July 23, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Court Gives Palestinian Life Sentence for Murder of American-Israeli (AP)
    Khalil Jabarin, 19, of Yatta in the West Bank, was found guilty of fatally stabbing U.S.-born Ari Fuld of Efrat on Sept. 16, 2018, and was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday by an Israeli military court.
    Fuld, 45, the father of four, was an outspoken Israel advocate on social media.

Report: Airstrikes Hit Iranian Targets in Syria (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)
    Airstrikes destroyed a missile depot, weapons, and ammunition warehouses south of Damascus on Monday night.
    Five Iranian-backed non-Syrian militiamen were killed and four others were injured, as were seven members of Syria's air-defense forces.

Iran Says Foreign Countries Refusing to Sign Agreements with It (Radio Farda)
    Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh said Monday that foreign countries are now refusing to sign agreements with Iran in all areas due to U.S. sanctions and are even discontinuing existing contracts.
    He cited a previously negotiated agreement with India to develop the offshore Farzad gas field in the Persian Gulf that had been cancelled.
    At the same time, Iran has signed a 25-year pact with China to develop gas and oil fields as well as petrochemical and refining industries.

Pentagon: Turkey Sent 3,800 Syrian Fighters to Libya - Isabel Debre (AP-Military Times)
    Turkey sent 3,500-3,800 paid Syrian fighters to Libya over the first three months of 2020, the U.S. Defense Department's inspector general reported Thursday.
    The Turkish deployments likely increased in the following months, with the U.S. Africa Command saying that 300 Turkish-supported Syrians landed in Libya in early April.
    They have faced hundreds of Russian mercenaries and Russian-supported Syrians in Libya.

U.S. Air Force to Purchase F-35 Jets Slated for Turkey - Joyce Karam (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    The U.S. Air Force will procure eight F-35 jets slated for Turkey after Ankara decided to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system last year and was removed from the F-35 program, the Defense Department announced Monday.
    Katie Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security, said last year, "The S-400 is a computer. The F-35 is a computer. You don't hook your computer to your adversary's computer."

Hizbullah Receives Funds from Its Supporters in Germany - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    The Hizbullah-controlled Al-Mustafa community center in the German city of Bremen "is involved in the financial support" of Hizbullah in Lebanon, Bremen's domestic intelligence service wrote in a report released Thursday.
    There are 50 Hizbullah supporters in Bremen, and 1,050 Hizbullah members and supporters across Germany.

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Israel to Test Rapid Coronavirus Detection Technology - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    Newsight Imaging has received approval from Israel's Sheba Medical Center to conduct a pilot program for rapid Covid-19 detection tests using its portable and cost-effective spectral device.
    The device, the size of a computer mouse, can identify and classify evidence of a virus in the body in less than a second, using a sample of fluid - blood serum or saliva.
    Initial feasibility studies of the device have been successful. "We proved that we can differentiate between people who are sick and those who are not," said Newsight CEO Eli Assoolin.
    While expensive hyperspectral cameras are widely used in hospitals, Newsight has implemented this technology in a single, cost-effective silicon chip that can be used even in people's homes.

Israel Using Ambulance Buses to Evacuate Covid-19 Patients (Xinhua-China)
    On July 3, Israel started to use ambulance buses (AmbuBuses) to evacuate Covid-19 patients. Each AmbuBus can carry up to 13 patients or two critically ill patients.
    The intensive care bus also has an oxygen exchange system that can replace all the air in the vehicle in seven minutes.

Israel Retrieves 5th Century Baptismal Font Stolen from West Bank Archaeological Site - Rossella Tercatin (Jerusalem Post)
    A fifth century Byzantine baptismal font, stolen from the Tel Tekoa archaeological site in the West Bank by antiquity looters 20 years ago, has been returned, the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced Monday.

Israel's NanoVation Receives 2.5 Million Euro Grant from EU - James Spiro (Calcalist)
    Israeli medical startup NanoVation was awarded 2.5 million euros ($2.8 million) by the EU to develop a respiratory device based on its nano-sensor technology.
    Its SenseGuard wireless, wearable medical device monitors patient breathing to track conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the third-leading cause of death in the world.
    The device is currently in use in Israel and some EU countries.

