February 21, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Watch the Launch of Israel's Moon Mission on Thursday - Lorraine Lorenzo (International Business Times-UK)
    SpaceX is set to launch the Israeli robotic lunar lander Beresheet on Thursday at 8:45 p.m. EST.
    Watch the live streaming of the SpaceX Falcon 9's launch here.

Video: Inside Hizbullah Terrorist Tunnel Dug under Israeli Border (YouTube)
    See inside a Hizbullah tunnel dug under the border with Israel.
    This video was posted by Andrea Thompson, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

German President Lauds Iran on Anniversary of Islamic Revolution - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier sent a congratulatory telegram to Iran's mullah regime in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, Bild reported on Wednesday.
    Bild wrote: "Mass executions and torture; the brutal persecution of women, minorities, and the opposition; the installation of an Islamist terror state that threatens to annihilate Israel, that covers the Middle East with its militias, and that denies the Holocaust. All of this started in Iran on 11 February 1979, the day of the 'Islamic Revolution,' when the mullahs seized power in Tehran."
    "There is not a word of criticism concerning Tehran's murderous attacks in Europe or its billions for financing terror groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah."

Qatari Textbooks Feature Anti-Semitic Motifs (MEMRI)
    MEMRI reviewed Qatari Islamic education textbooks taught in state schools in 2018.
    The textbooks for junior high and high school repeatedly stress the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims, describing the latter as "unbelievers" who will suffer terrible tortures in Hell and whom the Muslims must renounce.
    The books stress the superiority of Islam over other religions, especially over Judaism and Christianity, which are presented as false and distorted, and also feature anti-Semitic motifs, presenting Jews as treacherous, dishonest and crafty, and at the same time weak, wretched and cowardly.

