March 21, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

EU Raises $559 Million to Improve Gaza Drinking Water - Noa Landau (Ha'aretz)
    Countries and agencies meeting at a conference hosted by the EU in Brussels on Tuesday agreed to provide 456 million euros ($559 million) to the Palestinians to improve Gaza's drinking water.
    This represents 80% of the funds needed to construct a large desalinization facility to run on solar energy, as well as for refurbishment of pipelines and water storage facilities.
    Israel supported the decision. Sewage from Gaza flowing into the Mediterranean reaches the Israeli coast.

IDF Keeps Destroying Terror Tunnels from Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    In less than six months, the IDF has dealt with seven terror tunnels - six by Hamas and one by Islamic Jihad.
    Four of the tunnels were neutralized by engineering forces after approaching or touching Israeli territory, and the other three were bombed.
    In addition, the IDF has stepped up construction of an underground obstacle on the Gaza border in several places. The work is carried out six days a week, mostly by workers from Turkey, Romania and Moldova, as well as Israeli Arabs.
    A land battery has been erected at every construction site to defend the workers from sniper fire or antitank missiles, and each laborer is required to wear a helmet and a bullet-proof vest at all times.

Senate Rejects Bid to End U.S. Support for Saudi Campaign in Yemen (Reuters)
    The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 55-44 to reject a resolution seeking an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen's civil war.

Israeli Arabs Outnumber West Bank Palestinians at Arab American University in Jenin - Yaser Wakid (Ha'aretz)
    The 5,294 Israeli Arabs at the Arab American University in Jenin in the West Bank comprise a majority of the student body. Studies are conducted in English.

Scottish Muslim Group Withdraws from Anti-Racism March Because of Pro-Israel Group's Inclusion - Daniel Sugarman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    The Muslim Council of Scotland withdrew from the Stand Up to Racism march in Glasgow on Monday because the Confederation of Friends of Israel, Scotland would be taking part.
    Sammy Stein, chairman of Glasgow Friends of Israel, wrote in the Sunday Times:
    "To those who seek to ban peaceful participants in peaceful demonstrations, I'd urge that for once you put your hatred aside and try to be tolerant of others you do not agree with."
    "Why don't we join together and march in unison, standing up to racism together? Put your hatreds to one side, let's walk together in peace."
    See also Pro-Israeli Groups Blocked from Glasgow Anti-Racism Procession - Martin Williams (Glasgow Herald-Scotland)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Saudi Crown Prince Meets with Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt about Peace Plan - Mark Landler
    President Donald Trump welcomed Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the White House on Tuesday. Prince Mohammed had dinner with Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, special envoy for Middle East peace, who briefed the prince on the status of their peace plan for the Israelis and Palestinians. During his two-week trip, Prince Mohammed plans to travel to New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Houston. (New York Times)
  • Iranian Drones a Growing Threat to U.S. Persian Gulf Fleet - Megan Eckstein
    In the Persian Gulf, Iran has ceased its harassment of U.S. Navy ships, but the threat from Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles is growing. Rear Adm. Steve Koehler said the carrier strike group encounters large Iranian drones nearly every day. "Even if they're unarmed, it's a safety of flight problem." But Iran arming them would be a "whole new game....They're obviously looking at us...and they have the ability to track us."  (U.S. Naval Institute News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Will Palestinians Storm Gaza's Border with Israel? - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
    On March 30, 2018, Palestinians are planning to hold a "March of Return" to demand their "right of return" to Israel. The march is planned as the first stage in a series of protest activities to take place over the next few months. The declared tactical objective of the march is opposition to the U.S. initiative to resolve the Middle East conflict.
        Planned activities include a mass Palestinian presence along the Gaza-Israel border and violent disturbances, including possible attempts to break through the border fence. At the same time, pro-Palestinian organizations in Europe are arranging companion protests and a flotilla to Gaza. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also How Israel Should Prepare to Counter Hamas' Cognitive Campaign - Kobi Michael and Gabi Siboni
    Israel's cognitive counter-effort must be formulated around three principal messages: first - the Hamas leadership has failed in its management of Gaza, and has failed in its responsibility toward its citizens, preventing them from receiving the aid they need so badly to alleviate their humanitarian predicament. It attempts to absolve itself of any responsibility and channel the frustration to provoked friction with Israeli troops along the border, making cynical use of the civilian population and endangering it, as it did in previous wars when it used them as human shields.
        The second message: Israel will defend its borders and its sovereignty and prevent Palestinian civilians from damaging the border fence or crossing into Israel, in accordance with international law. Finally, Israel calls on the Hamas leadership and the international community to avoid endangering the lives of the Palestinian population unnecessarily, warns the Hamas leadership of the price it may have to pay for its direct responsibility for clashes that could develop, and warns Gaza's citizens of the unnecessary risk to human life in the service of Hamas interests.
        Kobi Michael is former deputy director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Col. (ret.) Gabi Siboni is director of the Military and Strategic Affairs Program at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Abbas Wants to Create an Emergency in the Region - Yaakov Lappin
    Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the founders of the security coordination between Israel and the PA, said the attack on a Palestinian Authority convoy in Gaza last week was aimed at the head of the PA's General Intelligence service, Majed Faraj. "This was a warning, saying the Gazan public is not willing to let the PA back."
        "Abbas will now say, 'We won't go back to Gaza, but if we don't go back, Gaza will not get any money either.' Abbas believes this will cause a lot of unrest in Gaza, which will harm Israel. He wants to create an emergency in the region. This was also Arafat's famous theory. If things are too quiet, create a situation...that will not give Israel the chance to say that things are going well."  (JNS)
  • Carnival of Hatred: Israel Apartheid Week on Campus - Amit Deri
    This week is "Israel Apartheid Week" at universities across the U.S. and Canada. It is an anti-Semitic hate fest, cynically marketed as a human rights campaign. It will be a week in which sanctimonious but actually clueless people will shout empty slogans and blame Israel for all the evil in the world. It will be a week where anyone who dares to speak up and expose these lies will be shouted down.
        While, under Muslim rule, members of the LGBT community are thrown from rooftops and women are murdered in honor killings, there will be no protests against these horrific acts. This glaring selectivity of concern shows that the real focus of Apartheid Week is on hatred of Israel, not concern for the human rights of oppressed people.
        Countering this tidal wave of ignorance and venomous hatred is no small task. Our belief is that the biggest mistake would be to walk away, letting the haters have their moment unquestioned and unchallenged. The writer is the CEO of Reservists on Duty. (Jerusalem Post)

