April 27, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Defense Secretary Warns of Israel-Iran Military Confrontation in Syria - Joyce Karam (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that Iran is not only expanding and strengthening its presence in Syria but also "bringing advanced weapons for Hizbullah through Syria."
    Israel, he said, "will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back."
    Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said the Iranian presence in Syria was becoming a "hugely explosive issue."
    "The threat is unacceptable and Israel can't continue to watch it grow. What it means is they [Israelis] need to do something," and so "we started to see more aggressive, more risky strikes."

Report: U.S. Bolsters Military Presence in Syria - David Enders (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    Reports emerged this week that the U.S. had been reinforcing their positions near Hasakeh in northern Syria.
    There are also Danish and French special forces in northern Syria near the city of Kobani.
    There were reports on Thursday that the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would resume operations against ISIS after having withdrawn to fight a Turkish military incursion in Afrin.
    The SDF and People's Protection Units (YPG) control about a quarter of Syria.
    See also Mattis Expects "Re-energized" Effort Against Islamic State in Syria (Reuters)

80 Percent of Gazans Killed at Israel Border Riots Were Affiliated with Terrorists (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    A new report released Thursday revealed that 32 of the 40 Palestinians (80%) killed during the "Great Return March" events since March 30 were terrorist operatives or affiliated individuals.
    The findings clearly show that terrorist operatives and Palestinians affiliated with terrorist organizations play a key role in the front lines of the demonstrations near Israel's border fence.

Top Hamas Official: Gaza Border Protests Will Continue after May 15 (Algemeiner)
    Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas Political Bureau, said Wednesday that the ongoing Gaza border demonstrations - expected to reach their peak on May 15 - would continue afterward, Maariv reported.
    Haniyeh also predicted that the demonstrations would spread to the West Bank.

Classified U.S. Report Says Palestinian Refugees Number 30,000 - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    The U.S. State Department continues to keep classified a report on Palestinian refugees from the Obama administration that determines that their actual number is around 30,000.
    Earlier this month, more than 50 members of Congress called on President Trump to release the report, as is mandated by U.S. law.

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Israeli Cyber Experts Protect UK Banks - Rosa Doherty (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Israeli cyber-security experts are helping to defend major banks and financial centers in Britain, BICOM, the Israel and Middle East think tank, reported Wednesday.
    One major Israeli cyber security firm said it currently worked with three of the four major UK banks.
    Another Israeli firm reported that it was working to secure critical infrastructure including hospitals and oil and gas rigs.
    See also UK-Israel Relations after Brexit: Cyber Security (BICOM)

How Israel's Arab Tech Community Grew 1000% in 10 Years - Karim Fanadka (Forbes)
    With a collaborative effort between the non-profit sector, the government, and the tech industry, the number of Arab engineers went from 350 to 4,000 - a 1000% increase - in the past decade.
    The writer, from a small Arab village in northern Israel, manages 50 software engineers for Micro Focus information technology.

