July 1, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

GPS Jamming Affecting Israel Comes from Russian Base in Syria - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The signal that has been disrupting satellite navigation for planes flying through Israeli airspace in recent weeks originates inside a Russian air base inside Syria, according to Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas.
    This interference to GPS reception does not appear to be specifically directed at Israel, but rather is likely collateral damage as Russia seeks to protect its troops from drone attacks after a large suicide drone attack on Russian forces in Syria.
    Using sensors onboard the International Space Station, Humphreys and his team were able to identify the source of the signal as Russia's Khmeimim Air Base in western Syria.
    "[The signal] is so strong that I can see it from space," said Humphreys, an aerospace engineer specializing in satellite-based navigation.
    Since the interference began, planes in Israel have had to use an alternative method for landings, known as the Instrument Landing System.
    "It is a safe and professional method that is used every day in airports around the world, including Israel," the Israel Airports Authority said.

Hizbullah's Grandiose Plan to Invade Israel in the Post-Tunnel Era - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    In his latest speech, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah again boasted that his group can easily penetrate into Israeli territory from Lebanon, even though his cross-border tunnel network may have been destroyed.
    In the absence of the tunnels, Hizbullah will likely seek to get thousands of fighters into Israel at once through several points on the border while bombarding the border region, hoping to reach an Israeli border community or army post.
    Hizbullah's attack plan will likely include drones to carry out "kamikaze" bombings of Israeli targets.
    But Hizbullah's highly ambitious war plan is exceptionally risky. Trying to send thousands of its best warriors across the border might present an excellent opportunity for the IDF to eliminate Hizbullah's elite fighting force in a matter of hours.

Behind the Scenes of the Ceasefire Talks between Israel and Hamas - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    On Thursday, after a week in which 100 fires were started in Israeli border communities by incendiary balloons from Gaza, Israel sent a message to Hamas - via Egypt - that it gave Hamas 24 hours to stop all border violence, including incendiary balloons, or it would respond with full force.
    The Hamas leadership was split on whether to stop the violence or continue until Israel surrenders to its demands.
    Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar tried to point out the benefits of having calm and stability in Gaza, while high-ranking Hamas official Rawhi Mushtaha demanded to continue the violence even at the expense of another flare-up between the two sides.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Strikes Al-Qaeda in Syria - Zaid Sabah
    U.S. forces conducted a strike against the leadership of al-Qaeda in Syria at a training facility in Aleppo province on June 30, U.S. Central Command said. "This operation targeted AQ-S operatives responsible for plotting external attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians.''  (Bloomberg)
        See also Israel Strikes Syrian and Iranian Targets in Syria - Jack Khoury
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel on Sunday targeted Iranian Revolutionary Guards' compounds south of Damascus, a strategic research center northwest of Damascus, Hizbullah arms depots near the Syrian-Lebanese border, a research center in Homs, and an airbase south of Homs that serves Iranian and Hizbullah forces. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S.: Saudi Pipeline Attacks Originated from Iraq, Not Yemen - Isabel Coles and Dion Nissenbaum
    U.S. officials have concluded that drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil industry on May 14 were launched from Iraq, not Yemen. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iraq's prime minister to take steps to ensure that Iraq isn't used as a new staging ground for attacks on Saudi Arabia. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Officials Attend Unveiling of Ancient Road to Jewish Temple in Jerusalem - Hagay Hacohen
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attended the inauguration of Pilgrimage Road in the City of David on Sunday. Friedman wielded a sledgehammer and broke through a wall, ceremoniously opening the tunnel. The road was discovered in 2004 when a sewage pipe burst and workers found long and wide stairs. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: U.S. Ambassador Friedman: "America's Spiritual Underpinnings Come from Jerusalem"
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Fox News on Sunday: "The spiritual underpinnings [of America], the bedrock of our principles as a nation, come from Jerusalem. So this [Pilgrimage Road] site is a heritage site for America as well as for Israel. It's one of the best examples of that unbreakable bond, that ancient historical bond, between the people of the United States and the people of Israel."  (Fox News)
        See also below Observations: 2,000-Year-Old Pilgrimage Road Opens in Jerusalem's City of David - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Call U.S. Participation in Ancient Road Opening a "War Crime" - Jacob Magid
    The Palestine Liberation Organization on Sunday called the participation of U.S. officials in the opening of an ancient Jewish pilgrimage road in Jerusalem a "criminal collusion in the commission of a war crime."  (Times of Israel)
  • PA Releases Businessman Arrested for Attending Bahrain Conference
    Salah Abu Miala, a Palestinian businessman from Hebron arrested on Saturday by Palestinian security forces for attending the U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain, was eventually released, U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt announced on Sunday. Another businessman, Ashraf Ghanem, managed to flee after PA security forces attempted to arrest him in Hebron. On Thursday, former Palestinian Minister of Detainees Ashraf al-Ajrami predicted that the Palestinian businessmen who attended the Bahrain workshop would be punished. (i24News)
        See also Fatah Militants Threaten "to Hunt Down" Bahrain Workshop Participants (MEMRI)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Video: Behind Iranian Escalation in the Persian Gulf - Dore Gold
    Iran is driven by an expansionist doctrine to export the Iranian Revolution. In 2015, Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani admitted, "We are witnessing the export of the Iranian Revolution throughout the region, from Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen, and North Africa." In Syria and Iraq, the export of the revolution has led to the massive expulsion of Sunni Arabs to Europe, and their replacement with Shiites from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
        The Iranians have been attacking Western shipping in the Persian Gulf since the mid-1980s. This has nothing to do with nuclear agreements or disagreements. It does have to do with Iran's quest for regional hegemony. The writer is President of the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The U.S. Middle East Plan Wins Its First Round - Ahmed Charai
    The approach of the "Peace to Prosperity Workshop" in Bahrain was fresh and unique. It starts from the premise that the Palestinians want peace, but, especially, the younger majority wants hope for a better life: modern housing, safe and effective schools, rewarding jobs, peace, order and prosperity. Former British prime minister Tony Blair essentially agreed that a political agreement without an economic vision, and an international commitment to help Palestinians to improve their lives, will flounder and fail.
        Senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner's great insight is that economic development should come first and shape the discussion for a political solution. His second insight is that a single "grand bargain" is not realistic; that an evolutionary and gradual approach that builds trust along with economic milestones is more likely to succeed.
        The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is on the board of the Atlantic Council and is an international counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (National Interest)
  • If PA Holds Elections, Hamas Would Probably Win - Khalid Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to hold long-overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. Hamas leaders are confident that they will win any new election for two reasons: the Palestinian Authority's continued security coordination with Israel is seen by many Palestinians as an act of treason, and Palestinians seem disgusted with the rampant corruption among the top brass of the Palestinian leadership. A recent public opinion poll revealed that 91% of Palestinians surveyed do not trust the PA. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Archeologists in Jerusalem have identified the "Pilgrimage Road," the path millions of Jews took three times a year when performing the commandment to go up to the holy city during Judaism's three key holidays: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.
  • The Pilgrimage Road goes from the Shiloah Pool to the area adjacent to the Western Wall known as Robinson's Arch, where today you can still see remnants of the ancient stairway that led into the Jewish Temple. Josephus, the Roman-Jewish historian, wrote that 2.7 million people used to visit Jerusalem during the Jewish holidays.
  • The official opening of the Pilgrimage Road has far greater significance for Israel than just the opening of a new, impressive tourist site, said Ze'ev Orenstein, director of international affairs for the City of David. It proves the long and historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
  • U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said, "The City of David brings truth and science to a debate that has been marred for too long by myths and deceptions. Its findings, in most cases by secular archeologists, bring an end to the baseless efforts to deny the historical fact of Jerusalem's ancient connection to the Jewish people."
  • Pilgrimage Road, Friedman said, "brings to life the historical truth of the [Second Temple] period in Jewish history. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be based upon a foundation of truth. The City of David advances our collective goal of pursuing a truth-based resolution."
  • Asked if Israel would give up the City of David in a peace deal, he said, "I do not believe that Israel would ever consider such a thought. The City of David is an essential component of the national heritage of the State of Israel. It would be akin to America returning the Statue of Liberty."

        See also Jerusalem's Heart - Editorial
    The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry referred to the unveiling of the Pilgrimage Road in the City of David as "Judaization activities." U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt responded on Twitter: "We can't 'Judaize' what history/archaeology show. We can acknowledge it & you can stop pretending it isn't true! Peace can only be built on truth."
        Trying to erase the Bible stories and the thousands of years of Jewish history in which Jerusalem has always been the focus of prayers and yearning does nothing to add credibility to the Palestinian cause. Just as Judaism (and Christianity) preceded the birth of Islam, so too do Jewish links to Jerusalem. The presence of U.S. Ambassador Friedman and Greenblatt at the ceremony was significant for the message it conveyed that the U.S. recognizes the historical truth. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The City of David: The Acropolis of Israel - Bari Weiss (New York Times)