Sherwin Pomerantz

The 179th Day of Israel’s War Against Hamas

Following the (presumed) Israeli attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria on Tuesday, Hezi Simantov, a commentator and correspondent for Arab affairs on Israel’s ‘News 13’, spoke Tuesday morning with Nissim Mashal and Anat Davidov on Radion 103FM about the assassination of the senior Iranian commander of the Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon, and the expected consequences.

“According to the reports from Syria and Iran, the Israeli Air Force allegedly attacked a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, where several senior Iranian officials were located, among them Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who is actually the deputy commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards in Syria and Lebanon,” Simantov began.

“A very senior member of the Iranian hierarchy, he (Zahedi) managed the entire operation of smuggling weapons from Syria to Lebanon. He was a very senior person who can be said to have given Israel a lot of headaches in the last twenty years for all his exploits in his involvement in terrorism. This is the most senior Iranian who has been eliminated so far since October 7 on Syrian soil,” Simantov said. “This is a severe and painful blow to the Iranian regime, a matter in which the Iranians are more inclined to take revenge against Israel. We have already eliminated several of their senior officials since October 7 on Syrian soil. This is the period when Iran wants to show that it is leading the axis of resistance.”

Simantov believes the Iranians are laying the groundwork to strike at Israeli diplomatic representations worldwide, in the Arab world, Europe, the US or even South America.” Simantov continued, “The assassination attributed to Israel certainly makes the confrontation between Iran and Israel more direct, rather than indirect, as it has been until now in Syria.”

On the matter of Palestinian statehood, the Palestinian Authority intends to press the United Nations to schedule a vote on its admission as a full member of the world body later this month, Ramallah’s permanent UN “observer” told Reuters on Monday night. “The intention is to put the application to a vote in the Security Council this month,” Riyad Mansour told the press agency. He added that the Palestinian Authority hopes the UN Security Council will make a decision at an April 18 meeting on the Middle East. Mansour claimed Ramallah’s 2011 application for full membership was still pending, because the Security Council never made a formal decision. The PA currently holds UN observer status.

“Whoever supports recognizing a Palestinian state at such a time not only gives a prize to terror, but also backs unilateral steps which are contradictory to the agreed upon principle of direct negotiations,” stated Gilad Erdan, Israel’s UN ambassador. Erdan said that Ramallah did not meet required criteria for statehood in its previous bid for full-fledged UN membership and “has only moved further from the goals it should achieve since.”

For the Palestinian Authority to gain full UN member state status, at least nine of the 15 members of the UN Security Council must approve the application, and then two-thirds of the UN General Assembly would have to support it in a vote.

Relating to Gaza, the IDF opened an investigation after seven international aid workers from the World Central Kitchen (WCK) organization were killed in an airstrike in the Deir al-Balah area of the Gaza Strip, early Tuesday morning. According to Palestinian reports, the IDF struck a civilian car the aid workers were in on a road near the beach. Airstrikes were also reported by Palestinian media in a separate part of Deir al-Balah at around the same time. IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari spoke with WCK founder Chef Jose Anders on Tuesday, expressing his condolences to the families of the victims and the organization.

Hagari stressed that the IDF is reviewing the incident “at the highest levels” to understand what happened. “We will be opening a probe to examine this serious incident further. This will help us reduce the risk of such an event from occurring again.”

“For the last few months, the IDF has been working closely with the World Central Kitchen to assist them in fulfilling their noble mission of helping bring food and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” said Hagari. “WCK also came to help Israelis after the massacre of October 7th; they were one of the first NGOs here. The work of WCK is critical; they are on the frontlines of humanity. We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently.”

Skirmishes continue on the northern border with Lebanon while the fighting in Gaza continues as well.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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