Prepared for the Conference of Presidents
November 13, 2019
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Major Jewish organizations responded with outrage on Tuesday over the decision by the European Court of Justice to mandate the labeling of goods produced in Israeli settlements. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the European court's ruling "profoundly repugnant," asserting that "the singling out of Israeli products for labeling echoes some of the darkest periods in Jewish history. We hope that consumers will be wise enough to disregard it and continue to buy products from businesses that employ thousands of Palestinians every day." (Algemeiner)
See also Israel Rejects European Court of Justice Ruling
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson said Tuesday: "Israel strongly rejects the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which serves as a tool in the political campaign against Israel. The ruling's entire objective is to single out and apply a double standard against Israel. There are over 200 ongoing territorial disputes across the world, yet the ECJ has not rendered a single ruling related to the labeling of products originating from these territories."
"This ruling...plays into the hands of the Palestinian Authority, which continues to refuse to engage in direct negotiations with Israel, and emboldens radical anti-Israel groups that advance and call for boycotts against Israel and deny its right to exist." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also below Observations: The European Union Labels Itself Biased - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
On Sunday, Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, announced that the national oil company had discovered a new oilfield containing 53 billion barrels of oil. As it turns out, Rouhani's announcement was mostly smoke and mirrors.
A few days later, Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, explained that the field would actually only increase Iran's oil reserves by 22 billion barrels. Moreover, based on a recovery rate of only 10%, Zangeneh explained that production will yield 2.2 billion barrels. This is because the oil is very heavy, making it difficult and expensive to produce. It seems unlikely that this oil has any chance of making it out of the ground. (Forbes)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday afternoon launched retaliatory airstrikes against Palestinian Islamic Jihad following six hours of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. The airstrikes targeted training camps and underground facilities used "for storage and manufacturing of weapons." IDF aircraft also bombed Islamic Jihad operatives as they prepared to fire rockets at Israel.
Some 60 incoming rockets were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system out of 190 fired during the day. It was the first time that the IDF ordered a closure of schools and businesses in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area since the 2014 Gaza war. Though there have been relatively few injuries caused by the rocket attacks, several have damaged homes, vehicles and roads. (Times of Israel)
An Israeli airstrike killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) central brigade commander Khaled Moawad Faraj, 38. IDF airstrikes have hit dozens of targets belonging to the group. "We have a relatively rich PIJ target bank," said IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman. "We are not attacking Hamas and the PIJ targets we are striking are not in the center of Gaza City....We do not want to kill civilians which could lead Hamas to join the fighting." The majority of Palestinians killed in the latest fighting have been PIJ militants. Dozens of rockets fired by the group fell in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinian Missile Hits Human Rights Office in Gaza - Amira Hass
On Tuesday, a stray missile fired by Islamic Jihad scored a direct hit on the office of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights in Gaza City, across from the Palestinian Legislative Council. (Ha'aretz)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Wednesday: "We are continuing to strike Islamic Jihad after having targeted its senior commander in Gaza. He was responsible for most of the terrorist attacks originating in Gaza in the past year and he had been planning to carry out additional attacks in the days to come."
"In the last 24 hours, we have destroyed important Islamic Jihad targets. We targeted terrorist cells that planned to launch rockets at the territory of the State of Israel, several of which were caught in the act."
"We are not bent on escalation, but we will respond to every attack against us, and respond very sharply. Islamic Jihad would do well to understand...that we will continue to strike them without mercy...that Israel is very strong and that our will is very great. We are determined to fight to defend our country." (Prime Minister's Office)
Palestinian sources say an IDF drone entered the apartment of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata to confirm his precise location a few minutes before an IDF airstrike killed him. The sources said UAVs have been spotted hovering over the homes of Abu al-Ata and three other senior Islamic Jihad figures. In two days, Palestinians have fired over 250 rockets and mortars into Israel, while 16 Palestinians have been killed. (i24News)
See also Photos: Israel under Rocket Fire from Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Tuesday: "The United States condemns the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians. It's clear Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza. America strongly affirms Israel's right to defend itself."
Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, "Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist threats. It is intolerable that Israeli civilians live their lives under the constant fear of rocket attacks."
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted, "We stand with our friend & ally Israel at this critical moment & support Israel's right to defend itself & bring an end to these barbaric attacks." (Times of Israel)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday: "We will not accept a reality in which hundreds of thousands of citizens continue to live under the threat of missile fire, and in which their daily routine is disrupted." (Ynet News)
The IDF on Tuesday called up several hundred reserve soldiers from Iron Dome missile defense units, Military Intelligence, and the Home Front Command. (Ynet News)
See also Hospital Moves Patients Underground - Karys Rhea
In light of the Palestinian rocket assault on Israel on Tuesday, Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center evacuated patients in the children's ward, including premature babies, to safe zones built specifically for emergency operations. Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's national emergency medical service, moved 30 ambulances out of storage and into the field. (Algemeiner)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
On Nov. 12, Israel eliminated Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) military leader Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza City, who was responsible for a series of terrorist attacks, including launching rockets at Israel. At the same time, Israel also attacked the Damascus home of Akram al-Ajouri, who headed the PIJ Military Council. He was reportedly injured in the attack. Reports from Gaza say that PIJ and Hamas leaders are in hiding.
Abu al-Ata challenged the Hamas leadership in Gaza, who had been afraid to confront him. Israel considered Abu al-Ata as a "ticking time-bomb," ready to launch new attacks, and therefore was compelled to act. He deployed squads for infiltration and sniper attacks, launched drones, and prepared rockets of various ranges.
A few weeks ago, Egypt released dozens of PIJ detainees in the hope that this would encourage its leaders to maintain the calm. However, Islamic Jihad only obeys Iranian instructions. Earlier this month, Islamic Jihad launched a barrage of rockets at Ashdod and other cities near Gaza. Abu al-Ata was responsible.
The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Islamic Jihad has a substantial arsenal of rockets, but has less of an underground launching capability than Hamas. After its first wave of rockets was fired on Tuesday, most of which were pre-positioned in advance, Islamic Jihad began scrambling to assemble their missiles and launchers in order to continue its attacks. The IDF is monitoring Gaza using UAVs and other intelligence-gathering tools, and there are occasional strikes at militants either on their way or already attempting to launch rockets. (Ynet News)
Responsibility for the IDF's elimination of Baha Abu al-Ata, commander of the Islamic Jihad's military, lies entirely with Hamas. It persistently ignored Israel's warnings regarding Abu al-Ata's central role in firing rockets at Israel and planning terror attacks. Abu al-Ata was provoking Israel, Hamas and Egypt. He worked time and again to orchestrate attacks, and was involved in planning even more ambitious attacks that were thwarted.
Hamas does not want a major escalation with Israel, given that the situation in Gaza has been getting a bit better: The electricity supply has improved. The Rafah border crossing has been opened to a major influx of trade from Egypt. The problem is that Islamic Jihad is most emphatically bent on responding. The question is when will Hamas be wise enough to rein the violence in. (Times of Israel)
After their last visit to Cairo, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) officials revealed that they had decided to endorse a strategy called "engaging the enemy." This strategy calls for sporadic terror attacks to keep Israel "busy" and show that PIJ is not part of any ceasefire understandings.
PIJ wants to continue launching terror attacks against Israel to appease their patrons in Tehran and to scores points on the Palestinian street. PIJ is hoping that even if it suffers military losses, it will nevertheless make political gains from a confrontation with Israel, seeing itself as a replacement for Hamas.
Hamas can't stop PIJ from retaliating against Israel for the killing of its senior commander. On the other hand, the current assessment among Palestinians is that Hamas will not allow PIJ to drag Gaza into a military adventure with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
The European Union Labels Itself Biased - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.