As tensions continue to mount in the Gaza Region following a barrage of more than 100 rockets fired by Islamic Jihad, and the IDF’s response, leaders on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border are bracing themselves for the potential of a larger-scale Israeli military operation. In anticipation, the Iranian-backed terrorist group released a Hebrew-language video warning the Israeli government against attacking and calling on Israelis to “get out of our country” – referring to all of Israel, which Islamic Jihad, like Gaza’s Hamas rulers, seeks to destroy. The spokesman, dressed in black, begins by warning “The terrorist Zionist government” to show “restraint” if it wants his group to stop firing rockets, and then moves on to address the “cowardly Zionist army”.
Aircraft of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked seven terror targets in Gaza on Thursday night, shortly after midnight. In a statement, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that three targets in northern Gaza and four targets in southern Gaza were hit. “The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers and will continue to act decisively and strongly against anyone who carries out terror activities against the State of Israel,” said the statement, which added that any Gaza rocket fire was the responsibility of the Hamas terror organization which rules the region. “The IDF is prepared to defend the citizens of Israel,” the statement said. The IDF airstrikes came after Gazan terrorists continued to fire rockets at southern Israel, even after the Islamic Jihad claimed that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire would take effect at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. As of Thursday night, at least nine rockets were fired on Israel’s south from Gaza, a continuation of the escalated rocket barrage, in which roughly 100 rockets have been fired since Wednesday. The latest attack was recorded shortly after 11:00 p.m., when a rocket fired by Gaza-based terrorists exploded in an open area of the Eshkol Regional Council on Thursday evening. Most of the rockets exploded in open areas, several of them being shot down by the Iron Dome system which was stationed in Be’er Sheva and Sderot and which is designed to intercept rockets before they explode in populated areas. The rocket barrage has led Intelligence and Strategy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to call for Israel to retake Gaza. “Sooner or later we will have to take control of Gaza, in order to get rid of the Hamas regime,” Steinitz said. “We do not need to reoccupy it permanently, but we do need to remove from Gaza the option of firing rockets on us.”
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the Al Nusrah Front in Lebanon have claimed joint responsibility for rocket attacks on Hezbollah’s “strongholds.” On March 8, both groups published the same statement claiming credit for the attacks on their respective Twitter feeds.
The six Grad rockets “targeted strongholds of the Party of Iran [Hezbollah] in the Lebanese area of Hermel … in response to the Party of Iran killing our people in Syria and continuing to oppress our people in Lebanon especially our brothers the prisoners,” the statement reads. The statement was first obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The war in Syria has led to a string of attacks against Iranian interests in Lebanon. Hezbollah is backed by the Iranian government and Bashar al Assad’s regime.
The Al Nusrah Front is al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria and has expanded its operations into Lebanon and throughout the Levant. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades was established by terrorists with ties to al Qaeda’s senior leadership, as well as al Qaeda in Iraq.
The two al Qaeda-affiliated groups have launched rocket attacks on Hezbollah positions in Hermel on three occasions since December 2013, according to SITE. Hermel is located close to the Syrian border in the Bekaa Valley, which is dominated by Hezbollah.
On Feb. 19, two suicide bombers from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades attacked the Iranian cultural center in Beirut, killing five people and wounding more than a dozen more. The group issued a statement on March 7 saying that an “error” during the bomb detonations led to the deaths of civilians. The statement showed a clear sensitivity to civilian casualties, stressing that the al Qaeda-linked group’s “war” is with Hezbollah and that “its interests … are legitimate targets.”
The news that Israel has intercepted an Iranian shipment of arms headed for Gaza has been overshadowed, along with just about every other foreign policy story, by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. But this is more than just a routine terror bulletin that will be noted, filed and then forgotten. The decision by Iran to ship missiles from Syria to the Hamas-run strip raises serious questions about a number of Obama administration assumptions about both Iran and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
If, as now appears to be the case, Iran is back in the business of arming Hamas, then though does more than undermine the administration’s narrative about President Hassan Rouhani’s government being more moderate than his predecessors. It demonstrates that Iran is, as it always has been, up to its neck in the business of arming and funding international terrorism. That should make President Obama think twice about his belief that the regime can be trusted to abide by any nuclear accord. Just as important is the very real possibility that the captured arms were part of a rapprochement between Iran and its former close ally Hamas.
There are two main reasons for the smuggling of strategic weapons to Lebanon: One relates to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the other relates to al-Qaeda and the Salafi jihadist organizations, both of which are parts of the “big bang” that Hizb’Allah is preparing for.
