August 22, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Arms Depot Explosions in Iraq Look Like Covert Operations - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin (Twitter)
    Four arms depots of pro-Iranian militias blowing up in Iraq are no coincidence, but probably a well-designed, well-performed campaign.
    Weapons stockpiles are exploding, spewing munitions in every which way. Rumors of airstrikes, but no proof. No responsibility claimed of what looks like covert operations.
    The writer is executive director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

UK Dept. for International Development Must Have Known about Pay for Slay since 2007 (UK Lawyers for Israel)
    More evidence has emerged that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) must have known that the money it paid to the Palestinian Authority was being spent on salaries for convicted terrorists and their families, as well as on families of suicide bombers.
    A World Bank Report from 2007 has come to light that criticizes the sums spent by the Palestinian Authority on payments to terrorists and their families.
    The 2007 report said: "As a safety net program, the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured is generous....The program is clearly not targeted to the poorest households."
    "The level of resources devoted to the Fund for Martyrs and the Injured does not seem justified from a welfare or fiscal perspective."
    The World Bank said 1.3% of the PA budget was far too much to spend on terrorists' salaries in 2005. But by 2018, PA spending on terrorists' salaries had soared to 7% of its budget.

Palestinians in Gaza Have 20,000 Rockets Aimed at Israel - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad collectively possess more than 20,000 rockets.
    Neither is prepared to stop the production of rockets, which they plant in the heart of Gaza's civilian neighborhoods and point at Israeli cities.

Video: Watch Israeli Navy Commandos and U.S. Special Forces in Joint Exercise - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    A joint drill between Israel's elite Shayetet 13 navy commandos (equivalent to U.S. Navy SEALs) and U.S. Army Special Forces ended last week, the IDF announced Tuesday.
    The drill simulated scenarios where troops had to take over a hijacked ship, and extracting troops from enemy territory.
    Varied capabilities were displayed, including taking over a vessel by parachuting from a plane, climbing, rappelling, sniping, and medical evacuation.

