October 15, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iran, Russia Reach Deal to Circumvent U.S. Oil Sanctions (i24News)
    An Israeli foreign ministry document reveals that Russia and Iran have reached a deal to circumvent U.S. oil sanctions, Israel's Hadashot TV reported Sunday.
    Iran would supply crude oil to Russia through the Caspian Sea. It would then be refined and exported worldwide.
    The agreement was struck last month in Tehran during talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Hamas Probes Israel's Defenses - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Friday, Oct. 12, was particularly violent on the Gaza border. Palestinians detonated a large explosive device that blew a hole in the border fence through which 20 terrorists infiltrated under cover of a dense cloud of smoke created by burning tires.
    When IDF soldiers opened fire, most of the Palestinians returned to Gaza, but three continued to approach the soldiers and were shot and killed.
    It appeared to be an attempt to test the IDF's reaction - to see if a deadly attack or kidnapping of soldiers could be carried out.
    The number of participants in the riots has risen, together with extensive use of explosive charges and grenades.
    Hamas has supplemented burning tires with the use of smoke generators to create heavy smoke screens to shield Gazan rioters and allow them to get closer to the border fence and infiltrate into Israel.
    Hamas has turned the riots at the Gaza border into 24/7 events, including at night.
    See also Gazan Killed at Close Range after Rushing Soldier with Knife - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    A Palestinian who crossed into Israel through a hole in the Gaza security fence on Friday was killed at point-blank range after approaching a soldier with a knife, the IDF said Sunday.
    Hadashot reported that Palestinians were also shooting at soldiers with crossbows.

Israeli Supreme Court Judge Narrowly Escapes Attack by Palestinians on West Bank Road - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
    Supreme Court Judge David Mintz was driving to work from his home in Dolev in the West Bank on Monday when a Palestinian vehicle blocked him and three people got out of the car and approached him holding hammers - at which point he fled.

Armed Palestinian Arrested at West Bank Checkpoint: "I Came to Kill Jews"  (Times of Israel)
    A 19-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank was arrested Friday at a checkpoint after he was found to be carrying a knife.
    The man told guards: "I came here to kill Jews."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senate Passes Bill to Stop Use of Human Shields
    The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would enact sanctions on U.S.-designated terrorist groups like Hamas, Hizbullah, ISIS and al-Qaeda, who use civilians as human shields in war. (JNS)
        See also Top U.S. Jewish Groups Welcome Senate Approval of Human Shields Act Targeting Hamas and Hizbullah
    Top U.S. Jewish groups welcomed the Senate's passage of legislation designed to counter the use of human shields by terrorist organizations. Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said: "This bill requires the president to identify and impose sanctions on each foreign person who is a member of or acting on behalf of Hizbullah and Hamas who knowingly orders, controls, or otherwise directs the use of civilians to shield military objectives from attack."
        "The bill had 50 bipartisan Senate co-sponsors, and reflects the Senate's broad consensus to punish all who engage in this inhumane and barbaric practice. We eagerly await the bill's swift passage through the House of Representatives, President Trump's signature, and the vigilant implementation of this additional authority."  (Algemeiner)
  • Senate Targets Hizbullah's Illicit Finance Channels
    The U.S. Senate passed a second measure on Tuesday targeting Hizbullah's funders and supporters. The Hizbullah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 imposes sanctions on government entities that support the group's armed wing and sanctions companies or individuals who aid Hizbullah's fundraising or recruitment. The bill, which was passed by the House last month, now awaits the president's signature. (JTA)
  • Turkey Frees American Pastor, Moving to Ease Tensions with U.S. - David Gauthier-Villars and Summer Said
    Turkey released American pastor Andrew Brunson and sent him home, removing what had become a major irritant in the U.S.-Turkey relationship. A Turkish court on Friday found Brunson guilty of aiding terror groups and sentenced him to more than three years in prison, but freed him because of time already served. Brunson denied the charges and the Trump administration has called the accusations against him baseless. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Halts Fuel Deliveries to Gaza until "Violence Stops Entirely"
    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday, "Until violence in the Gaza Strip stops entirely, including the launching of incendiary balloons and the burning of tires near Israeli communities, the supply of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip will not be renewed." Israel delivers 15 tankers of fuel and gasoline and another 6 or 7 tankers of gas to Gaza on a daily basis. (i24News)
  • Israeli Appeals Court Upholds Entry Ban on U.S. BDS Activist
    The Tel Aviv District Court on Friday upheld a ban on U.S. student Lara Alqasem who was refused entry at the airport over her support for anti-Israel boycott efforts. Judge Erez Yekuel said that "any self-respecting state defends its own interests and those of its citizens, and has the right to fight against the actions of a boycott." He said there was "no disputing" that Alqasem from 2014-17 was a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization that called to boycott Israel, and for two years was the president of its Florida campus chapter, and that the organization expressed support for those who carried out activities to harm Israel.
