January 17, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Yemen's Houthis Claim Drone Attack on UAE (Reuters)
    Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Monday it had carried out an attack on the United Arab Emirates, after authorities reported two fires in Abu Dhabi possibly caused by drones.

Israel's Upcoming Laser System Will Change the Gaza Front - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Brig.-Gen. Eyal Harel, head of the IDF General Staff Planning Division, said in an interview that Israel is developing a powerful laser system that can even protect Israel against Iran.
    The Ministry of Defense, the Israel Air Force, and Elbit Systems recently completed a series of trials with a laser installation capable of destroying rockets, drones, and other threats.
    The system is expected to be operational in a little over three years, with a cost of a few dollars per interception, compared with an Iron Dome interception that costs $50,000.
    "Final testing should take place early this year. We succeeded in getting somewhere no one else in the world has managed to reach. As soon as the final trial succeeds, we'll enter into serial production of the laser systems, which within two years will put us in a different operating point, certainly relative to Gaza."

Israel Wants U.S. to Bolster Local Weapons Stockpile - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    Israel has prepared a list of weapons systems it wants the U.S. to add to the American emergency stockpile in Israel as a precaution for future regional conflicts, according to local defense sources.
    It includes aerial munitions that would be needed if Israel takes action against Iranian nuclear facilities or defends against rocket salvos from Hizbullah in Lebanon.
    The War Reserves Stock Allies stockpile, established in the 1980s, allows the U.S. to "stockpile arms and equipment at Israeli bases for American use in wartime." It includes missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition.
    The U.S. amended the rules to allow Israel direct access "in emergency situations."
    This happened during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizbullah, and in 2014 during a round of fighting against Hamas.

Gaza TV Actors Who Play Israelis Face Local Hostility (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    A TV studio in Gaza is shooting a television series on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Hamas' point of view.
    The studio recruits local actors to play Israelis - a job that can expose them to real-world hostility and danger.
    Jawad Harouda, who portrays the head of Israel's domestic security service, said being too convincing can lead to trouble. "Some women look at me and pray that I die."
    The Israeli characters speak in Arabic. And, at the request of the Hamas mufti, women wear headscarves even if they play Jewish characters.
    "In one series, I played a Jewish woman," said actress Kamila Fadel. "After the series was broadcast, a woman tried to strangle me. She told me: 'I hate you.'...On another day a 13-year-old boy threw a stone at my head thinking I was Jewish."

UAE Just Invested $100 Million in Israel's Tech Sector - Rory Jones (Wall Street Journal)
    A major UAE sovereign-wealth fund has invested $100 million in venture-capital firms in Israel's technology sector, a fresh sign of deepening business and investment ties between the countries at the forefront of the Abraham Accords.
    Trade between the two counties is forecast to reach $2 billion this year, according to the UAE-Israel Business Council.

