December 20, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Is the Third Most Vaccinated Country in the World Per Capita - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    As the Omicron coronavirus strain is spreading throughout the world, researchers at Israel's largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center, have concluded that people who were vaccinated with Pfizer shots half a year ago or more had "almost no neutralizing ability" against Omicron, while those given a booster shot were far better protected.
    Thanks to Israel's early decision to give boosters, at a time when the World Health Organization loudly opposed third doses, Israel is the third most-boosted country in the world per capita, after Iceland and Chile.
    Israelis have received 44 booster shots per 100 citizens, which is particularly high given that there is a large population of under-16s who are largely ineligible for boosters.
    The figure for the U.S. stands at 17 booster shots per 100, and the world average is 5.

Israel Bans Travel to U.S., Canada over Omicron Surge - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    In response to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Israel's cabinet on Monday expanded its travel ban to ten new countries including the U.S., Canada, Italy, and Germany, to come into effect Tuesday at midnight.
    Last week Israel banned travel to the UK, France, Spain, and the Scandinavian countries. (i24News)

Israel Uses New Technology to Catch Terrorists - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    Israel caught the terrorists responsible for a shooting attack on Thursday with remarkable speed, due in part to new technology, the Israeli news site Walla reported Sunday.
    In addition to human intelligence, a network of cameras and other scanning devices has been set up throughout the West Bank, along with state-of-the-art facial recognition software.

Security Concerns Prevent Israel from Sending Sensitive Defensive Systems to UAE - Mati Tuchfeld (Israel Hayom)
    While Abu Dhabi has expressed interest in acquiring advanced Israeli aerial defense systems including the Iron Dome and David's Sling, officials in Jerusalem say Israel cannot afford to have such sensitive systems stationed in countries that are freely accessible to Iranian officials and where certain elements in the UAE government are in constant contact with Iranian officials.

Ukraine Ambassador Says Jerusalem Is Israel's Capital - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    "No foreign minister or ambassador can call Jerusalem anything but the capital of Israel," Ukraine's ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said Thursday, predicting the country will open a new embassy branch in Jerusalem in the coming months.

U.S. Blacklists 3 Iran-Linked Companies (i24News)
    The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced Thursday it had blacklisted three entities for attempting to "supply U.S.-origin items that could provide material support to Iran's advanced conventional weapons and missile programs."

Students at Birzeit University in West Bank Hold Military Parades with Mock Rockets, Explosive Belts (MEMRI)
    On Dec. 13, the student organization of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) held a large-scale military parade on the campus of Birzeit University in the West Bank at which dozens of masked and uniformed activists marched wearing mock explosive belts and carrying mock rockets.
    On the following day, the Hamas student organization held a similar event.

