October 5, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah's Urban Missile Factories Put Lebanese Civilians at Risk - Hanin Ghaddar and Matthew Levitt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Sep. 27, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accused Hizbullah of building missile production sites in the Ouzai neighborhood of Beirut, placing Lebanese lives and property at tremendous risk.
    These underground facilities - located in the middle of an urban area - are intended to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision weapons, something that Israel cannot allow.
    After a relatively long period of quiet (2006-2018) along the Israel-Lebanon border, new businesses have proliferated in Shia strongholds such as the Beirut suburb of Dahiya and further south. Hotels, restaurants, and modern cafes have opened in every major town, with backing from Shia investors at home and abroad.
    In short, the Shia feel they have much more to lose today, so they have less tolerance for officials who talk of war with Israel.
    In light of this attitude change, publicly exposing Hizbullah's missile factories may be the most effective way of exploiting rifts within the group's base and, perhaps, making it think twice about building weapons inside Lebanon.
    Hanin Ghaddar is a Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute, where Matthew Levitt is Director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

Palestinian Rioting Intensifies at Gaza Border - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    The violent Palestinian rioting near the Gaza border fence has in recent weeks been continuing into the night.
    Almost every evening, hundreds and at times thousands of Palestinians gather at different spots and riot until midnight, hurling explosive devices, grenades, stones and firecrackers at IDF forces, and launching incendiary balloons and kites.
    Palestinians have also taken to playing recordings of the Code Red rocket-alert siren, using megaphones to scare Israelis living near the border.
    Residents of one Israeli community reported hearing shouting in Hebrew saying: "We're coming to kill you through the tunnels; we'll burn down your town."
    Residents of Kerem Shalom, and particularly young children, have been suffering from breathing difficulties and vomiting caused by the smoke from burning tires.
    Representatives of the Environmental Protection Ministry carried out several air quality monitoring tests and recommended on Wednesday that residents "close themselves up in their homes."

Israel Reinforces Troops at Gaza Border (Israel Hayom)
    At a security assessment on Thursday, it was decided to "widely deploy forces in the southern sector in the coming days and forge ahead with our steadfast policy of preventing terrorist activity and infiltration into Israeli territory along the security fence in Gaza," the IDF Spokesperson said.
    "We are prepared to confront a variety of scenarios and we view Hamas as solely responsible for everything that happens in Gaza and everything that comes out of it."

IDF Arrests Two Palestinians for Pipe Bomb Attack on Rachel's Tomb - Michael Bachner (Times of Israel)
    Israeli border police on Thursday arrested two Palestinians for throwing a pipe bomb at Rachel's Tomb between Jerusalem and Bethlehem the previous night.
    One of the men is suspected of belonging to Hamas.
    Forces later raided the home of one of the men and seized equipment used to produce explosive devices.

Morocco to Introduce Holocaust Studies into its Education System - Neta Bar (Israel Hayom)
    King Mohammed VI of Morocco has ordered Education Minister Said Amzazi to incorporate Holocaust studies into the country's high school curriculum, the Moroccan news website Le Desk reported Wednesday.
    "Education has the power to fight against discrimination and racism, as well as the ugly phenomenon of anti-Semitism," the king said.

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Israeli Startups Raised nearly $500 Million in September (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised nearly $500 million in September, for a total of over $4.5 billion in the first nine months of 2018, well on course to beat last year's record of $5.24 billion.

Israel Develops New Version of Trophy Active Defense System - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    A new and lightweight version of Israel's Trophy active defense system neutralized more than 95% of munitions fired at it in tests this summer ahead of testing for the U.S. Army's Stryker armored vehicle.
    The tests were monitored by officials and experts from the U.S. and NATO.
    Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said the lighter-weight Trophy Vehicle Protection System allows for a 40% weight reduction and improved power management "with no reduction in its proven ability to protect against the full range of direct fire, anti-armor rocket and missile threats."
    The Trophy system tracks incoming threats, such as anti-tank guided-missiles and rocket propelled grenades, then fires a shotgun-type blast to neutralize the threat.
    It is the only fully operational and combat-proven active protection system in the world. During the 2014 Gaza war, IDF tanks were able to operate in Gaza without suffering any losses.

Israel Develops a Better System for Monitoring Unstable Blood Pressure - Brian Blum (Israel21c)
    VitalMiner, a new software system to measure unstable blood pressure in intensive-care patients, is hailed as a potential lifesaver by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center where it is being piloted.
    The system was developed by Prof. Mark Last from Ben-Gurion University in collaboration with the Cincinnati hospital and pediatric surgeon Prof. Raphael Udassin at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
    Preliminary findings from three hospitals suggest that VitalMiner may predict instability several hours before current state-of-the-art monitors, catching problems even before symptoms appear.

