Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Sudan severed diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday and Monday, while the United Arab Emirates downgraded ties, in response to an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Mashhad on Saturday. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a press conference in Riyadh that Iran has a “long record of violations of foreign diplomatic missions,” dating back to the 1979 takeover of the American embassy, after which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. The attack on the Saudi embassy on Saturday was in response to the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite cleric from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted on Sunday, “Doubtlessly, unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr #SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians.” On Monday, Jubeir announced the suspension of air traffic between the two countries, as well as the cutting of commercial relations and the prevention of Saudi citizens from traveling to Iran, until Iran behaves “like a normal country.”
Since the signing of the nuclear deal with the global powers last July, Iran has carried out two ballistic missile tests, one of which was determined by the United Nations to be in violation of a UN resolution; fired a rocket within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier operating in the Strait of Hormuz; arrested two U.S. persons; hanged an American citizen; convicted a U.S. citizen under false charges; launched cyberattacks against the U.S. State Department; held anti-American rallies; violated international travel bans; and exported weapons to Syria and Yemen in violation of the arms embargo on Iran. Iran has also escalated its involvement in Syria, sending thousands of Iranian troops to assist the Bashar al-Assad regime, which continues to use chemical weapons and bomb its own people indiscriminately.
With regard to this Iranian aggression, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal wrote Friday, “Opponents of the nuclear accord predicted this. Mr. Obama says the deal restricts Iranian action, but it does far more to restrict the ability of the U.S. to respond to Iranian aggression. If the U.S. takes tough action in response to Iran’s missile tests or other military provocations, Iran can threaten to stop abiding by the nuclear deal. It knows the world has no appetite for restoring serious sanctions, and that Mr. Obama will never admit his deal is failing. The mullahs view the accord as a license to become more militarily aggressive.”
The Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah detonated an explosive device near an IDF bulldozer and another vehicle beside the Israel-Lebanon border on Monday afternoon, The Times of Israel reported.
The attack, which took place near Shebaa Farms, also known as Har Dov, prompted Israel to fire approximately 20 artillery shells into southern Lebanon. No casualties were initially reported during either incident, although Hezbollah maintained that it injured Israeli soldiers. The IDF denied this claim, and said that the targeted vehicles were in the area to clear pathways of explosives and other obstacles.The Hezbollah cell that took credit for the bombing named itself after Samir Kuntar, the Hezbollah commander who was killed along with eight other terrorists in a targeted airstrike two weeks ago in Damascus. While Israel did not claim responsibility for the operation, former Israeli national security advisor Gen. Yaacov Amidror explained shortly afterwards that Kuntar was preparing forces in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights to orchestrate attacks against Israel before his death, and therefore posed an immediate threat. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, vowed to retaliate for Kuntar’s assassination, saying, “We cannot forgive the shedding of our mujahideen blood by the Zionists.”
Kuntar was released from an Israeli jail in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. He was imprisoned in 1979 after leading a group of terrorists that killed a policeman and then abducted and killed Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat, on a beach near their home in northern Israel. He shot Danny in front of Einat, and then killed her by smashing her head against a rock. Einat’s mother, hiding in a crawlspace, accidentally smothered her 2-year-old daughter Yael to death in an attempt to keep her quiet so as to avoid giving away their hiding place.
According to the Times, Israel has been firing artillery rounds at the Lebanese border fence over the past several days to deter expected attacks from Hezbollah.
In January 2014, an airstrike killed a number high-ranking Hezbollah and Iranian military officials, including Jihad Mughniyeh, who is believed to have been Kuntar’s predecessor in opening a Syrian front against Israel for Hezbollah. Later that month, two Israeli soldiers were killed by Hezbollah in a cross-border rocket attack. (via TheTower.org)