January 9, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Arrests 45 Israeli "Spies and Collaborators" in Gaza (RT-Russia)
    Hamas Interior Ministry Spokesman Iyad al-Bozum announced Tuesday, "The security services were able to arrest 45 agents [of Israel] after the security incident east of Khan Yunis last November and they are under investigation," referring to a covert Israeli mission in Gaza.
    After the IDF force was revealed, an exchange of fire led to the death of an Israeli special forces officer and seven Palestinians.

Illegal Banks in Iran Swindled Hundreds of Millions of Dollars (Radio Farda)
    $800 million has been set aside in the next Iranian budget to deal with the mess created by unlicensed credit institutions.
    If these institutions go under, angry people who would lose their savings might trigger protests and unrest in the country.
    In the past 12 years, a multitude of credit unions and savings and loan institutions were set up without a license from the Central Bank of Iran. This means no one checked their financial viability.
    Local media have reported about the role of imams, judges (also clerics), government officials and the children of these influential people in the quasi-banking business.

Egypt Limits Gaza Passage after PA Quits Border Crossing - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Egypt blocked Palestinians from entering the country from Gaza on Tuesday after Palestinian Authority (PA) personnel pulled out of the Rafah border crossing and Hamas officers took their place.
    A Palestinian official said Cairo had decided to open the Rafah crossing only to Palestinians returning to Gaza.

Israeli Team Wins World Universities Debate Championship - Tamar Beeri (Jerusalem Post)
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem debate team won the World Universities Debate Championship last week in Cape Town, South Africa, in the English Second Language category in a competition against students from 20 countries.

"This Is My Country, I Serve in the IDF," Says Muslim IDF Soldier - Nadav Glick (Ynet News)
    Corporal Bilal Taha, 21, from the Galilee village of Deir al-Asad, is an Israeli Arab who chose to serve in the IDF.
    "There are many who are not happy with my being a soldier," he says, "and I don't know what their reaction would be if I entered the town in uniform."
    Before enlisting in 2017, Taha spent a year volunteering with a youth movement in Israel, where he says he made up his mind to enlist. "We spent a week at a Safed Yeshiva (seminary), a month at the Ofra settlement, and we also visited my village."
    "There is no difference; only the location, language and the residents' religion. Judaism and Islam are very similar. A Jerusalem household welcomes you the same way as one in Deir al-Asad."

