March 8, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Iran-Backed Houthis Fire Missiles, Drones at Saudi Oil Facilities (Reuters)
    Yemen's Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry on Sunday, attacking a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura and military targets in Dammam, Asir and Jazan.
    Saudi state media said the Saudi-led military coalition battling the Houthis had intercepted 12 armed drones.

Israeli Technology Can Stop Multiple Drone Swarm Attacks - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    In a recent trial, D-Fend's anti-drone technology hacked three attacking drones within 10 seconds. As the screens of the drone pilots went blank, all three drones were then led to a landing area.
    D-Fend's unique radio-frequency cyber solution is actively deployed in the U.S. by the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.
    According to D-Fend CEO Zohar Halachmi, the technology has already successfully hacked more than 10 drones at least twice in real-world drone swarm attacks.

Biden Called Off Strike on Second Military Target in Syria - Gordon Lubold (Wall Street Journal)
    President Biden had ordered the Pentagon to conduct airstrikes on two targets inside Syria on Feb. 26.
    Then when women and children were spotted in the courtyard at one of the sites, Biden scratched the target but ordered the other strike to proceed.

Israeli Intelligence Cooperation with Arab Allies Thwarts Iranian Terrorism - Erfan Fard (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    The peace agreements between Israel and its new Arab allies in the region have opened the Persian Gulf to Israeli intelligence, bringing a shock to the mullahs in Iran.
    Planned Iranian terrorist attacks on Israeli, Emirati, and American embassies in a country in east Africa were thwarted in January thanks to this new intelligence cooperation.

PLO Says It Pays $15 Million a Month in Terror Stipends - Aaron Boxerman (Times of Israel)
    "We pay around NIS 50 million ($15 million) per month in salaries" to Palestinians imprisoned by Israel for security offenses and their families, PLO Commissioner for Prisoners' Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr told the Times of Israel on Thursday.
    7,500 released prisoners currently receive PLO aid, as well as 4,500 prisoners still in detention.
    Israel has described the stipends as a "pay-to-slay" program that rewards attackers.

IDF Completing Underground Wall between Israel and Gaza to Block Tunnel Threat - Udi Shaham (Jerusalem Post)
    Senior IDF sources say an underground concrete wall between Israel and Gaza to prevent terrorists from crossing into Israel via tunnels is 95% complete and will be operational in the near future.
    The 60 km. barrier includes a fence above ground, advanced sensors, and cutting-edge technologies to stop infiltrations.

Palestinian Funding from Arab States Down Sharply in 2020 - Zehra Nur Duz (Anadolu-Turkey)
    Foreign aid to the Palestinian government from Arab countries dropped from $265.5 million in 2019 to $40 million in 2020 - an 85% decrease.
    Saudi Arabia cut back its aid from $174.7 million in 2019 to $32.5 million in 2020.
    Worldwide financial aid dropped from $538.3 million in 2019 to $369.7 million in 2020.

