Middle East Update

LEAD STORY

Outgoing IDF chief: Israel has struck ‘thousands’ of Iranian targets in Syria

The retiring IDF Chief of Staff (Israel’s highest military position) has revealed that Israel has carried out thousands of airstrikes, in fact on a daily basis, against Iranian military targets in Syria in recent years in a successful campaign to push back against the Islamic nation’s presence there.

Gabi Eisenkot told the New York Times that Israel has concentrated its focus on preventing Iran from building a military presence in Syria, Israel’s hostile neighboring country to the north. This was the first time Israel confirmed the scale of this ongoing military campaign. Israel typically refrains from commenting on individual airstrikes in Syria.

“We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit,” Eisenkot said.

Eisenkot said that initially the IDF focused its strikes on weapons shipments bound for Hezbollah, but then increased attacks after Iran began importing manpower from around the Muslim world in order to bolster its presence in the country.

“Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shiite fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq,” Eisenkot revealed. “They built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syrian air base. And they brought civilians in order to indoctrinate them.”

Eisenkot said that by 2016, Iran’s Quds Force had mobilized 3,000 men in Syria, along with 8,000 Hezbollah fighters and another 11,000 foreign Shiite troops. With this information, Israel’s security cabinet gave the army unanimous permission to increase strikes in Syria two years ago. And in 2018 alone, Eisenkot said Israel dropped 2,000 bombs on Iranian targets.

The strikes have succeeded in preventing Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. “We have complete intelligence superiority in this area. We enjoy complete aerial superiority. We have strong deterrence and we have the justification to act,” Eisenkot said. “The force we faced over the last two years was a determined force, but not very impressive in its capabilities.”

Due to Israeli strikes, Eisenkot said the Iranians were moving troops out of Syria and “transferring their efforts” to Iraq.

Just Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel bombed an Iranian weapons depot in Syria.

“This reflects our consistent policy and firm determination to prevent Iran’s military build-up in Syria, and if necessary we will also intensify these attacks,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to monitor all the activities of Hezbollah and Iran and its proxies, and we will do what is necessary to ensure Israel’s security.”

Hezbollah Planned to Infiltrate Israel with up to 2,000 fighters through tunnels … threat averted!

Meanwhile, the IDF uncovered and destroyed the sixth, and what it calls the final, attack tunnel dug by the terrorist group Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel.

“I think everyone understands that a serious threat has been removed,” Netanyahu said. “Hezbollah’s operational plan was to use the tunnel weapon, to infiltrate many fighters, between 1,000 and 2,000 terrorists into the Galilee, to occupy communities here.”

“Everyone understands how this war would have looked with Hezbollah battalions inside the Galilee, and with an Iranian army opposite the Golan Heights.”

Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that, “according to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel.” Operation Northern Shield lasted just over a month.

180ft deep underground 2,624ft dug under #Lebanon Dozens of yards dug into Israel This #Hezbollah attack tunnel was dug from the Lebanese village of Ramyeh into Israel & will be neutralized soon. We have now exposed all attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel. pic.twitter.com/AU0zNbmCCM— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 13, 2019

Offensive ‘McJesus’ sculpture opposed by local Christians, Israeli leaders

A Finnish artist who is a member of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has also managed to offend Israeli Arab Christians (not to mention believers worldwide).

Janei Leinonen has had his highly offensive sculpture — “McJesus” — displayed in the Haifa Museum of Art since August. The insulting piece of “art” depicts a crucified Ronald McDonald, icon of the fast-food giant McDonald’s.

Fortunately, Israel’s government was none too pleased by the offensive art. Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev called for the sculpture’s removal. “Disrespect of religious symbols sacred to many worshipers in the world as an act of artistic protest is illegitimate and cannot serve as art at a cultural institution supported by state funds,” she wrote.

Nevertheless, it is the artist himself who wants his piece removed because it is at an Israeli museum.