Recent Ransomware Wave Targeting Israel Linked to Iran
- Catalin Cimpanu (ZDNet
Two recent ransomware waves that targeted Israeli companies have been traced back to Iranian threat actors, multiple sources say.
Hackers breached corporate networks, stole company data, encrypted files, and asked for huge payouts to deliver a decryption key using the Pay2Key and WannaScream ransomware strains.
The Israeli security firm Profero said it tracked several payments Israeli companies made to Excoino, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Iran.
See also Ransomware Notes Traced to Iranian Bitcoin Exchange
(Check Point Research
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat Dies from Covid-19
- Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz
Dr. Saeb Erekat, 65, the lead Palestinian peace negotiator and Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, died Tuesday at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem after contracting the coronavirus last month.
Dutch Senate Calls to Reject UN Resolutions Denying Jewish Ties to Temple Mount in Jerusalem
- Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post
The Dutch Senate on Tuesday called for the Netherlands to vote against UN resolutions that only use the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, thus denying Judaism's connection to its holiest site. The Senate approved the motion in a 50-25 vote.
Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands Naor Gilon said, "This is a clear message against attempts by different factors to erase the historic connection of over 3,000 years between the Jewish people and Jerusalem."
U.S. Calls for Release of Yemeni Jew Held by Houthi Militia
(U.S. State Department
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Tuesday: "The United States stands with the Yemeni Jewish community in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Levi Salem Musa Marhabi. Mr. Marhabi has been wrongfully detained by the Houthi militia for four years, despite a court ordering his release in September 2019."
"Mr. Marhabi is one member of an ever-shrinking community of Yemeni Jews, who have been an important part of Yemen's diverse social fabric for thousands of years. We call on the Houthis to respect religious freedom, stop oppressing Yemen's Jewish population, and immediately release Levi Salem Musa Marhabi."
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Arab World Sends Israel Messages of Support after Peace Deals
Since the announcements of the normalization deals with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been flooded with messages on social media of love and peace from residents of Arab countries, the ministry said Tuesday.
From Morocco to Iraq, from Syria to Yemen, thousands of residents from Arab countries recently sent the Foreign Ministry's Arabic social media accounts pictures of their passports, accompanied by messages of support for peace.
The Foreign Ministry's accounts in Arabic on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram receive 100 million views every month.
Iran Facing Ban from International Chess Federation for Refusing to Play Against Israel
English grandmaster and vice-president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Nigel Short told Chess 24
that Iran will soon be banned from international events if it continues to force Iranian chess players not to compete against Israelis.
He cited 12 such incidents in the last year. Should the position of the Iranian Chess Federation (ICF) stayed unchanged, "they will definitely be suspended," Short said.
Short previously called the ICF's stance "absolute in-your-face racism."
Israeli Locust Fighters Task Force Arrives in Ethiopia
(Ethiopian News Agency
Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi has ordered the deployment of a task force of Israeli locust fighters and experts to support Ethiopian efforts in fighting the worst outbreak of locust swarms in 25 years.
Israel's top locust expert, Yoav Mortro, heads the task force, which will operate in Ethiopia for two weeks to train Ethiopian locust fighters.
The task force is bringing more than 2 tons of equipment and advanced appliances that will be handed over to the Ethiopian authorities at the conclusion of the operation.
How Israeli Innovation and Technology Is Saving Lives in Africa
Innovation Africa is just one Israeli NGO helping African nations receive access to clean water and electricity.
Michal Benari, the NGO's chief of staff, says that since 2008 they have positively impacted the lives of more than 2.2 million people across ten African countries.
"Utilizing Israeli innovations, the NGO helps to bring essential light and power equipment to schools, orphanages, and medical centers, and by harnessing the energy from the Sun, the organization constructs a solar water pumping system to pump safe, clean water from an aquifer."
Israel Awaits Influx of Muslim Tourists
- Michal Raz-Chaimovitz (Globes
Normalization with the UAE opens up a huge new tourism market for Israel, says Dr. Shahar Shilo from the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management at Ben-Gurion University.
He explains: "Most of the world's Muslims are not Arabs. Arabs make up only about 20% of Muslims worldwide and most of these Muslims have no dispute with Israel."
