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Latest News in Israel – 6 August

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

New IDF team will specialize in hunting terrorists

The IDF’s new Special Operations Combat Team successfully finished its first exercise last week in hunting down terrorists, Makor Rishon reported on Sunday.

The special operations group was established after a series of deadly terror attacks over the past year in Judea and Samaria ended with the perpetrators evading capture for days and even weeks.

“It was clear that we had to change our outlook,” one of the team’s commanders told the paper, after the shootings near the Gilad Farm (January 2018), in the Barkan industrial zone (October 2018), and the stabbing and shooting near the Ariel Junction (March 2019) left five people dead and the killers at large.

“Following the attacks, the team developed advanced techniques in cooperation with elite [IDF] units, including those that specialize in undercover work and collecting intelligence,” he said.

“We called the team the ‘Special Operations Depth Combat Team.’ Immediately after an attack, all the units gather at the site under a single commander at the brigade level, with each bringing its own abilities. We created a synergy whose goal is to capture the terrorist.”

According to the IDF, most intelligence gathering – electronic and human – is done by members of Battalion 636. The elite Duvdevan unit is the one that goes undercover into Arab villages.

They work with soldiers currently on duty in Judea and Samaria. But there are others in the group whose identity is still being kept a closely guarded secret.

The intense, two-day army exercise gave the ‘terrorists’ 12 hours to hide.

It tested the new team’s abilities to first reconstruct the attack, and then track the fleeing men, said the IDF. They made good use of security cameras scattered around much of the region and put all their intelligence means into play to search for their targets.

The war-room constantly rang with phone calls as additional information poured in, and the commanders called in more forces as necessary until the ‘capture’ was made.

The officer quoted in Makor Rishon expressed confidence that the special unit will catch future terrorists far more quickly than before.

“The minute that everyone comes to the [attack] site under one brain, one commander, the chase is more efficient,” he said in the report.

“The special forces will immediately join the [community’s] first responders and get the information they need. The overlap will be faster and more efficient, and will get us to the critical hours much more prepared.” (WIN)

Hamas condemns swastika flag displayed at Gaza riots, says Nazi imagery betrays its ‘just cause’

In a press statement, Hamas condemned the raising of a Nazi flag next to the Palestinian flag on the Gaza border fence, stressing that such actions “inflict horrific outcomes on our just cause.”

“We should block such an act, even if it is done by one person and does not represent the common sense of the Palestinian people,” said Dr. Basem Naim, a member of the Hamas International Relations Office, in an official statement on Friday.

“We have to stop similar acts because our conflict with the Israeli occupation is a freedom struggle against the colonial occupier of Palestine,” stressed Naim, adding that “such acts, even if done solely, inflict horrific outcomes on our just cause. Indeed, they are exploited by the Israeli occupation to distort our struggle for freedom and independence.”

“The Nazi Swastika flag A symbol of murder And sheer hatred Raised yet again At a Hamas riot Inside Gaza,” wrote the IDF on their Twitter about the hanging of the swastika. “In the face Of this hatred Stand IDF soldiers Alert and determined Ready to defend lsrael Today and every single day.”

In July, Hamas also condemned statements by Fathi Hamad, an official in the terror group, encouraging Palestinians to “attack every Jew on planet Earth.”

“These remarks do not reflect the official stances of Hamas and its policy,” read the Hamas statement. “Our struggle is not with Jews elsewhere or with Judaism as a religion. Hamas has condemned and continues to condemn any attacks against the Jews and their worship houses worldwide.” (Jerusalem Post)

Jordan closes Aaron’s tomb after Jews seen praying at site

Aaron’s Tomb in Jordan was closed by the nation’s Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Antiquities on Thursday after the “illegal entry” of Jews to the site without knowledge of the ministry, according to Arab media.

The decision to close the site was made after Israeli tourists were filmed performing “Jewish rituals” at the site, according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency. It was also decided that all visitors would have to obtain approval from the Awqaf in the Ma’an Governorate before entering.

A video circulated on local news websites purportedly showed about 500 Israeli tourists performing rituals in the area.
The site, located on a mountain in the area of Petra, is believed to be the grave of the biblical High Priest Aaron, brother of Moses.