Israel Aerospace Drones to Monitor Crops in Brazil (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. has signed an agreement with Brazil's Santos Lab to use drones and advanced analytics to monitor crops such as soy and sugar cane as well as commercial forestry, generating accurate analysis of crops and soil conditions.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Dutch Government Says Iran Assassinated Dissidents in the Netherlands - Raf Sanchez
    The Dutch government has accused Iran of hiring criminal gangs to murder two Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands, part of a widespread campaign of assassination plots across Europe. Ahmad Mola Nissi, 52, a leader in the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, was murdered in the Hague in November 2017. Ali Motamed, 56, was killed near Amsterdam in December 2015. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Turkey's Erdogan Refuses to Meet with U.S. National Security Adviser Bolton over Protection for Syrian Kurds - Kareem Fahim
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to meet visiting White House national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, saying that he had made a "very serious mistake" by demanding protection for U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria. Bolton on Sunday outlined the conditions for a U.S. troop departure from Syria during a visit to Israel. Those conditions included protection for thousands of Syrian Kurdish fighters who have been trained and armed by the U.S to fight the Islamic State.
        "The message that Bolton gave in Israel is unacceptable," Erdogan said. "Very soon, we will take action to neutralize terrorist organizations in Syria," referring to the Kurds. Bolton had been expected to meet with Erdogan to discuss the fate of the Syrian Kurdish fighters, a U.S. official said. (Washington Post)
  • ISIS Kills 23 U.S.-Allied Forces in Eastern Syria
    Jihadists in eastern Syria used the cover of bad weather and at least two suicide bombers in deadly attacks on Sunday and Monday that killed 23 members of the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. The jihadists often launch attacks during bad weather that cancels out U.S.-led coalition air power. The Kurdish-Arab alliance began an offensive on Sep. 10 with 17,000 fighters to flush out ISIS from the last part of its now-defunct "caliphate."
        The Observatory said 1,087 ISIS jihadists have been killed since the start of the operation, together with 602 members of the SDF. While the jihadists' defenses have collapsed, those who remain include seasoned fighters who are prepared to die in a last stand. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Welcomes European Sanctions on Iran over Plots to Attack Dissidents
    Israel on Wednesday welcomed the EU's declaration that it would sanction Iran over suspicions it planned to kill opposition activists in Europe. "This is an important first step by the EU, combating Iranian aggression," the Foreign Ministry tweeted. "The newly imposed sanctions offer some hope that a growing number of countries are willing to take an active, clear stand against Iran's global campaign of terrorism."
        On Tuesday the EU put an Iranian intelligence service and two senior officials on its terror list for involvement in assassinations and plots to kill opposition activists in Denmark, France and the Netherlands. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Chief: We Thwarted Smuggling of 20,000 Rockets into Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Tuesday that Israel had "foiled the smuggling of 15,000-20,000 rockets" into Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Security Agency: A Foreign State "Intends to Intervene" in Our Elections through Cyberattacks
    Israel Security Agency head Nadav Argaman said Monday that a foreign state "intends to intervene" through cyberattacks in national elections on April 9, Hadashot TV reported. Argaman said he was "100% [certain] that [name of foreign state] will intervene in the upcoming elections, and I know what I'm talking about....I can't say at this point for whom or against whom, but it involves cyber[attacks] and hacking."
        The ISA said on Tuesday: "The Israel Security Agency wishes to clarify that the State of Israel and the intelligence community have the tools and capabilities to locate, monitor and thwart foreign influence efforts."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • After the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog
    Iran has clear designs to turn war-torn Syria into a formidable military front against Israel, merging it with the front in Lebanon as part of a strategic plan to encircle Israel. In recent years, Israel has defined its red lines on Iranian involvement in Syria and enforced them through consistent military action - a campaign that has been relatively successful.
        In this sense, Jerusalem has correctly read the Trump administration's attitude as a division of labor: the U.S. applies pressure on Iran, mainly in the nuclear context, and limited to economic and political tools; meanwhile, the role of confronting Iran's regional ambitions militarily has been left to local forces, first among them Israel.
        Given Israel's guiding principle of independent self-defense and the fact that Washington does not see Syria as critical to its own national security interests, Israelis never expected U.S. forces to play an active role in the campaign to counter Iran militarily there.
        The Israeli-Iranian showdown in Syria has lessened in recent months, mainly due to Moscow's strong intervention with both parties following the September downing of a Russian military plane there. Yet hostilities could easily re-erupt in Syria, particularly if Iran steps up its activity there after a U.S. withdrawal.
        The writer, former head of strategic planning for the IDF and chief of staff to Israeli ministers of defense, is a fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • BDS Bill Debate Is about Anti-Semitism, Not Speech - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Given the abject failure of the campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel or to get American universities to endorse their efforts, there are those who consider that all the fuss made about the issue gives the BDS camp too much credit and far too much attention.
        Of course, it's legal to boycott anything you don't like. Even the most vicious anti-Semitic libels are legally protected when it comes to free speech, provided they aren't linked to violence. But organized commercial boycotts rooted in bias are illegal. BDS is a campaign of discrimination against the one Jewish state on the planet and therefore anti-Semitic by definition.
        BDS is a flop with respect to isolating Israel, but in spite of its lack of success, BDS has lent a measure of false legitimacy to those who would engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric. BDS is worth fighting because its real target isn't Israel, but American Jews and their right to stand up for their beliefs without fear of insult and intimidation. As we've seen on college campuses, wherever the BDS movement raises its banners, acts of anti-Semitism follow. (JNS)

Irish Government Should Reject Bill to Boycott Israeli Goods from the West Bank - Israeli Ambassador Ophir Kariv (The Journal-Ireland)
  • What could be perceived as a just and well-intentioned bill is, in fact, threatening to make Ireland the most extreme anti-Israel, although not pro-Palestinian, country outside Iran and the Middle East. As a foreign ambassador, I wholly respect the Irish parliamentary process. However, as the Ambassador of the State of Israel, which is specifically (and solely) targeted by this bill, it is my duty to sound alarm bells on the deficiencies of the bill and explain what it really means.
  • Supporting Palestinians by assisting in capacity and institution building in fields such as democracy, economy, trade, and innovation does not mean one is anti-Israeli. On the contrary - one may find Israel a willing partner in many such endeavors, as shown, for example, by the list of infrastructure projects for Gaza which Israel has identified and presented to potential international partners. However, the clear line between supporting Palestinians and becoming anti-Israeli is a thin one and unfortunately one that is being crossed all too often.
  • Anyone who has studied the history of the Jewish people, read the Bible, or is acquainted with the past of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) knows that these areas are the cradle of the Jewish people. For over two thousand years, exiled Jews yearned to return to this land and when they did, they re-established communities across the Land of Israel.
  • Of course, one cannot ignore the presence today of about two million Palestinians in the West Bank, who have their own national aspirations. Israel recognizes that and consecutive Israeli governments have been working for a solution based on mutual recognition and direct negotiations.
  • In essence, the sponsors of the bill ignore all of those facts and complexities and suggest that Jews have no rights whatsoever in their own birthplace. Furthermore, the bill says that anyone who thinks otherwise and dares act differently, i.e., trading in Jewish goods or services from those areas, might find himself facing a prison sentence or a large fine.
  • Ignoring the Israeli historical and national connection to that part of the land simply serves to alienate the vast majority of Israelis, regardless of their political views. It is morally flawed, historically void and politically destructive.