Israel's JFrog Raises $165 Million - Tal Shahaf (Globes)
    Israeli DevOps technology developer JFrog has announced a $165 million financing round.
    "Software updates must flow anytime, anywhere, with minimal effort. The JFrog Enterprise Plus platform will enable continuous software updates," said CEO Shlomi Ben Haim.
    JFrog transforms the way software is updated by offering a universal, highly-available software release platform for all technologies.
    More than 5 million developers use JFrog Artifactory as their system when they build and release software. Its customers include more than 70% of the Fortune 100.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy Puts New Focus on Iran and Proxies
    The Trump administration is giving greater priority to Iran and radical groups it backs in a new U.S. counterterrorism strategy document released on Thursday. The strategy, unveiled by National Security Adviser John Bolton, is the first issued since 2011 when the Obama administration's view of counterterrorism was focused almost exclusively on the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Iran was cited only once - on the next-to-last page.
        "The United States faces terrorist threats from Iran, which remains the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism, really the world's central banker of international terrorism since 1979," Bolton said. "Iran-sponsored terrorist groups such as Lebanese Hizbullah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to pose a threat to the United States and our interests." Bolton described "radical Islamist terrorist groups" as the pre-eminent transnational terrorist threat to the United States. The key thrust of the new strategy, he said, includes pursuing extremists "to their source" and cutting them off "from their sources of support."  (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also Fact Sheet: Protecting the United States from Terrorism (White House)
        See also Text: National Strategy for Counterterrorism - 2018 (White House)
  • Oil Industry Snubs EU Effort to Defy U.S. Sanctions on Iran - Michael Peel
    Big European oil companies are spurning the EU's attempt to shield Iranian crude from U.S. sanctions because of fears the effort would leave businesses exposed to harsh penalties from the Trump administration. Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of Total, said this week the French oil company would not join EU efforts to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran. "We cannot afford to take the risk to be banned from using the U.S. financial system," he said. U.S. sanctions are due to be reimposed on oil exports and Iran's central bank in November.
        A spokesperson for Italy's Eni said: "We have no presence in [Iran] anymore and our trading contracts will naturally expire in November." In mid-October, a CEPSA refinery in Spain is due to receive 1 million barrels from Iran, a shipment that a company spokesman stressed would be its last from Iran.
        Iranian oil shipments to Europe have already fallen in September from 843,000 barrels a day a year ago to 422,000. A survey of 10 oil trading executives by the Financial Times did not uncover any willing to trade Iranian crude. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Jerusalem to Remove UNRWA from City, Transfer Services to Israel
    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Thursday that he planned to remove the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, from the city, accusing the body of operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel. Schools serving 1,800 students, clinics and sports centers, among other services operated by UNRWA in eastern Jerusalem, would be transferred to Israeli authorities.
        "The U.S. decision [to cut UNRWA funding] has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA's services with services of the Jerusalem Municipality. We are putting an end to the lie of the 'Palestinian refugee problem' and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty,'' Barkat said. (AP-VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA Blocks Qatari Fuel Aid for Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Palestinian sources said Thursday that threats made by the Palestinian Authority have delayed the planned transfer of emergency Qatari-funded fuel to Gaza. According to a Palestinian report, Qatar had agreed to pay $60 million for fuel for Gaza's sole power plant for six months to enable Gazans to enjoy eight hours of electricity every day instead of four. The diesel fuel, to be provided by an Israeli company, was supposed to enter Gaza on Thursday.
        However, according to Palestinian sources in Gaza, the PA contacted the company and threatened to stop all purchases from it in the West Bank if it transferred the fuel to Gaza. PA officials also called UN employees in Gaza who were to physically transfer the fuel and threatened that they would pay a "heavy price" if they showed up to work. (Times of Israel)
  • In Jerusalem, Merkel Says Palestinians Must Accept Israel as Jewish State - Raphael Ahren
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday in Jerusalem, "We recognize the Jewish state. And if there is supposed to be peace, an enduring peace, between Israelis and Palestinians, then of course it cannot be that all states say Israel should be a Jewish state, with democratic rights for minorities that live here, but the Palestinians don't say it."
        Merkel also said that Iran must remove its troops from Syria, adding, "There is absolutely no question that the fact that Iranian forces are standing near the Golan Heights is a threat to Israel."
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Merkel for standing up for Israel's security and against anti-Semitism. "We agree on most things, and we disagree on some. So what? We have a very strong alliance."  (Times of Israel)
