September 7, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Receives Precision-Guidance Systems for Heavy Rockets - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Hizbullah "recently received small numbers of GPS precision- guidance systems that will help it to convert some heavy rockets into accurate missiles," former deputy Mossad chief Naftali Granot told the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism on Thursday.
    However, IDF sources said Hizbullah still lacks precision- guided rockets.
    Granot said Hizbullah's self-confidence was high due to being on the winning side in the Syrian war.
    However, even with its increased abilities, he believed Israeli deterrence would keep Hizbullah from engaging Israel in a war.

89 Percent of Israelis Are Happy - Ilan Lazarovich (Israel Hayom)
    As Israel prepares to celebrate the 5779th year of the Hebrew calendar, Israel's population stands at 8,907,000, of whom 6,625,000 (74.4%) are Jews, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday.
    175,000 babies were born in Israel this past year, and 25,000 new immigrants arrived - 62% from Russia and Ukraine, 12% from France, and 10% from the U.S.
    Arabs in Israel number 1,864,000, 20.9% of the population.
    89% of Israelis polled said they were happy with their lives, while 84% assessed their health as "good."

Arab Living in Mexico Smuggles 6 Yemenis into U.S. (Judicial Watch)
    Federal authorities arrested Moayad Heider Mohammad Aldairi, 31, a Jordanian man living in Mexico, for smuggling six Yemeni nationals into the U.S. in 2017, the Department of Justice announced on July 30.
    Yemen is a major base for Islamic militants that is deemed a high security threat by the State Department.

Arrow 3 Missile Defense Canisters "Made in Mississippi" - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) announced Wednesday that the production of its Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile canisters has been moved to its subsidiary Stark Aerospace Inc., in Columbus, Mississippi.
    A ceremony was held marking the first delivery of the canisters to IAI, attended by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.
    Considered one of the world's best interceptors, the Arrow 3 is designed to intercept ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Iran's Fighter Jets Are Really Old - Paul Iddon (War Is Boring)
    On Aug. 21, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sat in the cockpit of what Iran described as a new, domestically-built fighter jet.
    Except the aircraft in question was conspicuously an F-5F, one of the 17 Iran bought from the U.S. during the rule of the Shah.
    Tehran took an old, very well-known jet fighter and claimed it was a new one, in full view of domestic and international audiences that would know better.
    American-made planes dating from the 1970s remain the backbone of the Iranian air force, together with 10 Soviet Su-22s flown from Saddam Hussein's Iraqi air force to Iran during the 1991 Gulf War to avoid destruction.
    Iran had a chance to buy 30 sophisticated Su-30 fighters from Russia but opted not to, probably because the Revolutionary Guards have never been comfortable with the regular Iranian military becoming too powerful.

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Israel Displays Respect for the Civil Rights of Its Muslim Citizens - Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury (Asian Tribune-Sweden)
    The Israeli government allows only Muslims to offer prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in order not to offend Islamic sensibilities.
    Despite the Temple Mount being Judaism's holiest place, the site is managed by an Islamic religious committee [Waqf] with a history of destroying priceless Jewish artifacts unearthed at the site.
    Israel is home to over 400 mosques, a fivefold increase since 1988.
    The Israeli government also provides the salaries of 300 imams and muezzins, as well as funding for Islamic schools and colleges throughout the country.

Israeli Technology Can Change the Lives of African Farmers - Jonathan Weber Rosen (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Startup Nation Central (SNC) recently sent a delegation of agri-tech experts to Kenya for a project to improve food security in the country.
    The delegation partnered with the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works to "increase the incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021."

Israeli Radiation Therapy Firm Alpha Tau Raises $29 Million - Tova Cohen (Reuters)
    Alpha Tau Medical, an Israeli developer of alpha radiation cancer therapy, said on Wednesday it raised $29 million in a private financing round.
    The company said its technology delivers high-precision alpha radiation that is released when radioactive substances decay inside the tumor.
    The short-range alpha particles kill cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.
    Preliminary clinical results showed the patients' tumor sizes reducing and more than 70% completely disappearing within a few days after treatment.

