April 9, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Missiles Strike Syrian Airbase Used by Iran - Sune Engel Rasmussen and Rory Jones (Wall Street Journal)
    Missiles struck Syria's Tiyas (T-4) airbase near Palmyra in Syria early Monday, killing at least 14 military personnel, including three Syrian commanders and several Iranians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
    The Israeli military in February accused the Syrian regime of allowing Iran to set up a base there to supply Hizbullah with weapons.
    Some missiles hit the maintenance section of the base, damaging a number of drones, Syrian pro-regime media reported.
    Israel in February shot down an Iranian drone that had originated at the base.

Yemeni Rebels Target Saudi Oil Industry - Jeremy Binnie (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly)
    The Yemeni Houthi rebel group claimed to have carried out three rocket attacks on Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) facilities in 10 days and has also been accused of attacking a Saudi oil tanker on April 3.

MSNBC Presents Hamas Propaganda as Fact - Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
    MSNBC's Chris Hayes reported on April 4 that Israel was "pick[ing] off" unarmed demonstrators in Gaza and insisted that 750 Palestinians had been wounded by Israeli live fire on March 30, despite the fact that the unconfirmed number was supplied by the Hamas terror group, which has a long history of manipulating casualty statistics.
    Hayes stated: "IDF troops in sniper positions rained down bullets on unarmed people again and again and again," and described the Palestinians' actions at the border as a "sit-in."
    Nowhere does Hayes point out that the U.S., EU, Canada and Israel have all listed Hamas as a terror organization, making it an unreliable source at best.

ISIS Attempts to Re-emerge in Syria - Sarah El Deeb and Philip Issa (AP-Military Times)
    Despite being kicked out of the main towns they once occupied in Syria, Islamic State is showing signs of a revival.
    ISIS still has cells present in all areas, said Mohammed Abu Adel, commander of the U.S.-backed Manbij Military Council, the joint Kurdish-Arab body administering this northern Syrian town.
    Last week, 400 Islamic State fighters crossed the Euphrates River and attacked Boukamal, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killing 11 pro-government fighters while losing five of their own.

