uring a rally marking the 10th anniversary of the end of Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel, Bint Jebail, Lebanon, Aug 13, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Aziz Taher)
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah broadcast a prerecorded speech from Bint Jebail, Lebanon, on Aug. 14 to mark the 10th anniversary of the war between Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in summer 2006. It was a typical Nasrallah speech that included all his familiar themes: Israelis had lost trust in the institutions that defend them, and the 2006 fighting had cast doubt on Israel’s ability to continue to exist at all. He said that Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, are weak and tired and cannot defend themselves for much longer. He also mentioned his 2006 “spider web speech” — in which he said that Israel is weaker than a spider web — saying it demoralized Israelis at large.
While Nasrallah was still speaking, the “institutions that defend Israel,” in particular Shin Bet, released details about an interesting effort by Hezbollah to open a new terrorist front to operate in Israel. The new front would be controlled by Hezbollah activists from a distance, using Facebook, phony profiles on social networks and encrypted messages on the internet. The story was first reported in Israel on Aug.16 and included the names of eight Palestinian suspects from the West Bank, members of three separate cells, established to launch attacks in Israel. In each instance, Israel’s security institutions were able to arrest the suspects before they launched their operations.
In the surreptitious struggle between Israel and Hezbollah over the past few years, Israel has maintained the upper hand. As part of the struggle, Nasrallah has tried desperately to create a small-footprint front against Israel. In other words, he wants to foment a kind of anti-Israel terror not directly connected to Hezbollah to avoid giving Israel an excuse to attack his organization. Nasrallah cannot launch attacks from across the Blue Line, the international border between Israel and Lebanon, because he knows that doing so would result in an aggressive response by Israel. He also cannot let the situation deteriorate into a full-scale war, especially now, with Hezbollah sustaining hundreds of casualties and thousands more injuries in the blood-drenched Syrian quagmire.
At first, Nasrallah tried to create a second front against Israel in the Golan Heights. The rules of that operation called for low-key actions against Israel, without allowing the situation to devolve into a major conflict. Israel, however, has achieved a clear victory in the military and intelligence battle waged in the Golan Heights over the past two years. Nasrallah lost quite a few of his assets and people, including Samir Kuntar in December 2015 and Jihad Mughniyeh in January 2015, while Israel paid an acceptable cost for its actions. Furthermore, according to foreign news sources, Israel continues to attack strategic arms convoys heading from Syria to Beirut.
It is now clear that Nasrallah has changed course in creating terrorist networks directed by Hezbollah to attack inside Israel. The newly uncovered cells were recruited by two Hezbollah activists. One of them, who went by the name of Bilal, is based in Lebanon. He recruited Palestinians through the Facebook profile Falastin al-Houreh (Free Palestine). The second Hezbollah activist is a Gaza resident named Mahmad Faiz Abu Jedian. The recruiters followed identical tactics. They asked Palestinians who seemed to be leaning toward joining their cells to open secure email accounts, so they could communicate without being detected by Israeli cybersecurity. That was how they relayed instructions, orders and payments. Furthermore, Hezbollah sent special encryption programs to the new recruits for conducting secure communications.
Mustafa Kamal Hindi, from the Qalqilya region in the West Bank, was recruited in December 2015 to head one of the cells. Upon being instructed to attack IDF patrols in the Qalqilya region, he organized a cell of four people, who began training using hunting rifles and makeshift explosives. The members of his cell were arrested in June. A similar fate awaited the members of the cell recruited by the Gaza activist. Its members had also been told to launch operations, including suicide attacks and bus bombings, in Israel.
In each case, Hezbollah promised and in some cases transferred money to the recruits to fund their activities. In some instances, the men were promised sizable sums (30,000 shekels, about $8,000) upon completion of their missions. There was also an effort to recruit Israeli Arabs to join the cells, but these efforts were also foiled. Israeli Arabs continue to distance themselves from terrorism, with only an insignificant number actually taking part in such activities. In May 2016, Yoram Cohen, before stepping down as head of Shin Bet, disclosed that support for the “spirit of the Islamic State” among Israeli Arabs is the lowest in the entire Muslim world.
Hezbollah’s recent activities exposed by Israel are just the tip of the iceberg. The rest lies well beneath the surface, where the two continue to clash at low intensity. It is also a battle of wits, with Israel trying to limit Hezbollah’s moves and prevent it from getting stronger. Meanwhile, Nasrallah is trying to keep the fire of his anti-Israel resistance burning, while minimizing the chances of triggering another conflict. He knows that he will not be able to fight such a war while engaged in the bloody war of attrition in Syria.
Nasrallah was right about one thing in his speech. Israel’s leaders during the 2006 Second Lebanon War have almost all been erased from the political and historical maps: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in prison; Defense Minister Amir Peretz was forced to resign; Chief of Staff Dan Halutz resigned; and IDF Chief of the Northern Command Udi Adam handed back the keys.
Beyond issues of personnel, however, Israel can look back contentedly at the war that took place more than a decade ago. It has enjoyed some 10 years of almost absolute quiet along its northern front. Hezbollah is drained and bleeding. Nasrallah has more or less resigned himself to fiery oratory, and Israel has managed to steer clear of the Syrian tempest. Israel is already signing on for 10 more years of the same. What about Beirut? That’s not entirely clear.
Jul 27, 2017 0
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.