"Between 2017 and 2019, 100,000 Muslim tourists visited Israel, a large part of them pilgrims from Turkey as well as tourist groups from Indonesia."
Energean Announces Increase of Israeli Gas and Oil Reserves
Greece's Energean announced on Nov. 10 the completion of an independent Competent Persons Report which certifies 98.2 billion cubic meters of gas and 99.6 million barrels of liquids in the Karish, Karish North and Tanin fields offshore of Israel.
Energean's proven and probable reserves in Israel now total 729 million barrels of oil, which represents a 44% increase in estimated reserves.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- Iran's Enriched Uranium Stockpile Is 12 Times the Amount Permitted by Nuclear Accord - Laurence Norman
Iran is continuing to build up its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and now holds 12 times the amount permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported.
Iran has now accumulated enough enriched uranium to produce the high-enriched uranium needed for two nuclear weapons, according to analysts at the Institute for Science and International Security.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also IAEA Rejects Iran's Explanations for Nuclear Material at Site Flagged by Israel
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that Iran's explanations over the presence of nuclear material at an undeclared site were "not technically credible." Diplomatic sources said the site in the Turquzabad district of Tehran was previously identified by Israel as a site of secret atomic activity.
A source said the site could have been used for storing uranium as late as the end of 2018. (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
- Senate Wants Security Guarantees for Israel before U.S. Sale of F-35s to UAE - Laura Kelly
The Senate is calling on the State Department to certify that a pending sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE does not pose security threats to Israel or weaken American military systems in the face of Russian and Chinese threats.
The Senate Appropriations Committee included the certification requirement as part of a fiscal 2021 spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations released Tuesday.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation last month that would restrict the sale of advanced weapons systems to countries in the Middle East other than Israel unless they meet certain benchmarks, such as normalized relations with Israel; that weapons are modified to be identified and tracked by Israel; that the recipient country will protect the weapons from theft or "diversion of sensitive defense technology" to any other country; and that the recipient country will consult with the U.S. over their use. (The Hill)
- Germany Hands Over Sa'ar 6 Corvette INS Magen to Israeli Navy
On Nov. 11, the world's most modern corvette INS Magen was officially handed over by Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to the Israeli Navy in Kiel, Germany. Israel contracted in 2015 for four next-generation missile corvettes.
See also Sa'ar 6: The New Backbone of Israel's Navy - Anna Ahronheim
The INS Magen is expected to reach Israel's shores by early December. The INS Oz, INS Atzma'ut and INS Nitzahon are expected to arrive by the end of 2021. The new ships will give the Navy a total of 15 missile ships along with the aging Sa'ar 5 ships that are nearing 30 years old.
The Navy has to protect Israel's strategic depth under or over the surface of 44,000 km. of sea, almost double the size of the country. It also has to guard the natural gas rigs and protect the commercial shipping lanes which bring in 98% of Israel's imports. Hizbullah has made it clear that the gas rigs are targets should another war with Israel break out.
In 2006 during the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah struck the INS Hanit (a Sa'ar 5 corvette) with a Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile, killing four sailors. The Sa'ar 6 was built with that in mind and can deal with threats from the shore. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel Rejects Belgian Demand to Compensate for Razing Palestinian Homes - Lahav Harkov
Israel rejected a demand from Belgium to compensate for demolishing four Palestinian homes near Hebron in the West Bank which were built illegally with funding from Brussels. "It is regrettable that European aid money finds its way to the financing of illegal activities," the Foreign Ministry said this week.
"Donor states should use their taxpayers' money toward the funding of legal construction and projects in territories that are controlled by Israel, and make sure those are planned and executed in accordance with the law and in coordination with the relevant Israeli authorities." (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel to Deduct Terrorists' Salaries from PA Tax Funds - Lahav Harkov
Israel will once again freeze part of the funds it transfers to the Palestinian Authority due to the PA's continued policy of paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their families, Finance Minister Israel Katz said Monday. In May Israel gave the Palestinians an NIS 800 million loan that effectively returned all the tax funds Israel had deducted since the Knesset passed the Pay to Slay Law in 2018. The PA in May stopped accepting tax money collected by Israel, but reportedly plans to take the funds again.
