Israel Says It Found 16 Tons Of Rocket-Making Substance Headed From Turkey To Gaza

Israel Says It Found 16 Tons Of Rocket-Making Substance Headed From Turkey To Gaza

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Israel Says It Found 16 Tons Of Rocket-Making Substance Headed From Turkey To Gaza

Israel's customs authority said on Thursday it found 16 tons of material used for rocket production during an inspection of a shipment from Turkey headed to Gaza, which the ruling Hamas group dismissed as a fabrication. The customs authority said it had stopped for inspection in July two containers carrying 54 tons of what were supposed to be bags of plaster.

A lab test confirmed some of the bags contained ammonium chloride, the authority added, which it said was used by groups in Gaza "to produce rockets that are eventually launched towards Israel." In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem described the report as "lies." 

Lebanon and Hezbollah 

U.S. Sanctions Lebanon-South America Network Accused Of Financing Hezbollah 

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday slapped terrorism sanctions on a family network of seven individuals and businesses in Lebanon and South America accused of financing the militant group Hezbollah, including a Lebanese man who officials say was involved in two deadly attacks in Argentina in the 1990s. Amer Mohamed Akil Rada was described as “one of the operational members” who carried out the attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. A 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina killed 29 people. Rada, according to the Treasury, spent over a decade in South America before relocating to Lebanon. During his time there, he allegedly ran a charcoal business that frequently exported from Colombia to Lebanon and used “80 percent of the proceeds of his commercial enterprise to benefit Hezbollah.”  

Rada’s brother, Samer, was also sanctioned and accused of being involved in various drug trafficking and money laundering operations across Latin America. According to the Treasury, he was previously based in Belize but fled due to a drug-related case and was involved in smuggling 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of cocaine worth $15 million hidden in fruit shipments seized in El Salvador. He also heads Venezuelan-based company BCI Technologies CA, which some reports say is a prominent cryptocurrency consultancy firm in the country.  

The U.S. also sanctioned Rada’s son, identified as Mehdi Akil Helbawi, and his Colombia-based venture Zanga S.A.S., the coal exporting company that officials say his father used to fund Hezbollah. The Treasury also slapped sanctions on Lebanon-based company Black Diamond SARL and owner Ali Ismail Ajrouch. The company reportedly transferred some $40,000 to the Colombia-based coal company.  

Iran Building Airport In Southern Lebanon To Attack Israelis, Gallant Says 

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday accused Iran of setting up an airport in southern Lebanon which he said was being used “for terror purposes” against Israelis. He did not elaborate on these allegations, but said the site could accommodate mid-sized aircraft. The location he gave was near the Lebanese village of Birket Jabbour and city of Jezzin, some 20 km (12 miles) north of the Israeli border town of Metulla.

Speaking at an annual conference of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism Policy (ICT) at Reichman University in Herzliya, Gallant presented pictures of the airport being built in the Qalaat Jabbour mountain region, which he said bore the fingerprints of Iran and its proxy terror group Hezbollah. “In the pictures, you can see the Iranian flag flying over the runways, from which the ayatollah regime plans to operate against the citizens of Israel,” Gallant said. “If it comes to a conflict, we will not hesitate to activate the lethal force of the IDF. Hezbollah and Lebanon will pay heavy and painful prices,” Gallant warned.  

A non-Israeli source with knowledge of the site said it could accommodate large drones - some of them weaponised - built off of Iranian blueprints. The source said drones launched from the site could be used for both internal and external operational activities - but added that the nature and direction of the runway suggested the former were more likely. 

Gallant said there was an Iranian effort to create another dangerous front on Israel's border with Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, "through Shiite militias that operate and are based in Iraq. "He did not elaborate on the scale or provide further details on how this was being accomplished. Gallant also accused Iran of being behind terror operations in the West Bank and  increasingly controlling Gazan terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. “Iran is the provider of money, knowledge, and guidance to Gazan terrorism,” he said.  


Syrian Army Says Israel Hits Targets Along Coast And Hama Region 

Two Syrian soldiers were killed and six others wounded in an Israeli air strike on the Mediterranean port city of Tartous near the ancestral home region of President Bashar al Assad, Syrian state media reported on Wednesday. It gave no details of the specific locations that were hit. Later the Syrian army said Israeli missiles struck the outskirts of Hama and caused only some material damage. It gave no other details.  

An opposition source said the latest strike also targeted alongside a military base in southern Hama, the Shuairat military airport, southeast of central Homs province. The base is one of the country's main military air bases that Russia, a principal ally of Assad, has fortified and used to conduct raids against insurgents. Israel has staged hundreds of strikes against alleged Iranian targets in Syria in recent years, but has mostly avoided hitting the coastal provinces where Russia's military assets are concentrated. The strikes were close to the Russian navy's only Mediterranean base in the port of Tartous where Russian warships are docked, while Russia's Hmeimim air base is also in nearby Latakia province.  

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday hinted at alleged Israeli airstrikes in northern Syria a day earlier, in an apparent rare confirmation by Israeli officials of a specific attack against Iranian efforts to supply its various Middle Eastern proxies with weapons. “Last night, we saw another proof that in Israel, the roar of the jets is greater than all the other noises on the ground,” Gallant said at a Jewish New Year’s greeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military’s General Staff, a forum of senior commanders responsible for the various branches and departments of the military. “In the end, what counts is action, not words,” Gallant said. “Unfortunately, we will have a lot of work on these issues we are responsible for.”