Israel's Elbit to Provide Swedish Navy with Combat Management Systems (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems on Thursday announced that it will provide the Swedish navy with combat management systems for its mine countermeasures (MSM) vessels, intended to detect and hunt naval mines.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hostages at Texas Synagogue Safely Rescued - Alaa Elassar
    An FBI hostage rescue team safely freed three hostages at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday night, after a gunman entered Congregation Beth Israel during its Sabbath morning service. The gunman is dead. (CNN)
        See also British Hostage Taker Named as Malik Faisal Akram
    The man who took people hostage at a Texas synagogue has been named by the FBI as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, 44. He was not living in the U.S. and had traveled there from the UK on Jan. 2. (Sky News-UK)
        See also Texas Attacker Sought Release of Al-Qaeda Operative Aafia Siddiqui - Eric Tucker
    The man who held hostages inside a Texas synagogue on Saturday demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year prison sentence in Texas for trying to shoot U.S. military officers in Afghanistan. The FBI and Justice Department described her as an "al-Qaeda operative and facilitator."
        American officials found in her possession handwritten notes that discussed the construction of "dirty bombs" and listed various locations in the U.S. that could be targeted in a "mass casualty attack." Inside an interview room at an Afghan police compound, she grabbed the M-4 rifle of a U.S. Army officer and opened fire on members of the U.S. team assigned to interrogate her. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Al-Qaeda Operative Aafia Siddiqui Blamed Israel for Her Guilty Verdict
    When Aafia Siddiqui was found guilty in a New York federal court in 2010, she declared, "This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America." During court proceedings, Siddiqui stated that Jews should be excluded from her jury pool.
        Siddiqui's husband, Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, allegedly funneled money for his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks. (Anti-Defamation League)
        See also Texas Rabbi: Security Training Paid Off in Hostage Standoff - Jake Bleiberg
    Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said security training over the years allowed him and the other hostages to make it through the 10-hour ordeal. He said his congregation had received training from local authorities and the Secure Community Network as recently as August. (AP)
  • California Governor Denies Parole for Robert Kennedy Assassin Sirhan Sirhan - Jake Tapper
    California Gov. Gavin Newsom has denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Sirhan was recommended for parole in August. (CNN)
        See also Why I Will Not Release Sirhan Sirhan on Parole - Gov. Gavin Newsom
    In 1968, Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy just moments after Kennedy won the California presidential primary. Sirhan also shot and injured five bystanders. Decades later, Sirhan refuses to accept responsibility for the crimes. He has not developed the accountability and insight required to support his safe release into the community.
        Before the assassination, Sirhan recorded his plans to kill Kennedy, writing, "RFK must die. RFK must be killed. Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated." In a televised interview in 1989, Sirhan confirmed that he assassinated Kennedy. Incredibly, in the 1990s, Sirhan began dodging responsibility. He claimed he could not remember the crime, then stated he was innocent. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Confirms Iranian Intelligence behind Hacker Group that Hit Israel, Saudi Arabia - Omer Benjakob
    The U.S. Cyber Command issued a warning on Wednesday against MuddyWater, a group of hackers belonging to Iran's Intelligence and Security Ministry that have targeted Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iranian dissidents. Though Israeli cyber researchers have long said the group is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, this is the first time the U.S. has officially identified them as such. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Palestinian Authority Is Losing Control of the Jenin Region - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Israel is concerned with the inability of the Palestinian Authority to control the anarchy in the Jenin area in the northern West Bank. A PA operation to collect illegal weapons and arrest wanted suspects in the area has run into significant difficulties.
        On January 7, Palestinian security personnel arrested three teens including Mohammed Zubeidi, the son of Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who escaped Israel's Gilboa prison in September before being recaptured. In response to the incident, Palestinian militants opened fire and detonated explosives at the PA's provincial headquarters in Jenin. A few hours later, the three were released.
        Israeli security officials revealed that the IDF was close to launching a large-scale military operation in Jenin, but held back as the PA security forces arrested many operatives and seized weapons. However, the local atmosphere towards the PA is very hostile. Hamas is encouraging the unrest. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Joint Israel-U.S. Air Force Training Exercise in Israel - Anna Ahronheim
    Israeli and U.S. air force planes "flew 'shoulder-to-shoulder'" and simulated airstrikes and dog fights over Israel's Negev desert, the IDF announced on Sunday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Increases Ballistic Missile Range in Threat to Europe - Neta Bar
    Iran recently announced it had made unprecedented progress in its missile program, including developing missiles that could threaten Western states. IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, an expert on strategic issues at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, reported that a recent experiment involving solid propellant could enable Iran to increase the range of its missiles to 5,000 km. (3,100 miles) and threaten European states. The Farheekhtegan newspaper, aligned with the Iranian regime, reported this week that the development of a missile capable of reaching targets 5,000 km. away was "closer than ever."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Iran Accelerates Its Space Program as It Prepares a Ballistic Missile for a Satellite Launch - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Iran Says It Launched Satellite Rocket into Space
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard last week launched a solid-fuel satellite carrier rocket into space, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard's aerospace unit, said it marked the first time Iran used a solid-fuel rocket rather than a liquid-fuel one. (AP-ABC News)
  • Iran's Natanz Tunnel Complex: Deeper, Larger than Expected - David Albright
    The new Natanz underground complex, located in the mountainous area south of the main uranium enrichment site, will feature halls more deeply buried than the Fordow uranium enrichment site, itself deeply buried. Both are significantly deeper underground than the buried centrifuge halls at the main Natanz site, each only eight meters below ground. The new underground complex also has the potential to be much larger than the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC), an aboveground facility at the Natanz site destroyed in July 2020 and slated for replacement in the new underground facility.
        Considering Iran's record of building clandestine nuclear facilities, getting greater clarity at what Iran intends to do at the new Natanz underground site should be a priority for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and all concerned countries. (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Muslim Professor Calls to Confront "Increasing Anti-Semitism" in Muslim Community
    In the wake of the Texas synagogue terror attack, Abdullah T. Antepli, a professor of the Practice of Interfaith Relations at the Duke University Divinity School, called on his fellow Muslims on Sunday to confront the "increasing anti-Semitism within various Muslim communities." Antepli argued that North American Muslims need to hold honest discussion about anti-Semitism without any "further denial, dismissal and or trivializing of the issues." He said the community has failed to address Jew-hatred "honestly, morally and accurately....We can no longer pretend the problem of anti-Semitism within us does not exist."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Israeli Diplomat Slams Anti-Semitic, Aggressive BDS Campaign Against Sydney Festival - Shiryn Ghermezian
    Israel's Deputy Ambassador to Australia Ron Gerstenfeld called organizers of a boycott against the 2022 Sydney Festival "agents of chaos" for pressuring artists to withdraw from the event because of its $20,000 sponsorship deal with the Israeli embassy. More than 30 acts pulled out in protest of the embassy's sponsorship of the Sydney Dance Company's performance of a piece by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.
        The festival regularly partners with foreign embassies, and Gerstenfeld said the Israeli embassy was asked to financially support the performance by the management of the festival. "They told us about it...and we were happy and honored to support it," he said. "We didn't think twice about it."  (Algemeiner)