  • President Rivlin Urges German Chancellor to Join Sanctions on Iran - Noa Landau
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday: "We cannot avoid speaking out against the decision taken by the European Union aimed at circumventing the sanctions on Iran. As we see it, now is the time to join in on sanctioning Iran, not to work around them. We must starve the Iranian monster, not feed it. This is the only way we can maintain the stability of this region. We ask Germany to stand with us in our demands for inspection of the Iranian nuclear program, and not allow them to evade their commitments."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Netanyahu Describes Israel's Reality - David Suissa
    In his speech last week at the UN, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out in excruciating detail the growing security threats against the Jewish state, his supporters didn't see fearmongering, they saw reality. Even Ha'aretz called it "one of his most convincing and effective performances," which included "a precise and credible indictment against Iran."
        It's difficult for Americans to fully comprehend the transcendent importance Israelis place on their security. From a safe distance, while we may see conflicts to resolve, Israelis see enemies at their doorstep sworn to their destruction. They see their democracy in a continuous state of war.
        The real miracle of Israel is precisely that it has managed to create a thriving and open civil society despite being under siege from genocidal enemies. This is a resilient society whose culture of innovation influences virtually the entire planet and that consistently beats the U.S., the UK and France on the UN's annual "Happiness Report."
        We can rail, for example, against the failure of Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, but it's not as if Israelis don't want peace. Maybe they're more in tune with the existential danger of the West Bank turning into another terror state, or the reality that Jew-hating Palestinian leaders are loath to sign any deal that recognizes a Jewish state, regardless of where the borders are drawn. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Netanyahu Calls Out Iran at the UN. Anyone Listening? - Editorial
    Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a powerful and effective condemnation of the Iranian regime at the UN. He has done so consistently over the last decade, insisting that Iran could not be trusted to play by the rules. But this time he was no longer speaking out of sync with Washington regarding Iran.
        His speech offered proof that Iran lies when it insists it is no longer seeking to develop nuclear weapons. He asserted that Iran has "a secret facility in Tehran - a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran's secret nuclear weapons program."
        The confrontational aspect of Netanyahu's speech makes many pro-Israel supporters proud of Israeli ingenuity and a leader willing to call out the world's weakness in responding to a perceived threat. In the end, Israel's government must do all it can to protect its citizens and let the world know that it will not tolerate situations that put the Jewish state in danger. (New York Jewish Week)
  • The IAEA's Failure to Inspect All Iranian Nuclear Sites - Jonathan S. Tobin
    When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued what seemed like a blockbuster revelation at the UN General Assembly about a new Iranian nuclear site that was not being monitored by international inspectors, the reaction from the world body and the mainstream media was one of indifference. When he displayed a photo of a heretofore unknown Iranian nuclear site, the reaction from those who claim to care about nonproliferation was apathetic silence.
        You would think that the body that deals with nuclear questions - the International Atomic Energy Agency - would have jumped on the latest revelation about Iran from Israel's formidable intelligence operatives. But rather than vow to inspect this site, the IAEA dismissed Netanyahu's claim. Yet anyone who believes the Iranian denial that anything fishy is going on there is taking quite a gamble not just with Israel's security, but that of the world.
        This site that won't be inspected is just more proof that the U.S. is right to throw out a deal that can't be verified and that will eventually lead to an Iranian weapon anyway once it expires. Even if the world isn't prepared to listen to Netanyahu, the truth about the Iranian threat cannot be ignored any longer. (JNS)
  • Europe's Appeasement of Iran - Melanie Phillips
    Last week, the EU and the three European co-signers of the Iran deal - Britain, France and Germany - said they would set up a new payment system to allow oil companies and businesses to continue trading with Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded that the Europeans were now "solidifying Iran's ranking as the number-one state sponsor of terror" with "one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional peace and security."
        The Iran deal's sponsors convinced themselves that the deal would tame the Iranian regime and somehow defuse Iran's nuclear weapons threat. Such mental contortionism is typical of the mentality of appeasement. At Munich in 1938, appeasement didn't prevent war; it merely made an always inevitable war even more terrible.
        The European attempt to keep rewarding Iran is a blow against world peace. The U.S. has already weakened the world's principal genocidal terrorist state - while Britain and Europe, having empowered it, are now trying to strengthen it still further. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)