- Coronavirus in Israel - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
The Israel Health Ministry reported Thursday on 734 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday. 321 people are in serious condition, including 127 who were intubated. The death toll stood at 2,700.
- Palestinian Attempts to Stab IDF Troops near Hebron in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross
A Palestinian man attempted to stab soldiers on Sunday near al-Fawwar, southwest of the West Bank city of Hebron. "The assailant arrived at the scene in a car, got out of the vehicle and began advancing toward the IDF soldiers with a knife drawn" before he was shot and neutralized, the army said. (Times of Israel)
- Israel Arrests Two West Bank Palestinians Recruited by Hamas - Yoav Zitun
The Israel Security Agency said Monday it had arrested two West Bank Palestinians from Beit Ummar near Bethlehem who were recruited by Hamas in Gaza to carry out acts of terrorism against Israel. The two were recruited through the internet and instructed to gather intelligence, abduct an Israeli from a nearby Israeli community, and carry out a shooting attack in exchange for cash. (Ynet News)
- IDF Downs Hizbullah Drone in Israeli Airspace
The IDF on Tuesday downed a drone belonging to Hizbullah that entered Israeli airspace. The IDF said it had monitored the aircraft throughout the incident and that at no point was there any danger to Israeli communities or forces. It downed the drone through electronic means.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
The U.S.-Israel Relationship
- Experts View Post-Election U.S.-Israel Relationship - Jacob Kornbluh
The U.S. election is not expected to result in a dramatic shift in the U.S.-Israel relationship, Jewish Democratic leaders and Middle East experts have stressed. "I don't believe you can roll back the clock to the Obama-Kerry period," said Dr. Dore Gold, former director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry. "Biden is his own man....There is a lot of work to be done before radical changes in U.S. policy can be implemented - assuming the Biden team wants to go in that direction, which is not clear at all."
Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Biden "is in love with the idea of Israel. Therefore, he tends to make accommodation...to the realities that Israel finds itself in, and his inclination is not to judge but to give Israel the benefit of the doubt." (Jewish Insider)
See also Biden Should Choose a Secretary of State Who Understands Why Previous Peace Efforts Failed - Allison Kaplan Sommer
Dore Gold, former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and currently president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has described Joe Biden as being "fundamentally friendly to Israel," urged the incoming administration to choose a secretary of state with hands-on experience of previous Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. An outside candidate unfamiliar with the details of why those efforts hit a brick wall, Gold said, would come in with incorrect assumptions.
"It must be recalled that the last round of negotiations in 2014 ended with [Palestinian President] Abbas telling President Obama, 'I'll get back to you,' and he never did. There are those who want to put the entire blame for the stalled peace process on Israel, even though it's factually wrong," Gold said.
- On Israel, Biden Is Not Just Another Version of Obama - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are traditional Democrats with a fundamental commitment to Israel. Biden is not Barack Obama and 2021 is not 2009. The top members of Biden's team are for the most part level-headed and experienced. Contacts with them in recent months leave the impression that their approach to the challenges in the Middle East will be realistic, and the region will not be at the top of their agenda in any event. These are people who have learned the lessons of the past decade and are alert to changes in the strategic environment.
Biden's aides have no illusions when it comes to the chances for a breakthrough in negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the present, and they do not intend to launch a peace plan of their own. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Jewish People Policy Institute.
Reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal
- Elliott Abrams: Biden Will Have Difficulty Reviving the Iran Deal - Raphael Ahren
A return to the 2015 nuclear agreement would be difficult, Elliott Abrams, President Trump's point man on Iran, said Monday in Tel Aviv. "There's going to be a negotiation with Iran anyway. That was the intention of the Trump administration....I don't think that going back to the JCPOA in 2021 is a simple prospect," he said.
"We have a maximum pressure sanctions program. If you look at September and October, you will see sanctions being put in place. This will continue in November and December, because it's unrelated to politics, it's unrelated to elections. It's the foreign policy of the U.S., and it's based on Iran's conduct." However, he stressed that the administration will not dramatically escalate punitive measures against the regime.
Some of the sanctions are unrelated to Iran's nuclear activities, and are instead connected to the regime's human rights abuses and its conventional regional aggression, he stressed.
"They can be reversed, in theory, but it's hard for me to see how any president would really do that without a change in Iran's behavior."