Israel Drone System to Drop Food to North Dakota Golfers - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Flytrex, a startup that uses drones to deliver food to Icelanders, has struck up a partnership with North Dakota's King's Walk Golf Course and EASE Drones, a U.S. provider of drone services, to launch "the first fully operational golf course drone delivery system in the U.S."
    The service will enable patrons to order food and beverages from the course's clubhouse restaurant straight to the greens.

Chinese Company to Buy Israel's ColorChip for $300 Million - Tal Shahaf (Globes)
    Israeli company ColorChip is to be acquired by a Chinese company for $300 million.
    ColorChip has developed high bandwidth electro-optic components for data transmission in the datacenters of large enterprises such as Facebook.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • President Trump Tells Jewish Leaders: Aid Cuts to Palestinians Meant to Pressure Them to Negotiate Peace - Jacob Kornbluh
    President Donald Trump told Jewish community leaders and rabbis during a pre-High Holidays conference call on Thursday that recent cuts in aid to the Palestinians were made to pressure them to return to the negotiating table. "The U.S. was paying them a tremendous amount of money, and I say, 'You get money, but we are not paying you until we make a deal. If we don't make a deal, we are not paying you.'"
        "I don't think it's disrespectful at all" to use U.S. assistance as a bargaining chip, Trump added. "I think it's disrespectful when people don't come to the table."  (Jewish Insider)
        See also Transcript: President Trump's Conference Call with U.S. Jewish Leaders (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Will Seek to "Destroy" Any Iranian Military Presence in Syria
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in interviews on Tuesday: "We don't want to see Iran turning Syria into its outpost against Israel. We will try to destroy any Iranian military presence on Syrian territory, be it an air base, a naval base, a missile production factory, or the Shi'ite militias that they are bringing there from Pakistan, Iraq, and all of the Middle East."
        "They understand that we are monitoring, we are watching, and we have all the political will and determination to prevent their desire to turn Syria into their forward base against Israel."  (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty-Radio Farda)
  • U.S. Says It Will Stay in Syria until Jihadists Defeated, Demands Iran Leave
    U.S. special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, said in Washington Thursday, "We're no longer pulling out [of Syria] by the end of the year; we're going to stay in until we have an enduring defeat of (the Islamic State)." The other pillar of U.S. policy was the complete withdrawal of all Iranian-commanded forces from Syrian territory, he said.
        The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday it was imposing sanctions on four individuals and five companies that have facilitated weapons or fuel transfers, or provided other financial or material support, to the Assad government. "The United States will continue to target those who facilitate transactions with the murderous Assad regime and support ISIS," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. (AP-New York Times)
  • Israel Is Building a Wall near the Border with Lebanon - Ilan Ben Zion
    Israel is building a wall along its northern border to protect civilians from Hizbullah attacks. Israel insists the entire barrier is being constructed in Israeli territory, and the UN peacekeeping force in the area agrees. Israelis fear there could be a renewal of hostilities as the civil war winds down in Syria.
        Brig.-Gen. Eran Ofir said seven miles of the 80-mile (130-km.) barrier has been built. Most of the barrier is a concrete wall topped by steel mesh, sensors and surveillance cameras. Steel fencing is used in especially rugged areas. (AP-Fox News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Ambassador Friedman Believes Golan Will Be "Part of Israel Forever" - Ariel Kahana
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israel Hayom in an interview published Friday: "I can't imagine a circumstance where the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria. I cannot imagine, frankly, a circumstance where the Golan Heights is not a part of Israel forever. There's not even an indigenous population in the Golan Heights seeking autonomy."
        "So I think you'd put Israel at a great security disadvantage by giving up the high ground of the Golan Heights. Needless to say, I can't think of a less deserving person to receive this kind of reward than Bashar Assad. So there are a whole host of reasons why I would expect the status quo to remain." Friedman stressed that the Trump administration may consider official recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory in the future.
        Friedman revealed that Israeli intelligence had helped prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, and spoke about President Trump's appreciation for Israel's success. "He likes people who win, he thinks that success breeds more success and he knows how difficult it is to succeed, so I think he has greater admiration for what Israel has accomplished."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Amb. Friedman: U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem a Signal of Trust and Strength - Herb Keinon
    At no point was the U.S. decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem "designed to extract any concessions from Israel," U.S. Ambassador David Friedman told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. "The embassy was moved to Jerusalem because the American people have, through their elected officials for the last 25 years, directed the president to do exactly that....It has sent exactly the right signal to our friends and to our foes: that the United States can be trusted at its word; that the United States does not act out of fear, but out of strength."
        Friedman said that while there "are a lot of good Palestinian people out there who don't celebrate terrorists, they're being drowned out by those who do." Regarding the U.S. peace blueprint that the Palestinians have rejected, sight unseen, he said: "The idea of rejecting a plan that you haven't seen strikes me as being grossly irresponsible. You want to read it and tell us what you don't like about it, by all means. You want to read it and say, 'It's not acceptable.' Sure, that's your right. But to not know what's in there, and to reject it out of hand?"
        Friedman dismissed the argument that Prime Minister Netanyahu was getting too close to the U.S. president: "Donald Trump is the president of the United States; the United States is the most important ally of the State of Israel; it's also the richest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world. There is no Israeli leader...who would not embrace the relationship with Donald Trump. The idea that the prime minister of Israel - whoever he might be - has the luxury not to deal with the American president with respect and loyalty, to me just makes no sense at all."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Reveals 200 Israeli Attacks on Iranian Targets in Syria - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF revealed on Tuesday that since the beginning of 2017, it has attacked more than 200 Iranian or pro-Iranian targets across Syria in order to eradicate the Iranian presence there. The attacks are also meant to send a message of power throughout the Middle East, establish Israeli deterrence, postpone the next war, and prevent Israel's enemies from arming themselves with advanced weapons.
        IDF intelligence learned that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards had concocted a multi-year plan to establish naval and air bases in Syria as well as bases for thousands of soldiers and local Shiite militias to serve as an army to fight against the "Zionist enemy." Their model was Yemen, where pro-Iranian Houthis are launching missiles at Riyadh. (Ynet News)
  • IDF: Hizbullah Controls Lebanon's Army, We Won't Distinguish between Them in Next War - Yaniv Kubovich
    Hizbullah is virtually in control of the Lebanese army, a senior officer in the IDF Northern Command said Wednesday. "The distinction we made between Hizbullah and Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War [in 2006] was a mistake. In the next war we will not make this distinction. We will hit Lebanon and any infrastructure that would contribute to the fighting."
        "Hizbullah upgraded its capabilities through its fighting in Syria," he said. In the next war it will try to carry out a penetration into Israeli territory. (Ha'aretz)
  • Peace Index: 75 Percent of Israeli Jews Oppose Declaring East Jerusalem as Capital of Palestinian State - Profs. Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann
    69% of Israeli Jews and 63% of Israeli Arabs do not believe that talks between Israel and the PA will lead to peace, according to the Peace Index survey of Israeli opinion taken on August 28-29, 2018.
        75% of Israeli Jews oppose declaring east Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state. 70% of Israeli Jews oppose evacuating all the isolated Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 77% of Israeli Jews oppose recognizing that in Israel's War of Independence a catastrophe was caused to the Palestinian people.
        81% of Israeli Jews oppose freeing Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel. 83% of Israeli Jews support the opinion that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
        66% of Israeli Jews and 58% of Israeli Arabs agree that "Most of the Palestinians have not come to terms with Israel's existence and would destroy it if they could."  (Tel Aviv University and Israel Democracy Institute)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • IAEA Still Needs to Investigate Military Dimension of Iran's Nuclear Program - Olli Heinonen
    The discovery of an atomic archive in Tehran raised new concerns about whether Iran had declared all of its nuclear-related activities to the IAEA. The IAEA has not yet resolved all of the 12 areas of possible military dimensions (PMD) of the Iranian nuclear program that it had previously identified. Therefore, the IAEA secretariat remains obliged to continue its investigation and report its findings.
        There remains a need to resolve the PMD issue, especially in light of the large archive of documents, blueprints, and CDs related to nuclear weapons design work that were found and whose existence was disclosed by Israel. Maintaining such an extensive cache related to the design and manufacturing of nuclear weapons calls into question Iran's compliance with provisions of both the Nonproliferation Treaty and the JCPOA, in which Iran committed never to "seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons."
        The writer is the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and head of its Department of Safeguards. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Impact of the UNRWA Funding Cutoff - James Lindsay
