September 9, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian-Backed Shiite Militias in Syria Fire Rockets toward Israel (Israel Defense Forces-Twitter)
    A number of rockets were fired from Syria toward Israel early Monday, all failing to hit Israeli territory.
    The rockets were launched by Shiite militias operating under the command of the Iranian Quds Force.

IDF Denies Hizbullah Shot Down Israeli Drone - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF denied claims that Hizbullah shot down a drone over south Lebanon, stating that a small surveillance drone crashed Monday while performing reconnaissance.

Cyprus Detains 3 Iranians Using Fake Travel Documents to Fly to UK (Cyprus Mail)
    Two Iranians were arrested at Paphos airport in Cyprus on Friday who attempted to go to the UK using fake travel documents, which police said they admitted having secured in Turkish northern Cyprus.
    Another Iranian man was arrested at the airport on Wednesday in a similar case.

BDS Campaign Targeting Toronto Businesses Backfires - Paul Lungen (Canadian Jewish News)
    A week after anti-Israel agitator Firas al-Najim posted videos on Facebook calling for a boycott of Toronto businesses that support Israel, the owner of the Taste of Israel grocery store said sales had more than doubled.
    "A lot of people are coming - Christians, not just Jews - to make solidarity," said Gabriel Bolotin, who has operated the store for 14 years. "People came to my store non-stop. It's amazing."
    Meanwhile, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) credited its "BUYcott" campaign for helping stores like Taste of Israel resist BDS.
    "Once again, through the power of BUYcott, we have succeeded in demonstrating that those who target Israelis will ironically achieve the opposite of their intended goal," said Noah Shack, CIJA's vice-president of the Greater Toronto area.

New York Police Report Surge in Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes - Mark Morales (CNN)
    More than half the hate crimes reported in New York City so far in 2019 are anti-Semitic, New York Police Department officials said Wednesday.
    Anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City are up 63% this year as compared with last year, officials said.
    So far this year, there have been 152 reports of anti-Semitic hate crimes, compared with 93 during the same period last year.

