August 29, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Video: See UN Convoy Ambushed by Hizbullah in 2018 - Ben Evansky (Fox News)
    On Aug. 4, 2018, a UN peacekeeping patrol in southern Lebanon was attacked by Hizbullah, an intelligence source confirmed.
    A newly obtained video shows groups of men block off the convoy with their cars.
    Then several men set upon the vehicles, trying to break in through the windows with hammers and stones.
    At one stage, gasoline is poured over one UN armored vehicle and then lit on fire.
    A peacekeeper is seen leaving the vehicle and surrendering his weapon to the terrorists.

Israeli Judoka Sagi Muki Wins Gold at World Championships - Oren Aharoni (Ynet News)
    Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, 27, who competes in the under 81 kg. weight category, won the gold medal at the Judo World Championship on Wednesday in Tokyo.
    President Reuven Rivlin congratulated Muki, writing on Twitter: "Your achievement makes us so proud and teaches us that hard work, humanity and a hand always extended in peace can conquer the greatest heights.... Thank you for the pride you bring us all as Israelis."

    See also Iranians Skip World Judo Championship to Avoid Competing Against Israelis - Adi Rubinstein (Israel Hayom)
    Iranian judokas boycotted the World Judo Championship 2019 in Tokyo, despite a promise by Iran's Olympic Committee that its athletes would cease boycotting such competitions for political reasons.

Israeli Tourists Help Egyptian Cab Driver after Sinai Crash (Times of Israel)
    Yosef Malachi and several other Israeli tourists were in a taxi in Sinai traveling toward the Israeli border when they saw a car traveling in the opposite direction lose control and overturn, Malachi told Israel's Channel 12 on Wednesday.
    The group stopped and rushed over to help. Some "had served as army medics, so they gave him preliminary treatment to stop the bleeding from his head," Malachi said.
    They stayed with the injured man and made sure he remained awake and calm until an ambulance arrived.

