May 26, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Phone Surveillance Detected a Third of Israel's Covid-19 Cases - Omer Kabir (Calcalist)
    Phone surveillance by the Israel Security Agency was responsible for the early discovery of 1/3 of all verified coronavirus cases in the country, according to a report by the Ministry of Health.
    As of May 10, 4,089 cases had been identified with the help of the ISA.
    During this period, 80,072 text messages were sent out informing people that they had been in contact with a carrier.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Says Soleimani Sent Weapons to Gaza (Radio Farda)
    Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, disclosed that Qassem Soleimani, the late commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Qods Force who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, "personally" managed a complex operation to send weapons to Gaza.

IDF Prepares for Suspension of Security Coordination with PA (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    After the Palestinian Authority informed Israel last week that it was halting security coordination, the Israeli army leadership in the West Bank said it is preparing for the new situation.
    Sources confirmed that Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been initiating contacts with Palestinian officials to ensure the new situation will not lead to escalation and clashes.
    He also wants to pave the way for the resumption of peaceful negotiations through understandings between the two sides.

Norwegian Parliament Rejects Move to Label Israeli Products Made in West Bank - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    The Norwegian Parliament rejected a motion earlier this month to label imported Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria.
    MPs opposing the bill stressed that any such boycott efforts would actually harm Palestinian workers.

Palestinian National Soccer Team Star Booted for Signing with Israeli Squad - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Abdallah Jabar, 27, an Arab Israeli soccer player who played on the Palestinian national soccer team in over 50 international games since 2014, has been kicked out of the squad after signing with an Israeli team on Sunday.
    Jabar told Israel's Channel 13 on Monday that he has received hundreds of offensive social media posts.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria's Assad Is Confronting New Challenges - Liz Sly and Asser Khattab
    With the rebels now squeezed into one last corner of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is confronting the biggest challenges to his hold on power since the start of the civil war nine years ago. Assad's first cousin Rami Makhlouf, who controls a network of companies including the Syriatel mobile phone network, has made it clear he won't willingly hand over more than $600 million the government says he owes in back taxes. The Makhloufs are an important family in the ruling Alawite sect. Their companies, charities and militias have provided livelihoods to tens of thousands of Syrians.
        Meanwhile, the Syrian currency has lost more than half its value in the past month, while prices of staples such as bread and sugar have doubled in the same period. The decline in Syria's currency has been accelerated by the dramatic slide of the Lebanese lira, because Syrian traders depend on banks in Lebanon to finance imports. Starting in June, tough new U.S. sanctions will go into effect targeting any individual or entity in the world that offers support to the Syrian regime. (Washington Post)
  • Iran Has Spent $30 Billion in Syria - Yaghoub Fazeli
    "We have probably paid $20-30 billion to Syria, and we have to take that money back," Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the Iranian parliament's national security committee, said in an interview published on May 20 by the state-run news website Etemad Online. (Al Arabiya)
  • Nile Dam Talks Stall amid Egyptian-Ethiopian Dispute - Ayah Aman
    Ethiopia has decided unilaterally to begin filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam's reservoir on the Nile River before coming to a full agreement with Egypt. Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry wrote to UN Security Council members on May 1: "Ethiopia announcing its intention to seize the Blue Nile waters to fill the dam's reservoir in July 2020...would jeopardize the water security, food security, and indeed, the very existence of over 100 million Egyptians, who are entirely dependent on the Nile River for their livelihood."
        Ethiopia withdrew from U.S.-sponsored negotiations in February and refused to sign a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operating of the dam. An official said such an agreement was actually reached and brokered by the U.S. and the World Bank. (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • China Loses Bid to Build Israel's Biggest Desalination Plant - Eytan Halon
    Israel's IDE Technologies will construct the Sorek 2 desalination plant, the government announced on Tuesday. The U.S. had warned Israel against awarding the contract to the Chinese Hutchison Company, one of the groups bidding to build the plant. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Bring Back Incendiary Balloon Attacks - Tzvi Joffre
    At least three groups of incendiary and explosive balloons were launched from Gaza at Israel on Monday, the terror group Ahfad al-Nasser announced. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 281
    Israel's coronavirus death toll has reached 281, the Israeli Health Ministry said Monday evening. There were 2,146 active cases, including 41 people in serious condition, 29 of whom were on ventilators. 17 new cases were reported on Monday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Video: 20 Years Since the End of the First Lebanon War - Amb. Dore Gold and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    Former prime minister Ehud Barak once stated that when Israel entered Lebanon in 1982 there was no such thing as Hizbullah, but by the time it left there certainly was Hizbullah. This gave rise to the false claim that Israel created Hizbullah. This is a historic error which Israel's enemies exploit to their benefit.
        Iranian sources reveal the historic fact that Iran established Hizbullah in 1982 as an alternative to the Shi'ite Amal movement, which refused to accept strict political and religious obedience to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.
        This is the reason Iran created Hizbullah as a proxy in its own flesh, delivering absolute obedience to Iran's decisions and spearheading its Islamist jihad against Israel. As Jerusalem Center Fellow Brig.-Gen. Dr. Shimon Shapira explains, Hizbullah was never an Israeli creation.  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinians Say Eating with a Jew Is a Crime - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Last week, several Palestinians were invited by Jewish leaders in the West Bank to an iftar meal, with which Muslims end their daily fast at sunset during Ramadan. Scenes of Muslims and Jews sitting to eat together are the kind of heart-warming events that promote tolerance and lay the foundations for real peace. But instead of welcoming the event, many Palestinians are expressing outrage over the encounter and denouncing the Palestinian participants as "traitors."
        Some of the Palestinians who attended requested in advance that their names and photos not be made public. In other words, they were afraid for their lives because they committed the "crime" of eating with Israelis. The critics are also angry because Israelis and Palestinians had the audacity to talk about "economic cooperation."
        Economic cooperation does not serve the agenda of the terrorists. They want Palestinians to continue living in poverty so that they can go on blaming Israel for Palestinian misery. Unemployed Palestinians are much easier to target for recruitment as terrorists than Palestinians who are able to feed their families.
        If a Palestinian cannot share a meal with an Israeli without being labeled a criminal, how would any Palestinian leader dare to sign a peace agreement with Israel? (Gatestone Institute)

