Hezbollah source says Netanyahu ‘in crisis mode,’ tilting at windmills
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Israel demands UN condemn Hezbollah cross-border tunnels

Amid fresh operation to foil underground infiltration efforts, Netanyahu calls for urgent Security Council meeting to discuss ‘major aggression’ by Iran-backed terrorist militia

  • Israeli military digger works on the border with Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Metula, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    Israeli military digger works on the border with Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Metula, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • A woman holds a placard which reads in Hebrew "Stop the violence against women" during a rally against domestic violence in Tel Aviv on December 4, 2018. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A woman holds a placard which reads in Hebrew "Stop the violence against women" during a rally against domestic violence in Tel Aviv on December 4, 2018. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he holds a press conference with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott at the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, on December 4, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he holds a press conference with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott at the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, on December 4, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
  • United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) soldiers patrol along the border wall with Israel near the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila on December 4, 2018. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)
    United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) soldiers patrol along the border wall with Israel near the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila on December 4, 2018. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)
  • Israelis walk past an installation of red shoes during a rally against domestic violence in Tel Aviv on December 4, 2018. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israelis walk past an installation of red shoes during a rally against domestic violence in Tel Aviv on December 4, 2018. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • President Reuven Rivlin lights the third candle of Hanukkah with the IAF's 25th Wing at the Ramon Air Force base in southern Israel on December 4, 2018. (Mark Neiman/GPO)
    President Reuven Rivlin lights the third candle of Hanukkah with the IAF's 25th Wing at the Ramon Air Force base in southern Israel on December 4, 2018. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfold.

Hezbollah source says Netanyahu ‘in crisis mode,’ tilting at windmills

A Hezbollah official responds to Israel’s newly launched operation to destroy the group’s cross-border attack tunnels, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of manufacturing a conflict in Lebanon in order to distract from his political woes.

“Netanyahu is in crisis mode, he is trying to fabricate a battle with the Lebanese side and to tilt at windmills,” the unnamed officials tells the Lebanese al-Nahar news outlet, referencing the literary character Don Quixote who tries to fight windmills after mistaking them for giants.

— with Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon

Hezbollah publishes photos allegedly showing IDF operating on Lebanon border

A Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet releases a number of photographs of Israeli troops and engineering vehicles along the border apparently taking part in the newly launched operation to destroy the Lebanese terror group’s cross-border attack tunnels.

The group has yet to release a public response to the Israeli effort, though one unnamed Hezbollah official told Lebanese media it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to his political and legal troubles.

The photographs appear to have been taken from watchtowers along the Israeli-Lebanese border, which are meant to be used solely by the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The Israeli military has long accused the LAF of cooperating with the powerful Hezbollah terrorist group.

— Judah Ari Gross

Retired general warns of ‘potential for escalation’ in north

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former head of the research division of IDF military intelligence, says there is “potential for escalation and Israel therefore has to operate with alertness.”

According to a statement issued by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he is now a senior researcher, today’s operation is the first time that Hezbollah “is being humiliated by the IDF.” Therefore, Kuperwasser contends, “even though the organization is not reacting at the moment, it is important to remain alert.”

While the operation is being carried out within Israeli territory, it concerns infrastructure Hezbollah has worked on for years, Kuperwasser notes. “It shows that Hezbollah is a body that is penetrable with regard to intelligence, enabling Israel to uncover this kind of sensitive activity. Therefore, at times it is easy not to think rationally at such moments, and this is where the potential for a flareup lies.”

— Raphael Ahren

Lapid criticizes government for ‘abandoning’ southern Israel in favor of north

Opposition figure Yair Lapid accuses the government of “abandoning the south” as it launches an operation against Hezbollah in the north.

“The operation in the north doesn’t justify the abandonment of the south,” the Yesh Atid party leader tells the Ynet news site. “Israel knows how to care for children in Sderot just like it knows how to care for children in Metullah; it doesn’t have to be one at the expense of the another.”

Lapid criticizes the acceptance last month of a ceasefire with the Hamas terror group in Gaza last month, saying Israel should be fighting in Gaza in parallel with the operation on the Lebanon border.

Government right to not launch Gaza operation since Hezbollah stronger — ex-general

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says the government made the right decision last month not to embark on a wide-scale military operation against Hamas in Gaza, so it could focus on tackling Hezbollah in the north.

