January 21, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Iran Fired Missile at Israel from Syrian Area We Were Promised Iran Had Left - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    "The firing of the missile [from Syria at Israel] yesterday, a launch that could have killed civilians, was fired by Iranians out of Damascus within an area that we were promised that there would be no Iranians," IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said Monday.
    "Such a missile fired by Iranians from an area where they are not supposed to be is an Iranian attempt to attack Israel....This is the third time that Iran has tried to attack Israel in the past year."

Another Syrian Pantsir Anti-Aircraft Missile System Lost (Corporal Frisk-Finland)
    The Israel Defense Forces has released a new video showing a Russian-made Pantsir-S1 truck-mounted, surface-to-air missile system being intercepted by what looks like a Delilah cruise missile.
    While the Israeli modus operandi hasn't seemingly changed, neither has the incompetence of the Syrian air defense crews.
    The radar is raised, but not rotating and pointing in the wrong direction, while the missiles are in the transport-position and not ready to be fired.
    Despite the vehicle being an obvious high-value target, it is left sitting out in the open with no attempt at camouflage or anyone trying to move it into cover.

Iran Air Force Chief: We Cannot Wait to Fight and Destroy Israel - Daniel Salami (Ynet News)
    Brig.-Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh, head of Iran's air force, said Monday, "The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth," in retaliation for the Israeli attack on Iranian weapons facilities in Syria, Iranian state-linked media reported.

Israeli Minister Reassures U.S. over Chinese Telecoms Investment (Reuters)
    Israel is taking U.S. concerns about possible cyber-security risks posed by Chinese investments into account and is in any case skilled at protecting itself from information theft, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Friday.
    "It's clear we have good relations with China and that's very important, and with Russia and almost the whole world, but the United States is our number one ally. That's how it has been and how it will be."

IDF Rescues French Sailor Adrift for Weeks in Mediterranean - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israeli Navy on Thursday rescued a French sailor whose boat had been lost in the Mediterranean Sea for weeks with a broken radio and no steering system.

