April 4, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Condemns Kyiv Suburb Killings as "War Crime" - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned on Sunday the killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
    "It is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the horrific images from the city of Bucha near Kyiv, from after the Russian army left.," Lapid tweeted.
    "Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and I strongly condemn it."

Ukraine War: Most Israelis Blame Putin, Most Palestinians Don't - Dahlia Scheindlin (Ha'aretz)
    Recent surveys about the war in Ukraine show that Israelis overwhelmingly blame Russia.
    Tel Aviv University's Peace Index survey in March found that 78% of Israelis said Russia was unjustified in using force, including 73% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
    A survey by the Israel Democracy Institute in March found that 70% of immigrants from Ukraine, and 2/3 of those from Russia, blamed Russia.
    By contrast, 55% of Israeli Arabs in the Peace Index thought the Russian use of force was unjustified.
    The Israel Democracy Institute found that just 27% of Arab citizens of Israel blamed Putin, while nearly 1/4 agreed that "NATO countries and the U.S." were responsible for the war.

Israel Donates Water Filtration Systems to Typhoon-Stricken Philippines (Manila Times-Philippines)
    The Embassy of Israel in the Philippines donated Israeli-made NUF water filtration systems to Del Carmen and San Isidro in Siargao Island and Cagdianao and Basilisa in Dinagat Islands in Mindanao on March 29.
    The portable system can take water from a polluted source and purify up to 400 liters per hour, enough to supply all water needs for 300 to 400 people.

Israeli Delegation Secretly Visited Sudan (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    An Israeli delegation of security officials met with senior Sudanese military officials during a secret visit to Khartoum last week, the third visit by an Israeli security delegation in six months, Israel's Channel 11 reported Friday, citing Sudanese sources.
    The delegation also met with head of Sudan's Sovereign Transitional Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

IDF Reveals Hamas Terror Tunnel Uncovered in 2020 (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Channel 12 broadcast video of a Hamas attack tunnel from Gaza built 70 meters below the surface.
    Israel's anti-tunnel barrier detected the tunnel in October 2020.
    The tunnel had reached within a few meters of the barrier on the Gaza side.

Abbas Loyalists Lose Bethlehem University Election - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    For the first time in many years, a list affiliated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction has lost the student council election at Bethlehem University.
    The results are seen by Palestinian political analysts as a sign of widespread discontent with the PA and its ruling Fatah faction.
    A list consisting of supporters of various radical groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), won 17 seats, while the Fatah-affiliated list received 14.

Israeli Startups Raised $2.3 Billion in March (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised nearly $2.3 billion in March 2022, for a total of $5.8 billion in the first quarter of 2022.
    Israeli startups raised a record $25.6 billion in 2021.

