May 16, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Guatemala Moves Embassy to Jerusalem - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Guatemala opened its embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday in the presence of its president, Jimmy Morales, and foreign minister, Sandra Jovel, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Poll: 73 Percent of Jewish Israelis Support U.S. Embassy Move - Shibley Telhami (Politico)
    According to a new University of Maryland poll conducted on May 6-9, 73% of Jewish Israelis support moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, including the timing of it.
    Another 20% support the move but would have preferred that Trump had waited until he unveiled his plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only 5% opposed the decision.
    The writer is professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.
    See also Multi-partisan Support in Israel for Jerusalem Embassy Move - Editorial (Washington Times)
    The opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was a moment of gratitude and celebration for the Israelis, and was for once not-so-characteristically multi-partisan.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke, and so did several of his parliamentary foes. Yair Lapid from the center and Isaac Herzog from the left showed up to cheer and praise both Mr. Trump and the U.S. for doing the right thing.

Israel Sends Medical Aid to Gaza (AP-Washington Post)
    Israel has delivered eight trucks full of humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Gaza.
    The IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said Tuesday it transferred 53 tons of medical equipment to Gaza this week, including medical fluids, bandages and physical therapy treadmills.
    See also Palestinians Accept Medical Supplies But Bar Trucks Carrying Food into Gaza - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Officials employed by the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday refused to allow 14 trucks full of food and diapers into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
    The facility was damaged by rioters on Friday and Monday, but was reopened on Tuesday at partial capacity.
    Substantial damage was caused to fuel lines at the facility, the only way to bring diesel and gasoline into Gaza in significant quantities.

Turkey and Israel Expel Envoys over Gaza - Noa Landau and Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    In response to the events in Gaza, the Turkish Foreign Ministry ordered Israeli Ambassador Eitan Naeh to leave the country.
    In response, Israel ordered the Turkish consul in Jerusalem, Husnu Gurcan Turkoglu, to return home. Turkey then summoned Israel's consul general in Istanbul, Yossi Levi Safri, and asked him to leave.
    After Turkish President Erdogan criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday, Netanyahu responded: "A man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to hold the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves from an attempt by Hamas."
    "A man whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Kurdish citizens in Turkey and Syria is the last person to preach to us about combat ethics."

Nakba Day Draws only 1,300 Demonstrators in West Bank - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    1,300 people participated Tuesday in demonstrations in the West Bank to mark Nakba Day.

