November 26, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran, Assad Regime Reconstruct Missile Facilities Hit by Israel (Zaman Al Wasl-Syria)
    Fresh satellite pictures reveal that Iran and the Syrian regime have started the reconstruction of missile facilities hit by Israel last September north of Mesyaf in Hama province.
    Also, an Iranian facility which had been destroyed by Israeli airstrikes last May near Damascus International Airport has been reconstructed.

Report: ISIS in Sinai Seizes Iranian Weapons Shipment Bound for Hamas (Times of Israel)
    The Islamic State in Sinai has seized a weapons shipment that was on its way to Hamas in Gaza, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida reported.
    The weapons included advanced anti-tank Kornet missiles and other GPS-guided weaponry.

Three IDF Soldiers Hurt in Car-Ramming Attack in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Three Israeli soldiers were injured when a man rammed his car into them on Monday on Route 60 near Karmei Tzur in Gush Etzion. The driver of the vehicle was shot by security forces.

Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy Agree on Israel-Europe Gas Pipeline - Sonia Gorodeisky (Globes)
    After two years of intensive discussions, Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, with the backing of the EU, have reached an agreement on laying the world's longest underwater pipeline for the export of gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe.
    If all goes according to plan, the pipeline could be in place by 2025.

Dichter: "Gaza Will Remain a Problem until We Destroy Hamas' Terror Network" - Gideon Allon (Israel Hayom)
    MK Avi Dichter, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman and a former director of the Israel Security Agency, told Israel Hayom:
    "It's clear that the current reality, in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the ones to decide when to provoke another round of violence, is unacceptable."
    "We have to eradicate their terrorist infrastructure. This can be done diplomatically, if Egypt decides to take the lead, but I think the chances of that are slim."

