Archive for May 6, 2020

Israel allegedly strikes Iran in Syria; Germany threatens Hezbollah – TV7 Israel News 05.05.20 

May 6, 2020

 

 

Iran’s military advancement amid COVID19 – Jerusalem Studio 511 

May 6, 2020

 

 

Defense officials: Iran pulling out of Syria as Israel pummels its forces there 

May 6, 2020

Source: Defense officials: Iran pulling out of Syria as Israel pummels its forces there | The Times of Israel

Amid increased reports of IDF strikes on Tehran-linked bases, security officials say Israel wants to make clear to Damascus that Iran is a burden, not an ally

An explosion is seen following an alleged Israeli attack on a Hezbollah arms cache near Homs in central Syria on May 1, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter)

An explosion is seen following an alleged Israeli attack on a Hezbollah arms cache near Homs in central Syria on May 1, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Iranian forces are pulling out of Syria and closing military bases there, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday, amid increasing reports of Israeli airstrikes on Iran-linked militias in the country in recent months, including two such incidents late Monday night in which 14 Iran-linked fighters were reported killed.

The Israeli officials refused to comment on these reported attacks, maintaining Israel’s policy of ambiguity, under which it generally acknowledges taking action against Iran in Syria without specifically confirming individual strikes, under the assumption that public confirmation increases the likelihood of retaliation.

Though Israel’s fight against Iran in Syria has been ongoing for nearly a decade, after Tehran began sending its troops and its proxies into Syria at the outbreak of the country’s civil war in 2011, recent months have seen an increase in the number of strikes against Iran-linked sites in the country, targeting locations across the country with the highest concentration around Syria’s capital Damascus.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that this effort appears to be bearing fruit as Iranian forces have begun leaving the country, evacuating a small number of military bases previously under their control in the process. Independently, there has also been a drop in the number of Shiite militias operating in Syria, though this decrease is because of the natural progression of the civil war and not because of Israel’s actions.

Damage caused to a street from secondary explosions after an alleged Israeli attack on a Hezbollah arms cache near Homs in central Syria on May 1, 2020. (Syrian state media SANA)

The officials said that while Israel does not believe the Iranians will accept these setbacks without responding in some way, an imminent retaliation does not appear to be in the offing.

“We are determined, more determined [than Iran], and I can tell you why — for Iran, Syria is an adventure happening 1,000 kilometers away from home. For us, it’s our lives,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday.

“Iranian soldiers who come to Syria and operate there, their lives are in their hands. They are putting their lives at risk, they are paying that price and will continue to do so. We will not give up and we will not allow the establishment of an Iranian forward operating base in Syria,” Bennett said.

The number of transport flights from Iran to Syria, bringing advanced munitions into the country, have also dropped dramatically in the past half-year, apparently the result of Israeli strikes on the airports in Syria where these flights would land.

A moment before an Israeli missile destroys a Syrian SA-22 air defense system on May 10, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Alongside the uptick in the number of strikes on Iran-backed forces in Syria, Israel has also reportedly targeted a larger number of Syrian military air defense systems.

“Syria is paying a growing price for the Iranian presence in its territory, for a war that isn’t [Syria’s]. Iran has turned from an asset to Syria into a burden,” the defense officials told reporters.

They added that Israel plans to keep up its pressure on Iran until its military leaves Syria for good.

Though the officials boasted of Iran’s departure from Syria as a recent development, the Israel Defense Forces has been saying since at least 2018 that its operations against Iran have forced Tehran to radically change and scale back its plans for Syria.

Jerusalem has long maintained that Iran was working to establish a permanent military presence in Syria in order to use it as a springboard for attacks against Israel — similar to what Tehran accomplished by supporting its proxy Hezbollah. That organization began as a small terrorist group in southern Lebanon carrying out deadly but minor attacks on IDF troops, but has gone on to become one of the most powerful military forces in the region, with capabilities exceeding those of many sovereign nations.

A picture taken from the remains of a tank dating back from the 1973 war, shows the Syrian town of Quneitra, as seen from the Golan Heights, on December 23, 2019. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

In recent years, Israel has also warned that Iran was helping Hezbollah convert its massive arsenal of simple rockets into far more lethal precision-guided missiles, a project that the IDF has designated as the second-most significant threat to the country after Tehran’s nuclear program.

Indeed, one of the strikes attributed to Israel on Monday night targeted a Syrian military research center, which was reportedly involved in this precision project.

A burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, in which Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed January 3, 2020. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)

The defense officials partially credited the successes against Iran in Syria to the US strike on the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s expeditionary Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, earlier this year, which left Tehran without one of its most skilled generals.