“Unlike Gaza, which is isolated — by us from one side and Egypt on the other side — Lebanon is an open country. The Iranians can land, walk and bring in and establish whatever they want,” he says, referring to the cross-border attack tunnels the Tehran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group has built, and which Israel started to destroy this morning.

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror (Flash90)

“This is why Hezbollah is so strong, much stronger than Hamas. And that’s why, from an Israeli point of view, it’s more important to keep the stability in the south as much as possible and allocate [resources] and focus on north, where the threat is much bigger,” adds Amidror, who served in the IDF for 36 years, including as director of the Intelligence Analysis Division.

“There is no question that Hezbollah is much bigger problem [than Hamas]. Much bigger,” Amidror stresses, noting that the organization has 120,000 missiles and rockets, which are more accurate and have a longer range than the mortars Hamas possesses.

— Raphael Ahren

Lebanese military ‘observing’ Israel border, as UN says situation remains calm

A Lebanese military official tells The Associated Press that Lebanese troops and military intelligence agents, along with UN peacekeepers deployed in southern Lebanon, are observing the border with Israel. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, has no further details.

Israel has been using earth-movers and other large machinery along its northern border to dismantle what it says are Hezbollah attack tunnels penetrating into Israeli territory.

Malene Jensen, spokeswoman for the UN force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL, says the situation in the peacekeepers’ “area of operation remains calm” and that they are in touch with all relevant parties to make sure calm and stability is maintained.

— with AP

German Jewish far-right group says could support ban of kosher slaughter

The Jewish lobby within the German far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party says it is willing to support a ban of kosher slaughter, saying such a move would be politically beneficial for the controversial party.

“Kosher slaughter according to strict Jewish laws is in no way more painful for the animal as slaughter according to usually practiced methods,” the fringe group says in a statement. “Enabling kosher slaughter is important for Jews, but not essential for survival. Therefore we are willing to compromise, especially because a complete prohibition of shechita [kosher slaughter] would most likely gain the AfD many votes.”

However, the group — called Juden in der AfD — would only agree to a ban if the government would refrain from restricting the import of kosher meat, the statement says.

The group, which is rejected by virtually all mainstream Jewish organizations in Germany, also says that circumcision is “non-negotiable,” as it is “indispensable for Jewish life in Germany” and contains no medical risks for newborns.

The statement, issued yesterday, follows a discussion about religion and state issues last month within the party in Berlin.

The discussion was held in “a very friendly atmosphere,” the Jewish group’s statement says, but acknowledges that the party may not adopt its positions in full.

The AfD, a party boycotted by Germany’s mainstream Jewish organizations as well as the State of Israel due to its xenophobic platform, has so far not formulated a clear position on ritual slaughter and circumcision.

Its Jewish lobby was founded in October mostly by immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

— Raphael Ahren

Demonstrators near Lebanon border protest violence against women

Several demonstrators protest violence against women on the northern border, after the IDF initiates an operation against Hezbollah tunnels on the day of a countrywide women’s strike.

“Women’s safety is no less important to the state and it can’t be removed from the national agenda,” they tell Haaretz. “We shall continue [protesting] until we all have security.”

Takeoffs halted at Ben Gurion Airport due to strike over violence against women

All takeoffs from Ben Gurion Airport are halted due to a women’s strike protesting violence against women.

Female employees of the Israel Airports Authority begin a protest against the epidemic that has resulted in 24 fatalities in 2018 alone.

Israeli UN mission to protest ‘aggression’ from Lebanon to secretary general

The Foreign Ministry has instructed the Israeli mission to the United Nations to write to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in order to protest the “aggression from Lebanese territory,” ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon says.

The statement comes after Israel launches a border operation to destroy what it says are attack tunnels built by the Hezbollah terror group into Israeli territory.

— Raphael Ahren

IDF says it uncovered first Hezbollah tunnel, preparing to destroy it

The Israeli military says it has uncovered the first cross-border attack tunnel dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group, south of the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, across from the Israeli town of Metulla.

“At this time, having located the tunnel, IDF soldiers are conducting engineering and operational efforts before neutralizing it,” the army says.