Hizbullah Operations in Columbia Revealed (Ynet News)
    Hizbullah's presence and activities have been confirmed by the Columbian police after a three-year investigation carried out jointly with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Spanish language news website Infobae reported.
    Hizbullah is involved in drug dealing, selling and exporting stolen vehicles, and money laundering, alongside recruiting locals for future terror-related activities.
    Supporters are recruited at local mosques and community centers and they are sent to Lebanon with "scholarships."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Chemical Attack Kills Scores of Syrian Civilians - Chris Graham and Charlotte Krol
    A poison gas attack on a rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta near Damascus late Saturday killed at least 49 people, Syrian opposition activists and rescuers said Sunday. The White Helmets civil defense workers said more than 150 were killed and more than 1,000 were being treated for exposure to chemical weapons. Photos showed dead children foaming from the mouth, the hallmarks of a chemical attack. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Slams Gaza Leaders Who Send Children to Border Clashes
    U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt said Thursday about the Gaza clashes: "The United States strongly urges protest leaders to communicate loudly and clearly that protestors should march peacefully; should abstain from all forms of violence; should remain outside the 500-meter buffer zone; and should not approach the border fence in any way or any location. We condemn leaders and protestors who call for violence or who send protestors - including children - to the fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed."  (State Department)
        See also U.S. Blocks UN Call for Gaza Probe
    The U.S. blocked a UN Security Council statement supporting the right of Palestinians to "demonstrate peacefully" on the border with Israel and calling for an independent investigation into the deaths of Palestinians on two consecutive Fridays. Nine Gazans were killed during last Friday's protest, according to Palestinian sources. (JTA)
        See also PA Calls for Invalidation of American Vetoes at Security Council - Khaled Abu Toameh (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: UN Ignores Chemical Attack on Civilians in Syria - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Kan radio on Sunday, "I operate out of the assumption that ultimately Israel will have to deal alone, both with the threat in the North and with the threat in the South." The U.S. is Israel's "main strategic ally, but it has its own considerations and we live here in the Middle East."
        Speaking after scores of civilians were killed in a chemical attack in Syria on Saturday, he noted that the UN and the Arab League have not condemned these deaths. "I have not heard the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak of it. We have not seen the UN Security Council and the Arab League convene. Over this weekend hundreds were also killed in Yemen, but that doesn't interest anyone," while when Israel kills Palestinians in self-defense there is an immediate outcry. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Video - British Col. Kemp: "This Is Not a Peaceful Demonstration" - Tovah Lazaroff
    Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, came to see the protests at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday. "One thing people don't appreciate if they haven't seen it is that this is not a peaceful demonstration, as is often portrayed by Hamas and is what the media often put out....This is a deliberate and specific intent by a major terrorist organization - recognized around the world as terrorists - to penetrate the border of the State of Israel and kill innocent civilians on the other side of it. And the IDF has no option other than to use lethal force to stop such a dangerous threat."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Behind the Smoke from Gaza - Amos Harel
    Thousands of Hamas operatives were ordered to appear at the Israeli border with their families. Under cover of the thousands of people, Hamas fielded small groups of men to try to breach the fence and let hundreds of Palestinians into Israel. This is the context in which sharpshooters were permitted to shoot people described as organizers of attacks. The army says Palestinian operatives came close to the fence to lay explosives. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Advisor Condemns Hamas for Media Martyrdom - Sending Civilians to Die for Propaganda Purposes - Itamar Marcus
    Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Advisor on Islamic Affairs and Supreme Sharia Judge, on Friday in Ramallah accused Hamas of deliberately encouraging civilians to endanger themselves: "You Palestinians, our people, go and die so that we'll go to the TV and media with strong declarations." Al-Habbash claimed that Palestinians are not being fooled by Hamas anymore. (Palestinian Media Watch)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • IDF: Our Activity on Gaza Border Is Preventing War - Nahum Barnea
    An IDF officer on the Gaza border explained: "Hamas is in serious distress. It has no achievements. The Qataris and Iranians are transferring some money, but apart from that it's in complete isolation."
        "There were armed cells among the protestors that wanted to break through the [security] fence to set it on fire, to kidnap soldiers and perhaps break into one of the kibbutzim. There are several people within the crowd, members of Hamas' elite Nukhba force, who are hiding guns, knives, explosives under their clothes. Their intention was to turn into a fighting force."
        "Let's assume that 400 people had broken through the border fence. We would have had to stop them with fire. At least 50 of them would have been killed....They would have had to retaliate. We would have had to retaliate. In fact, we are preventing war through our surgical activity."  (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Steers Gaza Protests Away from Gandhi-Style Vision - Mehul Srivastava
    When Gaza journalist Ahmad Abu Artema penned a Facebook post wondering "what would happen if 200,000 peaceful protesters broke through" the border with Israel, he envisaged a Gandhi-style, non-violent demonstration that would include football matches, weddings and music. The protests, however, quickly slipped out of their hands, and into the grasp of the most powerful force in Gaza - Hamas.
        For Hamas, the march presented an opportunity. "Suddenly, they can shift the blame for the suffering of the people of Gaza back to the Israelis," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of politics at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. "They are the number one winners of this march."
        Mr. Artema has found himself sidelined, fretting that the actions of the Palestinians violated his basic principles - stay away from the border fence, do not provoke the Israelis and remain non-violent. (Financial Times-UK)
  • The Hamas Gimmick that Failed - Yoni Ben Menachem
    The "Friday of Tires" protest failed to impede the actions of IDF marksmen on Israel's border with Gaza and the Palestinians did not manage to infiltrate the territory of Israel in vast numbers. Moreover, fewer participated in the second Friday event. The IDF forces at the Gaza border were prepared for the burning of thousands of tires. They used water cannons, fans, and fire hoses, together with aerial drones to overcome the heavy smokescreen.
        Hamas tried to boost participation by promising financial incentives to those who took part in the "return" campaign and to those who were injured. Families of those killed would receive $3,000, the seriously injured would get $500, while moderate injuries would mean $200. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • In recent weeks, Palestinians have protested at the Gaza border with Israel, demanding the right to return to the territory their ancestors once inhabited but lost long ago through a combination of emigration, military defeats, and strategic blunders connected to the Arabs' repeatedly failed attempts to expel the Jews from the land also of Jewish ancestry.
  • When protesters have turned violent and either tried breaching the border or posing harm to Israelis on the other side, Israeli forces have responded with fire.
  • Israel has nothing to gain from clashes along the border. Indeed, it has every reason to avoid bloodshed.
  • It is Hamas that seeks to inflame tensions, encouraging protesters to test the border, despite Israel's warnings that it will defend its territory against invasion. Hamas leaders are sending soldiers to whip up the crowd and push them all, civilians included, toward a heightened confrontation.
  • Israel did not seek this confrontation. It pulled out of Gaza unilaterally more than a decade ago, continues to supply the enclave with necessities of life, and routinely withstands attacks from Gazan territory.
  • Israel has long been ready to negotiate peace, but there are still no responsible partners it can negotiate with.