December 26, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Unveils New Laser System to Shoot Down Incendiary Balloons, Drones (Times of Israel)
    Israeli security forces on Thursday shared details on the new Light Blade laser system intended to shoot down incendiary balloons, kites and drones before they enter Israeli territory from Gaza.
    The system was developed for police and the IDF by three engineers from the private sector who worked with Ben-Gurion University researchers, Israel's Channel 12 reported.
    The laser can engage targets day or night with an effective range of 2 km. and can be installed on a small trailer or truck.
    Border Police chief Kobi Shabtai said that Light Blade "provides a near conclusive response to everything relating to balloons and kites, and delivers a safe and effective solution to the drone threat."
    The system will also be deployed along the northern border with Lebanon.

Jewish-Arab Cooperation Seen in Israel's Mixed Cities - Jalal Bana (Israel Hayom)
    In Israel's mixed Jewish-Arab cities in the last municipal elections, Arabs running on national party lists or as independent candidates were elected to city councils, and they all, without exception, joined the municipal coalition governments.
    In every mixed-population city, one finds close cooperation between Jews and Arabs at every level of municipal activity.
    A study by Dr. Hisham Jubran found that 81% of Jewish residents of mixed cities described relations with Arab residents as good, and 89% of the Arab residents described relations with Jewish residents as good.
    Arabs - especially young couples and members of the middle class - are moving from Arab communities into mixed cities to improve their quality of life and enjoy better municipal services.

New Zealand General to Command Sinai Peacekeeping Force - Thomas Manch (Stuff-New Zealand)
    Maj.-Gen. Evan Williams, deputy chief of New Zealand's Army, became head of the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and its 1,150 troops from 13 countries in December.
    Because ISIS insurgents now range across the north of the Sinai Peninsula, the MFO's presence has been replaced by cameras, sensors and aerial surveys.
    The MFO is not a target itself, according to many, because the peacekeepers employ so many local Bedouin in service jobs.