Half of Palestinians Who Leave Gaza Don't Return - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Some 36,000 people left Gaza between May and September of 2018, while just 17,000 returned.
    Most of those who chose to emigrate are young and educated. The demand to leave is high, and the waiting list is long.
    According to reports, 82 doctors left Gaza between May and November and haven't returned.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Europe's Patience with Iran Wears Thin - Robin Emmott and John Irish
    In Tehran on Jan. 8 during a meeting with European envoys, Iranian officials abruptly stood up, walked out and slammed the door. The French, British, German, Danish, Dutch, and Belgian diplomats in the Iranian foreign ministry room had incensed the officials with a message that Europe could no longer tolerate ballistic missile tests in Iran and assassination plots on European soil. "It shows the relationship is becoming more tense," one of the diplomats said.
        The stormy meeting encapsulated the unexpected shift in European diplomacy since the end of last year. Smaller, more dovish EU countries have joined France and Britain in a harder stance on Tehran, including considering new economic sanctions. For Europe, assassination plots by Iran on French and Danish soil in 2018 were the last straw, diplomats say. "The accusations against Iran over the past few months have awoken a few countries in Europe that were against a tougher line on Iran," a European-based Middle East diplomat said. (Reuters)
  • Islamist Militants Kill More than 100 Soldiers in Nigeria
    An Islamic State-allied faction of Boko Haram killed more than 100 soldiers and seized a huge stock of weapons in clashes in northeast Nigeria since Dec. 26, forcing thousands of people to flee to safer areas in Nigeria and over the border to neighboring Chad. (Reuters)
        See also Mali: Ten UN Peacekeepers from Chad Killed in Jihadist Attack
    Ten UN peacekeepers from Chad have been killed and another 25 injured on Sunday when gunmen from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb stormed the UN camp in Aguelhok in northern Mali. (BBC News)
        See also UN Using Israeli Radar to Protect Bases in Mali
    The UN Stabilization Mission in Mali is using radar made by Israel's RADA Electronic Industries to provide its bases with early warning of incoming projectiles. Three systems using RADA's Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar (MHR) were set up at outlying bases in Nov.-Dec. 2018. (Jane's Defence Weekly-UK)
  • U.S. Air Strike Kills 52 Islamist Militants Who Attacked Somali Base
    The U.S. military launched an air strike in Somalia on Saturday, killing 52 Islamist al Shabaab fighters who had attacked a Somali military base. On Friday, al Shabaab said it killed 57 Ethiopian troops in a military convoy in central Somalia. On Tuesday, al Shabaab militants attacked a hotel compound in neighboring Kenya, killing at least 21 people. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Destroys Iranian Weapons, Military Sites in Syria - Anna Ahronheim
    Israeli fighter jets struck Iranian and Syrian military targets, air defense batteries and Iranian Quds Forces positions throughout Syria early Monday in response to the firing of a missile by Iranian forces in Syria toward the Golan Heights. The missile was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system above thousands of Israeli tourists at the Mount Hermon ski resort. The IDF attack targeted weapons storage sites, a site at Damascus International Airport, an Iranian intelligence site, and an Iranian training camp. During the attack, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were fired at Israeli aircraft. In response, several Syrian air defense batteries were attacked. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Report: 11 Dead after Israeli Strikes in Syria
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli strikes in Syria were the deadliest since last May. "Israeli strikes targeting Iranian and Syrian military positions near and south of Damascus killed at least 11 fighters including two Syrians."  (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
  • Chad Restores Diplomatic Relations with Israel during Netanyahu Visit
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chad President Idriss Deby announced the resumption of diplomatic relations on Sunday during Netanyahu's visit to Chad. Ties had been severed in 1972. The prime minister said, "We have a partnership in trying to forge a prosperous and secure future for our countries and in a larger sense for Africa and beyond....We discussed how to deepen our cooperation in every field beginning with security, but also agriculture, food, water, energy, health and many more."
        "It's significant for us that Chad is a country with a Muslim majority that seeks the friendship of Israel. There are many such countries, but in Africa this is particularly significant. And we seek the friendship of other countries in Africa....We believe in the future of Chad and the future of Africa. This is my fourth visit to Africa in two years."  (Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Is Ready to Take Risks in Its Struggle with Israel - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    On January 20, 2019, the Qods Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards fired a medium-range, surface-to-surface missile at Israel, which was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome system. Apparently, the attack had been planned for a long time and approved by the Iranian regime in Tehran. This attack indicated Iran's readiness to ratchet up the level of violence and take greater risks of a strong Israeli reaction.
        It would seem that at this stage, we are facing a new strategic situation with regard to Israel's dealing with Iran in Syria. At its foundation lies the risk that Iran, through the Qods Force, will intensify its reactions to Israeli attacks on Syria and is even prepared to enter into a limited conflict with Israel.
        The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel Signals Iran in Syria - Amos Harel
    Israel is fighting two phenomena in Syria - the smuggling of advanced weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon and the new Iranian military buildup. It is important for Israel to continue its bombardments and to signal to the Iranians that Russian dissatisfaction with Israeli moves does not grant them immunity from attack. But Israel must walk a thin line in an attempt to continue to attack Iran and Hizbullah without causing a direct confrontation with Russia. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Ambassador Defends Israel's Actions at Gaza Border
    Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev has defended Israel's actions at its border with Gaza after nine months of protests and violence. He told BBC Radio 4 on Friday: "Everyone who knows anything knows it [the Gaza border] is a war zone. So why are you bussing women and children into a combat zone? I'd ask you the following question: In Gaza we pulled out, we redeployed behind the 1967 line, which is, from the international community's point [of view], the recognized border. If we can't defend that border, what border would you have us defend?"
        Regev called the border fence a "combat situation" where "hundreds if not thousands of people, brought in by Hamas, paid for by Hamas, are storming the border fence, trying to break it down....We do arrest people when we can. But I think if you look at the film from those violent riots...it's clearly orchestrated by Hamas. The goal, as articulated by Hamas, is to break in and kill our people."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
        See also Riots at Israel-Gaza Border Continue Friday - Yoav Zitun
    Some 14,000 Palestinians rioted in several locations along the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, hurling stones, burning tires and throwing grenades and explosives at IDF troops. (Ynet News)

Why Are Relations with Chad Significant for Israel? - Amb. Dore Gold (Israel Project-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

In an interview with The Israel Project on Sunday, former Israel Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold said:
  • The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Chad is an important milestone in a developing story about Israel and Africa that began back in 2016 when Prime Minister Netanyahu made a trip to Uganda commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe raid, and that led to a summit of seven African countries. This was followed by a number of initiatives to reestablish ties with a number of African countries.
  • Chad is the fifth biggest country in Africa. It is geographically placed in a very important location. Its northern neighbor is Libya. Its immediate eastern neighbor is Sudan. Chad is a Sunni Muslim country. Yet another Arabic-speaking country - even though it is not a member of the Arab League - represents an important push forward for the State of Israel.
  • Lake Chad has the main headquarters of several of the African al-Qaeda affiliates. So Chad is fighting jihadism. Because Chad built up a strong army, it has intervened in neighboring conflicts.
  • For example, in the war in Darfur - which has been characterized by the International Criminal Court as an act of genocide - Chad has deployed its forces there to help limit the scale of violence. To the south of Chad is the Central African Republic where a huge civil war has cost many lives. Chad has sent its army in there as peacekeepers.
  • The Palestinians will have a leader at some point who will be interested in concluding a peace agreement. But right now, if the Palestinian leadership does not want to conclude a peace agreement, then Israel doesn't have to wait for a slip of paper from Ramallah before it can conclude understandings with other Muslim countries. That was a mistake of the past which we are not repeating any longer.