September 10, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

New Revelations May Prove Iran's Ongoing Nuclear Weapons Program - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's revelation Monday of another Iranian nuclear site that was operational as recently as three months ago is big news.
    The revelations are grave because of Iran's claims that their uranium enrichment is not for the development of nuclear weapons.
    If Israel's assertions about the Abadeh installation's true purpose were verified, they would be the smoking gun that would finally prove Iran is developing a nuclear weapon in complete violation of the treaties it has signed.

Counter-Terror Experts: Al-Qaeda Is Back - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Top global counter-terror experts warned on Monday that al-Qaeda has supplanted ISIS as the number one global terrorism threat.
    Jay Tabb, assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, told a conference of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya that al-Qaeda and its affiliates now have 20,000 followers worldwide.
    See also Scotland Yard: UK Foiled 22 Terrorist Attacks since March 2017 (Israel Hayom)
    Neil Basu, Scotland Yard's most senior counter-terrorism officer, said Monday that British authorities have foiled 22 terrorist attacks since March 2017.

First Temple Seal Impression Found with Name of Bible-Era Royal Steward - Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel)
    A 7th century BCE clay seal reading "Belonging to Adoniyahu, the Royal Steward" was discovered in the City of David in Jerusalem three weeks ago by national service volunteer Batya Ofan, who was sifting earth excavated from the foundations of the Western Wall under Robinson's Arch in 2013.
    The ancient Hebrew name Adoniyahu is found several times in the Hebrew Bible.
    Archaeologist Eli Shukron said the clay seal, or bulla, was used in the First Temple period to seal important documents.
    "After 2,600 years, you come and hold this bulla, which was used to seal a letter that was sent 2,600 years ago by the highest minister in the kingdom. It's something amazing....It makes my heart skip a beat," Shukron said.

Israel Returns to the Polls, while Palestinian Democracy Is Frozen (AFP-RFI-France)
    When Israelis vote next week it will be their sixth general election since 2006, when Palestinians last had the chance to cast ballots in parliamentary polls.
    30-year-old Palestinians have never had the opportunity to choose their leadership.
    "For both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, governing without elections is very comfortable. The split provides a cover - you can say you want elections but the other side doesn't," said Khalil Shikaki, a prominent Palestinian pollster.
    Shikaki's polling found little optimism about new PA elections, but also that democracy was not a top priority.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel: Iran Conducted Nuclear Experiments at Secret Facility - Felicia Schwartz and Laurence Norman
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Iran destroyed a facility in the Abadeh region this summer where it had conducted secret nuclear-weapons experiments. Netanyahu showed satellite images of the facility and said Iran destroyed the site after officials there learned that Israel had discovered it. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Israel Reveals Another Secret Iranian Nuclear Site
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday: "A year and a half ago, we exposed Iran's secret nuclear archive which revealed that Iran was developing five nuclear warheads as early as 2003. Last year, we exposed Iran's secret nuclear warehouse in Turquzabad which Iran used for storing materials and equipment for its secret nuclear program....Today, we reveal that yet another secret nuclear site was exposed in the archives that we brought from Tehran. In this site, Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons. This is the site near Abadeh, south of Isfahan."
        "What we see is a consistent pattern of Iranian lies, deception and violations. I call on the international community to wake up, to realize that Iran is systematically lying, and I call on the international community to join President Trump's sanctions to exert more pressure on Iran."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • UN Atomic Watchdog Confirms Iran Installing New Centrifuges - Jastinder Khera
    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Monday that Iran was installing advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility. It had "verified that the following centrifuges were either installed or being installed...: 22 IR-4, one IR-5, 30 IR-6."  (AFP)
  • Qatari Envoy: Egypt Benefitting from Gaza's Isolation - Ali Younes
    Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of Qatar's Gaza Reconstruction Committee, told Al Jazeera that Egypt was financially benefitting from keeping Gaza in a state of limbo. "The Egyptians are benefitting financially from the divisions and the blockade. Gaza imports over $45 million worth of products from Egypt a month. Out of that, the Egyptian intelligence [the Mukhabarat] and the Egyptian army make about $15 million because of commissions they make on key products imported such as fuel, cigarettes and cooking gas. The Hamas government, in turn, makes about $12 million in taxes levied on the imports."  (Al Jazeera)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Drone Strike Targets Iranian Arms Depot in Iraq
    Explosions were reported early Tuesday at a warehouse used by the Iranian-backed Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces near the Iraqi city of Hit in Anbar Province. Sky News Arabic reported that after the blast, shells were launched into neighboring areas, indicating an arms depot may have been hit. (Times of Israel)
        See also Report: 21 Iraqi Militiamen Killed in Weapons Warehouse Explosion - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Foils Smuggling of Military Uniform Material to Gaza - Rossella Tercatin
    Israeli security forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle olive-green fabric for IDF uniforms into Gaza, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said Monday. The cloth rolls were hidden among other goods. Every day, 800 trucks enter Gaza carrying medical equipment, food, fuel, building materials, agricultural inputs, and textile products. (Jerusalem Post)
  • No Security Threat Seen in Bid by Hong Kong Firm to Build New Water Desalination Plant - Amos Harel
    In May 2019, Israel's Finance Ministry published a tender to build a new water desalination plant. Dubbed Soreq B, the plant will be built next to the Soreq A plant already in operation and will be the biggest of its kind in the world. One of the two companies in the final stage of bidding to build the plant is the Hutchison Company, based in Hong Kong.
        The Energy Ministry and Finance Ministry explained in a joint statement: "Hutchison is an Israeli company indirectly owned by a Hong Kong-based company. In addition, Hutchison is already active in Israel, operating the Soreq A desalination facility, which is similar in its characteristics and location to Soreq B. Therefore, the ministries do not see how Hutchison's participation in the new tender is different from the company's current activity in the country."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Countdown Begins toward a Battle between Israel and Hizbullah - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, is an actor and a liar who has turned manipulation into an art. Nasrallah closely follows everything that is published about him abroad. He believes from these reports that Israel is afraid of Hizbullah's military might and especially the precision missiles in Hizbullah's arsenal with their ability to strike deep inside Israel and at strategic installations.
        So the countdown toward a widespread confrontation between Israel and Hizbullah has begun. Yet at the end of the day, Nasrallah does not set the strategic goals of Hizbullah, nor those of the Shiite militias in Syria. Iranian Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani, representing Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is the one who sets the boundaries of the conflict. The writer served as military secretary to the Prime Minister and as chief of staff to the Foreign Minister. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • What American Jews Just Don't Get about Israel - Daniel Gordis
    The U.S. and Israel are very different projects. America was created to be a haven to "huddled masses yearning to breathe free," as Emma Lazarus' poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty declares, while Israel's Declaration of Independence begins, "The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people." America was meant to embrace all of humanity, while Israel was intended to save the Jewish people.
        "End the occupation," American Jews chant. But Israelis are also exhausted by the occupation - they just have no idea how to end it without the West Bank becoming a breeding ground for terrorists, as happened with Gaza once Israel pulled out in 2005. That's a risk Israelis are not willing to take. To Israeli ears, "End the occupation" sounds like "Abolish taxes" - a great idea but entirely unrealistic. American Jews look at Israel's relationship with the Palestinians as a civil-rights issue. Israelis see it as a survival issue.
        A country's foremost obligation is the protection of its citizens, and any government Israelis elect will understand that. Israel's policy towards the Palestinians is unlikely to change until the Palestinians declare that they have ended their drive to destroy Israel. That will not happen anytime soon, however. The writer is senior vice president and Koret distinguished fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. (New York Post)

  • In 2007, Israel's Mossad hacked the personal computer of Ibrahim Othman, director general of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, during his visit to Vienna.
  • A trove of downloaded photos detailed a building being constructed on the Euphrates River at Al Kibar in eastern Syria that was revealed to be a virtual replica of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor, a plutonium-producing facility that the U.S. viewed as a virtual bomb-making factory. One photo showed Othman arm-in-arm with Chon Chibu, a North Korean nuclear scientist who worked at the Yongbyon facility.
  • In fact, North Korea has been actively bolstering states hostile to Israel, and facilitating attacks on the Jewish state, since the 1960s.
  • Israel's bombing of Al Kibar in 2007 didn't deter North Korea from continuing to proliferate sophisticated weapon systems to Israel's enemies.
  • Kim Jong Un has dramatically increased his country's military capabilities. He has tested ballistic missiles that, once perfected, could hit the western U.S., American intelligence officials believe. North Korea has also increased the yield of its nuclear weapons, moving toward a hydrogen bomb capability.
  • Israel's security officials say that North Korea's past actions suggest Kim would have no qualms transferring these capabilities to Israel's Mideast enemies, particularly for the right price.

    The writer, former chief foreign affairs correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is an adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.