December 9, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iranian Radar Jammers Paralyzed Syrian Defense Systems During Israeli Strikes (Zaman Al Wasl-Syria)
    Syrian air defense systems were paralyzed during Israeli strikes in Syria on Nov. 20 due to Iran's radar jamming stations, a source in the Syrian Air Defense Forces told Zaman al-Wasl.
    The source confirmed that some Syrian defense missiles exploded minutes after launch, causing many casualties.
    After the Israeli attack, Syria's air defense officers attributed their failure to Israeli jamming, but investigations revealed that three Iranian radar jammers were responsible.
    The three sites at Mount al-Manea near al-Kiswa, Tal al-Saroukhiya, and Tal al-Sultan near Sayyida Zeinab are controlled by Iran.

Airstrikes Target Iranian-Controlled Weapons Depots in Syria - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Unidentified aircraft bombed three Iranian-controlled weapons depots on Saturday night in the Boulkamal region of Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing several members of Tehran-supported militias, Syrian media reported.
    Last Wednesday, unidentified aircraft bombed other Iranian-controlled weapons storehouses in Boulkamal, causing a massive explosion.

Palestinian Authority Spends $1 Billion a Year on 65,000 Troops (Middle East Monitor)
    The Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency reported that the Palestinian Authority has 65,000 troops that cost $1 billion in 2018.

Palestinian Convert to Judaism Freed from Hebron Jail - Donna Rachel Edmunds (Jerusalem Post)
    David Ben Avraham, formerly Sameh Zeitoun, a Palestinian man who converted to Judaism, has been released from jail where he was held for 58 days by the Palestinian authorities and beaten by fellow prisoners.

Palestinian High School Unveils Plaque Honoring Suicide Bombers - Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    At the Bethlehem High School for Girls is a plaque "to commemorate the Martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Intifada."
    It specifically names Fatah suicide bomber Ayyat Al-Akhras, who blew herself up near a Jerusalem supermarket on March 29, 2002, murdering 2 and wounding 28.