Thursday night began the first day of the Hebrew month of Av, which is also the anniversary of Aaron’s death.

In an interview with Ynet, tour guide Roni Ayalon, who was with the group of tourists, described being subjected to humiliating treatment by Jordanian authorities.

“They just stripped down all of us,” he said. “They took off the women’s head scarves. All the boys’ yarmulkes were taken off. They took off everyone’s shirts to see if they had tzitzit (religious fringes) under their clothes and took [the tzitzit] off them. They confiscated any religious symbols they found on us.”

“If there was this kind of humiliation of an Arab on our side who wanted to enter Jerusalem and they would dare to tell him to take off his shirt or confiscate his Koran, there would be a world war,” Ayalon said. “All the Arabs would jump up. But they can do whatever they want to us.”

At the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located, visits by religious Jews are monitored by Wakf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The Wakf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, administers the site. No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to tourism website Tourist Israel.

“None of us came to make a mess,” claimed the tour guide.

“There was one boy who had a bar mitzvah and at Aaron’s Tomb we made a little celebration for him. When the policeman saw that we were singing, he quieted us and said that it’s forbidden for us to sing.”

Purported photos of Jewish tourists at the site which circulated through Jordanian media showed them praying with a Torah scroll.

“I don’t know who read from a Torah scroll,” said Ayalon, according to Ynet. “Our groups acted according to the book. We tried to act in a subdued manner and without opposition, but the behavior [of the authorities] was awful.”

According to Ayalon, the group was forbidden from praying while traveling in Jordan, even in their hotel room.

The Awqaf ministry strongly condemned the entry of the tourists, adding that an investigation will be opened to find out what happened and who was responsible for allowing them into the site, according to the official Jordan News Agency.

Former Jordanian tourism minister Maha al-Khatib stated that the Israeli ambassador in Jordan filed a complaint against measures taken to limit the actions of Israeli tourists, including the requirement for a guide during tours and a prohibition against wearing religious clothing, according to Al Mayadeen. Khatib also accused tourists of attempting to smuggle in religious clothing.

The former tourism minister also accused Israeli tourists, whom she called “the most miserable tourists who make trouble,” of attempting to bury items at various sites in Jordan to “confirm” their claims of their history in the area.

“There is a Zionist scheme to claim ownership of any part of our Arab homeland, especially in archaeological sites,” said Khatib.

“They want to convince the world that any place they went through even for two nights in the old days is their right, but we are not allowed to mention the history of our existence,” said Khatib, according to the Shebab News Agency. (Jerusalem Post)

Defense Ministry unveils 3 prototypes for Israel’s tanks of the future

The Defense Ministry on Sunday completed initial testing on a number of systems that it plans to install in both current and future models of the military’s armored vehicles, as part of its Carmel tank program.

Some of the systems will be implemented in the short term — including a high-tech helmet known as Iron Vision, which will be rolled out shortly — while others may be used further down the line, a Defense Ministry spokesperson said.

The ministry launched the Carmel armored fighting vehicle (AFV) project three years ago under its Weapons Development Administration, known in Hebrew by its acronym Mafat. It was initially aimed at creating a new model of tank for the Israel Defense Forces. However, its scope has broadened and changed in the intervening years and now looks instead to develop new technologies for current and future armored vehicles, while still retaining the possibility of producing an entirely new variety of tank, the spokesperson said.

The goal is to make Israel’s tanks more “agile, effective, innovative, compact, easy-to-maneuver… with relatively low costs,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“The purpose of the program was to develop the technology necessary for the ‘combat field of the future,’ maintaining operational superiority via technological superiority,” the ministry said.

As part of the program, the Defense Ministry gave three defense contractors — Elbit, Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries — the task of testing the feasibility of a closed tank that is operated by only two soldiers, instead of the current four, and encouraged them to integrate as many “automatic and autonomous systems as possible” in order to function as a “third soldier” of sorts, the ministry spokesperson said.

The three contractors’ prototypes have undergone testing over the past month, which ended Sunday with a demonstration attended by a number of Defense Ministry and IDF officials, as well as some representatives from the United States military.

