January 23, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Doctor Helped Save Palestinian Leader Abbas' Life - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    On May 20, 2018, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, 83, was hospitalized for the second time in 24 hours in Ramallah with pneumonia.
    Doctors feared he would suffer a complete systems failure, but rejected an Israeli offer to treat Abbas at an Israeli hospital.
    Israel then sent a specialist to Ramallah who joined a team of foreign doctors in an effort to stabilize his condition. A week later Abbas was discharged from the hospital.

Fearful Iranian Government Eases Imprisonment Conditions of Protest Leaders - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Due to concerns over a civil revolt on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic in Iran (Feb. 11), the Iranian regime has been compelled to ease the conditions of house arrest for three leaders of the "Green movement" protests of 2009.
    At the same time, statements continue to be issued by senior government officials expressing deep concern over the extensive uprising of embittered citizens in the wake of the country's difficult economic situation.
    The noose of U.S. sanctions is tightening, and the hope of salvation from Europe is fading. Marking 40 years since the Revolution only focuses on its failure.

Israel's Arrow-3 Missile Defense System to Get Full Test in Alaska - Arie Egozi (Bulgarian Military)
    The limited-range test of Israel's Arrow-3 ballistic missile defense system over the Mediterranean on Jan. 22 was part of preparations for a full-scale intercept test planned for mid-year in the Kodiak range in Alaska.
    The Arrow-3 will be launched to intercept a target that will simulate the most advanced Iranian ballistic missiles.

Finland Orders Israeli Radar - Yaakov Lappin and Nicholas Fiorenza (Jane's Defence Weekly)
    Finland is ordering ELM-2311 Compact Multi-Mission Radars from Israel Aerospace Industries, the Finnish Ministry of Defence announced on Jan. 11.
    They will be used for detecting artillery, mortars or rockets, as well as for fire observation and air surveillance.

