December 5, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Hizbullah Operative Caught on Camera Inside Attack Tunnel (Israel Defense Forces)
    See this Hizbullah operative caught on camera from inside an attack tunnel dug from Lebanon into Israel.
    See also Video: Israel Launches Operation to Neutralize Hizbullah Terror Tunnels (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    The terror tunnels built by Hizbullah, crossing into Israeli territory, are a gross violation of Israeli sovereignty and of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Dealing with Hizbullah Tunnels First Step before Going after Missiles (Times of Israel)
    Israeli security analysts believe that the decision to expose the Hizbullah attack tunnels is a precursor to a larger Israeli operation to remove the threat posed by precision missiles being developed with Iran.
    Israel's Channel 10 TV said the IDF estimates there are 10 attack tunnels.

Netanyahu: Israel Security Agency Thwarted 500 Terror Attacks in 2018 (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Security Agency, Israel's domestic security and counterintelligence service, thwarted 500 terror attacks in 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at an awards ceremony for ISA agents.
    "Hundreds of Israeli citizens owe you their lives. I want to thank you...for fighting each day with discretion, ingenuity, creativity and immense dedication," he said.
    Six ISA operations over the past two years were recognized for their "high level of planning, professional and flawless execution, and a result that contributed significantly to the goals of the service in the fields of disruption [of terror attacks or enemy espionage] and national defense."

Are Palestinians More Moderate than Their Leaders? - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Two surveys conducted by different Palestinian pollsters in October show unexpected popular flexibility on core issues of an eventual peace deal with Israel, despite widespread skepticism among Palestinians about current prospects.
    These findings suggest that policymakers should pay more attention to what the Palestinian people really want and less attention to what their politicians or partisans say they "should" want.
    The data suggests that a peace plan advancing Palestinian aspirations, even at the price of major concessions, would be accepted at the popular level - despite its likely rejection by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
    Both surveys show that a solid majority of West Bankers think that "regardless of what's right, the reality is that...most Palestinians will not return to the 1948 lands."
    55% of Palestinians in Gaza and 60% in eastern Jerusalem would accept Israel as "the state for the Jewish people," though only 36% in the West Bank agree.
    The writer is a fellow at The Washington Institute.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Strongly Supports Israel Action Against Hizbullah Tunnels
    The White House gave full backing Tuesday to an Israeli army operation to destroy tunnels built under the border with Lebanon by Iran-backed Hizbullah. National Security Advisor John Bolton said "the U.S. strongly supports Israel's efforts to defend its sovereignty. More broadly, we call on Iran and all of its agents to stop their regional aggression and provocation, which pose an unacceptable threat to Israeli and regional security."  (AFP-Al Arabiya)
        See also Russia Backs Israel Anti-Tunnel Operation
    Russia issued a statement on Wednesday supporting an Israeli operation to demolish cross-border Hizbullah tunnels from Lebanon. "No doubt that Israel has the right to protect its national security, including to prevent the illegal entry of anyone into the country," Russia's Embassy in Israel tweeted. "We expect that UNIFIL deployed in the blue line area will fulfill its mission and will not allow violations."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran: U.S. Made 11 Attempts to Negotiate in Last Two Years
    The U.S. has made 11 attempts to begin negotiations with Iran in the last two years, all rejected by Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday. "If you think America is victorious, know that today Iran is victorious," Rouhani said. "Last year America requested negotiations eight times directly and this year three times indirectly, which we did not accept."  (Reuters)
  • Iran Committed Crimes Against Humanity in the Slaughter of Thousands of Political Dissidents
    By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a report published Tuesday. Iranian authorities killed thousands of political dissidents within a matter of weeks between July and September 1988. (Amnesty International)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iran Is Using Lebanon, Syria and Gaza to Attack Israel - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday: The Israel Defense Forces launched a campaign to expose and neutralize a network of terror tunnels on our northern border with Lebanon. These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hizbullah with direct support and funding from Iran - to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children. This is a grave violation of Israel's sovereignty, a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.
        I have a message for the people of Lebanon: Hizbullah is putting your lives in danger. They are sacrificing your well-being to serve the aggressive purposes of Iran. Israel holds the Lebanese government accountable for all terror activity emanating from Lebanon against Israel. Like any other nation, Israel maintains the right to defend itself. We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran's efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • U.S. Asks Arab Countries to Support UN Resolution Against Hamas - Amir Tibon
    U.S. special representative to the Middle East peace process Jason Greenblatt sent a letter to diplomats from Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt and Qatar with the request to support a UN resolution condemning Hamas, which will come to a vote at the General Assembly on Thursday. Greenblatt noted that countries which oppose terrorism "have no reason" to oppose the resolution. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Push UNIFIL to Destroy Hizbullah's Illicit Infrastructure in Lebanon - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin
    Hizbullah's attack tunnels into the Galilee are one component of a comprehensive Hizbullah offensive design, seeking a surprise ground operation in Israel in the next war or for separate terror attacks. Nasrallah has been talking about this since 2011.
        The tunnels' exposure carries a message to Hizbullah. It is exposed and vulnerable to Israel's intelligence. Its safe and secret posts may prove as death traps to its terrorists.
        A second strategic message is to the UN and the P5: the tunnel network was dug under UNIFIL's feet and under the UNSCR 1701 supervision regime. The routine UN reporting of "no evidence" verifying Israel's "allegations" has again crashed on the (under)ground of reality.
        With the now rock-piercing evidence, Israel should push UNIFIL to expose Hizbullah's illicit infrastructure north of the border and to destroy it. The writer, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Twitter)
  • Tunnels Show Hizbullah Planned Ground Offensives Against Israel - Avi Issacharoff
    The next war between Israel and Hizbullah is already at the door. In the wake of the dwindling civil war in Syria, Hizbullah is stronger than it was seven years ago. True, about 2,000 of its fighters were killed and four times that number wounded, as it battled against rebels on behalf of the Assad regime. But on the battlefield, Israel is now facing a more dangerous enemy, trained and practiced from a prolonged ground war.
        Hizbullah is working to establish factories for producing accurate missiles, with the assistance of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. At the same time, Hizbullah is enlisting fresh fighters, training them, and equipping them with Iranian weapons and money. In addition, it is setting up a military infrastructure on the Syrian Golan Heights.
        Now that the extremist Sunni threat of ISIS has been almost completely wiped out, it is possible for Hizbullah to focus on efforts to harm Israel, under the close guidance of Iran. Hizbullah exists solely to serve its masters in Tehran. (Times of Israel)
  • President George H.W. Bush Repeatedly Helped Soviet Jews - Natan Sharansky
    Avital Sharansky first met George H.W. Bush when he visited Israel in 1979 as head of the CIA, back when I was still imprisoned in the Soviet gulag, and he vowed to help our cause. Years later and mere months after my release, Avital and I met George and Barbara Bush in Jerusalem. He was the Vice President of the U.S., and I spoke with him about the situation of Yuli Edelstein [today the Speaker of the Knesset] and other Prisoners of Zion. Once again, he vowed to help. Time and time again he supplied invaluable help and support for our cause, as well as for the operations to rescue Ethiopian Jews and bring them to Israel.
        George and Barbara always cared about the people they were fighting for. May their memory be a blessing. The writer, a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag for nine years for his human rights activities, served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel from 2009 to 2018. (Times of Israel)
        See also Remembering George H.W. Bush - Marshall Breger
    I worked for George H.W. Bush for over 10 years, while he was the vice president and then president. (JTA)