Each of the companies completed the challenge in a slightly different way, using proprietary systems that give the soldiers inside the tank better situational awareness, as well as assistance from artificial intelligence.

Elbit’s model used its Iron Vision helmets, which works with cameras and sensors on the outside of the tank to give the soldiers inside a 360-degree field of vision. It is a variation on a similar helmet that the company created for the F-35 fighter jet.

A number of other autonomous and AI systems assist the soldiers inside in identifying targets and general decision-making, the ministry said.

The Elbit tank was also used as a base for operating additional, unmanned systems.

Rafael’s AFV used a transparent cockpit design that also gave the two soldiers inside a 360-degree field of view. Its augmented reality systems allowed the crew members to quickly see targets, friendly forces and important locations.

The Rafael tank also had “an autonomous mission support system, for autonomous mission planning, driving, and simultaneous operation of all vehicle weapon systems, all based on combat artificial intelligence capabilities,” the Defense Ministry said.

The IAI model was based on the company’s existing unmanned, autonomous drone platforms.

Operated by a controller from the Xbox video game system, the tank had a large panoramic display, was able to assist the crew members in identifying targets and selecting weapons, and could drive itself in some terrains, the Defense Ministry said.

In its statement, the ministry said it was also working to develop “hybrid propulsion, cyber defense, active camouflage, multi-task radar, a system to identify troops, and more” as part of the program.

“The results of the Carmel program will serve as the technological and engineering infrastructure of both the manned and autonomous defense and combat tools of the future,” the Defense Ministry said.

Ministry officials said foreign countries have already expressed interest in purchasing some of the technologies developed under the program.

The army’s current Merkava tank has been in use for some 40 years. In July 2018, the military announced the creation of its latest model, known as the Barak, which is due to be put into service in two years.

In addition to its role as the military’s main battle tank, the Merkava is the basis for the Namer armored personnel carrier and various combat engineering vehicles.

Last year, the Defense Ministry also unveiled a new eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier, which is due to replace the IDF’s current M113 full-track APCs.

The upgrade is partially in response to lessons learned from the 2014 Gaza war, and is intended to give troops greater speed and mobility, as well as better security, the statement said. (the Times of Israel)

Top 40 Likud candidates sign pledge not to oust Netanyahu after elections

The ruling Likud party said its top 40 candidates for the upcoming elections signed a pledge Sunday offering their unequivocal support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and stating they have no intention of replacing him after the elections.

The initiative, which was pushed by Likud MK David Bitan, came a day after MK Avigdor Liberman, one of Netanyahu’s chief political rivals, said he would turn to a different Likud lawmaker if the premier rejected his efforts to form a unity government.

“We, the undersigned, candidates for Likud for the 22nd Knesset, emphasize that we will not be dictated to by any other party. Regardless of the election results, prime minister and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is the only Likud candidate for prime minister — and there will be no other candidate,” the pledge stated.

Likud said the pledge was signed by Nos. 2-40 on its electoral slate. Netanyahu is number one.

“Thanks to Likud members for their unequivocal support of me. Likud is more united than ever,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Bitan, who earlier warned the party would publicly out any lawmaker who refused to sign the pledge, called the letter “an answer to the libelous spin of Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu.”

The push to gather signatures for the pledge came after Liberman, whose Yisrael Beytenu party is currently forecast to be coalition kingmaker after the September 17 vote, outlined a scenario in which Netanyahu could be ousted as head of the ruling party if he rejected Liberman’s proposed unity government between Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Blue and White.

Liberman floated Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein as a Likud member who could replace Netanyau, prompting Edelstein to declare the premier was the “sole Likud candidate for prime minister.”

After the pledge letter was first picked up by the Ynet news site, Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid said his party was indeed in talks with Likud members about a possible successor to Netanyahu.

Likud lashed out at Lapid and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz over those remarks, accusing them of leading a “dictatorial party” for not holding internal primaries.

“Lapid and Gantz, who are constantly working against each other, and Labor, which changes chairmen every two weeks, can only envy Likud members who stand behind the party chairman,” the party said in a statement.

“Their frustration is understandable: The plot to replace Netanyahu after the election finally collapsed today,” the statement added.