According to sources abroad, Israel attacked Hizb’Allah targets again this week, in the area of the border between Syria and Lebanon. It is widely surmised that the target of the attack was a convoy of heavy vehicles carrying Scud missiles from Syria to Lebanon. These are long range, accurate missiles with the ability to carry a large warhead.
This action is the implementation of Israel’s public declaration repeated time and again, that she will not allow the Lebanese terror organization to get its hands on weapons of mass destruction or strategic weapons that would change the balance of power, meaning missiles that are over a specific weight, range or accuracy.
Hizb’Allah spokesmen claim that the attack was in the area of Syria. This may be true, but then again it may not, because if the attack was outside of Lebanon Hizb’Allah would be less obligated to respond. The organization – which represents itself as defending Lebanon from Zionist attacks – would have had to respond if it was admitted that the attack was inside Lebanon.
Hizb’Allah has another reason to say that the attack was inside of Syria: This might provoke the Syrian army to respond to Israel, contrary to previous incidences when Bashar Asad restrained himself issuing the empty statement that “Syria will respond in the suitable time and place”. However, the Syrian army is engaged at the moment with an existential war, and has no desire or intention to enter into a conflict with Israel during this historic, fateful phase.Read More Here: Hizb’Allah is Getting Ready for the Big Bang
NICOSIA — The Syrian military has reported a major victory over Islamist rebels. The regime of President Bashar Assad said the Syrian Army killed at least 175 rebels in an attack south of Damascus on Feb. 26. Syrian soldiers inspect the bodies of opposition fighters in the eastern Ghouta area of Damascus on Feb. 26. /SANA
A government statement, confirmed by the opposition, said the Army ambushed a rebel force, which included foreign fighters, near Lake Oteibah.
“Upon intelligence information, a unit of the Army killed members of an armed terrorist group, among them of Saudi, Qatari and Chechen nationalities, in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus countryside,” the official Syrian news agency, Sana, said.
On Feb. 26, Sana quoted an unidentified Army commander as saying that the rebels stemmed from Al Qaida’s Nusra Front for the Defense of the Levant as well as Liwa Al Islam. The commander said the rebel force were trying to break out of the military’s siege of Eastern Ghouta, a string of suburbs south of Damascus.
Officials said the rebel force could have sought to link with Islamist fighters trained and equipped by the United States. They said hundreds of fighters were crossing from Jordan to Syria to ease the siege around Damascus. In mid-February, a force of several hundred CIA-trained rebels were reported to have crossed the Jordanian border where they were ambushed by Islamist militias in southern Syria.
Anonymous Israeli official tells TIME that IAF jets struck a missile transport destined for Hezbollah. IAF A-4, F-16 jets at Hatzerim [file] Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen
Israeli warplanes struck a convoy transporting surface-to-surface missiles from Syria into Lebanon on Monday in an attempt to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining certain weapons, an anonymous Israeli security official reportedly told TIME Magazine on Tuesday.
Thus far, the Israeli army has refused to comment on the reports.
The unnamed senior security official hinted to TIME that the Lebanese, Shi’ite terrorist organization was capable of carrying warheads heavier and more dangerous than Hezbollah’s reported stockpile currently pointed toward Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has failed to confirm or deny reports that Israel struck targets on the Syria-Lebanon border late Monday night, cryptically stating that Israel does everything in its power to defend its citizens.
The airstrike believed to have been carried out by Israel on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon killed four members of the militant organization and took out “a missile shipment from Syria”, the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported early Wednesday. According to the report, the assault targeted took two trucks, one containing missiles and the other missile launchers, which were being transported to Hezbollah missile warehouses in Lebanon. The paper quoted a “security source” as saying that the Israel Air Force had fired four missiles at the trucks, which were carrying “qualitative” weapons. Meanwhile, Time Magazine on Tuesday quoted an Israeli official as saying that Israel was responsible for the attack, and that the convoy had apparently included missiles with larger and more dangerous warheads than ones already in Hezbollah’s possession.
Hezbollah on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that it had been targeted by Israeli air strikes on Monday night. The Shi’ite organization had previously denied reports that targets connected to it were hit by IAF jets. Lebanese Al-Manar television, closely associated with Hezbollah, quoted the group as saying there were no casualties in the alleged Israeli attack against one of its bases. It also denied reports that the strike targeted artillery or rocket bases. The group vowed to respond to the Israeli attack: “The new aggression is a blatant assault on Lebanon and its sovereignty and its territory…The Resistance (Hezbollah) will choose the time and place and the proper way to respond to it.” Lebanese security sources have said they believed that any attack took place on Syrian soil, but Hezbollah’s reference to Lebanese sovereignty suggested it took place on the Lebanese side of the ill-defined frontier.