August 9, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Rhythmic Gymnast Linoy Ashram Wins Olympic Gold (Times of Israel)
    Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram, 22, won an Olympic gold medal on Saturday in Tokyo.
    She was visibly moved as Israel's national anthem, Hatikva, rang out through the gymnastics center as the Israeli flag was raised.
    See also Linoy Ashram: "I Am the First Woman to Return to Israel with a Gold Medal" - Joshua Halickman (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Video: Linoy Ashram's Olympic Ribbon Routine (YouTube)

Israel Sending Firefighting Team to Greece to Help Fight Wildfires (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    A team of 16 Israeli firefighters departed for Greece on Friday to assist in dealing with severe wildfires that are plaguing the country.

Iran Sees Highest Daily Coronavirus Cases, Deaths (AP)
    Iran, grappling with its most severe surge of the coronavirus, on Sunday logged 39,600 new cases and 542 deaths.
    The crush of new cases, fueled by the delta variant, have overwhelmed hospitals, with 6,462 severe cases reported Sunday.
    Only 3.3% of the total population of 80 million has been fully vaccinated.

Iran Replaces Red Sea Spy Ship - Oren Liebermann (CNN)
    Tehran has quietly replaced a spy ship in the Red Sea that was damaged in an April attack, two U.S. officials told CNN.
    The Behshad was positioned near the Bab el-Mandeb strait, according to satellite imagery provided by ImageSat International, an Israeli satellite and intelligence company, replacing the Saviz.

69 Hamas Members Sentenced to Prison in Saudi Arabia - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas says 69 of its Palestinian and Jordanian members and supporters, who were arrested three years ago and accused of affiliation with a terrorist organization, were sentenced by a Saudi court on Sunday to prison terms ranging from 3 to 21 years.

UNRWA to Investigate 10 Staffers Accused of Spreading Anti-Semitic Material (i24News)
    After UN Watch released a report alleging 22 UNRWA staff members were engaged in incitement to hatred on the Internet, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees announced the opening of an investigation into the allegations.

"Normalization" Meeting with Israeli Journalists in Ramallah Condemned by Palestinian Press Syndicate (New Arab-UK)
    The Palestinian Press Syndicate on Wednesday denounced a meeting in which the PLO Committee for Communication with Israeli Society hosted an Israeli press delegation in Ramallah.
    "Holding such meetings at the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization...is a great sin that cannot be tolerated," the syndicate said.
    Fatah, PLO, and government officials attended the meeting.

PA Delays Qatar Funding for Gaza over Payment of Hamas Salaries - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Payment of Hamas salaries has delayed the resumption of Qatari funding for Gaza, a senior diplomatic source said Thursday.
    Israel already has an approved list of recipients and has checked that none are terrorists but are teachers or engineers, for example.
    The channel for paying them, however, is through the Palestinian Authority, which does not want to pay anyone affiliated with Hamas.

