October 8, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iran Evacuates T-4 Airbase in Syria (Enab Baladi-Syria)
    Iran has begun evacuating the T-4 military airbase in Homs province, a Syrian military officer said last week.
    Russian forces have taken over the military airbase to install S-300 air defense batteries.
    The airbase is one of the key Iranian positions in Syria, which in the past few months has been a target of attacks by Israel.
    Military analysts say there are also North Korean experts at the airbase.

Former Islamic State Captive Says Israel a Beacon of Hope for Yazidis - Emily Gatt (i24News)
    In 2014, Nadia Murad was taken captive by the Islamic State and sold into slavery along with thousands of other Yazidi women and girls in the Mount Sinjar region of northwestern Iraq.
    After a daring escape, Nadia emerged as the voice of the Yazidi people's suffering.
    During a visit to Israel in 2017, she said, "Like the Jews, the Yazidis have an ancient history thousands of years old. Despite recurring persecution, both our people have survived."
    "My time in Israel has shown me that in the wake of oppression and genocide, a community can emerge stronger." 
    See also Nobel Peace Prize for Nadia Murad (BBC News)

Corners of Coexistence in Jerusalem - Susan Hattis Rolef (Jerusalem Post)
    On a Saturday during the Jewish High Holidays, I ran out of the medication I was taking for an infection, and went to a branch of the Terem emergency medical clinic in Jerusalem.
    The whole team at the clinic - doctors, nurses, lab technicians, receptionist and cleaners - were Palestinian - some Israeli Arabs and some from east Jerusalem. Most of the patients were religious Hassidim.
    What was most surprising was the calm atmosphere, the efficiency of the medical, technical and secretarial team, and the total lack of tension in the air, even though the whole show was run by the Palestinian team.

Photos: Burka-Clad Female Palestinian Islamic Jihad Fighters March in Gaza - Brendan McFadden (Daily Mail-UK)
    Palestinian female fighters in Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades took part in a military exercise in Khan Yunis in Gaza on Saturday.

