May 21, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Explosions Heard at Iranian Base in Syria on Sunday (i24News)
    Explosions were heard at an Iranian-operated base said to be an electronic warfare facility south of Damascus early Sunday, Sky News Arabia reported.
    See also 11 Said Killed in Blasts at Syria's Hama Airbase on Friday - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Massive explosions rocked the Hama military airbase in Syria on Friday, killing at least 11 pro-Assad regime fighters, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
    According to Sky News Arabia, the target was an Iranian Bavar 373 long-range missile defense system, a state-of-the-art model that was unveiled in 2016 and put into service in March 2017.

EU to Give 30 Million Euros to Reconstruct Gaza Crossing Damaged in Riots - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    The EU announced Friday it will provide 30 million euros to reconstruct the Kerem Shalom crossing - the main passage for diesel and other fuels into Gaza - following it being set ablaze by Palestinians last week.

Gaza Border Clashes Continue Friday (Times of Israel)
    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh denied Friday that Hamas made a deal with Egypt to end the border marches. He said protests would continue and vowed to personally lead them.
    The IDF said 1,000 Palestinians took part in clashes along the border fence on Friday afternoon and several thousand were in protest camps further back.

Thousands Chant "Death to Israel" in Morocco (Reuters-New York Times)
    More than 10,000 Moroccans chanting "Death to Israel" marched in Casablanca on Sunday to protest against the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
    The marchers carried Palestinian flags and placards that read "Al Quds (Jerusalem), Palestine's eternal capital."

Psychological Asymmetry: Understanding the Gaza "Return" Demonstrations - Irwin J. Mansdorf, PhD (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Psychological asymmetry is the relative advantage of the weaker party in a conflict to engage in otherwise immoral and illegal behavior against a militarily stronger opponent.
    Hamas and other groups have used their psychological asymmetry in engaging Israel for years, exploiting and placing civilians in danger to meet strategic goals.
    The current Gaza demonstrations are a prime example of psychological asymmetry being used as a strategic weapon by Hamas.
    The dilemma faced by Israel is exacerbated by media reports which present morally symmetric descriptions in a situation where asymmetry abounds.
    The writer is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center and conducts research into the psychological aspects of the Israel-Arab dynamic.