        On Sunday, the Israel Supreme Court froze her deportation pending a hearing to be held on Wednesday. (Times of Israel-Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Tries to Stab IDF Soldier at West Bank Bus Stop - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A Palestinian terrorist tried to stab a soldier at a bus stop at the Gitai Avishar Junction in the northern West Bank on Monday and was shot dead by soldiers at the scene. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • BDS Activist Lara Alqasem Is Responsible for Her Own Detention - Lilach Sigan
    BDS activist Lara Alqasem was supposed to fly back to the U.S. immediately at the expense of the airline that brought her to Israel after being denied entry into the country, but she appealed the decision in Israeli courts. Alqasem was not arrested; at any moment that she decides, she can go home. The person responsible for her continued detention at Ben-Gurion Airport is Alqasam herself.
        Moreover, we need to explain patiently that Israel should not be expected to act differently from all other countries that do not allow entry to those who act against it. Whoever disagrees is welcome to act against the U.S., England, France or Holland, and then try to enter those countries. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Is the Anti-Israel Tide in Europe Starting to Turn? - Ariel Kahana
    Surveys conducted by the Israel Foreign Ministry in major European countries show a clear rise in support for Israel, Israel Hayom learned Thursday. The polls found rising support for Israel in Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. In Germany, sympathy for Israel rose by 2% in 2017 to reach 41%. At the same time, antipathy to Israel fell from 35% to 31%. In Britain, support rose from 32% to 40%, while lack of support fell from 39% to 33%. In Spain, 40% supported Israel compared to 32% who did not. In Portugal, 48% were sympathetic to Israel and 30% were not. In Romania, support for Israel grew from 49% to 56%.
        Overall sympathy for Israel in the EU rose from 38% to 43%, while the number of unsympathetic to Israel fell from 30% to 29%. A Foreign Ministry official said, "In the past, the EU associated the Middle East with Israel automatically. Today, when you say 'the Middle East,' the average European thinks about Syria and the refugees."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Gazans Consider Hamas the Lesser of Two Evils - Adnan Abu Amer
    A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah in September showed that 43% of Palestinians blamed the PA for the poor situation in Gaza, while 24% blamed Hamas. Perhaps one reason why Palestinians in Gaza aren't so quick to demonstrate against Hamas is because they understand that the alternative might not be better.
        Gazans do not want the PA to take over, given its tight security control over citizens in the West Bank. Without Hamas, Gazans fear, they would lose all sense of safety. No matter how much they might criticize it, they accept Hamas control of Gaza. The writer heads the Political Science and Media Department of Umma University Open Education in Gaza. (Al-Monitor)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem on Sunday:
  • "Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community thrives and grows."
  • "Bethlehem had - when we handed it over to the Palestinian Authority - a Christian population of roughly 80%. Now it's about 20%. And that change happened because in the Palestinian Authority areas, as well as throughout the Middle East, Christians are being constricted, they're being pressured, also they're being persecuted."
  • "Israel is the one country that protects the human rights of all....We don't just protect Christian religious sites - we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all the freedom to worship as they please in the Middle East and anywhere else and the only place in the Middle East where they can do so is Israel."
  • "We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends and I take this opportunity to thank you for your steadfast support. You are standing up for Israel and you are standing up for the truth and we stand up for you."