September 2, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

"Suddenly Hizbullah Missiles Were Flying Above Us" - Goel Beno (Ynet News)
    On Sunday afternoon, "I was hanging laundry outside, when suddenly a missile flew over our heads," said Dvora Biton, a mother of four who spent the afternoon in a local bomb shelter with six other families.
    "We live right on the border, and there were no rocket alert sirens, with everyone just running wherever they had to," she said. "There was fire in the military base in the moshav."

Hamas Chief Thanks Ayatollah Khamenei for Support (Fars-Iran)
    Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh in a letter thanked Ayatollah Khamenei for his support for the Palestinian resistance forces and equipping them against the Israeli enemy.
    Haniyeh stressed that Iran's willingness to arm the resistance forces will significantly influence the fight against the Zionists.
    He also declared that the Hamas resistance movement will remain in the Iran-led resistance front until final victory is achieved.

Afghan Asylum Seeker Kills One, Wounds Nine near Lyon, France - Chris Kitching and Peter Allen (Mirror-UK)
    An Afghan asylum seeker, 33, armed with a kitchen knife and barbecue fork, randomly attacked people at a bus stop in Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon, France, on Saturday, killing one man and wounding at least nine people.
    A witness said the knifeman said during the attack: "They do not read the Koran."

Report: Underwater Pipelines Damaged on Syrian Coast (AP)
    Five underwater oil pipelines at the Baniyas oil terminal in Syria were reportedly sabotaged on June 22.

Iranian Judoka Defects, Seeks Asylum in Germany - Itamar Katzir (Ha'aretz)
    Iranian judoka and former world champion Saeid Mollaei defected from a tournament in Japan and is seeking asylum in Germany, the president of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer, has confirmed.
    Vizer told Japanese media that Mollaei had approached the federation with a request to help him escape Iran.

EU to Give PA $27 Million to Pay August Salaries (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    The European Union has offered to give the Palestinian Authority $27 million to pay the August salaries and pensions of 56,000 civil servants in the West Bank, the Safa Palestinian news agency reported Friday.

