Sherwin Pomerantz

The 198th Day of War in Israel   

In its first attack directly against Iran on Friday, Israel used missiles that evaded Iran’s radar detection and damaged an S-300 system at an air base at Isfahan, according to the New York Times. According to Western officials, Israel intended to send a message to Iran that it can bypass its defense systems and strike undetected.  Israel’s attack was also a retaliation for Iran’s launching 350 missiles and drones into Israel overnight a week ago, 99% of which were intercepted by Israeli, US, French, Jordanian, and UK militaries with reported intelligence assistance from the Saudis as well.

Two Iranian officials confirmed that the S-300 antiaircraft system was hit in Isfahan and admitted that the intrusions on their airspace were not detected. According to a US media report, Israel’s strike against Iran was more extensive than the few drones reported by Iranian state media.

“The Israelis hit what they intended to strike,” one of the sources told Fox News, adding that the intention was to strike the Russian-made air defense system, which was hit several times and rendered ineffective. However, Israel has yet to formally acknowledge and claim responsibility for the strike. So far, Iran has minimized the strike, with the Foreign Minister comparing it to child’s play. Iran’s Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian told NBC News, “What happened last night was no attack.”

The US House of Representatives passed a $95 billion funding bill that includes $17 billion in aid for Israel. The $95 billion bill received broad bipartisan support and included funding for Ukraine, Taiwan, Israel, and humanitarian aid. The bill is heading to the Democratic-majority Senate for approval before it is signed by President Biden.

Of the $17 billion in aid for Israel, $5.2 will be used to replenish missile and rocket defense systems, $3.5 billion for purchasing new weapons, $1 billion for weapon production, $4.4 billion for other military supplies, and $2.4 billion for US operations during the Gaza war. In addition, $9 billion will be devoted to humanitarian aid, and the White House is expected to add $2 billion for Gaza. The bill also forbids funds to be used for UNRWA, an organization that was found to have deep ties with Hamas.

In the north, Hezbollah fired two rockets from Lebanon at Moshav Dovev in the Eastern Galilee on Sunday morning, with the projectiles striking open areas. No casualties were reported. No warning sirens sounded during the attack.  Earlier in the morning, air raid sirens sounded in communities in the Western Galilee near the Lebanese border including Shlomi and Rosh HaNikra. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

Overnight Saturday, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck several Hezbollah terrorist targets in Lebanon, including an observation post in the area of Odaisseh and two military structures in the area of Khiam, the IDF said on Sunday morning. During one of the strikes, a terrorist was identified operating inside a Hezbollah “military” structure in the area of Tayr Harfa. Shortly thereafter, IAF fighter jets struck and destroyed the structure. On Saturday night, IDF soldiers detected several terrorists in a Hezbollah “military” structure in the area of Jibbain in Southern Lebanon. IAF aircraft then struck the terrorist infrastructure.

Earlier on Saturday, IAF aircraft killed a Hezbollah terrorist and struck the compound that he had entered in the area of Ayta ash Shab. Additionally, IAF aircraft struck a terrorist who was operating in Hezbollah infrastructure in the area of Kfarkela (aka Kafr Kila), also in Southern Lebanon. Terrorists fired projectiles from Lebanon at northern Israel throughout Saturday.

The Israeli government has approved the framework of a five-year plan to rehabilitate the Tekuma region near the border with Gaza following Hamas’s October 7 onslaught. The plan approved by the cabinet has a total budget of NIS 19 billion ($5 billion), a quarter of which is earmarked for developing the region and the remaining funds for restoring the damages sustained in the onslaught, the Tekuma Authority, the government arm responsible for the rehabilitation efforts, said in a statement. The exact details of the plan are not yet determined as the government is set to decide on them later this year, a rehabilitation official told The Times of Israel.

The draft shows that much of the budget is earmarked toward residential needs, which include renovating or rebuilding damaged homes (NIS 1.35 billion or $370 million) and a similar expenditure on temporary accommodations, typically in hotels, for evacuees.

Israel is now winding down in preparation for the Passover holiday which begins Monday evening. For the retelling of the exodus story at the seder table on Monday evening will have special meaning for all of us in this difficult year of war and loss.  Hopefully this Passover will be one of redemption and release for the remaining hostages 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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