For Israel, either path Iran decides to take in Syria — remain there or fully leave — is potentially beneficial. If Iran leaves, Israel will have successfully prevented the opening of another front against it. If Iran stays in Syria, where Israel maintains intelligence and aerial superiority, the IDF would be able to continue striking Iranian forces, exacting a heavy price from Tehran, while being able to defend against and thwart Iranian attacks

 

Rocket fired from Gaza into Israel, IDF tanks respond, hitting 3 Hamas positions 

May 6, 2020

Source: Rocket fired from Gaza into Israel, IDF tanks respond, hitting 3 Hamas positions | The Times of Israel

Rocket lands in open area in Eshkol region, no injuries or damage reported; army says it shelled military targets in north of Strip

Illustrative: Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, November 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Illustrative: Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, November 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel early Wednesday that landed in an open area, causing no injuries or damage, the IDF said.

The army said that as the projectile was detected to be heading to an open area in the Eshkol region, rocket warning sirens were not sounded, but people in the area were notified with text messages.

The IDF said that in response tanks shelled three “Hamas military positions in the northern Gaza Strip.”

There has been a lull in violence in recent weeks with both Israel and the Palestinians focused on combating the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have also been negotiation a possible prisoner swap.

The possibility of a deal to return two Israeli captives — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — and the bodies of two IDF soldiers being held in the Gaza Strip has appeared to pick up momentum recently, with the government’s chief negotiator for the release of Israelis held by the terror group updating families last week regarding the prisoner swap talks.

The Wednesday meeting between Yaron Blum and the families of Sergeant First Class Oron Shaul and Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, both killed in action during the 2014 Gaza war, came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier convened the ministerial committee responsible for returning Israeli captives to discuss efforts to reach a prisoner exchange with Hamas, Channel 13 reported.

Left to right: Oron Shaul, Hadar Goldin and Avraham Mengistu. (Flash90/The Times of Israel)

Hamas in recent weeks has expressed interest in reaching a deal that would see it return Mengistu and al-Sayed, who are believed to have entered Gaza of their own accord over five years ago, and the remains of Shaul and Goldin.

However, the terror group, which is the de facto ruler in the Strip and openly seeks Israel’s destruction, has said that in order for such a deal to take place, Israel must first release all teenage, female and elderly prisoners in addition to those who were rearrested after the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal, when more than 1,000 terror convicts were freed in exchange for a single IDF soldier.

The issue of the captives was reportedly delaying Israel’s okay for new investment money to be funneled into blockaded Gaza, and Hamas was growing desperate to lift part of the blockade amid the global coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn.

Some Israeli defense bodies are said to believe a prisoner swap would bring quiet to the often tense border for the immediate future.

Israel and Hamas have in the past failed to advance in the talks, in part because each has demanded a different timetable. Hamas has demanded two rounds of prisoner releases — the first in exchange for information on the captives, the second in exchange for the actual delivery to Israel of the captives and the soldiers’ bodies. Israel has refused, insisting that any deal must take place in a single exchange.

The coalition deal inked last month between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz also opens a possible political window for a deal, as Gantz’s Blue and White faction would likely support an exchange even if some of Netanyahu’s right-wing allies do not.

 

Egypt says it destroyed more than 3,000 Gaza tunnels

May 6, 2020

Crikey, it must be like swiss cheese under this border…

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Egypt-says-it-destroyed-more-than-3000-Gaza-tunnels-626863

AN IDF SOLDIER stands next to an entrance to a cross-border attack tunnel dug from Gaza to Israel, near Kissufim last year.  (photo credit: JACK GUEZ)

Egypt has destroyed more than 3,000 tunnels along its border with the Gaza Strip in the past five years, Egyptian Army Spokesperson Tamer Al-Refai has revealed.

In an interview with the private Egyptian news channel Extra News on Sunday night, he said: “In 2015, the [Egyptian] government took a decision to establish a buffer zone along the border [with the Gaza Strip]. These tunnels were used to threaten Egypt’s national security, including the infiltration of terrorists, smuggling of weapons, ammunition, goods, narcotic drugs and vehicles. We established the buffer zone in stages because residents had to be relocated. They have received compensation.”

Some of the destroyed tunnels were three kilometers long and 30 meters deep, [!!!]

The Egyptian security forces were continuing their “heroic actions to defeat terrorists” in the Sinai Peninsula, he said, adding that 126 terrorists were killed during the recent military operation there.

During the operation, Egyptian security forces seized different types of weapons and explosive belts, Refai said, adding: “We destroyed 630 explosive devices.”

The Egyptian Air Force targeted and destroyed 228 hideouts and shelters used by terrorists, he said. In addition, 116 four-wheel-drive vehicles were destroyed and 266 suspects were arrested.

“The [Egyptian] armed forces are working around the clock to combat terrorism and secure our borders,” Refai said. “We have scored many achievements on the ground, including the destruction of the terrorist infrastructure.”