June 30, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Egypt Signs Contract for 500 Russian T-90MS Tanks (Israel Defense)
    Egypt's government has signed an agreement to produce 500 Russian T-90MS tanks, Russian media reported on June 27.
    Russian defense industry sources said Russian tank maker Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) will build a facility to assemble the tanks under license, with many of the parts to be imported from Russia.
    The T-90MS, the latest version of the T-90 main battle tank, has powerful weaponry, an advanced fire control system, and explosive reactive armor.
    The Egyptian military has over 1,000 M1 Abrams tanks in its armored divisions.

U.S., Israel Deny Sabotage of Iranian Missile Site - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    American and Israeli intelligence officials insist they had nothing to do with last week's explosion at an Iranian missile production facility near Tehran.

Israel Embassy in Ukraine Sends Aid to Flood Victims (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israeli Embassy in Ukraine is helping flood victims in Western Ukraine, sending thousands of water bottles to the Chernivitski and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.
    Later this week, Israel will also send tents and hundreds of sleeping bags.

Egyptian Public Concerned about Internal Problems, Not Israel - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    New data from an independent opinion poll show that 85% of the Egyptian public is more concerned about domestic problems than any foreign policy issue.
    And on foreign affairs, only a third put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the top of their priority list.
    At the same time, only 6% support further "normalization" with Israel, while 90% oppose any such moves.
    49% continue to say that good relations with the U.S. are important for their country, while only 39% say the same about Russia, despite recent arms and business deals.

Lithuanian Lawmakers Honor Perpetrator of Holocaust Pogrom - Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)
    Lithuanian lawmakers want to make 2021 the year of Juozas Luksa-Daumantas - a nationalist accused of participating in a Holocaust-era massacre of Jews.
    Witnesses placed Luksa-Daumantas, a leader of the pro-Nazi Lithuanian Activist Front militia during World War II, at the 1941 Lietukis Garage massacre in Kaunas, where locals tortured and beat to death dozens of Jews.
    Luksa-Daumantas was killed in 1951 by Soviet security services.