The IDF says the “terror tunnel” penetrated Israeli territory from Lebanon.

It is the first tunnel that the army has said it uncovered as part of a newly launched operation — Northern Shield — to find and destroy the offensive subterranean passages from Lebanon.

“The tunnel crossed into Israeli territory, but did not present an immediate threat to residents of the area,” the army says.

An illustrative map provided by the IDF indicates that the tunnel entered Israeli territory south of Metulla.

— Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah of ‘heavy price,’ vows to take additional actions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to take additional steps, including clandestine operations, to protect Israel against Hezbollah’s efforts to attack the Jewish state.

“Anyone who tries to harm the State of Israel will pay a heavy price,” he says in a statement, which marks his first public comment since the IDF initiated a large-scale operation this morning to destroy destroy cross-border attack tunnels constructed by the Shiite terrorist organization.

“We are acting with determination and responsibility in all sectors simultaneously. We will continue with other actions, overt and covert, in order to ensure Israel’s security.”

Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, says he is proud of the Israeli commanders and combat soldiers for the “complex operations” they are conducting and for “operational successes in the early stages of the operation.”

— Raphael Ahren

9 flights delayed due to protest against domestic violence at Ben Gurion Airport

Nine flights from Ben Gurion Airport are delayed due to demonstrators briefly blocking the entrance to the airport in protest of violence against women.

The half-hour protest caused minor delays in the affected flights, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel.

Women in Jerusalem’s Safra Square as they protest against violence against women, December 4, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Meanwhile, dozens of protests continue throughout the country, with protesters blocking roads on Rothchild street in Tel Aviv and in Safra Square near the Jerusalem municipality building.

Army says exposed Hezbollah tunnel much larger than Hamas passages in Gaza

The Israeli military says the tunnel exposed today was dug from a home in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila and extended some 40 meters into Israeli territory.

The army says in total the tunnel was 200 meters long and was two meters tall by two meters wide, significantly larger than most of the tunnels dug by the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

According to the IDF, the tunnel took over two years to dig — likely due to the harsh terrain along the border — and contains electrical and communication lines.

— Judah Ari Gross

Bennett says exposing, destroying Hezbollah tunnels ‘vital and necessary’

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of the security cabinet, praises the IDF and its commanders for “splendid intelligence work” in locating Hezbollah offensive tunnels dug into Israeli territory.

Bennett also hails the preparation to destroy a tunnel that has been uncovered near Metulla, saying in a tweet that “exposing and destroying the tunnels is vital and necessary.”

French government to freeze electricity, gas price hikes after major protests

The French government plans to freeze upcoming increases on regulated electricity and gas prices in the wake of protests over rising costs of living, lawmakers in the ruling Republic on the Move party say.

Stricter vehicle emission controls set to take effect in January will also be suspended, one of the demands of the “yellow vest” movement that erupted last month, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tells lawmakers ahead of a televised address later today.

— AFP

Despite Israeli efforts, world remains silent on Hezbollah attack tunnels

About six hours after Israel announced its operation to detect and destroy cross-border Hezbollah attacks tunnels from Lebanon into Israel, the international community remains mum on the matter.

Israeli spokespersons, in the army and the Foreign Ministry, have made great efforts to explain that Jerusalem considers these tunnels a violation of its territory and a threat to its civilians, and is acting in self-defense. But so far, no foreign government or diplomat stationed in Israel has publicly commented on Operation Northern Shield, including in the Arab and Muslim world.

— Raphael Ahren

Opposition accuses PM of trying to cover up legal woes with northern operation

MK Yoel Hasson, chairman of the Zionist Union opposition faction, calls for an urgent meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “cheapening” the IDF and Israel’s security interests.

“The bulldozer operation in Israeli territory leaves us no alternative but to question the timing and the presentation” of Operation Northern Shield, Hasson says.

“The presentation [of it] to the public as a military offensive to justify [Jewish Home party leader Naftali] Bennett remaining in the government, and the timing which is meant to overshadow the police recommendations… are an insult to the residents of the north,” he adds.

Hasson was referring to this week’s police conclusion that Netanyahu should stand trial for bribery and various other offenses in the Bezeq-Walla corruption probe, known as Case 4000. Those recommendations were handed to the attorney general, who will make the final decision on whether to indict the premier.

