November 8, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Mossad Thwarts Iranian Attacks on Israelis in Africa - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    The Mossad intelligence agency has thwarted multiple attacks by Iran against Israeli tourists and businessmen in Tanzania, Senegal and Ghana, Channel 12 reported on Sunday.
    Five suspects, all with African passports, have been arrested.
    Israeli intelligence officials estimate that Iran will continue to target Israelis and Jews in spots where security is weak, at least until they have achieved some amount of revenge and deterrence against Israeli attacks on Iran.

Iraqi Prime Minister Survives Drone Attack - Hamdi Alkhshali (CNN)
    Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi escaped an assassination attempt on Sunday after an explosive-laden drone targeted his residence in Baghdad.

UK Reduces Donations to UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (Guardian-UK)
    Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, said the UK had reduced its funding for UNRWA from $57.2 million in 2020 to $28 million in 2021.
    "It is a direct impact of this policy decision [by the UK] to reduce the aid budget from the equivalent of 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%," Lazzarini said.

Diplomat Refutes UK University Claim that Christians Are at Risk in Israel - Sandy Rashty (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    A report by the University of Birmingham claimed that Christians, who make up 2% of Israel's population, are at "grave risk."
    Ohad Zemet, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in the UK, responded: "While Christians and other minority groups are persecuted across the Middle East, Israel is the only country in the region where the Christian population is growing."
    "The Christian community is an integral part of Israeli society and its members serve in senior positions in both the private and public sectors."

Hamas "Guardian" Law Keeps Gaza Woman from Studying Abroad - Fares Akram (AP-Washington Post)
    Gaza resident Afaf al-Najar, 19, won a scholarship to study communications in Turkey, secured all the necessary travel documents and even paid $500 to skip the long lines at the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
    But when she arrived at the border on Sep. 21 she was turned back - not by Israel or Egypt, but by Hamas.
    Hamas authorities say a male relative can petition a court to prevent a woman from traveling outside the territory and Al-Najar's father filed such a petition.

IDF to Increase Precision Missile Arsenal - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF will significantly increase the number of precision munitions in its arsenal in the coming years due to the increase in threats facing the country.
    Israel used hundreds of U.S.-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) during the Gaza war in May, allowing precision strikes on strategic targets while limiting civilian casualties.
    These have now been replenished by Washington.