Israeli Gymnast Wins Four Medals at World Cup in Minsk - Rossella Tercatin (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram, 20, was awarded one gold medal, one silver and two bronze at the World Challenge Cup on August 16-18 in Minsk, Belarus.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pompeo: U.S. to Act to Prevent Iranian Tanker from Delivering Oil to Syria
    U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Tuesday in New York: "The United States has a set of sanctions that preclude [Iranian] crude oil from being shipped to any country. We've made clear - anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States of America. So if that ship [that was detained in Gibraltar] again heads to Syria, we'll take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that."
        "Remember, the reason we don't want that crude oil to go to Syria, I think, is shared by the entire world. That crude oil will be offloaded, sold, used by the Qods Force, an organization that has killed countless Americans and people all across the world, and we want to deny them the resources to continue their horrific terror campaign all across the world. That's the rationale for preventing a ship that's loaded with [Iranian] crude oil arriving in Syria."  (U.S. State Department)
  • President Rivlin: Israel-U.S. Relationship Must Not Be Partisan
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday that the U.S.-Israel relationship must not be turned into a partisan issue. "I spoke today with Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the importance of strong U.S.-Israel relations and I thanked her for her commitment," Rivlin tweeted. "The link between us is between peoples, based on historical ties, deep, strong friendships and shared values, not dependent on the links with either party."  (The Hill-i24News)
        See also Israel: We Must Not Intervene in U.S. Political Disagreements - Maayan Lubell
    Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Reshet Bet radio on Wednesday: "We must not intervene in the political disagreements in the United States. We keep good relations with both the Democrats and Republicans and we must continue to do so. We have supporters and friends in both parties, among the Democrats and Republicans, Jews and non-Jews, and we embrace them all."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two More Rockets Fired at Israel from Gaza - Sydney Dennen
    Two more rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza late Wednesday and early Thursday. Israel responded with airstrikes on Hamas targets. Six rockets were fired from Gaza in the last seven days. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Video: Palestinian Tries to Strangle Israeli Worker at Jordan-West Bank Crossing - Itay Blumenthal
    A Palestinian man was arrested Wednesday after attacking an Israeli Interior Ministry employee at the Allenby Terminal crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. The Palestinian ran up to the Israeli from behind and tried to strangle him with a rope. The attack was recorded by security cameras. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Is Working in the West Bank to Carry Out Terrorist Attacks and Topple the PA - Nadav Shragai
    According to the Israel Security Agency, until a few years ago, Hamas' West Bank "office" was led from Turkey and Qatar by Saleh al-Arouri, who is now deputy head of Hamas' politburo. He has been succeeded by Maher Obeid, who lives in Beirut. The headquarters he currently heads operates out of four locations: Beirut, Doha, Istanbul, and Gaza. It oversees three separate districts, each of which is headed by terrorists who were deported to Gaza in the deal to free captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
        The southern West Bank is the responsibility of Abdel Rahman Ranimat, the former head of the Zurif terrorist cell which kidnapped and killed IDF soldier Sharon Edri and carried out the suicide bombing at the Apropo cafe in Tel Aviv in 1997. The central West Bank is in the charge of Abdallah Arar who was involved in the abduction of Sasson Nuriel in 2005. Fursan Khalifa, who oversees operations in the northern West Bank, is suspected of handling the cell that murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach.
        Israel has discovered at least two plots by Hamas in the West Bank to topple the PA government. Hamas turned out to be deeply involved in the recent riots on the Temple Mount, which were organized ahead of time. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Jews in U.S. and Israel Live in Different Realities that Color Their Outlook - Herb Keinon
    Jews in Israel live in the most inhospitable neighborhood on the planet, where they are preoccupied with real, genuine concerns both about their individual security and the country's collective security. The murder of Dvir Sorek, the car ramming of brother and sister Nahum and Noam Nevis, and the attempted infiltration of armed terrorists from Gaza just in the last 10 days proves the point about concern over personal security. And all you have to do to understand the concerns about the country's collective security is to listen to the words of the leaders of Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas.
        Jews in the U.S. live in the most hospitable, friendly, tolerant and welcoming society in which the Jewish people have sojourned. But they have their concerns - based on past patterns in Jewish history - that things could change for the worse. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Tlaib's Palestinian Village Is One of the Richest in the PA - Akiva Bigman
    Are conditions in the Palestinian village of Beit-Ur al-Fauqa, where Rep. Rashida Tlaib's grandmother and other family members live, as bad as she claims? If you look at the Facebook profiles of people who actually live there, you will discover that Achiam Tlaib drives a brand new BMW. Raja Tlaib shared pictures of himself posing next to his new Mercedes, wearing an expensive suit. He also has pictures showing him working out in a gym that has the latest equipment. Mawaid Tlaib uploaded pictures of his vacations in Italy and other places. Anas Tlaib drives a Mercedes, Samach Tlaib drives a BMW, and Niaf Tlaib drives a Corvette convertible.
        The World Bank said the village is one of the richest in the region, with a poverty rate in 2014 of 7.4%, compared to 21% in the PA overall. According to a 2017 PA report, almost every home has satellite TV, and most have LCD screens in their living rooms. Almost everyone in the village has access to the internet and a mobile phone. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Photos: Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2015)
  • Former PA Minister: There Is Mistrust between the Palestinian People and Their Leaders
    Former PA Prisoners' Affairs Minister Ashraf Al-Ajrami wrote in Al-Ayyam (PA) on Aug. 7, 2019: "There has recently been a noticeable decline in the Palestinian masses' responsiveness to calls by the leaders and factions from across the political and ideological spectrum. For instance, people did not take part in an important protest in Ramallah against the dangerous Bahrain workshop - there were fewer protestors than there were journalists and photographers. Even in Gaza there is a noticeable decline in participation in the weekly marches."
        "There are many reasons for the drop in the popular activity....One reason is that there is a government that has created a clear differentiation between the citizens and the officials, such that the officials have distanced themselves from the people and become a separate class with extra benefits and privileges....There is a constant overwhelming stream of complaints against the PA and its officials....The public feels that it has no means of settling accounts with those who they think are not meeting their obligations, are corrupt, or are taking advantage of their position."  (MEMRI)

  • Five years ago this month, our son Hadar Goldin, a second lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces, was abducted by Hamas militants during a UN-sponsored humanitarian cease-fire in the 50-day war along the Gaza border with Israel. The militants dragged him into the tunnel from which they had apparently emerged. Hadar was killed during the ensuing firefight as Israeli forces raced to try to rescue him.
  • To this day, we believe that Hamas holds our son's remains, presumably as a bargaining chip to extract political concessions - just as it holds the remains of Oron Shaul, another Israeli soldier who was killed during the conflict, as well as hostages Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
  • The UN and U.S. condemned the abduction at the time, but since then have done nothing to press Hamas to return Hadar's remains or those of the others it holds. Meanwhile, international funding and aid flows into Gaza, including from the UN. Even modest pressure from the UN to make some of its aid contingent on Hamas' return of the remains it holds might lead to a solution.
  • On June 11, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2474 on people reported missing in armed conflict. The resolution insists that combatant groups are obliged to return remains. What's needed now is concrete action by the UN and the U.S. to put these ideas into practice.

    Leah Goldin is a senior lecturer at Afeka College in Tel Aviv. Simha Goldin is the director of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel Aviv University.