September 25, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Destroyed Rocket Factory, Iranian Aircraft - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Satellite images of recent Israeli airstrikes in Latakia show a military rocket factory and a 155-meter-long ammunition depot were completely wiped out.
    In addition, satellite footage of an attack on Damascus Airport showed the remnant of an aircraft, apparently a Boeing 747 of Fars Air Qeshm, an Iranian airline affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
    After the Latakia attack, the IDF said: "IDF aircraft attacked a facility from which the Syrian army intended to transfer systems for manufacturing high-precision-guided weapons for Iran and Hizbullah."
    "The weapons are meant to attack Israel and constitute an intolerable threat to it."

Corbyn Says Labour Government Would Recognize Palestinian State (Press Association-Daily Mail-UK)
    A Labour government would recognize an independent state of Palestine "as soon as we take office," UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Labour Friends of Palestine on Monday.

Monitor: Four Years of Coalition Strikes on Syria Kill 3,300 Civilians (AFP-France 24)
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that U.S.-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria had killed 3,331 civilians since 2014.
    "Among those killed are 826 children and 615 women," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
    The coalition puts the toll at just over 1,000 civilians in both Syria and Iraq, and says it does all it can to prevent civilian deaths.

"Hizbullah Treasurer" Arrested in Brazil (BBC News)
    Police in Brazil have arrested Assad Ahmad Barakat, a Lebanese national, accused by the U.S. of being one of the main people who help finance Hizbullah.

If Spain Recognizes a Palestinian State, Israel May Recognize Catalonia (JTA)
    After Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell confirmed Thursday that Spain is pushing the EU to recognize the State of Palestine, Angel Mas, the head of ACOM - one of Spain's most high-profile organizations defending Israel - said that Israel may respond by recognizing Spain's Catalonia region as a state.
    ACOM has won dozens of court cases against organizations promoting a boycott of Israel.

Israeli Doctors Bring Cataract Treatment to the Developing World - Noa Amouyal (Jerusalem Post)
    MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation - has run eye camps across Africa to aid people with cataracts.
    Amb. Gil Haskel, the head of MASHAV, said: "They come in blind, and within 30 minutes of treatment they have full vision."
    "Once they open their eyes, the first thing they see in front of them is an Israeli doctor and an Israeli flag, and that is always very heartwarming."