IDF denies political motive in timing of operation, says it was long-planned

The IDF rejects accusations voiced by the opposition that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using Operation Northern Shield to deflect attention from police recommendations this week to charge him of bribery in the Bezeq-Walla corruption probe.

An army spokesperson says in a briefing that the operation against Hezbollah attack tunnels was planned over a “very long period of time.”

“It is not something that can be done very easily and quickly,” the spokesperson says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Pompeo defends US foreign policy, slams China, Russia and Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mounts a staunch defense of US foreign policy, arguing that Washington is building a world order to fight cynical abuses by Russia, China and Iran.

On a visit to Brussels, the former CIA chief takes aim at European critics who accuse the US of undermining global institutions, insisting that President Donald Trump is restoring America’s traditional leadership role.

He urges US allies to join Trump’s efforts and to assess honestly whether bodies like the World Trade Organization, the International Criminal Court and the International Monetary Fund are serving their citizens.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during an event at the Concert Noble in Brussels on December 4, 2018. (Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP)

“Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” Pompeo tells a gathering of diplomats in the European capital, ahead of talks at NATO.

“This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat. President Trump is determined to reverse that.”

— AFP

Bolton hails Israeli operation, calls on Iran, Hezbollah to stop ‘provocations’

US National Security Adviser John Bolton is the first foreign official to comment on the Israeli operation against Hezbollah attack tunnels on the Lebanon border, expressing support for Jerusalem’s “efforts to defend its sovereignty.”

In a tweet, Bolton calls on the Lebanese terror group to stop digging tunnels into Israel and refrain from responding to the operation.

He also calls on Iran and “all of its agents” to cease “provocations” that threaten the Jewish state’s security.

Moshe Lion begins tenure as Jerusalem mayor in official ceremony

Moshe Lion formally becomes mayor of Jerusalem, taking over the position from Nir Barkat in a ceremony at the Jerusalem municipality building.

All city council members elected in the recent elections participate in the ceremony, including Ofer Berkovitch, who narrowly lost the mayoral race.

“Everything I’ve done in my life has led me to this moment,” Lion says in his speech. “There are many challenges ahead of us, but the first and most important one in my opinion is uniting all the residents under a good, positive spirit.”

Barkat, who has joined the Likud party, says in his farewell speech: “This morning I am exiting the mayor’s office for the last time, but I’m sure I’ll be here many more times. It was a great honor for me to have led the most complex, rewarding and important city in the world.”

UN peacekeepers step up patrols along Israel-Lebanon border

The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL, says it has stepped up its activities along the border in light of the IDF’s newly launched operation to uncover attack tunnels dug from Lebanon into Israel.

“UNIFIL peacekeepers have further increased their patrolling along the Blue Line, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), to maintain the overall stability and avoid misunderstandings that could lead to any escalation,” UNIFIL says.

The Blue Line is an internationally recognized armistice line that serves as the de facto border between Israel and Lebanon.

“UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col is in close contact with both LAF and the IDF, and is again urging all parties to use UNIFIL’s liaison, coordination and tripartite mechanisms in de-escalating any tension,” the UN peacekeeping force says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Activist arrested at anti-domestic violence rally in Tel Aviv

Police make an arrest at the rally against domestic violence in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square.

According to police, Sapir Slutzker-Amran, an attorney with the Association for Civil Liberties in Israel, was detained after she “blatantly disobeyed police instructions and contributed to violent confrontations.”

Lebanese army ‘totally prepared’ for Israeli offensive, but says border ‘calm and stable’

The Lebanese army says it is prepared to respond to any escalation with Israel, but says Lebanon’s side of the border is “calm and stable.”

In response to Israel announcing an operation against Hezbollah infiltration tunnels in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese army releases a statement “affirming the state of affairs along the Lebanese side [of the frontier] is calm and stable and is being closely followed.

“The army’s units in the area are undertaking their routine duties along the border in cooperation and coordination with the UNIFIL to prevent any escalation or destabilization in the south,” says the statement posted on Twitter. “The leadership [of the army] points out that the army is totally prepared to confront any sudden occurrence.”

— Adam Rasgon

Israeli ambassador thanks Trump for ‘unequivocal support’

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer thanks the Trump administration for its “unequivocal support for Israel’s right to defend itself” against its enemies in the region.