  • Palestinians

  • The EU and Khan al-Ahmar - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Today, European politicians, diplomats, and NGOs are busy drawing new borders for what they imagine to be a "solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are currently focusing their attention on the tiny encampment of Khan al-Ahmar, situated strategically just outside Jerusalem on the four-lane highway that connects Israel's capital to the Dead Sea and the Jordan River.
        For three decades, Israel has rejected all the efforts to turn Khan al-Ahmar into a Palestinian outpost along the strategic highway near Jerusalem. As 20 years of Israeli court rulings have confirmed, the law clearly prohibits anyone - Palestinians, Bedouin and Europeans - from squatting on land that is not theirs and starting to build.
        The Oslo accords declared Area C, where Khan al-Ahmar is located, to be under full Israeli control. Yet the Europeans have dotted Area C with EU flags hoisted above one-room pre-fabricated huts which, to add to the emotional impact, are usually declared to be schools. Destroying a school is ideal for accusing Israel of human rights violations, and Khan al-Ahmar's European school is featured in the current campaign of solidarity visits by European diplomats and UN officials.
        As part of this campaign, Palestinian NGOs funded primarily by European governments have spent millions of euros from European taxpayers to churn out urgent statements, reports, and social media posts declaring the plan to resettle the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to be a "war crime." The writer, professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, is president of the Institute for NGO Research. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why No Criticism of the Palestinians' Nationality Law? - Bassam Tawil
    This week, Palestinians declared a general strike in the West Bank and Gaza to protest Israel's new Nation-State Law. It is far from clear, however, why they should be concerned about the new law since they are not Israeli citizens and are not part of the Israeli political system. The Palestinians living in these areas have their own (Palestinian) citizenship, their own flag, their own parliament and their own government. They are not affected by the law in any way.
        The Palestinian Legislative Council enacted the "Palestinian Basic Law" in 2002. Article 4 of the law states: "Islam is the official religion in Palestine. The principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation. Arabic shall be the official language."
        Before condemning Israel for seeking to preserve its character as a Jewish state, the world needs to explain why it is all right for the Palestinians to plan that their future state will be ruled by Islamic law. Why are the Palestinians permitted to have Islam as their official religion, while Israel is denounced for seeking to maintain its Jewish character and identity? (Gatestone Institute)
  • Why Prospects for Peace with Palestinians Are Slim - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    Chances of a deal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are slim for several reasons. First, in reality, we are no longer dealing with a two-state solution but rather with a three-state solution, namely, Israel, a Palestinian state in the West Bank, and a Hamas state in Gaza - which is not going anywhere.
        Second, Arab leaders have no real intention of going over PA President Mahmoud Abbas' head and accepting a deal on the Palestinians' behalf. Third, the Palestinian leadership simply cannot make the necessary historic decisions.
        Abbas can definitely protest that "Jerusalem is not for sale" as much as he wants, but the bottom line is that there is no reason why the U.S. should give the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars in aid only to be disrespected, while Abbas respects Russian President Vladimir Putin who has never given the Palestinians a dime. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • The INSS Plan: A Political-Security Framework for the Israeli-Palestinian Arena
    The Palestinian parameters for a peace agreement are clearly unacceptable to the vast majority of people in Israel, fall short of assuring sufficient security and demographic conditions, and fail to guarantee the end of the conflict.
        INSS experts, together with former senior Israeli officials, have worked to design a plan that would take the dominant paradigms on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a new stage. It is a plan that combines bilateral and regional agreements and independent steps to ensure a process of separation from the Palestinians, while maintaining an uncompromising stance on security and keeping future political options open.
        We aim to shape Israel by our founding fathers' principles, without being held hostage to the Palestinians' veto. There is currently a window of opportunity, with a strong Israel, a friendly U.S. administration, an Arab world that shares interests with Israel and is by and large willing to work with it, and the reduction of the Palestinian cause in world affairs to size. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel Still Searching for a Jet Fighter that Meets Its Needs - John W. Golan
    31 years ago, in 1987, an Israeli cabinet voted to terminate Israel's Lavi fighter program. The ripple effects of its cancellation continue to this day. Israel's leadership had placed a renewed emphasis on the development of an indigenous Israeli arms industry after the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel's traditional arms suppliers in Europe halted the flow of weapons and there was no "special relationship" between the U.S. and Israel. There were subsequent delays and suspensions in U.S. arms deliveries, such as in 1975 when the U.S. suspended the delivery of jet warplanes to Israel as a pressure tactic during negotiations for Israel's withdrawal from western Sinai - the first of many such incidents.
        Foremost among the realities that Israeli war planners have long had to address has been Israel's lack of strategic depth - in both territory and manpower. This bitter reality has meant that Israel's military doctrine has of necessity come to emphasize offensive tactics: carrying the war to the enemy and away from Israel's population centers as quickly as possible.
        Israel has been the first foreign customer to take delivery of the U.S.' new F-35. But to meet its unique requirements, the IDF has reportedly prioritized the purchase of 20-25 additional, non-stealthy F-15I fighter-bombers to overcome the payload and range limitations of the F-35. According to published reports, Israeli attempts to integrate conforming fuel tanks into the F-35 to extend its range have been met with resistance by the U.S. developers. This has been compounded by a refusal to allow Israel to fully integrate an Israeli avionics suite into the new airplane that includes electronic countermeasures to shield it from surface-to-air missiles.
        The writer has served as a designer, structures analyst, and engineering manager within the U.S. aerospace industry for the past two decades. (Tablet)
  • Protestant Churches Finding Balance on Israel - Steve Lipman
    Both the Presbyterian Church USA and the Episcopal Church this summer supported moderate Middle East resolutions, offering a balance to ones in favor of the BDS movement, said Ethan Felson, executive director of the Israel Action Network (IAM), created by the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
        "The Presbyterian Church overwhelmingly adopted a helpful stance favoring people-to-people programs between Israelis and Palestinians - and did so over the strong objections of BDS groups which oppose these reconciliation efforts," Felson said. "The Episcopal Church thankfully rejected divestment again." The moderate resolutions reflect a reservoir of good will towards Israel that often characterizes Jewish-Protestant relations at the local level, Felson said. (New York Jewish Week)

