September 5, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader Admits "Marches of Return" at Gaza Border Were Staged to Avert Internal Crisis - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Gaza's Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar admitted Tuesday, "After the reconciliation efforts (between Hamas and Fatah) reached an impasse, a number of factions planned to cause an internal explosion in Gaza, but the Marches of Return thwarted the plan."

Israeli Planes Said to Attack Iranian Military Sites in Syria (Times of Israel)
    Israel carried out airstrikes against Iranian military targets in the Syrian provinces of Hama and Tartus on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
    Three Syrian soldiers were killed and 14 Syrians and 9 Iranians were injured.

Syrian and Russian Planes Pound Last Rebel Stronghold in Syria - Angus McDowall and Tulay Karadeniz (Reuters)
    Russian and Syrian jets on Tuesday bombarded countryside around Jisr al-Shughour on the western edge of the rebel enclave of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a rebel source reported.
    Idlib's dominant rebel faction is Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance spearheaded by al-Qaeda's former official affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.
    UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said the Nusra Front and al-Qaeda had an estimated 10,000 fighters in Idlib.

U.S. Embassy Bombing Attempt in Cairo Misfires - David D. Kirkpatrick and Mohamed Ezz (New York Times)
    An apparent attempt to bomb the American Embassy in Cairo failed on Tuesday when an explosive detonated prematurely in the backpack of a would-be attacker, the Egyptian government said.
    A video from a security camera showed a small explosion knock down a man with a backpack as he walked toward the embassy compound.