In his tweet, Dermer notes that US support extends to Israeli operations against Hezbollah tunnels, Hamas rockets, Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and “all the other things that threaten the Jewish state.”

In a subsequent tweet, Dermer also thanks Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations for for their ongoing efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip

Netanyahu to hold situational assessment with IDF chief, defense officials

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a situational assessment with IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot and other top defense officials after the military launched an operation to counter Hezbollah tunnels that stretch from Lebanon into northern Israel.

The Prime Minister’s say in a statement the briefing will be held “shortly” at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Austrian ambassador: Israel has ‘every right’ to destroy Hezbollah tunnels

Austrian Ambassador to Israel Martin Weiss rebuffs criticism of Israel’s announced operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels that stretch from Lebanon inside the country, saying it has “every right in the world to protect its territory.”

“Lots of opinions out there about ‘Operation Northern Shield.’ But in this context, let’s just be clear about one fact: Israel has every right in the world to protect its territory & its citizens from threats and aggressions coming from abroad,” he posted on Twitter.

Iran vows to increase range of its missiles ahead of Security council meeting

Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting concerning Iran’s weekend test of a nuclear-capable missile, Tehran’s air force chief announces his country will continue to increase the range of its missiles.

“One of our most important programs is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition,” Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh tells the state-linked Fars news agency in comments reported by Reuters.

“We don’t see any limitations for ourselves in this field,” he adds.

Nasirzadeh’s remarks come hours before a Security council meeting called by France and Britain after they accused Iran of test-firing a medium-range missile over the weekend.

Hezbollah-linked outlet shows off military hardware after Israel launches tunnel op

A Hezbollah-affiliated media outlet posts “archival” photographs of the terror group launching rockets, missiles, tank shells and artillery ordnance.

The images appear to be a tacit threat toward Israel, which launched an operation today to find and destroy attack tunnels that it says were dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

https://twitter.com/C_Military5/status/1069957868743483392

The long-dormant “Central Military Information,” whose Twitter accounts have repeatedly been suspended for their connection to Hezbollah, created a new account on Sunday, through which it posted the photographs.

— Judah Ari Gross

Palestinian-American lawmaker to lead Congressional delegation to West Bank

Rashida Tlaib, the newly elected Democratic congresswoman from Michigan, plans to lead a trip of incoming US lawmakers to the West Bank.

Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American and one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, discussed her plans in an article in The Intercept published yesterday.

Her trip is a counterpoint to the traditional Israel trip for first-term lawmakers sponsored by the education arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which includes touring and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government, and the military.

In this October 26, 2018 file photo, Rashida Tlaib, then a Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 13th Congressional district, smiles during a rally in Dearborn, Michigan. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Tlaib told The Intercept her trip will focus on issues like Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water and poverty – and perhaps a visit to the northern West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa, where her grandmother lives.

“I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” Tlaib said in the interview. “I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue. It’s one-sided. … [They] have these lavish trips to Israel, but they don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.”

— JTA

Lebanese president instructs security forces to ‘closely monitor’ Israeli operation

Lebanese President Michel Aoun instructs security forces to “closely monitor” developments in the south of the country, the Naharnet news site reports, in the wake of Israel launching an operation to destroy cross-border Hezbollah tunnels.

The report says Aoun was briefed on the situation in a series of phone calls this afternoon with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun.

“During President Aoun’s phone calls, the situation was evaluated in light of the available information about the objectives of the Israeli operation and security agencies were asked to closely monitor the situation,” the news site reports.

In Damascus, North Korea FM says his country and Syria face same ‘enemy’

North Korea’s foreign minister says his country and Syria face the same “enemy” and calls for increased cooperation between them.

Syria’s President Bashar Assad received Ri Yong Ho earlier today. Assad responded by identifying the United States as a hostile country to Syria and North Korea. Syria state news agency SANA carried the comments.

Washington has an estimated 2,000 troops stationed in eastern Syria as part of its campaign against Islamic State group militants.

The Korean minister congratulated Syria on recent victories against armed groups, saying military and political successes will make for a “solid base” for reconstruction.

This summer, North Korea reported that Assad plans to visit.

Syria and North Korea are longtime allies. They have been accused of cooperating on chemical weapons, a charge they both deny.