At 70, Israel's Economy Exceeds Expectations - Yoram Ettinger (JNS)
    In 1948, conventional wisdom considered the newly re-established Jewish state insolvent economically and indefensible militarily, a basket case.
    In Israel - Island of Success, Adam Reuter and Noga Kainan provide critical data on Israel's surging economy.
    In the 30 years from 1987 to 2017, Israel's population doubled; its per capita GDP went from $8,000 to $41,000; its exports, from $10 billion to $102 billion; independent energy resources, from 4% to 65%; life expectancy, from 75 to 82 years.
    Since the year 2000, Israel's economy has grown 65%, the second best among OECD countries.
    Israel's unemployment: 4%, the lowest in 40 years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • At UN, Israel Shows New Evidence of Iran's Expanding Foothold in Syria - Ben Evansky
    At the Security Council on Thursday, Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon released a previously classified Israeli intelligence document showing a satellite photograph of an Iranian-run induction and recruitment center close to Syria's capital Damascus. "We are presenting this image to the world so you can understand the depth of Iran's involvement in Syria....It is at this base, just over five miles from Damascus, where [Shi'ite fighters] are trained to commit acts of terror in Syria and across the region."  (Fox News)
  • Iran's Khamenei Urges Muslim Nations to Unite Against U.S.
    "The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist....All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies," said Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, state television reported on Thursday. (Reuters)
        See also Iran Supreme Leader Says Arab States that Befriend Israel "Bring Misery to Muslims"
    Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday: "Friendship with the unbelievers brings misery to Muslims, like the friendship some Muslim states have with the Zionist regime, exchanging kind words and establishing economic or political relations."  (IRNA-Iran)
  • Haley: Hamas Uses Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields
    U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Thursday: "A week ago today, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Hamas for its use of human shields. We were pleased to see this action. It's difficult to think of a more cowardly act - even for a terrorist - than hiding behind innocent civilians. The use of human shields deliberately advantages those with no regard for human life, and disadvantages those who seek to minimize civilian casualties."
        "Hamas has exploited and endangered the very Palestinian people it claims to represent by locating rocket launchers near schools, apartment buildings, hotels, churches, and UN facilities....The use of civilians to intentionally shield otherwise lawful military targets from attack is a war crime."
        "Iran is the patron and protector of many of these groups that fight from behind the bodies of innocent civilians. Groups that Iran has sponsored or supported have perfected the tactic of using human shields....This is part of Iran's overarching efforts to destabilize the region - efforts that include illegal weapons shipments to Yemen, and invading Israeli air space with armed drones from Syrian territory."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • Danon at UN: Israel Will Defend Its Citizens
    Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Security Council on Thursday, "There is nothing peaceful about terrorists firing over the fence at our positions" from Gaza. Israel had an obligation to protect its citizens and do so while minimizing civilian casualties. "Israel will never apologize for defending our country....It is Hamas that is fully responsible for every Palestinian injury and death."
        Hamas' goal was to infiltrate Israel's territory and harm as many innocent people as possible. Danon asked: How would you react if armed terrorists were marching on the border of Kuwait? What would you do to protect the people of Sweden, or Bolivia, if a violent mob threatened to infiltrate? "You would defend yourselves. We will do the same."
        Iran was the common thread behind Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Assad regime in Syria, he said, noting the 80,000 Shia militants in Syria under Iranian control. "The [Iranian] regime proudly parades its missiles in city centers. Written on the sides of these missiles are calls to destroy Israel." Israel would not allow regimes that sought its destruction to acquire nuclear weapons. "Period."  (United Nations)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ten Israeli Youth in Pre-Army Program Die in Flash Flood - Almog Ben Zikri
    Ten Israelis - nine girls and one boy, all around 18 years old and part of a pre-army program - were killed by flash floods on Thursday during a hike in a canyon south of the Dead Sea. "Israel grieves the promising young lives that were cut off by this tragedy," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "We embrace the families with grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hurting, Shocked and Grieving: The Victims of the Flash Flood - Moshe Cohen and Maayan Haroni
    One of the injured described the disaster to a doctor at Beersheba's Soroka Hospital. The doctor told Kan news: "They entered the river but not in its narrowest area. They started to walk but then suddenly heard the flood coming. And then the girl described a shocking scene - 'We all started running forward but the water managed to get the last of us.'"  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Can Meet the S-300 Challenge - Oded Granot
    Russian President Putin's response to the recent U.S.-led strike on Syrian President Assad's chemical arsenal was delivered Wednesday by Moscow's Defense Ministry, which said that Russia will "soon" provide Syria with its advanced S-300 missile defense system. The delivery of advanced missile defense systems to Syria is likely to pose an issue for the Israeli Air Force with respect to maintaining Israel's stated red lines in Syria, namely preventing Iran from entrenching itself militarily there and preventing the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
        The S-300 is, to a large extent, outdated and Russia ceased its production about two years ago. According to foreign reports, the IAF already has an operational response to S-300 missiles. Israel has asserted that it would not hesitate to target S-300 batteries if they were used against its forces. (Israel Hayom)
  • Two Palestinians with Pipe Bomb Arrested at Jerusalem Checkpoint
    Israeli security forces arrested two West Bank Palestinians with a pipe bomb at the Ein Yael checkpoint in southern Jerusalem on Thursday night. In northern Jerusalem, shots were fired Thursday night at an Israeli military outpost near the West Bank community of Beit El. A number of houses were damaged by the gunfire. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • In Gaza, Hamas Is the Oppressor - Not Israel - Michael Levin
    For four straight Fridays, Palestinians have attacked Israel's border security fence "with explosives, firebombs and other means," AP reported. What's happening on the Gaza-Israel border is not a peaceful protest. Some are violent and dangerous terrorists who want to tear down Israel's security fence to make it easy to attack Israeli communities less than a mile from Gaza.