In addition to Blue and White, the pledge was also criticized by the opposition Labor and Democratic Camp parties.

“Netanyahu’s paranoia has crossed all reasonable lines,” Labor head Amir Peretz tweeted. “Likud went from a national liberal party to a party prostrating to one man.”

Former prime minister Ehud Barak, who is running with the Democratic Camp, said Likud’s ideological founder Zeev Jabotinsky “is turning in his grave” over the pledge letter.

“You’ve become Netanyahu’s puppets,” Barak tweeted.

Liberman’s comments Saturday added fresh fuel to his feud with Netanyahu, who is campaigning to pick off supporters from the Yisrael Beytenu leader’s base of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Once a political ally, Liberman refused to join a Netanyahu-led government after elections in April unless a bill formalizing exemptions to mandatory military service for seminary students was passed without changes, a demand rejected by the prime minister’s ultra-Orthodox partners.

That impasse helped trigger the fresh vote, as without Yisrael Beytenu Netanyahu was one seat short of a ruling majority.

Liberman has vowed to push for a unity government of his party, Likud and Blue and White that does not include ultra-Orthodox factions if no one can form a coalition after the elections without Yisrael Beytenu.

Likud has dismissed the idea of a unity government, declaring it will seek a coalition with right-wing and religious parties, while Blue and White has voiced support if it does not include Netanyahu. (the Times of Israel)

Netanyahu offers condolences after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed his condolences to the American people on Sunday night after back-to-back mass shootings rocked the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend.

“In the past 24 hours, we have witnessed two murderous attacks in Texas and Ohio,” he wrote on Twitter. “On behalf of all government ministers and all citizens of Israel, I send condolences to the bereaved families, best wishes for recovery to the injured, and solidarity with the American people.”

Patrick Crusius, 21, has been charged with opening fire in a crowded Walmart in the Texas border town of El Paso on Saturday, killing 20 people (two more people died of their injuries on Monday, making the total 22) and wounding dozens more. Crusius published a manifesto prior to the attack decrying the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

The El Paso attack was followed just hours later by a mass shooting outside a Dayton bar. Police identified the shooter as 24-year-old Connor Betts. Nine people were killed and 26 wounded in that attack before the shooter was killed by police. The motive for the attack is still unclear.

The two incidents were preceded by a mass shooting on July 28 at Northern California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, where 19-year-old Santino William Legan killed three people, including two children. Legan’s home was found to contain literature on white supremacy as well as Islamic extremism.

The Dayton killing marked the 251st mass shooting in America since the beginning of 2019.

In addition to Netanyahu’s remarks, Israel’s Foreign Ministry tweeted an image of “Tel Aviv’s City Hall building lit up with the colors of the U.S. flag in solidarity with the mourning of the American people following the deadly shootings in #Ohio & #Texas.” (JNS)

A vaccine for skin cancer ? Tel Aviv researchers say that they have developed one

Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers say they have developed a novel nano-vaccine for melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer.

“The war against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular, has advanced over the years through a variety of treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy,” according to Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, chairwoman of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and head of the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Nanomedicine at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

“But the vaccine approach, which has proven so effective against various viral diseases, has not materialized yet against cancer,” she said. “In our study, we have shown that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma and to sensitize the immune system to immunotherapies.”

Satchi-Fainaro led the study, working with Prof. Helena Florindo of the University of Lisbon while she was on sabbatical at Satchi-Fainaro’s lab at TAU; it was conducted by Dr. Anna Scomparin and Dr. João Conniot.

The focus of the research is a nano-particle that serves as the basis for the new vaccine. So far, the approach has been tested and proven effective in preventing the development of melanoma in mouse models, and in treating primary tumors and metastases that result from melanoma.

Melanoma develops when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells – most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds – triggers genetic defects that lead them to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 192,310 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States this year. The majority are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

“The idea is not to find a way to encourage people to get tanned without worrying about it if they were vaccinated,” warned Satchi-Fainaro. “We tested two scenarios: one of prevention, which is intended toward sub-populations at risk, such as those that already had a primary melanoma that was resected. We hope that the vaccine will prevent recurrence and metastasis.

