December 9, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Strike Targets Iran Weapons in Syria Port (AFP-France 24)
    An Israeli airstrike at 1:23 a.m. on Tuesday "directly targeted an Iranian weapons shipment in the container yard" in the Syrian port of Latakia, causing "huge material losses" but no casualties, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Iron Dome Replenishment Funding Stymied by U.S. Political Gridlock - Ben Samuels (Ha'aretz)
    U.S. Congressional approval for $1 billion in emergency funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system is taking much longer than originally anticipated.
    Despite U.S. officials' public and private assurances, the approval process will extend into 2022.
    The emergency aid is sitting idle in the Senate thanks to opposition of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who insists that the funding should be reallocated from proposed assistance to Afghanistan, preventing fast-track approval of the aid via unanimous consent.

Half of Iran's Civilian Planes Grounded for Lack of Spare Parts (AFP)
    More than half of Iran's fleet of civilian aircraft is grounded due to a lack of spare parts, Alireza Barkhor, the deputy head of the country's airlines association, told the IRNA state news agency.
    "The number of inactive planes in Iran has risen to more than 170...as a result of missing spare parts, particularly motors," he said. "We will see even more planes grounded in the near future."

PA Calls Israeli President's Lighting of Hanukkah Candles at Cave of Patriarchs a "Declaration of War" - Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron is the site where the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs are buried as related in the Bible.
    The Palestinian Authority claims the Cave is a holy place for Muslims alone.
    After Israeli President Isaac Herzog recently lit Hanukkah candles at the Cave, Hebron District Governor Jabrin Al-Bakri told official PA TV: "This day is a declaration of war by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people."
    PA TV called Herzog, former Chairman of Israel's Labor Party, an "extremist" who "defiled" the site.

Dutch Court Rejects Civil Suit Against Israel's Defense Minister (AP-Daily Mail-UK)
    The Hague Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a Hague District Court ruling in January 2020 to throw out a civil case against Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and former air force commander Amir Eshel over their roles in an airstrike during the 2014 Gaza conflict.
    Israel's Justice Ministry said the airstrike had killed four militants hiding in a house and that the attack was permissible under international law.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

Violence Spreads Against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank (Asharq Al-Awsat)
    Angry Palestinians closed several main roads in Jenin in the West Bank on Sunday and attacked Palestinian security vehicles in protest against the killing of a student by his colleagues at the Arab American University in the city.
    Marwan Khalilieh, a relative of the victim, said: "Killing has become a normal thing. Everyone dares to kill because there is no real punishment or deterrent."
    Palestinian police spokesman Col. Louay Erzeigat said the failure to take decisive judicial measures against anyone who commits a crime in Palestinian society contributed to the increase of violence.

150 Social Media Accounts Linked to Hamas Removed (i24News)
    Social media company Meta (Facebook) has said it removed over 150 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Israel Has Become a Powerhouse in Quantum Technologies - David Kramer (Physics Today)
    Israel is punching above its weight in quantum fields.
    The Knesset has committed $400 million to a five-year National Quantum Initiative, which kicked off in 2019.
    The program includes $60 million to build the country's first quantum computer.
    Israel consistently ranks high alongside leading European nations by such measures as citations and the number of grants in quantum fields awarded by the European Research Council, of which it is an associate member.
    Moreover, in the last two years, the number of Israeli firms working in quantum tech surged from 5 to 30, spanning the gamut of hardware and software for defense and civilian applications.