Israeli Company Helps Farmers Monitor Crops from the Air - Yoolim Lee (Bloomberg)
    Israeli company Taranis has developed artificial intelligence that helps drone cameras capture high-definition pictures of crops from the air, detailed enough to see tiny insects on lower leaves.
    The images can then be used to make real-time decisions about fertilizer, pesticides and cultivation.

Israeli Shekel Strong in Inter-Bank Trading (Globes)
    The Israeli shekel is trading at its strongest in five and a half months against the dollar.
    It seems that despite the damage done to the Israeli economy by Covid-19 and the unexpected second wave over the summer, investors see the Israeli economy as better coping with the havoc of the virus than most other economies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia Expands Presence in Eastern Syria, Iran Repositions Closer to Israel's Border - Ahmad Salloum
    A Syrian rebel leader, Khaled Al-Hammad, told IranWire that Russia has recently begun to intensify its presence in Deir Al-Zour in eastern Syria and recently seized an oil field in the area after expelling Syrian regime forces. Syria-based IranWire correspondent Umar Al-Ahmad confirmed that on July 10, a Russian military convoy with more than 60 vehicles arrived at the Al-Talaia camp in the city of Deir Al-Zour. The incoming forces stationed themselves east and west of the Euphrates. This followed convoys on July 4 and July 7.
        The arrival of these convoys coincided with disagreements between Iranian militias, on the one hand, and Syrian regime forces and Russian militias, on the other. Russia is taking measures to reduce Iran's influence in Syria, seeing Iran's presence as a hindrance to its own political plan for Syria.
        Yet the Middle East Institute argues that Iran is repositioning its forces in Syria. Over the last few months, Iran has shifted its focus from eastern Syria to the southwest - an area of the country closest to Israel. (IranWire)
  • U.S. Army Tanks in Europe Fitted with Israeli Active Protection System - Jared Keller
    Photos released on July 10 of U.S. Army tanks participating in the Defense Europe exercise show an M1 Abrams main battle tank equipped with the Israeli-made Trophy Active Protection System (APS). The Trophy can intercept and destroy incoming anti-tank missiles and other guided rockets using radar to provide continuous 360-degree protection.
        Once a threat is detected, the system launches explosively formed penetrators that destroy the incoming round before impact. The Trophy system can also trace the origin of hostile fire, allowing a tank crew to almost immediately return fire. Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems delivered their first Trophy APS to the Army in October 2019, with plans to ultimately outfit four brigades of Abrams tanks with the system. First deployed in Israel in 2011, Trophy is the only combat-proven system of its kind currently in service. (Task & Purpose)
  • Chevron Increases Its Presence in the Eastern Mediterranean - Brenda Shaffer
    Chevron Corporation announced Monday its agreement to purchase the American oil and gas company Noble Energy for $5 billion. Noble Energy operates Israel's Leviathan and Tamar natural gas fields. Chevron's acquisition of Noble represents a shift among major international oil companies, for which investment in Israel long remained off-limits because they did not want to risk their ties with the energy-rich Arab states.
        In recent years, however, the Arab Gulf states have quietly improved ties with Israel. Chevron's purchase of Noble gives impetus to the potential for Israel to export its gas via Egypt, as Chevron has exploration licenses there. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Sees over 2,000 New Coronavirus Cases for Second Day - Adir Yanko
    The Coronavirus National Knowledge and Information Center reported that on Wednesday at least 2,032 people tested positive for Covid-19, after the Israel Health Ministry said Tuesday's tally was 2,002. The death toll is 433. There are 295 patients in serious condition, of which 79 are ventilated. (Ynet News)
  • Jerusalem Arab Neighborhoods See Spike in Coronavirus Cases - Nir Hasson
    In 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday, Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods registered 151 new coronavirus infections, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. The other neighborhoods of Jerusalem registered 136 new cases. In Arab neighborhoods, of the 901 households in which someone got sick, 843 still have that person at home. The true numbers are higher, since some patients were tested by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and don't appear in Israeli databases.