Israel's Spacecom Provides Satellite Communications to Unserved Communities in Africa - Yifat Ovadia (Calcalist)
    Israel's satellite communications provider Spacecom uses the Amos-17 satellite to provide health and educational services to underserved communities in Africa.
    Launched in 2019, Amos-17 also maintains a very advanced level of encryption to ensure that information isn't vulnerable to hackers.
    The Amos-17's cloud platform can function as a school in the morning, a clinic in the afternoon, and as an internet cafe in the evening.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran behind January Israeli Embassy Blast in India - Shishir Gupta
    India's central counterterrorism agencies have concluded that the Iranian Quds Force was behind the bomb that exploded outside the Israel Embassy in Delhi on Jan. 29. The device was planted by a local Indian Shia cell and was triggered by the bomber using a remote-controlled device. The device contained ball bearings, which shattered the windows of three cars.
        India is affronted that its capital is being used by a friendly country to wage a proxy battle and the Modi government will take up the issue with Iran once the local supporters of the Iranian regime are taken into custody. Three agents of the Iranian Quds Force targeted the wife of the Israeli Defense Attache in India with a magnetic bomb on Feb. 13, 2012. (Hindustan Times-India)
  • Netanyahu Calls Biden a Friend, But Notes Disagreement on Iran - Jacob Kornbluh
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News on Thursday: "I've known Joe Biden...for close to 40 years, when I came in as a number two in Israel's embassy in 1982 and he was a young senator from Delaware. So we've known each other and we've had a warm relationship over the years. I think Joe Biden is a friend of Israel, I know he is. I know he is committed to Israel."
        "Sometimes with the best of friends - in the family, as we say - we can have differences of opinion. The most important thing that I think Joe Biden understands is that my commitment to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is absolute. And I hope that we see eye-to-eye on everything. But one thing I believe he understands and respects is that as the prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, we are not going to let a bunch of Ayatollahs wipe us out from the face of the earth or from the map of history. So I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and so far, we've been successful."  (Forward)
  • Netanyahu: Vaccination Campaign Has Included Arab Citizens of Israel
    In an interview with Fox News on March 4, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed a joke last month by Saturday Night Live's Micheal Che that Israel had only vaccinated the Jewish half of its population. "That's outrageous. In fact, I brought vaccines and went especially to the Arab communities, the Arab citizens of Israel, and vaccinated as many as we can. I must've gone to half a dozen Arab communities already, talked with the mayors there, brought the leaders, brought the doctors there, Arab doctors."  (Al Jazeera)
        Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute said Friday that 84% of Israeli Arabs over age 50 are vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19. (Times of Israel)
  • Explosion Kills 3 Gaza Fishermen, Hamas Rocket Suspected
    Three Palestinian fishermen were killed Sunday after a blast ripped through their boat off the Gaza shore that appeared to be caused by a rocket launched by Hamas. Minutes before the explosion, local media reported that Hamas was test-firing rockets toward the sea. Hamas, which is usually quick to blame Israel, instead said it was launching an investigation. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Jets Escort American B-52s in Show of Force to Iran - Judah Ari Gross
    Eight Israeli F-15 fighter jets escorted two American B-52 bombers through Israeli airspace on Sunday in a new show of force by the U.S. against Iran - with an Israeli element. Recent weeks have seen multiple attacks on American military bases in Iraq by Iran-linked militias, as well as an attack on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman that Israel has blamed on Tehran. Last month, the U.S. responded to rocket attacks on its bases with an airstrike on an Iran-linked militia in Syria.
        U.S. Central Command said the flight was meant to "deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the U.S. military's commitment to security in the region."  (Times of Israel)
  • Abbas Said to Veto Vaccination Station for Muslims on Temple Mount
    Israeli officials asked the Palestinian Authority and the Jerusalem Muslim Waqf last month to allow Israel to open a coronavirus vaccination station in the Temple Mount area to vaccinate mainly Palestinian worshipers, but the request was rejected, Israel's Channel 11 reported. PA President Mahmoud Abbas opposed the idea, claiming this would give Israel an official presence in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area. The Israeli request came following the repeated publication of photos in which over 10,000 people can be seen praying in the mosque area each Friday, in disregard of Covid-19 protocols.
        Israel then proposed that the vaccines be administered only by Arab Israeli paramedics in clothes that bear no Israeli markings. That offer was also rejected. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Vaccination of Palestinian Workers Begins
    700 Palestinian workers were vaccinated Thursday at the Sha'ar Efraim checkpoint between the West Bank and Israel, the Israeli Health Ministry said. The full vaccination program for 120,000 Palestinians legally employed in Israel and in West Bank communities will start Monday at 8 checkpoints and on Tuesday at 4 industrial zones. (Times of Israel)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Fewer Deaths, Fewer Critical Patients - Rossella Tercatin
    Israel is registering 71% fewer daily deaths and 45% fewer critically ill patients since January, Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science said Sunday. The Israel Health Ministry said Monday that 14 people died of Covid-19 on Sunday. On January 24, 79 patients died in a single day. Last week, the number of patients in serious condition dropped below 700 for the first time in two months, down from 1,200. 85% of the population over 50 have received both vaccination shots. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Coronavirus Vaccinemobiles Arrive at Israeli High Schools to Vaccinate Teachers and Students (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • ICC Investigation Shows Its Problems Go beyond Israel - Editorial
