January 29, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

41 Percent of Palestinian Terrorists Freed in Exchange for Captive Soldier Gilad Shalit Have Returned to Terrorism - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
    420 of the 1,027 Palestinian terrorists released in exchange for captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit in November 2011 have returned to terrorism and violence, according to a senior security official.
    The major damage comes from the freed prisoners who were deported to or sent back to Gaza, beyond Israel's reach.
    Prisoners released in the Shalit deal have seized control of Hamas in Gaza and are hatching plans for terrorist attacks in the West Bank.
    Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza who himself was released in the deal, is thinking up plans for another abduction. Hamas' fingerprints are all over many of the attacks that Israel managed to thwart in the past year.

Israel to Supply Electricity for Gaza Sewage Treatment, Water Desalination - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    Israel's Water Authority signed an agreement with the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company last week to supply electricity to operate a sewage treatment facility in northern Gaza.
    The $75 million project was funded by the World Bank and several donor countries. The facility is to become fully operational within two months and will serve 300,000 Gazans.
    Israel will also supply power to the $40 million EU-funded Khan Yunis desalination plant.
    Preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza "is a clear Israeli interest on the security, diplomatic and moral levels," said Alon Shoster, head of Israel's neighboring Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council.

Israel Drills Worst-Case Terror Scenario - Keren Setton (Xinhua-China)
    Earlier this month, 1,000 doctors, scientists and rescue service members from 35 countries, including China, the U.S., Germany and Spain, participated in the 5th International Conference on Preparedness & Response to Emergencies held by the Israeli military home front command and the country's health ministry.
    At the end of the conference, a mass casualty terror attack was simulated at a soccer stadium. Casualties were triaged by medical personnel and transported to a nearby hospital.
    Coordination between units that do not work together on a daily basis is a critical element in the response to such attacks.