  • An article in The Times on May 26 criticized comments by Richard Lyle, a member of the Scottish Parliament, who called the Palestinian "Nakba" a "self-inflicted tragedy, which must, after all these years, be finally resolved by peaceful means and discussions between the parties involved."
  • After quoting pro-Palestinian activists who labeled Lyle's comments as "racist," The Times political editor Kieran Andrews claims: "Historians argue that [the 1948 war] was largely driven by Israeli aggression, including rape and torture, and to a much lesser degree by local Palestinian authorities urging people to flee." However, The Times editor doesn't provide the names of historians who made such a risible claim.
  • Let's remember that the 1948 war was fought by Israel to fend off Arab campaigns to annihilate the Jewish state immediately after its birth - a mere three years after one out of every three Jews on the planet were murdered in the Holocaust. Their objective wasn't to adjust the borders, but another genocide.
  • As the Arab League's secretary-general warned, the war against the Jews would be "a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades." To refer to Jews' efforts to defend themselves from annihilation as Jewish aggression represents a moral and historical inversion of the highest order.
  • Historian Benny Morris has demonstrated that there was no Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinian Arabs, and that most Palestinians who fled did so to escape the fighting or because Arab leaders ordered them to do so. "Had the Israelis committed systematic ethnic cleansing," he argued, "there would not be 1.4 million Arabs in Israel today."
  • The ugly caricature of Israeli Jews and egregious distortion of the Arab-Israeli War presented to The Times' readers represents another example of crude Palestinian propaganda being disguised as serious journalism.

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