December 10, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Warns Lebanese to Leave Homes Covering Hizbullah Attack Tunnels - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF Spokesperson for Arabic media Maj. Avichay Adraee warned Lebanese citizens on Sunday:
    "Hizbullah built terror tunnels under Kfar Kila and Ramiyeh that infiltrate into Israeli territory, making the area a barrel of explosives. We are determined to neutralize these tunnels, and we do not know the outcome of these actions on the relevant buildings on the Lebanese side."
    "We recommend that you thoroughly consider temporarily leaving the relevant buildings for your safety."
    The IDF says the tunnels are under its full control, and have been filled with explosives pending their demolition.

Hamas: Armed Struggle Against Israel Will Continue - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    In a statement on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the eruption of the First Intifada, Hamas said that the "armed struggle" against Israel will continue.
    Hamas repeated its rejection of U.S. President Trump's unseen peace plan and lashed out at Arab countries for their alleged normalization with Israel.

Palestinian Murdered in Israeli Arab Town for Selling Land to Jews - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    A Palestinian man, Ahmed Salame, 58, was shot to death on Friday in the Israeli Arab town of Jaljulia.
    Perpetrators opened fire from short range on the car he was driving.
    Police are looking into suspicions that he was murdered due to his occupation as a seller of land in the West Bank to Jews.

Lebanese Businessman Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering for Hizbullah - Spencer S. Hsu (Washington Post)
    Kassim Tajideen, 63, a Lebanese Belgian citizen who headed a multibillion-dollar commodities shipping empire from Beirut, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Washington to committing roughly $1 billion in unlawful transactions since 2009 to help finance Hizbullah.
    Tajideen was arrested in Morocco in March 2017.

Israel Joins Anti-Illegal Funding Body FATF (Reuters)
    The Financial Action Task Force in Paris - the global body dedicated to combating money laundering and terrorism financing - confirmed Israel's inclusion as its 38th member, the Israel Justice Ministry said on Monday.
    See also Israel Becomes a Member of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force)

Merkel's Party Rejects Freeze of Funds for Palestinian Terrorism - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union Party voted against a motion on Saturday in Hamburg to stop public funds for the Palestinian Authority's payments to terrorists and financial aid to the families of terrorists who have murdered and injured Israelis.

