July 27, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Freed Turkish Detainee at Trump's Request - Carol D. Leonnig (Washington Post)
    President Trump thought he had a deal with Turkish President Erdogan to free Andrew Brunson, the American pastor imprisoned in Turkey for the last two years on what the administration considered bogus terrorism charges.
    As part of the deal, on July 14, Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to release Ebru Ozkan, 27, a Turkish woman who was detained in Israel on charges of acting as a smuggler for Hamas. The day after Trump and Netanyahu spoke, Ozkan was deported from Israel.
    Several U.S. officials insisted there had been no misunderstanding of the terms of the deal, but the Turks, transferring Brunson to house arrest, failed to send the pastor home.
    On Thursday, after a rancorous phone call with Erdogan, Trump said the U.S. "will impose large sanctions" on Turkey and that "this innocent man of faith should be released immediately."
    A Trump adviser said the Turks had cheated by "upping the ante" for Brunson.

Hamas Official Urges Muslims to Kill Zionist Jews Wherever You Find Them - Adam Rasgon (Times of Israel)
    "O Muslims, wherever you find a Zionist Jew, you must kill him because that is an expression of your solidarity with the al-Aqsa Mosque and an expression of your solidarity with...your Jerusalem, your Palestine and...your people," Fathi Hamad, a member of the Hamas politburo, said Thursday in Gaza City.

Former PA Intelligence Chief: PA Security "Terrorizing Women, Children" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    In a statement on Thursday, Tawfik Tirawi, a former commander of the PA's General Intelligence Service and member of the Fatah Central Committee, "condemned the practices of some commanders of the Palestinian security forces who humiliate the sons of Fatah and terrorize women and children under various pretexts."
    Tirawi accused security forces of spying on Palestinians and gathering information about "patriotic" Palestinians in a way that harms them and results in their arrest.
    Earlier this year, Tirawi reportedly complained that he and other Palestinians were the victims of a CIA-backed wire-tapping operation carried out by PA security forces.

Christians March in Pretoria at Rally for Israel - Nicola Miltz (South African Jewish Report)
    Thousands of Christians took to the streets in Pretoria on Wednesday in a solidarity prayer rally for the State of Israel.
    Masindi Mmbengwa, leader of the Unity Fellowship Church, said millions of South African Christians were opposed to the government's continued plans to sever ties with Israel.
    Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, said, "Instead of listening to Hamas, listen to us Christians. We are here representing millions of South Africans and we want the relationship with Israel to be strengthened."
    His message to the PA was: "You teach your children to hate Israelis. It is wrong.... Israelis teach their children to love, to be innovative."

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Israeli Orthopedics Robotics Company Makes Complicated Adjustments Automatically (Globes)
    Orthopedics robotics company OrthoSpin announced it has raised $3 million for its smart, robotic external fixation system for orthopedic treatment, led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
    Effective treatment currently requires patients to manually adjust fixation devices on a daily basis. Adjustment errors and non-compliance often result in poor clinical outcomes.
    The OrthoSpin system makes pre-programmed adjustments automatically and continuously - without the need for patient involvement.
    Using smaller incremental adjustments, the system has the potential to change the outcomes of treatments such as bone lengthening, setting complex fractures, and correcting deformities.

Israeli Startups Raise Record $3.2 Billion in First Half of 2018 (TheMarker-Ha'aretz)
    Israeli startup companies raised a record $3.2 billion in the first half of 2018, the Israel Venture Capital Research Center and ZAG law firm said Tuesday.
    ZAG managing partner Shmulik Zysman attributed the growth to China and European investors with an interest in automotive technology.

Israeli Exports to China Hit Record High (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli exports to China set a new record in the first half of 2018 and reached $2.8 billion, up 73% over the same period in 2017, the Israel Governmental Export Institute reported Monday.

