Tanker Crew Foiled Hijack Attempt by Iran's Commandos
- David Rose (The Times-UK
Iranian navy commandos stormed the Asphalt Princess
in the Arabian Sea on Tuesday and tried to divert it to Iran but were thwarted after the crew disabled the ship's engines.
A source told The Times
that a squad of heavily armed Iranians boarded the ship near the Strait of Hormuz but fled when U.S. and Omani warships approached the stricken vessel.
Iranian Petroleum Products Will Arrive in Lebanon Soon
- Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Hizbullah representatives are currently in Tehran to complete discussions on transferring gasoline and diesel from Iran to Lebanon, in light of the Lebanese government's inability to resolve the country's fuel crisis.
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah recently revealed that Hizbullah "will go to Iran...buy vessels full of petrol and fuel oil and bring them to Beirut port."
The collapse of the Lebanese economy and paralysis of vital sectors of the country will thus lead to the breaking of sanctions imposed on the import of petroleum products from Iran.
The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, served as military secretary to the prime minister.
Senator's Hold on U.S. Funding to Palestinians Remains in Place
- Adam Lucente (Al-Monitor
Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the Ranking Member (senior Republican) on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to continue holding up $75 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority because it provides payments to families of individuals who kill Israelis.
"As long as there is any question that additional funds could fall into the hands of terrorists through Palestine's 'pay to slay' program, Senator Risch will exercise his right to hold them," a spokesperson said Thursday.
President Biden restored U.S. funding to the Palestinians in April, after funding had been cut by the previous administration.
A Senate "hold" is an informal practice whereby a senator can express opposition to an executive action, a request typically honored by the Senate majority leader.
PA, Qatar Reach Agreement on Transfer of Funds to Gaza
The Palestinian Authority and Qatar have reached an agreement on the transfer of Qatari aid money to Gaza, after Hamas accepted the involvement of the PA in the transfer process.
The transfers include assistance to 100,000 beneficiaries from poor families as well as to 27,695 Hamas administration officials.
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Global Covid Death Toll a Million Higher than Reported, Israeli Study Finds
- Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel
Hebrew University researchers studied death rates in half the countries of the world to learn how much higher deaths were during the corona pandemic compared to previous years.
In Russia, there were 110,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, but there were 500,000 excess deaths.
In Belarus there were 390 virus deaths but 5,700 excess deaths, and in Nicaragua there were 140 virus deaths but 7,000 excess deaths. In many countries, numbers are impacted by a lack of testing capacity.
In the U.S., there were 590,000 virus deaths and 640,000 excess deaths.
Israel is one of the few countries where the number of excess deaths is smaller than the number of recorded Covid-19 deaths: 5,000 versus 6,477.
This may be because lockdowns and social distancing meant that influenza was hardly existent in Israel, though in a normal year it causes 2,000 deaths.
Israeli Blood Test Tells Covid Patients Their Chance of Deterioration
- Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel
The MeMed Covid-19 severity test, made in Israel, tells coronavirus-infected people within 15 minutes how likely they are to deteriorate to serious illness. The results are 86% accurate.
The technology hinges on research the company has been conducting for a decade, tracking what specific protein levels in the blood indicate about the prospects for certain health conditions.
An earlier "sniffles" test tells doctors whether a child has a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics or a viral infection that just needs chicken soup.
Tokyo Police Using Israeli Surveillance Balloons to Help Secure Olympic Games
SkyStar 180 tactical surveillance balloons are in use by Tokyo Police to help secure the Olympic games, the Israeli manufacturer RT announced last week.
The systems are positioned at several locations, about 150 meters above the ground.
High-quality video is transmitted in real time to the Tokyo Police command center.
Israel to Open New Haifa Port in September
- Zev Stub (Jerusalem Post
Israel's new Gulf Port of Haifa will begin operations on September 1 after 15 years of construction.
"The opening of the Gulf port will revolutionize the entire economy. It is the newest port in the world, with the latest in port technology," said Yitzhak Blumenthal, CEO of the Israel Ports Company.
Another new port in Ashdod is expected to be completed later this year. The openings come at a time when Israel's ports have been severely backed up.
Intel Israel Appoints Arab Vice President
- Luke Tress (Times of Israel
Reda Masarwa, an Israeli Arab, has been appointed as a vice president of Intel Israel, the company announced.
Masarwa, a graduate of Ben-Gurion University, has worked for Intel for 24 years, managing the construction of Intel chip plants, heading a team of 150 Intel engineers, and supervising over 2,000 engineers from outside the company.
Chinese University to Open Branch in Israel for Business Administration
China's University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing will open a branch in Israel for undergraduate studies in business administration, Israel's Council for Higher Education (CHE) said.