Israeli, U.S. Researchers Develop Technology to Unblock Airways (Xinhua-China)
    Researchers from Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center, together with researchers in the U.S., have developed a new technology to unblock and remove secretions from the respiratory tract.
    The technology introduces a low-pressure airstream while simultaneously applying a combination of low-frequency flow oscillations and high-frequency acoustic waves to detach mucus from the airway wall.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Gunmen Kill Dozens of Protesters in Baghdad
    22 Iraqi protesters and 3 policemen were killed and more than 130 others were wounded by gunmen on pick-up trucks who attacked the main protest camp in Baghdad on Friday night. The attacks came a day after a string of suspicious stabbings left at least 13 wounded in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. (Al Jazeera)
        See also Netanyahu: Baghdad Attack Carried Out by Iraqi Shi'ite Militias
    "There are growing indications that this murderous attack in Baghdad was carried out by Shiite Iraqi militias on direct instruction from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. At this time, against this murderousness, the pressure on Iran must be increased," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • U.S. Blacklists Iraqi Militia Leaders over Killing of Anti-Government Protesters - Carol Morello
    The U.S. on Friday blacklisted the leaders of three militias in Iraq that opened fire on peaceful protesters and killed dozens of people. The sanctions named Qais al-Khazali and his brother Laith al-Khazali, leaders of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia. They also target Hussein Falih al-Lami, security chief for the Popular Mobilization Forces. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Dispatches Senior Commander Qais al-Khazali of the Shiite Foreign Legion to Southern Lebanon - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2017)
  • Saudi Trainee Kills 3 in Shooting at Florida Naval Base - Kalyn Wolfe
    2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi Air Force, fatally shot three people with a handgun and injured eight others on Friday at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., where he was training to become a pilot. The shooter was killed by a sheriff's deputy. The SITE intelligence group, which monitors online jihadist activity, said that shortly before the shooting, a Twitter account with a name matching the gunman's posted a "will" calling the U.S. a "nation of evil" and criticizing its support for Israel. (New York Times)
  • Europeans Step Up Pressure on Iran over Nuclear Violations - Laurence Norman
    European powers will take the first step towards re-imposing international sanctions on Iran in the coming weeks if Tehran further violates the 2015 nuclear deal, diplomats said. While Britain, France and Germany say they want to save the nuclear deal, they have warned Iran that they will trigger the deal's dispute-settlement mechanism if Iran continues escalating its nuclear program. Triggering the mechanism could lead to the UN Security Council re-imposing international sanctions on Iran's economy, banks and top officials. (Wall Street Journal)
  • In Prisoner Swap, Iran Frees American Held since 2016 - Michael Crowley
    Iran on Saturday freed American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who had been imprisoned in Tehran for more than three years on suspicion of being a spy. In exchange, the U.S. freed Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist who was arrested in Chicago last year and convicted of violating American trade sanctions against Iran. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza in Response to Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF early Sunday struck a number of Hamas targets in northern Gaza in response to three rockets fired from Gaza at the Israeli city of Sderot just hours earlier. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians in Gaza Renew Friday Border Riots
    After a three-week pause, 4,000 Palestinians resumed weekly riots at the Gaza border fence on Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Norwegian Parliament Tells Government to Cut Funding to PA over Textbooks
    The ruling coalition in the Norwegian parliament announced on Dec. 5 that it will instruct the government to "reduce or withhold financial support to the Palestinian Authority if they do not provide satisfactory improvements in school materials within a reasonable time." Norway is a major funder of the PA Ministry of Education.
        The decision was due to "examples of content in the school books that include references to violence, martyrdom and terror. The coalition considers this to be devastating to the peace process and the development of democracy in the region, as well as being an expression of irresponsible pedagogy, and finds it unacceptable that Norwegian funds support a school system that promotes such destructive values."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Invisible U.S.-Iran Cyber War - Andrew Hanna
    Cyberspace has turned into a near-unrestricted war zone for both the U.S. and Iran. Sustained U.S. cyber activities against Iran started in 2006 under the Bush administration. President Obama expanded the covert campaign to include the use of offensive cyber weapons against Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities. In June 2019, the Trump administration retaliated against Iran's downing of a U.S. drone with a cyberattack on a Revolutionary Guard database used to plan attacks on tankers. The U.S. struck again in September 2019 after Iran attacked Saudi oil facilities.
        Iranian cyberattacks against the U.S. date back to 2009. Iranian hackers attacked U.S. banks in September 2012. In August 2017, a cyberattack tied to Iran nearly triggered an explosion at a Saudi petrochemical plant. In December 2018, the Department of Justice indicted two Iranian hackers for a ransomware attack that had crippled Atlanta's city government in March. In October 2019, Microsoft warned that an Iranian-government hacker group had tried to breach e-mail accounts associated with journalists, current and former U.S. government officials, and a U.S. presidential campaign. (U.S. Institute of Peace)
  • How Palestinian Leaders Sabotage Palestinians' Interests - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority leaders are opposed to the construction of a new hospital in Gaza. They are also opposed to an Israeli initiative to construct an artificial port off the coast of Gaza. Why? Because the PA is strongly opposed to any plan in which Israel and the U.S. are involved to help the Palestinians in Gaza.
        The new field hospital in Gaza is currently being built with the help of Friendship, a U.S. NGO, as well as partial funding from Qatar. Fatah said that Hamas was "committing a crime against the Palestinian cause and people" by agreeing to the hospital's construction.
        PA leaders would rather lie about Israel and the U.S. than give them an ounce of the credit they deserve for their continual attempts to help the Palestinians in Gaza. The next time anyone talks about the harsh conditions in Gaza, the world needs to realize that those who are trying to block aid to the people in Gaza are the Palestinian leaders. (Gatestone Institute)

Sovereignty over Jordan Valley Is Crucial to Israel's Survival - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi (Jerusalem Post)
  • The first plan dealing with the Jordan Valley was drafted immediately after the 1967 Six-Day War by former Labor party minister Yigal Allon and is known as the "Allon Plan." The broad aim of the plan was to annex most of the Jordan Valley from the Jordan River to the eastern slopes of the Judean and Samarian mountain ridge in the West Bank along what is known today as the Allon Road.
  • Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that the Jordan Valley will be forever the eastern border of the State of Israel.
  • The biggest misconception is the assumption that the Israeli-Arab conflict is all about a land dispute regarding Judea and Samaria and once we fix this, peace will emerge. The problem is that no Palestinian leader shares this vision. The fact is that in every Palestinian Authority map, the State of Israel does not exist. In PA schools, every child is educated to hate Israel and Jews, ensuring that future generations will continue to fight Israel until every centimeter of "Palestine" is liberated.
  • The Jordan border is 300 km. long. If Israel relinquished control, the Palestinians would be able to bring into the heart of Israel thousands of armed terrorists from all around the Middle East.
  • Critics claim that applying Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley will undermine security cooperation with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The same threats were made when the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem. But both Jordan and the PA depend on security cooperation with Israel for their survival. They need this cooperation more than Israel does.
  • Some of have suggested ceding the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians in a 10-15-year process. This reminds me of the Iran deal logic to postpone an Iranian nuclear bomb. When you have a really bad plan, suggest implementing it in 15 years and then you will have much less antagonism because only the next generation will suffer from it.

    The writer has more than 30 years of military and national defense experience, concluding his service as Head of the Auditing and Consulting Department of the Israeli Defense Establishment (including the Israel Defense Forces, the Ministry of Defense and Israeli Military Industries).