“The second scenario was an intervention study where the mice already had melanoma and we treated them with a combination of the vaccine and immunotherapy,” she continued. “Here we showed that the vaccine augmented the anticancer effect of the immunotherapy by inhibiting tumor growth and prolonging overall survival.”

Specifically, the researchers harnessed tiny particles, about 170 nanometers in size, made of a biodegradable polymer. Within each particle, they “packed” two peptides – short chains of amino acids that are expressed in melanoma cells. They then injected the nano-particles (or “nano-vaccines”) into a mouse model bearing melanoma.

The nano-particles stimulated the immune system of the mice, and the immune cells learned to identify and attack cells containing the melanoma cells.

“This meant that, from now on, the immune system of the immunized mice will attack melanoma cells if and when they appear in the body,” Satchi-Fainaro said.

The researchers then examined the effectiveness of the vaccine under three different conditions.

First, the vaccine was injected into healthy mice followed by an injection of melanoma cells. The vaccine prevented the disease.

Second, when the vaccine and immunotherapy treatments were used to treat infected mice, the synergistic treatment significantly delayed the progression of the disease and greatly extended the lives of all treated mice.

Lastly, the researchers validated their approach on tissues taken from patients with melanoma brain metastases. This suggested that the nano-vaccine can be used to treat those as well.

“This was to validate that the two peptides – HLA I and HLA II – that we entrapped in our nano-vaccine were indeed present in samples of melanoma brain metastasis patients, suggesting that our vaccine will be relevant to those patients at advanced stages and not only to those with primary melanoma,” Satchi-Fainaro explained.
So what’s next?

Now that her team has performed the pre-clinical studies, she said that the next stage is to transfer the technology platform to a company that will scale up the production, manufacture it using good manufacturing practices (GMP) and reproduce the studies with their product. Then, the nano-vaccine treatment will continue to clinical trials.

“We are currently discussing the option of a spin-off company based on our platform technology,” she said.

The results of this research were published on August 5 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The project was funded by EuroNanoMed-II, the Health Ministry, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, the Israel Science Foundation, the European Research Council’s Consolidator and Advanced Awards, the Saban Family Foundation – Melanoma Research Alliance’s Team Science Award and the Israel Cancer Research Fund. (Jerusalem Post)

Jennifer Lopez Tells Crowd at Tel Aviv Concert ‘I Love You’ in Hebrew

Pop megastar Jennifer Lopez spoke a bit of Hebrew to the crowd of almost 57,000 people who gathered to watch her perform on Thursday night in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park.

The “Jenny From the Block” singer asked a fan in front of the stage how to say “I love you” in Hebrew and then repeated the Hebrew words herself, which elicited massive screams from the crowd.

The concert was part of the 50-year-old Lopez’s “It’s My Party” world tour, which is making six international stops, the first being in Tel Aviv. Thursday was the singer’s first time performing in Israel.

Lopez concluded her show by telling the audience, “Tel Aviv, what an amazing night this has been. I want to thank you for coming to celebrate with me. Shalom! I learned how to say this – ‘Ani ohev otcha.’”

Lopez arrived in Israel on Tuesday with her fiancée, former baseball star Alex Rodriguez. (the Algemeiner)

Watch Lopez say “I love you” in Hebrew.

Iran continues efforts to surround Israel with missiles and hostile forces

Despite U.S. sanctions cracking down on its economy, Iran isn’t giving up its hegemonic aspirations and is now focused on using Iraq for its purposes.

By Yaakov Lappin, JNS

Iran is facing severe economic pressure due to U.S. sanctions, yet recent reports indicate that the Islamic Republic is still investing significant resources in building up attack capabilities throughout the Middle East, with a new focus on Iraq.

According to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Israel struck two Iranian military sites this month in Iraq. The report, citing Western diplomatic sources, said Israeli stealth F-35 jets hit an Iranian rocket depot northeast of Baghdad on July 19, and on July 28, a base in Iraq that lies just 80 kilometers from the Iranian border in an airstrike. That base reportedly contained a shipment of Iranian ballistic missiles, as well as Iranian “advisers,” the report stated.