        Acting to defend their nation, Israeli forces have killed Palestinian attackers along the border despite their best efforts to use the minimal force required. No nation on Earth would welcome terrorist murderers to cross its borders to take the lives of innocent civilians. And if terrorists assaulted any other border on the planet, the number of attackers killed would undoubtedly be much higher.
        What the Palestinians and their supporters fail to acknowledge is that the true oppressor of Palestinians in Gaza is not Israel, which completely withdrew from the territory in 2005. The real oppressor of Palestinians is Hamas itself. Hamas vows to destroy Israel, regularly launches rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, and spends millions of dollars building cross-border tunnels for terrorists to infiltrate Israel. (Fox News)
  • Former U.S. Peace Negotiator: Conditions for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Are Not Present - Aaron David Miller interviewed by Michael Young
    Since leaving government in 2003, my analysis of the peace process has been annoyingly and consistently negative. Partly, that was because I was no longer charged with coming up with ideas that I knew could never work. But largely it was based on what I saw with my own eyes and that I still see today.
        You want serious negotiations that might have a chance of producing a two-state solution? Then you need three things that have never been present in the history of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. First, leaders who are masters of their political houses, not prisoners of them and their respective ideologies, and have vision and pragmatism. Second, a sense of real urgency - pain and gain - which makes the benefits of changing the status quo more attractive than the risks of maintaining it. And finally, a third party, likely the U.S., that has the will and skill to serve as a broker if both sides are willing to get serious. None of these factors is present today.
        The lesson of my years working on negotiations is stark and compelling. Every breakthrough - between Egypt and Israel, between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and Jordan - was initially reached in secret, without the knowledge of the U.S. The moral of the story is that you can't make bricks without straw. Local ownership is critical.
        Aaron David Miller, currently vice-president for new initiatives and director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, served in the State Department for two decades as a negotiator on Middle Eastern issues. (Carnegie Middle East Center-Lebanon)
  • Irish Sinn Fein Has Nursed a Bitter Streak of Anti-Semitism - Ruth Dudley Edwards
    [Sinn Fein is a left-wing Irish republican political party founded in 1905 that is active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and has historically been associated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). (Wikipedia)]
        The cult that is Sinn Fein trains its gullible followers to be virulent anti-Semites. They fly Palestinian flags much less as a mark of their compassion for Palestinians than as a sign of their hatred of Israelis. The Republic of Ireland was pro-Zionist in the 1920s and '30s, when it was seen as a plucky anti-British movement for self-determination. But once the state came into being, public opinion shifted to seeing it as a colony imposed by the British on the native population.
        Ignoring Jews' ancestral rights, Israelis became the bad guys and Irish political leaders unthinkingly endorsed policies that would lead to the total destruction of Israel. In the EU, Ireland became one of Israel's harshest critics. In 2006, Aengus O Snodaigh TD, the party's international affairs and human rights spokesperson, described Israel - the only functioning democracy in the Middle East - as "one of the most abhorrent and despicable regimes on the planet."  (Belfast Telegraph-UK)
        See also Sinn Fein Criticizes Irish UNIFIL Commander's Attendance at Israel Independence Day Event in Jerusalem
    Sinn Fein spokesperson on defense Aengus O Snodaigh TD questioned Irish Minister of Defense Paul Kehoe in the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday about the attendance of Irish Army Maj.-Gen. Michael Beary, commander of UNIFIL in Lebanon, at an event in Jerusalem to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Israel. On April 18, Beary tweeted about the event, using the words "great display" and including a photo of Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the crowd.
        O Snodaigh said, "Serious questions need to be asked as to why an Irish soldier and head of the peacekeeping forces meant to stop Israeli forces attacking Lebanon again and killing Lebanese and Palestinian citizens in the area would attend such an event."  (Sinn Fein-Ireland)
  • Is Palestinian Terrorism the Result of Desperation? - Fred Maroun
    There are hundreds of groups worldwide that are actively seeking independence. They include Armenians in Azerbaijan; the Jumma people and the Bengali Hindus in Bangladesh; a dozen different groups in Burma; Mongolians, Tibetans, and Uyghurs in China; Abkhazians, Ossetians, and Armenians in Georgia; seven groups in India; and many others. If any of these groups was offered a state, as Palestinians were offered several times already, it is highly unlikely that they would have turned it down, yet terrorism is very rare among those groups.
        Palestinian terrorism continues, in fact, because Palestinians are not desperate and can afford, due to international aid, to hold off on accepting any solution until they can get what they have always openly demanded - the destruction of the Jewish state.
        Arabs had a choice from the start, and they still do: accept the Jewish state and benefit from Israel's contributions, or fight the Jews tooth and nail. It is unfortunate for Arabs that they chose the latter. The Arab world is very slowly moving towards acceptance of Israel, but the support that the Arab world still provides to Palestinian extremists is an important obstacle to resolution of the conflict. The writer is a Canadian of Arab origin. (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • Remembering Israel's War of Independence - Andy Gotlieb
    Samuel Klausner, 94, a sociology professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, had been a U.S. Air Force navigator during World War II. He was active in Zionist youth groups in the U.S. and began working with the Haganah in 1947. Ultimately, Klausner was assigned to an air transport command unit that flew to Czechoslovakia to pick up arms and Messerschmitt planes.
        Klausner recalled manually dropping mortar shells out of planes that were the equivalent of Piper Cubs. Another time, Klausner was aboard a bombing mission of Damascus, Syria, where the crew simply pushed 100-pound bombs out the door. He notes that of the 1,500 U.S. soldiers who served in Israel's War of Independence, 1,300 returned home. (Philadelphia Jewish Exponent)
  • Paralyzed Man Finishes London Marathon Aided by Israeli Robotic Suit - Tamar Ben-Ozer
    Simon Kindleysides, 34, of Norfolk, England, became the first paralyzed man to finish the London Marathon on Monday. He walked the entire 26.2 mile course in 36 hours with the help of the ReWalk robotic exoskeleton suit, developed in Israel.
        In 2012, Claire Lomas became the first paraplegic to complete the course (with the help of ReWalk) in 17 days. (Jerusalem Post)