— AP

Netanyahu, Eisenkot to make statements after security briefing

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will give statements to the media following their meeting at the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says the press conference will be held at 8 p.m.

Rivlin tells residents of north to remain calm, says IDF ‘ready to respond’

President Reuven Rivlin tells the residents of northern Israel they should remain “calm” after the IDF said it discovered tunnels infiltrating Israeli territory from Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them.

“I’m telling the citizens of Israel, and in particular the residents of the north, that you can be calm and confidant,” he posts on Twitter. “Your security is our top priority.”

“The entirety the IDF is ready to respond, and the current operation proves the importance of the military’s preparedness for any scenario forces upon us,” he says. “We know that we have someone we can trust.”

IDF releases footage of Hezbollah cross-border tunnel

The Israeli military releases footage of a cross-border attack tunnel that it says was dug some 40 meters (120 feet) into Israeli territory from southern Lebanon.

The video shows the two-meter (six-foot) by two-meter (six-foot) tunnel, complete with a ventilation system, electrical system and communication lines.

The army says the tunnel did not yet present a threat to residents of the area where it was found as it was not yet operational.

— Judah Ari Gross

IDF calls up small number of reservists amid Hezbollah tunnel op

The army is calling up a small number of reservists as it prepares for a potential retaliation by Hezbollah in response to the IDF’s operation to destroy tunnels build by the terrorist group that stretch from Lebanon into northern Israel.

Additional tanks, artillery cannons, and armored personnel carriers are spotted on highways leading up to northern Israel.

As of tonight, the IDF is refraining from a mass call-up of reservists, preferring instead to enlist those from select air defense and Military Intelligence units, as it does during most periods of increased tensions and unrest.

The Air Force units are being called up to help man Israel’s various air defense batteries. The Hezbollah terrorist militia is believed to have an arsenal of over 100,000 rockets and missiles — larger than that of many European countries.

— Judah Ari Gross

Trump Mideast envoy demands Hezbollah stop ‘provocative behavior’

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy, says that Washington “strongly” supports Israel’s northern border operation and calls on Hezbollah to “halt all provocative behavior immediately.”

“We strongly support Israel’s efforts to defend itself, and we call on Hezbollah to halt all provocative behavior immediately and refrain from escalation and violence,” he says in a tweet. “We also call upon Iran and its proxies to stop their provocative and dangerous actions. We stand with Israel.”

Greenblatt’s tweet echoes earlier remarks by US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who also expressed sting support for the Israeli operation, and called on the Iran-backed terrorist militia to cease “provocations” that threaten Israel’s security.

UN Security Council meets on Iran’s ballistic missile launches

The UN Security Council is meeting at the request of three Western powers involved in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal who say Tehran’s ballistic missile launches are “inconsistent” with the council resolution that endorsed the agreement.

France, Germany, and Britain sent a letter to council, which was circulated during the meeting, saying Iran’s launches of Zolfaqar and Qiam short-range ballistic missiles on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 “are inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

A provision in the 2015 Security Council resolution calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Before the closed-door council meeting today, Britain’s UN Ambassador Karen Pierce called the launches “inconsistent behavior,” but she said more information is needed to determine whether they violated the resolution.

— AP

Rivlin: Hezbollah will lead to Lebanon’s downfall

President Reuven Reuven is warning Lebanon the Iran-backed terrorist militia will lead to the country’s downfall.

During a visit to the Ramon Air Force base in southern Israel to light the third Hanukkah candle with soldiers, Rivlin urges Lebanon stop allowing Tehran to use its territory to further its agenda.

“We see the government of Lebanon as responsible for what happens in Lebanon, and we warn Hezbollah not to subjugate Lebanon to an Iranian agenda, or to use Lebanon as a base for attacking Israel,” Rivlin says according to a statement from his office.

“Hezbollah, which portrays itself as the ‘shield of Lebanon’ will bring its eventual downfall,” he adds. “The discovery of these tunnels only prove the depth of Iranian involvement in Lebanon, both in funding and in political direction.”

US urges UN to condemn Iran missile test

The US is urging the UN Security Council to condemn Iran’s ballistic missile test, which it described as “dangerous and concerning” and a violation of a UN resolution.

