November 12, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Jordan Foils Plot Against U.S. and Israeli Diplomats, American Soldiers (Reuters)
    Jordanian intelligence recently foiled a plot by two militants to attack U.S. and Israeli diplomats, as well as U.S. troops deployed at a military base in the country, the state-owned al-Rai reported Tuesday.

Israel Extradites Russian Hacker to U.S. Despite Moscow's Protests (Times of Israel)
    Israel on Monday extradited Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov to the U.S., Hebrew-language media reported.
    Burkov, who was arrested in 2015 at the request of Interpol, is wanted over a credit card scheme that stole millions of dollars from Americans.

Russian Submarine Spotted near Israel - Itai Blumenthal (Ynet News)
    A Russian submarine was spotted in Israel's territorial waters eight nautical miles (15 km.) from central Israel three months ago, Ynet learned on Monday.
    The IDF contacted their Russian counterparts and the submarine left the area.

Video: Syrian Kurds Pelt Russian, Turkish Armored Vehicles with Rocks - Sarah Dadouch (Washington Post)
    Russian and Turkish armored vehicles were pelted with rocks as they passed through Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria, videos taken by Kurdish media showed.

Protests in Hizbullah Stronghold Continue Despite Intimidation - Sunniva Rose (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    In the Lebanese city of Baalbek last Tuesday, protesters continued gathering to demand the ousting of their leaders, defying attempts by Hizbullah supporters to intimidate them.
    Baalbek, in southeast Lebanon, is a Hizbullah stronghold. Giant portraits of the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, are everywhere.
    Most protesters were women. One protester said local thugs had beaten up male protesters, discouraging them from joining.

Immigration to Israel from Arab Countries since 2012 - Elder of Ziyon (Algemeiner)
    In 2012, Morocco had 2,250 Jews. Since then, 432 (19%) emigrated to Israel, the Population and Immigration Authority reported.
    Other sources of immigration to Israel from Arab countries during this period were Tunisia (160) and Yemen (119).

Thailand's Navy Purchases Israeli Counter-Drone System - Udi Etsion (Calcalist)
    Thailand's navy has recently acquired a counter-drone system from Israel-based Skylock Systems Ltd., which announced the deal Sunday.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Shortens Nuclear Breakout Time - Laurence Norman
    David Albright, a former weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, estimates that Iran's breakout time to have enough nuclear fuel for a bomb is now between 6 and 10 months, and that every time Iran enriches an additional 150 kg. of uranium, the breakout time drops by one month. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Congress Warns EU Against "Warning Labels" for Jewish-Made Products - Adam Kredo
    Leading lawmakers in Congress are warning the EU that mandating that Jewish products made in contested areas carry consumer warning labels could trigger American anti-boycott laws and jeopardize U.S. trade with Europe. The European Court of Justice is expected to issue an opinion on Tuesday requiring that such products be labeled as coming from "settlements."  (Washington Free Beacon)
        See also EU Court: Products from Israeli Settlements Must Be Labeled (AP-Guardian-UK)
  • Iraqi Government Cracks Down on Protesters - Louisa Loveluck
    More than 319 people have been killed and 15,000 wounded since anti-government demonstrations began in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities on Oct. 1. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested after intelligence officers took photographs inside protest tents.
        Streets and bridges in Baghdad are littered with Iranian-made 40mm canisters that contained tear gas and toxic smoke. Five to 10 times heavier than standard canisters used for crowd control, these grenades have been fired directly at protesters, smashing skulls and killing at least 31 people on impact. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza; Multiple Rockets Fired at Israel - Amos Harel
    An Israeli airstrike killed Baha Abu al-Ata, commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza, overnight on Monday. After the strike, Palestinians in Gaza launched more than 70 rockets at Israel, 20 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Schools were closed and bomb shelters were opened in central Israel.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "This arch-terrorist was the main perpetrator of terrorism in Gaza," noting that he was behind the launching of hundreds of rockets at Israel. "He was in the process of planning more attacks...he was [considered] a ticking bomb." Ata headed the military council of the Al-Quds Brigade, the military arm of Islamic Jihad. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Targets Damascus Home of Islamic Jihad Official
    Islamic Jihad said Israel targeted the house of its deputy leader Akram Al-Ajouri in Damascus on Tuesday, killing one of his sons. (Reuters)
  • Israel Strikes Islamic Jihad Rocket Crew - Judah Ari Gross
    An Israeli drone bombed two Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists preparing to fire rockets at Israel from Gaza, Palestinian media reported. One was killed and the other was injured. A Palestinian rocket struck a home in Netivot, causing damage but no injuries. Another struck a highway, injuring a man and damaging several cars. Several rockets struck Sderot, one hit the city of Ashdod, and one struck a street in Rishon Lezion.
        IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Tuesday that the IDF has sent messages to Hamas urging it not to take part in this round of fighting. He said the IDF conducted the attack on Islamic Jihad commander Abu al-Ata "because there was no other choice." He said the IDF asked for permission to carry out the attack a week ago and was "waiting for the opportune moment to conduct the surgical strike. The missiles were fired from fighter jets with the intention of not bringing down the entire building, but just the floor where he was located."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: Rocket Hits Intersection in Central Israel (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Seen Limiting Response to Abu al-Ata Killing - Dan Zaken
    Baha Abu al-Ata had initiated most of the recent rocket fire on Israel in recent months, contravening Israel's understandings with Hamas. He aggressively criticized Hamas, and aimed to replace it as the flagbearer of the struggle against Israel. Despite threatening statements, the Hamas leadership is not overly upset at Abu al-Ata's demise. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Counter-ISIS Coalition Has Much to Do after Baghdadi's Death - Charles Thepaut and Matthew Levitt
    The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, a framework supported by 81 countries that was created in September 2014 in response to the Islamic State's conquest of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, will meet in Washington on Nov. 14. The coalition's primary local allies in this fight have been Kurdish peshmerga and federal troops in Iraq, and Kurdish and Arab SDF troops in northeast Syria, with the U.S. providing the most substantial support to these troops.
        The coalition's most urgent task is designing a coordinated response to the detention and prosecution of ISIS detainees. President Trump has demanded that European countries repatriate and prosecute their citizens who joined ISIS. Yet European publics largely oppose repatriation. While around 200 of the 11,000 ISIS detainees are European, most are Syrians and Iraqis who could rebuild ISIS in both countries if left to their own devices, much like al-Qaeda in Iraq which went underground in 2007-2009 before reemerging as ISIS in 2011.
        Charles Thepaut, a French diplomat, is a resident Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute, where Matthew Levitt is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Erdogan Wants to Redraw the Middle East's Ethnic Map - Nick Ashdown
    Turkish President Erdogan outlined a plan to resettle 1-2 million Syrian refugees at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24. Turkey's incursion and subsequent deal in October with Russia have left Ankara controlling a 75-mile strip of borderland, far smaller than the 300-mile corridor Erdogan was originally hoping for - an area so small and desolate that most analysts doubt millions of refugees could fit there.
        Moreover, most of the resettled refugees would be Arab Sunni Muslims, while the local population includes Arab, Kurdish, and Christian populations. Many critics accuse Ankara of attempting to demographically engineer the area to reduce the presence of Kurds. (Foreign Policy)
  • Another Gaza-Based Activist Promotes Peace with Israel
    Hamas suspects Rami Aman of being an Israeli spy, but he says his only goal is to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Aman runs a group called the Youth Committee in Gaza. Established in 2010, it includes more than 200 people who live in Gaza and want change. "The idea behind establishing this group was to raise a generation of leaders and connect like-minded people who want to see Gaza as a better place, without hatred and prejudice towards Israel." Aman recently spent 18 days in a Hamas prison. (Sputnik-Russia)
        See also A Gaza Palestinian Who Now Seeks Peace (Sputnik-Russia)

The Myth of a Progressive Palestine - Petra Marquardt-Bigman (Algemeiner)
  • The idea that the Palestinians are interested in establishing a progressive paradise is downright preposterous, since extensive opinion surveys document that extremist and fundamentalist views are mainstream in Palestinian society.
  • As documented in a Pew survey from 2013, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were often among the Muslim populations with the most extremist views about the role of Islam in society.
  • 89% said they wanted Sharia law; 66% endorsed the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another religion; 76% supported mutilation as a punishment for theft; and 84% wanted adulterers stoned to death.
  • In 2007, 70% of Palestinians expressed the view that suicide bombings targeting civilians in defense of Islam could be justified.
  • In 2011, when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, 34% of Palestinians still expressed "confidence" in him, and Hamas condemned the U.S. for assassinating "an Arab holy warrior."