Israel: Iran Spends $7 Billion a Year on Middle East Terror - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    "The Iranian regime's obsession with Israel... is expensive. Seven billion dollars annually are directed towards the never-ending attempts to destroy Israel," Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the Security Council on Tuesday.
    He broke down the spending: $4 billion to Syria, $1 billion to Lebanon, $50 million to Hamas in Gaza and $70 million to Islamic Jihad.
    Tens of millions have gone to Yemen and hundreds of millions to Shiites in Iraq.
    "Iran is trying to turn Judea and Samaria (West Bank) into a fourth military front against Israel," Danon said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Envoy: No Access for UN Peacekeepers to Hizbullah Attack Tunnel in Lebanon - Edith M. Lederer
    Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Mideast, told the Security Council on Tuesday that the UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL "has not been granted access to the confirmed entry points of a tunnel near Kfar Kila on the Lebanese side."
        U.S. Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the council, "We commend UNIFIL's work to keep the Blue Line [border] under control, but it is unacceptable that the Lebanese government has not yet given UNIFIL access to the tunnel entrance on their side of the Blue Line." Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon told the council that "the Lebanese army has taken no action in response, allowing Hizbullah to continue building these tunnels undisturbed."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • Natural Gas Fields Give Israel a Regional Political Boost - Aron Heller
    A decade after discovering natural gas fields off its Mediterranean coast, Israel is starting to feel the geopolitical boost, building bridges with its neighbors even without significant progress being made toward peace with the Palestinians. Last week's inclusion of Israel into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo marked the first time Arab countries accepted Israel into such a regional alliance.
        "I think this is the most significant economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel since the signing of the peace treaty 40 years ago," said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. "The discovery of significant gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has also political value because it brings all of us...together to cooperate with each other." Israel already delivers gas to the Palestinians and to Jordan, and will begin exporting gas to Egypt in the coming months. (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Gives 5 Million Euros to Organizations Promoting Boycotts Against Israel
    EU funds are being used by organizations to promote boycotts against Israel. Furthermore, the fact that an organization which supports a boycott of Israel is a recipient of EU financial aid, even if for purposes other than boycotting Israel, grants the organization a unique status and an enhanced legitimacy which can assist it in raising funds from other entities for boycott activities.
        The Ministry of Strategic Affairs estimates EU funding to organizations promoting boycotts to be well above 5 million euros per year. Moreover, some of these organizations also receive funds directly from EU member states.
        Israel urges the EU to immediately stop funding of organizations promoting boycotts against the State of Israel, and stipulate that any future funding will be contingent on a commitment not to promote such boycotts. (Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs)
        See also Despite Opposing Israel Boycott, EU Keeps Funding Pro-BDS Groups - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Sniper Wounds Israeli Soldier near Gaza; Israel Strikes Hamas Targets, Withholds Qatari Cash - Jonathan Lis
    The Israel Air Force bombed several targets at a Hamas training camp on Tuesday in response to shooting incidents along the Gaza border believed to be by Islamic Jihad militants. An Israeli officer was injured by a bullet that struck his helmet. An Israeli official said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to allow a Qatari money transfer of $15 million into Gaza following Tuesday's escalation. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Expected Iran Rocket Attack on Golan - Yossi Yehoshua
    It seems quality intelligence collected by the IDF led to a successful ambush which exacted a significant price from the Iranians in Syria. On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike on Iranian infrastructure in Syria was successful, despite the fact that Syrian aerial defenses were activated. An hour later, the Iranians launched an advanced missile, with a range of over 200 km. and a payload of hundreds of kilograms of explosives, at northern Israel.
        But the IDF knew of this plan and prepared the Iron Dome battery in the north accordingly, ensuring it covered the Mount Hermon ski site, where thousands of visitors were enjoying the day. The launch of this type of missile by the Revolutionary Guards requires approval from the highest ranks. It also requires preparation - which Israeli intelligence must have identified.
        The IDF chose to allow the visitors at the Hermon to finish their day out before responding in darkness, attacking Iranian targets in Syria including arms depots, training facilities, anti-aircraft systems, and storage facilities at Damascus airport. The Russians promised to curb Iran but didn't keep that promise. (Ynet News)
        See also Report: Quds Force Commander Soleimani Visited Southern Syria Two Days before Iranian Rocket Attack on Israel - Yasser Okbi
    "Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani visited southern Syria, and that was the trigger for the current round of Israeli-Iranian conflict," the Kuwaiti paper Al-Jarida reported. "Soleimani's visit to a location less than 40 km. from the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights violated a previous American-Russian-Israeli agreement." Soleimani's visit, which was monitored by intelligence officials, occurred two days before Iranian forces fired a missile at the Israeli Golan Heights on Sunday.
        A senior Iranian official said the Russians notified the Iranians 30 minutes in advance about which targets Israel would attack. He said the Iranians managed to evacuate the areas and minimize the damage. (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • In the 1948 War, the Arabs Expelled Jews Wherever They Won - Peter Buchsbaum
    New York Times columnist Michelle Alexander claimed on Sunday that it is a duty to protest against Israel just as Martin Luther King protested against the Vietnam War. Yet in her zeal, she shows a great deal of ignorance about the facts.
        She first claims that the Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the great moral crises of our time. But there are many moral crises today. The slaughter in Yemen, the imprisonment of Uighurs in China, the continuing depredations in the Congo, and Russia's annexations in the Ukraine all have a more devastating impact, in terms of lives lost or ruined, than the events in Israel.
        She repeats the lie that the Israelis somehow caused the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. There would have been no war and no displacement at all if the Arab countries had simply accepted the UN Partition resolution. Instead they chose to make war.
        In the course of this war, the Arabs expelled Jews wherever they won. The Jewish community in the Old City of Jerusalem was kicked out with an hour's notice, the Etzion bloc was destroyed, and earlier, the Jewish community of Hebron had essentially been annihilated by Arab riots. Can there be any doubt as to what would have happened to the Jews of Tel Aviv if the Arabs had won that war? The writer served as a judge of the New Jersey Superior Court from 2004 to 2013. (Times of Israel)

  • Syrian opposition activist and writer Issam Zeitoun, appearing on Al-Jazeera on January 16, 2019, was asked: "Who is more dangerous for the region?" Zeitoun replied: "Iran without a doubt. Israel is surrounding itself with walls. It just wants to be left alone."
  • "The claim about Israel wanting to expand 'from the Euphrates to the Nile'...every Arab and Muslim in history has believed this....The Assad regime and our media have told us that Sadat spoke in the Knesset under a banner saying: 'Israel's borders from the Euphrates to the Nile.' There is no such banner. Nobody has ever heard of it."
  • Q: "So it is better to ally with [Israel]?"
    Zeitoun: "Absolutely, from any point of view. Ask any Arab citizen where he wants to live, and then come back to me."
  • "In all our wars against Israel, Israel was waging a defensive war. Had we not attacked [Israel], it would not have attacked us, despite its capabilities. If Iran had a nuclear bomb, would it drop it on Tel Aviv? It would drop it on Riyadh or any other Arab capital. [Iran] exploits the issue [of Jerusalem] only in order to win the Arabs over, by constantly talking about Jerusalem....The Syrian issue is a thousand times more important than the Palestinian cause."