- U.S. ambassador to UN: “Get Iran and their proxies” out of Syria
- Jewish children’s museum hit by bomb threat
- Palestinian Hezbollah operative indicted for plotting terrorist attack, kidnapping
- Iranian media confirms IRGC launch of ballistic missile
After attending a Security Council briefing on a recently-concluded round of peace talks in Geneva, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said that international efforts were now focused on finding “a political solution” to the conflict. “And that basically means that Syria can no longer be a safe haven for terrorists, we’ve got to make sure we get Iran and their proxies out, we’ve got to make sure that, as we move forward, we’re securing the borders for our allies as well,” she added.
Iran is a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, using both its own forces and Shiite proxies, including the terrorist group Hezbollah, to help bolster his regime.
According to Chagai Tzuriel, the director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, “The most important strategic issue we’re currently facing is the strengthening of the Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria, especially after the fall of Aleppo.” Tzuriel emphasized that, due to recent battlefield developments in the Syrian civil war, there is “a strong imbalance in the region to Iran’s benefit.” He continued, “If Iran and Hezbollah manage to base themselves in Syria, it would be a permanent source of instability in the entire region.” Prof. Asher Susser, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the BBC last month, “The changes in Syria have brought Iran closer to Israel’s border than ever before.”
New York Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John J. Miller called the person behind the threats “your typical coward” and said one offender appears to be behind the majority of offenses. He also told CBS This Morning that the offender has used a voice changer to make him sound like a woman.
“We have an offender with some technical prowess here,” he added, noting that in addition to using a voice changer to make threatening calls over the internet, the person in question used “phone spoofing” to make it appear that the call is coming from within the location he’s threatening.
Both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped by the scene Thursday afternoon (kids and staff were let back inside the museum around 1:00PM). "We will find you," Cuomo said of people who have been making threats to Jewish centers.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) decried the attack on Twitter: “Another threat against NYC & its Jewish community. We must fight this scourge tooth & nail. I stand w/ @JCMBrooklyn."
Hezbollah has increasingly been making attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on Israelis using cells made up of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Israeli authorities foiled a Hezbollah plot to carry out a terrorist attack in the Haifa area through an Arab Israeli cell last September. The Shin Bet announced in August that it had broken up two separate Hezbollah recruiting rings in the West Bank over the previous several months. One of the cells was planning to attack an IDF patrol near Qalqilya and was given instructions via Facebook by Unit 133, Hezbollah’s foreign operations division, to carry out terrorist attacks and recruit other individuals to Hezbollah. One of the men the Shin Bet arrested was paid $900 for organizing attacks against Israeli targets, including a suicide bombing on a bus, and recruiting more people to Hezbollah. An additional recruit was instructed to carry out a shooting attack against Israel forces stationed in Jenin, in the northern West Bank.
Another Iranian-backed jihadist organization, Harakat al-Sabirin, announced in January that it had extended operations into the West Bank and Jerusalem. The group, whose flag is nearly identical to Hezbollah’s, took credit for detonating an IED near an IDF patrol on the Israel-Gaza border last December.
This is the latest in a series of aggressive Iranian moves. Last month, German newspaper Die Welt reported that German intelligence believes Iran tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile, with a possible range of 2,000-3,000 kilometers (1,250-1,875 miles). In its test, the missile successfully traveled 600 kilometers (375 miles)—a little less than half the distance to Israel. Furthermore, Iran carried out a ballistic missile test late January. The ballistic missile tests are in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified the Iran nuclear deal.
Last month, the U.S. placed sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 companies involving in procuring technology for Iran’s ballistic missile program and being associated with the IRGC. This came a day after U.S. senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and 20 of their senatorial colleagues from both sides of the aisle wrote a letter to President Trump reading in part, “Full enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program are necessary… We look forward to supporting your Administration’s efforts to hold Iran accountable.”