July 4, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Oil Supertanker Bound for Syria Detained in Gibraltar (Reuters-New York Times)
    British royal marines and officials in Gibraltar have detained a supertanker suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, the government of Gibraltar said.

Thousands of Palestinians Are Leaving Gaza - Daniel Estrin (NPR)
    Egypt opened its border with Gaza in May 2018, and tens of thousands of Gazans have crossed that border and scattered across the world.
    Experts in Gaza estimate around 35,000 to 40,000 Gazans have left since mid-2018.
    This year Palestinians are the third-largest group after Afghans and Syrians to take the smuggling route across the Mediterranean to Europe, says the International Organization for Migration.
    Egypt only allows in a few hundred Gaza travelers a day, so Hamas maintains a months-long waiting list. Those who pay a bribe to authorities on both sides of the border get bumped higher up the list.
    At Gaza's main hospital, three of its five gastrointestinal specialists have left, as well as a fifth of the physiotherapists and the lone cardiac surgeon, according to hospital staff.

Will a New Ethiopian Dam Choke Water-Parched Egypt? - Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Ethiopia, due to open in 2022, is being built on the Blue Nile that provides 85% of the water flow to Egypt.
    The dam will provide an essential source of energy for Ethiopia, where only 44% of Ethiopians have access to electricity.
    Much depends on how quickly the Ethiopians fill the mammoth reservoir behind the dam. The Egyptians asked that this be carried out over a minimum of ten years, while the Ethiopians plan to do so in three.
    This would mean that each Egyptian would receive 600 cubic meters of water annually instead of 2,500, below the UN minimum standard of 1,000.

The WHO Propaganda Theater - Gerald Steinberg (Canadian Jewish News)
    The last World Health Assembly in Geneva, held under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), featured the usual reports and resolutions condemning Israel.
    A visitor from another planet might ask what Israel has to do with the challenges of Ebola, measles, obesity or Alzheimer's.
    There is no connection. Israel-bashing is a standard form of 21st century anti-Semitism.

Eurovision Song Contest Cyberattack in Israel Prevented at Last Second - Fiona Willan (9News-Australia)
    As millions of people around the world tuned into this year's Eurovision Song Contest final in Tel Aviv, foreign hackers infiltrated the system broadcasting the event globally online and tried to insert a video of terror footage into the live feed.
    Yigal Unna, Director General of the Israeli National Cyber Directorate, told 9News the attack was stopped in the nick of time. "It was about as close as you can get without it going to air," he said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Kushner: Palestinians "Let Down by Their Leaders" - Ray Hanania
    White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner on Wednesday cautioned against "misunderstandings" about the purpose of the "Peace to Prosperity" conference last week in Bahrain. During a teleconference with Arab journalists, Kushner stressed that the "economic plan" was an incentive and a foundation for a "political plan" to be outlined later in the year. "This is a big plan and we don't want to start until there is an actual peace understanding that is fair and viable," he said. "There is no plan to make these investments before achieving political progress."
        "With regards to the Palestinian leadership...I think they made a strategic mistake by not engaging on this. They looked very foolish by trying to fight against this....Their natural response is to attack and say crazy things and, quite frankly, we don't find that to be terribly constructive....Our door is always open to the Palestinian people and to the Palestinian leadership. Whether they are willing to take that opportunity will be up to them."
        Kushner explained that the Arab world "failed" by not absorbing the nearly 800,000 Palestinian refugees following the 1948 war, while Israel absorbed 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
        He added that African-American leaders have approached him asking that if the Palestinians reject the $50 billion laid out in the Peace to Prosperity plan, that the money be given to African nations to address their economic concerns. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Coalition Forces in Syria Operating Against ISIS Sleeper Cells - Diana Stancy Correll
    The U.S.-led coalition countering ISIS aided 1,000 Syrian Democratic Force soldiers in clearing out ISIS from the Syrian village of Abu Naytl on June 18 after jihadi fighters intimidated community leaders and infiltrated the village. Coalition forces have conducted more than 50 operations against ISIS sleeper cells in Syria since the loss of the "caliphate" on March 23.
        Lt.-Gen. Paul LaCamera, the coalition forces commanding general, said in March: "Make no mistake, Daesh [ISIS] is preserving their force. They have made calculated decisions to preserve what is left of their dwindling personnel and capabilities by taking their chances in camps for internally displaced persons and going to ground in remote areas. They are waiting for the right time to reemerge."  (Military Times)
  • U.S. Synagogues Conducting Active Shooter Drills - Ben Sales
    Jewish congregations across the U.S. are drilling their members on how to act if an active shooter arrives at their doorstep. Some run active shooter scenarios during services. Others have trained a group of congregants in how to fight gunmen when they come through the door. Security measures range from locking doors and reinforcing windows to hiring armed security. Some congregations have encouraged members to carry handguns at services.
        Avi Abraham, an Israeli martial arts expert, has taught self-defense courses at 20 synagogues in the New York City area. Abraham teaches groups how to collectively pounce on a gunman from the side as he's entering a doorway, then to tackle him and take his weapon.
        "This is not business as usual," said Rabbi Neil Cooper of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood, PA. "We just cannot do it like that anymore. We live in a world where it no longer can be assumed that things are safe."  (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Strikes Gaza-Bound Arms Shipments in Sinai
    Palestinian sources said that between November 2018 and May 2019, the Israeli Air Force targeted three trucks in Egyptian Sinai carrying weapons, including one carrying a shipment of Iranian missiles bound for the Islamic Jihad discovered in March. The missiles, weapons, and high explosive materials came from arms dealers in Libya where they had been sold to Hamas and other militant groups. (i24News)
  • Israel Arrests Hamas Explosives Expert - Anna Ahronheim
    The Israel Security Agency has foiled a series of attempts by Hamas to establish terror cells in the West Bank in order to carry out simultaneous deadly attacks in Israel. The agency said Wednesday it had arrested an explosives expert who had trained for a year to set up a laboratory in the West Bank to manufacture explosive devices. Fadi Abu al-Sabah, 35, had entered Israel with a humanitarian permit for medical treatment, and was arrested on May 18, 2019.
        "The thwarting of terror cells exposed the constant effort by Hamas' military wing in establishing terrorist infrastructures in the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israeli citizens," a senior ISA official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Conduct Rocket Tests - Ilana Curiel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired rockets into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • A Kosher Fourth of July - William McGurn
    In a new book, Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States: A Sourcebook, a group of scholars from the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University write that "The American Republic was born to the music of the Hebrew Bible." Their proposition is that at key moments in the national story, Americans have looked to the ancient Israelites to understand themselves, their blessings and their challenges.
        The evidence, they say, is all around us. The American landscape is dotted with towns named Zion, Canaan, Shiloh, Goshen, Salem and Rehoboth. Americans have long looked to the biblical Israelites for the "political and cultural vocabulary" to explain the American proposition. In the American Revolution against King George III, the men of the 13 colonies saw themselves as modern Israelites escaping a latter-day Pharaoh. These American allusions to the Israelites didn't come from Jews. They came from Protestant Christians. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Second Son of Hamas Co-founder Leaves Terror Group
    Israel's Channel 12 broadcast an interview Wednesday with Suheib Yousef, son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, and brother of Mosab Yousef, who spent a decade working for Israel to help thwart terror attacks and published an autobiography titled Son of Hamas in 2010 after seeking asylum in the U.S.
        Suheib, 38, described how he worked for Hamas in Turkey. "Hamas operates security and military operations on Turkish soil under the cover of civil society. They have security centers from which they operate advanced listening equipment, to listen to people and (Palestinian) leaders in Ramallah." He said Hamas also targeted other Arab countries. "They sell the information to Iran," he said.
        He said the Hamas setup in Turkey was also used to conscript people, including children, in the West Bank to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. "The point of the attacks in the West Bank is to kill civilians, not for the aim of resistance."
        Suheib continued, "Hamas leaders [in Turkey] live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and they are very well paid....They have guards, swimming pools, country clubs...they ate in the best restaurants....They pay $200 for one course for one person and a family in Gaza lives on $100 per month?"  (Times of Israel)

Increasingly Belligerent Iran Poses Dilemma for Israel - Israel Kasnett (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • At the annual Herzliya Conference, experts discussed the nature of the conflict between Iran and Israel.
  • Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, supported the U.S. "maximum pressure" campaign. "Do we want to confront a weakened Iran or a stronger Iran?...It's always good to weaken your enemy, not strengthen them."
  • Ariel Levite, former deputy director general of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, said, "There was an illusion that the JCPOA [nuclear deal] would pave the way for positive dynamics with Iran. It has done exactly the opposite." Levite added, "In the haste to get an agreement in 2015, very serious shortcuts were made, which ultimately produced a very problematic agreement and a very flawed implementation of it thereafter."
  • Levite noted that Iran already appears comfortable with acting aggressive and confrontational - and that's without a nuclear umbrella. Imagine what they would do if they have the nuclear umbrella, he said.
  • Former Israeli national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror was asked whether Israel should prepare for a strike on Iran. He replied, "The clear answer, 'yes.' Israel cannot be in a situation in which Iranians will absorb the ability to manufacture nuclear military capability, and Israel cannot stop it....We cannot put our future in the hands of any other state....At the end of the day, if the Iranians cross the red line and we are in a situation in which tomorrow will be too late, we will have to act."
  • Sima Shine, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, said, "The international community should deal with [Iran]. I don't think Israel can take upon itself the solution." Amidror replied, "What do we do if they don't? The answer to that question should be very clear....Israel should be in the position to do the job....If all the good people in the world will not do it...we should do it."