June 15, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Iran Determined to Maintain Strike Capability from Syria - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran is continuing to try "to increase their efforts and capabilities to launch rockets [from Syria] and establish terror cells that can penetrate into Israel and harm communities in the Golan Heights," IDF Intelligence Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman told the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
    "The fact that they succeeded in launching rockets toward Israel, causing us to open shelters, is seen by them as a great success, even though it was a total failure operationally."
    In May, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps fired a barrage of 32 Fajr-5 and Grad missiles toward Israel, leading to Israel striking more than 50 Iranian targets in Syria in response.

Russia Holds Its National Day Celebration in Jerusalem - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The Russian Embassy in Israel held its annual Russia Day celebration in Jerusalem on Thursday, the first national day reception to be held in the capital by any country in recent memory.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the event, said, "We never forget the sacrifice of the Russian people and the Red Army in the defeat of the Nazi monster."
    Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov said holding the reception in Jerusalem was in line with Russia's statement last year that "we view west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

Terrorism-Related Arrests in UK Reach Record Level - Jamie Grierson (Guardian-UK)
    The number of terrorism-related arrests in Britain hit a record high after attacks in London and Manchester in 2017. In the year ending 31 March, 441 people were held on suspicion of terrorism-related activity, an increase of 17% on the 378 in the previous year.
    "In the past year, working together with the security services, we have stopped an average of one terrorist attack every month," said Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of counter-terrorism policing in the UK.

Paris Puts Final Touches to Eiffel Tower Anti-Terror Walls (AFP)
    Paris is set to unveil thick bulletproof glass walls and metal fences around the Eiffel Tower, designed to protect France's most famous monument from terrorist attacks.
    The new walls, part of security measures that have cost $40.7 million, are due to be finished by mid-July. The walls are bulletproof and resistant to vehicle-ramming attacks.
    France is still on high alert after a string of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 240 people since 2015.

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Israeli Political Leaders View U.S.-North Korea Summit (Times of Israel)
    In response to the Trump-Kim meeting on Tuesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) told South Korea's Ambassador to Israel Gun-tae Lee:
    "South Korea is threatened by North Korea, and Israel is threatened by nuclear weapons in Iran's hands. We have to end that. I hope the agreement that Trump and Kim have signed will lead to a similar process in our region."
    Zionist Union [Labor] party chairman Avi Gabbay tweeted:
    "Leaders with the courage to initiate and bring [people] together can make all the difference. What happened tonight between the United States and North Korea can happen here in the Middle East, too."

432 Bnei Menashe Jews Have Left India for Israel this Year - Jimmy Leivon (Indian Express)
    228 Jews left Manipur, India, on Sunday to permanently settle in Israel. There are over 9,000 members of the Jewish community living in India's northeastern states.
    Nearly 3,000 Jews have migrated to Israel and thousands more are waiting to do so - 432 have migrated this year.

Study: Most Lone-Wolf Palestinian Terrorists Posted Intentions on Social Media - Meir Turgeman (Ynet News)
    60% of lone-wolf Palestinian terrorists who carried out attacks from 2015 to 2017 posted information on social media indicating their intentions, according to a new study by the Public Security Ministry and the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), led by Prof. Boaz Ganor.

Israel Develops Missile Undetected by Enemy - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Israel Military Industries (IMS) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are currently at the final development stages of a new air-to-surface missile - the Rampage.
    The missile is designed to be launched from a fighter jet 150 km. away from the target, meaning it will not be detected by the enemy's detection and interception systems.
    The missile's cost is about one-third the cost of similar missiles.

