June 7, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Iron Dome Intercepted 1,400 Rockets in 2021 Gaza War (U.S. Defense Department)
    Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin Gantz told U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday, "Our Iron Dome defense system saved hundreds of Israeli lives, intercepting over 1,400 rockets that were aimed at residential neighborhoods, shopping centers, and hospitals."

Israel Diverted Missiles Five Times to Avoid Civilian Casualties in Gaza - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliwa, head of the IDF Operations Directorate, said Sunday that during the 2021 Gaza War, the IDF fired five very expensive missiles, some of the most advanced we have."
    "While they were in the air, we received new, updated intelligence which made it unclear whether combatants were at the target site. We opted to divert the missiles toward the sea, just so there wouldn't be any doubt. We held our fire at the last minute."

Two Iranian Military Advisers Killed by ISIS in Syria (Al-Monitor)
    Iranian military advisers Hassan Abdullah Zadeh and Muhsin Abbassi, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were killed by ISIS in eastern Syria on Thursday.

UN Suspends Iran's Voting Rights for Delinquent Dues - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
    The UN said Thursday that it had suspended the voting rights of Iran and four smaller countries in the General Assembly for delinquent dues after being two years in arrears.

U.S. Army Is Quadrupling Attack Range of Apache Helicopters with Israeli Spike Missiles - Sebastien Roblin (National Interest)
    On March 17, 2021, an Apache helicopter from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida launched a missile that was distinctly different from the usual Hellfire anti-tank missiles it carried.
    As the missile streaked over the Gulf of Mexico at 425 miles per hour, a camera mounted in the weapon's nose transmitted video footage to the helicopter crew.
    A few minutes later, the Spike-NLOS missile plunged into a small target boat 20 miles away, three or four times the maximum range of the Hellfire missile.
    Israel already deploys the missile on its own Apaches.
    The Pentagon had previously wasted $1 billion and a decade failing to develop a missile with similar capabilities before canceling the program.
    The U.S. Army will initially procure 205 Spike missiles in 2021, to be built by Lockheed Martin in Troy, Alabama, in partnership with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
    Separately, the Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command are testing Spike missiles.

U.S. Army to Buy Remote-Controlled Weapons Positions from Israel's Rafael for $150 Million - Udi Etsion (Calcalist)
    The U.S. Army chose American company Oshkosh Defense and Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to provide it with remotely operated weapons positions.
    The U.S. Army is expected to equip 900 armored personnel carriers (APCs) with the new positions, carrying a 30mm cannon.
    Thanks to their remote control operation, the crew will be able to shoot while remaining inside the APC.

