August 1, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran, Hamas to Open Gaza Front If War Breaks Out in Israeli North - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Iran has stepped up its involvement in Gaza to turn Hamas into an operational arm of Tehran, intelligence sources in Israel said.
    Iran and Hamas have come to an understanding about opening a second front from Gaza if war breaks out in Israel's north, Israeli defense officials believe.
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad would try to force Israel to divert forces and air defense systems to the south.
    Last week, senior Hamas figure Saleh al-Arouri said Hamas is "on the first line of defense on Iran."
    This week, an Iranian diplomat announced the establishment of a united military front "from Tehran to Gaza."
    Defense officials have also noted an increase in the number of terrorist attacks directed by Hamas in the West Bank: In 2018, attacks planned by 130 Hamas terrorist cells in the West Bank were foiled - 40 more than in 2017 and nearly double the number in 2016.

Iran to Rename Plunging Currency, Cut Off Zeros (AFP)
    Iran on Wednesday approved a plan to remove zeros from the rial and rename the currency as the toman.
    Currently the rial is trading at around 120,000 to the U.S. dollar, which means anyone without a credit card has to carry around thick wads of banknotes to make everyday purchases.

Iranian Women Face 10 Years in Prison for Sharing Videos of Hijab Removal - Ahmed Vahdat (Telegraph-UK)
    Iranian officials have warned that posting video footage of women removing their mandatory headscarves in public could lead to up to 10 years imprisonment.

McDonald's Purchase of Israeli AI Firm Is Yielding Results - Stuart Lauchlan (Diginomica)
    In March, McDonald's bought Israeli AI marketing-tech firm Dynamic Yield for $300 million, its biggest acquisition in decades, to boost intelligent personalization initiatives with customized drive-thru digital displays.
    It has been rolled out to over 700 drive-thru locations in the U.S. for over two months.
    "We're already seeing an increase in the average check by improving our ability to offer customers what they are likely to want, with suggestions based on time of day, weather, and items already in a customer's order," said CEO Steve Easterbrook.