Israeli Tech to Beat Back Fruit Fly Infestations - Rutam Vora (The Hindu-India)
    Oriental fruit fly infestation causes over $3 billion in damage yearly to India's $9.2-billion mango industry. Israeli firm Biofeed offers an environment-friendly and non-hazardous technology to reduce infestations.
    "Our aim is to reduce the infestation in fruit crops by about 50%. But in our experiment in Karnataka, we were successful in reducing the infestation by as much as 95%," said Biofeed founder Dr. Nimrod Israely.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Gen. Soleimani: Red Sea No Longer Safe for U.S. Vessels - Adil al Salmi
    Iran's Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani said on Thursday that the Red Sea was no longer safe for U.S. vessels. Responding to President Trump, the Iranian commander said, "You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it." He praised Iranian President Rouhani's earlier threats to close the Hormuz Strait if Washington enforces new sanctions against Iran next November. Soleimani added: "We are near you, where you can't even imagine. We are the nation of martyrdom."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • U.S. Cybersecurity Analysts Uncover New "Highly Active" Iranian Espionage Group - Morgan Chalfant
    U.S.-based cybersecurity firm Symantec released information Wednesday on a new "highly active" espionage group based in Iran that is breaking into networks in government and the energy, telecommunications, financial services, and transportation sectors in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and Afghanistan. Symantec obtained a target list of 800 organizations, written in Farsi. Symantec observed the group executing attacks on 40 organizations, using a mix of publicly available hacking tools and custom malware. (The Hill)
  • Death Notices for Syrian Prisoners Are Suddenly Piling Up - Louisa Loveluck and Zakaria Zakaria
    Since the spring, the Syrian government has released hundreds of death notices for political detainees to resolve the fate of thousands of missing Syrians as the regime prevails in its civil war. Many report that prisoners have been dead since the early years of the conflict. Authorities no longer fear they will provoke fiercer resistance by revealing the multitude of deaths in regime custody, experts say. Since 2011, 104,000 people have been detained or forcibly disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. (Washington Post)
        See also Assad's Victory Posters Appear Everywhere in Damascus - Hassan Ammar
    Bashar Assad's face is everywhere, in every public square, market and street corner in Damascus, as well as on the roads and highways leading to the Syrian capital. Buoyed by military advances over the past year that have completely secured Damascus and the surrounding suburbs, the government is openly boasting about its victories. "Welcome to victorious Syria," one says. "The Assad has triumphed" reads another, a play on Assad's family name which means the lion in Arabic. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabber Murders Israeli, Wounds Two near Jerusalem - Yotam Berger
    On Thursday evening, Mohammed Tarek Dar Yusuf, 17, from Khobar in the West Bank, climbed over the fence around the Israeli community of Adam, 5 km. from Jerusalem, and stabbed to death Yotam Ovadia, 31, the father of two young children. He also critically wounded a 50-year-old man and lightly wounded another before being killed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Presses Hamas to Commit to a Truce with Israel and Pave the Way for Gaza's Reconstruction - Dina Ezzat
    Egypt told Hamas this week it needs to commit to the frail truce Cairo managed to secure between it and Israel, an informed Egyptian official said. While Hamas has been responsive, said the official, it needs to carry on being so if Cairo is to continue to try and secure a sustainable truce with Israel and encourage the U.S. to go ahead with a reconstruction plan for Gaza. He warned that in the "unlikely scenario" the truce failed completely and Israel does launch strikes, "Egypt would not immediately side with Hamas."  (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Egypt Is Winning Battle Against Islamic State in Sinai - For Now - Avi Issacharoff
    Egyptian Rafah, bordering Gaza, was a city with thousands of houses and tens of thousands of residents. It has been wiped off the face of the earth as part of the Egyptian army's campaign to remove homes from the Gaza border area in order to prevent smuggling. Egypt has succeeded in establishing a 3 1/2 km.-wide perimeter free of homes and residents along the entire border between Egypt and Hamas-run Gaza. The Egyptians forcibly transferred tens of thousands of people as part of their war against the Islamic State in Sinai.
        Casualties among Egyptian troops and civilians have decreased drastically, as has the number of security-related incidents in Sinai per week. Reasons for the success include more personnel, advanced intelligence-gathering technologies, and close security cooperation with Israel. Another factor is that Islamic State, as a de-facto state that can provide assistance, has been destroyed.
        Moreover, an influx of foreign activists into Sinai, mainly from countries of the former Soviet Union, has led to changes in relations with the local Bedouin tribes. The strengthening of foreign elements led to particularly cruel acts against the local population. Islamic State fighters hunted down smugglers who brought cigarettes to Gaza through the tunnels. The Bedouin saw this as a threat to their livelihood and many turned against Islamic State and provided intelligence to the Egyptian army. (Times of Israel)
        See also Egypt's Army Destroys Terrorism Infrastructure in Northern Sinai (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Jordanian Activists Denounce "Normalizing" Israeli Tourism - Suzanna Goussous
    Activists on Tuesday organized a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Tourism in Amman "to condemn the Ministry of Tourism's latest decisions to promote Israeli tourism to Jordan," said Mohammad Absi, head of the Etharrak anti-normalization campaign. "All the agreements for Zionists to enter Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra are to provoke the Jordanian people and to pressure them into gradually accepting the enemy."  (Jordan Times)