The university will open in Petah Tikva starting in October.
reported that Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Matan Vilnai, former Israeli ambassador to China, has been appointed president of the university branch.
Israel Has Doubled Its Share in the Gaming Industry
- James Spiro (Calcalist
Google Israel's managing director, Barak Regev, said, "Pre-pandemic, around 6% of the global downloads [for the gaming industry] were attributed to Israeli gaming studios. Post-pandemic...we've doubled our market share - 12% of global downloads are attributed to gaming studios out of Israel. That's phenomenal."
Mobile gaming makes up "a dominant" portion of the industry, with millions of people playing billions of hours of games on mobile devices.
Israeli Startups Raised $2.4 Billion in July
Israeli startups raised $2.4 billion in July 2021, the fifth consecutive month that Israeli startups raised $2 billion or more.
Israeli tech companies have raised $14.3 billion in the first seven months of 2021, nearly 50% more than the record $10 billion raised in all of 2020.
Fitch Reaffirms Israel's A+ Rating
- Guy Ben Simon (Globes
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Israel's long-term rating at "A+" with a stable outlook.
After Israel's economy contracted 2.6% in 2020 due to the Covid crisis, the agency forecasts 5.1% growth in 2021 and 5.7% growth in 2022.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- Israel Briefs Foreign Ambassadors on Iranian Drone Attack - Shira Rubin
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Wednesday with ambassadors of UN Security Council countries and provided detailed intelligence information proving that Iran struck an Israeli-operated oil tanker near Oman on July 29.
See also Israel Names Iran Revolutionary Guards UAV Commander as Responsible for Ship Attack
Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz told ambassadors of UN Security Council member countries on Wednesday: "Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp's Air Force, is behind dozens of terror attacks in the region employing UAVs and missiles....The man who is directly responsible for the launch of suicide UAVs - his name is Saeed Ara Jani and he is the Head of the IRGC's UAV Command. The UAV Command conducted the attack on the Mercer Street. Saeed Ara Jani plans and provides the training and equipment to conduct terror attacks in the region."
"Iran is responsible for dozens of terror attacks across the Middle East, while controlling its proxies in Yemen, Iraq and additional countries. Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon....It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds - otherwise the attacks will continue. The Iranian people are not our enemy. The Iranian regime is threatening us and sparking a regional arms race."
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid added: "This is an attack on the world's trade routes; this is an attack on freedom of movement. This is an international crime. So my question to you is: What is the international community going to do about it? Is there still such a thing as international law? And does the world have the ability and willpower to enforce the law? If the answer is 'yes,' the world should act now." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- UK Military Chief: "We Have Got to Restore Deterrence" Against Iran - Deborah Haynes
After an Iranian attack on a tanker killed British security guard Adrian Underwood,
Gen. Sir Nick Carter, the UK's military chief, told BBC Radio 4, "What we need to be doing fundamentally is calling out Iran for very reckless behavior. They made a big mistake on the attack they did against the Mercer Street vessel last week because, of course, that has very much internationalized the state of play in the Gulf."
"Ultimately, we have got to restore deterrence because it is behavior like that which leads to escalation, and that could very easily lead to miscalculation and that would be very disastrous for all the peoples of the Gulf and the international community." (Sky News-UK)
- France Adopts New Laws to Combat Terrorism -
French lawmakers last month adopted two new laws to strengthen the government's ability to fight terrorism and Islamist extremism.
One law gives France's security services more tools to keep track of suspected terrorists and surveil them online. The other aims to combat extremist ideas in French society by toughening conditions for home-schooling, tightening rules for associations seeking state subsidies, and giving authorities new powers to close places of worship seen as condoning hateful or violent ideas.
"We are giving ourselves the means to fight against those who misuse religion to attack the values of the Republic," said Gerald Darmanin, France's interior minister.
One article of the new law, added after the decapitation of a schoolteacher after videos criticizing him widely circulated on social media, criminalizes the act of publishing someone's private information online if there is clear intent to put them in harm's way. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel Calls on Security Council to Condemn, Sanction Iran over Strike on Tanker - Jacob Magid
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Tuesday called on the Security Council to condemn and sanction Iran in the wake of last week's deadly drone attack on a ship with ties to Israel off the coast of Oman. "The Security Council should not sit idly by in the face of such violations by Iran or by the terrorist organizations throughout the region that serve as its proxies," Erdan wrote to the Security Council president. "I call upon the Security Council to address this string of attacks with great urgency and unequivocally condemn and sanction Iran for these malign activities." (Times of Israel)
- Three Rockets Fired at Israel from Lebanon - Adi Hashmonai
Three rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Israel on Wednesday, with two landing in Israeli territory. The IDF responded with artillery fire at Lebanese targets. Israel believes that Palestinians, not Hizbullah, were responsible.