Israel Unveils Kamikaze Drone Designed to Hit Complex Targets (Israel Hayom)
    Israel Aerospace Industries recently demonstrated its newest lethal assault drone, "Rotem," designed to carry out "suicide missions" to destroy enemy targets.
    The drone has a range of up to 10 km. (6.2 miles) and can hover for 30 to 45 minutes before diving down at a speed of 50 knots.
    It carries a 1-kg. warhead, has a 1-meter strike precision, and can be deployed within one minute by a single soldier, making it ideal against enemy targets in urban and complex environments.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Report: Debris from Missiles that Hit Saudis Came from Iran - Edith M. Lederer
    The UN has determined that debris from five ballistic missiles launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia since July 2017 contained components manufactured in Iran and shared key design features with an Iranian missile, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a June 12 report. (AP-New York Times)
        See also Saudi Coalition Launches Offensive on Yemeni Port City - Kareem Fahim and Missy Ryan
    A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition and its local allies launched an offensive on Wednesday aimed at dislodging the Iranian-allied Houthis who control Hodeida on Yemen's Red Sea coast. The port is the main entry point for food and humanitarian aid supplies. Yemeni security officials said 2,000 troops had crossed the Red Sea from a UAE naval base in Eritrea, while a separate Yemeni-UAE force was advancing from the south. (Washington Post)
  • Hizbullah to Be Outlawed in Britain - Lee Harpin
    British Home Secretary Sajid Javid will take steps to proscribe Hizbullah later this year, a senior Conservative source has said. Hizbullah's military wing was banned as a terror group in Britain in 2008, but a legal loophole allows supporters to fly its flags at events such as last Sunday's Al Quds Day rally in London because Hizbullah's political arm is not banned. "Sajid has vowed to take decisive action on the matter. He will make this very clear over the forthcoming weeks," the source said.
        At a Westminster Hall debate last week, Phillip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, said: "Hizbullah is an Iranian creation that sits as the crown jewel in Iran's regional strategy of Jihadi revolutionary warfare. It is in short the most powerful armed non-state actor in the world. This is an organization which potentially is more lethal than ISIS, and it is all backed and funded by Iran."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Flying Incendiary Kites Cause 11 Fires in Israel near Gaza Border - Matan Tzuri
    Firefighters put out fires at 11 different locations along the Gaza border on Thursday caused by incendiary kites launched into Israel from Gaza. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians in Gaza Plan 5,000 Kite and Helium Balloon Bombs to Mark End of Ramadan - Anna Ahronheim
    Israeli media report that Palestinians planned to launch 5,000 incendiary balloons and kites toward Israel from Gaza to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of Ramadan. On Tuesday, Israel announced it was limiting the entrance of helium into Gaza. "The entrance of helium gas into Gaza will be limited in light of its use by terrorists to fill incendiary balloons," said the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon.
        Helium balloons, which can fly further than kites, can carry explosive devices such as pipe bombs that are set off by cellphones once they approach troops. Last Friday, one of dozens of these devices exploded in the air above troops, causing no injuries. "These are terror attacks, with IEDs," IDF Intelligence Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman told the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Leader Joins Thousands of Palestinians at Gaza Border on Friday - Michael Bachner (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. May Delay Rollout of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan - Michael Wilner
    The U.S. is engaged in an internal discussion over the timing and method of launching its Middle East peace plan. White House officials may delay its rollout into the fall or even beyond if necessary due to current unfavorable circumstances, the Jerusalem Post has learned. The plan itself is essentially complete. "Releasing it at a time when the substance can be accepted by the maximum number of players or participants is...important," a senior official said Wednesday. "You can't put something out where everybody says, 'Ah, this is dead on arrival,'" the official continued.
        The Palestinian leadership cut off contact with the White House and dismissed any future role for Trump in the peace process after the president recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, and moved the U.S. Embassy there. Trump aides would prefer that PA leaders express a willingness to engage the effort before the roll out.
        U.S. officials said this week they might wait to release the plan until the PA resumes contact. "To the extent that we delay it...it's because it's not the right time in terms of launching it," a senior U.S. official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Border Police Arrest Knife-Wielding Palestinian at Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Israeli Border Policemen arrested a Palestinian on Thursday who drew a knife at a security checkpoint at the entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Approves New Plan to Combat Drought - Sonia Gorodeisky
    The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a strategic plan for dealing with the effect of the current 5-year drought. The flow of water in the National Water Carrier is to be reversed, with water flowing for the first time into Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), which has reached an unprecedented low level. The plan also includes construction of two desalination facilities, reclamation of rivers in northern Israel, and connecting areas that are not linked to the national water system. Israel currently has five desalination facilities. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Iran's Vulnerabilities to U.S. Sanctions: Finding the Weak Spots - Patrick Clawson
    As the Trump administration prepares to ramp up sanctions against Iranian entities following U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, it should be recalled that the Iranians have much experience dealing with sanctions and have become adept at finding workarounds. Moreover, with the world economy heating up and oil giant Venezuela melting down, prices may be robust enough to offset any major sanctions-related drop in Iran's oil export volume. Since January, Tehran has sold its heavy crude at an average of $64 per barrel, compared to the 2017 average of $51; this means its revenue would be constant even if its volume fell by 20%.
        Yet other factors would reinforce the impact of U.S. sanctions. Many international businesses and financial institutions have become averse to doing business in high-risk jurisdictions. Major European companies have already announced their departure from the Iranian market in recent weeks.
        The Iranian regime's most vulnerable weak spot is financial transactions. Few Iranian banks comply with international standards. The Rouhani government's inability to address these problems has done more to hurt Iran's economy than have international sanctions, and there are no signs that they will do better in the future. The writer is director of research at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Why Iran's Involvement in Syria May Backfire - Thomas Juneau
    Though the survival of Syrian President Assad's regime is now virtually guaranteed, this is a Pyrrhic victory for Iran, which has been dragged into a costly quagmire with no end in sight. Pre-2011 Syria will not reemerge: Assad has survived, but he faces continuing insurgencies.
        Hizbullah gained fighting experience and acquired new advanced weapons, but suffered as many as 2,000 combat deaths, including senior commanders, and as many as 5,000 injured.
        Iran and its allies have been lining up tactical military victories on the battlefield since 2015, but these do not amount to winning the war. Assad is not strong enough to eliminate the opposition, and there is little to suggest that he has the ability to lead the process of rebuilding the country. The writer is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. (Washington Post)
  • Iran Is Worried, Disappointed and Afraid - Menashe Amir
    The Islamist regime in Iran knows the nuclear talks in Singapore will have immense ramifications for the future of Iran's nuclear and missile programs. Regular Iranians understood a long time ago that continuing to pursue nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities will only bring calamity to their country. The Iranian citizen is already asking: How could the toughest communist leader in the world bend to Trump, while we continue burning the American flag? The writer is former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division. (Israel Hayom)