The council is meeting behind closed doors at the request of France and Britain which along with the US have accused Iran of test-firing a ballistic missile on Saturday.

France and Britain maintain that missile launches are inconsistent with the UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal while the US is taking a harder stance and maintains it is an outright violation.

“Iran’s recent ballistic missile test was dangerous and concerning, but not surprising,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley says in a statement. “The international community cannot keep turning a blind eye every time Iran blatantly ignores Security Council resolutions.”

“If the Security Council is serious about holding Iran accountable and enforcing our resolutions, then at a minimum we should be able to deliver a unanimous condemnation of this provocative missile test,” she says.

— AFP

Police arrest another suspect in murder of 16-year-old Yara Ayoub

Police say they have arrested another suspect in the murder of 16-year-old Yara Ayoub last month.

Police say the suspect, a 17-year-old male from Ayoub’s Galilee hometown of Jish, will be brought before the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court tomorrow for a remand hearing.

Authorities have identified the primary suspect in Ayoub’s murder as a 28-year-old man from the village, and have arrested several others suspected of involvement.

Most of the details of the investigation, including the identities of the suspects, are under a court-ordered gag order to protect the investigation.

US tells UN it takes landmark vote condemning Hamas ‘very seriously’

US Ambassador Nikki Haley is urging countries at the United Nations to back a US-drafted resolution condemning the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, warning in a letter that Washington takes the vote “very seriously.”

The UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote Thursday on the draft resolution that would condemn Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and demand that it ends the violence.

In a letter sent to UN diplomatic missions, Haley warns there could be attempts by some countries to introduce amendments to the text and urged ambassadors to vote against any such proposed changes.

“The United States takes the outcome of this vote very seriously,” Haley wrote in the letter circulated yesterday that was obtained by AFP.

“The resolution has been carefully-crafted to address a specific problem, and it reflects consultations with many stakeholders to ensure balance.

“That is why we are asking that you not only vote in favor of the resolution but that you also vote against any amendments or other efforts to undermine adoption of the text,” she added.

If the US-drafted resolution is adopted, it would mark the first time that the assembly has taken aim at Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

— with AFP

Netanyahu: Hezbollah tunnels part of wider plan to capture parts of Galilee

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the cross-border tunnels built by Hezbollah are part of a wider effort by the Iran-backed terror group capture parts of the Galilee from Israel.

“Capturing parts of the Galilee by Hezbollah is a concrete threat,” he tells reporters at the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv. He says the operation to destroy the tunnels will “continue until all its objectives are reached.”

Netanyahu says destroying Hezbollah tunnels a ‘broad and ongoing operation’

Netanyahu says IDF efforts to destroy cross-border tunnels build by Hezbollah is “not a limited operation, but a broad and ongoing operation” that will continue until “all objectives are reached.”

He tells reporters at a press conference that “Hezbollah knows that whoever attacks Israel will pay a heavy price.”

“By digging the tunnels that extend into Israeli territory, Hezbollah has blatantly violated our sovereignty as well as UN Resolution 1701.

He says that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed during their talks yesterday to levy sanctions against Hezbollah, Iran-back terrorist militia.

PM: Israeli strikes in Syria have reduced Iranian forces there by 10%

Netanyahu says Israeli military action in Syria in recent years has led to a 10 percent decease in the number of Iranian troops operating in the war-torn country.

He tells journalists that in addition to Syria, Israel is also working to thwart Iranian terrorist groups operating in Lebanon.

He says he instructed the IDF to launch the operation to “thwart the threat of the terrorist tunnels in southern Lebanon.

Netanyahu: Lebanon bears ‘heavy responsibility’ for allowing Hezbollah operations

Netanyahu says he has requested an urgent UN Security council meeting to discuss Hezbollah’s “serious aggression” in the wake of the military’s revelation that the terrorist group built a tunnel stretched from Lebanon into northern Israel.

He emphasizes to reporters at a press conference that “Lebanon bears a heavy responsibility for allowing such acts terror on its territory.”

IDF chief says Hezbollah tunnel operation to last several weeks

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot says the operation is due to last several weeks and will be led by the head of the IDF Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick.

“This morning we started an action to thwart Hezbollah’s intrusion into our territory, to improve our security reality in the north… to strike and to continue to strike Iranian entrenchment in the north,” he says at a press conference.