The Jewish Love Affair with the IDF - Tabby Refael (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    On Nov. 6, I attended a luncheon in honor of IDF soldiers organized by Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Western Region.
    The 2021 delegation included Lt. S., who serves in the IDF Home Front Command; Cpl. A., a self-described "troubled kid" who now serves as a commander in the Education Corps; and a father and son duo - the father, Lt.-Col. Y., an F-16 pilot, and his son, Cpl. J., who serves in an Iron Dome unit.
    As I watched hundreds of attendees give the soldiers one standing ovation after another, I thought: This is extremely unusual.
    Do those around the world who identify as French or Francophile, but who don't live in France, attend events in support of the French army and embrace French soldiers as their own children?
    Are Korean Americans moved to tears upon meeting young Korean soldiers in Los Angeles?
    But there they were, hundreds of non-Israeli Jews, cheering and hugging Israeli soldiers with an unconditional love reminiscent of family bonds.
    As the army of the Jewish state, love for the IDF defies nationality.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Official: U.S., Israel to Discuss Military Drills to Destroy Iran's Nuclear Facilities - Phil Stewart
    U.S. and Israeli defense chiefs are expected on Thursday to discuss possible military exercises to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail, a senior U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday. The official said Pentagon leaders briefed White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Oct. 25 on the full set of military options available to ensure that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon.
        The U.S.-Israeli preparations underscore Western concern about the nuclear talks with Iran. "Iran's nuclear program is advancing to a point beyond which it has any conventional rationale," the official said.
        Such drills could address calls to openly signal to Iran that the U.S. and Israel are serious about preventing it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. official and Middle East expert, said last month that "Biden needs to disabuse Iran of the notion that Washington will not act militarily and will stop Israel from doing so."  (Reuters)
  • U.S.: "We Will Not Allow Iran to Tread Water in Talks"
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday: "As we continue to believe that a return to compliance with the [Iran nuclear] agreement is the best way forward, that is not an infinite prospect, because what we will not allow is for Iran to, in effect, tread water at talks and not come forward with any meaningful and serious propositions for finally resolving the outstanding issues to returning to compliance while at the same time advancing its program. So the runway is getting very, very short on that."
        "The Iranians did not come to the table with a seriousness of purpose necessary to get back into compliance....Having heard not just from us indirectly but directly from our European partners, as well as from Russia and even China, that this is not the way to move forward, we'll see if they take a different approach....'Hopeful' is probably not a word I'd use based on what we've seen so far."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also Renewed Iran Nuclear Talks Seen Thursday, But France Discouraged - John Irish
    Talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are expected to resume on Thursday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday, but he feared Iran was playing for time. "We have the feeling the Iranians want to make it last and the longer the talks last, the more they go back on their commitments...and get closer to capacity to get a nuclear weapon."  (Reuters)
  • U.S. Hits Iran with New Sanctions for Human Rights Abuses
    The U.S. Treasury and State Department slapped fresh sanctions on a dozen Iranian government officials and entities for "serious" human rights abuses Tuesday, targeting those involved in the repression of political activists and prisons where activists have been held in brutal conditions.
        Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "The United States is committed to promoting democracy and accountability for those who abuse human rights around the world. The United States will utilize its full range of tools to highlight and disrupt these abuses of human rights."  (AFP-France 24)
  • New Jersey to Divest $182 Million from Unilever over Ben and Jerry's Boycott - Hannan Adely
    New Jersey will begin pulling $182 million in Unilever stocks and bonds three months after a preliminary investigation found that its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry's, engaged in a boycott of Israeli-controlled territories. Unilever did not appeal the findings of the investigation. "The provisional determination of ineligibility for Unilever became final on Dec. 1," said Danielle Currie, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Treasury. "The Division [of Investment] has placed the company on its prohibited investment list."
        Pension officials in New York, Arizona, Illinois and Florida have also moved to sell shares in Unilever because of anti-boycott laws. New Jersey is one of more than 30 states with laws that bar investment in companies that engage in boycotts targeting Israel. (NorthJersey.com)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Woman Stabbed in the Back by Palestinian Girl in Jerusalem - Judah Ari Gross
    An Israeli woman who was walking her children to school was stabbed in the back by a teenage Palestinian girl in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Medics took the injured woman to the nearby Hadassah Hospital with the knife still lodged in her back. Police officers arrested the girl at the nearby Al-Ruda girls' school. Since mid-November, one Israeli has been killed and ten wounded in a series of attacks by Palestinians. (Times of Israel-Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Completes Upgraded Barrier with Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    After three years of construction, Israel has completed the 65-km. upgraded barrier comprised of an iron wall, sensors, and concrete along its border with Gaza in order to remove the threat of cross-border attack tunnels. In addition to an underground barrier, there is a six-meter (20-foot) high above-ground fence.
        More than 1,200 people worked on the project. The iron and steel used were "equivalent to the length of a steel wall from Israel to Australia," and the concrete used was "enough to pave a road from Israel to Bulgaria," said Fence Administration Director Brig.-Gen. Eran Ofir. The barrier "does not allow for the construction of additional tunnels to infiltrate into the State of Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Serious Cases Continue to Fall, Most Cases Are Children
    Children and teens up through age 19 make up 64% of the 5,971 active coronavirus cases in Israel, the Health Ministry reported Thursday. The number of seriously ill fell to 96, the lowest figure since July. 7 people have died from corona in the past week. (Israel Ministry of Health-Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Iran Is Working on a Nuclear Bomb, Israeli Military Action Would Constitute Self-Defense
    Col. (ret.) Yigal Carmon, President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), told Al-Jazeera on Dec. 5, 2021, that any Israeli military action against Iran would constitute self-defense, and that the West will not come to Israel's help if it is weak. Discussing Iran's intentions to build a nuclear weapon, Carmon quoted Iranian political analyst Emad Abshenas, who said that Iran has the capability of assembling a nuclear bomb within minutes or hours. He also quoted Professor Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, the former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, who said that Iranian nuclear chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated in 2020, had been working on manufacturing a nuclear bomb.
        Carmon said the only way to stop Iran from realizing its doctrine of annihilating Israel is to establish a new democratic system in Iran, and he criticized Al-Jazeera for ignoring the demonstrations currently taking place in Iran. (MEMRI)
  • Moscow Shares Israel's View of Iran as a Destabilizing Regional Force - Yaniv Kubovich
    Russia shares Israel's view that Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East, former Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat told a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies on Wednesday. "There is a shared view between us and the Russians, beyond what's publicly exposed. The Russians are striving for regional stability, particularly in Syria. I believe they would agree that Iran is the force challenging that stability." The Russians "understand the maneuvers Iran is making through its proxies throughout the Middle East."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Keep Threatening to Bomb Iran - for the Sake of Peace - Steven Klein
    Talking up Israel's readiness for a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities reflects a classic defensive strategy of crisis management in response to Iran's challenge to the nuclear status quo. Military preparations and diplomatic declarations signal Israel's resolve to stop Iran from going nuclear. The Iranians don't know how far Israel is willing to go, and it makes them sweat.
        The Iranians have yet to make good on their own threats after Israeli strikes on Iranian targets and Iranian proxies. Israel's history of daring operations far from home makes Tehran nervous. If Israel were to give up the military option, it would be inviting Iran to proceed without caution. Israel is providing the military threat to make Iran think twice about walking away from the JCPOA.
        The writer, an editor at Ha'aretz, is adjunct instructor at Tel Aviv University's International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Poll: Most Israelis Support Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities even without American Consent - Prof. Tamar Hermann
    61% of Israeli Jews think Iran poses an existential threat and 58% would support an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities even without American consent. (Israel Democracy Institute)