Overseas Tourism to Eilat Up 69 Percent This Winter - Michal Raz-Chaimovich (Globes)
    130,000 tourists from overseas are expected in Eilat this year during the winter season, compared with 77,000 in the previous year.
    The number of weekly direct flights to Eilat increased from four to 40-50 over the past three years, including 17 from Russia, 10 from Germany, and 12 from Poland.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • A Holocaust Awareness Awakening in Saudi Arabia - Robert Satloff
    In December, I led a delegation from The Washington Institute on a visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where among the high-ranking officials we met was Dr. Mohammed Al Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League. The MWL has long been cited as the key facilitator of Saudi Arabia's global effort to export a radical, hate-filled, anti-West, anti-Semitic version of Islam. Al Issa, a former Saudi justice minister, was appointed its head in August 2016.
        Taking his lead from Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who has vowed to cleanse his country of extremism and return it to "moderate Islam," Al Issa seems to have a mandate to transform the MWL from an organization synonymous with extremism to one that preaches tolerance.
        I was skeptical, but in our meeting, Al Issa struck an impressive note, underscoring a commitment to religious outreach and speaking fondly of his recent visit to a Paris synagogue. When I returned home, I wrote Al Issa, invited him to Washington to address my institute and urged him to tour the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during his visit. He surprised me by welcoming my invitation and agreeing to visit the Museum.
        A few days later, with International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaching on Jan. 27, I asked Al Issa whether he would send a letter to the Museum's director, Sara Bloomfield, for the occasion. Again, Al Issa surprised me, labeling the Holocaust "an incident that shook humanity to the core."  The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Daily News)
        See also below Observations: Statement on Holocaust Remembrance from Head of Saudi-Based Muslim World League - Dr. Mohammad Al Issa (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Muslim World League Chief: Holocaust Atrocities Shook Humanity to Its Core (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Muslim World League: Holocaust Is a Crime that No One Can Deny or Undermine (Al Arabiya)
  • Israel Tries Arabic Outreach - Rory Jones and Nazih Osseiran
    Israel is using the Arabic language to seek common ground with Tehran’s enemies. With 1.2 million followers on his Arabic Facebook page and more than 181,000 on Twitter, Maj. Avichay Adraee is the face of the Israeli army's messaging campaign. For Israel, social media has become a way to engage with Arabs and reinforce a growing alignment with Sunni Muslim Arab states.
        In one of Adraee's most intense social-media exchanges, a fighter from Hizbullah last year tweeted a picture of himself in uniform with a message that his group was going to conquer northern Israel. Adraee responded: "If you dare, we will surprise you."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Poland to Open Dialogue on Polish Holocaust Bill - Noa Landau
    Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke on Sunday by phone with Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki and agreed to open an "immediate dialogue" over a bill passed by the lower house in the Polish parliament on Friday that seeks to criminalize linking Poland to Nazi war crimes in the Holocaust. (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu Responds to "Baseless" Charges over Labor Migrants Policy
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "Genuine refugees and their families will remain in Israel. We have no obligation to allow illegal labor migrants who are not refugees to remain here. They will be sent to another country....International law and the decision of the High Court of Justice here in Israel allow us to send illegal labor migrants beyond the borders of the state."
        "The designated country to which they are being sent has already absorbed 180,000 refugees under the aegis and supervision of the UN, because the UN considers it to be one of the safest countries in Africa. Therefore, this campaign [against Israel's policy] is baseless and absurd, especially today."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • IDF: Lebanon Has Become One Large Iranian Missile Factory - Anna Ahronheim
    IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis has warned that "Lebanon has become - both by its own actions and omissions and by a blind eye from many members of the international community - one large missile factory." Writing on the Lebanese opposition website Ahewar on Sunday, he noted that Hizbullah has built "terror infrastructure and factories to manufacture weapons under the nose of the Lebanese government."
        "The past year has been further proof that Hizbullah serves as an operational arm of Iran. In every place where there was instability, we discovered the fingerprint of Iran and everywhere we discovered Hizbullah's involvement."
        Some 200 villages in south Lebanon have been turned into "military strongholds." "The ordinary [Lebanese] citizen will be mistaken to think that this process turns Lebanon into a fortress. It is nothing more than a barrel of gunpowder on which he, his family, and his property are sitting....The future of Lebanese citizens is in the hands of a dictator who sits in Tehran. I think it is right to warn the residents of Lebanon of the Iranian game in their security and in their future."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Arrested Trying to Infiltrate Jewish West Bank Community in IDF-Style Uniform - Anna Ahronheim
    Two Palestinians wearing IDF-style uniforms were seen near the Jewish community of Itamar in the West Bank on Sunday night, according to the IDF, which found 6 firebombs and binoculars nearby. One was arrested but the second escaped. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Anti-Zionism Is Just Anti-Semitism by Another Name - Dani Dayan
    On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jews are firmly back on the agendas of racial, religious, and political extremists. The increasing acceptance and elevation of anti-Zionists across the world is cause for particular concern. They deny the Jewish people, and only the Jewish people, the right to live in freedom and security in their homeland. Yet the inalienable right to self-determination is the one guarantee that Jews can never become victims to genocidal regimes again. The writer is Consul General of Israel in New York. (Newsweek)
  • Bill Maher Defends Trump's Jerusalem Decision - Ian Schwartz
    On Jan. 26, HBO political talk show host Bill Maher defended President Trump's decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Jerusalem "has been their capital since 1949, it is where their government is. They've won all the wars thrown against them. I don't understand why they don't get to have their capital where they want."
        Maher asked why is it always up to Israel to come up with a two-state solution, and when they do it is rejected. "The essential thing that is making the two-state solution impossible is that one party is perpetually hostile, a coiled snake," Maher said. "Israel gave back Gaza and what was the result? Did they use the funds to build schools and hospitals? No. They used them to build tunnels to get weapons and they invited Hamas in to shell Israel across the border."  (RealClearPolitics)

Statement on Holocaust Remembrance from Head of Saudi-Based Muslim World League - Dr. Mohammad Al Issa (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • "On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp...I confirm...our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person."
  • "This human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism won't be forgotten by history, or meet the approval of anyone, except criminal Nazis or their genre. True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever."
  • "One would ask, who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime."
  • "We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished....Islam...decrees that anyone who assaults and kills an innocent soul will be held accountable as if he has killed all people."