British Army Receives Israeli Night Vision Systems - Colton Jones (Defense Blog)
    Israel's Elbit Systems' UK subsidiary has delivered the first tranche of its XACT night vision goggles to the British Army.
    The lightweight micro binocular XACT goggles have been supplied in a helmet-mounted configuration, with improved capabilities that have been well-received by the Army.
    Products from the XACT family are already in operational use in Germany, the Netherlands and Israel.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S.: Iran Nuclear Talks "Not Going Well" - Jordan Williams
    U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the Council on Foreign Relations on Friday that talks for Iran to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal are "not going well in the sense that we do not yet have a pathway back into the" deal. "Getting that program back into a box through a return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA has proven more difficult through the course of this year than we would have liked to see."  (The Hill)
        See also Israel Sees No Return to Original Iran Nuclear Deal - Jonathan Lis
    Sources in Israel now believe that the parties will not return to the original Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015. Iran is expected to cross the technological threshold, which the 2015 agreement was meant to avert, by February. Israeli sources foresee either a blowup of the talks that would lead to a controlled crisis with Iran or an interim agreement.
        A U.S. official said last week, "I think the Iranians were surprised, two weeks ago, when they met what was truly a united diplomatic front, not only the E3 [Britain, France and Germany] but Russia and China."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Urging More Aggressive Approach toward Iran's Nuclear Program - Steve Hendrix
    The Israeli government is urging the Biden administration to take a more aggressive approach toward Iran's nuclear program while seeking to avoid a confrontation with the White House. Of particular concern to Israel is an interim agreement that could require Tehran to limit its uranium processing in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions. "The money the Iranians will receive will reach our doorstep in the form of terrorism and missiles," Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
        If Israel deems that Iran is on the threshold of securing a usable nuclear weapon, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett - like former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before him - says he would be willing to take military action to derail the program. "On this question, I don't think it matters who is the prime minister," said Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser. "I don't think there is a prime minister who would not take this step."
        "In the end, I don't think Israel can just let the pieces fall where they may if and when Iran crosses the nuclear threshold," said Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser who supported the 2015 agreement. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. to Partner with Israel to Combat Ransomware Attacks - Kanishka Singh
    The U.S. Treasury Department said last week it will partner with Israel to combat ransomware, with the two countries launching a joint task force. U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo met with Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Director General of the National Cyber Directorate Yigal Unna in Israel on Dec. 12 to establish the bilateral partnership. (Reuters)
        See also Iranian Ransomware Is Coming for the U.S. - Jennifer Shore (Foreign Policy)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • There Must Be No Containment of Iran - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    The Biden administration and the British government are formally committed to ensuring that Iran will not become a nuclear power. Any notion of containing the impact of Iran obtaining the bomb or even settling for the status of a threshold state is delusional.
        The revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran is not like isolated nuclear-armed North Korea, for whom the bomb is little more than an insurance policy for its survival. Tehran harbors regional and even global ambitions and is openly and ardently committed to the destruction of Israel.
        Possession of the bomb, or even threshold status, would signal regional dominance and the American failure to uphold its commitments to its allies. The inevitable outcome would be a boundless nuclear arms race, undoing all efforts to curb proliferation and sustain global stability. At the regional level, Iran's aggressive provocations would hereafter be made worse by the implicit threat of nuclear escalation.
        The Iranian regime is not a status quo power, for whom the bomb is essentially the means for remaining in power. On the contrary, it is a revolutionary power seeking to upend the established order in its image, which includes eliminating Israel and undoing any U.S. regional influence.
        Keeping Israel's options open, or even enhancing them, will ultimately prove to be of value to the U.S.  American diplomat and historian George F. Kennan said: "You have no idea how much it contributes to the general politeness and pleasantness of diplomacy when you have a little quiet armed force in the background."
        JISS Vice President Eran Lerman held senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence for over 20 years. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • The Right of Self-Defense - A Question of Survival - Michael Calvo and Aaron Braunstein
    Iran's nuclear ambitions are a matter of existential concern not only for Israel. Should Iran build a nuclear device, it could put it on a ship or an airplane and send it to New York City; or configure it for delivery by ballistic or cruise missile to Berlin, Brussels, Paris, or Rome - and ultimately, to the U.S. Iran could also explode a nuclear device at high altitude and produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would cover most of North America or Europe, killing millions and sending America and Europe back to the Stone Age.
        Key Iranian figures continually threaten "death" to both Israel and America, but the usual international procedures and avenues have proven futile. There seems no reasonable alternative to the use of force - before Iran has nuclear launch capability. After that, it will be too late.
        All states have an inherent and natural right of self-defense to stop the threat of an attack by another state, as understood in customary international law. The U.S., Israel, Europe, and the Gulf States are entitled to exercise their inherent and natural right of self-defense in order to stop the threat of nuclear obliteration.
        Dr. Michael A. Calvo, an expert in international law, was a member of the International Court of Arbitration representing Israel. Aaron Braunstein, a veteran U.S. Foreign Service officer (1966-96), is founding president of the Jewish Covenant Alliance that struggles against totalitarian ideologies. (Jerusalem Strategic Tribune)
  • Why the Double Standard on West Bank Violence? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Some news outlets are describing a surge in settler violence against Palestinians. The question we should be asking is not whether it's true that a small percentage of residents in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have engaged in confrontations with Palestinians or that some have broken the law by committing violence. It's why the focus is almost always bereft of the broader context of what is going on in the West Bank on a far more frequent basis: daily attacks on Jews by Arabs, including murder.
        While Arab violence doesn't justify gratuitous Jewish responses or reprisals, there is something wrong if a few Jews throwing stones is considered far more important than the fact that attacks on Jews in the same areas is more or less the national sport of Palestinians. Many of the incidents occur over disputed property when Palestinians seek to cultivate land to which they have no legal title, often adjacent to Jewish communities. The assumption that the Jews are always in the wrong is unjustified.
        Exponentially greater volumes of Palestinian violence are considered either unremarkable or somehow justified. Why is it that relatively rare incidents of Jewish misbehavior, including vandalism, which number a few hundred over the course of a year, are considered more newsworthy than Palestinian attacks of all kinds on Israelis, which are a daily occurrence and likely number more than a few hundred every month? Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke the truth when he tweeted that "the settlers in Judea and Samaria have been suffering from violence and terrorism every day for decades."
        Palestinian Arabs are always judged by a lower standard. Giving them a pass for their far more frequent practice of terrorism speaks to a kind of racist condescension, rather than respect or concern for their well-being. (Israel Hayom-JNS)