Fatah Militia Enforcing Law and Order in Parts of West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Members of the Tanzim, the militant wing of the Palestinian Authority's ruling Fatah faction, have replaced PA security forces in enforcing law and order in some parts of the West Bank, said Khaled al-Daher, a senior Tanzim commander in Eizariya, near Jerusalem.
    He added that the Tanzim has not received instructions to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel in response to its intention to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Justice Department Appeals Early Release of Hizbullah Financier - Dan De Luce and Michael Kosnar
    The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a federal judge's decision to grant an early release to Hizbullah financier Kassim Tajideen, 65, who had pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges and was sentenced in 2019 to five years in prison. Tajideen's lawyers argued their client was "extremely vulnerable" to contracting Covid-19 due to his age and health.
        In its appeal, the Justice Department said Tajideen's health had not seriously deteriorated and that he was not in any imminent danger from Covid-19 at the medium-security prison in Cumberland, Maryland, where he was being held. Out of 1,214 inmates at the prison, six tested positive for Covid-19, as have two staffers, but all have since recovered and no new cases have emerged at the facility.
        Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said it would be "a miscarriage of justice in letting a prominent financier of the premier global terror group, which has American blood on its hands, out of jail before serving out his sentence."  (NBC News)
  • Iran Issues Arrest Warrant for President Trump that Interpol Rejects - Nasser Karimi
    Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others whom it believes carried out the U.S. drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Monday. Interpol later said its guidelines forbid it from "any intervention or activities of a political" nature and "would not consider requests of this nature."
        Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, said Monday, "It's a propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish."  (AP-Houston Chronicle)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus Increasing in Israel with 714 New Cases - Adir Yanko
    The Coronavirus National Information Center reported 714 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily rise since April 2. The number of active patients rose to 7,015 - 5,000 more than at the end of May. 42 people are in serious condition, while 319 people have died. There are 756 active coronavirus patients in Jerusalem, 697 in Tel Aviv, 555 in Bnei Brak, 348 in Ashdod and 253 in Bat Yam. (Ynet News)
  • Iraq Raids Pro-Iran Militia Responsible for Attacks on U.S. Targets - Yoni Ben Menachem
    New Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered an Iraqi counterterrorism unit on June 25 to raid a "Hizbullah Brigades" compound in Baghdad where an Iranian rocket expert and 14 militia operatives were arrested. The militia is responsible for rocket attacks against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and U.S. troops stationed at Iraqi military bases. The compound contained a workshop for manufacturing Katyusha rockets and contained rockets ready for operation.
        Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on June 27 that among the detainees was Khaider Samatyah, who is wanted for the murder of dozens of Iraqi protesters.
        Immediately after the raid, dozens of armed militiamen in 20 vehicles laid siege to an Iraqi counterterrorism building in Baghdad, a sign that the pro-Iranian militias control Iraqi streets more than the government. Pro-Iranian forces are mobilizing against Kadhimi and the battle between them is just beginning. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Egypt Staying Quiet on Israeli Moves in West Bank - Aaron Boxerman
    While Egypt has expressed concern over possible moves to extend Israeli law in parts of the West Bank, the Palestinian cause may no longer be the regime's main priority. Balancing numerous crises, the Egyptian government can ill-afford to alienate close allies, especially Israel and the U.S., analysts say.
        "There are far more substantial crises facing Egypt today: the coronavirus crisis and its attendant economic consequences, Turkish military intervention on Egypt's longest border [in Libya], the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. All of these crises take priority," said Ofer Winter, who studies Egyptian-Israeli relations at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
        "There is widespread sympathy for the Palestinians, and that's not going away....But the importance of the Palestinian cause is no longer the same. It's no longer the Nasser era or the Sadat era," an Egyptian foreign affairs analyst said. If Israel takes steps in the West Bank, Egypt "will keep rehashing all the old diplomatic statements to express their disagreement....But I don't think Netanyahu's relationship with Sissi will be affected."  (Times of Israel)
  • Willful Blindness and the Mistake of Underestimation: The Oslo Gamble - Dr. Joel Fishman and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser
    During the last half-century, several reputable scholars and defense professionals have devoted careful attention to the world view and aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs. Working independently, these researchers described the strategic goals of the Palestine Liberation Organization and exposed the widespread denial of their importance.
        The PLO program has never been a secret. The destruction of the State of Israel and the pursuit of the "armed struggle" has been its main goal since its founding in 1964. Despite having adopted a facade which has lent them a veneer of respectability, terror and violence have constantly remained a part of their program. Proof of this may be found in the well-publicized program of the PA to subsidize terrorists who have committed violent crimes against civilians. No Jewish (and Israeli) civilians can be innocent and they are considered legitimate targets.
        Beyond the failure of the Oslo process to bring peace, there is a broader cultural dimension: how the Israelis view themselves and their place in the world and how official Israel understands its relationship with the Palestinian Arabs. The authors are fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Ariel University Press)
  • Leave Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and His Views on Israel Alone - Klaas Mokgomole and Mmamalema Molepo
    Somehow, when it comes to Israel and Palestine, we are suddenly told to have a moral high ground and pick sides. There has been no sanctioning or boycotting of Libya for the sale of human beings in the 21st century, or France's colonial tax on West and Central African countries. The strong campaigns for the freedom of the people of the Western Sahara and West Papua New Guinea are eerily silent and one can only wonder why.
        A judge is required to keep an open mind when deciding a matter in a court of law, and this is what Chief Justice Mogoeng has implored us to do as South Africans when it comes to Israel and Palestine. No single person or entity holds all the power to speak on international issues alone, while not affording others a chance to share theirs. But the anti-Israel brigade are trying to create such a platform, by trying to shut other people out of the conversation. The writers are Africans for Peace coordinators. (Eyewitness News-South Africa)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook in Jerusalem on Tuesday:
  • Iran "deliberately deceives the international community. It lies all the time. It lies on solemn pledges and commitments that it took before the international community. It continues its secret program to develop nuclear weapons. It continues its secret program to develop the means to deliver nuclear weapons."
  • "Iran denies access to the IAEA inspectors to important sites, some of which we have uncovered through our own activity. It continues its rampant aggression across the Middle East and beyond. It arms, trains, finances and dispatches terrorists. Iran is doing all that and most of the international community is doing nothing in the face of it. And worse than nothing, many countries collude in this aggression."
  • "Iran tried to intimidate the United States from taking action against Iranian aggression....The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, led by the arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani, launched a proxy war against the United States forces and allies in the region....You took important and courageous decisions to take out Soleimani....Without the determination to use military force against those who plan to attack you, the danger simply grows greater and greater."
  • "We are absolutely resolved to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in our immediate vicinity. We take repeated and forceful military action against Iran and its proxies in Syria and elsewhere if necessary. And I say to the ayatollahs in Tehran, Israel will continue to take these actions necessary to prevent you from creating another terror and military front against Israel in Syria."
  • "Brian, in response to the repeated Iranian provocations and violations, you have taken important actions and I believe it is time to implement now snapback sanctions....We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon because when that happens it will be too late for sanctions."