        The neighborhoods with the most confirmed cases include Beit Hanina with 190 cases, 99 added this week; the Old City with 183 cases, 83 this week; and a-Tur with 153 cases. The Temple Mount compound and the al-Aqsa Mosque remain open. A source in the Waqf religious trust said it cannot allow the closing of the compound to worshippers as long as Jewish visitors continue coming. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Army Reinforces Lebanon Border after Hizbullah Threats - Daniel Salami
    The Israeli military said Thursday it was reinforcing the country's northern border with infantry troops after Hizbullah threatened to retaliate for the killing of one of its fighters in an alleged IDF raid in Syria earlier this week. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Uncovers Iran-Backed Terror Cell Posing as West Bank Aid Group - Yoav Zitun
    Israel has uncovered an Iranian-backed terror cell operating under the guise of a humanitarian aid agency in the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency said Tuesday. Yazan Abu Salah, 23, an operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told Israeli interrogators that attacks planned by the cell included the abduction of an IDF soldier who would be used to negotiate the release of Palestinians jailed in Israel. He said Iran and Hizbullah were funding the cell.
        Abu Salah's cousin Mohammed Abu Salah told interrogators that he was receiving orders from Assad Al-Alami, head of an Iranian-backed militia operating in Syria. Ten people were detained by Israel in connection with the terror cell. (Ynet News)
  • Netherlands Admits Paying Terrorists Who Killed Israeli - Lahav Harkov
    The Netherlands paid part of the salaries of two terrorists involved in killing Rina Shnerb, 17, in a bombing attack on August 23, 2019, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Development Minister Sigrid Kaag admitted to parliament on Tuesday. The killers, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, designated as a terrorist group by the EU, were employees of the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which was supported by the Dutch government.
        Samer Arbid, an accountant for UAWC, was commander of the PFLP terror cell that prepared and detonated the bomb. Abdul Razeq Farraj, UAWC's Finance and Administration director, aided in the bombing. The Netherlands has suspended its donations to UAWC indefinitely. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Dutch Officials Pictured with Terrorist - Lahav Harkov
    A photograph from 2017 on the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah's Facebook page features Dutch officials and leaders of the Palestinian UAWC, including Abdul Razeq Farraj, the NGO's Finance and Administration director and a recruiter for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was indicted for aiding in the terrorist attack on the Shnerb family in 2019. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • What U.S. Police Officers Learn When They Visit Israel - Ben Sales
    The organizations sponsoring trips to Israel by U.S. police delegations say they do not teach physical tactics such as chokeholds, and that the claim that Israel encourages American police brutality is an anti-Semitic canard. Trip organizers and participants say the trips expose participants to policing practices including models for community policing in minority communities. The itineraries mostly consist of lectures, meetings and tours.
        "What we do is focus on management and policy issues...not specific tactical training," said Steven Pomerantz, director of the Homeland Security Program at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. "There's no shooting, there's no wrestling, there's no chokeholds." The delegations to Israel ramped up after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to focus on the Israeli approach to terrorism and counterterrorism, providing an opportunity for American police to learn from a country with many decades of experience protecting civilian populations from attack. (JTA)
  • The ICC Considers Inventing "Palestine" - Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch
    For the last few months, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber has been weighing whether to invent a "State of Palestine" and set its borders. In order to invent a state that does not exist, and has never existed, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had to negate or ignore critical documents that designated for Israel all the areas she now claims to be part of the "State of Palestine."
        These documents include the Balfour Declaration, the decisions made by the Allied forces in San Remo, Italy, following the First World War, and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. All these documents reaffirmed the historic connection of the Jewish people to the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and granted that area to the Jewish people for its future state.
