July 6, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Technology Providing Vital Communications Link to Cave-Trapped Thai Boys - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Maxtech Networks said Thursday that its system is providing a voice, data, and video link to the boys who have been stuck in a cave in Thailand.
    In the Israeli system, a string of small devices, similar to handheld radios, pass wireless communications between each other, enabling a link in places regular radios won't work, said Uzi Hanuni, CEO of Maxtech.
    It took 19 devices to complete the link to the boys in the cave. They have enough battery power for 10 hours' use at a time.

Syria and Russia Hit Rebels in Southwest with 600 Airstrikes (Israel Hayom)
    Syrian and Russian planes pummeled rebel-held towns in southwest Syria on Thursday with more than 600 airstrikes in 15 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
    The intense airstrikes followed the collapse of talks between insurgent groups and Russian officers.
    Numerous towns in the southwest have already struck their own deals to surrender to the government amid military advances and aerial bombardment, independently of the main rebel factions.

Hizbullah Commanding Syrian Fighters in Southern Syria - Tom Perry and Laila Bassam (Reuters)
    Hizbullah is helping to lead a Russian-backed offensive in southern Syria, pro-Damascus sources said.
    Hizbullah's role includes directing Syrian forces as well as deploying its own forces, a pro-Syrian commander said.
    "The battlefield situation in Syria will not be reversed. The regime and its allies have very wide control," he said.
    Assad has said Hizbullah and other allies will stay a long time.

Hizbullah Has Significantly Cut Troops on Syrian Soil - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Hizbullah has significantly cut back the number of its troops on Syrian soil, according to Arab media reports confirmed by Israeli sources. Estimates indicate that 4,000 to 5,000 fighters remain out of an original 8,000.
    Lebanese analysts say the cut follows the vanquishing of the Islamic State from most of the country as President Assad and his Russian backers reassert control.
    Since 2011, Hizbullah has lost 2,000 fighters, with 10,000 injured.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Despite Diplomatic Boycott, PA Accepts New U.S.-Made Police Jeeps - Dima Abumaria (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    Despite the diplomatic boycott that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has imposed on American officials, 25 American-made jeeps were recently delivered to the PA's Police Department in Ramallah.
    The U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem showed a picture of the new jeeps, complete with the Palestinian Police logo and colors, on its official Facebook page.

The Man Who Has the Assad Torture Pictures - Karina Mossbauer (Bild-Germany)
    "Sami" (51) has been living in a village with 20,000 inhabitants somewhere in Europe for five years now.
    In 2013, Sami smuggled 53,275 photos out of Syria that show approximately 11,000 people who were tortured to death.
    If Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is charged at the International Court of Justice one day, this material will seal his fate. Sami is a key witness and in a special EU protection program.
    I am the first journalist to visit Sami here. He says, "The photos are out there. But nothing happens. The slaughter in Syria continues. Humanity has let us down."

The IDF's Cyber Defenders - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    A cyber arms race rages between Israel and its foes, parallel to the conventional arms race that is underway.
    Sgt. 1st Class M, the head of the Cyber Department in the IDF's Hoshen Unit, leads personnel that defend the military's sensitive communications networks.
    "The IDF has been marked as a priority [target]," M said. "We are the focus of enemies. So we must act all day and night proactively, to defend and track, and be able to intervene in case of an incident."
    As part of that effort, the unit invests a great deal of thought into meeting threats that do not currently exist.
    "We are, all of the time, thinking about what will arrive tomorrow morning, about the non-trivial things. We use red teams [personnel that simulate the enemy] to attack ourselves, and we conduct surprise exercises on ourselves, at 2 a.m. on a summer night, when incidents come as a surprise."

China, Israel Work Together in Technology and Innovation (Xinhua-China)
    Representatives from more than 2,000 Chinese and Israeli companies attended the 4th China-Israel Investment Summit in Zhuhai on July 2-3.
    China is Israel's third largest trading partner, with trade in 2017 reaching $13.12 billion, a 15.6% increase over 2016.
    CollPlant is an Israeli regenerative medicine company that focuses on 3D bio-printing. At the summit it displayed a bio-ink made of artificial collagen from tobacco leaves for soft tissue repair.