Intel to Buy Israeli Cloud Service Startup Granulate for $650 Million - Ruti Levy (Ha'aretz)
    American tech giant Intel is about to ink a deal to buy the Israeli startup Granulate for $650 million.
    Granulate optimizes the real-time performance of cloud servers, saving computational power and reducing costs.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Talks Stuck on Removing Revolutionary Guards from Terror Blacklist - Laura Rozen
    Talks on restoring the Iran nuclear deal, on pause since early March, remain in a state of limbo over the issue of the listing of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on a State Department terror blacklist. After a year of negotiations, a deal to restore a U.S. return and Iranian full compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear pact is basically done save for this issue.
        State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday, "The onus now is on Iran to make...decisions." Price said, "From 2012-2018, there were no significant attacks on U.S. service members, U.S. diplomatic facilities in Iraq....Between 2019 and 2020, the number of attacks by Iran-backed groups went up 400%."
        The Biden administration finds it very difficult to lift the designation on the IRGC, especially given reported U.S. intelligence of Iranian plots to target former Trump administration officials Mike Pompeo and Brian Hook. It would find it hard to justify internally, to allies on Capitol Hill, and is also under pressure from Israel and Arab partners not to do so. (Diplomatic)
        See also U.S.: Israel's "Hands Not Tied" on Iran, Even If Nuke Deal Signed
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides was asked in a Channel 12 interview if the U.S. expects Israel to "sit quietly and not do anything" if a deal with Iran is signed. Nides replied: "Absolutely not. We've been very clear about this. If we have a deal, the Israelis' hands are not tied. If we don't have a deal, the Israelis' hands are certainly not tied. Israel can do and take whatever actions they need to take to protect the State of Israel." He added, "The Israelis know very clearly exactly what is going on. I'm not suggesting they necessarily like it always, but there are no secrets here."
        Nides also said the U.S. was "very comfortable with what the Israelis are doing with Ukraine," despite complaints that Israel had failed to adopt anti-Russia sanctions or send equipment to Ukraine's army. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Suggests that Washington Ramp Up Sanctions on Iran to Level Imposed on Russia
    Israel has suggested an alternative to the nuclear deal with Iran, sources revealed on Thursday. During talks in Israel last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked how Israel would stop Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Iran can be deterred from enriching uranium to military grade if it knows the U.S. and European countries will ramp up sanctions to the level they've imposed on Russia after invading Ukraine.
        He also told Blinken that the nuclear deal will only be "a band-aid" solution for just a few years. At the same time, it will give Iran billions of dollars that it would use for its regional malign activities and to arm its proxies, a senior State Department official and an Israeli senior official said. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Three Islamic Jihad Gunmen Killed En Route to Attack in Israel - Tal Spungin
    Three Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed early Saturday near Jenin in the West Bank by Israeli Border Police counterterrorism officers while on their way to an attack in Israel. The terrorists had been responsible for previous attacks against Israeli security forces. Four Border Police officers were injured in the fight, one seriously. A video on social media showed one of the terrorists reading out a will prior to setting out for the attack. Guns and grenades were found in their car. A fourth member of the cell was arrested near Tulkarm. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Throws Firebomb at Israeli Troops in West Bank - Elior Levy
    A Palestinian threw a firebomb at Israeli forces during a violent riot near the West Bank city of Hebron and was shot dead, the IDF said on Friday. He was identified as Ahmad al-Atrash, 29, who was imprisoned in Israel three times between 2010 and 2020 for security offenses, having been convicted of throwing firebombs and manufacturing and selling weapons. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Who Murdered Israeli Woman Jogger Gets Life Sentence - Efrat Forsher
    On December 20, 2020, Esther Horgen, 52, a mother of six from the Tel Menashe community in Samaria, was brutally murdered while jogging in a nearby forest. On Sunday, the Samaria Military Court sentenced the murderer, Mohammad Maroh Kabaha, to life in prison and an additional three years. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran: Another Nuclear-Armed Dictatorship Flush with Cash and Attacking its Neighbors - Gabriel Noronha
    The deal being negotiated in Vienna is dangerous to U.S. national security, to the stability of the Middle East, and to the Iranian people who suffer most under that brutal regime. The lack of evidence to justify a removal of U.S. sanctions is illegal, and the deal that will be foisted upon the world without the support of Congress will be illegitimate. This deal will not serve U.S. interests in either the short or long term.
        The U.S. has promised to lift sanctions on some of the regime's worst terrorists and torturers, on leading officials who have developed Iran's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) infrastructure, and may agree to lift sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) itself. In exchange, Iran will receive fewer limitations than those imposed under the 2015 JCPOA, and the restrictions on its nuclear program will expire six years sooner than under the terms of the old deal.
        Iran is set to get access to a massive windfall of cash: My latest estimate is $90 billion in access to foreign exchange reserves, and then a further $50-$55 billion in extra revenue each year from higher oil and petrochemical exports, with no restrictions on how the money can be spent.
        The most troubling will be the $7 billion ransom payment the U.S. is preparing to pay for the release of four Americans from an Iranian jail. They are innocent victims who have suffered unjustly for far too long. But this payment will only supercharge Iran's hostage-taking industry. After Obama paid Iran $1.7 billion for four Americans back in 2016, Iranian clerics and generals bragged about it for years. At prices like these, more Americans are sure to land in Evin Prison.
        The writer served as Special Advisor for Iran in the U.S. State Department in 2019-2020. (Tablet)
  • The Iran Nuclear Deal Is a Bridge to Nowhere - David Frost
    In the 2015 nuclear agreement, the JCPOA, Iran promised to defer its nuclear program for a time but accepted no constraints on missiles, arms proliferation, or destabilizing our friends in the region. The hope, incredibly, was that one day a newly responsible Iran would drop its nuclear plans and help to manage the Middle East, allowing America to back out. Needless to say, wise Western foreign ministers and diplomats thought this was a tremendously good deal. Now the people who brought you the JCPOA are back in Washington. Iran is busily enriching uranium and firing missiles at our friends.
        This whole process has been based on a fallacy: that Iran could simply be talked out of something it saw as in its national interest. In fact, only sanctions and the threat of force have given Iran pause. We have failed to read the realities of international power. We have now seen from Russia where signaling weakness gets us. The same is true of Iran.
        In the great film "Bridge on the River Kwai," the British colonel who was ordered to build a bridge for the Japanese war effort becomes determined to finish the job come what may and tries to stop a commando team from destroying it. The Iran deal has become our Bridge on the River Kwai. We have become obsessed with completing it, but have forgotten why. Let's blow it up and face down our enemies properly instead. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Is the West Saving the Ayatollahs? - Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh
    Iran's economy is riddled with corruption. The regime is losing its ideological appeal and base of support. Its bickering elite constantly plot against one another. Given its continuing commitment to subvert the regional order, the clerical regime remains permanently at odds with most of its neighbors. The mullahs need a nuclear deal to give them relief from a predicament of their own making.
        Economic malpractice, much more than sanctions, has left the Islamic Republic routinely subject to unrest. The mullahs have never managed to tame inflation, create sufficient jobs for the young, or temper their greed.
        The U.S. rather desperately seeks to revive a nuclear deal with a regime that U.S. officials don't even pretend to see evolving toward moderation. Tehran is set to receive billions in sanctions relief while moving ahead with its atomic ambitions. Terrorism, imperialism, ballistic missiles, and internal repression are effectively off the table.
        Mr. Gerecht, a former Iranian-targets officer in the CIA, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (National Review)

