March 18, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Mourns Murder of New Zealand Muslim Worshippers - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Responding to Friday's terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 50 were killed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Israel mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshippers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror in New Zealand."
    President Reuven Rivlin said, the "murder of people at prayer, in their most holy and sacred place, is a depraved and despicable act. For people of all religions and of none, a redline has been crossed."
    See also Six Palestinians Killed in New Zealand Terror Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Six Palestinians were killed in last week's terror attacks at New Zealand mosques, the PA Foreign Affairs Ministry announced. Another six Palestinians were wounded.

IDF Releases Pictures of Destroyed Hamas Positions in Gaza after Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF has released footage of some of the targets it hit in Gaza on Friday after Hamas launched two rockets at Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Grenade Attached to Toy Plane Found in Israel near Gaza - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    A Styrofoam model airplane with an attached hand grenade was found on Highway 234 near Gaza on Sunday.
    See also Clusters of Incendiary Balloons Land in Israel (Ma'an News-PA)
    More than 20 incendiary balloons and kites launched from Gaza landed in Israel on Monday morning, Hebrew-language news outlets reported.
    Two large clusters of balloons carrying explosive devices also landed in Israel.

Iranians Arrested in Buenos Aires with Forged Israeli Passports (Times of Israel)
    Authorities in Buenos Aires have arrested two Iranians traveling on fake Israeli passports, Argentine media reported.

Palestinians Tear Doors Off Golden Gate Site on Jerusalem's Temple Mount - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    Palestinians on Friday tore the doors off the Golden Gate site on Jerusalem's Temple Mount in defiance of the Muslim Waqf, which administers the site.