Israel's ThetaRay Raises $30 Million for Money Laundering Prevention (Reuters)
    Israel's ThetaRay has machine learning and artificial intelligence technology that helps financial institutions identify the earliest signs of money laundering, detect cyber threats, and fight financial crime.
    The company said Tuesday it has completed a fundraising round of $30 million, bringing the total amount raised to more than $60 million.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • China Chides Iran over Threat to Block Oil Exports through Strait of Hormuz
    Iran should make more effort to ensure stability in the Middle East and get along with its neighbors, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong said on Friday, as Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned they may block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz. Any blockage of the strait would have serious consequences for China's economy. "We call on all sides to meet each other halfway and give consideration to each other's concerns, and find a way to alleviate the problem via dialogue," Chen said. (Reuters)
  • Rouhani Tells Macron Europe's Package Does Not Meet Iranian Demands
    Europe's package of economic measures to offset the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal does not go far enough, President Hassan Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone on Thursday, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported. "The package proposed by Europe... does not meet all our demands," Rouhani said. (Reuters)
  • Israel's Secret Operation to Recover the Watch of a Legendary Spy - Ronen Bergman
    On Thursday the Israeli prime minister's office announced that a watch belonging to legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen had been recovered in a secret operation and brought back to Israel. Cohen's spying in Syria is credited with helping Israel to a quick victory in the 1967 war, long after he had been caught and executed by the Syrian government. Had the Mossad carried out a secret operation to recover a wristwatch?
        According to an Israeli official, the operation was part of a 14-year hunt by the Mossad to find Cohen's body and return it to Israel. His body has still not been found, but during the search, agents located a man who had the watch. Cohen's widow, Nadia Cohen, told Israel Army Radio, "The Mossad told us a few weeks ago that they got information on the watch and that it was about to be sold."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Who Else Will Come to the Golan along with the Assad Regime? - Amos Harel
    Israel has gotten used to the idea of the reestablishment of control by Assad's forces over the entire border with Israel in the Golan Heights. "The story is over," a senior defense official said. The IDF's Northern Command estimates the final push will take a few weeks, once the order is given. Israel will prevent any spillover of fire into its territory and will respond with force if the Syrian army violates the Disengagement Agreement with Syria from 1974.
        The fighting in southwest Syria currently involves operations around Daraa, 60 km. east of the Israeli border. Assad is a vile murderer, but his regime is looking for stability and not a confrontation with Israel - and is aware of the balance of power between the two countries. Between 1974 and 2013, when the Assad government lost control over southern Syria, the Golan was Israel's quietest front.
        The main question will be: Who else will come to the Golan along with the Assad regime? It is unlikely that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah will pass on the temptation to draw closer to the border with Israel after the recapture of the Syrian Golan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Three Minor Earthquakes Hit Israel - Tamara Zieve
    On Thursday an earthquake measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale was reported in Tiberias and Safed in northern Israel. On Wednesday night, Haifa and Western Galilee felt a quake measuring 4.5, and earlier Wednesday, the same region felt a tremor measuring 4.1. Additional quakes were recorded by instruments of the Geophysical Institute of Israel. No damage or injuries were reported.
        Israel is on the Dead Sea Rift. In 1837, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the Galilee, killing thousands, and in 1927, a 6.2 quake killed 500 people and damaged the Aksa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Defense Minister Says Earthquake Protection Plan Ready for Approval - Sue Surkes (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Have Fired 289 Rockets and Mortars at Israel this Year - Yaniv Kubovich
    Palestinians have fired 289 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza into Israel since the beginning of the year, the Defense Ministry reported last week. In 2017, 35 rockets and mortar were fired, compared to 15 in 2016, 21 in 2015, and 4,897 in 2014. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Expose the Palestinian "Refugee" Scam - Richard Goldberg and Jonathan Schanzer
    If President Trump wants to promote peace in the Middle East, his first step should be to declassify a key State Department report that would end the myth of Palestinian "refugees." The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is singularly devoted to the Palestinian refugee issue. UNRWA labels more than five million Palestinians "refugees" - an impossible figure. The first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, yielded roughly 800,000 Palestinian Arab refugees. Perhaps 30,000 remain alive today, but UNRWA has kept the refugee issue alive by labeling their descendants - in some cases great-great-grandchildren - as "refugees."
        In 2012 Congress ordered the State Department to disclose how many Palestinians currently served by UNRWA fled the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and how many are merely their descendants. The Obama administration classified the report, citing national security - as if revealing foreign census data were a threat to America. In April more than 50 House members urged State to declassify the report.
