October 25, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Develops New Defense Against Cruise Missiles - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    Israel has an operational system to protect against cruise missiles like the ones used by Iran to attack the Saudi oil installations.
    The Barak-8ER system, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), was recently upgraded and is now operational. The extended range version has an effective range of 150 km.
    The new version of the Barak-8 has enhanced anti-tactical ballistic missile capabilities.
    Israel has been concerned for some time about the threat of Iranian cruise missiles and improved the Barak-8 air defense missile system to try and minimize any capabilities gaps.

Despite Setback, Syrian Kurds Have Come Through the Fire - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    Syrian Kurdish leader Gen. Mazlum Kobani received Washington's support on Wednesday and was on the phone with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu - two weeks after it seemed his Syrian Democratic Forces were on the ropes against Turkey.
    The SDF controls an area in Syria the size of West Virginia.
    Turkey's main concern was to remove the SDF from the border and it has accomplished this.
    The Syrian Kurds have lost direct control over many of their towns along the border. But if the SDF's goal now is to increase its role on the international stage, it has momentarily accomplished that and has a new lease on life.

Hamas Arrests Dozens in Bid to Deter Gaza Protests - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Over the last few days, Hamas police have arrested dozens of Palestinians from the PFLP, DFLP, and Fatah in Gaza to prevent protests inspired by the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Lebanon.
    Calls for a protest on Thursday evening were voiced on social media in the last few days, promoted with the tagline "enough, we are tired!"
    Yet Palestinian sources said people are afraid to take to the streets.

Abbas Orders Reconstruction of Home of Soldier's Killer Twice Razed by IDF - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    IDF Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky, 20, was killed by Palestinian Islam Yusuf Hamid, 33, who dropped a marble slab on him from a rooftop during an arrest raid near Ramallah on May 24, 2018.
    The killer's home was demolished by IDF forces for the second time on Thursday.
    Hours later, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered to rebuild the house.

Ohio Man Sentenced to Prison for Evading Iran Sanctions (Radio Farda)
    Behrooz Behroozian, 64, who was born in Iran and entered the U.S. in 1976, was sentenced on Oct. 24 to 20 months for violating U.S. sanctions by supplying industrial and oil technology to Iran, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
    "For years, this defendant deliberately sought to defeat and evade the Iranian sanctions for personal gain while supplying critical equipment to the Iranian industrial complex," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
    "As this case demonstrates, the desire for specialized American technology and the willingness to illegally supply it to hostile countries are very real and ever present."

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Israel's Defense Industries Adjust to U.S. Aid Restrictions - Hagai Amit (Ha'aretz)
    The new U.S. military aid agreement, signed during Obama's last days in office, gradually phases out the Israel Defense Ministry's ability to use American money to buy supplies from Israeli companies.
    In response, Israeli defense firms have focused on expanding sales in the U.S.
    Since the American military is required to buy weaponry made in the U.S., Israeli companies are investing millions to expand their production facilities in North America.
    Israel Aerospace Industries has production facilities in Mississippi and Maryland. Elbit Systems has 2,500 employees at five production and development centers in Texas, Virginia and Florida.

Britain Lifts Ban on Flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, 4 Years after Bombing - Hugh Morris (Telegraph-UK)
    The British Government said improvements in security procedures at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport and close cooperation between the UK and Egypt on aviation safety means commercial airlines can now operate routes to the popular Red Sea resort.
    The improvements include X-ray scanners and a vast wall built earlier this year around the airport complex.
    Air travel had been banned since 2015 in the wake of the crash of a St. Petersburg-bound flight shortly after takeoff, claiming the lives of 224 Russian passengers and crew after what was believed to be an on-board explosion.

Israeli Develops Piston Engine that Runs on Water and Alcohol - Alan Rosenbaum (Jerusalem Post)
    MayMaan Research, LLC has developed a system to operate a traditional piston engine with a combination of 70% water and 30% ethanol (or any other alcohol).
    Tts founders say that with simple yet sophisticated modifications of existing engine designs, the system saves 50% on fuel costs, produces far fewer emissions than gasoline or diesel, and is up to 60% more efficient than gasoline.
    MayMaan, located near Miami, Florida, is the brainchild of Yehuda Shmueli, 81, a talented inventor, engineer and master mechanic who studied at the Technion, assisted by sons Eitan and Doron.