The Current Terror Wave in Israel: Characteristics and Implications - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The recent terror wave of shootings and stabbings in the large Israeli cities of Be'er Sheva, Hadera, and Bnei Brak shows several significant characteristics that distinguish it from previous terror surges such as the one in 2015-16 (known as the "Knives Intifada"). The attacks were all perpetrated within pre-1967 Israel, undermining the sense of security of many Israelis who wanted to believe they were not targets of terror.
  • Three of the four terrorists were Israeli Arab citizens, one from the Bedouin village of Hura and the other two from the town of Umm al-Fahm. Israelis, including the security services, did not expect Israeli Arabs to go that far.
  • The affiliation of the two Israeli Arab terrorists from Umm al-Fahm with Islamic State was a surprise, since terror against Israel is not high on its order of priorities, and it has no organized structure among the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs.
  • The Israeli government and the security services wanted to believe that by improving the economic situation in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, they could gain at least temporary quiet. Pouring money into Israeli Arab society was also considered a way of bolstering their interest in integrating into Israeli society and keeping them away from violent and criminal activities.
  • The PA and Hamas, as well as elements of the pragmatic leadership of the Israeli Arabs, may take advantage of the economic gestures and deliver what is expected of them, but they are not in control of the terror threats. In addition, the PA and Hamas continue to stoke terror and hatred, and Hamas calls for terror from the areas not under its control, including by Arabs in Judea and Samaria and within Israel.
  • Most of the Palestinian people, including many Israeli Arabs who consider themselves Palestinians, are committed to the Palestinian narrative of an ongoing struggle against Zionism.

    The writer, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.

        See also Terrorist Attacks in Israel: Time to Change the Rules of the Game - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel
    Hamas plays a "double game" - while trying to maintain relative calm in Gaza, it incites and agitates in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and Israeli Arabs without taking responsibility. Behind these remote attacks is Salah al-Aruri, who is in charge of Hamas military activities in the West Bank, operating from Lebanon and Turkey.
        The writer, former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division, is Managing Director of INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

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