"We have a lot of leverage as a result of that pressure. So our view is that that leverage should be used, not discarded. Using that leverage, it should be possible to get Iran to stop doing a number of the things that it is doing, including their nuclear activities." (Times of Israel)
- McMaster: It Would Be a Really Big Mistake to Resurrect the Iran Nuclear Deal - Charles Creitz
President-elect Joe Biden should not rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, former National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster said Wednesday. He said the deal failed to consider the "hostile ideology" of the Iranian government and the 40 years of proxy wars Iran has fought against America.
"These big payoffs to Iran when the deal was signed, as well as the relief of sanctions...what did they do with that money?" McMaster asked. "They applied that money to intensify sectarian violence across the region in an effort to put a proxy army on the border of Israel. It would be a really big mistake to turn the clock back to 2016 and resurrect the nuclear deal." (Fox News)
- Washington Experts View Revival of Iran Nuclear Deal - Omri Nahmias
David Makovsky, director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former State Department official under President Obama, said, "The president-elect has said that he would like to renew the JCPOA, but only once Iran comes into compliance, and they have not been in compliance because they've been enriching at a much higher level. So that's going to take time."
"Biden said, 'we've got to lengthen and strengthen.' That has been Israel's main critique - that the sunset provisions on restrictions on enrichment have been too short....People should not assume that whatever was done with JCPOA 1.0 was going to be repeated with 2.0."
Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute and a former special assistant to President Obama, said, "It'll take time for [the Iranians] to come back into compliance. They have 10 times the amount of...low enriched uranium stockpile than they had when they implemented the JCPOA. They have to dilute that or ship it out of the country....Anyone who thinks there's going to be a kind of instant move to restore the JCPOA is ignoring that...we don't know exactly what they're prepared to do in terms of resuming diplomacy." (Jerusalem Post)
- Arab Normalization and Palestinian Radicalization: The Tug of War over the Middle East Peace Process - Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh
The Palestinian leadership has denounced the Abraham Accords by its longtime Arab allies and financial donors, and is pivoting toward the radical, terror-sponsoring Iranian and Turkish regimes. The Palestinian leadership should honor the Abraham Accords' call for unconditional mutual recognition and normalization of relations with Israel as the keys to opening a viable political and diplomatic agreement that can provide enormous benefits to the Palestinian people.
A Palestinian realignment with peaceful Arab states will enable the PA to sit at the negotiating table with its Israeli neighbor without preconditions, accepting the Abraham Accords' principle of normalization, mutual acceptance, and goodwill in order to maximize the prospects for a successful negotiated compromise.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- How Palestinians Cope When the PA Halts Coordination with Israel - Amos Harel
The Palestinian leadership knows it has lost the Arab support it relied on, and suspects that the fate of its people has ceased to be of interest to Arab leaders.
The Palestinians halted civilian and security coordination with Israel and refused to accept $733 million in the form of tax revenues that Israel collected for them. With this behavior, they hurt mainly themselves.
Under the double blow of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis, the salaries of the PA's employees have been halved. Palestinian security services personnel are secretly entering Israel to earn a living as construction workers.
The PA's refusal to work with Israel has prompted Palestinians to work directly with the Israeli Civil Administration. About half a million West Bank Palestinians downloaded an app to their mobile phones, by which they contact officials of the Civil Administration directly to obtain authorizations and fill out forms.
- Turkey Seen as Rising Islamist Threat - Walter Russell Mead
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has begun to disengage from the business of supporting radical Islamism, and Turkey and Qatar have picked up the fallen banner. When Europeans these days talk about foreign funding for radical preachers, Turkey is often the source. And when Gulf Arabs like the Emiratis talk about the danger of radical Islamist regimes, they worry more about Turkey even than Iran.