Report from the Gaza Front - 1 - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    At first, the large Palestinian crowd was mostly chanting slogans. However, at a particular moment, it appeared that the crowd was given an order or a signal.
    All at once, thousands started sprinting and streaming along the border.
    See also Report from the Gaza Front - 2 - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    At a kibbutz bordering Gaza, a soldier who had witnessed the riots on Monday said, "I saw with my own eyes Hamas activists pushing people [including] women and children to the fence."
    Another said he saw one man pushed to the border in a wheelchair before he stood up and ran away.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Ambassador Nikki Haley: Israel Acted with "Restraint" in Gaza Response - Carol Morello
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Tuesday that Israel had reacted with restraint in its military response to protesters at the Gaza border and dismissed suggestions the violence was caused by the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
        Haley said that Hamas, backed by Iran, had incited the violence by urging protesters over loudspeakers to burst through the border fence. "I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council: Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has."
        Haley described the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as "a cause for celebration. It reflects the will of the American people. It reflects our sovereign right to decide the location of our embassy. Importantly, moving our embassy to Jerusalem also reflects the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel....Recognizing this reality makes real peace more achievable, not less."  (Washington Post)
        See also Haley Walks Out Amid Palestinian UN Envoy's Speech (Sputnik-Russia)
        See also Abbas Recalls Palestinian Envoy from Washington over Jerusalem Embassy Move (Reuters)
  • U.S.: Hamas Is Responsible for Gaza Violence
    U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Tuesday: "The misery that is faced by people in Gaza is because of Hamas....People want to blame Israel for all of this that is going on over the past few weeks. Let's take a look at the dire situation that people in Gaza are facing, and that is a result of Hamas' governing."
        "The actions, the activities that are taking place there...would certainly stop if violent protests were to stop and if Hamas were to stop inciting violence, encouraging people to go up to the border fence, encouraging people to cut through the border fence, encouraging people to run down that border fence and into Israel....If that were to stop, then certainly the violence would stop."
        "Israel has a right to defend itself. When people are being sent to the border, they are bringing weapons, they are threatening to cross through the fence, they are throwing Molotov cocktails - Israel has a right to defend itself....We are not going to be sympathetic to Hamas. Hamas does not take care of its own people."  (State Department)
  • Ex-Ambassador: Protests on Gaza Border Are "Play for Media Attention" - Julia Manchester
    Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren called Palestinian protests on the Gaza border "a play for media attention" on Monday. "Palestinians, stirred on by Hamas, burned down their own crossing, burned their own energy lines so they can cry 'humanitarian crisis' to the world and have the world blame us. I hope that this time it won't work," Oren told CNN.
        "As we are speaking now the Syrian army is attacking the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, they're killing hundreds, maybe thousands of Palestinians. Has CNN covered it? Has anybody covered it? Does anybody care when Syrians kill Palestinians? It's only when there's conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and Hamas knows this."  (The Hill)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: At Least 24 Gazans Killed at Border on Monday Were Terrorists
    Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad said Tuesday that 13 of their operatives were among those killed at the border riots on Monday. Israel said at least 24 of the dead were members of terror groups.
        Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry claimed a baby was among those killed, by tear gas, but a Gaza doctor, who said the baby had a pre-existing medical condition, and her family, cast doubt on this. (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF Details Attempted Terror Attacks Carried Out under Guise of Gaza Border Protests - Yoav Zitun
    On Monday, at the peak of the violent riots near the security fence at the Gaza border, the IDF received intelligence about two Hamas cells intending to carry out terror attacks against IDF soldiers by planting bombs on the security fence. A special forces unit ambushed one of the cells on the Israeli side of the border, catching them in the act. Eight Hamas terrorists opened fire on the soldiers and threw explosives at their positions. Seeing this, the crowd of demonstrators fled the area. This gave the Israeli soldiers a window to return fire and shoot dead the eight terrorists.
        Another special forces unit was dispatched to thwart the second terror cell, managing to shoot dead all three terrorists. Their bodies were promptly hauled away by Palestinian women and men dressed as women to deter the IDF from opening fire on them. (Ynet News)
  • UN Ambassador Danon: Hamas Wants "Death over Peace" - Daniel J. Roth
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon demanded on Tuesday that the Security Council condemn Hamas for inciting tens of thousands of Palestinians to breach the Gaza-Israel border in order to attack Jewish civilians. "Over the past month, Israel had to defend itself from the violent rioters along the security fence with Gaza," Danon told an emergency meeting of the UNSC. "These were not demonstrations, these were not protest, these were violent riots. They have repeatedly attempted to sabotage and breach the fence with the explicit goal of killing Israelis."
        Danon accused Hamas of wanting "death over peace," and said, "Hamas has committed war crimes not only against Israeli civilians but also against its own people - turning them into human shields for their own cynical gain. Every casualty that has resulted from the recent violence is a victim of Hamas' war crimes."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Does Not Want to Leave the Nuclear Deal - A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon
    The Iranian regime does not want to leave the JCPOA - for the same reasons it accepted it in the first place. The agreement gives Iran nuclear-state status; it elevates it to the level of a global power; it obliges the West to upgrade Iran's civilian nuclear program; and it protects the Iranian regime from being attacked by the West. Therefore, the Iranian regime will adhere to the agreement even if only Russia and China continue to support it.
        This modus operandi, in which the Iranians act like a superpower against weak rivals but rationally and submissively when facing a dangerous and powerful rival ready to use economic or military force against them, has for years been characteristic of the Iranian regime. (MEMRI)
  • Israel's Attacks on Revolutionary Guard in Syria Spur Growing Internal Disputes in Iran - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Orly Ram
    Iran's response to Israel's extensive attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guard targets in Syria on May 9, 2018, reflects growing confusion and dissent within its leadership and security service, and hints of the first possible cracks to appear between the Tehran regime and Syrian president Assad and Russia. Most state-run media in Iran have referred to the Israeli attack as a struggle between Syria and Israel and praised and credited the Syrian army for its success in dealing with Israeli missiles. Senior Iranian officials refuse to acknowledge Iran's part in the incident.
        Iran's official news agency IRNA criticizes the position of Russia on Israel's recent attack. It quotes European media claiming that the Israeli prime minister informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of the planned attack. It also stated that ties between Iran and Russia are a "marriage of convenience" as opposed to a strong strategic pact. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Iran: $100,000 Bounty Offered to Blow Up U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    The "Justice-Seeking Student Movement" in Iran offered a reward of $100,000 to anyone who will blow up the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The students' news agency's website reported that the reward was offered in response to "the transfer of the embassy to the holy al-Quds [Jerusalem].... Trump's action has led to rage and hatred from the Muslims."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel Defends Itself Against Palestinian Attackers from Gaza - Editorial
    Those killed and wounded by Israeli border-defense troops weren't singing and chanting peacefully. They were planting explosives, firing guns and launching Molotov cocktails and kites carrying burning fuel into Israeli territory to set farm fields aflame.
        Hamas officials told them their mission was to "liberate Palestine." They even encouraged demonstrators to burst through the fences by falsely telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions in fear. In the most cynical turn, Hamas ordered rioters to set fire to the main crossing for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into Gaza.
        In short, Israel successfully defended a violent attack by an enemy openly calling for its destruction. Any other country would do the same, and rightly so. (New York Post)
  • Hamas Are Manipulating Gaza Citizens - Lee Harpin
    Stephen Crabb, the Conservative Friends of Israel chair in Parliament, said Monday: "Hamas are manipulating the citizens of Gaza into the kind of actions we have been seeing and they are blatantly encouraging acts of terror and are seeking to bring chaos and terror and death onto Israeli soil....We recognize the responsibility the Israeli government has to defends its own citizens, the legitimacy of the right to defend itself."
        "Every single time there is an attack on Israel...the international community is very quick to demand that the Israeli government demonstrates it's taking all steps possible to avoid human suffering."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • We Stand with Israel on Gaza Violence - David Harris
    We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel at this difficult time on the Gaza border. There should be total clarity. The latest round of violence was triggered by Hamas, a terrorist organization as designated by both the U.S. and EU, whose charter and rhetoric are nothing less than genocidal in their stated aims regarding Israel and the Jewish people.
        Critics of Israel have sought to portray this situation as "peaceful protests by Gazans," but the protests are not peaceful. The goal is to breach an internationally-recognized border between Israel and Gaza, to penetrate Israel, and, as Hamas spokesmen have repeatedly declared, to slaughter Jews.
        What choice does Israel have if a variety of non-lethal means fails to stop the demonstrators from trying to enter Israel and wreak havoc? What exactly would other countries do in a similar situation? To its credit, the U.S. has stood firmly by Israel's side throughout these weeks of escalating violence, defending Israel's absolute right to protect its citizens. We thank Washington for this moral clarity, when too many others suffer from moral fog. The writer is CEO of the American Jewish Committee. (PR Newswire)

    David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told MSNBC on Tuesday:

  • "Hamas' interior minister said that 'children and women make the best human shields.' That's not my words. It's an exact quote from Fathi Hamad, Hamas' interior minister....What kind of people send women and children into the frontlines, hoping that they die?"
  • "The same group which has been helping organize this march - Hamas...openly calls not just for the death of every Israeli soldier, but for the death of every Jew, and not just every Jew - every American."
  • "This is what we're up against and it's a tragedy because instead of investing in their own people, they're actually telling their children to go and wage war against Israel. It's insanity."
  • "There are people who stayed very far away from Israel's border and didn't try to infiltrate into Israel, and they can protest as much as they want. But when we saw masses of people gathering, with the express aim of infiltrating into Israel, in order to kill women and children, we did what any state in the world would have done, which is protect our people."
  • "Iran not only fired 20 missiles just a few days ago at Israel. It also funded and armed Hizbullah and Hamas, who have launched tens of thousands of missiles at Israel. It's blown up Jews around the world. It's openly calling for our annihilation."
  • "Those are acts of war which Israel has been the recipient of for far too long....Iran's aim is very clear - the total annihilation of Israel. We cannot let that happen, and we will not let that happen."