    Washington's announcement that it was ceasing all contributions to UNRWA, the primary aid organization for Palestinian refugees, should not have a dire impact on the Palestinians. Only a small percentage of UNRWA-registered refugees receive food rations and it has sufficient resources to take care of those services even without U.S. funds. Only about 4% of UNRWA's budget is devoted to "infrastructure and camp improvement." Again, the agency has sufficient resources to cover this.
        UNRWA's biggest expenses lie in education (54% of the budget) and healthcare (17%). UNRWA could reduce the costs of these programs by making them means-tested, such as charging a small fee for visiting a UNRWA clinic. 16% of the budget falls under "Support Services," including promoting "the rights of Palestine refugees under international law, through the monitoring and reporting of violations and by engaging in private and public advocacy," principally with regard to alleged Israeli actions. The task of representing Palestinians against Israel should not be the responsibility of a humanitarian organization. In short, UNRWA has enough funds to finance its core functions without U.S. assistance.
        Jordan may see some positives in the situation - especially if Washington used the funds it withholds from UNRWA to quietly boost assistance to Jordan. The king has long sought to unify his population, so he may favor replacing UNRWA's Palestinian-focused services with Jordanian government services. The writer served as UNRWA's chief lawyer and general counsel between 2002 and 2007. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The End to U.S. Funding to UNRWA - Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky and Kobi Michael
    UNRWA adds some 10,000 new fifth and sixth generation refugees to its lists per month, recognizes some two million Jordanian citizens of Palestinian descent as Palestinian refugees, and grants refugee status to convicted terrorists.
        UNRWA has nearly 30,000 employees (the majority are Palestinian) to care for 5.6 million Palestinian refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) employs 9,300 people to address the needs of 39 million refugees and displaced persons. The budget allocated to each Palestinian refugee under the auspices of UNRWA is 40% higher than the budget allocated to refugees under UNHCR auspices. U.S. contributions to UNRWA were three times the sum contributed by the EU.
        UNRWA in its current format is designed to perpetuate Palestinian refugee status and cultivate the next generation of Palestinians on the ethos of returning to their ancestral homes in Israel. While dismantling UNRWA will not change the Palestinian narrative, prolonging the agency's current operational framework sends a message that does not help narrow conceptual gaps between the sides.
        Dr. Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky is a research fellow at INSS. Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at INSS, served as deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
        See also Palestinians, You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee - Alex Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky (Wall Street Journal)
  • Will There Be a Sea Change in the Middle East? - Norman A. Bailey
    From Egypt to Iran and from Turkey to Oman, there are very few constants in the Middle East. There must be at least a dozen plots on the life of President el-Sisi of Egypt at any moment. The Iranian clerical hierarchy is sitting on a seething mass of ethnic, religious, economic and social movements. Turkey's would-be Sultan, President Erdogan, has as little understanding of economic reality as the ayatollahs of Iran.
        Israel is a small island of relative stability and huge scientific, technological and military advantages over all the other players with the exception of Russia. It also has the advantage of having an integrated set of strategies in the political, economic and military fields as well as having the best intelligence services in the world.
        An extremely significant opportunity is emerging for Israel to create a sub-regional alliance with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and perhaps Kuwait, not only based on their shared fear of Iran, but also presenting those countries an opportunity to apply Israeli technologies in water management, agriculture, public health, security and communications.
        The hope is that all the sub rosa intelligence and security cooperation that has been going on for years will give way to open economic, scientific and technological cooperation and diplomatic recognition. The writer is professor of economics and national security at the National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • IDF Ground Forces Train with Integrated Combat Teams - Yaakov Lappin
    In recent days, the Israel Defense Forces held a large-scale war drill in the north to test a new model of combat teams. The new model mixes battalions from the armored corps, the infantry, and the engineering corps, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the army.
        Lt.-Col. Radi Azme, commander of the 75th battalion and an Israeli Druze officer, said that despite the new fighting doctrine, structure and weapons, what ultimately wins wars is the leadership ability of commanders during combat and the fighting spirit of the forces. "There is a total belief among us - the commanders that lead the formations - in the justice of our path, and it fills us with a sense of mission. We are also driven by an obligation to our families and country. From there, we embrace all of the missions we receive."  (JNS)