IDF Airborne Rescue Paramedic Describes Rescue Operation in Fatal Flash Flood (Ynet News)
    Guy, 24, a paramedic in Israel Air Force Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669, describes the rescue operation for missing Israeli teens who were swept away in a flash flood in April which left 10 dead:
    My comrades, Davidi and Shemer, spot two figures lying motionless on the ground. They land on the banks of the stream and run towards the two frozen figures.
    "They're both alive!" they report on the radio. Davidi wraps the weeping girl in his arms and whispers: "We're here to rescue you; everything is going to be okay."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Rouhani Calls Israel a "Cancerous Tumor" Created by the West
    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a "cancerous tumor" and a "fake regime" established by Western countries. Iran's leaders frequently condemn Israel and predict its demise, but Rouhani rarely employs such rhetoric. (Al Jazeera)
        See also EU Calls Rouhani's Remarks on Israel "Totally Unacceptable"
    The Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security of the European Union External Action said Monday in Brussels: "President Rouhani's remarks bringing into question Israel's legitimacy are totally unacceptable. They are also incompatible with the need to address international disputes through dialogue and international law. The European Union reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, including with regard to current and emerging threats in the region."  (European Union)
        See also Netanyahu: Rouhani's Remarks Prove Need for Sanctions Against Iran
    Commenting on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's remarks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday evening: "Israel knows very well how to defend itself from the murderous Iranian regime. Rouhani's slander, which calls for the destruction of Israel, proves yet again why the nations of the world need to join in the sanctions against the Iranian terrorist regime which threatens them."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Searching for Locals Who May Have Assisted Israeli Special Forces in Gaza Raid - Jack Khoury
    Hamas security forces in Gaza are searching for a van that they suspect was involved in the Nov. 12 operation by Israeli special forces in Gaza that left seven Hamas operatives and an Israeli officer dead, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Saturday. It said Hamas is also searching for Gaza residents who may have assisted Israeli forces. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Did IDF Special Forces Enter Gaza through an Official Checkpoint? - Amira Hass
    Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk was quoted as hinting that the entry of the IDF special forces unit into Gaza was made possible through a checkpoint of the Palestinian Authority at the Erez border crossing. But knowing how the official entry process works raises doubts about the feasibility of this scenario. Foreigners seeking to enter Gaza must coordinate their travel in advance with Hamas authorities.
        To enter officially through the Erez crossing, you must submit full identification details, including details on the purpose of the visit and the organization and identity of contact persons inside Gaza. Even those bearing Palestinian identity cards must pass through the posts of the PA and Hamas and answer questions. (Ha'aretz)
  • President of Muslim-Majority Chad Arrives in Israel - Noa Landau
    Idriss Deby, the president of the Republic of Chad, a Muslim-majority African country, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in Jerusalem as part of an official visit to Israel. Sources in Chad told Reuters that Israel has supplied the Chadian army with weaponry and other equipment this year to help in its fight against northern rebels.
        Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, met with Deby in 2016 and said on Sunday that "Chad is a very important country in Africa and has great significance as a positive and stabilizing power in the region....Chad once had diplomatic relations with Israel and severed them in 1972. When I asked the president's assistants why it did so, they said it was because of strong pressure by [former Libyan leader] Qaddafi. Today, there's no Qaddafi, so it's possible for relations to progress."  (Ha'aretz-Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Eyeing Ties with More African Muslim States - Tamar Pileggi
    A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 that Chadian President Idriss Deby's visit was laying the groundwork for normalizing ties with the Muslim-majority African countries of Sudan, Mali and Niger.
        Separately, Hadashot TV reported Sunday that Prime Minister Netanyahu has secured assurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from Israel - including national carrier El Al - would be permitted to fly over the kingdom's airspace. (Times of Israel)
  • Czech President in Israel to Open Offices in Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
    Milos Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, arrived on Sunday for a four-day state visit during which he will inaugurate an office in Jerusalem that he said will be the precursor to moving the Czech embassy to the city. Zeman will open the Czech House on Tuesday, which will house Czech cultural, investment, trade and tourism offices. East and Central European countries inside the EU that have hinted at an interest in moving their embassies to Jerusalem have come under pressure from other EU countries against the moves. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Cyber Offensive Targets the West - Oved Lobel
    Iran has been running influence operations via its International Union of Virtual Media for years. Using dozens of websites, YouTube accounts and hundreds of social media profiles across multiple platforms, the IUVM laundered pro-Iran talking points through "alternative" media channels in at least 11 languages. Facebook, Twitter and Google have been working to remove traces of the IUVM on their platforms.
        A recent investigation into the intelligence fiasco between 2009 and 2013 that ended in the murder of dozens of CIA informants and the roll-up of U.S. intelligence networks in China, revealed the compromise actually began in Iran. "Iran's cyber activities have been the most consequential, costly and aggressive in the history of the internet, more so than Russia," said a former national intelligence manager for Iran at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
        In 2013, hackers linked to Iran penetrated the networks of U.S. power producer Calpine Corps and stole enough information to disrupt the energy grid and shut down power plants. Beginning in 2011, hackers working for two Iranian security companies launched co-ordinated attacks against the U.S. financial system. The writer is a policy analyst at AIJAC. (Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council)
        See also Iran's Worldwide Political Influence Operation - Jack Stubbs and Christopher Bing (Reuters)
  • Israelis, Arab and Kurds Discuss a Middle East Confederation in Jerusalem - Seth J. Frantzman
    Israelis, Arabs and Kurds discussed the current state of the Middle East and its future at the Wechsler Forum for Innovative Regional Diplomacy at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last week, some speaking via Skype from abroad. Dan Diker, director of the Political Warfare Project at the Center, said the meeting provided a space to talk about ideas such as federalism in the Middle East. Some of the participants did not want to be identified because they are from countries that do not have relations with Israel.
        Some participants saw the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and the Iranian regime as major threats to the region. But they have been disappointed by the stance of Western powers which sought out the Iran deal and portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as a "moderate" alternative. They were also critical of Western support for dictatorships in the region. (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu's Vision for the Middle East Has Come True - Anshel Pfeffer and Davide Lerner (Ha'aretz)
  • Representatives of Arab League member states at the MED 2018 conference in Rome last Thursday either ignored or downplayed the Palestinian issue. Instead, on the stage and behind the scenes, there seemed much more appetite for normalization with Israel.
  • Oman's Foreign Minister said it quite clearly when he called on the Arab world to "come to terms with the reality that Israel is a fact of life in the region," and therefore should have its share of "rights as well as obligations."
  • Even Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, seemed to realize that this wasn't a venue for Israel-bashing and refrained from mentioning Israel in his talk.
  • One senior Middle Eastern diplomat commented that "the basic fact is that, for better or worse, the world isn't bothering Israel anymore about the Palestinians. It's a total change of paradigm."
  • One leading European expert on the Middle East echoed the widespread feeling. "It's hard for me now to convince editors and think-tank directors of the need to write papers on Israel and Palestine. No one can see any point, and quite frankly, I'm not sure I can either."