Palestinian Who Sold Land to Jews Dies in PA Custody - Adam Rasgon (Times of Israel)
    M.E., convicted by a Palestinian Authority court of selling land to Jews, died on Sunday in custody, PA Police spokesman Louay Arzeikat said. He had been in PA custody since 2012.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Five Pro-Iran Fighters Killed in Missile Attack in Syria
    "Missiles of unidentified origin targeted the headquarters of the 47th Brigade of pro-Iranian militias in the town of al-Bukamal, in the east of Deir Az Zor province, killing five fighters" on Wednesday evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Israel has promised to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria and has carried out hundreds of raids against Iranian targets. (Al Jazeera)
  • Turkey, the Real Ruler of the Mediterranean, Is Back
    In Turkey's Yeni Azafak daily, a mouthpiece of Turkey's ruling AKP party, editor-in-chief Abrahim Karagul wrote on Dec. 2: "The Ottomans are back...the claims of past centuries are back; in brief, everything that belongs to us is back. We have seen that they are all ours, they belong to us." Turkey's enemies "were dividing the Mediterranean, completely eliminating Turkey from this sea - which was once a Turkish Lake - and making it impossible for us to breathe."
        "The deal between Turkey and Libya not only ruined all plans over the Mediterranean but it also showed the world that Turkey has a Mediterranean map....Turkey and Libya directly became bordering countries. We build a shield right in the middle of the Mediterranean."  (MEMRI)
        See also Arab League Wary of Turkish, Iranian Threats
    Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit told the UAE Center for Strategic Studies on Wednesday that Turkish and Iranian threats are very clear in Syria and now a serious Turkish threat in Libya has become obvious to all. (MENA-Egypt Today)
  • Lebanon Heads for a Meltdown - Martin Chulov
    Lebanon's economy is disintegrating at an alarming rate, sparking a currency devaluation, a mass flight of money, restrictions on withdrawals, a grave threat to the country's banking system, and a guarantee that - without a foreign bailout - the country will default on its enormous debts by March at the latest. In the lead-up to Christmas, close to 400 restaurants closed, malls that usually teemed with expatriates home for the holidays stood empty, and local businesses reported a plunge in trade of up to 80%.
        "I have heard multiple reports of political parties storing food, in preparation for the upcoming crash," said Mohanad Hage Ali, communications director of the Carnegie Institute in Beirut. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire - Tzvi Joffre
    IDF jets and helicopters attacked several Hamas targets in Gaza on Thursday in response to rocket fire at Israel on Wednesday night. A Palestinian rocket, intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome system, was fired at Ashkelon where Prime Minister Netanyahu was holding an election event. Israel's Channel 12 reported that Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Khalil Bathanai was behind the rocket fire. (Jerusalem Post)
  • European Governments Earmarked Funds for Anti-Israel Lawfare at ICC - Lahav Harkov
    Several European governments donated funds to organizations specifically for fighting Israel in international legal forums, including the International Criminal Court. Among these governments are Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France and the EU, NGO Monitor found. Meanwhile, some Israeli NGOs said they made attempts to present Israel's case before the ICC but were ignored. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • European Hypocrisy - Editorial
    ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda barely paid lip service to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups' modus operandi of attacking civilians, laundering their crimes by calling them "armed groups." Moreover, she put Israel, which never targets civilians, on equal footing with the murderous terrorists.
        The Palestinian Authority petition to the International Criminal Court was funded by European countries that funneled money to organizations that claim to be human rights groups but which, in reality, exist purely to trash Israel.
        The official policy of these countries is that Israel and the Palestinians should pursue a negotiated two-state solution. But what kind of negotiation can take place with a partner like the Palestinians, who are taking punitive unilateral steps? These countries need to decide: Do they want a negotiated settlement or punitive unilateral Palestinian action? (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Political Games at The Hague - Gerald M. Steinberg
    When the International Criminal Court (ICC) was created in 1998 with the Rome Statute, already then it was clear that Israel was a primary target. The facade may be legal, but in practice, this is a political institution. For the past two decades, political actors have spent tens of millions of dollars on campaigns aimed at bringing Israel before the ICC. European government funding has been essential for this process. The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor. (Israel Hayom)
  • European Countries Allow Oppressive Regimes to Manipulate the ICC - Dr. Dan Schueftan
    Most of the regimes that shape international bodies and legal tribunals have no respect for the values of peace, tolerance, and human rights, resulting in the manipulation of the ICC and other bodies.
        European countries that join forces with oppressive regimes in these bodies grant them legitimacy. Without this legitimacy, the international bodies would have been dismissed as nothing more than a circus that should be ignored because they are being controlled by outcast regimes. But the Europeans have systematically stood by those who distort the very values they have championed.
        The European elites continue to live according to the illusion that the world will embrace Western values and be built under the auspices of international law using global legal and political bodies. If you confront European countries with the reality that there are major cultural gaps between Europe and most of the world, you will be dismissed as racist. The writer is director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa. (Israel Hayom)

  • Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket on Wednesday at an Israeli city where Prime Minister Netanyahu was appearing at an election campaign event. What would America or any other nation do if a rocket was launched toward a campaign event held by a presidential candidate?
  • I would think the reaction to such an attack would be quick, decisive and punishing. And indeed, Israel responded forcefully and justifiably to the unprovoked attack.
  • Israel's stability and security is essential to the security of numerous Arab countries in the region, as well as to the U.S.  If not for Israel and the U.S., the fanatical anti-American dictatorship that rules Iran would pose an even greater threat to all its neighbors and to the U.S.
  • Many Israel-bashers have protested about how Israel is blockading Gaza. But few have discussed the underlying reasons for Israel restricting the entry into Gaza of goods and material that are repurposed by terrorists into weapons of war to murder and maim Israelis.
  • Anyone interested in bettering Palestinian lives and working toward peace must acknowledge that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are interested in nothing short of the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and the murder of the Jews living there.
  • The Palestinians will continue to lag behind, and peace will be unlikely to be achieved, as long as terrorists who hate Israel more than they love their own people remain in power.

    The writer is a former assistant to the president and special representative for international negotiations.