July 8, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

UK Special Forces Sent to Persian Gulf to Protect British Ships - Nicola Small (Mirror-UK)
    Special Boat Service (SBS) commandos have been sent to the Persian Gulf to protect British ships from Iranian attack.
    They will be supported by specialist Royal Navy divers, who are trained to defuse a wide range of mines.
    The SBS frogmen can also launch underwater attacks against vessels, killing or capturing foreign troops attempting to sabotage shipping.
    See also Elite British Troops Fight Off 100 ISIS Jihadis in Afghanistan - Simon Osborne (Daily Express-UK)

Islamic Jihad Summer Camp in Gaza Teaches Military Skills - Chris Pleasance (Daily Mail-UK)
    Thousands of young Palestinians showed off their newly-acquired military skills in Gaza City on Thursday as they graduated from a summer camp run by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.
    Drills at the camp include how to raid an Israeli military outpost and capture a soldier, and how to use machine-guns and other weapons.
    The PIJ also provides the youngsters with "religious education" as it preaches the destruction of Israel.
    See also Palestinian Authority 2019 Summer Camps: Children Burn U.S. Flags (MEMRI)
    The PLO has announced the opening of 625 summer camps in the West Bank and Gaza attended by 40,000 campers.
    At a summer camp in Tulkarm, campers tore up and burned American flags and pictures of the U.S. President.

IDF Home Front Command Creates More Precise Rocket Alert System - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    In recent weeks, the Israel Defense Force's Home Front Command has become a lot more precise in alerting civilians to rocket attacks.
    Instead of 255 alert areas, Israel has now been divided into 1,700 areas, meaning that the disruption caused by rocket alerts will be more localized.
    The new targeted alerts allow for many areas of the country not under threat to pursue routine activities.
    In 1991, when the whole of Israel formed a single alert area, sirens went off nationwide every time Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israel.
    On June 10, hours after the new system went into effect, Palestinian terrorists fired at Israeli communities near Gaza. The result was that one kibbutz received an alert, while the adjacent kibbutz slept through the incident.

Yazidi, Christian ISIS Survivors Complete Post-Trauma Course in Israel (Kurdistan 24)
    A delegation of 15 Yazidi and Christian survivors from Kurdistan and Iraq participated in a two-week post-trauma course in Israel, addressing the abuses they suffered at the hands of the Islamic State. The survivors currently live in Germany.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal Limits and Threatens Further Violations - David D. Kirkpatrick and David E. Sanger
    Iran said on Sunday that it was about to breach the limits on uranium enrichment beyond the 3.67% purity set in the nuclear deal. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran would take additional steps over the limits of the accord in 60-day intervals unless international powers provide sanctions relief. (New York Times)
        See also Ex-IAEA Official: Iran Cutting Nuclear Breakout Time by Two Months - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Iran's enriching uranium to the 5% level will reduce its breakout time to a nuclear weapon by two months, former deputy director-general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Olli Heinonen told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday. He explained that reaching 5% enrichment means that 70% of the effort required to have weapons-grade material will have been completed. Heinonen said that enriching uranium up to the 20% level, as it seems to be threatening, means that 85% of the effort will have been completed. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also EU Urges Iran to Halt Further Measures Undermining Nuclear Deal
    The EU on Sunday strongly urged Iran to stop actions that would undermine the 2015 nuclear deal. "We are extremely concerned at Iran's announcement that it has started uranium enrichment above the limit of 3.67%," said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Calls for Special Meeting of UN Atomic Agency over Iran - Laurence Norman (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel Voices Frustration with Lebanon over Sea Border Talks
    Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz voiced frustration on Friday with Lebanon's failure to agree to U.S.-mediated talks on setting their maritime border, suggesting Iran-backed Hizbullah was applying pressure on Beirut. Senior U.S. official David Satterfield has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel in an effort to launch the talks on border demarcations in the eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the discovery of natural gas deposits there.
        Steinitz said, "(The) Lebanese on the one hand really want to develop their natural resources, and the unresolved dispute with Israel is disruptive for them - for us too, but for them more." But they are "under the sway of fear of Hizbullah," Lebanon's most powerful armed force and part of the Lebanese government. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 5 IDF Soldiers Wounded in Car Ramming Attack in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    Five IDF soldiers were wounded Saturday when a Palestinian crashed a car into the group near the Hizma checkpoint in eastern Jerusalem. The driver was arrested. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Shoots Down Drone from Gaza - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle in Israel which infiltrated from Gaza on Monday. (Ynet News)
  • Is the PA Facing Economic Collapse? - Dov Benovadia
    Last week Israel's Channel 11 reported that Israel was considering a series of gestures to prevent the financial collapse of the PA. Former Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser responded: "The PA has objected to all economic normalization with Israel."
        "I do not believe these stories of the PA's imminent financial collapse. The establishment of the PA is the greatest thing to ever happen to the Palestinian movement. They will not let it fall apart so easily. There is always the European Union, the Gulf states or banks that will bail them out. Even if the PA does collapse, that wouldn't be ideal, but it wouldn't be such a tragedy."  (Hamodia)
  • Hamas Holds on to Power in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas maintains that its military capabilities have not been affected by the 2014 war with Israel, claiming it's prepared for another military confrontation. Palestinians in Gaza, however, disagree. They say that Hamas' military capabilities suffered a major blow, particularly after the destruction of dozens of terror tunnels by the IDF. "From a military point of view, Hamas is much weaker than it was in 2014," said Gaza-based political analyst Abdel Rahman Nasser. "From a political point of view, Hamas remains strong [and]...is still in full control of the situation."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Greek Opposition Leader as Pro-Israel as Current Prime Minister - Herb Keinon
    On June 11, 2018, Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the American Jewish Committee's Global Forum in Jerusalem: "It is my personal commitment" to strengthen Israel-Greek ties in the future, "should the Greek people give me the opportunity of leading my people."
        Arye Mekel, Israel's ambassador to Greece from 2010 to 2014 and a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said that when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power, he upgraded ties between Israel and Greece. Mitsotakis is likely to take the ties to even new heights. He is the son of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, a former Greek prime minister who kept a campaign promise and established full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1990 at a time when Greek public opinion was staunchly pro-Arab and anti-Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Conservative Opposition Wins Greek Election - Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos
    Conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis won Greece's parliamentary elections Sunday, defeating Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The extreme Golden Dawn party, founded by neo-Nazi supporters, narrowly failed to make the 3% threshold needed to enter parliament - a huge fall of support for a party that had become the third-largest in the Greek legislature. (AP)
  • Rethink U.S. Security Aid to the Lebanese Army - Richard Natonski and Thomas Trask
    The U.S. has provided the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with $1.7 billion since 2006, hoping substantial military aid would decrease Hizbullah's influence in Lebanon. In recent years, however, multiple factors indicate that ties between Hizbullah and the LAF are growing dangerously close. In southern Lebanon, the LAF has ignored its obligation to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the "disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon" other than the LAF, and Hizbullah's military capacity has continued growing unchecked.
        Lebanese President Michel Aoun remains a loyal ally of Hizbullah and has repeatedly hailed Hizbullah's "major" and "essential" role in Lebanon's defense apparatus. American policymakers should revisit their decision to fund the LAF, given its growing connections with Hizbullah. Maintaining the current policy endangers U.S. national security and that of our ally Israel.
        Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Richard Natonski is former Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. Lt.-Gen. Thomas Trask is former Vice Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command. Both are members of the Hybrid Warfare Task Force of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). (The Hill)

  • Pakistan's long-held position against diplomatic relations with Israel makes little sense. Reason above passion and emotion is the pillar of a successful foreign policy.
  • One wonders what strategic benefit is derived by Pakistan by keeping overtures to Israel on hold, to curry favor with the Arab world. Since the early years, our brotherly Arabs have treated Pakistan with a mixture of condescension and derision.
  • Many Arab states are themselves lining up to establish ties with a militarily and economically strong Israel.
  • Palestinians have been repeatedly let down by their own myopic, inept and corrupt leadership. They have also suffered from betrayal by fellow Arabs.
  • It is illogical for Pakistan to wait for the complicated situation in the Middle East to resolve itself before establishing a relationship with Israel. India enjoys good relations with the Arab world, Iran and Israel.
  • Development of relations based on rational self-interest, rather than historical and entrenched positions, is critical for Pakistan in the modern world. Establishing long-overdue diplomatic ties with Israel should top the foreign policy agenda.

    The writer is a veteran columnist for the Daily Times.