Switzerland Adopts IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism - Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)
    The government of Switzerland on Friday adopted the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the 36th country to do so.
    The IHRA definition lists examples of anti-Israel criticism that can be defined as anti-Semitic, including comparing the country's policies to those of Nazi Germany, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and "applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation."
    The U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, and the European Parliament have adopted the definition.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden Administration Supports Replenishing Israel's Iron Dome Rockets after Gaza Conflict - Ron Kampeas
    The U.S. government supports restocking Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system after it was depleted by last month's conflict with Hamas in Gaza, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs Joey Hood said Wednesday. "The president is clear about this administration's support for replenishing the system for Israel's ability to defend itself in the future," he said.
        A letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signed by 55 House members of both parties in support of such a move noted that in 2014 after an Israel-Hamas war, Congress appropriated funds to replenish Iron Dome. (JTA)
  • Austria Defends Pro-Israel Flag Move amid Arab Diplomatic Protest - Oliver Towfigh Nia
    Following a formal protest by envoys of Arab states, Austria on Friday strongly defended its move to hoist the Israeli flag over government buildings during Israel's recent conflict with Hamas. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told the Austrian daily Die Presse there has been a "paradigm shift" in the country's stance on Middle East issues under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is pursuing a close alliance with Israel.
        "Austria has deliberately realigned its policy here," Schallenberg said. "Austria is aware of its special historical responsibility towards Israel, and we have made a relevant clear policy change in our relations with Israel."  (Anadolu-Turkey)
  • Israel-Gaza Conflict Spurs Bitcoin Donations to Hamas - Benoit Faucon
    Hamas has seen a surge in cryptocurrency donations since the start of the armed conflict with Israel last month, a senior official said, exploiting a trend in online fundraising that has enabled it to circumvent international sanctions to fund its military operations. Last year, U.S. federal authorities tracked dozens of cryptocurrency accounts and seized more than $1 million in cryptocurrency tied to Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades.
        With cryptocurrencies, groups such as Hamas "don't need to worry about the dogs sniffing it at the airport," said Eyal Pinko, former head of the intelligence division at Israel's prime minister's office. "These money transfers can be untraceable. The sky's the limit."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Conditions Gaza's Rehabilitation on Return of Fallen Soldiers and Captive Civilians - Lilach Shoval
    In a policy shift in the wake of the 2021 Gaza War, Israel has conditioned Gaza's rehabilitation on the return of Israel's fallen soldiers and captive civilians in Hamas hands. It is only permitting medicine and medical equipment, food, and fuel for the private sector to enter Gaza and is allowing Gazans in need of life-saving medical treatment to enter Israel, but is not allowing anything else to enter Gaza and is preventing the export of goods.
        The Defense Ministry's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has determined unequivocally that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Due to precise targeting, the damage to civilian infrastructure in Gaza from Israeli strikes was just one-tenth of the damage caused during the 2014 war. (Israel Hayom)
  • UNRWA Finds Attack Tunnel under Gaza School - Tovah Lazaroff
    At the end of May, UNRWA, the UN Palestinian refugee agency, found what "appears to be a cavity and a possible tunnel, at the location of the missile strike," under the UNRWA Zaitoun Preparatory Boys' School "A" and Elementary Boys' School "A." "The depth of the cavity is approximately 7.5 meters below the surface of the school."
        "UNRWA condemns the existence and potential use by Palestinian armed groups of such tunnels underneath its schools in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff be placed at risk in such a way," the organization stated. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Al Jazeera Releases New Footage of Hamas Tunnels in Gaza (Mehr News-Iran)
  • PA Pays $42,000 to Family of Terrorist Who Murdered Two Israelis - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority on Sunday handed $42,000 to the family of Palestinian terrorist Muhannad al-Halabi, who murdered two Israelis, to compensate them for the family's house that was demolished by the IDF. On Oct. 3, 2015, Halabi stabbed Aaron Benita, who was on his way to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem with his family. Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, a resident who heard screams and came to help, was also murdered. Halabi was shot dead by the police. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Decline Continues
    There were 195 active coronavirus patients in Israel as of Monday morning, the Israel Ministry of Health reported. 66 people were hospitalized, including 37 in serious condition, of whom 24 were on respirators. 80% of the adult population has been vaccinated. (Israel Ministry of Health-Hebrew)
        See also Israel to Drop Mask Requirement Indoors, Begin to Vaccinate Teenagers Aged 12 to 15 - Ido Efrati (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Rift between Guardian Council and Ayatollah Khamenei ahead of Iranian Presidential Elections - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Iran Desk
    After only 7 out of 592 presidential candidates were approved by Iran's Guardian Council for the June 18 election, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on June 4 that "injustice and sin have been done against some of the candidates who have not received permission to join the election campaign." It is believed that Khamenei wanted the reinstatement of Speaker of Iran's Parliament Ali Larijani. Yet the Guardian Council later announced that there would be no change in the list of candidates.
        In the first televised candidates' debate on June 5, the seven candidates agreed that the harsh economic situation is unprecedented. Ebrahim Raisi, widely believed to be the preferred candidate of Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, was revealed during the debate as the weakest candidate. According to the latest surveys, 34% of Iranians said they would "definitely vote" in the elections. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Home Front in the 2021 Gaza War - Col. (res.) Gili Shenhar
    During the 2021 Gaza War there were an average of 400 rocket attacks each day, nearly four times the average during the 2014 War or the 2006 Second Lebanon War. 120 rockets were fired toward central Israel, including Tel Aviv. Ashkelon was the target of 111 barrages of 960 rockets. Ashdod was targeted by 253 rockets and suffered much physical damage.
        The civilian front displayed a high level of functional resilience. Recovery was orderly and rapid. The public in general felt that the military campaign was justified, partly because it was Hamas that began the fighting. The protection provided by the Iron Dome defense system, the improved warning system (with 1,700 localized alarm zones), and detailed and clear Home Front Command instructions enabled a sense of security. This time the Israeli civilians living near Gaza were protected from terrorist infiltration through attack tunnels thanks to underground and aboveground barriers constructed at a cost of more than $1 billion.
        As in the past, particularly in the Gaza envelope communities, many residents decided to leave their homes until the fighting was over. This is now accepted as normative conduct, particularly for families with children.
        The writer is the academic coordinator of Emergency Management Programs at Tel Aviv University, and a spokesperson for the IDF Home Front Command in emergencies. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • After a Century, Jordan Has Outlived Expectations, but Remains Precarious - Asher Susser
    Jordan recently launched its centennial celebrations, defying the skeptics who had predicted the kingdom's demise on countless occasions. How had the kingdom survived for so long, against the odds, and in contrast to its neighbors in the Fertile Crescent?
        When Britain's then-Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill founded the Emirate of Transjordan in 1921, it did not include even one city. Amman was a village, mainly Circassian, with 2,500 inhabitants. Only one town, al-Salt, had a population of 20,000. Most of the country was an underpopulated and impoverished desert with no natural resources. Yet Jordan is 90-95% Sunni Muslim and Arab, unlike the multiple sects in neighboring Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, whose sectarian conflicts have led to their destruction.
        Though King Abdullah II has been on his throne for 22 years, he is still often compared, mostly unfavorably, to his father Hussein. Abdullah received all his formal education, from elementary school onwards, in England and the U.S. Hussein also studied for a few years in his teens in England. But he never lost his intimate attachment to Jordan and its people. The Jordanians admired Hussein's command of Arabic, while Abdullah was sometimes the object of ridicule because of his faulty language. Abdullah's upbringing did not include intimacy with tribal mores and politics, which were second nature to Hussein.
        The writer is Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University. (Fathom-BICOM-UK)
  • Palestinian Actions Have Made Israel Averse to Territorial Compromise - Daniel Gordis
    When it comes to the Palestinians, Israelis are fairly united. There's no deal with the Palestinians looming anywhere on the horizon, regardless of which parties form the coalition. The Palestinians have repeatedly rejected overtures from Israeli leaders like Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, and even Barack Obama could not get Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table. Israeli politics changed because even centrist and left-of-center Israelis have despaired of the Palestinians making a deal.
        The two-state solution is alive and well - in the imaginations of Americans. Closer to home, it's seen as an idea out of a Disney movie: a sweet and enchanting idea for an ending to the story, utterly unrelated to the world we actually inhabit.
        The writer is a fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem and author of 12 books. (Israel from the Inside)