    The International Criminal Court, which is investigating Israel for alleged war crimes committed against the Palestinians, was inspired by the Nuremberg Trials, where Nazis were prosecuted, and was meant to weigh in on the most severe cases - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - that are not and cannot be tried in the countries in which they occurred.
        The investigation into Israeli actions begins in 2014 when Israel sought to end Hamas' ongoing targeting of Israeli civilians with rockets. The probe also covers construction of, and in, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, very little of which actually occurred in the time period covered, and which took place without the forced displacement of anyone.
        Palestinian statehood will not and cannot be determined by a panel of judges, and Israel's borders can only be decided through diplomacy, not forced onto Israelis and Palestinian by a decision made in The Hague. What starts with Israel will not end with Israel. If the court thinks it can determine Israel's borders, it could easily do the same for other countries as well. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Dore Gold: ICC Probe of Israel Sets Dangerous Precedent for All Countries Engaged in War Against Terror - Tovah Lazaroff
    Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold said the precedent created by the ICC probe against Israel "has implications for a lot of countries that are engaged in military operations beyond their borders and within their borders." It "sets a very dangerous precedent for all countries engaged in the war against terror." Gold, who is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank, called "for countries to rethink how the ICC impacts them." To date, eight counties have attempted to intervene on Israel's behalf with the ICC, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Australia, Brazil and Uganda. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Board of Deputies President Calls Out "Moral Bankruptcy" of ICC (Board of Deputies of British Jews)
  • The U.S. Confers Legitimacy on Hamas - Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar
    The Biden administration wants to return the Palestinian issue to the diplomatic center stage. From the administration's standpoint, the problem is not Israel but rather the Palestinian Authority, which the administration sees as harder than Israel to tempt to return to the "peace" process. Therefore, it is investing much more time and effort in luring the PA back.
        Suddenly, in mid-January 2021, Abbas announced elections, 15 years after the last ones. What happened? The Biden administration wants to lay the foundations for a Palestinian state, and there is no better way to present the state as truly democratic than to have "all sectors of the Palestinian people" take part in elections - even Hamas.
        The biggest supporters of Hamas are Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the U.S. that are now returning in a major way to their position of influence in the corridors of the new administration, and they want to make Hamas look kosher. Portraying the group as a civic organization and a legitimate political party rather than the genocidal terrorist group that it is constitutes the best way to legitimize it in the U.S. media and in international politics.
        The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Why Iran's Hate-Filled Schools Should Be a Global Concern - David Andrew Weinberg
    Public school teachers in Iran indoctrinate young people to export global revolution using terrorism. A new study of hate and extremism in current Iranian textbooks finds that they encourage terrorism and political subversion against Arab states. They also demonize America, Israel and the Jewish people.
        The textbooks indoctrinate children with messages that put them on a permanent footing for war. They teach children how to assemble assault rifles, to carry out military maneuvers, and to learn about cyber warfare. The books idealize young people who sacrifice their lives to export the Iranian revolution, glorifying child soldiers who died during the Iran-Iraq War or displaying children wielding rocket launchers.
        Iran's textbooks scapegoat Jewish people for a range of societal ills. All Jewish people who aspire to any form of self-determination are labeled "enemies of Islam."  The writer is Washington Director for International Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Incitement: Antisemitism and Violence in Iran's Current State Textbooks (Anti-Defamation League)

The ICC: What Happens Next? - Col. (res.) Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • On March 3, 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) officially announced the opening of an investigation into all activity in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and Gaza starting on June 13, 2014. The investigation will also apply to Palestinian actions.
  • Since an investigation is a lengthy and complex process, no action is expected against Israeli elements in the near term, if at all.
  • The Prosecutor notes that after opening an investigation, the parties may announce that they themselves are investigating the allegations of crimes. In accordance with the principle of complementarity, the Court will not intervene while a state conducts a genuine investigation of the cases.
  • Therefore, Israel will be able to rely on the existence of investigations in Israel regarding allegations of the activities of the IDF and the security forces.
  • As to settlement activity, viewed in the Court's statute as a war crime, Israel's claims focus on legal arguments as well as the political nature of the issue, meaning that it is not suitable for criminal proceedings, will lead to politicization of the Court, and will make it more difficult to resolve the conflict through negotiations.

    The writer served in the International Law Department of the IDF Military Advocate General unit for 20 years, including five as the unit's head, responsible for advising IDF commanders and government decision-makers.

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