        Removing the label of "refugee" from millions of Palestinians wouldn't hurt them. Instead, it would unlock their economic potential and create an opportunity for lasting peace. Perhaps that's why the Palestinian leadership is fighting it. Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser and Jonathan Schanzer senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • For Mideast Peace, Solve the Palestinian Refugee Problem - Ben-Dror Yemini
    In order to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is a need to drain the conflict's biggest swamp - the refugee problem. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has dealt with the integration and rehabilitation of 50 million refugees, none of whom are refugees today. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) started off with 711,00 refugees and today their number is 5.3 million. The Arab states set up UNRWA for the Palestinians because they wanted a body which wouldn't deal with integration or rehabilitation. They wanted a body that would perpetuate the refugee problem.
        From 1950 to 2018, the international community has allotted sums to UNRWA which are today worth $40-45 billion - about $500,000 per family. Had the international community invested this huge capital in buying an apartment and a car and a farm for each family, a huge sum would have been left for investments in infrastructure, industry, welfare and education. Anyway, most of those registered by UNRWA are no longer in refugee camps or don't even exist. Only 177,000 of the 450,000 people registered in Lebanon are actually in Lebanon. Many others are Jordanian citizens or residents of the Palestinian Authority, and others have moved to Europe with the refugees from Syria.
        In 1950 the UN created the Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA) to handle the reconstruction of Korea and 1 to 3 million penniless refugees. This body operated until 1958 when the refugee problem disappeared. The Palestinians are the only ones perpetuated as refugees. The international community has invested more in the Palestinians than in any other refugees, but the more they invested, the bigger the problem became. (Ynet News)
  • No Paying for Slaying - Editorial
    We commend the Knesset members who passed the Israeli version of the Taylor Force Act on Monday. The new law is aimed at stopping the Palestinian Authority from giving terrorists and their families monthly stipends. The Knesset bill will require the government to deduct NIS 1.2 billion a year that the PA pays terrorists from money Israel collects in taxes and tariffs for the Palestinians.
        Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad all praise attacks on Israelis. Across the Internet and television airwaves, not just on Hamas channels but on those operated by the PA as well, children are taught to conduct a "heroic operation" - be a man and kill a Jew today. Just last week, according to Palestinian Media Watch, official PA TV broadcast a song to pregnant Palestinians saying, "Your fetus will be a martyr for Palestine."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Has Failed to Implement Financial Reforms to Meet International Standards - Tom Keatinge
    The Financial Action Task Force - an international group that monitors money laundering worldwide - last month avoided a decision to return Iran to its blacklist of countries not doing enough to combat money laundering. FATF gave Iran until October to implement necessary reforms, otherwise it will decide upon "appropriate and necessary actions" - a return to the FATF blacklist.
        The view of the FATF is critical. To the extent the FATF warns of material failings in a country's anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance (AML/CTF) standards, regulated financial services - the lifeblood of international trade and fund flows - are unlikely to support economic engagement. FATF's latest statement, albeit short of issuing its ultimate sanction, provides support for those seeking to isolate Iran from the global economy. The writer is director of the Center for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Institute. (Royal United Services Institute-UK)
  • Indonesian Cleric: "Reinterpretation" of Islam Is Necessary for Peace - Rizki Nugraha
    Yahya Cholil Staquf is a prominent Muslim cleric and secretary general of the world's largest Islamic organization, Indonesia's Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has 60 million members. He attended the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Jerusalem last month and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then received a wave of criticism for advocating dialogue with Israel.
        In an interview, Staquf was asked: Can Islam inspire peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Staquf replied: "Maybe, as long as Islamic thinkers are willing to re-contextualize. Why is Islam functioning as the justification for conflict today? It is the fruit of an Islamic interpretation coming from the Middle Ages. If Islam wants to function more constructively in the present age, there must be contextual adjustment, because reality has fundamentally changed."
        "Muslims must be aware that conflict will continue to prevail if we are not willing to change our mindset....I am sure there must be a reference that we can use to understand the present reality with a more constructive point of view."
        First, we must want peace. That's it. Do we want to keep fighting until everything is destroyed or do we want peace? If you choose peace, then there should be dialogue. But dialogue alone is not enough. Dialogue must be accompanied by social movements, so that aspirations for peace become consensus at the community level. Then political leaders will build policies based on the aspirations of peace....Unfortunately, though, the current thought does not offer any solution other than destruction."  (Deutsche Welle-Germany)