        She also had to discount the Arab rejection of the UN Partition Plan; turn the 1948/9 Armistice Lines - which the Arabs demanded never be seen as borders - into borders; and negate clear provisions of the Oslo Accords that specifically deny the Palestinian Authority state status. These acrobatics were possible because the proceedings against Israel are entirely politically motivated.
        The writer, head of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, including as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria. (JNS)
  • What If the Palestinian Authority Disbands? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    Palestinian officials have recently threatened that if Israel applies sovereignty in parts of the West Bank territories of Judea and Samaria, they will stop the Palestinian Authority from operating. This study examines the significance of this threat, regardless of the very low likelihood of this scenario.
        The very existence of the Palestinian Authority has been the most significant achievement of the Palestinian national movement, and the collapse of the PA could lead to a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian political system in the West Bank. In addition, the disintegration of the PA could harm the source of income for its many officials and leaders.
        Even if the preferred option for Israel is to continue to maintain a functioning Palestinian Authority, the various alternatives, including one where Israel will retain its responsibility for the territory over time, are not any worse. First, the direct financial burden involved is insignificant, and secondly, the Palestinian Authority will have difficulty continuing the struggle against Israel with the tools at its disposal, compared to if the PA had continued control of the area.
        The writer, former head of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Indigenous Rights of the Jewish People and the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People - Amb. Alan Baker and Michel Calvo
    On September 13, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the "UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." While Israel has never endorsed the declaration, the Jewish People is undoubtedly one of the most ancient of indigenous peoples still inhabiting its ancient homeland.
        From time immemorial up to the present day, there has been continuous Jewish presence in this area, as documented in ample historic and archeological records. In fact, the Qur'an, the Jewish Bible and the New Testament all recognize the very basic linkage of the Jewish People to this land.
        Palestinian claims that they are the indigenous descendants of the Canaanites is a canard that has no basis in fact or history, especially in light of the fact that the entry of Islam into the area occurred only in the seventh century CE.
        Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Michel Calvo, an expert in international law, was a member of the International Court of Arbitration representing Israel. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's Relationship with IRGC Gen. Soleimani - Dr. Reza Parchizadeh
    Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of the Islamist regime in Iran, runs an extended overseas apparatus that is focused on lowering the defenses of the democratic world with sleek smiles and false narratives. He was added to the U.S. sanctions list a year ago. Recently, during a Majlis (parliament) hearing, Zarif spoke of Revolutionary Guard Corps Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on January 3, 2020.
        "Martyr Soleimani and I would hold a meeting every week and coordinate. Whatever we did regarding regional affairs was in coordination. Those who know Martyr Soleimani, those who consorted with Martyr Soleimani, those who hang around [Hizbullah leader] Seyed Hassan Nasrallah and the Resistance in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine know the depth of our relationship." According to Zarif himself, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out that Zarif and Soleimani were fully coordinated when the regime was killing Americans. (Israel Hayom)
  • Former Lebanese Minister: Hizbullah Is Occupying Lebanon, It's the Country's Main Problem; It Must Be Dismantled
    Lebanese politician Ahmed Fatfat told MTV (Lebanon) on July 4, 2020, that all the militias in Lebanon, first and foremost Hizbullah, should be dismantled in accordance with the Taif Agreement and the Lebanese constitution. He said that Hizbullah has carried out acts of terrorism, is Lebanon's main problem, and is preventing any reforms from taking place.
        He said that Hizbullah is not a legitimate political party, that it is occupying Lebanon and its political decision-making process, that it believes in Iran's Rule of the Jurisprudent rather than the Lebanese constitution, and that its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is effectively the person ruling Lebanon. (MEMRI-TV)