  • Weekend Features

  • Video: Archaeologists Scour Israel's Coast in Bid to Preserve Relics - Rinat Harash
    Underwater archaeologists have been scouring the seabed where a gas pipeline is being built off Israel's coast in a bid to preserve relics near the ancient port of Dor, once a key Mediterranean trade hub. The pipeline from the deep-sea Leviathan gas field, due to begin production next year, comes ashore near Dor Beach.
        The Israel Antiquities Authority over the past year has found earthenware jugs, anchors, and the remains of wrecked ships. The pipeline is being buried 15-20 meters below the seabed to minimize any impact on the surroundings. (Reuters)
  • Trove of 2,000-Year-Old Clay Seals Found in Israel's Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park - Amanda Borschel-Dan
    A trove of over a thousand 2,000-year-old clay impressions used to seal documents was discovered in August in a cave complex at the Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park in Israel. The clay seals sealed the knots of twine binding papyrus scrolls - hundreds of them - that did not survive their 2,000 years in the caves' moist atmosphere. The imprint of the string and the impression of the papyrus is still visible on the seals.
        The quantity and quality of the seals is rare on an international scale, said Dr. Ian Stern, who directs the excavation at the site. "It really underlines the fact that the city [of Maresha] was a major cosmopolitan center." Dr. Donald Ariel, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Coin Department, said the seals primarily date from the 2nd century BCE. It was a North American youth group participating in the Archaeological Seminars' Dig for a Day program that helped Stern discover the opening to the new cave complex. (Times of Israel)
  • Virtual Reality Tour Brings Biblical-Era Jerusalem to Life
    The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem's Old City has launched a new virtual reality tour - "Step into History" - that allows visitors to experience how Jerusalem looked 2,000 years ago. Working with archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Lithodomos VR, an Australian startup, created 360-degree simulations of how Jerusalem's citadel, palaces, streets and ancient Jewish temple are believed to have appeared during in the first century BCE. (AP-New York Times)

Iran and Turkey Divert Iraq's River Waters, Leaving Iraq on the Brink of Catastrophe - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The failing water infrastructure in Basra, Iraq, is causing plague-like conditions in the local population. Some 500 to 600 individuals are admitted to emergency rooms daily because of water poisoning accompanied by skin diseases.
  • The Tigris River, which crosses the city and used to be the main source of drinking water and agriculture, is almost dry and one can cross the river on foot. A few years ago, one needed to cross on bridges or take a boat because of the depth.
  • The main factors which contributed to this humanitarian catastrophe are the six-year-long ongoing drought and, more importantly, the fact that both Turkey and Iran are diverting water away from Iraq's rivers.
  • The two countries have constructed dams on the Euphrates and the Tigris, reducing the flow of water into Iraq by more than 40%. At least 42 rivers and springs from Iran have been diverted by the Iranians. The Turks have built five big dams on the Tigris and several minor ones (part of a grand design to build 14 on the Euphrates and eight on the Tigris).
  • Nearly 30% of the Tigris' waters originate in Iran, where the Daryan Dam was completed and opened in 2018, leaving central and southern Iraq without adequate water. Two additional Iranian dams have reduced the flow in the Karoun and Kerkhe rivers, two main tributaries of the Tigris north of Basra.
  • Moreover, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraq used to generate power from 12 hydroelectric stations. Reduced water flow has left major Iraqi cities with only an intermittent supply of electricity.

    The writer, a special analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
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