January 9, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hague Criminal Court May Open Israel War Crimes Probe (Times of Israel)
    Israel's National Security Council warned members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week that the International Criminal Court will likely open an investigation this year into the 2014 Gaza war and West Bank settlement construction, Israel's Channel 10 reported Monday.

Jordan Foils Islamic State Attack Plot - Suleiman Al-Khalidi (Reuters)
    Jordan said Monday it had foiled an Islamic State plot to attack security installations, shopping malls and moderate religious figures, the state news agency Petra reported.
    Jordan's security services arrested 17 in Zarqa, a traditional jihadist hotbed, and confiscated weapons and explosives.

Couple Found Guilty of Plotting ISIS-Inspired Bomb Attacks in Britain - Lizzie Dearden (Independent-UK)
    Munir Mohammed, 36, and Rowaida El-Hassan, 33, have been found guilty of preparing to launch a terror attack using a homemade bomb and chemical weapons in the UK.
    Mohammed had already amassed two out of three core components for triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the unstable explosive used in recent ISIS attacks.
    He had also downloaded manuals on how to make mobile phone detonators and ricin, a deadly poison.
    El-Hassan, a pharmacist, advised Mohammed on what chemicals to buy for a bomb.

More than 2,000 Afghans Killed in Syria Fighting for Assad (Middle East Eye-UK)
    More than 2,000 Afghans deployed by Iran have been killed and 8,000 wounded fighting in Syria for the Assad government, Zohair Mojahed, an official of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, told the Iranian Shargh newspaper on Saturday.

Specialists from Israel in Zambia to Help with Cholera Fight (Lusaka Times-Zambia)
    A team of specialists from Israel has arrived in Zambia to help deal with the cholera problem.
    Their main task is the deployment of technology to deal with water purification and treatment.
    Presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda said the 5-person team includes water engineers and epidemiologists who have been conducting tests and gathering information about the cholera epidemic in the country.
    The water treatment is meant to eliminate the bacteria that causes cholera.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Militants Use Armed Drones to Attack Russian Bases in Syria - Neil MacFarquhar
    Last Friday, 10 armed assault drones attacked Russia's Hmeimim airbase in northwestern Syria, while another three were directed against the Russian naval station at Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Monday. The Russian military said seven of the drones were shot down by Pantsir-S antiaircraft missiles. The drones were launched from about 30 miles away and were guided by a GPS unit. Opposition sources said an Islamist faction operating near Latakia had launched the drone attack. (New York Times)
        See also Russian Electronic Warfare Forces Counter Attacking Drones - Guy Plopsky
    Russian electronic warfare forces "managed to take control" of 6 attacking drones, landing 3 of them (3 others exploded upon impact with the ground), the Russian Army TV channel Zvezda reported. (Twitter)
  • Iranians Turn to Tech Tools to Evade Internet Censors - Sam Schechner
    Authorities in Tehran have ratcheted up their policing of the Internet as part of an attempt to stamp out the most far-reaching protests in Iran since 2009. But the crackdown is driving millions of Iranians to tech tools that can help them evade censors, potentially weakening government efforts to control access to information online.
        Psiphon Inc., a Toronto-based firm that makes one such app, said the number of unique users a day in Iran jumped from about 3 million to more than 10 million. "By the time they wake up, the government will have lost control of the Internet," said Mehdi Yahyanejad, executive director of NetFreedom Pioneers, a California-based nonprofit that focuses on Iran and develops freedom of information tools. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Strikes Syrian Arms Depot - Amos Harel and Jack Khoury
    Israel attacked an arms depot at a Syrian army military base near Damascus on Tuesday, the Syrian army confirmed. Eyewitnesses reported loud explosions in Al-Qutayfah, an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital, in an area where Scud missiles are stored. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Seeking to Combat Iranian Presence in Syria - Tamar Pileggi
    Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday told Ynet that while "it's no secret" that Israel is concerned by Iranian military presence in Syria, he said the Israeli government is "carrying out diplomatic, intelligence and security operations" to prevent Syria from "becoming an Iranian military base." Israel's security cabinet has been holding a series of meetings to discuss the activities of Hizbullah in Syria and Lebanon, the Syrian regime's renewed control of most of the country, and the future of a post-war Syria. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Israeli Bedouin Women Planned Terror Attack - Yoav Zitun and Ilana Curiel
    Israeli security services arrested two women from the Bedouin town of Lakiya - Rahma al-Assad and Tasnin al-Assad - for planning to carry out terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State, it was announced Monday. They were in contact with an ISIS terror operative from abroad, Sheikh Qassim, who asked Tasnin to examine security arrangements at three locations in Beersheba: Ben-Gurion University, the Kaye Academic College of Education, and the Central Bus Station. The two women also planned to travel to the Sinai Peninsula and join ISIS. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why a Palestinian Aid Cut Threat Makes Sense - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Aid to the PA is seen as necessary to prop up the only available interlocutor for peace with Israel. But the U.S. should be using its financial leverage to make it clear to Abbas that a quarter century of his organization holding the U.S. hostage can't continue.
        While UNRWA is credited with feeding and educating Palestinians, its main role is in maintaining the Arab refugees as a stateless people to perpetuate an ongoing threat to Israel's existence. UNRWA has been part of the effort to prevent Palestinian Arabs from being absorbed elsewhere, thereby allowing them to cling to their dream of destroying the Jewish state. UNRWA employees are often involved with Palestinian terror organizations, and its schools have been used to store Hamas weapons.
        American governments have tolerated this situation because they felt there was no alternative. But Trump appears to be unwilling to keep throwing good money after bad. He is right to demand that if the Palestinians want U.S. money, they must, at the very least, come back to the negotiating table and cease funding and fomenting terror. (JNS.org)
  • Free the Palestinians: End UNRWA Funding - Shoshana Bryen
    UNRWA is a huge impediment to actionable understanding in the Arab world - and among Palestinians - that Israel is a legitimate and permanent part of the Middle East. Making Israel real to people who delude themselves on that point is key to honest negotiations about the future of a Palestinian state.
        Unlike with the Palestinians, no one ever suggested Vietnamese refugees wait until the fall of communism in their homeland in order to return them there. Not even Syrian refugees in Europe are told they can't be resettled until the war is over and they return to Syria. Israel isn't going anywhere and it is lunacy for a UN agency to perpetuate the fraud that 1947 will come again.
        Today UNRWA claims about 30,000-50,000 original Palestinian refugees and 4,950,000 descendants of refugees. The writer is senior director of The Jewish Policy Center. (The Hill)
        See also Shut Down UNRWA - Editorial
    It is, of course, wise not to allow UNRWA to topple without first putting in place a plan to prevent humanitarian disaster in Gaza. But it has been abundantly clear for some time that UNRWA should be shut down. (Jerusalem Post)