Israel Upgrades Two Neonatal Units in Ghana (Graphic Online-Ghana)
    Israel has upgraded the neonatal units at the Kumasi South and Suntreso Hospitals in the Ashanti Region to help enhance infant delivery and reduce mortality.
    Doctors at the facilities, who have been trained by Israeli specialists, revealed that every year each unit saves the lives of 700 babies.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Sanctions Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif - Jennifer Hansler and Betsy Klein
    The U.S. sanctioned Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday due to his actions on behalf of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom the administration sanctioned in June. "Today President Trump decided enough is enough," a senior administration official said. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Zarif "implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader, and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world. The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable."
        While the U.S. is open for talks with Iran, an official said the U.S. does "not consider him (Zarif) to be our primary point of contact." If there are future negotiations, the U.S. "(wants) to have contacts with somebody who is a significant decision-maker." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the "action represents another step toward denying the Iranian regime the resources to enable terror and oppress the Iranian people."  (CNN)
  • UK Naval Commander: Iran Trying to Test Britain in Gulf
    Commanding Officer William King of the HMS Montrose said during 27 days patrolling the entrance to the Gulf he had 85 "interactions with Iranian forces," which often led to "an exchange of warnings" over radio. "The Iranians seem to be keen to test our resolve, test our reactions," he said. (Radio Farda)
  • Two Somali Refugees in U.S. Arrested for Trying to Join ISIS; One Said, "I Want to Be the Beheading Person" - Stephanie Casanova
    Ahmed Mahad Mohamed, 21, and Abdi Yemani Hussein, 20, both residents of Tucson, Arizona, and refugees from Somalia, were arrested Friday on suspicion of trying to join the Islamic State, federal officials said Monday. They revealed in communications with an undercover FBI agent that they wanted to travel overseas to fight on behalf of ISIS or conduct an attack within the U.S.
        The men purchased tickets to travel from Tucson to Egypt, with the intent to travel on to the Sinai Peninsula. Mohamed told the undercover agent, "I want to be the beheading person....I want to kill them so many I am thirsty for their blood," referring to disbelievers. (Arizona Daily Star)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Three Israeli Soldiers Wounded in Gaza Border Attack - Jack Khoury
    Three Israeli soldiers were shot and wounded by a Palestinian from Hamas' border patrol who infiltrated the Gaza border fence east of Khan Yunis on Thursday. The shooter, Hani Abu Salah, who was wearing a Hamas uniform and armed with an AK-47 and grenades, was killed by Israeli fire. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians: West Bank Areas "A, B, and C No Longer Exist" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Responding to the Israeli security cabinet's decision to grant 700 building permits to Palestinians in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said the division of the West Bank, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, is no longer relevant. "The terms A, B and C no longer exist," he said.
        The Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, divided the West Bank into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B and C. Area A is exclusively administered by the PA; Area B is administered by both the PA and Israel; and Area C is exclusively administered by Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rise in Politically Motivated Crimes among Bedouins amid Decline in Security Charges among Israeli Arabs - Yaniv Kubovich
    Security officials have seen an increase in politically-motivated crimes among the Bedouin community amid a decline in such crimes among Israel's Arab population as a whole. Israeli Arabs have generally been seeking to integrate into Israeli society. A high-ranking police official said the younger generation of the country's Arab community is becoming more Israeli in their identity. "More and more young Arabs want to live in Israel and accept it," he said.
        Israeli authorities arrested 120 Arab citizens on suspicion of terrorism in 2015, but the figure fell to around 100 per year in 2016 and 2017 and declined further in 2018. At the same time there was a major increase in the number of Bedouin charged in terrorism-related incidents between 2013 and 2017. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Envoys Accuse Iran of Profiting from Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Anne Gearan and Ruth Eglash
    U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted Wednesday that "The Iranian regime has exploited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades - profiting from the chaos & violence to advance its malign activities & influence in the region. A successful peace agreement would be the Iranian regime's worst nightmare."
        "It is clear that Iran is deeply invested in seeing this conflict continue," Greenblatt and U.S. State Department special representative for Iran Brian Hook wrote in a Fox News op-ed Wednesday. "The Iranian regime provides $100 million annually in support to Palestinian terrorist groups....None of these funds [go to] humanitarian relief."  (Washington Post)
  • Jeremy Corbyn Never Really Cared about Muslim Suffering - Fiyaz Mughal
    Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK opposition Labour party, has spent many decades promoting an image as a political friend of Muslims. In 2014, Corbyn spoke at the Islamic Centre of England at a celebration marking the 35th anniversary of the Iranian revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Corbyn praised the "tolerance and acceptance of other faiths, traditions and ethnic groupings in Iran."
        Yet the Iranian regime routinely murders political opponents, created and supports Hizbullah and a plethora of other violent Islamist terror groups, and has restricted religious freedoms to the point that Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and other faith adherents have fled the country, leaving few traces of their long history and heritage. Muslims like me, opposed to enforced religious practices, would not stand a chance in Iran. We would be arrested, tortured or killed. The writer is founder and director of Faith Matters, an organization dedicated to countering extremism in Britain. (Ha'aretz)
  • Time for Europe to Get Over the Iran Deal - Con Coughlin
    With tensions rising in the Gulf by the day as a result of Iran's increasingly provocative conduct, the refusal of the major European powers to back America's determination to confront Iran is looking increasingly untenable. Yet, while Iran shows no sign of scaling down its aggressive stance towards the U.S. and its allies in the region, Europe continues to cling to the wreckage of the nuclear deal in the misguided belief that the deal remains the best means of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
        Britain, France and Germany still wrongly cling to the illusion that the agreement is a triumph of diplomacy. Yet under the deal, upon its sunset, a mere ten years away, Iran will be permitted to build an industrial-size nuclear industry with the ability to build and deliver as many nuclear weapons as it liked. The writer is Defense Editor of the Telegraph (UK). (Gatestone Institute)

  • Jerusalem commanded little international attention in the 700 years after Muslims defeated the Christian Crusaders. That changed in 1917, when British forces captured Jerusalem from the Ottomans in World War I. The city and its holy places became a diplomatic issue. British officials spoke passionately of their duty to keep the city and its holy sites under Christian - and specifically British - control.
  • Handing it all back to the Muslims was out of the question. Nor could they imagine Jews in charge of the city. That was the origin of the idea that Jerusalem should be internationalized.
  • Underlying the idea of internationalization of Jerusalem was the principle that all religious communities should have access to their holy places there. U.S. officials championed internationalization as the best way to protect such access for everyone.
  • But between Israel's birth in 1948 and the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, the Jordanian army thoroughly destroyed Jerusalem's Jewish quarter, razing its numerous synagogues and religious academies. Jordan destroyed and desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and did not allow Jews to live in its part of Jerusalem or even to visit their holy sites there. But U.S. officials did not make a fuss about this.

    The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the George W. Bush administration.