  • Weekend Features

  • Virus Survivors Volunteering in Israeli Wards - Sara Toth Stub
    A few times a week, Shuki Rock heads to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, where he dons full-body protective gear and enters the coronavirus ward. His tasks range from distributing food and water to just sitting and talking with Covid-19 patients, who are confined to isolation rooms and unable to see family or other visitors. He is only allowed inside because, back in April, he was infected and recovered from the virus, and therefore assumed to have some immunity. Rock is one of 20 recovered Covid patients who started volunteering at Hadassah in July to help current patients with both physical and emotional needs. (U.S. News)
  • Israeli Drones to Help Florida's Emergency Response to Hurricane Season - Shoshanna Solomon
    Israeli startup Percepto, a maker of industrial drones, said that its Sparrow drone system has been proven to be able to withstand winds of up to 150 mph, making it suitable to fly in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes to assess damage on the ground. "As soon as the storm passes, we can have this up...inspecting our plant and knowing immediately what sort of damage we have so we're able to get our power back on that much sooner," said Michael Dorr, a pilot for Florida Power & Light's drone system. (Times of Israel)
  • Witness in SS Guard's Trial: "The Crematorium Couldn't Keep Up" - Dario Thuburn
    The pyres of burning bodies in the forests around Nazi Germany's Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig still haunt Marek Dunin-Wasowicz, 93, a witness in the trial of former SS guard Bruno Dey. Dunin-Wasowicz spent several months in the camp aged 17 after being arrested as a suspected member of the Polish resistance. He said he felt "honor-bound" to speak out for the more than 60,000 people killed at the camp and for the few survivors who are still alive.
        By the time he arrived, the concentration camp was turning into an extermination camp, part of the Nazi plan to systematically eliminate European Jews. He remembers seeing "silhouettes" of people walking towards the gas chamber, undressing before entering, and later some prisoners who "hauled out the corpses." "The crematorium couldn't keep up with the cremations, so they started to burn corpses on pyres outside the camp," he said. (AFP-Barron's)
        See also Former Concentration Camp Guard Convicted in Germany - David Rising
    The Hamburg state court on Thursday convicted former SS guard Bruno Dey, 93, of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder at the Stutthof concentration camp during World War II. He was given a two-year suspended sentence. (AP)
  • Huge Kingdom of Judah Complex Found near U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - Amanda Borschel-Dan
    One of the largest collections of royal Kingdom of Judah seal impressions has been uncovered at a massive First Temple-period public tax collection and storage complex being excavated near the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Uncovered 3 km. (1.8 mile) outside the Old City, the compound is believed by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists to have served as an administrative center during the reigns of Judean kings Hezekiah and Menashe (8th century to the middle of the 7th century BCE).
        Over 120 jar handles stamped 2,700 years ago with ancient Hebrew script seal impressions were discovered at the site. Many were stamped "LMLK," "LaMeLeKh," or "Belonging to the King." The ongoing salvage excavations in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood are being conducted ahead of the construction of a new building project. Jerusalem District Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch said government agencies are working together to preserve the site within the plan of the new project. (Times of Israel)

American Jewry in Transition? How Attitudes toward Israel May Be Shifting - Dr. Irwin J. Mansdorf (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has been researching the attitudes of Jewish-Americans for the past two years. We may now be seeing a trend in Jewish-American attitudes that represents a narrower definition of "support" for Israel.
  • Our latest series of data shows moderately strong but less than enthusiastic overall support for Israel. We found mild-moderate but clear expressions of "sympathy" for the Palestinians.
  • There is deep concern over anti-Semitism, dissociated from concern over anti-Israel attitudes. At the same time, there is a lack of serious concern for anti-Semitism from the left-progressive elements of society.
  • Despite some concerns, there is a willingness to associate with possibly anti-Israel movements. Overall, there is a general endorsement of issues associated with liberal or progressive thinking.
  • Israel-related issues are not a deciding or "make or break" factor in the voting behavior of a significant portion of our Jewish-American sample.
  • There is considerable support for Black Lives Matter protests, despite awareness and concern that the BLM movement may lead to an increase in anti-Israel attitudes.
  • However, we found a marked reduction for being personally willing to support "affirmative action"-type initiatives. We also found a less marked reduction in support for defunding police and paying reparations to Black-American institutions.

    The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center specializing in political psychology.

        See also How to Think Politically about U.S. Jews - Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon (Mosaic)
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