In an apparent effort to preempt allegations that the decision to launch Northern Shield was connected to the recent calls by police to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Eisenkot said the military came to the security cabinet with the recommendation to start the operation “once the conditions were ripe” approximately a month ago.

According to Eisenkot, the cabinet approved the operation on November 7.

The army chief says Northern Shield was launched before the tunnels became operational and “became an immediate and direct threat to northern communities and army bases.”

Eisenkot says that since the 2014 Gaza war, in which the threat of Hamas tunnels was a central issue, the Israeli military has “built a highly advanced operational, technological engineering and intelligence capability to neutralize attack tunnels, both in the north and in the south.”

The army chief says that the heads of communities in northern Israel were informed of the operation ahead of time and lauded them for showing “responsibility” by not revealing that it was poised to take place.

The IDF chief calls on Israelis to “feel safe, to continue their daily routines and to continue traveling to the north.”

— Judah Ari Gross

Israeli envoy demands UN condemn Hezbollah’s border tunnels

Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon sends a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council demanding they condemn Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels.

“The construction of these tunnels, built by Hezbollah and funded by Iran — alongside the ongoing efforts to transfer arms, convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles and manufacture precision-guided missiles in Lebanon — are a flagrant violation of Israel’s sovereignty and mark yet another stage of Hezbollah’s ongoing efforts to expand its military build-up and further destabilize the already volatile region,” he writes.

— Raphael Ahren

IDF releases footage of Hezbollah operatives working on border tunnel

The IDF releases footage of Hezbollah operatives working inside one the attack tunnels that the army exposed earlier today.

The two men working in the narrow passage notice the concealed Israeli camera and begin to approach it before the device self-destructs.

More than one new allegation against rabbi convicted of sex crimes — report

The new allegations of sexual misconduct against Rabbi Mordechai “Moti” Elon were made by a number of people, not just the young man cited in an investigative report that aired earlier today.

According to Hadashot news, the man who filed the complaint against Elon with a religious forum dealing with sexual abuse, was among “numerous” complaints made against the rabbi recently.

Earlier today, the investigative news show “Uvda” reported that Elon admitted to admitted to engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior with the man he was supposed to be counseling. The man recorded several of their encounters and turned the tapes over to other leading rabbis.

When the rabbis confronted Elon with the recording, he admitted to the sexual misconduct and agreed to step back from his responsibilities and seek treatment.

The new allegations come five years after Elon was convicted on two counts of sexual assault.

30,000 people pack Rabin Square for rally against domestic violence

Some 30,000 people, according to organizers, gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square for a major rally as the culmination of a day of protests against the government’s perceived inaction on the issue of violence against women.

“Today we made history,” organizers tell the crowd. “Today the silence on violence against women has turned to screams.”

Dressed in black with red hats and carrying red balloons, torches and placards, the protesters shout slogans demanding change against a backdrop of the municipal building lit up with the Hebrew word for “Enough!”

Ayala Itamar, whose sister was killed by her husband, issues a call for the authorities to take action against the violence.

“The State of Israel must invest in budgets, resources and professionals who will deal with violent men,” she tells the crowd. “And develop safeguards for women to ensure their safety in times of distress and invest in shelters that can accommodate whole families.”

— Naomi Lanzkron

Erdan to request NIS 22 million for police initiatives against domestic violence

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan will request an additional NIS 22 million be added to his budget to help police in their efforts to combat domestic violence in Israel, according to reports.

Erdan will make the request tomorrow at a meeting of the newly-established ministerial committee set up to fight domestic violence

At least 24 women were killed in Israel this year, most of whom notified the police prior to their deaths that they were concerned for their safety.

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Hezbollah source says Netanyahu ‘in crisis mode,’ tilting at windmills

A Hezbollah official responds to Israel’s newly launched operation to destroy the group’s cross-border attack tunnels, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of manufacturing a conflict in Lebanon in order to distract from his political woes.

“Netanyahu is in crisis mode, he is trying to fabricate a battle with the Lebanese side and to tilt at windmills,” the unnamed officials tells the Lebanese al-Nahar news outlet, referencing the literary character Don Quixote who tries to fight windmills after mistaking them for giants.

— with Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon