October 2, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah: Our Troops Will Enter Israel (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    The leader of Lebanon's Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, has said that forces aligned to the party would enter Israel.
    "The enemy is on the defensive...now we are in attack mode," he said.
    "Today we have improved intelligence; we have unprecedented information on all that is happening in the Zionist entity from both official and unofficial sources."

Report: Tehran, Moscow Clash over Iranian Plans to Build Up Military near Damascus (i24News)
    Syrian state media report that Iran is looking to establish a district for Iranian forces and Shiite militias in the southern Damascus suburb of Set Zaynab.
    Tehran wants to set up a large number of accommodations, headquarters and logistics warehouses in the area, but has run into resistance from Russia.
    The Russians, who have reportedly closed down major roads to militia forces in the southern parts of the capital, fear that the actions may provoke an Israeli military response and put their own personnel at risk.
    It has also been reported that control of Damascus and its environs is currently in the hands of Syrian army units receiving direct orders from the Russians.

Iraq and Syria Open Border Crossing, Easing Travel for Iranian Militias to Lebanon and Israel's Border (AP-New York Times)
    Iraq and Syria on Monday opened a key border crossing linking the Iraqi town of Qaim and Syria's Boukamal that had been closed since 2012 during Syria's civil war and the battle against Islamic State.
    The move allows Iran-backed militias in Iraq easier access to eastern Syria.
    Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based Syrian activist, said, "The opening of the crossing will be a means for Iranians, Shiite militia and Hizbullah to boost their activities."

Israel Quietly Lets in Gaza Workers to Ease Tensions (AP-New York Times)
    Israel is quietly allowing thousands of Palestinians to enter from Gaza to conduct business and work.
    Israel has expanded a program to allow business owners to travel to Israel and the West Bank for commerce.
    Palestinian officials say Israel is now providing 5,000 "merchant" permits, many of which are used by Palestinians working in construction, agriculture and manufacturing.

Israeli Windsurfer Wins Silver Medal at World Championship (Times of Israel)
    Israeli windsurfer Katy Spychakov, 20, on Saturday took the silver medal at the RS:X World Championships at Lake Garda in Italy.

