December 26, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israel Has Carried Out Airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Sinai (i24News)
    Israel has been involved in the fight against ISIS in more ways than just sharing intelligence with the Western coalition.
    The Israeli Air Force has conducted airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Egyptian Sinai in recent years, according to a report from Israeli Kan TV.

The Silver Lining in the Gatwick Drone Incident - Rev. Dr. John Cameron (The Herald-Scotland)
    The best news to come out of the Gatwick drone incident is confirmation that our Army has already purchased Drone Dome systems from Israel - a cutting-edge anti-drone system.
    The greatest fear raised by the Gatwick drone was that the mayhem would encourage a resurgent al-Qaeda to target UK airspace - but at least our airports now have access to the Israeli domes.

Once Again, Palestinians Deny Any Jewish Connection to Jerusalem - Elder of Ziyon (Algemeiner)
    The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Dec. 23 that Israeli actions in Jerusalem "give the impression to any visitor that it is a Jewish Biblical city featuring continuous [Jewish] presence and Jewish heritage."
    Well, yes. Because it has been for 3,000 years, except for some very brief periods where Jews were specifically expelled.
    Despite how they speak to credulous Western reporters and diplomats, Palestinians don't accept that Jerusalem is sacred to three faiths.
    They are actively trying to pretend that Jewish ties to Jerusalem are a modern myth, and that only Muslims and (reluctantly) Christians have ties to the city.
    It is the Palestinians who are trying to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of Jews. This is being actively anti-Semitic.

Using Israeli Innovations to Transform Life in Africa - Noa Amouyal (JNS)
    For nearly 10 years, New York-based Innovation: Africa has demonstrated that a little can go a long way.
    With simple Israeli technology, it is teaching developing nations in Africa how to create self-sufficient infrastructure and bring access to clean water, education, refrigeration for vaccines and medicines, and food security to the region.
    To date, the organization installed Israeli solar, water and agricultural technologies in more than 200 villages in 10 African countries that has impacted the lives of some 1.3 million people.
    Most importantly, it teaches locals how to maintain the technologies so they can be self-reliant.
    "We are using Israeli innovations to empower and transform the lives of others," said founder and CEO Sivan Ya'ari.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Says Hizbullah Leaders Targeted in Israeli Airstrike in Syria - Donica Phifer and James Laporta
    Several leaders of Hizbullah were reportedly hit by an Israeli airstrike Tuesday night on the Syrian capital of Damascus, a U.S. Department of Defense source said. Israel's airstrike was conducted minutes after the leaders boarded a plane bound for Iran. Several Iranian ammunition supply points containing GPS-guided ammunition were also a target of the bombing. (Newsweek)
        See also Anti-Aircraft Missile from Syria Intercepted in Israel - Daniel Salami
    Israeli air defense systems were activated in Israel Tuesday night against an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria. There were no casualties and damage to property, the IDF Spokesperson said. (Ynet News)
  • Senior Iranian Cleric Responsible for 2,000 Executions Dies
    Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, a senior Iranian cleric considered a possible successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, died Monday at the age of 70. Shahroudi had been the head of the powerful Expediency Council since last year and a member of the 12-man Guardian Council.
        As head of the judiciary between 1999 and 2009, Shahroudi led a crackdown on dissidents and reformists. Human rights groups say he was responsible for executing more than 2,000 people. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Extensive Syria Strike Signals Business as Usual - Amos Harel
    The aerial attack on Syria Tuesday attributed to Israel came less than a week after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the pullout of American forces from the country. Israel is signaling that from its perspective, it's business as usual. Despite Trump's announcement and despite Russia's fury about its Ilyushin plane getting shot down last September, Israel sees itself as free to continue attacking targets in Syria, when necessary. The attacks are focusing on the greater Damascus area, remote from northwest Syria where the Ilyushin was shot down. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Shot Trying to Run Over Soldiers, Civilians in West Bank - Yotam Berger
    A Palestinian tried to run over soldiers and civilians near an army base in the northern West Bank, the Israeli army said Wednesday. The Palestinian was shot and no Israelis were wounded. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • With the American Departure from Syria, Will Iran Expand Its Land Corridor to Hizbullah? - Col. (ret.) Dr. Ephraim Kam
    The Iranians have no good military answer to Israeli strikes on its forces and allies in Syria. Russia is also liable to act to end or limit their activities in an effort to prevent an all-out confrontation between Israel and Iran that will endanger Syria's rehabilitation.
        Iran seeks a land corridor to Syria and Lebanon that passes through Iraq in order to transfer weapons to the Revolutionary Guards and Shiite militias, in particular, Hizbullah. But the land corridor plan went partially awry as a result of Israeli airstrikes. Although a few small convoys have apparently passed through the corridor, the Iranians have in large part preferred to move freight by air.
        With the Americans' departure from Syria, the Iranians will likely decide to expand their use of the corridor. Yet the change will not likely be so far-reaching. American attacks on Iranian forces and Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq were relatively rare.
        Almost all of the air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria were carried out by the Israeli Air Force, who exposed the Iranian military's weaknesses and made it difficult for Tehran to establish a military outpost in Syria. Israel will continue to strike Iranian targets in Syria as necessary, and rightfully so.
        The writer, who served in the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Sanctions May Prevent Iran's Expansion, Despite Exit from Syria - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    A report Monday by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center noted that U.S. sanctions have exacerbated internal Iranian tensions about how much it should be investing its own blood and treasure in foreign adventures. At a time when the Islamic Republic's economy is at a significant low from sanctions, it is harder for the IRGC to justify fighting in foreign areas.
        The report pointed out that U.S. forces had not actually directly confronted Iranian forces. In other words, the main foreign power limits on Tehran's activities in Syria were pressures from Israel and Russia - pressures which will continue. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Escaping Gaza Is Easier Now - for Palestinians Who Can Afford It - Pam Bailey and Fadi O. Al-Naji
    Prior to May 2018, the Rafah gateway to Egypt was opened for only a few days a year by Egypt due to security concerns. Egypt now is keeping the crossing open in both directions, and one's ability to escape from Gaza separates the "haves" from the "have-nots." Not too long after the Rafah crossing opened, around 100 of Gaza's most talented physicians left.
        Dr. Mahmoud Sadaldeen, an anesthesiologist at Shifa, Gaza's main hospital, is planning to leave as soon as he can, perhaps for the UAE. "I spent the entire 2014 war at the hospital offering medical treatment for injured people with love, away from my family. But it's become unbearable. We are supposed to be paid a monthly salary of 6,000 ($1,600) shekels but I receive only 2,000 ($540). After paying on my bank loans, I only have 1,000-1,200 left a month."
        "Most Gazans who make it out are the strip's most resourceful, highly educated, promising, accomplished and sometimes wealthiest people," notes Muhammad Shehada, a writer who left Gaza for Sweden two years ago.
        Those who don't want to wait for months on the waiting list to exit pay a "coordination fee" (aka bribe) to Egyptian officials. The going rate averages $1,500, although it can range as high as $7,000, depending on the person's status. For most Gazans, even if they can scrape this sum together, they are left with nothing extra for expenses on the other side. (+972 Magazine)