Latest Palestinian Attacks Are Motivated by Incitement Combined with Hamas' Interest to Increase Terror - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The recent uptick in terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria is the result of ongoing incitement among the Palestinian public, combined with Hamas' interest in increasing terrorism to challenge Israel.
  • The central themes of the Palestinian narrative are intended to create a consciousness of struggle, particularly among Palestinian youth. The Palestinians' identity is based primarily on the individual's commitment to fighting Zionism until its disappearance.
  • As the consciousness of the struggle is embedded in their minds, there will always be some Palestinians who will feel they are fulfilling what is required of them by Palestinian society. They believe that even if they lose their lives, it is no disaster since they will become heroic martyrs. If they surrender and are imprisoned, they and their family will receive great respect and a generous salary.
  • There are some Palestinians who are under mental stress and may seek to overcome their personal problems by carrying out an attack. However, this is not the motive for the attack, but the additional circumstances that helped them make the decision to act in this way.
  • In parallel with the ongoing incitement, we are also witnessing Hamas' and Islamic Jihad's efforts to establish organized terrorist cells capable of unleashing attacks with a significant number of casualties. Recently, four such cells, some extensive, have been uncovered. This effort is a permanent part of Hamas' and Islamic Jihad's policy aimed at harming as many Israelis as possible, undermining national resilience in Israel, and demonstrating these movements' adherence to the path of struggle.
  • These steps act to strengthen Hamas' position on the Palestinian street as the leader of the struggle against Israel, dragging the Palestinian Authority into a competition to increase its incitement and heap praise on the perpetrators of the attacks, while accusing Israel of executing the terrorists killed during the attacks.

    The writer, who headed the Research and Assessment Division of Israeli Military Intelligence, is a Senior Project Director at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

        See also Parents of Palestinian Murderers "Proud of Their Sons" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have agreed to step up terror attacks against Israel, especially in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
        Ahmed Jaradat, the father of Omar and Ghaith Jaradat, who were arrested by the IDF for their involvement in the shooting on Thursday of Yehuda Dimentman, said Sunday, "If my sons did this out of conviction, I'm proud of them. They have sacrificed their life and youth for the sake of Palestine and the al-Aqsa Mosque." Etaf Jaradat, their mother, said, "If my sons carried out the operation, I will raise my head high and be proud of them."  (Jerusalem Post)

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