Bundestag Votes Against Changing Germany's Anti-Israel UN Voting Record - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP) introduced a resolution in the Bundestag calling on the federal government to reverse its anti-Israel voting record at the UN.
    The measure was rejected on Thursday by 408 to 155 with 63 abstentions.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Plans Takeover of Syria's Main Commercial Port at Latakia - Hannah Lucinda Smith
    Talks began last month to transfer the container port at Latakia, Syria's main commercial port, to Iranian management from October 1, according to The Syria Report. Iranian companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) have started shipping goods through the port, suggesting that Tehran might use it as an alternative route to bring weapons into the country. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • U.S. Bars Entry to International Criminal Court Investigators - Matthew Lee
    The U.S. will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel seeking to investigate alleged war crimes by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and may do the same with those who seek action against Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday. "We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation," Pompeo said.
        U.S. officials have long regarded the Hague-based ICC with hostility, arguing that American courts are capable of handling any allegations against U.S. forces and questioning the motives of an international court. Pompeo said the restrictions "may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without the allies' consent."  (AP)
  • UN Envoy Condemns Hamas Treatment of Gaza Protesters
    UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said Sunday: "I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days. I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and the raiding of homes. The long-suffering people of Gaza were protesting the dire economic situation and demanded an improvement in the quality of life in the Gaza Strip. It is their right to protest without fear of reprisal."  (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Kills Israeli Soldier and Rabbi, Wounds another Soldier in West Bank Attack - Itay Blumenthal
    A Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier, Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, and seized his gun at the Ariel Junction in the West Bank on Sunday. The attacker then shot and killed the soldier and opened fire at passing cars, critically injuring Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47 (who died on Monday), before stealing another car to escape. The gunman continued driving towards the Gitai Junction, 2.5 km. away, where he shot another soldier, Alexander Dvorsky, who is in critical condition. A manhunt is underway for the shooter, Omar Abu Lila of Zawiya in the northern West Bank. (Ynet News-Israel Hayom-Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Ambassador Causes Germany to Deport Palestinian Terrorist - Benjamin Weinthal
    The German government canceled an event on Friday with convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who had murdered two Israeli students, following a strongly worded protest from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell that was prominently featured in German newspapers. Berlin's Interior Department revoked Odeh's visa on Friday and barred her from speaking.
        Grenell told Fox News on Thursday, "Some people plant the seeds of anti-Semitism, while others water it and help it grow. Offering a public speaking role to a Palestinian terrorist convicted of murder, terrorism and immigration fraud legitimizes anti-Semitism at a time when we should be condemning it." The U.S. government deported Odeh in 2017 for immigration fraud. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Egypt Outraged at Hamas Missile Fire on Tel Aviv - Daniel Siryoti
    A senior Egyptian official described to Israel Hayom a meeting he attended with Hamas officials in Gaza on Thursday evening. "We believed Hamas would accept" Israel's answers "and facilitate a more stable and long-term cease-fire." Then an aide came in with news of a Hamas rocket attack on Tel Aviv.
        The Egyptian delegation head told Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, "We are sitting here to hammer out the details of a cease-fire with Israel and behind our backs, you are authorizing your people to fire missiles at Tel Aviv? If Israel decides to launch a comprehensive military operation in Gaza, this time we won't do a thing to stop the Israeli attack, even if the Israelis decide to dismantle your rule in Gaza by assassinating each and every one of you....You've also gambled with our own safety in Gaza by shooting at Tel Aviv while we are here!"  (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas Detains Hundreds after Violently Suppressing Gaza Demonstrations - Amira Hass
    Hamas security forces in Gaza violently suppressed demonstrations by hundreds of Palestinians on Thursday and Friday, protesting the deteriorating economic situation under its rule. An independent Palestinian source estimates that 500 people were held in detention on Saturday evening. Demonstrations were dispersed with live fire into the air, clubs, metal rods and pepper spray, Palestinian human rights organizations said. Journalists, some of whom were beaten and detained, were forbidden from documenting the demonstrations and had their phones confiscated.
        Samir Zaqout, deputy director of the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, said: "The demonstrations are part of the response to this difficult situation, especially among young people. There is massive emigration, mainly to Turkey, and some are walking up to the border fence. Young people look for death there, saying they have nothing to live for." Demonstrators demanded that the Hamas government reverse extra taxes recently imposed on basic products. (Ha'aretz)
  • No One Wants to Help Bashar al-Assad Rebuild Syria - Krishnadev Calamur
    The UN estimates the cost of reconstruction in Syria at $250 billion. Russia wants the West to pay up. However, the U.S. and its Western allies have adamantly refused, absent meaningful political changes. There would be "no reconstruction without [a] political transition," a French embassy spokeswoman said. "Assad is a principal obstacle to rehabilitation of Syria, and eventually the Alawite business class and those who support the regime externally will find that he's a liability," a Western diplomat said.
        Assad is in a bind. His supporters can't afford to pay for reconstruction; his adversaries in the West can, but won't. Iran, Assad's other principal supporter, is suffering from reimposed U.S. sanctions and doesn't have that much to spare. The West is in a quandary. It doesn't want to reward Assad by rebuilding Syria and cementing his hold on power, but it doesn't want to ignore a humanitarian situation that will likely get worse. (Atlantic)

The "Anti-Hamas Intifada" in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
  • On Saturday, Hamas launched a counter-campaign to end the demonstrations and discredit the protesters. Hamas dispatched thousands of supporters to the streets to condemn Abbas and hold him responsible for the crisis. Hamas also took to social media to portray the protests as part of a conspiracy by Fatah and Israel.
  • The PA-controlled media, particularly Palestine TV in Ramallah, have devoted special lengthy programs to cover what they called the "anti-Hamas intifada" in Gaza.
  • The protests have seriously embarrassed Hamas, making it look like the main party responsible for the deteriorating economic situation in Gaza.
  • The photos and videos of Hamas policemen using force against Palestinian protesters have served as a reminder that Palestinians in Gaza are ruled by a repressive regime.
  • A veteran Palestinian journalist from Gaza City concluded: "The same Palestinians who forced Israel and the Palestinian Authority to flee Gaza are also capable of rising against Hamas. When will that happen? Only God knows, but we are certain that it will happen one day."

        See also Has the "Arab Spring" Reached Gaza? - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Two years ago, on the advice of Palestinian Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided to impose sanctions on Gaza and worsen the economic situation there to make it so dire that Gazan residents will rebel against Hamas. Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmeh appeared on official Palestinian television and called on the Gaza demonstrators to continue their demonstrations. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)