We are looking at the rise of a new transregional alignment. The French worry about Turkey's support for radical Islamist separatist groups within France as well as its role in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean. Turkish President Erdogan has long-lasting and close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. The emerging Axis of Abraham connecting France, Israel and the UAE may well be the best partner for the U.S. going forward. The writer is Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Erdogan, the Empire Builder - Amir Taheri
The Ottomans, empire-builders of the first order, were always careful not to bite off more than they could chew. Turkish President Erdogan, however, is leading Turkey into empire-building adventures which it does not want and cannot afford. Turkey is now deeply involved in Cyprus, Libya, the Balkans and Transcaucasia, where it risks direct conflict with Russia and Iran. It has provoked a potentially dangerous stand-off with Greece and France in the Aegean Sea and launched a war of words with the EU as a whole.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey is trying to gain a foothold with a mixture of bribery and religious propaganda. Erdogan is also deeply involved with the remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is recruiting mercenaries among the Turkmen in Iraq and local jihadists in the Syrian province of Idlib. The writer was executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979.
See also Turkey Seeking Global Power at America's Expense - Simon A. Waldman and Asaf Romirowsky (National Interest)
- Europe Must Stand United Against All Extremism: Hamas, Hizbullah and Muslim Brotherhood - Ed Husain
Europe has suffered two Islamist militant attacks over the past ten days. France and Austria are responding with vigor, but have made clear that political Islamism is not Islam. Just as targeting Nazis is not anti-German, identifying Islamists and their support for terrorism is not anti-Muslim.
Why are Islamists a danger to Europe today? Because the very foundations of European society and prosperity are under direct assault from an ideology and a narrative that becomes violent because it seeks to end the nation state, remove secular governments, deprive women of their rights, destroy Israel and kill Jews, execute gay people, and force innocent Muslims to live under Islamist rule.
Muslims in the Middle East are not Islamophobic or racist when identifying Islamists as a national security concern. Turning off the Islamist mood music played by the Muslim Brotherhood will stop the dance that is jihadist terrorism. The writer was a senior adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
- The U.S. Deploys Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense System - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Henry A. Obering III
The U.S. Army's recent acquisition of two Iron Dome short-range air defense batteries from Israel provides a much-needed solution to one of America's critical security needs. As the former head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, I had a close relationship with the Israel Defense Forces and valued their constant pursuit of innovative defenses.
Iron Dome has stopped over 2,000 rockets fired at Israeli population centers with a remarkable success rate, an achievement that also shifted U.S. thinking about homeland missile defense. While a Patriot missile costs $3 million, the Iron Dome interceptor costs $40,000.The fact is that Iron Dome is the most proven and affordable option against very short-range fire that existing U.S. systems were not designed to cover.
Limiting Iron Dome's purchase and deployment undervalues its potential to protect American troops. The writer is a member of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America's U.S.-Israel Security Policy Project.
- The 1620 Project - Meir Soloveichik
Four hundred years ago, the Mayflower set sail for the New World. On board was William Bradford, who would serve for decades as governor of Plymouth Colony. His grave in Plymouth is engraved with the Hebrew words: Adonai ezer hayai, the Lord is the help of my life.
As President George W. Bush told Israel's Knesset: "The source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: 'Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.' The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state."
The writer, the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York, is director of the Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University.
- Jesuit Priest Pens Book about His Order during the Holocaust - Rich Tenorio
Jesuit Kaddish: Jesuits, Jews, and Holocaust Remembrance by Jesuit Catholic priest James Bernauer depicts how some priests joined the resistance against the Nazis and gave their lives to it. Bernauer retired this year from 40 years as a professor at Boston College, where he was director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning.
The book discusses individual Jesuits' hostility to Jews and Judaism during World War II, expressed not only through anti-Semitism but also in a belief in a world without Jews.
15 Jesuits were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. Among them were Jean-Baptiste Janssens and Roger Braun, who helped rescue Jewish children during the war. (Times of Israel)
- A Washington Post front-page article on Nov. 1 noted a "promised peace" between Israelis and Palestinians "seems further away than ever." But it's not that peace is elusive.
- Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous offers for Palestinian statehood in exchange for peace with the Jewish state. They refused U.S. and Israeli proposals for statehood in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference.
- The 2008 offer included 93.7% of the West Bank, with land swaps for the remainder, a capital in eastern Jerusalem and a state. Palestinians rejected Obama administration efforts to restart negotiations in 2014 and 2016.
- Instead, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has incited anti-Jewish violence and refused to quit paying salaries to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and their families. This is a violation of the Oslo accords that created the Palestinian Authority more than a quarter of a century ago.
- Palestinian leadership could have chosen the path of peace, as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have recently done. They've chosen otherwise.
The writer is a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).
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