Israeli Crowned Miss Congeniality at Miss Asia-Pacific Pageant in Philippines - Shiryn Ghermezian (Algemeiner)
    Israel's Noy Ben Artzi, 22, was chosen as Miss Congeniality at the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant in the Philippines earlier this month by her fellow 53 competitors.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pentagon: U.S. to Send Additional Troops to Syria to Protect Oil Fields from ISIS
    A Pentagon official said Thursday that the U.S. is planning to send additional troops into northeastern Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS. While most U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, the Pentagon is planning a major increase in firepower to protect the ones left behind. If approved, a combat unit armed with tanks would be sent into an area along the Euphrates River to reinforce 200 lightly armed troops who are in Syria to protect the oil fields. (AP-CBS News)
        See also Pentagon Readying Plan to Contain Islamic State, Safeguard Oil in Syria
    U.S. military leaders are preparing a plan that could keep Islamic State fighters from regaining a foothold in Syria, while preventing Syrian oil from falling into the hands of Iran or ISIS, Senator Lindsey Graham said after receiving a briefing from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House. "I am somewhat encouraged that a plan is coming about that will meet our core objectives in Syria," he said. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Condemns Turkey's "Unwarranted" Invasion of Syria - Lolita C. Baldor
    U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday in Brussels that Turkey's "unwarranted" invasion into Syria jeopardizes gains made there in the battle against the Islamic State. Turkey, he said, is "heading in the wrong direction" and "put us all in a very terrible situation."  (AP-Military Times)
  • More than 100 Islamic State Prisoners in Syria Have Escaped - Joe Gould
    More than 100 Islamic State prisoners escaped from prison after Turkey's incursion into northern Syria, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
        While lawmakers from both sides of the aisle argued that the U.S. had a moral obligation to protect its Kurdish partners, Jeffrey said that was never U.S. policy. He had explicitly and repeatedly told the Kurds that the U.S. would not take military action against Turkey, a NATO ally. Jeffrey said the presence of 25 U.S. troops in the path of Turkish forces "was not in the Turkish decision chain," adding that "the Turks would have simply driven around them."  (Defense News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Sees Iranian Moves in North as Its Central Challenge - Anna Ahronheim
    The "central strategic challenge of the State of Israel lies in the northern arena" where Iran continues to consolidate its forces in Syria and work with Hizbullah on its precision missile project, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Wednesday. He said the IDF has "increased its pace of preparations" since "on both the northern and southern fronts, the situation is tense and fragile, and could deteriorate into a confrontation."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Unveils Multi-Year Plan for Defending Israel - Judah Ari Gross
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Wednesday unveiled his multi-year plan for defending the Jewish state. The plan will see huge investments in developing the IDF's arsenals, including increasing its fleet of mid-sized drones, obtaining large numbers of precision-guided missiles from the U.S., and purchasing additional air defense batteries. The military will also focus its training exercises more heavily on urban combat.
        The IDF's guiding principle in developing the plan was that a future war must be won as quickly as possible, requiring the military to have at the ready a concrete list of targets, the weapons needed to hit them, and the ability to do so rapidly. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Terrorists Recount Murder of Israeli Student Dvir Sorek
    Cousins Nasir and Qasseem al-Asafra were indicted earlier this month in the Aug. 9 murder of Dvir Sorek, 18, near the Gush Etzion Junction. Nasir stabbed Sorek to death while Qasseem drove the vehicle.
        "I called Nasir and asked him to meet me by the road. I picked him up...and we drove to the Gush Etzion Junction. We talked and I suggested that we kidnap a settler and hide him," Qasseem said, according to transcripts of their interrogation obtained by Yediot Ahronot. Qasseem said the plan was always to kill the victim, but the two saw the potential of "confusing" and "tiring" the Israeli security forces as they searched for the missing person as an added benefit.
        "I told him [Nasir] I would wait in the car and 'You try to kidnap the settler...and if you succeed we'll take the settler and put him in the trunk...if you can't kidnap him, murder him.'"  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • The Impact on Iran of the Turkish Invasion in Syria - Dr. Doron Itzchakov
    Iranian President Rouhani condemned Turkish President Erdogan's decision to invade Kurdish territory in Syria. Large-scale protests by the Iranian Kurdish minority (estimated at eight million) broke out against Turkish institutions throughout Iran. Yet Tehran does not want to risk its relationship with Ankara, which allows it to circumvent U.S. sanctions and constitutes an essential channel for the supply of Iranian gas to major European countries.
        The Turkish invasion challenges the wish of Iranian policymakers to expand Tehran's "strategic depth" in Syria. Moreover, there are quite a few Salafist-jihadist militias on the ground alongside the Turkish army, some of which originated in al-Qaeda, that perceive Iran's Shiite Islam as a heresy and its practitioners as worthy of persecution. For Iran's security establishment, the deployment of Salafist militias operating under a Turkish umbrella is intolerable. Deployment of Sunni militias could limit Iranian maneuverability in northern Syria.
        The Iranian regime has high hopes that the international community will turn its eyes to the Turkish aggression and divert attention from Tehran's attempts to expand its strategic depth. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Arms Embargo on Iran Due to Expire in 2020 - Eli Lake
    In 2015, in a concession to the Iranians, U.S. negotiators agreed that the UN's conventional-arms embargo on Iran would be lifted in five years. The embargo is set to expire on Oct. 18, 2020. In the 1990s, China and Russia sold Iran a variety of weapons systems, which the Iranians then reverse-engineered. By this time next year, America's two most potent geopolitical rivals will have a green light to sell advanced missiles to the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. There is a good chance Iran's numerous proxies in the Middle East will benefit as well.
        Both China and Russia possess technology that will make Iran's already formidable military production even better. Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Wednesday that if Iran can upgrade its arsenal, it would be "the greatest missile power in the Middle East." The problem is that any extension of the arms embargo would require agreement from both China and Russia, either of  which can veto resolutions at the UN Security Council. (Bloomberg)
  • Why Iran's Soleimani Misreads Lebanon - Amir Taheri
    The uprising in Lebanon has shaken the parallel universe created by Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani's depiction of Lebanon as the bridgehead for the conquest of the Middle East by Khomeinist ideology. The mullahs regard Lebanon as their most successful attempt at empire building, worth every cent of the billions of dollars invested there.
        Tehran media often boast that Lebanon is the only country where the Islamic Republic controls all levers of power. In Iraq, Iran has to contend with powerful Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that, while prepared to accommodate Tehran, refuse to act as puppets. In Syria, Tehran has to contend with Bashar al-Assad and remnants of his constituency who regard the Iranian presence as no more than an evil necessity for survival.
        I think Soleimani is wrong to write-off Lebanon as a nation-state and reinvent it as an Iranian bridgehead. Having known Lebanon for more than half a century, I can tell him that there is such a thing as "Lebanese-ness" that transcends sectarian and political divides. The writer was executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also The Mass Demonstrations in Lebanon: What Do They Portend? - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Orna Mizrahi
    The writer, a senior research fellow at INSS, served for 26 years in the IDF and 12 years in Israel's National Security Council. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Why No Deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran Will Ever Last - Irina Tsukerman
    No deal with the Islamic Republic is likely to last, no matter who is proposing it. The reasons lie in the ruling ideology of the Islamic Republic, which is dedicated to exporting the revolution abroad as a central tenet of the resistance.
        The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is responsible for "fulfilling the Islamic mission of Jihad in God's way and of struggling for the cause of extending the sovereignty of God's law throughout the world." As declassified CIA documents from 1980 show, Iran has looked for ways to create an empire based on Khomeini-ist Shiite principles since the fall of the Shah. The regime has never veered from this course.
        The targets at risk in the Gulf today, including Bahrain, Iraq, and the Levant, have been the targets of Iran's ideological outreach and strategy since the early post-revolutionary days. As Tehran's ideology is driven by an apocalyptic vision and a sense of divine mission, no pragmatic consideration can ultimately deter it from its goals, and "deals" are seen as no more than temporary stopovers on the way to the fulfillment of that mission.
        Iran sees the IRGC not as a terrorist tool but as a force carrying out a divine undertaking: first enforcing the way of jihad among Muslims (who have thus far been the primary targets), and then anyone else who refuses to bow before it. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Other Issues

  • The Jihadi "Insider" Threat - Ely Karmon
    On Oct. 3, Mickael Harpon, 45, a French police employee, stabbed five colleagues at the Prefecture of Police in central Paris, killing four police officers and seriously injuring a woman. Harpon, who had worked at the station since 2003, held top-secret security clearance that gave him access to all computers in the police directorate of intelligence. He converted to Islam a decade ago, stopped wearing Western clothes and stopped talking to women. Colleagues had reported Harpon in 2015 for voicing support for the attack on the Charlie Hebdo journal offices, but nothing was done.
        This major terrorist incident raises the larger question of the insider threat in law enforcement, intelligence, military agencies and strategic infrastructure facilities (airports, petrochemical and power plants).
        On Sep. 5, Abdul Alani, an American Airlines mechanic born in Iraq and a U.S. citizen since 1992, was arrested in Miami. In July, he drove up to a Boeing 737 at Miami International Airport, opened a compartment below the cockpit, and glued a piece of foam inside navigation equipment so that pilots wouldn't be able to tell how fast or high they were flying. The blockage triggered an alert when pilots powered up the plane, and they canceled the takeoff.
        In 2013, a technician at the airport in Wichita, Kansas, was arrested as he tried to plant what he thought was a bomb. He had told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to carry out jihad for al-Qaeda. In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security found that the Transportation Safety Authority had failed to identify 73 aviation workers with security badges who should have triggered terrorism-related red flags.
        The writer is senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and the Institute for Policy and Strategy at The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel and Jordan Ignore Peace Treaty Anniversary - Raphael Ahren and Adam Rasgon
    On Oct. 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan ended decades of enmity and bloody wars when they signed a Treaty of Peace. Yet neither country is doing anything significant to celebrate the historic 25-year milestone. Among the Jordanian public, the treaty was always regarded with resentment and suspicion. Relations between Amman and Jerusalem have never been frostier, analysts warn. Bilateral trade is declining. Despite the efforts of Jordan's King Hussein, and, to a lesser extent, his successor, many Jordanians have never accepted Israel's legitimacy.
        However, security and intelligence cooperation between Amman and Jerusalem is solid. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Baruch Spiegel told the Times of Israel on Thursday: "There is a close daily connection on security issues between Israel and Jordan, which has contributed significantly to regional stability. This successful security coordination has made Israel's border with Jordan its quietest border, which has allowed for many other forms of cooperation related to agriculture, ecology and the environment to exist."
        Spiegel added that Jordan and Israel are able "to quickly deal with and solve security issues." Israel's border with Jordan is its only frontier not partly supervised by UN peacekeepers. (Times of Israel)
  • The Growing Hizbullah Threat to the Druze in Lebanon and Syria - ETANA Syria
    In Lebanon, Hizbullah is leveraging its political allies within the Druze political establishment to isolate and weaken Walid Jumblatt, currently the most prominent Hizbullah and Syrian regime critic among the country's Druze. Hizbullah is granting perks and privileges to Jumblatt's main rivals. Clashes have erupted between pro- and anti-Jumblatt forces in Lebanon, leading to several deaths.
        The Druze of Suwayda province in southern Syria have enjoyed more than half a decade of relative autonomy. Druze community militias have established checkpoints and enacted community policing. Today, as the Syrian regime seeks to consolidate its power and authority across the entire country, there have been multiple clashes between Druze militias and pro-regime forces. A number of prominent Druze military leaders in the province have been killed or faced assassination attempts.
        Hizbullah - and by extension Iran - have established a wide network of political, military, and cultural relationships in Druze areas of Syria as part of a concerted effort to seize control of decisionmaking. As a result, 60% of all local armed groups in Suwayda province, including Bedouin militias, are now affiliated with Hizbullah. (Middle East Institute)

  • Weekend Features

  • The IDF's Iraqi Arabic Instructor - Neta Bar
    Command Sgt. Maj. V. serves as an Arabic instructor in the IDF's Intelligence Corps. She is responsible for teaching Arab culture and mentality as well as the Arabic language to intelligence personnel. Her family was one of the last Jewish families in Iraq. Her father was accused of being a spy for Israel by Saddam Hussein's regime.
        "From age four I knew what I could say to those around me and what I couldn't. I knew we were Jewish, but I didn't really understand what that meant at that age. I only knew I wasn't a regular kid." "We were the last Jews to make aliyah from Iraq."
        "It makes me happy that I can give the soldiers knowledge of the [Arabic] language as a key to their service," she says. "The soldiers listen to me, they're spellbound by my personal story."  (Israel Hayom)
  • British Duchess' 1938 "Crowdfunding" Campaign Saved Jewish Family from Nazis - Mark Bridge
    Weeks after the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938, Lady Millicent Hawes, 70, the widow of the 4th Duke of Sutherland, arrived in Vienna to visit her teenage granddaughter who was at school nearby. The duchess stayed at the stately Hotel Imperial and visited the hotel's bookshop, but found only "shelves and shelves" of Hitler's Mein Kampf. The proprietor, Karl Buchberger, told her that the Nazis took away all the other books and burned them.
        Buchberger told her of the danger his family faced because of the Jewish origin of his wife Mitzi. Although the couple and their 18-year-old daughter, Herta, were Catholics, Frau Buchberger was classified as Jewish under the Nuremberg racial laws. As a result, he had been told that he would lose his apartment unless they separated.
        Soon afterwards, the Duchess of Sutherland published a letter in The Times about the need for money to support families who sought to emigrate to Canada. She also referred to the bravery and sacrifice of British Jewish soldiers she had known during the First World War and suggested that readers might donate in their memory.
        Through the exertions of the duchess, the Buchbergers were able to leave Austria and sail to Canada before the outbreak of the Second World War. By the spring of 1941, Karl had established his own bookshop that he called the Old Vienna Bookshop and the duchess went to visit the Buchbergers in Toronto. (The Times-UK)

  • Israel's political-defense echelon is speaking with one voice about the threat posed by Iran. Despite the multiple blows to Iran's interests by Israel's "campaign between the wars," the downing of the American drone and the attacks on Saudi oil facilities (along with Iran's persistent progress on the nuclear track) have shown that Tehran is actually upping its ante. Iran is increasingly audacious in the Gulf, and we can only assume it will act the same against Israel.
  • Over the past two years Iran attempted to attack Israel four times. The current assessment is that Iranian strikes could be direct or, more likely, circuitous: from Syria or from Iraq; via terrorist attack, missile fire or drone strike, similar to the one in Saudi Arabia.
  • Israel has good intelligence about Iran's plans, but it isn't perfect. Israel's physical defenses against these potential threats are solid, but not hermetic.
  • The operational challenge posed by Iran is significant and requires special preparations in the immediate term.
  • It also means Israel must prepare for the consequences: If it sustains a serious blow, Israel could respond on Iranian soil, and this could boil over into a multi-front campaign against Hizbullah, and perhaps elements in Syria and Gaza as well.
  • We mustn't view all this as an indication of impending war. Israel can do quite a lot to prevent it: from intelligence-diplomatic efforts; to major preventative action to disrupt Iran's machinations and exact a steep price; to making Tehran understand that Israel is prepared to go all the way, so that the ayatollah regime knows it will pay dearly if Israel is harmed.

    The writer is a veteran journalist who has covered Israel's defense establishment for the last thirty years.
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