From "Lone Wolf" to "Known Wolf": The Role of "Cultural Fuel" and "Personal Triggers" - Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • In September 2017, a 37-year-old Palestinian Arab known as non-threatening and friendly drew a pistol and killed three Israelis in Har Adar in the West Bank. This individual ostensibly did not fit the "profile" of a potential terrorist. "Lone wolf" terrorism represents a "privatization" of terror that can be carried out by literally anyone. Hence, the difficulty in early detection and prevention.
  • In Palestinian Arab lone wolf terror, two major elements are at work: First, a "fuel" of cultural acceptability and veneration of those carrying out the attacks. Second, a "trigger" that activates the fuel and results in an actual attack. Triggers can be personal, such as individual psychological or social distress, or they can be environmental, such as a signal or message in social media, or a "dog whistle" by the political leadership to act.
  • In the Har Adar attack, reports claim that the attacker was beset by serious family issues, with his wife leaving him a few weeks earlier. Yet, whether or not the intention was nationalistic, Palestinian media and officials will define the attack as "martyrdom" and declare the attacker a hero.
  • Palestinian leadership promotion and societal acceptance of false and racist narratives regarding Jews and Israel is multifaceted and broadly accepted in Palestinian society. This behavior, along with overt reinforcement and praise for attackers, creates a cultural atmosphere (the "fuel") that supports violence against Israelis.
  • The social acceptance of antipathy towards Jews (and Israelis) and the approval of violence as a means of "resistance" and rectifying perceived injustice may make the exploitation of terror the perfect vehicle for attackers with non-ideological grievances.
  • In a recent interview on Palestinian TV, one official stated that Palestinian minors commit terror acts not to hurt Israelis necessarily, but primarily to enhance their status in society, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

    The writer, a clinical psychologist, is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he directs the Israel-Arab studies program for overseas students.

        See also The Psychological Profile of the Palestinian "Lone Wolf" Terrorist - Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)