October 18, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Attack Tunnels Are Still a Serious Danger - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The cross-border attack tunnel that the IDF revealed and destroyed on Oct. 16 used certain materials and new building techniques in an attempt to mask it from being found.
    Sources in Gaza reckon that Hamas has 30 attack tunnels and several dozen more that are defensive, used to conceal armaments such as rockets, mortars, and anti-tank missiles.
    According to Hamas sources, despite a noticeable improvement in the IDF's technological capability to locate the tunnels, Hamas is continuing to invest millions of dollars into their construction.
    There are still some attack tunnels that the IDF has not yet discovered, as well as new tunnels under construction using new methods and materials, and Hamas assumes that the IDF will not find all of them.
    Thus, Hamas has not given up on its plan to make a painful "pre-emptive strike" on Israel via the invasion tunnels, seeking to abduct civilians or soldiers from the Gaza border.
    The writer, a veteran diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center.

Iranian Drone Overflights of U.S. Warships in Persian Gulf Now Common - Ben Werner (U.S. Naval Institute News)
    U.S. warships operating in the Persian Gulf are now regularly overflown by Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles, Navy and Marine commanders said on Tuesday.

Israeli Companies to Secure UN Forces in Africa - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    The UN recently signed agreements with Israeli companies to purchase defense systems for UN bases in Africa after 61 UN peacekeepers were killed there last year.
    The Israeli company MER will provide sensors that can detect precision-guided weapons such as missiles and mortars in an $8 million deal.
    In addition, the Israeli water treatment technology company Odis won a UN tender worth $42 million.

Antiquity Smugglers Arrested for Bulldozing Jewish Archeological Site - Uri Bollag (Jerusalem Post)
    Two antiquity smugglers, residents of the Israeli Arab village of Daburiyya, were caught over the weekend by the Antiquities Authority's Anti-Robbery Unit while demolishing the remains of Horbat Deborah in the Galilee with a bulldozer.
    The site is identified with the biblical heroine Deborah and the Jewish village Dabra that existed during the Roman period.
    The robbers shattered underground caves and uprooted masonry stones that were part of the remains of the 2,000-year-old village.
    In the debris, a fragment of a basalt millstone used to grind flour and potsherds from the Hellenistic period were also found.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • EU Says Rocket Fire by Palestinian Militants towards Israel "Must Stop"
    The European Commission said Wednesday: "The rocket and mortar fire by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards Israel must stop immediately. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable."  (Reuters)
  • India's Reliance Industries Halts Iranian Oil Imports ahead of U.S. Sanctions
    Reliance Industries, owner of the world's biggest refining complex, has halted imports of Iranian crude ahead of U.S. sanctions against Tehran's oil sector, said V. Srikanth, its joint chief financial officer. (Reuters-Times of India)
  • ICC Prosecutor Warns Israel on Demolition of Bedouin Encampment
    The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned Wednesday that if Israel removes the Palestinian Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, that could constitute a war crime. Israel's Supreme Court recently rejected a final appeal against the move. Israel says Khan al-Ahmar was built illegally and has offered to resettle its residents a few kilometers away. Bensouda also said she is "alarmed by the continued violence, perpetrated by actors on both sides, at the Gaza border with Israel."  (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Israel Does Not Accept ICC Jurisdiction - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Israel maintains that the ICC prosecution has no jurisdiction, noting that the UN Security Council has not recognized Palestine as a state; that its own legal system for investigating alleged war crimes bars the ICC prosecution from getting involved; and that Israel is not a member of the ICC's Rome Statute. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • How a Beersheba Mother Saved Her Children as a Palestinian Rocket Destroyed Her House - Tovah Lazaroff
    Miri Tamano was sound asleep when the warning sirens rang out at 3:43 a.m. to alert residents of an incoming Gaza-launched rocket. "I heard the alarm. I thought it was dream. When I came to my senses, I hurried to take the children to the security room." Her sister Ora said that Tamano was sleeping on the first floor, ran up the stairs, and woke her three sons, ages 8, 10 and 12, who all slept in different rooms. "Two of them didn't want to wake up and she had to drag them out of bed."
        The rocket fell through the roof and landed in one of the second story bedrooms. The two-story home was completely destroyed. "I no longer have a home," Tamano said. "An alert mother did what she needed to do and saved her family," said neighbor Nurit Bar-Khanin. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rocket Fire on Israel Triggers Civilian Trauma - Tamara Zieve
    After a Grad rocket destroyed a home in Beersheba on Wednesday, there was a 100% increase in calls to the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center NATAL. Gila Sela, help line manager of NATAL, said it's reactivating symptoms in people who remember what happened in previous incidents. According to a new study by NATAL, 20% of Israelis suffer from symptoms of post-trauma and are at high risk of that developing into PTSD if they don't get help. While on regular days people manage to get on with their lives, Sela said, in times of tension, anxiety resurfaces.
        Dr. Tamar Lavi, NATAL's director of community outreach, stressed that Israelis living near Gaza have been experiencing a situation of insecurity and waves of conflict for almost 17 years. "There is a lot of hyper-vigilance and stress because you are always 15 seconds away from a disaster," she said, 15 seconds being the amount of time residents have to get to a shelter. She added that the combination of rockets, sirens, and incendiary kites and balloons "takes a toll on body, mind and spirit."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Eroding Status of Iranian Clerics - Raz Zimmt
    Recently published testimonies by Iranian clerics reflect their mounting concern with the ongoing erosion of their public status among the general population. Until the Islamic Revolution, clerics were associated with the popular struggle for social justice and against political oppression, and this was a significant factor in the support they received from the people. Today, clerics are associated with the Islamic regime and are seen as the executors of regime policy. Furthermore, their relatively favorable economic status distances them from the people.
        As the status of clerics erodes, the public continues to distance itself from religion, resulting in poor attendance in the mosques. Clerics today are largely perceived as irrelevant, primarily by members of the young generation. The ongoing erosion of the status of clerics could prove detrimental to the very legitimacy of the regime and pose a significant challenge to it. The writer is a research fellow at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • No, Israel Has No Obligation to Let In a BDS Supporter - Paul Miller
    Lara Alqasem advocates for the end of the Jewish state. No country permits non-citizens who are enemies of the state to enter their land. As a student leader, Alqasem organized an event in honor of Rasmea Odeh, the convicted Palestinian terrorist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who orchestrated the 1969 supermarket bombing that resulted in the death of two Hebrew University students.
        Alqasem honors those who have murdered Israelis. No country would allow such an enemy access to their land. Why should Israel have to abide by a separate set of rules? The writer is president and executive director of the Haym Salomon Center. (New York Daily News)