        See also Jordanian Professional Associations Protest Gas Deal with Israel - Suzanna Goussous
    The Professional Associations Council on Wednesday organized a demonstration in Irbid, protesting the ongoing construction of a 65-km. pipeline to link Jordan's north to Israel. The pipeline will distribute gas to power plants across the Kingdom to generate electricity.
        The pipeline will be completed by the end of 2019 and the gas is expected to arrive in Jordan in 2020. The government said the deal to purchase gas from the Israeli Leviathan field would save nearly $1 billion (JD700 million) annually on Jordan's energy bill. (Jordan Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Is the Dominant Actor in Syria - Orit Perlov and Udi Dekel
    Iran, and not Russia, has been the dominant actor in Syria. Iran dictates the fighting on the ground by the pro-Assad coalition, controls the Syria-Iraq and Syria-Lebanon border crossings, and tailors the re-organization of areas and communities based on the ethnic element. Iran wields much - and often decisive - influence on the pace of fighting, in consultation with Russia and Assad.
        Prior to operations by the pro-Assad coalition, first Iranian advisors assess the prospects for successful conquest. Then they meet with Russian liaison officers to coordinate the land and air operation. Military combat forces are then sent into the campaign - Syrian army forces and Shiite militias under Iranian command.
        Iran is gradually taking over a number of key areas in order to create a contiguous territorial presence between Iran and the Mediterranean Sea, first aiming at the easier portion and then proceeding to the more difficult parts.
        Iran conceals its control in Syria; it wants to act and influence behind the scenes, while integrating the forces under its command into the country's militias and military governmental framework. Russia is certainly aware that not only are the pro-Iranian Shiite militias not withdrawing from southern Syria, but they are even reinforced there. Presumably the Iranian project in Syria will continue, and forces identified with Iran will be deployed near the border in the Golan Heights under some kind of cover in the near future.
        It is highly questionable whether Russia and Assad have the will or the capability to get rid of the Iranian presence on Syrian territory, especially in view of the integration of Iranian commanders and Shiite fighters in the local forces. Orit Perlov, a research fellow at INSS, is the former co-editor of the Israel Foreign Ministry website in Arabic. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel is managing director of INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Video: Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights - Dore Gold
    Amb. Dore Gold told the House Subcommittee on National Security in Washington on July 17 that Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights will protect the Israeli military presence there - that must be continued. Therefore, U.S. recognition of Israel's sovereignty on the Golan would unquestionably be in Israel's security interest. It would deter aggression and also serve the interests of the anti-Iranian group among the Middle Eastern states. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Turkey's Rise Sparks New Friendship Between Israel and Greece - Yaroslav Trofimov
    It's hard to find a better example of how geopolitical realities trump ideology than the blossoming friendship between Israel and Greece. In the 1980s and 1990s, Greece was among Israel's harshest critics and a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. As the leader of Greece's leftist Syriza party before gaining office in 2015, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called to expel Israel's ambassador. Today, Tsipras has intensified cooperation with Israel.
        Turkish President Erdogan's increasingly hard-line foreign policy, which seeks to project Turkey's power across the region, threatened both Israel and Greece, uniting them like never before. "We have to...keep...in mind that to our east we are not neighboring Switzerland or Liechtenstein, but a very nervous and in some cases a very aggressive neighbor," said Yiannis Bournous, Tsipras' strategic planning chief. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Time to Talk to the EU about NGO Funding - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Based on the EU's own documents, extensive EU funds go to groups deeply involved in delegitimization and incitement against Israel, including BDS. The EU provided 1.5 million euros in 2016 to PARC - an agricultural NGO and leading BDS campaigner. The EU gave 1.76 million euros in 2016 to Norwegian People's Aid, which led the campaign calling on pension funds to withdraw investments from firms such as Motorola due to sales over the 1949 armistice lines.
        Millions of euros for Israeli and Palestinian political NGOs are channeled through at least five EU frameworks, making tracking difficult. The EU has no NGO funding program of comparable scale elsewhere in the world, and the funding process is protected by the type of official secrecy usually associated with nuclear weapons and other strategic projects. The writer is president of NGO Monitor and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Money Trail: The Millions Given by EU Institutions to NGOs with Ties to Terror and Boycotts against Israel (Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Researchers Reveal Decade-Old Bluetooth Breach - J.C. Torres
    Before two devices can communicate via Bluetooth, they have to undergo a pairing process that requires a secret key to encrypt the communication. But what if that key was not so secret? Cybersecurity researchers Prof. Eli Biham and graduate student Lior Neumann from the Technion in Israel were able to force devices to use a known encryption key. This means that an attacker would be able to see any data that flows between two compromised devices including anything you type on a Bluetooth keyboard, including passwords. The good news is that the parties involved have been given the chance to patch their software. (SlashGear)