Body Vision Raises $20 Million for Early Lung Cancer Diagnosis - Adi Pick (Calcalist)
    Israel's Body Vision Medical has completed a $20 million funding round to commercialize and manufacture its disposable lung navigation catheter, which received U.S. FDA approval in May.
    The intra-body navigation technology is designed to assist early lung cancer diagnostics and treatment.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Top General: Iran Has Prepared the Capability to Annihilate Israel
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Hossein Salami said on Sep. 21 that the Islamic Republic has prepared "the capability to annihilate" Israel and "this regime must be wiped off the world geographic" map. "The second step of the revolution is the step that rearranges the constellation of power in favor of the revolution. Iran's Islamic evolution will be on top of this constellation." He added, "In the second step we will be thinking of the global mobilization of Islam."
        In December 2018, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied any Iranian leader having ever threatened Israel. (Radio Farda)
        See also IRGC General: Israel Surrounded by Iran
    IRGC deputy commander for operations Brig.-Gen. Abbas Nilforooshan told Tasnim in an interview that the Zionist regime is too weak to be considered a threat against a powerful establishment such as the Islamic Republic "which has surrounded it from the east, west, north and south." He said the signs of Israel's downfall have become obvious, and that Israel lacks "strategic depth."  (Tasnim-Iran)
  • Poll: Most Americans Support Sending Troops, Missile Defenses to Saudi Arabia - Max Greenwood
    58% of Americans support and 42% oppose sending U.S. troops and missile and air defenses to Saudi Arabia after Iranian airstrikes on Saudi oil fields this month, according to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released Thursday. 72% said they support U.S. sanctions placed on Iran in the wake of the oil field attacks. 71% said the U.S. should ramp up diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran instead of launching a military strike on the country.
        At the same time, 64% said they would oppose another U.S.-led military engagement in the Middle East. "The public does not want to take direct military action against Iran unless they attack American interests," said Mark Penn, co-director of the poll. "Iran is seen as the No. 1 enemy of the U.S. in the world today and yet Americans want more diplomacy first." 73% said they would support a U.S.-led strike on Iran if it were to launch an attack on U.S. military assets or personnel. (The Hill)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Facing Increasing Danger from Iran - Yoav Limor
    Brig.-Gen. Dror Shalom, head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, warns, "We're in a much more complex reality than we were in the past, and it's only getting worse....At the end of the day, it's all about Iran." He estimates it will take Iran two years to build a nuclear bomb.
        In the past few years, Israel has been very active in Syria against Hizbullah's attempts to arm itself and against Iranian attempts to entrench itself there militarily. "A lot fewer weapons are coming in. The Shiite militia bases they wanted to build aren't being built. Iran's monetary investment has declined."
        "I think it's very likely" that Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani will shoot at Israel from Iraq. "It could be surface-to-surface missiles, cruise missiles, or long-range UAVs. He has UAVs that can fly 1,000-1,200 km. (600-700 miles) which he has used in the Persian Gulf....My working assumption is that it's only a matter of time until he tries."
        In Gaza, "Hamas wants a deal, but one that doesn't recognize Israel....Hamas is now willing to agree to long-term ceasefires....We in intelligence have identified an opportunity for an agreement."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian Terrorists Who Murdered Israeli Teen - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Israeli security forces arrested three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine for the murder of Rina Shnerb, 17, in an explosion that also wounded her father and brother at the Danny Spring in the West Bank. Samar Arvid, 44, constructed the bomb and detonated it when he saw the Shnerb family approaching the area. Kassam Shabali, 25, made the explosive material from which the bomb was constructed. Yazen Majamas, 25, was also apprehended. During the interrogation, the security services uncovered another explosive device belonging to the terror cell. (Ynet News)
  • Mortar Fired from Egypt Lands near Israeli Community
    A mortar shell fired from Egypt's Sinai landed in the Israeli border community of Bnei Netzarim on Saturday, damaging a synagogue and a vehicle. Israeli officials believe the mortar was fired during clashes between Egyptian forces and jihadists. Seven Egyptian soldiers and a civilian were killed Friday in Sinai during an ISIS ambush. (i24News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Report: The Iranian Attack on Saudi Oil Installations
    The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a French-based Iranian political opposition group, has reported details of the missile and drone attack by Iran against the oil facilities of Saudi Arabia. Intelligence reports indicate that the operation involved the highest levels of the IRGC who directed it at every step. Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the regime, directly ordered the attack. The tactical command headquarters for the operation deployed from Tehran to Khuzestan province (southwest Iran) one week prior to the attack.
        The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) approved a plan for the attack on July 31, in a meeting presided over by President Hassan Rouhani. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is also a member of the SNSC and attends its sessions. Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Fallah, operational deputy commander of the IRGC air force, took the lead in implementing the operation. Omidiyeh base (situated between Omidiyeh and Ahvaz in Khuzestan province) was used as the tactical base for this operation. (National Council of Resistance of Iran)
  • Egyptian Leader Sissi Faces Protests - Zvi Bar'el
    Rare demonstrations against the regime of Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sissi have raised speculation about his ability to remain in power. But there's an important difference between Sissi and former President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak had a tense relationship with his defense minister and army chief of staff, Mohamed Tantawi, which reached its peak when the army sided with the demonstrators during the uprising in 2011.
        Sissi, in contrast, has maintained a close relationship with the army and with his defense minister, Gen. Mohamed Zaki. The army has become the main contractor for government projects and continues to back the president. Sissi also has no fears on the political front, since most members of parliament either belong to the ruling party or have joined its governing coalition. As a rule, the parliament passes all legislation proposed by the president.
        Sissi's enemies last week circulated two purportedly authentic documents on social media that listed Sissi's mother as a Moroccan Jew named Malika Titani, and that this is the reason for his close ties with Israel. The Moroccan government officially disavowed the claim and denied the authenticity of the documents. But it no longer matters; the rumors have become facts. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Egypt Sees Scattered Protests on Friday - Vivian Yee
    Scattered protests calling for President Sissi to step down broke out in Egyptian cities on Friday. The protests did not match the previous week's in number or size, at least partly due to how fiercely the Egyptian government had moved to smother them. (New York Times)

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the Jerusalem Post in an interview:
  • Q: You were criticized over the summer for the picture of you taking a sledgehammer and inaugurating the City of David's Pilgrimage Road.
    Friedman: "I am very proud of that move. I am completely comfortable with what happened. It was a once-in-a-century archaeological discovery that deeply connected the modern State of Israel to its historical and biblical roots. Given the extent to which Israel's enemies have tried to deny those roots, the fact that there is scientific proof to the contrary is extremely important."
  • "The United States has a deep interest in Jerusalem and its history....The fact that we had the opportunity to participate in this discovery, and all that it meant in the scientific corroboration of history, meant a lot to America, as well as to Israel."
  • "The Palestinians have every right to their wishes, political aspirations, beliefs and their personal narratives. But they don't have a right to their own facts....To resent the fact that science has corroborated what most of us already knew, I'm not sympathetic to that grievance."
  • Q: What can Israel do to maintain support in Congress?
    Friedman: "I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding....There is this sense that Israel could somehow, with the flick of a switch, end this so-called 'occupation of Palestine' - and the world would be a safer place, and the Palestinians and Israelis would lead better lives. And it's at odds with the facts and at odds with reality."
  • "Israelis kind of look at this perspective, and don't understand it - and I appreciate why. Because right now, there is no safe way for Israel to separate from the Palestinians. The Palestinians have no control over Hamas, over Islamic Jihad; they continue to pay terrorists; the Palestinian textbooks continue to contain highly inappropriate and inciting language, in some cases. The Palestinians have no record on human rights."
  • "These are real problems; they are not things that just get fixed because somebody flicks a switch and says, 'Ok, we're going to move out [of the territories].'"