  • Palestinian Attacks Against Israelis

  • A New Wave of Palestinian Attacks Against Israelis - Amos Harel
    There have been five Palestinian shooting, stabbing, and car-ramming attacks against Israelis in the past three weeks. Each incident was the work of individuals rather than an organization. Palestinian social media has been heaping praise on those who commit a terrorist attack. In the view of the terrorists, terrorism allows them to end their lives as heroes. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Incitement Behind Rise in Palestinian Terror Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The latest wave of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank are the result of the ongoing and increasing incitement against Israel by Palestinian officials and media outlets, as well as calls by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad for a new intifada against Israel.
        The Palestinian Authority is trying to halt the rising popularity of Hamas by competing with it in the campaign of incitement against Israel. That's why the PA's anti-Israel rhetoric is not much different than that of Hamas.
        The PA claims that Jewish "settlers" are "storming" and "defiling" al-Aqsa Mosque, and that those killed while carrying out attacks are "martyrs" and "heroes." They are told that it is the duty of all Muslims to defend their holy sites against Israeli and Jewish "aggression." It is these poisonous messages that drive Palestinians to carry out terrorist attacks and there is widespread support among the Palestinian public for such attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Journalist Denounces New Wave of "Lone Wolf" Attacks on Israelis - Yoni Ben Menachem
    In response to the recent increase in attacks on Israelis by individual Palestinians, Ziad Abu Ziyad, a senior Fatah journalist in eastern Jerusalem, published an op-ed in al-Quds on Dec. 5, 2021, saying: "The attacks by [Palestinian] individuals are useless spilling of blood without purpose….These killings will not bring us independence."
        "Where is the Palestinian leadership that bears responsibility for managing the struggle?...Why do you cheer and glorify useless individual actions to cover up your leadership helplessness?"  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Other Issues