  • Weekend Features

  • Out-of-the-Box Treatment at Alyn Kids Rehab - Ariella Gentin
    Jerusalem-based Alyn, Israel's only pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility, serves 300 people every day: children with congenital and acquired conditions, including cerebral palsy, brain injuries, and terror-related injuries. Alyn's Innovation Space, founded last year, is geared to creating technologies that improve the lives of children with disabilities.
        Thala, 11, who was severely burned in a car accident and lost her fingers, wanted to work in Alyn's therapeutic garden, but she couldn't hold onto gardening tools with just one hand. So last month, Elinor Tal and Nevo Fryd, students at the Holon Institute of Technology, came up with a gripping device that attaches itself to her arms.
        When a wheelchair-bound child wanted to feed the animals in Alyn's petting zoo, the Innovation Space created a device with which he could put food in a tube and press a button that let the food out near the animal.
        The innovation center runs the Pele program, which works on personalized solutions, including finding ways for children with physical disabilities to eat, dress, and communicate independently, and Alynnovation, which assists entrepreneurs in developing products for children on a global scale that are affordable and attainable. Alyn developed Wheelchairs of Hope, a plastic wheelchair for children with disabilities in developing countries that costs less than $100. (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. First-Responders Study Israeli Methods - Josh Hasten
    30 emergency responders from the U.S. were in Israel last week to learn battle-tested methods that have been honed by decades of conflict. Their visit was sponsored by the Advanced Security Training Institute (ASTI). Since they go back home to share their newly learned skill sets with the first-responders in their communities, to date, more than 7,000 American emergency personnel have received training sessions based on Israeli methodologies.
        Michael Guditus, from the Emergency Management Department in Fairfax County, Va., noted that "what you see in Israel first, you then start seeing in America." Guditus said what he has learned is "how to identify radicalized individuals, as well as lone wolf [terrorists]."
        Guditus described an event in 2010 when a deranged man armed with guns and wearing an explosive device entered the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Montgomery County, Md., taking three hostages. After a four-hour standoff, the gunman was killed by a SWAT-team sniper; none of the hostages were harmed. Some of the team members assembled that day had returned from an ASTI training experience in Israel a year earlier.
        "Before that, we didn't understand how to respond together. You had the fire department with their bomb-sniffing dogs, and the bomb-disposal robot, and then you had the SWAT team and other tactical teams, who were separate branches on their own. What we learned in Israel is how to work together as a cohesive team, and those techniques were used to render that situation safe. The fact is, what we learned from Israelis saved lives there."  (JNS)
  • Gangsters vs. Nazis - Robert Rockaway
    Emboldened by Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933, and fueled by the Great Depression, over 100 anti-Semitic organizations sprang up throughout the U.S.  Protected by the First Amendment, they held public rallies, paraded through the streets in their uniforms carrying Nazi flags, and openly flaunted their hatred for Jews.
        One group of American Jews who had no compunctions about meeting the anti-Semites head-on were Jewish gangsters. Not bound by conventional rules and constitutional legalities, they took direct and violent action against the Jew haters. For example, in 1935, Meyer Lansky, a leading organized crime figure, rounded up some of his associates and went around New York disrupting Nazi meetings. Young Jews not connected to him or the rackets also volunteered to help.
        After a series of attacks, the Nazi Bundists protested having their meetings violently broken up and asked Mayor Fiorello La Guardia for protection. La Guardia agreed under certain conditions. The Bundists could not wear their uniforms, sing their songs, display the swastika and Nazi flag, and could not march to beating drums. He confined their parades to the German neighborhood of Yorkville and assigned Jewish and African-American policemen to patrol the route. The writer is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, and the author of But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters. (Tablet)

  • Dennis Ross, who was President Clinton's Middle East envoy and a member of the National Security Council staff with responsibility for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf in the administration of Barack Obama, says that he is convinced of the seriousness of the work of Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, President Trump's envoys to the Middle East.
  • Ross told Globes that he has met Kushner and Greenblatt several times over the past year. "On the basis of my conversations with them I'm convinced that they studied the material well and did serious preparation....I'm convinced that what they are doing is serious.... Actually one of the things that indicate seriousness is the fact that the plan has not been leaked."
  • I asked Ross whether there was any possibility of moving forward when everything was stuck vis-a-vis the Palestinians. "This is the reason that they are focusing on leaders of countries in the region," Ross answered. "The leaders of the Arab countries won't put themselves in place of the Palestinians, and they won't force their positions on the Palestinians either, but they could create a climate that will make it difficult for the Palestinians not to respond."
  • "So, for example, the leaders of the Arab countries could respond to publication of the plan by stating that they have some questions about it, but that they believe that it's a serious plan that could represent a basis for negotiations. If this is what the Arab leaders say after the plan's release, and if the European countries also come out with a positive and supportive reaction, a general context will be created in which Abu Mazen [Abbas] will find it hard to continue to remain silent and ignore it."
  • Ross points out that in the past few years he has written a monthly column in Asharq al-Awsat, an Arabic daily published in London. "I think that that's a sign that indicates change - the fact that they want to read a column from an American, a Jew....The interesting thing is that I receive many supportive responses."
  • "They see Israel differently from the way they saw it in the past. In the countries of the region, Israel is no longer seen as a threat, but as a country that acts on what it says. It's doing things at a time when no one else is lifting a finger in relation to Iran and Syria. The Jordanians, for example, may perhaps not admit it, but they appreciate Israel's strength and the fact that it doesn't just talk but also acts."
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.