  • A new book by nuclear weapons expert David Albright, Iran's Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons, based on 55,000 pages of documentation from the archive of the Iranian nuclear program smuggled out of Tehran by Israeli agents, should set off further alarm bells for those inside a U.S. government hoping to patch things up with the Islamic Republic.
  • Albright concludes that "in 2003 they had a [nuclear bomb] design that was the diameter of a car tire. It was designed small enough to fit on their ballistic missiles. The bottom line is, they know more about making nuclear weapons than was known before the discovery of the archive, and they could make them quicker than was known before the discovery of the archive."
  • Other critical revelations include the fact that Iran has almost two dozen sites linked to its nuclear weapons program, of which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has visited only three, and that Iran has or is very close to having the ability to load its nuclear payload onto a medium-range ballistic missile that can hit Israel and southern Europe.
  • Finally, the documents shed light on how Iran continued its program well after 2003 and after the signing of the JCPOA, moving from design testing to virtual testing focused on a weapons on-demand program that allows Tehran a nuclear weapons option at a time of its choosing.
  • The bottom line, according to Albright, is that "the archive has revealed a host of undeclared nuclear sites and activities, all previously dedicated to a covert, and illegal, nuclear weapons program."
  • In short, critical research on nuclear weapons and miniaturization have continued since the signing of the JCPOA, yet the Biden administration seeks to return to the deal as if the nuclear archive revelations never happened.
  • What needs to happen is a rethinking of the terms of the JCPOA, before U.S. leverage is lost. The IAEA must be allowed access to all the sites revealed in the nuclear archive, including the many it has never visited, and must be allowed to interview the scientists known to work at those sites. And the question of delivery vehicles must be addressed before Iran is once again relieved of sanctions and given billions in cash.

    The writer is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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