Palo Alto Buys Israeli Cybersecurity Company Demisto for $560 Million (Globes)
    U.S. cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks is acquiring Israeli cybersecurity company Demisto for $560 million.
    Demisto's automated security technology playbooks have helped reduce alerts that require human review by as much as 95%, allowing security teams to focus on the most complex threats.
    Demisto CEO Slavik Markovich said, "We have dedicated ourselves to the challenge of automation because we believe that relying on people alone to combat threats will fail against the scale of today's attacks."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France and Britain Decline Request to Stay in Syria after U.S. Troops Withdraw - Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan
    France and Britain have turned down a U.S. request to stay in Syria after U.S. forces withdraw, a senior U.S. official said. The three allies have operated heavy artillery and conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. They have also provided training, supplies, logistics and intelligence for the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-dominated group that has done most of the fighting on the ground. (Washington Post)
        See also Civilians Evacuate Last ISIS Enclave in Syria - Sarah El Deeb
    Hundreds of men, women and children were evacuated from the Islamic State's last enclave in Baghouz in eastern Syria on Wednesday, where 300 ISIS militants - many of them foreign fighters - have been under siege. A number of ISIS fighters hiding among the evacuating civilians were later arrested. Food and water have been running out in the pocket, with conditions so bad that at least 60 people previously evacuated subsequently died of malnutrition or exhaustion. (AP)
        See also below Observations: ISIS Will Not Disappear - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Eli Ben Meir (Jerusalem Post)
  • French President Macron: Anti-Zionism Is Modern Form of Anti-Semitism
    French President Emmanuel Macron told the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) on Wednesday that France needed to draw "new red lines" against intolerance, saying France will take steps to define "anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism."  (France 24)
  • Foreign Minister: Pakistan Interested in Advancing Ties with Israel
    "Pakistan is interested in advancing its relations with Israel, but this is a question of the political situation in the region," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Ma'ariv, an Israeli news portal, on the sidelines of the recent Munich Security Conference. "Progress in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be very helpful," he said. "If the American plan succeeds in doing so, it will be good. We wish all the best for Israel."  (Press Trust of India-New Indian Express)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Calls on UN to Act Against Iran's Nuclear Threat - Alon Einhorn
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon wrote to the members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, calling upon them to act against Iran's nuclear threat. Referring to Iran's failed attempt to launch a satellite into space earlier this month, Danon said, "Iran has clearly and blatantly ignored the call by the international community to cease this type of activity that violates Security Council Resolution 2231."
        "The international community should view this as another provocative act that is part of Iran's hostile ballistic missile program. Iran's efforts to promote this plan not only threaten its neighbors and the entire Middle East, but also a large portion of European countries."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Will Defend Itself Against Iran in Syria - Israel Kasnett
    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security advisor, discussed America's pullout from Syria with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Leadership Mission to Israel on Monday in Jerusalem.
        "We should concentrate on how to handle Israeli policy and not American policy. They will make their decisions. America was in Syria to fight ISIS - not Iran....The day America pulls forces out of Syria, Iran will open a land corridor from Iran to Syria and this will make weapons transfers much easier for Iran. We need to focus on solutions to this new situation. We don't want America to do the job for us....We don't expect anyone to fight for Israel. Israel will defend itself, by itself."  (JNS)
  • IDF Strikes Hamas Post in Response to Incendiary Aerial Devices Launched from Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    An Israeli aircraft struck a Hamas outpost in Gaza on Wednesday in response to several incendiary aerial devices launched towards southern Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iranian-Pakistani Tensions in the Wake of Terrorist Attacks - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    On Feb. 13, the Sunni Jaysh al-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing of a bus carrying dozens of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel in Iran's Sistan-Balochistan province. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has recently warned of the increasing daring of Sunni organizations against the Iranian regime.
        Jaysh al-Adl was established in 2012 to fight for the rights of the Iranian Sunni minority, which is treated with discrimination and neglect by Iran's Shiite regime. The group has been focusing its attacks on the province bordering Pakistan where the Sunni Balochi minority lives.
        The attack has heightened tensions between Iran and Pakistan, where the Sunni terrorist organizations allegedly find refuge. IRGC commanders announced on Feb. 19 that the suicide attacker was a Pakistani national. IRGC commander Muhammad Jafari accused "foreign (U.S.) and regional (Saudi) intelligence agencies of carrying out the attack," and he called upon the IRGC and Iranian intelligence services to take revenge.
        Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Pakistan for a visit on Feb. 17, where he met Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and signed memoranda of understanding worth $20 billion, no doubt causing anxiety among the Iranians. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Boycotting Israel Doesn't Help Bring Peace - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The movement to boycott, divest and sanction fundamentally misreads the Israeli temperament. When Israelis feel unfairly judged, they push back. Israelis don't believe their country deserves unique opprobrium. The UN denounces Israel more often than violations in all other countries combined.
        Yet rather than eliciting contrition, the resolutions convince Israelis that the international community isn't motivated by genuine concern for the Palestinians but by hatred for the world's only Jewish state. Israelis shrug: The Jews have been here before, and we'll survive this too. Is our flawed democracy more morally offensive than the world's many dictatorships?
        Israelis vehemently reject the notion that their country is primarily responsible for the impasse with the Palestinians. In 2000, when President Clinton proposed a two-state solution, the Israeli government said yes and Palestinian leaders rejected the offer, opting for four years of suicide bombings known as the second intifada. Then in 2005, when Israel unilaterally uprooted its settlements and army bases in Gaza and withdrew to the international border, that withdrawal was met by years of rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israeli communities.
        Israelis believe the conflict is ultimately about the right of a Jewish-majority state to exist in any borders. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. (Los Angeles Times)

ISIS Will Not Disappear - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Eli Ben Meir (Jerusalem Post)
  • Idlib province in northwestern Syria is the last important area still under Syrian rebel control. A few thousand terrorists belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra, a local Salafist group that is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, still remain. Nevertheless, the presence of the Islamic State has almost completely disappeared from the Idlib area.
  • Now, important questions deserve our attention. What did ISIS do with all the quality weapons it had at its disposal, including chemical, SAM, and SSM missiles? Above all, did ISIS losing most of the territory under its control in Syria and Iraq signify that it will cease to exist?
  • In my humble opinion, ISIS is a terrorist organization that operates globally, and we should expect to see more terrorist attacks in different locations around the world. Many attacks will continue to take place in Europe, since ISIS already has well-established cells there, and a large number of refugees are already living there.
  • We should also expect ISIS attacks in Sunni Arab countries - Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. These are countries where ISIS has already established the infrastructure to carry out hostile terrorist activity.

    The writer is a former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division.