Newborn Joins 300 White Rhinoceroses in Israel - Yehuda Shlezinger (Israel Hayom)
    Israel's Ramat Gan safari welcomed a 50-kg. (110-pound) baby white rhinoceros on Aug. 14.
    The baby rhino joins 300 white rhinoceroses at the safari, the largest such group in the European Endangered Species Program.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia to Send Syria S-300 Antiaircraft System - Anton Troianovski
    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday that Moscow would send S-300 ground-to-air missile systems to Syria in the next two weeks in the wake of the downing by Syria last week of a Russian reconnaissance plane. Israel has long opposed such deliveries.
        President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call Monday that the missile delivery was meant primarily to "counter any potential threat to the lives of Russian service members." Netanyahu told Putin that the transfer of advanced military systems to "irresponsible hands" would increase the dangers in the region and that Israel would continue to defend its security and interests. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Knows How to Deal with the S-300 - Yaniv Kubovich
    The Israel Air Force knows how to deal with the Russian S-300 air defense system. The S-300 system, and the more advanced S-400, have been deployed in Syria since 2016. Moreover, Israel has warned in the past that if Assad's army obtained the system, and that if missiles are directed against Israeli aircraft, it will destroy the system. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Warns Russia over Advanced Missile Defense for Syria - Matthew Lee and Jonathan Lemire
    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday: "We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope...they would reconsider....We have American forces in the area we're concerned about. The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior."
        Bolton also said the U.S. would keep a military presence in Syria until Iran is no longer active there. "We're not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias."  (AP)
  • Gunmen Kill Dozens at Military Parade in Iran - Richard Perez-Pena
    Gunmen killed at least 25 people and wounded 60 on Saturday in an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, the capital of Iran's Khuzestan province, home to most of the country's Arab minority. The dead and injured were a mix of Revolutionary Guards and civilian onlookers. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, "Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their U.S. masters accountable."  (New York Times)
        See also Significance of Attack on Military Parade in Iran - Babak Dehghanpisheh
    Saturday's deadly assault on an Iranian Revolutionary Guards parade dealt a stunning blow to Iran's security establishment, illustrating that Iran's elite force can be vulnerable to guerrilla-style operations. An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed responsibility for the attack. So did Islamic State. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel and Russia to Improve Coordination Mechanism - Yoav Zitun
    Israel and Russia will examine how to improve the coordination mechanism between the two countries after a Russian plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire last week, a senior IDF official said. He confirmed that "Syria launched most of its missiles while the our planes were already in Israel's territory and the missiles fired at the Russian plane were fired after our planes had already landed at their base. The Syrians fired...anti-aircraft fire in an irresponsible manner, in all directions, and in a way that endangers anyone flying over the area....The Russian plane...was east of Latakia, dozens of kilometers from the attack zone."
        "Our notification of the operation was given more than a minute before the attack (contrary to the Russian claim). We left them a copy of the recording, as well as the main points of the investigation. We showed them proof regarding the site being attacked, the significance of the attack and its consequences."  (Ynet News)
  • 10,000 Palestinians Riot along Gaza Border on Friday - Anna Ahronheim
    More than 10,000 Palestinians took part in violent demonstrations along the Gaza border fence on Friday, throwing explosive devices, grenades and stones at IDF troops, and burning tires, while there were a number of attempts to cross the border fence. One IDF soldier was wounded from shrapnel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Arson Balloons, Kites Spark 6 Fires in Israel on Saturday - Ilana Curiel
    Incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza caused six fires in Israel on Saturday. (Ynet News)
        See also Gaza Arson Balloons Spark 9 Fires in Israel on Sunday, 8 Fires on Monday - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Putin's Missiles for Syria - Editorial
    On Monday Russia announced that it plans to send its highly capable S-300 missile system to its client regime in Syria within two weeks. Optimists who think Vladimir Putin is going to work with Israel and the U.S. to push Iran out of Syria may have to think again.
        Israel is frequently sending planes into Syrian airspace to slow Iran's relentless efforts to establish a military presence. Iran wants permanent bases for weapons and militia fighters to extend its imperial reach and directly threaten Israel. Israel can't tolerate that buildup, especially with Hizbullah in nearby Lebanon having an arsenal of 150,000 missiles. It has no choice but to prevent a Revolutionary Guard beachhead on its border. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Europe's Leading Companies Are Bowing to U.S. Sanctions - David Adesnik and Saeed Ghasseminejad
    Corporate Europe's leading multinational firms, such as Airbus, Maersk, Peugeot, Total, and Siemens, are bowing to the pressure of Washington's unilateral sanctions on Iran. Our study of the efforts of 136 European companies to conduct business with Iran identified 52 European firms that have clearly indicated they will cut ties with Tehran. No European company in the Global 500 plans to defy sanctions. The one firm that tried, Renault, soon chose to back down rather than put itself directly in the U.S. Treasury's crosshairs.
        A year ago, the Iranian rial was trading at 37,500 to the dollar. Last week the dollar reached a high of 138,000 rials on the black market. David Adesnik is director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Saeed Ghasseminejad is a fellow. (RealClearWorld)
        See also Report - Foreign Investment in Iran: Multinational Firms' Compliance with U.S. Sanctions - David Adesnik and Saeed Ghasseminejad (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
        See also Volvo Stops Assembling Trucks in Iran - Esha Vaish (Reuters)

  • The report by the Russian Defense Ministry about Syria's downing of the Russian spy plane in Latakia last week - which blamed Israel - ignores the findings of the investigation conducted in Israel and presented by the Israel Air Force chief in Moscow. The report was intended to fabricate excuses to the Russian public about the failures of its forces deployed in Syria.
  • The proof that the Russian officers in the Khmeimim Air Base did not read the battle correctly is the fact that the first message they sent to the Defense Ministry in Moscow was about missile launches from a French frigate in the Mediterranean at Syrian army targets in Latakia. Another blunder was that the Russians did not provide its Syrian allies with the electronic signals which identifies their planes as Russian.
  • Moreover, the Russian officers who jointly operate the Syrian air defenses failed to properly supervise the Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Russian officers were there and they can surely recognize Russian planes, but someone failed in their professional responsibility.
  • The Russian claim that the Israeli F-16s approached Latakia as the Russian spy plane was about to land at Khmeimim Air Base is an outright lie and the Russians were given photographic evidence to prove it. At the time of the plane's downing, all the Israeli planes were already in Israeli airspace and the only target the Russians and the Syrians saw on their radar was the Russian plane.

        See also The Russian Military Lost Control of the Air Defense System near Its Main Airbase in Syria - Ely Karmon
    On Sep. 19, Pavel Felgenhauer wrote an article in Novaya Gazeta which puts the blame for the downing of the Russian IL-20 spy plane on the Russian side, under the title, "The Jews Are to Blame for Everything!" He wrote: The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) "are practically integrated under the supremacy of the Russian military....The Russian military adviser at the Syrian command post for some reason approved the launch of a long-range S-200 missile near our Khmeimim base."
        "The command post knew about the scheduled flight of the IL-20 and had to prohibit the launch of the S-200. But it seems that the Russian military has completely lost control of airspace and control of the air defense system in the area of its main base of the UHF Khmeimim, and as a result, in fact, they shot down their own IL-20....The military leadership decided to [blame everything on] the Jews. It's better than being responsible for your own sloppiness."
        The writer is a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Some Russian Commentators Holding Putin and Assad Responsible for Plane Downing - Anna Borshchevskaya
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (The Hill)

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Chol Hamoed Sukkot.