A senior Iranian military commander boasted last week that Iran could destroy Israel “in less than eight minutes.” The commander, a senior adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, stated that if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave the order to destroy Israel, “we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” Khamenei has repeatedly threatened to annihilate Israel. In November 2014, he tweeted, “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” He also put out a table outlining a plan to destroy the State of Israel, entitled “9 key questions about the elimination of Israel.” In September 2015, he stated Israel will not exist in 25 years. Iran has tested at least five ballistic missiles since the nuclear agreement with Iran was reached last July. Two of the missiles were stamped with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out,” written in Hebrew.
The UN resolution that codified the nuclear deal replaced previous resolutions explicitly forbidding Iranian ballistic missile development with nonbinding language. While the previous UNSC Resolution 1929 stated that Iran “shall not” engage in activity related to ballistic missiles, under UNSC Resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon” not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles. Furthermore, that measure and the ban on ballistic missile trade with Iran expires after eight years or possibly sooner.
In response to Iranian missile tests, the U.S., UK, France and Germany sent a letter to the Security Council describing them as “inconsistent with” the UNSCR 2231, rather than a violation that would mandate further UN action. During a speech on Monday, Khamenei stated, “They [the U.S.] have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing.” The U.S. imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran last March in response to its missile tests; however, lawmakers in Congress argue they do not go far enough and are proposing stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism.
On Sunday, Iran’s Ground Force Commander stated, "We consider the US and Israel as the main enemy and we prepare ourselves to confront the Great Satan." On Monday, the head of the Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani declared that Iran “has triumphed in all arenas in the region.”
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip increasingly fear that the ongoing construction of Hamas tunnels in residential areas means that their lives will be in danger if a future war breaks out between the terrorist group and Israel, The New York Times reported on Friday. One woman living by Gaza’s border with Israel said she believes a hidden tunnel entry point is located near the shelter where her family has resided since losing their home during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. The woman, who used the name Umm Nidal to conceal her identity, told the Times that she fears that she and her family will be “torn apart” in any future fighting. “I am sure, one million percent, that those with tunnels under their houses cannot sleep, or taste the joy of life,” she added.
“Every tunnel that appeared on that map will be hit in the day before the night,” another woman said, apparently in reference to the tunnel routes that Israel said it received from two Hamas operatives it detained last month.
While Israel destroyed 32 terror tunnels during the 2014 war, Israeli officials have been warning for some time that Hamas has rebuilt much of its underground infrastructure. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, told the Times that Hamas’ practice of digging tunnels underneath homes is “an insidious plan” to attack Israelis “while concealing Hamas activities behind the people of Gaza.”
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the building of military facilities in civilian areas is forbidden. The relevant language describes the use of human shields as “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations.” This “constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts,” the ICRC added.
In addition to the fear Gazans feel from having the terror tunnels constructed under their neighborhoods, some also criticized Hamas for prioritizing attacks on Israel over bettering the lives of civilians inside the strip.
One woman, who did not give her name due to fear of retribution from Hamas, told theTimes that when she received a voucher to buy cement from an approved vendor, he had no more to sell her. Meanwhile, she and her relatives have been awakened at night by the sound of trucks being used to build tunnels. “How can we say they are helping when they are building tunnels?” she asked. (via TheTower.org)