See also Israel Air Force Strikes Lebanon Launch Sites after Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun
The Israel Air Force hit launch sites in south Lebanon early Thursday in response to rocket fire on northern Israel, in the first airstrikes targeting Lebanon in years, the IDF said. (Ynet News)
- Israel Contends with Delta Variant of Coronavirus - Ido Efrati
Israel recorded 3,430 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, while the number of people in serious condition climbed to 250 - the highest since mid-April, Israel's Health Ministry reported Thursday.
There were 25,747 active cases, with the highest numbers reported in Netanya and greater Tel Aviv.
(Ha'aretz-Israel Health Ministry)
See also Israel to Require Travelers from U.S. to Quarantine - Shira Rubin
Israel announced Tuesday it would require both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans to quarantine for a week upon arrival to Israel, effective Aug. 11.
- Israel Supreme Court Offers "Protected Status" to Palestinians Facing Eviction in Jerusalem - Tovah Lazaroff
Israel's Supreme Court on Monday encouraged four Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem to accept a compromise deal that would nullify eviction orders and allow them to remain in their homes. As part of the deal, one member of each family would be granted lifetime protected tenancy on the property in exchange for annual rental payments of NIS 1,500 ($465).
Judge Yitzhak Amit said, "We recommend it precisely because...you do not want anyone to be thrown out of their home." The families' previous refusal to pay a minimal amount of rent had led to the decision by two lower courts to evict them. There are an additional 24 families in their neighborhood who are in the midst of similar legal battles. The Israeli Nahalat Shimon Company owns the property that belonged to Jews prior to Israel's independence in 1948. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel Asks U.S. to Encourage Palestinians to Accept Jerusalem Property Compromise - Ben Samuels
Israeli officials have asked the Biden administration to support the compromise suggested Monday by Israel's Supreme Court in the high-profile property case
in eastern Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. "The compromise presented by the justices is good for the Palestinian residents at the site and could get them down from their tree," an Israeli diplomatic source said.
Another Israeli source said the White House realizes that the decision is not in the hands of Israeli politicians but rather the judiciary, which he said is "independent." (Ha'aretz)
- New Israeli Budget Promises over $9 Billion for Arab Sector - Daniel Sonnenfeld
On Aug. 2, the Israeli Cabinet approved a draft state budget containing $9.19 billion intended for Israel's minorities. $6.7 billion is dedicated to the next five-year plan for the Arab sector, compared with $3.3 billion in the last five-year plan approved in 2016. In addition, $780 million will be directed at fighting crime and violence in the Arab sector, as Israeli Arab politicians have sought.
The Bedouin population will receive $1.6 billion, while $930 million will be directed at the Druze and Circassian minorities.
Dr. Salim Brake, an expert on Arab society in Israel who teaches at the Open University, said, "This plan is unprecedented, and if it is realized, it will make a major difference for the Arab population." The new plan is intended to close the gaps in education, employment and financial prosperity.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
- When Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress in 2015 to make the case against the Iran nuclear deal, many Arab heads of state heard him lay out the evidence for Iran's plans for increased control of the Middle East and found themselves nodding in agreement.
- With hindsight, Netanyahu's controversial appearance looks like the catalyst that accelerated rapprochement between Israel and many Arab states. It set the stage for the Abraham Accords in 2020, which formalized new normalization agreements between Israel and key Arab states.
- Iranian aggression - more than any peace plan or blueprint for economic cooperation - became the glue that was binding Israel and some of its former adversaries.
- The Israeli prime minister explained how four Arab capitals - Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa - had fallen under Iranian domination. "If Iran's aggression is left unchecked," he warned, "more will surely follow." In fact, Iranian media at the time was predicting the imminent fall of Saudi Arabia.
- Without having planned it, Israel's diplomatic campaign against the Iran deal opened its door to the Arab world. Communication channels soon opened between Arab states and Israel, even in the absence of formal agreements. Israel has achieved a level of integration with a large part of the Arab world that would have been unthinkable not long ago.
- The threat Israel and many Arab states face is the same. Tehran likes to remind its people that the Arab states had once been part of its territory, and that those lands must one day be returned to Iran.
A common threat, to adapt a phrase, is a terrible thing to waste. The time to move this improbable, promising, and essential alliance forward is now.
The writer, former Israeli ambassador to the UN and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Register here to join a live discussion of this article with Ambassador Gold and Bret Stephens on Monday, August 16th at 12:00 PM ET.
See also Israel in Contact with Most Arab Countries, including Iraq - Lazar Berman
"Over the last twenty years, the Foreign Ministry was always in touch with almost all the players in the Arab World," Haim Regev, the outgoing director of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Division, said Tuesday.
While the list of covert contacts does not include Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, it does extend to Baghdad, he said.
(Times of Israel)
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