Britain Must Take a Stand Against Iran's Terrorist Proxies - Gen. (ret.) Sir Richard Dannatt (Telegraph-UK)
  • The risk of a new major war in the Middle East instigated by Iran has grown exponentially in recent days. Iran, animated by its own version of radical Islam, has explicitly sought Israel's destruction since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It has backed up its religious fervor with a pragmatic and deadly strategy on the ground.
  • Iran deploys terrorist proxies drawn from Shia populations across the region - Hizbullah in Lebanon and Shia militias linked to Tehran in Iraq. Iran uses these proxies to establish a brutal monopoly on power, coupled to a strategy of slow but eventual total political domination.
  • Hizbullah's strength today, with over 100,000 missiles of ever increasing accuracy pointed at Israel, is an indictment of the international community's failure to make good its assurances to Israel. The UN force in Lebanon has failed.
  • Israel is justifiably paranoid that an Iranian-controlled Hizbullah, embedded among the civilians of Lebanon, has the capability to hold Israel's civilians hostage through its huge arsenal of missiles. For the same reason, it cannot tolerate Iranian bases in Syria.
  • In the absence of a concerted international effort to rein in Iran in the region, we must be prepared to expect Israel to defend its vital security interests robustly.
  • To have any hope of avoiding a very grave war, Britain and her allies must understand Israel's position, making clear to Iran and Hizbullah that their campaign of terror against Israel will be met by international condemnation and an acceptance of Israel's fully legitimate military reaction.
  • Britain should also now proscribe Hizbullah in its entirety, ending the farce of our denying a reality that even their own leader articulates - that it is one organization, and its terrorism and politics are linked inextricably. If they say it, why don't we accept it?

    Lord Dannatt was Chief of the General Staff between 2006 and 2009.
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