August 10, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Former Israeli Defense Minister: Hizbullah Responsible for Beirut Blast - Neta Bar (Israel Hayom)
    A Hizbullah weapons depot that caught fire led to the explosion of the ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut port, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Saudi outlet Elaph on Friday.
    See also below Observations: What We Know about the Blasts in Beirut - Dr. David Wurmser (Foundation for American Security and Freedom)

What Really Happened at the Port of Beirut? - Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    After Israel (according to foreign sources) attacked munitions warehouses at Damascus Airport several times, Beirut seaport replaced it as the destination for Hizbullah's ammunition and explosives imports from Iran.

Hizbullah Bears the Responsibility for the Beirut Disaster - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Every child in Lebanon knows that Hizbullah controls the port of Beirut, using it for the delivery of goods without customs and for smuggling.
    Israeli intelligence officials estimate that Iran will attempt to take advantage of the transfer of humanitarian aid to Lebanon in order to smuggle in precision guidance systems for Hizbullah's missiles.
    It is imperative to monitor Iranian aid shipments.

Iran Has 125 Outposts and Bases in Syria - Dean Shmuel Elmas (Israel Hayom)
    Iran has 125 outposts of its Revolutionary Guards Corps and pro-Iranian militias in Syria, the Turkish research institute Jusoor has revealed.
    The Iranians have set up 37 military locations in the Deraa governorate in southwestern Syria, not far from Israel.
    There are another 22 Iranian outposts in and around Damascus, 15 in Aleppo, and another 5 each in the Quneitra and al-Suwayda governorates in southwestern Syria.

IDF Strikes Gaza in Response to Explosive Balloons - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    The IDF attacked targets in Gaza Thursday after Palestinians launched an explosive balloon that landed in the Israeli town of Arad.
    See also IDF Responds Again to Explosive Balloons from Gaza - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    The IDF on Sunday struck a Hamas observation post in Gaza in response to the continued launches of explosives-laden balloons into Israel.
    See also Hamas Test-Fires Barrage of Missiles into Sea - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas fired a barrage of close to a dozen missiles towards the Mediterranean Sea on Monday in a warning to Israel.

Fatah, PLO Are Planning a Third Intifada - Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    "A popular uprising that will result in a comprehensive intifada" is being planned by Fatah, the PLO, and other Palestinian groups, according to a statement they issued on July 28.
    Asked by the PA TV host if this would be a "peaceful" and "non-violent intifada," PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusuf answered in the negative.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah Leader Warns Against Blaming Shiite Militia for Beirut Devastation - Liz Sly
    Hizbullah's leader, Hasan Nasrallah, warned Friday not to hold the Shiite militia responsible for the massive blast at Beirut's port, as many Lebanese point to Hizbullah as a source that helped bring about the tragedy. Nasrallah told Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, "The resistance, with its strength and patriotism, is greater and bigger and stronger than to be hit by those liars who want to push and provoke for civil war. They will fail."
        Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said Friday that 154 people were killed in the explosions. More than 5,000 residents were injured. At least 120 people were in critical condition. (Washington Post)
        See also "Resign or Hang": Protesters in Devastated Beirut Turn Fury on Lebanon's Leaders - Loveday Morris
    Protesters in Beirut occupied government ministries, set fires and faced off against security forces Saturday following the huge blast that ripped through the city last week. The cry from the streets is for the politicians to stand down and open the way for a new order in Lebanon. (Washington Post)
  • USC Student VP Resigns, Says She Was Bullied for Being a Zionist - Aaron Bandler
    University of Southern California (USC) Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Rose Ritch resigned on Aug. 5, saying she was bullied for being a supporter of Israel. "I have been told that my support for Israel has made me complicit in racism, and that, by association, I am racist," she wrote on Facebook. "Students launched an aggressive social media campaign to 'impeach [my] Zionist a-.' This is anti-Semitism, and cannot be tolerated at a university that proclaims to 'nurture an environment of mutual respect and tolerance.'"
        "Nearly 95% of American Jews support Israel as the Jewish state, inherently connected to our religious history and communal peoplehood. An attack on my Zionist identity is an attack on my Jewish identity. The suggestion that my support for a Jewish homeland would make me unfit for office or would justify my impeachment plays into the oldest stereotypes of Jews."  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
        See also USC President Says Anti-Semitism "Has No Place at the University" - Aaron Bandler
    USC President Carol Folt wrote to the community on Aug. 6 denouncing anti-Semitism after Student Government Vice President Rose Ritch's resignation. "In her heartbreaking resignation letter, Rose described the intense pressure and toxic conditions that led to her decision - specifically the anti-Semitic attacks on her character and the online harassment she endured because of her Jewish and Zionist identities.... Anti-Semitism in all of its forms is a profound betrayal of our principles and has no place at the university."  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Death Toll Reaches 606
    Israel's coronavirus death toll reached 606, the Israel Health Ministry reported on Monday. There are 397 people in serious condition. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jerusalem Arab Neighborhoods Hit Hard by Coronavirus - Aaron Boxerman
    The number of active coronavirus cases in Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods surpassed Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods two weeks ago. In response to the second wave, the municipality reopened the IDF Home Front Command center to work with local coronavirus committees. The Jerusalem municipality has also opened a coronavirus hotel in eastern Jerusalem specifically to serve Palestinians, as well as a coronavirus testing center in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
        Ben Avrahami, a fluent Arabic speaker and former advisor to the mayor, suggested that many Jerusalem residents who had traveled to the West Bank for large weddings may have brought the coronavirus back with them. With some exceptions, the coronavirus situation is better in the southern Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods than in the northern ones, such as Beit Hanina, Kafr Aqab, and Shuafat.
        Kafr Aqab coronavirus committee director Samih Abu Rumeila said the second wave has seen what he called "widespread denial of the existence of the virus." He received constant reports of those testing positive or those ordered into quarantine flouting health restrictions. Many who suspected they had been exposed were not even bothering to get tested, he said. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian from Gaza for Attack that Killed 2 IDF Soldiers in 2010 - Judah Ari Gross
    Abdallah Daghmeh, 38, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was indicted on Sunday for the murder of Maj. Eliraz Peretz and Staff Sgt. Ilan Sviatkovsky in a 2010 attack along the Gaza border, the Israel Security Agency said Sunday. He entered Israel last month to donate bone marrow to his brother and was permitted to undergo the medical procedure while under arrest. (Times of Israel)
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday: "All those who seek our ill should know that even if years pass, the State of Israel will not rest until we settle accounts with the terrorists." (Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Time for Lebanon to Rid Itself of Hizbullah - Jason D. Greenblatt
    The time has come for Lebanon to ask itself if the malign activities of Hizbullah, the puppets of the Iranian regime, are worth the devastation caused to Lebanon - to its economy, its country, its people, and now to all those killed in this tragedy and their loved ones.
        Israel offered humanitarian aid. Israeli hospitals offered to treat Lebanese wounded. All this despite the fact that Lebanon is considered by Israel to be an enemy state, and the two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1949. Moreover, Israel treated thousands of Syrians who suffered as a result of the tragic civil war in Syria.
        Forget for a moment the threat to Israel that Hizbullah poses. Israel has thrived and prospered and will do what it needs (and has the right) to do to defend itself from its enemies and those that seek to harm or destroy it. And it will continue to reach out around the world to those who are suffering, including offering to help its enemies - as it did here. The writer served as U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations (2017-2019). (Newsweek)
  • The Real Problem on College Campuses Is Zionophobia - David Suissa
    Anti-Zionism on college campuses is now a flourishing industry with virtually no consequences. All societal phobias - from homophobia to Islamophobia - are unacceptable, except, apparently, for Zionophobia. If college leaders hope to create a safe space for pro-Israel students, they must stamp out Zionophobia with the same determination they stamp out other phobias. There must be consequences for students who harass other students because of their Zionist identity, just as there is for other forms of harassment.
        Zionism is a positive, multicultural movement that has enriched the world. Why should having a Zionist identity make you the only endangered species on your college campus? (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

