the map. Israel has been attempting to slow the process by preemptively destroying targets inside Syria which threaten its security. If you’ve looked at a map of the Middle East, it is painfully obvious that Israel really is not defensible from a geographic standpoint. Once military forces with dangerous capabilities are in place along its borders, it’s too late. That is why the “land for peace” narrative is so dangerous, as it really is an agenda to make Israel impossible to protect militarily.
Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp: Iranian leaders have long made clear that they intend to annihilate the Jewish state. According to Israeli intelligence, Iran has 82,000 fighters under its control in Syria and is building a permanent military presence there. This is part of a wider Iranian plan not just to besiege Israel but also to achieve ascendancy over the Sunnis.
For years Israel has warned of the consequences of Tehran’s aggression, but its warnings have been largely ignored by the West and the UN. Britain and the EU could play an effective role in containing Iranian aggression but their answer is appeasement. Instead of sanctioning Iran and supporting Israel, they mouth platitudes about restraint by both sides, which further emboldens Tehran.