Setting the Wolf to Guard the Sheep: Electing the Palestinian Attorney-General to the ICC Nominations Committee for Judges - Amb. Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The election of the Palestinian Attorney-General, Dr. Ahmad Barrak, to serve as a member of the "Advisory Committee on Nominations" of judges of the International Criminal Court is indicative of a far wider and more serious problem facing the ICC.
  • By any international, legal and factual criterion, "The State of Palestine" is nothing more than a political fiction invented and given prominence by the UN General Assembly. There exists no sovereign Palestinian state, and there exists no sovereign Palestinian territory over which the ICC could exercise its jurisdiction.
  • The acceptance in 2014 of the "State of Palestine" as a party to the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC remains legally flawed, since membership of the Court, pursuant to its Statute, is restricted to states, and there exists no sovereign Palestinian state.
  • The Palestinian leadership has little interest in the vision, aims, and purpose of the ICC, so laboriously negotiated and drafted over many years by the international community. Their only purpose for engaging the ICC is to utilize the Court politically in their campaign to delegitimize Israel and its leadership.
  • It is widely acknowledged that the final status of the West Bank and Gaza is an open negotiating issue between the Palestinians and Israel pursuant to the Oslo Accords. Pending their final settlement, the territories cannot be regarded as Palestinian territories but as disputed territories.
  • Hence, any determination by the UN or by the ICC as to any form of Palestinian status of the territories cannot be seen as other than an attempt to prejudge the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
  • However, this has not prevented the international community from blindly accepting and advancing this parallel Palestinian attempt to bypass their negotiating commitment in order to achieve statehood unilaterally through international bodies.

    The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.