Hezbollah operatives attack IDF convoy, killing two Israeli soldiers

Hezbollah operatives fired Kornet anti-tank missiles at an Israeli army patrol along the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday, killing two Israeli soldiers, wounding seven, and prompting Israeli retaliatory artillery fire on southern Lebanon. A Spanish peacekeeper of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed in the exchange of fire. Mortars were launched into northern Israel from southern Lebanon for over an hour after the initial attack. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared on January 15 that Hezbollah would “enter into Galilee and…go even beyond the Galilee.” There was a reported Israeli airstrike on January 18, which killed six Hezbollah members and several personnel from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including senior commanders. On Tuesday, at least two rockets were fired at the northern Golan Heights from Syria, in an attack attributed by the IDF to Hezbollah. IDF artillery fired on Syrian military targets and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched overnight air strikes on artillery positions of the Syrian military. Hezbollah took responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, claiming that it was carried out by the “righteous martyrs of Quneitra.” Some analysts have suggested that the attack was not just retaliation for the January 18 airstrike, but rather is part of a broader strategic shift by Hezbollah, as it attempts to build a terror infrastructure in the Golan Heights. Tony Badran, a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in a conference call hosted by The Israel Project on Wednesday that Hezbollah’s attacks are indicative of a broader “Iranian effort to expand into the Golan Heights.” Doing so, Iran and Hezbollah hope, would allow Hezbollah to "target Israel from the Golan Heights while avoiding devastation in Lebanon.” Hezbollah views the Shebaa Farms, the area in which Wednesday’s attack occurred, and the Golan as “a singular theater of operations.” By responding sharply, Israel is demonstrating that “the buck stops here” and that “Iran will not be allowed to set up shop in the Golan Heights.”


A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to revoke economic assistance from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to its decision to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).  The Palestinian Authority (PA) signed the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, on December 31st of last year. The Congressmen who wrote the letter, including Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), wrote that “The United States should not support direct economic assistance to the PA until it demonstrates a meaningful reversal of this destructive course and proves it can be a willing partner for peace.”   The Department of State has called the PA’s actions with regards to the ICC “entirely counterproductive” and said they would "undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace."  Following the signing of the Rome Statute, the Palestinians asked the ICC to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes perpetrated during the last Gaza war and the ICC has decided to open a preliminary probe to determine if war crimes were committed.

Joining the ICC puts the PA in violation of U.S. legislation that states that no State Department economic aid can be transferred to the PA if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” The U.S. gives the Palestinian Authority around $400 million per year.

Like Israel, the United States has refused to submit to the court’s jurisdiction  as it does not want to expose American troops and leaders to prosecution. Joining the ICC also exposes the Palestinians to charges of war crimes. The Israel Law Center has filed complaints against three Palestinian Authority leaders for alleged war crimes, terrorism, and human rights offenses. Chairwoman of the Israel Law Center, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said “The PA and Hamas have to understand that the International Criminal Court is a double-edged sword.”


Within 24 hours of the severe earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a 220-person team of rescuers, disaster-management experts and medical personnel. Myriad Israeli governmental and non-governmental organizations joined in the difficult work of treating physical and psychological wounds and getting the island country back on its feet. Five years later, Israeli humanitarians are still on the ground helping Haitians rebuild their lives and communities. “Today, on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, we remember the victims and renew our commitment and dedication to helping the survivors,” IsraAID Director Shachar Zahavi said earlier this month. IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid is always one of the first relief groups to respond to disasters across the globe. Its policy is to stay on the ground after the emergency to create and implement an infrastructure of programs to rehabilitate the affected community, leaving only once those programs are functioning in the hands of local residents trained by IsraAID. That’s why you’ll still find IsraAID workers in Japan, for example, nearly four years after a deadly earthquake and tsunami. They are also currently assisting in areas of crisis including Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong and South Korea. (via Israel21c)


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