What We Know about the Blasts in Beirut - Dr. David Wurmser (Foundation for American Security and Freedom)
  • On August 4, a fire broke out, perhaps due to a welding accident, in Hangar 9 of Beirut's port. Videos show black smoke, consistent with an industrial fire. After 20 minutes a fairly large explosion expanded the blast area into Hangar 12 and set the stage for a huge explosion 30 seconds later.
  • After the initial fire, it appears some small munitions (some claim fireworks) began erupting soon after, causing a whitish-grey smoke. A video taken from an adjacent building shows crackling and popping occurring before a much larger blast. The absence of a spectacular airborne display of streamers and sparkling explosions - as would be consistent with firework explosions - seems to suggest that weapons of some sort rather than fireworks were igniting.
  • Moreover, the explosion produced thick whitish-grey smoke consistent with high explosives and rocket fuel. 20 seconds after the blast, the escalating fire dramatically ramped up, as did the pace of white flashes in and above the building.
  • Photos of the final explosion showed the simultaneous and uniform detonation of Hangar 12. The blast was equivalent to a 1.1 kiloton explosion - about 1/11th the size of the Hiroshima nuclear blast. The reddish brown thick smoke is indicative of a concentrated and high-quality, bomb-grade ammonium nitrate explosion. Fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate tends to explode with more blackish, oily smoke.
  • Nitropril, which was seen on some of the bags, is the grade of ammonium nitrate used for explosives. Ammonium nitrate cannot combust by itself. This is why getting to the bottom of the initial explosion is so critical. Without that explosion, which was likely caused by munitions, there would never have been a catastrophe.
  • Lebanese are universal in their belief that Hizbullah rules the critical areas of the port as a government within a government. Hangars 9 and 12 are the closest to the water, meaning they are prime warehouses for unloading ships without being detected. Lebanese port workers regarded Hangar 12 as an off-limits Hizbullah zone.
  • The ammonium nitrate may well have been a Hizbullah stash to send to their operatives around the world, such as those caught in 2015 in London with 3 tons of ammonium nitrate, those caught in Cyprus with 9 tons of ammonium nitrate, and those caught in Germany with ammonium nitrate.

    The writer, a former senior intelligence officer and adviser to the U.S. National Security Council, is Director of the Center for Security Policy's Project on Global Anti-Semitism and the U.S.-Israel Relationship.

Daily Alert is published every Monday and Thursday.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.