  • In Militants' Hands, Drones Emerge as a Deadly New Wild Card in the Middle East - Joby Warrick
    Western intelligence officials estimate that militants in Iraq and Syria have acquired "scores" of new drones supplied by Iran. This followed earlier decisions by Tehran to provide lethal drones to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hizbullah militants in Lebanon. The Quds Force, which arms Iran's network of foreign militias, also has supplied computerized operating systems for the aircraft, as well as training for militants on how to modify commercial UAVs for military use, according to the Western intelligence officials.
        Yet, after equipping its militia allies with drones and know-how, Tehran appears to be losing its grip over how the aircraft are used. Military discipline within Iran's network of Shiite militias in Iraq has deteriorated since the death of Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The drone attack on the official residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Nov. 7 was not authorized by Tehran, Iraqi officials have concluded.
        "Some of the groups frankly don't see themselves anymore as primarily Iranian proxies, but as independent actors who don't need permission from anybody to do what they want," said Matthew Levitt, a researcher with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
        Since January, militants have launched at least six drone attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. In several cases, the bombs attached to the drones were identical to the one used in the attack on Kadhimi. (Washington Post)
  • Abraham Accords' Momentum Isn't Fading, It's Soaring - Fleur Hassan-Nahoum and Jonathan Harounoff
    Naysayers dismiss the Abraham Accords as nothing more than flowery declarations of peace and cooperation. But momentum isn't fading, it's soaring. Unprecedented agreements continue to be forged for economic prosperity, security cooperation and cultural exchange.
        The accords helped create a model of peace based not just on closed-door diplomacy, but on culture, business and deep person-to-person friendships. 150,000 new jobs are expected to be created for Israel's new regional partners, according to the American RAND Corporation. The accords have given Israel permission to call its Arab neighbors "cousins" again.
        Fleur Hassan-Nahoum serves as deputy mayor of Jerusalem and is co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council. Jonathan Harounoff is a British analyst based in New York. (JNS)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • UK Education Secretary: "Not Long Ago, 7,000 People Would Go to Work Every Day to Exterminate Jewish People in the Heart of Europe" - Jenni Frazer
    UK Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told the Tel Aviv University Trust in London on Nov. 29 that "education should be the vaccine against anti-Semitism." The Iraqi-born Kurd has become a warm friend of the Jewish community and spoke of his recent visit to Auschwitz.
        "It was life-changing for me....The real, hard-to-describe part is Auschwitz 2, where Hitler decided to scale up, industrialize the extermination of the Jewish people....It's not a long time ago when 7,000 people would go to work every single day to exterminate Jewish people, in the heart of Europe."  (Jewish News-UK)

  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that his decision to categorize six Palestinian civil society groups as terror organizations was based in part on information that known terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were on their payrolls without actually working for them.
  • Israeli defense officials discovered that the NGOs, all recipients of EU funding, had let meetings of PFLP members take place in their offices and that PFLP members controlled management of the NGOs and coordinated between them.
  • A confidential dossier that bears the logo of the Israel Security Agency makes the case that six Palestinian charities designated by Israel in October are part of a terrorism network linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist group responsible for dozens of hijackings and murders.
  • The nonprofit groups have embezzled millions of dollars in funding from the EU and international NGOs to fund PFLP terror attacks. In one case, Israel provides evidence that the NGO Al-Haq, a human-rights group based in Ramallah, prohibits "anyone who is not a PFLP member...from working there."
  • Israel did not release the dossier to the public because it is locked in a court case centered on terrorism financing and is barred from publicly releasing the information until the case has concluded.

        See also Document - Investigation Findings: The Foreign Funding of the PFLP through the Network of "Civil Society" Organizations (Israel Security Agency)
  • Attempts to dismiss the evidence systematically linking the PFLP to a network of NGOs as the actions of a few individuals is deceitful. Open-source evidence published by NGO Monitor shows direct links between more than 70 PFLP officials and many of the NGOs.
  • The NGOs and their close allies receive most of their funding - amounting to millions of Euros annually - from European governments. Officials with long records of cooperation with the heads of these Palestinian NGOs have been understandably reluctant to acknowledge major errors in judgement. The Israeli government is urging the European funders to consider the evidence and reconsider these policies.
  • The claim that the organizations involved are "pillars of Palestinian civil society" devoted to human rights should be taken with a large grain of salt. In addition to the terror links, the six NGOs promote demonization of Israel, including campaigns that cross the line into anti-Semitism.

    The writer, professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, heads the Institute for NGO Research in Jerusalem.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Daily Alert is published every Monday and Thursday.
Unsubscribe from Israel Alert.