Arab-Israeli Jailed for Moving Terror Funds from Turkey to Hamas - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday sentenced Umm-al-Fahm resident Dar'am Jabareen to 42 months in prison for moving 300,000 euros of terror funds from Turkey to Hamas.
    On several occasions Jabareen brought the funds to Israel, hid them in a specific spot, and transmitted the location to Hamas officials in Turkey, who would then arrange for the money to be picked up.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian General Vows to Destroy Israel - James Bickerton
    Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami, second-in-command of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, told troops in Isfahan on Friday: "I tell the Prime Minister of the Zionist regime that he should practice swimming in the Mediterranean because soon there will be no way to escape but the sea."
        Salami claimed that Israel could be defeated by Hizbullah, which is believed to have up to 150,000 rockets and missiles stored away across Lebanon. A 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizbullah saw thousands of rockets fired towards Israeli cities indiscriminately from southern Lebanon. (Daily Express-UK)
  • Europe Hardens Its Defenses Against Jihadists - Thomas Hegghammer
    Europe is fighting the threat of jihadist terrorism with measures that would have been unthinkable six or seven years ago. Between 2015 and 2017, 350 people were killed by jihadists across Europe and terrorism rose to the top of polls of public concerns. In response, European countries poured money into counterterrorism and improved intelligence sharing. They also initiated radical new measures that had previously been considered politically off-limits.
        Preventing citizens from going off to places like Syria to fight was once considered legally difficult. Many European law-enforcement agencies now prosecute anyone merely planning to go abroad to join a jihadist group. Firebrand clerics also found themselves treated more severely.
        Censorship of extremist internet material, once seen as authoritarian, is now common and has significantly reduced the availability of jihadist propaganda. A new EU law imposes fines on internet companies that fail to remove extremist material within 60 minutes. Austria deported 60 imams this year. Italy has deported 313 extremists since 2015. Britain stripped more than 100 suspected Islamist militants of their citizenship in 2017.
        Domestic attacks and casualties are substantially down in 2018 - not because plotting has decreased, but because authorities are foiling more attempts. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI). (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Israelis Murdered by Palestinian Employee in West Bank Industrial Park - Yori Yalon
    A Palestinian man, Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na'alwa, 23, who worked at a factory in the Barkan industrial zone in Samaria, shot two employees at the factory at close range on Sunday. The victims were Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, a married mother of a baby, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, a father of three. He then shot and wounded another woman before fleeing the scene. Before the attack, Na'alwa gave a coworker a note in which he said he planned to commit suicide and praised Yasser Arafat. Some 3,300 Palestinians are employed in Barkan, together with the same number of Jews.
        President Reuven Rivlin said, "It wasn't just an attack on innocent people who were just living their lives, it was an attack on the possibility that Israelis and Palestinians might co-exist peacefully."  (Israel Hayom-Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Europe: Stop "Hysterical Nonsense" on Resettling Bedouin - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week called on Europe to stop its "flagrant interference" in Israel's plans to resettle residents of the illegal Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar near Jerusalem. Lieberman wrote to European ambassadors on Oct. 2 that "Khan al-Ahmar is a cluster of makeshift shacks erected illegally" by members of the Abu-Dahuk clan of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, housing 28 families.
        "The compound is situated precariously close to the adjacent highway, presenting an imminent safety hazard to its residents....Your governments are condoning the continued exposure of these people and their children to serious health and safety hazards, forcing them to reside in a place without even minimal health and electric and fire-safety conditions." Israel wants to provide these Bedouin families with "plots of land, provision of proper water and sewage infrastructures, telecommunications and safe electrical connectivity, and the construction of a new school."
        "The idea that moving a group of some 100 people [to an alternative site] within a five-km. radius will prevent a resolution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "is hysterical nonsense." Israel's High Court of Justice has ruled that it is legal to relocate the shantytown, as it has ruled on the evacuation of illegally built Jewish homes in the West Bank. "Thus, with all due respect, Israel's fiercely independent and highly respected High Court needs no lectures on jurisprudence, with respect to international law or otherwise."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Contends with Russia's S-300 Air Defense System in Syria - Col. (ret.) Yigal Carmon
    With Russia's equipping Syria with S-300s, the Russians risk a major military and technological debacle. They will learn that Israeli-American technology is far superior to Russia's. That also goes for the S-400 that Russia already has in place in Syria for its own defense.
        Israeli planes were already back over Haifa when the Russian Ilyushin spy plane was shot down by the Syrians. The Russians argue that the radar picture showed an Israeli plane using the Ilyushin as a shield. A possible explanation for this, revealed by Ha'aretz, is that the radar picture available to the Russians was not actual, but was the product of Israel's electronic warfare.
        Given that this will continue to be part of any future Israeli bombing, the advanced Russian missile defense systems will be rendered no longer marketable. The writer, former counter-terrorism advisor to two Israeli prime ministers, is President of MEMRI. (MEMRI)
  • Time to Fix, Not Perpetuate, a Broken Palestinian Refugee Culture - Joelle Fiss
    If refugee camps become a long-term institution, they place recipients in a state of dependency. In other words, they offering the opposite to what refugees need: resettlement, integration, employment and the chance to rebuild their lives. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pumped yearly into UNRWA - but what can be seen for it? No rebuilding and no alternative future.
        The camps fuel unrealistic hopes of return to places of origin. Last May, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis stated that UNRWA has become "part of the problem." He was lambasted for admitting the obvious, showing how intellectual short-cuts can pollute any debate around aid to the Palestinian refugees.
        With the recent U.S. cut-off of nearly $300 million in aid to UNRWA, the time has come to explore how to make aid truly effective. Rather than rushing to other states to fill the funding gap for the same failed model, it's time to "spend smarter" - to make a real impact. The writer is a Geneva-based researcher on human rights. (Ha'aretz)

  • While Israel and Russia maintain an operational hotline meant to prevent unwanted incidents, Israel does not coordinate its operations in Syria with Russia. Israel's actions in Syria have always been calculated and prudent, from the moment it began actively thwarting Hizbullah's armament efforts in 2012.
  • Since 2015, when Russia stepped into the Syrian civil war, Israel has exercised maximum caution as it intensified its efforts against Iran's attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria. The Israeli Air Force has spared no effort to avoid compromising Russian bases, equipment and weapons and avoid even the slightest chance of harming the Russian soldiers deployed in Syria.
  • This has not been easy, as in many cases Russian and Syrian forces share bases and fight alongside each other, and Israel has dedicated considerable intelligence resources to pinpointing the location of Russian soldiers. The professionalism shown by the Israeli and Russian soldiers manning the hotline has contributed greatly to the fact that in the hundreds of strikes Israel has carried out in Syria since 2015, not one Russian soldier was harmed.
  • Now it is up to Israel to convince the professionals in Russia that it acted in good faith and, as always, did everything within its power to prevent any harm from coming to any Russian aircraft, and that it was Syrian negligence that caused this tragedy.
  • Israel has always been careful to show Russia - a world power - the proper operational and diplomatic deference in the years since it intensified its involvement in the Middle East, and Israel must continue to do so. Still, Russia must be made to understand that Israel will not tolerate an Iranian presence in Syria, nor will it abide the Islamic Republic's efforts to arm Hizbullah in Lebanon with game-changing weapons.

    The writer is a former Israeli national security advisor and former director of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence.