November 18, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Assessing Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense System - Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    The Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system is widely recognized as a remarkable military innovation, even among Israel's foes.
    Iron Dome has successfully destroyed more than 1,500 incoming rockets since April 2011, saving Israeli lives and protecting homes and core national infrastructure.
    While the cost of each interceptor is approximately $100,000, the cost of interception pales in comparison to the cost of damage wrought by an exploding rocket.
    The system's reported success rate is around 90%.
    Jacob Nagel is a former head of Israel's National Security Council and a former Israeli national security advisor. Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is senior vice president for research at FDD.

U.S., Israeli Firefighters Work Side-by-Side as Rockets Fall - Gary Schiff (JNS)
    U.S. firefighters that are part of the Emergency Volunteer Project (EVP) to deploy in Israel in times of need were already in the country when the recent hostilities between Israel and Islamic Jihad broke out.
    As rockets fell on Israel last week, a team of U.S. firefighters worked side-by-side with their Israeli counterparts to extinguish brush and building fires and deal with other emergencies, responding to 10 or more emergency calls each day.

Tories to Ban Councils from Boycotting Products from Israel - Tony Diver (Telegraph-UK)
    The British Conservative Party will pledge to ban public bodies from boycotting or sanctioning foreign states in its manifesto (platform), arguing that actions by local councils against Israel have "undermined community cohesion."
    The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) movement encourages local councils to take action against Israel in support of the Palestinians.

PA Approves Israeli Natural Gas for Gaza Power Plant - Adnan Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
    The Palestinian Authority has approved a proposal to operate Gaza's power plant using Israeli natural gas and Qatari funding, according to Palestinian economic sources.
    Economist Mohammed Abu Jayab said the project includes construction of a 40-km. gas pipeline. The $88 million project will take up to 24 months to complete.

Hamas Using Israeli Irrigation Pipes to Produce Rockets (MEMRI-TV)
    Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said in a Nov. 4, 2019, speech broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV that Hamas is using metal irrigation pipes - left behind by Israel when it withdrew in 2005 - to produce rockets.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Protests Grip Iran after Gas Price Hike - Farnaz Fassihi
    Protests flared across Iran for a second day on Saturday, with angry crowds calling for the ouster of the regime in unrest incited by a steep increase in gasoline prices. The protests erupted in dozens of cities after the government decided to cut gasoline subsidies. (New York Times)
        See also 36 Killed, 1,000 Detained in Iran Protests
    36 people have died since protests erupted across Iran. Fars news agency reported that 1,000 protesters were detained in the last 48 hours, while 100 banks had been torched. Videos circulating on social media from the city of Eslamshahr showed Iranian protesters burning a picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and chanting "Death to the dictator."  (Al Arabiya)
  • U.S. Condemns UN Resolutions Against Israel
    Cherith Norman Chalet, Acting U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN, told the General Assembly on Friday: "The United States continues to oppose the annual submission of more than a dozen resolutions biased against Israel. This one-sided approach...fails to create the kind of positive international environment critical to achieving peace."
        "It is deplorable that the United Nations - an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally - should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally."
        "We see resolutions that are quick to condemn all manner of Israeli actions, but say nothing or almost nothing about terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. This is particularly apparent when we see Israel blamed for the situation in Gaza, while none of these resolutions even mentions the word 'Hamas,' or any armed groups in Gaza. Just this week, we saw barrages of rockets on Israeli civilians fired from Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. It is shameful that the UN cannot condemn these acts of terror in any of the resolutions."
        "One-sided resolutions do not help advance peace. The cause of peace will be served when the bias of the United Nations against Israel ends."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
        See also UN Renews Mandate of UNRWA Palestinian Refugee Agency
    The UN General Assembly voted 170-2 on Friday to extend the mandate of UNRWA, its agency for Palestinian refugees, until 2023. Only Israel and the U.S. voted against the renewal. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Investigates Airstrike that Killed Palestinian Civilians - Dov Lieber
    Israel said it is investigating whether an intelligence failure was behind an airstrike last week that killed civilians during an operation targeting militants in Gaza. The IDF said Sunday it wasn't aware of any civilians living in the homes that were hit. They were registered in its database of militant sites a few months ago and were checked by intelligence officials a few days before the actual strike.
        "The IDF regrets any injury to innocent civilians, and regularly takes a variety of efforts, intelligence and operational, in order to avoid, as much as possible, harm to innocent civilians as a result of an attack on military targets," it said. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Fires Rockets at Beersheba on Saturday - Anna Ahronheim
    Hamas launched two rockets at the Israeli city of Beersheba at 2 a.m. on Saturday. Both rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. In response, Israel struck Hamas targets in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Islamic Jihad Used New Rocket with 300 Kg. Warhead
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired a new rocket at Israel with a 300 kg. (660 lb.) warhead that left a huge crater where it exploded, Channel 12 reported Friday. The rocket, which carried significantly more explosives than usual, landed in an open area in an Israeli community on the outskirts of Gaza. It was developed with the assistance of Iranian engineers. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power in Iraq - Tim Arango
    Leaked Iranian intelligence cables offer a detailed portrait of just how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs, and of the unique role of Maj.-Gen. Qassim Suleimani, head of Iran's Quds Force. The leak exposes Tehran's vast influence in Iraq, detailing years of work by Iranian spies to co-opt the country's leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the Americans to switch sides, and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq's political, economic and religious life.
        The reports and cables were written mainly in 2014 and 2015 by officers of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran's version of the CIA, who were serving in Iraq. Many of Iraq's foremost political, military, and security officials have had secret relationships with Tehran, according to the documents. (New York Times)
        See also Takeaways from the Secret Iranian Cables - Karen Zraick
    As senior American diplomats met behind closed doors with their Iraqi counterparts, their conversations were routinely reported back to the Iranians. A top political aide to a former speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, for example, was identified as an Iranian intelligence asset.
        After the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, Iranian officials cultivated networks of informants who had once worked for the Americans. One former CIA asset offered to sell Iran the locations of agency safe houses, details of weapons and surveillance training, and the names of other Iraqis who had spied for the Americans. (New York Times)
  • Lebanese Protests Test Hizbullah's Role as Shiites' Champion
    Young men chanting the "people want to bring down the regime" gathered outside the office of Lebanese legislator Mohammed Raad, the powerful head of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc. Iranian-backed Hizbullah built a reputation as a champion of the poor and a defender of Lebanon. But now many protesters group Hizbullah into the ruling class they are revolting against, blaming it for wrecking the economy with years of corruption and mismanagement.
        "The heavy participation of the Shiites...posed a main challenge: that there's a large number from the sect that doesn't accept the current situation," said Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. Now Hizbullah is being "attacked by the very constituency they purport to speak for," said Heiko Wimmen of the International Crisis Group. (AP-New York Times)

  • Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled in the Psagot winery case that the origin of any foodstuffs made in an Israeli settlement in the "occupied territories" must be described as such to enable consumers to make "ethical considerations and considerations relating to the observance of international law."
  • What's unethical here is not the behavior of Israel but the ECJ. Singling out Israel like this creates a discriminatory double standard. No other country with a territorial dispute or whose behavior is subject to criticism has its products labeled in this way.
  • As Eugene Kontorovich, a scholar of international law, tweeted: "Products around the world are made in many situations that raise 'ethical' and legal questions, from Chinese prison labor factories to Moroccan drilling Sahrawi oil. Only such concern that requires labeling in EU is Jews living in neighborhoods where they are not 'supposed' to be."
  • The only legal right to any of what is now Israel, the "West Bank" and Gaza was given by the international community in the 1920s to the Jews alone, in recognition of their unique historical claim to the land as the only people for whom it had ever been their national kingdom.
  • The Hague Initiative for International Co-operation has written: "International law requires that the right to self-determination cannot infringe the territorial integrity or security of neighboring states."
  • It is those firing the rockets from Gaza who are in violation of international and human-rights law by committing the war crimes of deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and using their own people as human shields.

    The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).

        See also Former U.S. Ambassador to the EU Fights Labeling Decision Targeting Israel - Julian Pecquet and Aaron Schaffer
    The Psagot winery in the West Bank hired Covington and Burling in September to battle EU regulations on country-of-origin labeling. The lead lobbyist on the account, former U.S. Ambassador to the EU Stuart Eizenstat, said that the EU rules violate World Trade Organization regulations. "It's not an appropriate use of regulations which were designed for safety and health of food products, not for political products."  (Al-Monitor)