One Year into Abraham Accords, Israel's Trade with UAE Tops $570 Million - Zev Stub (Jerusalem Post)
    A year into the Abraham Accords, $570 million in business has been done between Israel and the UAE, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.
    During 2020 and the first six months of 2021, Israel exported $197 million in goods and services to the UAE and imported $372 million.
    Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, said, "The UAE is the business capital of the entire region. Every country has a presence there."
    "Israelis are always looking for ways to do business in South Asia, East Africa, India and Bangladesh. These are markets with two billion people, and you can't work with them from Tel Aviv."
    "The UAE is the place where everyone congregates to do business, and Israel has finally been admitted to that club."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pentagon Investigation Says Iran behind Attack on Mercer Street Tanker - Jennifer Hansler
    A U.S. Defense Department expert team concluded that the drone behind the deadly attack on the Mercer Street on July 30 was produced in Iran and was "loaded with a military-grade explosive," U.S. Central Command said Friday. Moreover, the ship had been targeted the day prior "by two unsuccessful explosive UAV attacks."  (CNN)
        See also Investigation into the Attack on the Tanker Mercer Street (U.S. Central Command)
        See also G7: "All Available Evidence Clearly Points to Iran" for Tanker Attack
    "This was a deliberate and targeted attack, and a clear violation of international law....There is no justification for this attack," the ministers from the world's seven most developed nations said in a statement on Friday.
        British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward added, "The UK knows that Iran was responsible for this attack. We know it was deliberate and targeted."  (AFP-France 24)
  • Biden's Iran Nuclear Deal Ambitions Shrink as Tensions Flare - Nick Wadhams
    The Biden administration faces the sobering reality that returning to the Iran nuclear deal may no longer be feasible, as the Islamic Republic finds ways to cope with U.S. sanctions and races toward the capacity to build a bomb. U.S. officials are reviewing their options after months of talks on reentry into the accord failed to produce an agreement. The U.S. is willing to weigh alternatives, including limited sanctions relief in exchange for Iran freezing its most provocative proliferation work.
        Several people familiar with the talks said the U.S. goal is still a full return to the 2015 deal, though they have no evidence that Iran's government is ready to do that. One senior Western diplomat said the slow pace of talks has dimmed hopes for a broader deal that would encompass Iran's ballistic missile program and its support for terrorist groups. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • With 1st Rocket Attack in 15 Years, Hizbullah Risks War to Test Israel - Judah Ari Gross
    On Friday, Hizbullah fired 19 rockets at Israel, with 10 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The rockets fired at Israel were the fifth such attack from Lebanon in three months, but the first openly carried out by Hizbullah since the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Palestinian factions in Lebanon fired rockets at Israel the first four times, apparently with the tacit approval of Hizbullah, which maintains strict control over southern Lebanon. On Wednesday, Israel responded with airstrikes, the first inside Lebanon since 2014. (Times of Israel)
        See also U.S. Condemns Hizbullah Rocket Attacks on Israel (U.S. State Department)
        See also Israel Demands UN Condemnation of Hizbullah Rocket Attacks
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan wrote to the UN Security Council on Friday demanding a condemnation of the rocket attacks on Israel from Lebanon. "Israel holds the government of Lebanon responsible for any action originating from within its territory, regardless of the affiliation of the individuals or the terrorist group that carried out the attacks." The attacks "constitute undeniable proof of the presence of terrorist organizations and of their infrastructure in UNIFIL's area of operations."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Senior Bahraini Diplomat in Jerusalem: Iran Responsible for Crises across the Middle East - Lazar Berman
    Dr. Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Undersecretary for International Relations, said Sunday in Jerusalem, "What we see, speaking from a Bahraini perspective and the experience of my country with Iran, is continuous interference in domestic affairs in my country; support of extremism and terrorism, continuous smuggling of arms and explosives and drugs and narcotics."
        Khalifa related that Bahrain's King Hamid ibn Isa al Khalida had sent a congratulatory note to Iranian President Rouhani on the day of the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal. Two days later, Bahraini security forces intercepted an illicit arms shipment from Iran headed for Bahrain. "If you look into the crises across the Middle East, you will find one red thread that would go across all those crises. You would find an Iranian finger."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Bahraini Think Tank Partners with Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs - Lahav Harkov
    The Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat), headed by Dr. Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, signed a cooperation agreement on Sunday with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, headed by Amb. Dore Gold. Gold said the goal of this partnership is "to create an array of cooperation agreements with the countries of the Abraham Accords and to convey a message to the U.S., Europe and other countries, of a realistic understanding of the challenges that we share - the danger of Iran's policies in the region and the world."
        Al Khalifa, who is also deputy secretary-general of the Supreme Defense Council, is in charge of the Israel portfolio at the Foreign Ministry in Bahrain and has visited Israel twice previously. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Serious Cases Climb, Infection Rate Remains Stable
    According to Israel Ministry of Health data released on Monday, the number of seriously-ill coronavirus patients climbed to 360. Overall, coronavirus cases grew by 3,372, but the rate of positive tests remained steady at 3.9%.
        There are 31,393 active cases and 618 people hospitalized, including 57 on respirators. (Ha'aretz-Israel Ministry of Health)
  • Israel Strikes Hamas Sites in Gaza after Renewal of Arson Balloon Attacks - Emanuel Fabian
    Israeli planes struck a number of sites in Gaza on Saturday night in response to a wave of arson balloon attacks launched at Israel on Friday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Must Stop Lebanon from Becoming the New Gaza - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Unlike previous incidents of rocket fire from Lebanon on Israel in recent months that were launched from improvised launchers, Wednesday's attack was carried out by a more precise military-grade, multi-barreled Katyusha rocket launcher positioned on a truck located north of the Litani River, near the town of Mahmoudiya, which is controlled by Hizbullah.
        The road to the village was bombed in a subsequent Israeli airstrike, cutting access to the town where steep terrain makes any alternative access impossible. The bombed road is a vital transportation route in the Marjayoun district. Hizbullah forces and Lebanese troops deployed in the south could easily prevent such attacks by Palestinian factions but don't.
        The airstrike, the first in southern Lebanon in eight years, sends a clear message to Hizbullah and the Lebanese that Israel will not hesitate to strike infrastructure in Lebanon if its sovereignty is violated. (Ynet News)
  • Lebanese Reactions to Rocket Fire on Israel Show Support for Hizbullah Is Waning - Jack Khoury
    In the latest exchange of fire, Israel struck an open area in Lebanon without causing damage or inflicting any casualties, so Hizbullah's response was the same. But on social media, residents of the Druze village of Chouaya in Lebanon located the launcher used to fire rockets at Israel and gave the Hizbullah operatives a piece of their mind. If they want to shoot, why do it from a Druze village?
        Some accused Hizbullah of trying to deflect attention from the country's economic and political crisis. Hizbullah no longer enjoys the popular support it had before the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Lebanon is collapsing, both economically and socially. (Ha'aretz)
  • No Change Seen in Israel-Russia Coordination in Syria - Elizabeth Blade
    IDF Col. (ret.) Eran Lerman, who held senior positions within Israel's military intelligence, says "there has not been any strategic change" in Israeli-Russian coordination in Syria. Russia and Israel would like to avoid incidents like one that occurred in 2018 when a Russian military plane was downed by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli air operation, killing 15 people.
        And both nations, says Lerman, would like to make certain that Iran doesn't cement its positions in Syria. "Russia has been investing much in the survival of Assad, so allowing Iran to utilize Syria as a launching pad could put these achievements at risk."  (Sputnik-Russia)
  • Ben and Jerry's U.S. Franchisees Call for Company to Rescind Israel Decision - Aaron Bandler
    Ben & Jerry's franchisees in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and St. Louis have written to the company calling on them to rescind their July 19 decision to stop doing business in the West Bank. "The decision that has been made to terminate the contract with Ben & Jerry's licensee in Israel...has imposed and will to continue to impose substantial financial costs on all of us," the letter stated. "More importantly, the controversy your recent actions have brought upon our local businesses has had an adverse effect on the value of our independently owned franchises and investments."
        The franchisees added that their respective families and communities "have shamed us personally for doing business not just with a company that draws controversy, but with one that continues to consider the calculated negative affect on its franchisees as acceptable collateral damage."  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • The LA Teachers Union's Opinion on the Middle East Is Not Wanted - Editorial
    What does a teachers bargaining unit in Los Angeles have to do with Israeli policies and actions toward Palestinians? We're still trying to figure that one out and so, apparently, are upset members within United Teachers Los Angeles. The union is in an uproar over a resolution to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. The matter will come before UTLA's governing House of Representatives for a vote in September.
        The House should reject the measure. The world is hardly waiting to hear what a California teachers union thinks of the matter. Meanwhile, the Forward Jewish news site reports that hundreds of UTLA members have mounted a campaign against the BDS resolution, and many are threatening to quit the union - in a metropolitan area with the second-biggest Jewish population in the U.S.
        Many Jewish parents and students see BDS support as inherently anti-Semitic, even though it's directed at Israel, not the Jewish people. Support for BDS wouldn't accomplish a thing. The union would be better off keeping its nose out of Middle Eastern affairs that don't affect its members or the schools, and in which it has no expertise. (Los Angeles Times)