  • Weekend Feature

  • Holocaust Survivor and U.S. Special Forces Legend Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow Dies at 83 - Drew Brooks
    Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow was born in Lithuania in 1934. When he was 7, he was among thousands of Jews held prisoner at the Kovno concentration camp near Kaunus, where he lived for more than 3 years. He immigrated to America in 1950, enlisted in the military in 1955, and served for more than 39 years, including 32 in the Special Forces, including two deployments as a Green Beret commander in the jungles of Vietnam. "He came up through the ranks from private to major general through hard work and selfless service to this nation," said officials at the Special Warfare Center and School, which he commanded from 1991 until 1994.
        In 1990, Maj. Gen. Shachnow was the commander of all American forces in Berlin when the Berlin Wall was toppled. He told the Fayetteville Observer, "Here it is the very capital of fascism and the Third Reich. The very buildings and streets where they were goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering and the very system that put me in the camp and killed many people...and I come back to be commander of American forces in that city and a Jew on top of that." (Fayetteville Observer-Military.com-New York Times)

Progressives for Israel - Zachary Thacher (Tablet)
  • Tel Aviv is an extraordinarily liberal oasis in a nation founded by socialists and social democrats. Yet people see this country as a rehashing of the American civil rights movement, where Arabs are black and brown victims and multiethnic Israelis are...white oppressors? Most Israelis are Middle Eastern and African; Americans would call them people of color.
  • Palestinian nationalism is not the story of a minority once bound in slavery now advocating for equality. It's a zero sum fight for sovereignty. Jews will not be granted citizenship in a future state of Palestine, even in biblical towns like Hebron or Jericho. Yet 20% of Israelis are Arabs and their citizenship is not up for debate.
  • Israel has 6 million Jews, most of whom fled here and are unwelcome in former homes in Baghdad, Cairo, Tunis and beyond. The surrounding Arab world has over 400 million souls. To this day, Israelis are barred from most Arab states. Who is the disenfranchised minority?
  • Palestinian politics bear no resemblance to a nonviolent integration movement. Hamas embraces a radical Islamism linked to al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. They are intolerant fundamentalists with social policies that make The Handmaid's Tale look like a rom-com. When they say they're resisting the occupation, they mean all of Israel. Their struggle ends with the annihilation of the Jews.
  • The Palestinian Authority rejects peace when it isn't stealing from its own people. It supports terror groups that compete with Hamas for brutality and it's far from democratic - the last time there was an election was in 2006.
  • Israel is a plucky example of democratic socialism. Whichever party is in charge, universal health care, muscular labor unions, public arts funding and a strong safety net are secure. These are the very achievements progressives like me strive for back home.
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