  • Other Issues

  • A Look at the UN Vote on Gaza - Herb Keinon
    In Wednesday's vote in the UN General Assembly on motions having to do with the recent violence in Gaza, a U.S.-backed amendment condemning Hamas violence failed to muster the necessary two-thirds majority. But all 28 EU countries voted for the U.S. amendment.
        In Africa, all but eight African countries voted against Israel, including Kenya and Uganda, where Prime Minister Netanyahu has visited over the last two years. Only Togo voted for Israel, while South Sudan, Malawi, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Liberia, Ghana and Rwanda abstained. India and Greece voted against Israel on the final resolution, while Cyprus abstained. Other EU countries voting against Israel in the final vote included France, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Malta and Luxembourg. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Erdogan's Turkey Intensifies Involvement in Gaza and Jerusalem - Pinhas Inbari
    Turkey, under President Erdogan, is intervening throughout the Middle East. Turkey is interested in Gaza because Gaza is ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, Hamas, which Turkey wishes to bring under its wing, and it is interested in Jerusalem to facilitate the "saving of al-Aqsa." In east Jerusalem, many of the alleyways of the Old City and in the streets outside the Old City Wall have at times been festooned with Turkish flags flying on every corner, including at the entrances to the Temple Mount, while pro-Turkish demonstrations take place on the Mount itself.
        A Turkish cultural center has opened, offering courses in Turkish, Turkish musical concerts, and cultural speakers, who are building up the connection between the residents of east Jerusalem and Turkish culture. Turkey has also infiltrated the city's Muslim establishment, primarily the Supreme Muslim Council. Meanwhile, Turkey is gaining control of the mosques on the Temple Mount via extensive Turkish religious tourism.
        At a conference of mosque prayer leaders held in Istanbul on July 14, signs appeared at the al-Aqsa session showing pilgrims taking over the Temple Mount compound with Turkish flags and tents in which they hold a sit-down strike and declare that they have restored the site to Muslim rule. The conference organizers sought to teach prayer leaders throughout the Muslim world about the necessity of liberating Jerusalem. This way, the work of taking over the Temple Mount will occur after a training period at mosques around the Muslim world. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Telegraph Corrects False Claim on "Settler-Only Roads" - Adam Levick
    On June 11, an article in The Telegraph on Prince William's upcoming trip to the region included this gratuitous and misleading quote from Amnesty International: "Kerry Moscogiuri, Amnesty International UK's campaigns director, has said: '...people in Ramallah have endured years of discriminatory restrictions on their movements, with...off-limits roads which are for the exclusive use of those in the illegal Israeli settlements.'"
        Leaving aside the question of why precisely an article by the newspaper's Royal correspondent felt the need to contextualize the piece by throwing in such anti-Israel agitprop, the "exclusive settler roads" claim violates the accuracy clause of the Editors' Code. There are not currently, nor have there ever been, "Jewish-only" or "settler-only" roads anywhere in Israel or the West Bank. So, it's not accurate to claim that there are any such roads.
        The journalist, Hannah Furness, to her credit, conferred with editors and agreed to amend the sentence to remove the false claim of the existence of such roads. (UK Media Watch)
  • Book Review: Ben Rhodes on Obama's Middle East Worldview - Martin Peretz
    Ben Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security adviser, has written The World as It Is, the assertion of a worldview billed as a statement of reality. On the Palestinian question, Rhodes complains that the Israelis, who are "stronger" than the Palestinians, demanded unreasonable assurances of support when Obama pressed for a two-state solution. He ignores the special qualities of a conflict in which a democratic state must confront hostile militants who don't hesitate to hide behind civilians to feed their David-and-Goliath narrative.
        When the subject is the Iran deal, Rhodes reduces Israel to Netanyahu, and Jews who opposed Obama's policies toward Iran to pathological actors: They had "internalized the vision of Israel constantly under attack." At no point does Rhodes engage with the real objections of people concerned with these conflicts - chiefly that Obama was trying to impose broad, sweeping change on a region whose historical particularities make change incremental at best. The writer was from 1974 to 2011 the editor of the New Republic. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Weekend Features