Israeli Soldier Has Amassed 1.7 Million TikTok Followers (Jerusalem Post)
    St.-Sgt. Yael Deri, a Military Police officer, received a certificate of appreciation on Tuesday for promoting Israel and the IDF to over 1.7 million followers on the social media platform TikTok, more than the IDF spokesperson or the prime minister, Israel's Channel 11 reported.
    Deri uploaded many videos throughout her military service, some depicting her day-to-day training and tasks, while others answered anti-Israel questions.
    Answering the question, "How many children did you kill today?," she responded: "0, we are actually saving them."
    "Are you forced to be in the army?" - "No, we are defending our country."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Vice President Kamala Harris: Singling Out Israel Is Anti-Semitism - Gabby Deutch
    Vice President Kamala Harris told the Anti-Defamation League on Sunday: "I want to be very clear about this: When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred: that is anti-Semitism, and that is unacceptable."
        "We know that anti-Semitism is not a relic of the past. In recent years, the Jewish-American community has faced an alarming rise in hate crimes....We know a harm against one of us is a harm against all."  (Jewish Insider)
  • Israel Has No Objection to U.S. Consulate for Palestinians in West Bank - Dan Williams
    Israel stepped up its public opposition on Saturday to a plan by President Biden to reopen a U.S. consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem. "My position, and it was presented to the Americans...is that there is no place for a U.S. consulate which serves the Palestinians in Jerusalem. We are voicing our opinion consistently, quietly, without drama," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid added, "If they (the U.S.) want to open a consulate in Ramallah, we have no problem with that."  (Reuters)
        See also Israel Must Stand Strong Against Reopening of U.S. Consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem - Editorial
    Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid has stressed that the principle at stake in reopening a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinians is the status of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and not the issue of a consulate for the Palestinians.
        There is a broad consensus within Israel that reopening the consulate in Jerusalem is not only unnecessary but harmful. A consulate in Jerusalem would undermine the pursuit of peace by giving the Palestinians a false hope that one day they will have control over the city. To gain a consulate in western Jerusalem in return for nothing but intransigence will not encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table in good faith. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Finnish Charity Cuts Ties with Palestinian NGO after Terror Designation - Essi Lehto
    The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) said Friday it has decided to end ties with the Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) group after it was blacklisted by Israel for terror links. FELM executive director Rolf Steffansson said the Israeli designation "could have impacted the work we do in 30 countries," citing potential banking sanctions.
        A senior Israeli official said last month that the intelligence connecting the PFLP to the six cited organizations was "ironclad." The material presented to the U.S. on the matter included "unequivocal evidence that includes video footage, photos, payment receipts that tie the said groups to the backing of terror activity" by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (Times of Israel-Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Generals Travel to Sinai to Discuss Deployment of Egyptian Troops - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli military officers held a rare public meeting in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday with their Egyptian counterparts "to formalize the deployment of guard troops in the area of Rafah [near the Israeli border] to reinforce the Egyptian military's security control over the area." The number of additional Egyptian troops to be deployed was not disclosed.
        Over the past decade, Israel has repeatedly acceded to Egyptian requests to send additional troops to the area to confront an Islamic State insurgency in Sinai. However, those meetings were not publicly disclosed. The highly irregular public announcement of the meeting came as Egypt has engaged in increasingly open relations with Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's Supreme Court Rejects Palestinian Bid to Block Elevator at Tomb of Patriarchs
    Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday denied a Palestinian petition to prevent making Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs wheelchair accessible. The site is accessible now only by stairs. A new project would add an elevator. Construction began in August after years of planning and waiting for Israeli government approval. The judges ruled that the importance of making the holy site accessible to everyone trumped other concerns. "It is regrettable that this humanitarian issue has also become a political one and a source of controversy," the judges wrote. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel to Allow In More Palestinian Workers - Aaron Boxerman
    The Israeli government on Sunday approved an additional 8,600 work permits for West Bank Palestinians in Israel, as well as 3,600 permits for the Atarot Industrial Zone, north of Jerusalem. Today, 130,000 Palestinians work in Israel and Israeli communities in the West Bank.
        In addition, a pilot project was approved for Israeli work permits for 500 Palestinian tech employees over three years. Some Palestinians are already employed in Israel at technology firms, but on a case-by-case basis. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Senate Should Debate Any New Iran Deal - Joe Lieberman
    Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said that when talks on restarting the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 begin, Tehran would demand assurances that "Washington will not renege on the deal again." The only way to assure that is for President Biden to submit an agreement with Iran to the Senate as a treaty, needing 67 votes to be ratified, which would require support from members of both political parties.
        The Constitution doesn't require minor international agreements to receive Senate approval, but the JCPOA covers some of the most important strategic security threats that the U.S. is facing and imposes multiyear obligations on the signatory countries.
        The writer, a former U.S. senator (1989-2013), is chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Chinese Public Opinion and the Palestinian Question - Fan Hongda
    Until the adoption of the UN resolution on the partition of Palestine in 1947, at the urging of the major powers, Palestinians were a people ruled by others, never having established their own independent state. The Arab states' collective boycott and rejection of Resolution 181 pushed the Palestinians even further away from establishing an independent state.
        Israel will never give up eastern Jerusalem, and no Israeli decision-maker will ever order a withdrawal from the West Bank's Jewish communities. The fact remains that one of the world's most widely influential books - the Bible - makes their case. How can a Zionist ignore the Bible's account of the Jews and their forefathers and deny the connection between the Jewish people and the land?
        Furthermore, Israel is a state that was established under international law and in accordance with UN resolutions, and Israel's presence in the West Bank is the result of wars that the Arab states waged against it; most of the territories were won from previous occupiers, namely Jordan and Egypt. The plight of the Palestinians today is clearly not the fault of Israel alone.
        The writer is a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • The Palestinian Authority Campaign Against Palestinian NGOs - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. and the EU, is one of 11 groups that form the PLO, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Each group receives monthly allocations of up to $70,000 from the Palestinian National Fund (PNF), which is responsible for managing financial aid coming from Arab states, wealthy Palestinians, and Palestinians working in Arab countries.
        While Israel has come under attack for its move against six NGOs associated with the PFLP, there is almost no mention that the PA has been targeting hundreds of Palestinian NGOs for quite some time, as part of an effort to control them and take their funds. The PA is not targeting the NGOs because of their affiliation with terrorism. Many of the NGOs have been critical of the PA leadership, which is why Abbas wants to silence them.
        Earlier this year, Abbas issued a "presidential decree" that imposes severe restrictions on the activity and finances of Palestinian civil society organizations, authorizing Palestinian officials to transfer NGO funds to the PA treasury. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Tension in the Fatah Camp: Russia Received Mahmoud Abbas' Greatest Foe, Mohammed Dahlan - Pinhas Inbari
    Mohammed Dahlan, a bitter foe of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Nov. 2, 2021. This should not be taken lightly since a strong relationship with Russia is one of the cornerstones of Abbas' policy. Today, one of the stumbling blocks to resuming talks with Israel is Abbas' steadfast denial of the leading role of the U.S. in the peace talks. He seeks to give the Quartet this role, in which Russia would have equal status to the U.S. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • On October 19, 2021, Israel designated six Palestinian civil society NGOs on charges of supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist group. The designations were the result of a terrorism financing investigation run by the Israel Security Agency and Israel's National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing. While these NGOs publicly defend the human rights of some people, they support acts of terrorism and murder targeting others.
  • Israeli authorities have mapped out a network of front organizations providing funds for the PFLP, day jobs and legitimacy for its operatives, and space for secure meetings. The information underpinning the designations comes from sources including classified intelligence, seized materials and other court evidence, and the statements made by arrested NGO employees to investigators.
  • For example, the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) is accused of defrauding European donors by manipulating records to cover funds "in the eight figures" diverted from the NGO to the PFLP. Investigators found that European donors were duped "using financial records doctored to hide cash diversions" to the PFLP. Israeli officials concluded that a network of seven NGOs - the UHWC and the six just designated - "act under PFLP leadership and in accordance with the organization's directives, as a cover for promoting the PFLP's activities and funding."
  • One of the arrested UHWC employees explained that "the PFLP-affiliated institutions are inter-connected and serve as the organization's lifeline financially and organizationally." One NGO would learn how to conduct various types of fraud and money laundering, then pass this knowledge on to the others. The NGOs forged documents and receipts to significantly inflate the cost of a given project as presented to donors. The difference would go to the PFLP.
  • The NGOs negotiated deals with local businesses to provide realistic-looking invoices the NGOs could use to pad their numbers. The NGOs would add a 16% tax to these invoices, which they passed on to the businesses for participating in the scheme. The NGOs also presented foreign donors forged invoices for purchases that were either never made at all or made for a fraction of the stated cost.
  • For example, the UHWC forged receipts indicating that a Spanish-funded project to supply medicines in eastern Jerusalem would cost $800,000, but the actual project cost only $32,000 and the remaining funds were redirected to the PFLP. In another case, the UHWC told donors a project to vaccinate Palestinian children would cost 245,000 euros, when the actual cost was less than 700 euros. Employees were sometimes listed under two different salary systems. One salary went to the employee, while the second went to the PFLP.

    The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.

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