Developing Northern Sinai - A New Diplomatic Paradigm - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira and Shlomi Fogel (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • How can the economic situation in Gaza be alleviated without strengthening the military capabilities of Hamas, when the Gaza authorities cannot be relied upon to prevent the diversion of resources for military purposes?
  • There is no reason to doubt that any improvements in Gaza's infrastructure, such as new port construction, will lead to the movement of increased quantities of weaponry into the Hamas arsenal.
  • A new paradigm could provide solutions to the economic and humanitarian deprivation in Gaza in the area of northern Sinai, while strictly maintaining Egyptian sovereignty and without infringing upon it in any way. While this area is adjacent to Gaza, it is outside the control of Hamas.
  • Massive economic aid should be supplied to Egypt through the establishment of a new consortium based upon the United States and the Gulf States. This international aid should be invested in the construction and development of a series of initiatives and large infrastructure projects for tourism and the economy in northern Sinai, carried out under the responsibility of the Egyptian government, for the benefit of the residents of Gaza.
  • These projects would include:
    • Construction of a deep-water port at El Arish, allowing the import and export of goods to Gaza.
    • Construction of an international airport near El Arish that would allow the movement of passengers, including from Gaza.
    • Construction of a power station to generate electricity from natural gas from Egyptian gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea, supplying enough electricity to meet the total demand of Gaza residents.
    • Construction of two water desalination installations to provide enough water for the needs of Gaza.
  • These will be constructed mainly by Egyptian workers, most of whom will come from among the Bedouin of northern Sinai, giving them the opportunity to improve their economic situation instead of joining ISIS. They will be joined by workers from Gaza.

    Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff.
        Shlomi Fogel, an Israeli entrepreneur, is active in numerous initiatives to promote business between Israel and its neighbors, including the "Jordan Gateway Industrial Park," as a means of promoting economic peace.