Protesting Gaza's Leadership, Palestinian Sets Himself Ablaze - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Fathi Harb, 20, a Palestinian father of two from Gaza, set himself on fire Saturday night, all while cursing the strip's Hamas rulers.
    He survived and is in moderate condition.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • After Deadly Protests, Gazans Ask: What Was Accomplished? - Declan Walsh and Isabel Kershner
    After weeks of protest at the Israeli border fence peaked this week, Gazans returned to their daily lives, many wondering what had been accomplished. In Geneva on Friday, the UN Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to censure Israel and called for an inquiry. But to many Gazans, the tangible benefits of so much bloodshed were hard to discern, with plenty of blame to go around - including for Hamas.
        Many Gazans, having lost friends or suffered wounds in the protests, feel cheated by Hamas. "Nothing achieved," said Mohammed Haider, 23. "People are dead. They deceived us that we would breach the fence. But that didn't happen." By the end of the week, the world's attention had moved to North Korea and Britain's royal wedding. (New York Times)
  • Video - Col. Kemp to UN Human Rights Council: Hamas Seeks Destruction of Israel and Murder of Jews Everywhere
    Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told the UN Human Rights Council on Friday: "Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel and murder of Jews everywhere, deliberately caused over 60 of its own people to get killed. They sent thousands of civilians to the front line - as human shields for terrorists trying to break through the border."
        "I ask every country in this Council: You have all been telling us that Israel should have reacted differently. But how would you respond if a Jihadist terror group sent thousands to flood your borders, and gunmen to massacre your communities? Your failure to admit that Hamas is responsible for every drop of blood spilt on the Gaza border encourages their violence."  (UN Watch)
        See also Video: The People of Gaza Are Victims of Hamas (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Bernard Lewis: The Great Scholar of the Middle East Predicted Its Recent Convulsions - Editorial
    Bernard Lewis died Saturday at age 101. Born in London, Lewis served in the British army in World War II. He devoted most of his life to the study of Middle Eastern languages, religion and history, with a particular focus on the interaction of Islam and the West. Moving to Princeton University in 1974, his deep learning helped him to foresee and explain the turmoil that has dominated the Middle East in recent decades. His books were especially valuable after 9/11 in explaining what animated radical jihadists.
        Though Jewish and a friend to Israel, Lewis was also deeply sympathetic to Arabs who had to live under fanatic or dictatorial rule. By 2010 he was predicting that Turkey under Erdogan would turn to Islamic rule while Iranians would tire of political Islam and embrace secular nationalism. So far he's been right about Turkey. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Video: The Sunni-Shiite Split and the Iranian Threat - Prof. Bernard Lewis interviewed by Dan Diker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UN Human Rights Council Censures Israel over Gaza Riots - Itamar Eichner
    The UN Human Rights Council, meeting in a special session in Geneva on Friday, voted 29-2 with 14 abstentions to launch an independent probe into the killing of rioters in the Gaza border clashes. The U.S. and Australia voted against the measure, while EU members Spain, Slovenia and Belgium voted in favor, which incensed Israel. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel, U.S. Condemn UN Human Rights Council Decision to Probe Gaza Events - Daniel J. Roth
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon condemned the UN Human Rights Council on Friday after it approved a decision to open an independent investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes on the Gaza border. "The fact that this shameful decision was made even after Hamas officials admitted that the vast majority of those killed were terrorists proves, once again, that nothing can separate this council from its hatred of Israel. The day this Council investigates the war crimes of Hamas is the day it can be called the Human Rights Council."
        U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: "At a time when Venezuela lurches toward dictatorship, Iran imprisons thousands of political opponents, and ethnic cleansing has taken place in Burma, the UN's so-called Human Rights Council has decided to launch an investigation into a democratic country's legitimate defense of its own border against terrorist attacks. It is another shameful day for human rights."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Rejects UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry
    It is clear to all that the purpose of the commission is not to arrive at the truth, but rather to impair Israel's right to self-defense, and to demonize the Jewish state. Israel is acting legally and correctly in protecting its sovereignty and preventing the masses from charging the border with the aim of killing Israelis. Israel will continue to defend itself and its citizens against both terrorism and international bodies that attempt to hinder its right to defend itself. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Hamas Planned Victory Rallies for Its Leaders inside Israel
    Hamas disseminated detailed directives via social media to inform Palestinians in which Israeli community its leaders would be delivering victory speeches after breaching Gaza's border, Israel's Hadashot TV news reported Friday. "Ismail Haniyeh will speak in Nahal Oz, Khalil al-Hayya in Kfar Aza and (Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader) Nafed Azzam in Be'eri. After the victory speeches, celebrations will begin throughout Palestine."
        Lt.-Col. Akhsan Daksa, an IDF battalion commander who speaks Arabic, said he communicated with some of the Palestinians over the fence, sometimes "from five meters away." They told him, "We're on our way to Nahal Oz, to the other communities. Today's prayers will be held there." He said he told them, "This won't help, this isn't the way." However, when they arrived in droves at the fence and hurled grenades or bombs, "there's no other measure that can work" besides sniper fire. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Stop Demonizing Israel for Defending Itself - Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer
    Palestinians were told to break down the security fence separating Gaza from Israel, a clear danger to all those living in Jewish communities hundreds of yards from that fence. Hamas called for the rioters to "bring a knife, dagger or gun," and embedded its own forces in the crowds, ready to kill and kidnap Israelis.
        The media insisted that the riots had been peaceful protests. Apparently, grenades, Molotov cocktails, fire kites, explosive devices, guns and machetes don't quite hit the media's bar for what constitutes Palestinian violence. Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas' founders, said that calling what happened in Gaza peaceful protests was a clear "deception."
        Hamas pushed the Palestinian masses toward the fence, falsely claiming that Israeli soldiers were abandoning their positions and that the fence had already been breached. A senior Hamas official said that 50 out of the 62 dead were members of Hamas. (Washington Post)
        See also I Agree with Hamas, Says Israel's UK Ambassador - Mark Regev
    I agree with Hamas that its strategy of labeling events in Gaza as "peaceful protests" was a deliberate "deception."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Israel Adjusted to a New Set of Tactical Threats from Gaza - Malcolm Hoenlein
    It is now clear that Hamas devised and executed an entirely new set of tactical threats. Under battlefield conditions, Israel's government and military adjusted the responses to adequately defend its borders and prevent an armed assault on Israeli civilians living in communities close to Gaza. News media and governments, always ready to rush to judgment against Israel, didn't bother to look beyond the slick packaging and phony messaging from Hamas.
        So, once again we see good people vilified: the State of Israel and its well-trained, highly-disciplined defense forces skewered by international media, in distorted reports that absolved the Hamas perpetrators while placing the onus on those seeking to defend Israel's sovereignty and prevent violence against its citizens.
        We hear the cries from governments that are always ready to criticize Israel for reacting to threats in far more controlled ways than any one of them would in a similar circumstance. The writer is executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. (Times of Israel)

IDF Spokesman: World "Fell for Hamas Lies" in Gaza - Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas provided free transportation from throughout Gaza to the border for civilians, including women and children. Hamas hired them as extras, paying $14 a person or $100 a family for attendance - and $500 if they managed to get injured.
  • Hamas forced all of their commanders and operatives to go to the border dressed as civilians, each serving as a director of an area. Hamas gave anyone with a video camera front-row access to the show and free Wi-Fi.
  • Hamas called it a "peaceful protest," and much of the world simply fell for it. But the basic tenets required for a protest do not exist in Gaza. Under Hamas control, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of religion, no freedom of the press. There can be no such thing as a peaceful protest in Gaza, only gatherings organized, sanctioned and funded by Hamas.
  • On Facebook, Hamas posted maps for their operatives showing the quickest routes from the border with Israel to Israelis' homes, schools, and day-care centers. Does that sound like a peaceful protest to you?
  • Some of Israel's greatest friends might have preferred that we had looked better in the media this past week, but the IDF always chooses truth. It is that morality that sustains the IDF.
  • If in order to win the international propaganda war I need to lie like Hamas, then I prefer to tell the truth and lose. The IDF will win where it matters - protecting our civilians in the face of terror. The soldiers of the IDF won this week by keeping Israeli families safe and by stopping Hamas from accomplishing its stated goals.

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Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.