Israel's National Security Doctrine - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • Israel has an unwritten but broadly accepted national security doctrine - "first principles" - which can assist in long-term planning, setting priorities and allocating resources.
  • Israel will forever face a yawning gap between the size of its resident population and that of neighboring countries, which have all been hostile to Israel's existence in the past, and some remain so. Israel always will be a small country in size, and hence hyper-sensitive to any loss of territory and to artillery and rocket fire - unlike most of its neighbors.
  • Israel can never attain a decisive victory in war - a moment which would radically transform the political culture of the region regarding the desire to annihilate it. No victory in any war would ensure, once and for all, that Israel again will not face threats to its existence. Moreover, Israel's first defeat may well be its last, if its territory ends up being conquered by Arab or Islamic forces. This is not the case for any Arab country which Israel might defeat and occupy its territory.
  • Thus, Israel is doomed to plan for the next war at the end of any war it fights, no matter how successful; and in every war it must prevail against all odds. In sharp contrast to its adversaries, the IDF has no option of retreat.
  • Israel's "center of gravity" is concentrated in a narrow geographical space in the greater Tel Aviv region - 10 miles from the Green Line, 45 miles from the Jordan River border, and 25 miles from Gaza. Keeping the enemy away from the region and defending it from attack is vital and critical for Israel's ability to survive and to function during any wartime scenario. Beyond that, due to its small size, Israel does not have much redundancy when it comes to critical infrastructure, which is a serious vulnerability.
  • Israel will make every effort to bolster its ability to defend itself by itself. It cannot and must not rely on others to fight its wars.
  • Both to deter, as well as to defend effectively, and to attack and win when necessary, Israel must maintain a "qualitative edge" over its enemies, mostly using advanced technology and highly-qualified manpower. Israel will do everything necessary to sustain and increase its qualitative advantages.

    The writer, who served for 36 years in senior IDF posts, was National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu and chairman of the National Security Council.

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