Israeli Tech to Help Nab Wanted Criminals (Times of India)
    An intelligent patrolling system developed by the Israeli government will be used for the first time in India at Saurashtra region's biggest annual fair beginning Sunday.
    Known and wanted criminals will be identified with the help of a body camera and voice recorder fitted on the jackets of policemen.
    Rajkot police commissioner Manoj Agrawal said, "If a person with a criminal background comes to the fair after changing his/her look...using the Israeli technology of face and voice recognition we can identify them easily."
    The video from the body camera will be transmitted to the police control room where, based on facial recognition, an alert message about the suspect will be sent to the cops on the ground.
    Police personnel will then talk to him/her and the voice will be transmitted to the control room for a database search.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Britain's Labour Party Backs Full International Definition of Anti-Semitism, Adds Caveat for "Freedom of Expression" on Israel
    The British Labour party's National Executive Committee on Tuesday adopted the international definition of anti-Semitism, with a caveat to ensure "freedom expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians." Labour adopted all 11 of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance examples of anti-Semitism, after having previously only accepted seven.
        Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl said the decision "is very long overdue and regrettable that Labour has wasted a whole summer trying to dictate to Jews what constitutes offense against us."  (Jewish News-UK)
        See also UK Jewish Groups React to Labour's Adoption of Anti-Semitism Definition - Michael Bachner (Times of Israel)
  • Philippine President Duterte Thanks Netanyahu for Israel's "Critical Help" in Ending ISIS Siege of Marawi - Virgil Lopez
    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday in Jerusalem thanked Israel for help he deemed "critical" in defeating Islamic State-inspired rebels that laid siege to Marawi City last year. [Militants seeking to establish a caliphate for the Islamic State in Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur province, fought a 5-month urban battle with Philippine government security forces from May to October 2017.]
        "Mr. Prime Minister, I can only thank you so much especially for the critical help that you have extended my country in a time when we needed it most." Duterte declined to name the "very substantial and crucial" equipment, but said Sunday during a meeting with the Filipino community in Israel that Israel provided "most of the intelligence gadgets that we used to win the Marawi siege."
        Duterte also hailed the "kindness and benevolence" of Israel especially in hosting some 28,000 Filipinos, mostly working as caregivers. "They have been very happy working here," he said.
        Duterte noted that Philippine President Manuel Quezon offered shelter to 1,300 Jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe in 1937. The Philippines was also the only Asian state that voted for the UN Partition Plan in 1947 that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1957. (GMA News-Philippines)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Amb. Friedman: We've Thrown $10 Billion at Palestinians; Peace Isn't a Millimeter Closer
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, speaking Tuesday at a reception to mark the Jewish New Year, said, "Since 1994, the United States has thrown more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians....We found that these expenditures were bringing the region no closer to peace or stability, not even by a millimeter. To spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund stipends to terrorists and their families, to expend funds to perpetuate rather than to mitigate refugee status, and to finance hate-filled textbooks - I ask you, how does that provide value to the United States or the region?" The U.S., he said, is "not in the business of, as they say, throwing good money after bad."
        "Make no mistake, the USA is a generous nation and we would truly love to invest in this region for the return on investment of peace and stability in Israel and a better quality of life for the Palestinians. Indeed, we continue to provide 40% of the funding for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR, in contrast to UNRWA, seeks to end statelessness, not deploy it as a political weapon."
        Regarding Iran, he said, "We are beginning to see encouraging signs that the Iranian enterprise - the world's principal state sponsor of terrorism and an enemy that publicly vows to destroy Israel - is under extraordinary pressure....With every new day there's a growing basis for optimism. The pressure on Iran will continue to mount, and I am confident that this enemy - the great challenge of our generation - will enter the dustbin of history among the other evildoers who have threatened the U.S. and Israel in the past."  (Times of Israel-Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Said to Rebuff Trump Request to Meet; Wants Kushner, Greenblatt Fired
    President Trump offered to meet PA President Abbas later this month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in an attempt to rectify their troubled ties, Israel's Hadashot TV reported. However, Abbas responded that he would only accept such a meeting in return for significant diplomatic gestures. In addition, he demanded that Trump fire his Middle East negotiating team, including envoy Jason Greenblatt and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
        The Trump administration has now indicated that its peace proposal will not be unveiled until after the U.S. midterm elections in November and possibly not until well into 2019. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinians in Ramallah Burn Photos of Trump, U.S. Officials - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian protesters in Ramallah on Tuesday burned photos of President Donald Trump, Ambassador David Friedman, and presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt outside the offices of the America House - the U.S. Consulate General's cultural center - during a protest against the U.S. decision to cut all aid to UNRWA. The protesters called for the expulsion of all U.S. officials working in the West Bank. Muwafak Sahwil, Secretary-General of Fatah in Ramallah, accused the U.S. of "aggression" against the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran to Deploy Basij Special Forces to Suppress Domestic Unrest - Iran Desk
    Brig.-Gen. GholamHossein Gheibparvar, commander of the Basij Forces, the volunteer arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has said the Basij Special Forces are prepared to "sacrifice themselves" to disperse domestic riots quickly. He said the repressive measures his Special Forces - the Fatehin - employ would intensify in light of the mounting popular unrest and numerous labor strikes as the country's economic crisis deepens.
        Gheibparvar said that in the coming days the Basij forces would be conducting patrols involving 700,000 troops in the centers of the large cities in a show of force. The rare public exposure of the Fatehin is part of the regime's efforts to deter the population and prevent widespread protests. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • At Last, Some Moral Clarity on UNRWA - Amnon Lord
    The U.S. decision to end funding for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, brings some much-needed moral clarity to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. UNRWA, and the refugee story it supports, serves to perpetuate the conflict by falsely claiming that there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. According to the Middle East Forum, the number of refugees who fled Israel in 1948 and are still alive is closer to 20,000.
        UN mechanisms, together with Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization, have prevented the absorption of these refugees in the countries to which they fled, thereby turning them into cannon fodder for the combative, vengeful policy they have adopted against the State of Israel.
        In the long run, the move will force the Palestinians to undergo a transformation that will see them invest in education instead of attack tunnels, terrorist activity and missile production. The American move asserts that the Palestinians are responsible for the fact that there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinian side. It is the Palestinians who need to change their outlook and not the Israeli government. (Israel Hayom)

  • The number of Palestinians registered by UNRWA as refugees is at least four times inflated, Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Labor Knesset member who served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told The Israel Project on Tuesday.
  • Of the 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza, 1.4 million are registered by UNRWA as refugees. "Almost all of them have been born in Gaza and lived there all their lives. By now their parents have been born in Gaza. Their grandparents have been born in Gaza. And yet they claim to be refugees from Palestine. I think we can all agree that Gaza is Palestine."
  • Of the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees that UNRWA currently services, 40% live in Jordan as citizens and enjoy full access to state services, including health and education. "So 80% of Palestinians east and west of the Jordan River are not even refugees," Wilf said.
  • She added that attempts to appease Gaza through financial investments and economic initiatives have failed because the vast majority of Gazans don't care about the future of Gaza. They see it "as a temporary" home, before they can resettle in what is now Israel.
  • UNRWA is "wholly devoted to one political goal, which is the goal of return," Wilf said. "But return was established at the end of the [1947-49] war as the continuation of the war by other means."