  • American IDF Veteran Fought ISIS in Syria
    American IDF veteran Jonathan Leibovits described fighting in Syria against the Islamic State in an interview aired Saturday on Israeli television. Leibovits, who was born in Israel but grew up in Los Angeles, said he decided to volunteer to fight against the jihadist group following the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino that left 14 dead.
        "There was an attack in San Bernadino, which is only about half an hour away from where my family lives," Leibovits told Channel 10. "You know, they're coming to my home. I am very capable. I know what I'm doing, so I'm going to their home." In 2016, Leibovitz fought for six months alongside the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). "I was there purely because it was the right thing to do - to help as much as I can all the innocent children, women and elderly that are being killed on a daily basis."
        His most harrowing experience in Syria was rescuing two Yazidi girls he and another fighter discovered in a cage inside the home of a jihadist. The girls were so traumatized they initially didn't want to leave the cage. "They didn't know who we were. I'm a white guy and there's a French guy next to me....That instance really showed me how bad some people in this world really have it."  (Times of Israel)
  • From Mosquitoes to Blood for Soldiers, Bezalel Students Take Aim at World Woes - Ariella Gentin
    The Industrial Design department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem is holding an exhibition of graduate projects that aim to revolutionize our lives. Yehuda Hermann, 28, has developed a biological pesticide to kill mosquitoes without affecting the surrounding ecosystem. Through his technology, the whole area within a radius of 250 meters from where the mosquito laid its eggs becomes a deathbed for all future larvae.
        Netta Shanwald, 26, developed the BCarrier, a blood transportation kit meant to assist special forces operating in military zones. It keeps the blood cool and heats it to the appropriate temperature when needed. (Times of Israel)
  • Camp Koby Allows Bereaved Kids to Heal - Naomi Grant
    Camp Koby, started by Koby Mandell's family after he and his friend Yosef Ishran were killed by terrorists in 2001, now hosts about 400 kids each summer. "We saw that adults get a lot of support after a tragedy, but oftentimes the children are the silent victims," said Koby's mother, Sherri Mandell. "The campers leave with a sense of normalization," said camp director Ami Haziza. "Their fear, their pain and their feelings are validated and that is the greatest gift we can afford them. While we can't return their loss, we can give them the coping tools to deal with their bereavement and find strength in their daily lives."
        "Camp Koby takes that one thing that no one else can understand and no one else knows how to deal with and makes that the common thing between them, and that's what makes it so amazing, that they're not different and strange anymore, because when you're a bereaved child, you're always different," said head counselor Eliana Mandell, Koby's sister. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Yad Vashem Seeks to Pass the History of the Holocaust on to the Next Generation - Alan Rosenbaum
    In 2017, over 925,000 people visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. More than 45,000 individuals from around the world participated in online courses, while the Yad Vashem website registered 18.6 million visits.
        In 2017, Yad Vashem established the Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Educational Center at the IDF Training Campus in the Negev. Its programs are an integral part of IDF training activities, retelling the story of the Holocaust as a central event in the history of the Jewish people and examining Jewish identity, mutual responsibility, heroism, and attachment to the Land of Israel.
        Yad Vashem is far more than a memorial to the events of the past century. Its educational and commemorative activities, programs and courses ensure a greater commitment and understanding not only of the Jewish past, but also for the Jewish future and that of humanity as a whole. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israel, dug attack tunnels under the border, killed and wounded soldiers at the border fence, carried out suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism, and most recently is flying arson devices - kites and balloons - across the border to burn our lands.
  • All the while, in its guiding charter and in the speeches and propaganda of its leaders, it's told anybody who'll listen that it is bent on destroying Israel, that the Jews have no right to be here - or anywhere else for that matter - and that, sooner or later, it will wipe us out.
  • Hamas threatens that if we don't lift the blockade that Israel (and Egypt) impose on the territory it controls, it'll keep on attacking us. If we do lift that blockade, it is patently obvious, Hamas will immediately bring in more of the weaponry it needs in order to pursue its declared goal of destroying us.
  • It is quite astonishing to hear those who argue that Israel should ease the restrictions on access it imposes on Gaza - that is, that Israel should cooperate in its own destruction.
  • For weeks, Hamas has been mobilizing the Gaza masses to damage and break through the border fence. Defending that border, the Israeli army has killed 140 people - dozens of them Hamas members. Nobody would be dead, however, were it not for the Hamas-instigated violence.
  • Obviously, Israel is going to defend its border against terrorist attack. Obviously, Israel is going to retaliate when it comes under assault. And obviously, Israel is not going to lift the security blockade it imposes on Gaza so long as Hamas runs the Strip.
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