Palestinian Authority Owes Israel Electric Company $483 Million (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA owes the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) $483 million, Kan news reported.
    Two weeks ago, the IEC notified Israeli officials that it will begin to cut off electricity to Palestinian villages in the West Bank due to the growing debt.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Militant Killed in Accidental Explosion in Gaza (Xinhua-China)
    A member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Mo'een al-Attar, 24, was killed on Sunday in an accidental explosion in central Gaza.
    According to the Gaza Health Ministry, dozens of Palestinian militants have been killed during military training activities with live ammunition.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Released Iranian Oil Tanker near Syrian Coast - Ben Hubbard
    The Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 has anchored two miles from the Syrian port of Tartus, according to satellite images. The tanker was stopped by British commandos off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4 over concerns it was bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. It was released on Aug. 15 after Iran gave written promises that it would not deliver its 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria.
        On Friday, U.S. national security adviser John R. Bolton tweeted, "Anyone who said the Adrian Darya 1 wasn't headed to Syria is in denial."  (New York Times)
        See also Iran Says Oil Tanker Has Delivered Its Cargo (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
  • Bolton: No Sanctions Relief until Iran Stops Lying and Spreading Terror - Veronica Stracqualursi
    U.S. national security adviser John Bolton wrote on Twitter on Friday: "Tehran thinks it's more important to fund the murderous Assad regime than provide for its own people. We can talk, but Iran's not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror."  (CNN)
        See also below Observations: Iran Is Trying to Blackmail the World for Billions - Olli Heinonen and Tzvi Kahn (Fox News)
  • Iran Injecting Uranium Gas into Advanced Centrifuges - Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell
    Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium "much more beyond" current levels to weapons-grade material. Behrouz Kamalvandi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Iran has begun using an array of 20 IR-6 centrifuges and another 20 of IR-4 centrifuges. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also IAEA Asked Iran to Explain Traces of Uranium at "Secret Atomic Warehouse" Revealed by Israel - Francois Murphy (Reuters)
  • European Court May Remove Hamas from Terrorism Blacklist
    Hamas lawyer Khalid Al-Showly announced that "the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg decided on Thursday to remove the Hamas movement, and its armed wing Al-Qassam Brigades, from the world's list of terrorism." He said the decision of the court is not final, but the previous decisions on the reinsertion of Hamas and its military wing on terrorist lists "are null and void."
        Hamas spokesman Hazim Qassim declared Friday, "We hope that this decision will lead to completely remove the name of the movement from any unjust list."  (Middle East Monitor-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: 18 Killed in Airstrike on Iranian Militias in Syria near Iraq Border - Tzvi Joffre
    At least 18 people have been killed and scores more were wounded in air attacks targeting Iranian-backed militias including Iraqi Hizbullah in Al Bukamal in eastern Syria near Iraq on Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday. Sky News Arabia reported that sites belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were also targeted. (Jerusalem Post)
        Heavy damage to a logistical facility and weapons warehouse was reported. Other reports said four planes attacked the targets in three waves. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Armed Drone Attacks Israeli Army Vehicle near Gaza Border
    On Saturday, a drone from Gaza entered Israeli airspace and dropped explosives on a military vehicle by the border fence, causing light damage, though no Israeli soldiers were hurt. In addition, five rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel overnight Friday. An Israeli military aircraft fired at the Gaza cell that launched the drone attack. Later, Saturday, Israel carried out several air strikes on Hamas positions in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Students Assaulted by Qatari Youths in Warsaw - Jeremy Sharon
    Several Israeli students in Warsaw on a semester abroad were violently assaulted early Saturday by a group of young men from Qatar. Yotam Kashpizky said a group of young Arab men approached them and started asking if they were Israeli. They started shouting "free Palestine" and "free Gaza" and began to assault them.
        One of the assailants punched Yotam in the face and he lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital and treated for a broken nose and eye socket. He was highly critical of both passersby and night club security personnel, who did nothing to help the Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Violent BDS Activists Assault Israeli Film Festival Attendees in Berlin - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Are Israel and Hizbullah on the Verge of a Military Confrontation? - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hizbullah, has managed to penetrate and inject Hizbullah into the Lebanese nation-state because of its inherent weakness and sectarian paralysis. He has exploited Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon as well as the Second Lebanese War to present Hizbullah as the alternative shield to the Lebanese national army that has been relegated to military parades and domestic police duties.
        But its six-year involvement in the Syrian civil war to quell a Sunni-led rebellion at the direction of its Iranian patrons cost Hizbullah more than 2,000 fatalities, untold injuries, and irreparable damage to its image as the "Resistance Movement" against Israel.
        In the Golan Heights, Arab sources indicate that Hizbullah has positioned intelligence units along the border with Israel, in some places deployed less than 200 meters from UN peacekeepers. The writer was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Expert Sees Little Chance of Trump-Rouhani Meeting - Ariel Kahana
    Dr. Raz Zimmt, an expert on Iran at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies and a former defense official, said: "It is my assessment that no such [Trump-Rouhani] meeting will be held, not necessarily because of the Americans, but because of the Iranians. With all due respect to Rouhani, the one who needs to agree to such a meeting is Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei....I see at most a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and his American counterpart, Mike Pompeo, but even the odds of that aren't high."
        "What surprised Iran was the intensification of sanctions by President Trump last May, which led Iran to an unprecedented economic slowdown....As a result, the Iranians decided a few months ago to put an end to the 'strategic patience' [policy] and turned to 'opposition.'...There is no doubt a serious crisis, but Iran is not on the verge of economic collapse. They have foreign exchange reserves....They are not about to break."
        "I don't think Iran will use Hizbullah against Israel right now, because Hizbullah is being saved for Judgment Day. What is Judgment Day? The moment when Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, and that is far off right now."  (Israel Hayom)

Iran Is Trying to Blackmail the World for Billions - Olli Heinonen and Tzvi Kahn (Fox News)
  • Iran is once again trying to blackmail the world for billions of dollars, after announcing that it is beginning work to develop centrifuges to accelerate uranium enrichment. The world must not give in to Iran. While the Islamic Republic claims it is only interested in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, its behavior points to its desire to keep its options open to develop atomic bombs. Those bombs would pose a threat to Israel, other U.S. allies in the Middle East, and eventually Europe and the U.S. itself.
  • The U.S. and Europe would be making a mistake of historic proportions if they surrender to the latest Iranian demand for a $15 billion line of credit aimed at offsetting the impact of crippling U.S. economic sanctions. Instead, they should stand firm and make clear that Iran will receive sanctions relief only if and when it negotiates a comprehensive new nuclear deal that meets the 12 conditions stipulated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a May 2018 address. Premature concessions would merely incentivize Iran to engage in further nuclear blackmail.
  • Iran's covert atomic archive, which Israel seized from a Tehran warehouse last year, discloses a range of sites, equipment and activity previously unknown to the International Atomic Energy Agency, thereby raising the possibility that illicit conduct continues today without the agency's knowledge.
  • Should the world capitulate now to Tehran's threats, it would make productive negotiations less likely. After all, Iran would have no incentive to compromise on its nuclear program if it faces no meaningful economic penalties for its misbehavior. Ultimately, Iran will only negotiate a stronger nuclear deal if the costs of its nuclear misconduct far exceed the benefits.
  • The U.S. and Europe should, therefore, double down on economic sanctions against Iran. In the absence of such measures, Iran will likely continue its efforts to blackmail the international community, pocketing concessions without altering the malign behavior that spurred the crisis in the first place. These sanctions should remain in place until Iran concludes a new agreement ensuring, in a verifiable manner, that it has abandoned its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    Olli Heinonen is a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and head of its Department of Safeguards. Tzvi Kahn is a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.