Inside Israel's Secret Raid on Syria's Nuclear Reactor - Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv (Politico)
  • Eleven years after Israeli air force jets bombed the clandestine nuclear reactor in next-door Syria being built with the help of North Korea, Israel's military censor is finally lifting the veil of secrecy on the operation. The Sept. 6, 2007, raid was conducted near the remote desert city of Deir ez-Zur. Before today, Israel has never officially acknowledged its existence.
  • Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo asked in an interview with us: "Where were the Americans? North Korea is a highly important target for them. And it still isn't clear whether Assad was running the nuclear project, or was it the North Koreans?" He added that he has doubts that Syria was going to keep the plutonium, or perhaps it was going to be shipped to North Korea as a supply of which the West would be unaware. Pardo's questions raise another: What else might the CIA be missing in North Korea, in Iran, or almost anywhere on Earth?
  • The Israeli air force attacked deep in enemy territory, enjoying protection by sophisticated electronic jamming that blinded Syria's air defenses. The Syrian facility was almost identical to the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea that produced plutonium for nuclear bombs, according to Israeli intelligence officials, and it was only weeks away from beginning to produce highly radioactive materials.
  • Deir ez-Zur was captured in 2014 by ISIS forces and held for more than three years. Just imagine if ISIS had gotten its hands on the plutonium.
  • After the revelation in 2003 that Gaddafi's Libya was dangerously advanced in its nuclear work, Israel's military intelligence chiefs increased their efforts to look for a nuclear project in Syria. Mossad operatives broke into an apartment maintained in Vienna by Ibrahim Othman, director of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission, and found a digital device, which they copied. Photos were found showing Othman in the company of some North Korean scientists that were shot inside the structure in Deir ez-Zur, and which clearly revealed that it was a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium.

        See also Israel Will Not Allow Its Foes to Develop Nuclear Weapons - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert related: "It's only rarely that a Mossad chief calls and says: 'I have to see you.' The Mossad chief arrives and sits in my office. They put on the table an intelligence finding of the type rarely encountered in this country....[The threat] at the existential level is of an unprecedented order of magnitude."
        In the background was "the Begin doctrine" and the precedent of the bombing of the reactor in Iraq in 1981. Prime Minister Menachem Begin established the doctrine whereby Israel will not allow any of its foes in the Middle East to develop nuclear weapons. (Ha'aretz)

        See also U.S. Diplomat: Bombing of Syria's Reactor Was "a Blessing for Humanity" - Tamar Ben-Ozer
    James Jeffrey, a former senior American diplomat, told Israel's Army Radio on Wednesday: "The Israeli authorities had been working with the U.S. government for months before the site was struck....Very early it was clear to us that this was a North Korean-enabled plutonium enrichment reactor that was clearly designed to advance a nuclear weapons program."
        Jeffrey believes the strike had a deterring effect on other countries' nuclear plans: "Everybody in the region saw that if you are trying to get an illicit nuclear weapons program and you come very close - we're talking about weeks, if not sooner, in the Syria case - it is quite possible that you will be facing military actions. I think this had a significant effect on Iran's calculations, and possibly other countries' calculations....It was a blessing for the Middle East and for humanity that the reactor was destroyed."  (Jerusalem Post)