Iran’s apparent shift to Iraq comes after an intensive Iranian push in recent years to turn Syria into a missile, drone, and terrorist launchpad against Israel. That attempt ran into a brick wall, in the form of hundreds of Israeli airstrikes that largely prevented the rise of an Iranian war machine in Syria. Iran already established a forward division in Lebanon in the form of Hezbollah, and Israel has no intention of allowing Iran to replicate that success in Syria.

Iran appears to have responded to Israel’s intelligence superiority by repositioning itself in Iraq. If the latest reports are true, Israel is signaling that it is prepared to use the same effective combination of intelligence and precision firepower to thwart Iranian threats as they form in Iraq, just like it did in Syria.

In addition, it seems that the shadow war between Tehran and Jerusalem in Syria is far from over. Last week, Israeli jets reportedly struck a target in southern Syria’s Tel al-Hara, apparently to stop Iranian-backed forces from seizing control of a strategically important hill that can be used to gather intelligence on Israel.

Reports also surfaced last week of a Hezbollah operative – a Syrian-Druze resident of the village of Khadr, near the Israeli border – being killed after his car exploded as it drove in south Syria.

And on Sunday, rebel media sources in Syria released images of smoke rising from a Hezbollah headquarters building north of Damascus in what could be an additional strike.

Israel’s “War Between Wars,” the low-profile campaign designed to stop Iran from setting up attack and weapons bases in Syria and beyond, seems to remain highly active. It is a direct response to Iran’s own intensive attempts to build up threats against Israel, including the attempt to flood Syria with missile factories, rocket launchers, drone bases, and terror cells.

Iran has failed to achieve many of its central goals in Syria, so the Iranian Quds Force, led by the notorious Qassem Soleimani, looks determined to set up some of the missile bases on Iraqi soil instead.

From a practical perspective, Iran’s commitment to expanding its forces around the region while its economy crumbles makes little sense. But Iran’s fundamentalist Shi’ite ideology and hegemonic ambitions have fused to keep this effort going.

Iran working to construct land bridge to Mediterranean

In this context, reports that a new border crossing that links Syria to Iraq is set to open deserves special attention.

According to a July 25 report published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, preparations are underway to open the Albukamal border crossing in the coming two months.

The Meir Amit Center identified why this crossing is critical to Iran’s ambitions, noting that it is “vital for the land bridge Iran seeks to construct between its territory and the Mediterranean Sea. The route allows Iran to send forces, supplies, and weapons through Iraq to Syria and from there to Lebanon. It can be assumed that Iran is of the opinion that the land bridge will enable it to reduce its dependence on risky aerial and naval routes. The new crossing, when it opens, will enable larger numbers of vehicles to enter Syria and make it easier to preserve secrecy.”

In June 2018, reports surfaced of unidentified planes striking Iranian-backed militias in the Syrian border town of Albukamal, resulting in many casualties.

With the new border crossing under construction, it seems difficult to believe that Israel would allow Iran to create its long-desired land bridge.

The Meir Amit Center assessed that “it is likely that the new crossing is being constructed with Iranian aid, and possibly with Iranian involvement. In addition, Iran participates in securing the area between Albukamal in Syria and al-Qa’im in Iraq by using Shi’ite militias deployed permanently in the region.”

Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias backed by Iran seized Albukamal in November 2018, remaining active on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border.

It seems unreasonable to believe that after putting a dent in Iran’s scheme to flood Syria and Lebanon with arms by trafficking them in planes, Israel would simply agree to those same arms entering the area by road.

Ultimately, it is the Israeli Air Force that acts as Israel’s “police force” in the skies of the Middle East, enforcing Jerusalem’s red lines against Iranian entrenchment.

To be able to achieve this, its personnel must function in a very high operational tempo and remain with a finger on the pulse of the rapidly changing geopolitical reality. The challenge is enormous.

Nevertheless, the IAF has been highly successful in waging Israel’s active defense campaign as it maneuvers in the most dangerous and sensitive regions in the world. Syria alone has the most densely crowded air-defense network on the globe and is also the scene of intense Russian military activity.

Operating largely behind the scenes, the IAF has been able to protect Israel’s vital security interests, roll back Iran’s presence, and so far, delay the outbreak of the next major war.