The IDF's Commitment to the International Laws of War Is Not a Disadvantage - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Israel Hayom)
  • Some are claiming that the specter of prosecution and trial hampers the freedom of action of the IDF, as well as its ability to function when faced with complex operational challenges. This claim is mainly voiced in the context of the IDF's war on terrorist organizations, which themselves flagrantly violate the rules of war, intentionally attacking civilians and hiding behind human shields.
  • It is true that fighting armed terrorist organizations is much more complicated than fighting other armies, and that applying international law's rules of war demands some creative thinking. This is mostly because the other side does not see itself as obligated to international law and tries to leverage the asymmetry of the two sides' commitment to it to improve its ability to achieve its goals.
  • The IDF uses four main principles behind the laws of war in its operations:
    • The principle of necessity - military force is exercised only when there is a military purpose in doing so whose focus is protecting the security of the country and its citizens and defeating the enemy.
    • The principle of humanity - avoiding unnecessary suffering.
    • The principle of distinction - an assault distinguishes between military targets and soldiers and civilians and civilian objects.
    • The principle of proportionality - it is acknowledged that assaults on military targets could cause collateral damage to civilians but it seeks to ensure that the collateral damage is not excessive in relation to the military advantage resulting from the action.
  • The IDF is careful to uphold these principles, not only because doing so anchors its ability to defend itself in the International Criminal Court, but because the laws of war align with our own moral codes.
  • It could be argued that in a specific situation, not adhering to the laws of war could lead to greater success and reduce the danger to Israel in the short term, but the cost of doing so would be insufferably high. It would harm uninvolved persons, as well as our ability as a people to face ourselves. The moral advantage actually increases Israel's power in the long run.

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

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