  • Muslims Celebrate Ramadan with the Israeli Ambassador in Washington - Dr. Qanta A. Ahmed
    It was my unique pleasure to enjoy my iftar - breaking the Ramadan fast - at the home of Israeli Ambassador and Mrs. Ron Dermer in Washington on Wednesday. The warmth of the multi-faith, multi-national and multi-cultural attendees was immediately embracing. I was unable to distinguish a Muslim from a Christian from a Jew. It was a wonderfully accepting scene, and mirrored exactly what I have learned is the true nature of the State of Israel.
        I was greeted by a particularly radiant and friendly woman whose ethnicity again stumped me. We talked about her work as bureau chief of Israel's i24 television, so I assumed she must be Israeli. Her name was Mounira Al Hmoud, a Muslim of Saudi and Algerian origin.
        Just as the ambassador concluded his opening remarks, someone's cellphone emitted the call to prayer. Arrangements had been made for us to pray. Our friendly Jewish hosts attended to our every need.
        Ambassador Dermer spoke of Israel's desire to continue to enhance integration among Israel's Muslim population: 20% of the total population. He disclosed that as a young student at Oxford University, his closest friend was a Pakistani Shia Muslim. The writer, a British-American Muslim, is Associate Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York (Stony Brook). (Times of Israel)
  • Warren Buffett: "It Is a Good Thing for America that There Is an Israel"
    Calling Israel's independence "a good day for the world," Berkshire Hathaway Chairman, President & CEO Warren Buffett hosted an Israel Bonds event in Omaha, Nebraska, last week that raised $80 million. "I've lived through Israel's entire 70-year history and I believe it is one of the most remarkable countries in the world....I'm delighted to own Israel Bonds," he said.
       "I have nothing but good feelings about what I am doing. The United States and Israel will always be linked. It is a good thing for Israel that there is an America, and it is a good thing for America that there is an Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Importance of the Existence of Israel - William A. Galston
    A poem by Robert Frost contains a thought-provoking line: "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Israel is the only country that guarantees immediate entry and citizenship to every Jew who knocks on its door. This is the sense in which Israel is the home for all Jews.
        It is also why Israel means the end of Jewish exile. For two millennia, Jews faced a terrible choice between persecution and statelessness, as when the SS St. Louis, crammed with Jewish refugees, wandered from port to port in 1939 looking for a country that would accept its passengers. The creation of Israel gave Jews a third choice. (Wall Street Journal)

  • In fighting Iran, Israel "serves the cause of security and peace beyond the Middle East," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem on Thursday. "We ask for the support of your governments," he said, appealing to the 20 homeland security ministers at the conference.
  • "After the Iran deal, it took the money and started expanding its empire, trying to put military in Syria, trying to attack Israel." Iran is trying to colonize Syria as part of its goal of defeating Israel, Netanyahu said.
  • "It wants to use 80,000 Shia militants in Syria. Syria is 90% Sunni - [but] their goal is to convert the Sunnis. This is the recipe for another civil war....By preventing that we are also helping the security of other countries of the world," he asserted, noting that Israel had bombed Iranian-backed army bases in Syria.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the International Homeland Security Forum on Thursday that 70% of those carrying out terror attacks against Israelis had been killed during or immediately after the attack, a key factor in reducing terror. "The number of people who want to commit suicide is limited," he noted.
  • Netanyahu said the "courage and initiative of Israeli citizens" to tackle terrorists was an important factor. "The number of Israeli citizens who have weapons is about 3%, maybe 4%," he said. "But that is enough to have them in any terrorist occurrence."
  • "Quite a few times Israeli citizens, of their own volition, sometimes armed with small weapons and sometimes with their bare hands, helped stop this as well. That is the culture."
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