Robert F. Kennedy's Palestinian Assassin Sirhan Sirhan Stabbed in Prison (BBC News)
    Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was hospitalized Friday after being stabbed by a fellow inmate at a San Diego prison.
    Sirhan said he was angered by Kennedy's support for Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah Hits Back at Israeli Army but Without Casualties - David M. Halbfinger
    Hizbullah fired a barrage of anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military post on the Lebanese border on Sunday in what it called payback for an Israeli airstrike a week earlier that killed two Lebanese operatives in Syria and a drone strike in Beirut that destroyed machinery to enable Hizbullah to produce high-grade rocket propellant for its precision-guided missiles.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel experienced no casualties - "not an injury, not even a scratch." Israel returned fire with attack helicopters and about 100 artillery shells.
        Hizbullah claimed that Israeli soldiers were in the vehicle its missile struck and that they were all killed or wounded. Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman, confirmed that one missile "penetrated" a military vehicle, but said no one was harmed.
        Israeli media reported Sunday that an Israeli army helicopter had feigned a medevac operation, apparently to lull Hizbullah into concluding that it had drawn blood in the missile strike, enough to stand down. (New York Times)
        See also Israel and Hizbullah Were Close to War - Jacob Magid and Judah Ari Gross
    A Hizbullah anti-tank missile hit an IDF armored personnel carrier on Sunday. IDF spokesman Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus said the armored vehicle was destroyed. Military sources said that the vehicle was empty when it was struck, but that soldiers had been inside half an hour earlier. Israel and Hizbullah were "30 minutes away from war," said Army Radio presenter Yakov Bardugo. (Times of Israel)
        See also Top Iranian Security Official Hails Attack by Hizbullah Against Israel (Mehr-Iran)
        See also Islamic Jihad Congratulates Hizbullah on Its "Revenge on Israel" - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
        See also U.S. Backs Israel's Right to Self-Defense in Lebanon (Reuters)
        See also Hizbullah Media Report Attacks on Israel Have Stopped
    Al Manar television, closely affiliated with Hizbullah, is reporting that the outbreak of violence in South Lebanon is over. Hizbullah sources told the Al Mayadeen network, which is also close to Hizbullah, that the ball is now in the Israeli court. (Ynet News)
  • UN Watchdog: Iran Continues to Increase Uranium Stockpile in Violation of Nuclear Deal - Kiyoko Metzler
    In a confidential quarterly report distributed to member states, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium is increasing, in violation of limitations set by the 2015 nuclear deal. It also said Iran continues to enrich uranium up to 4.5%, above the 3.67% allowed. The IAEA said Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium hit 241.6 kg. as of Aug. 19. The limit is 202.8 kg. (AP-Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Now Is the Wrong Time to Talk with Iran - Tovah Lazaroff
    During a telephone call on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged French President Emmanuel Macron not to promote negotiations with Iran while Tehran was stepping up its destabilizing activity in the Middle East. "When Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region - it is precisely the wrong time to talk with Iran," Netanyahu said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • International Criminal Court Reopens War Crimes Probe Against Israel over 2010 Mavi Marmara Flotilla - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The International Criminal Court's top appeals chamber on Monday reopened the case of war crimes allegations relating to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla. In November 2014, ICC Prosecutor Bensouda tried closing the file a first time, saying that the 10 activists killed simply did not constitute a high enough body count to warrant her involvement, since she focuses on mass killings.
        In November 2017, Bensouda again decided to close the case, explaining that after reviewing additional information, "no potential case arising from this situation can, legally speaking, be considered of 'sufficient gravity'...therefore barring the opening of an investigation.... There was no reasonable basis to believe that the identified crimes were committed on a large-scale or as part of a plan or policy."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Authority Declares End to Division of West Bank according to Oslo Accords - Jack Khoury
    The Palestinian Authority announced over the weekend that it has decided to cancel the division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C according to the Oslo Accords the PLO had signed with Israel in 1993 and 1995. From now on, the PA will treat all of the West Bank as Palestinian territory.
        The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three parts: Area A, which includes all large Palestinian cities, is under full PA control; Area B is under PA civilian control and Israeli security control; and Area C is controlled by Israel and is home to Israeli communities. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Supreme Leader: No Iran-U.S. Thaw - Micha Halpern
    Iran's religious, political, military and intelligence communities all came out against Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's G-7 visit. President Rouhani and Zarif are now marginalized; they have alienated Iranian leadership. On Aug. 27, the Majlis passed a resolution condemning Rouhani by declaring that he violated a direct order of the supreme leader forbidding all contact with the Trump administration.
        There is no clearer indication of the direction Iran is taking than an open letter from the supreme leader. The letter was published on the front page of his weekly magazine. The headline read: "Negotiations with the U.S. Are Definitely Out of the Question" - and the letter was addressed to Zarif and to the diplomats of Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why America Must Confront Power-Hungry Iran - Mark D. Wallace and Fred Zeidman
    Iran is a radical force, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and a cheat that counts on weak-kneed countries to give in to extortion. It has been illegally boarding ships transiting international waters and seizing them for political, diplomatic, or financial ransom. That's the same tactic that Somali pirates perpetrated for years before an international naval task force put an end to their operations.
        A multilateral effort to deter further illegal Iranian behavior must be led by the U.S. because freedom of navigation, geopolitical primacy, and stable energy markets are core components of U.S. national security. Iran's behavior imperils all. Iran is a nation that craves power and the ability to impose fear. When the regime is not restrained, their malign intentions come closer to being fully realized.
        Mark D. Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, is chief executive of United Against Nuclear Iran. Fred Zeidman, chairman of the Council for a Secure America, is chairman emeritus of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (National Interest)

  • Two former military intelligence officers, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall wrote in a publication of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs last week that the many strikes at Iranian targets around the Middle East have "led to sharp internal discussion within Iran concerning the continuing lack of success - especially on the important front against Israel - in establishing attack capabilities and a significant military traction along its border."
  • "This is in contrast to the Iranian successes in managing the campaign against Saudi Arabia from Yemenite territory and the repeated attacks on strategic targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."
  • According to the officers, "Iran feels that Israel is changing and expanding the boundaries of the campaign it is conducting against it and against its allies in the region and even getting closer to its borders, against the background of the attacks in Iraq and the concern that Israel will be a part of a maritime police force in the Persian Gulf."
  • "Thus far, Iran has succeeded in managing the campaign against Israel and its regional rivals far from its borders. Now it has to make adjustments to its national security policy in light of the way the campaign is drawing closer."

        See also Iran and Hizbullah Prepare to Confront Israel in Response to Its Actions in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)