The Hottest Startups in Tel Aviv - Katia Moskvitch (Wired-UK)
    Tel Aviv is the city with the highest number of startups per capita in the world, according to the 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem report - more than 6,000.
    Arbe has built a 4D ultra-high-resolution imaging radar for cars.
    Today, more than 300 companies use Gloat, a match-making platform matching jobseekers with potential companies.
    Joytunes creates music learning apps which help people learn to play the piano.
    Zebra Medical Vision is an artificial intelligence platform that can accurately interpret medical scans, detect anomalies and provide a diagnosis.
    Deep Instinct uses artificial intelligence to detect and prevent hacking attacks in real time.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Cyberattack Hurt Iran's Ability to Target Oil Tankers - Julian E. Barnes
    A secret cyberattack against Iran on June 20 wiped out a critical database used by Iran's Revolutionary Guards to plot attacks against oil tankers and degraded Tehran's ability to covertly target shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf, at least temporarily, according to senior American officials. The database helped Tehran choose which tankers to target and where. (New York Times)
  • Honduras Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital
    Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez will travel to Israel on Friday to inaugurate a "diplomatic office" in Jerusalem. "For me it's the recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," Hernandez said on Tuesday. (AFP-France 24)
        See also Republic of Nauru Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Tovah Lazaroff
    The Pacific island country of Nauru has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Israel Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday. Nauru's mission to the UN wrote to the Israeli mission, stating: "The Mission of Nauru has the honor to convey the decision of the Government of the Republic of Nauru to formally recognize the City of Jerusalem as the Capital City of the State of Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Sanctions Iranians for Buying Materials for Weapons of Mass Destruction - Ian Talley
    The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on several Iranian men and companies, which officials say were used to procure materials in Iran's bid to develop weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. said Hamed and Hadi Dehghan used a network of companies that arranged more than $10 million worth of proliferation-related transactions, including military-grade electronics for Iran's defense industry.
        "We urge governments world-wide to recognize the extraordinary lengths to which the regime in Tehran will go to conceal its behavior, and to ensure that their companies and financial institutions are not facilitating Iran's proliferation activities," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Demands UN Take Action Against Iran - Omri Nahmias
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council on Wednesday, demanding action against Iran over its repeated attempts to attack Israel from Syria. Danon called the international community "to make it clear to Iran, in the clearest terms possible, that it will not tolerate its regional malign activities including its central role in supporting terrorism."
        Danon added that the Syrian regime knowingly allows its territory to be used by Iran and its proxies for terrorist activities, including armed attacks. "It is imperative that the Security Council acknowledges Syria's responsibility in this regard and hold it accountable."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Says It Captured Cell behind Gaza Suicide Bombings
    Hamas said Thursday it had captured the cell responsible for the two suicide bombings that hit police checkpoints near Gaza City on Tuesday, killing three policemen. Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said ten members of the cell had been arrested. Witnesses told AFP that both bombings were carried out by assailants on motorbikes. A Salafist movement that sympathizes with the Islamic State is suspected of being behind the attacks. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Private Sector Flourishing in West Bank - Dan Zaken
    Is there really an economic crisis in the West Bank? There is no small harm to the public sector where salaries have been cut. But most infrastructure projects are financed by foreign countries or organizations and the money is still coming in. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority has recently received bonuses, grants and loans from various countries, the largest being $300 million from Qatar.
        Exports from the West Bank to Israel have grown. The shopping malls of Jenin, Tulkarem and Kalkilya are packed every weekend with tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs, while Arabs from eastern Jerusalem shop in Ramallah and Bethlehem. In addition, 130,000 Palestinian workers are employed in Israel. Their average salary is two and a half times the average salary in the PA and their number is rising constantly. New facilities at border checkpoints have shortened lines and waiting times at the crossings from hours to minutes.
        The growth in construction in Jewish communities in the West Bank, after years in which new building was frozen, has also ironically provided more work for Palestinians. Bethlehem is filled with thousands of tourists, and recently two shopping malls were opened there with stores focused on the tourism market. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Is Iraq the New Front Line in Israel's Conflict with Iran? - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein
    Washington's response to Israeli attacks on bases controlled by Iranian-backed Iraqi militias is similar to its reaction to the Israeli strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981: leaking information regarding the responsible party. Elements in the U.S. government appear displeased about alleged Israeli activity in Iraq, which they view as placing American soldiers stationed there at risk.
        To understand the logic behind the recent strikes, it is important to view them within the broader Israeli counter-effort to prevent Iran from deploying precision missiles against Israel, some accurate to a 15-foot to 30-foot radius. Iran seeks to provide thousands of advanced missiles with ranges from 100 to 600 miles to its allies in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
        Iran has sought to build another front against Israel on Syrian territory since 2017, but failed to take into account Israel's intelligence and air superiority in that theater. Israeli airstrikes led Iran to move a significant portion of its missile-related activity to Iraq and to Lebanon - where it believes Israel is less inclined to strike so as to avoid instigating a conflict with Hizbullah.
        Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, who participated as a pilot in the strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and later served as head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, where Ari Heistein is a policy and security consultant. (Foreign Policy)
  • Crushing the Tail of the Iranian Snake - Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash
    Israel is targeting Iran's proxies tasked with menacing the Jewish state. A simultaneous war against these proxies obligates Iran to employ military capabilities on several fronts and use vast amounts of money to fund these efforts. Weakening these Iranian "colonies" can make them a burden on the mother country.
        We can also see this trend in Israel's foreign policy, which keeps a close eye on those places where Iran is accumulating influence and tries to present those countries with an alternative. For example, Israel's diplomatic campaign in Africa is part of its effort to eradicate Iranian influence on the continent. The writer is a senior lecturer at the Federmann School of Public Policy and Government at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)

Unprecedented Meeting in Mecca Rejects Extremism - Charles "Sam" Faddis (The Hill)
  • The "Charter of Makkah," unanimously endorsed on May 28, 2019, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by leading Muslim scholars from 137 nations, offers Muslims guidance on concepts that champion moderate Islam.
  • "All people, regardless of their different ethnicities, races and nationalities, are equal under God. We reject religious and ethnic claims of 'preference.'"
  • "Differences among people in their beliefs, cultures and natures are part of God's will and wisdom. Religious and cultural diversity never justifies conflict."
  • "We recognize and respect the other's legitimate rights and right to existence. We set aside preconceived prejudices, historical animosities, conspiracy theories and erroneous generalizations."
  • "We should advance laws to deter the promotion of hatred, the instigation of violence and terrorism, or a clash of civilizations, which foster religious and ethnic disputes."
  • "The empowerment of women should not be undermined by marginalizing their role, disrespecting their dignity, reducing their status, or impeding their opportunities, whether in religious, academic, political or social affairs. Their rights include equality of wages and opportunity."

    The writer is a retired CIA operations officer with decades of experience undercover abroad.