Lebanon Equals Hizbullah - Charles Bybelezer (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
  • "There is a common misconception in the West that there are two competing camps in Lebanon," said Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel's National Security Council. "The first is considered the 'good' camp, led by [Lebanese premier Saad] Hariri and comprising Sunnis, most of the Christians and the Druze. The other consists of [Shiite] Hizbullah which is supported by Iran and Syria."
  • "This inevitably leads to the conclusion, 'let's help the good guys against the bad guys' - but the reality is that there is an agreement between the sides. The former is tasked with presenting the 'nice' face of Lebanon while appealing for Western support, while Hizbullah is allowed to remain the only military power in the country and dominates decision-making."
  • Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and a former head of Israel's National Security Council, said, "Lebanon practically does not exist as a sovereign state. This is an illusion, as nothing can be done without the approval of Hizbullah."
  • It is no secret that American military equipment earmarked for the Lebanese Armed Forces has fallen into the hands of, if not intentionally diverted to, Hizbullah.
  • "Hizbullah has more than 120,000 missiles and rockets, many of them stored in houses and apartments in populated areas," Amidror noted. "These are legitimate military targets and if they have to be destroyed by the Israeli air force, then the surrounding areas will evaporate, as there is no tactical way to do so without massive amounts of damage. When the next conflict erupts depends very much on how far the Iranians will push things and how long Israel can tolerate the danger."