Israeli Startups Raised $600 Million in November (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised nearly $600 million in November, part of a record $5.7 billion since the start of 2018, easily surpassing last year's record of $5.24 billion.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Significantly Expands Missile Testing - Daniel-Dylan Bohmer
    Documents from Western intelligence sources show that the number of Iranian ballistic missile tests has more than doubled this year. In 2018, Iran fired at least seven medium-range missiles for testing purposes. In addition, Iran fired at least five more short-range and cruise missiles. In 2017 there were four tests of medium-range missiles and one test of a short-range missile.
        The agreement that Iran negotiated in 2015 calls on Iran "not to engage in ballistic missile-related activities designed to use nuclear weapons." The provision includes "launches using such ballistic missile technology."
        Iran has tested at least three variants of the Shahab-3 medium-range missile since the beginning of the year. Michael Elleman of the British military think tank IISS says: "Iranian designs for nuclear warheads, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented at the end of April 2018, clearly make provisions for a Shahab-3 as a launch missile."  (Die Welt-Germany)
  • Israel: Lebanese Army Turning Blind Eye to Hizbullah Practices - Nazir Majali
    Israeli army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis accused Lebanese political and military leaderships on Sunday of turning a blind eye to Hizbullah's actions in service of Iran. He said Hizbullah has been building tunnels and rocket factories for the past four years. They were even working in the tunnels on Tuesday.
        "The Iranians cannot find funds to save millions of Iranians from the economic crisis and Hizbullah cannot garner enough money to treat its fighters who were wounded in the Syrian war," stated Manelis. "They have spent tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to build the tunnels that are a primary weapon to attack Israel. We caught them off guard, however, by revealing them."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Opens Fire on Israelis at Bus Stop, Wounding 7 - Yotam Berger
    Seven people were wounded in a drive-by shooting near the entrance to Ofra in the West Bank on Sunday. A 21-year-old pregnant woman is in serious condition. Doctors delivered her baby prematurely, but the baby is in critical condition. Her husband was also wounded. Footage from the scene shows a white vehicle slowing down near the bus stop and stopping briefly. After shots are fired from the vehicle, IDF soldiers shoot at the car, which then continues north. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Praises "Heroic" West Bank Shooting Attack - Adam Rasgon (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Is Preventing Iran from Taking Over the Middle East - Erez Linn
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News in an interview broadcast Saturday that Israel will prevent Iran from using cross-border tunnels from Lebanon against it.
        Asked about Iran and the threat it posed together with Hizbullah, Netanyahu said: "They want not only to conquer all Muslims who don't share their faith or subjugate and kill them, [but also] go against all the infidels. And guess who the great Satan is? The U.S. And who the small Satan is? Israel. We just happen to be closer. We are just preventing them from taking over the Middle East. They are trying to mask their campaign to get nuclear weapons. That has to be stopped."  (Israel Hayom)
  • 10,000 Palestinians Rally at Gaza-Israel Border Friday - Zachary Keyser
    10,000 Gazans, including senior Hamas leaders, participated in several rallies on Friday near the security fence, throwing stones at IDF troops and attempting to damage the border barrier. Hamas said 37 were injured in the 37th week of the ongoing protests. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Haley: 87 Countries Said Hamas Was a Problem
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said after the UN vote on Thursday on condemning Hamas, "87 countries said Hamas was a problem. The tide has changed. It is a new day at the UN." Just before the vote, Bolivia and several Arab states asked to require a two-thirds majority for passage. This rule change passed by a vote of 75-72, with 26 abstentions. (Times of Israel)
        See also How Major Countries Voted at the UN General Assembly on Condemning Hamas
    In the vote in the UN General Assembly on Dec. 6 on the U.S. resolution titled, "Activities of Hamas and Other Militant Groups in Gaza":
        Countries voting to condemn Hamas included: EU countries, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Georgia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine, U.S., Uruguay.
        Countries voting against condemning Hamas included: Arab and Muslim countries, Belarus, China, Cuba, Russia, South Africa, Vietnam.
        Countries abstaining included: Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Philippines, Thailand. (Ynet News)
        See also UN Failure to Condemn Hamas Shows U.S., Israel Have Work Ahead - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S.-Sponsored UN Resolution Condemning Hamas Gets Unprecedented Level of Support (Tower- The Israel Project)
  • UNIFIL and the Hizbullah Tunnels - Elliott Abrams
    The tunnels dug by Hizbullah and reaching from Lebanon into Israel are quite obviously a violation of Israeli sovereignty, and a violation of the governing UN Security Council resolutions, 1559 and 1701. Those resolutions demand that the Lebanese government exercise sovereignty in all of Lebanon.
        Resolution 2373, adopted in August 2017, added that the Security Council "recalls its authorization to UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind."
        The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed "utilized for hostile activities." But UNIFIL will likely do nothing. The writer, a senior fellow at CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Council on Foreign Relations)
        See also If UNIFIL Expands Mandate, Few Countries Will Send Troops - Herb Keinon
    Israel knows it is unrealistic to change the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from a monitoring force to one that will actively stop Hizbullah from burrowing tunnels into Israel, since few countries would then volunteer their forces for such a mission, said a senior diplomatic official whose country contributes forces to UNIFIL.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday that Israel is conducting a diplomatic campaign to condemn Hizbullah and its patron Iran, and to impose sanctions on them both. One diplomatic source said that the thrust of this diplomatic push is to get international recognition that by digging tunnels into Israel, Hizbullah has clearly violated Security Council Resolution 1701.
        That would give Israel legitimacy if it is forced to take military action inside Lebanon in response to uncovering the tunnels. Israel is working with the U.S. and others to convene the UN Security Council to acknowledge that Hizbullah carried out an offensive action against Israeli sovereignty. (Jerusalem Post)

The Discovery of Hizbullah's Invasion Tunnels - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The discovery of Hizbullah's invasion tunnels has removed a critical component of its and Iran's plan for war against Israel. The discovery robbed them of the ability to surprise Israel through an offensive (under)ground assault into Israeli territory, which was to be a central element in challenging the country's security.
  • In addition, it has again embarrassed Iran because it exhibits Israel's superior level of intelligence once more, following the exposure of Iran's nuclear archive, which was brought to Israel.
  • Lebanon and the international arena need to understand that Hizbullah, as an Iranian proxy, is not the "shield of Lebanon," but is a huge danger to that country. Hizbullah is developing strong offensive capabilities against Israel from within Lebanese civilian facilities to serve Iranian interests only.
  • Its actions beyond the international border - inside Israeli territory - justify a sharp Israeli response that will cause harm to Lebanon and its citizens.
  • Any attempt to differentiate between the military wing and the political wing of Hizbullah is ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that a handful of rebellious Hizbullah terrorists decided independently to dig a complex system of tunnels which demanded so many resources?
  • It is amazing to see how the Europeans have confirmed the existence of the tunnels and have expressed their support of Israel's right to destroy them, yet they refuse to blame Hizbullah. UNIFIL has confirmed the existence of a tunnel, but it has refrained from asserting that Hizbullah has thereby significantly violated Israel's sovereignty.

    The writer, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center.