May 2, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Mossad Operation in Iran Foils IRGC Plot to Kill Israeli Diplomat, U.S. General (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Mossad intelligence agency - operating in Iran - apprehended and interrogated Iranian Revolutionary Guard member Mansour Rasouli, who was leading a plot to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Istanbul, a U.S. general stationed in Germany, and a journalist in France.
    The Quds Force, the IRGC branch responsible for overseas operations, planned to carry out the assassinations via drug cartels, with Iran reportedly willing to pay over $1 million for the targets.

Islamic State Accuses Israel of Slaying Jihadist Leader in Sinai Airstrike - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The Islamic State's al-Naba newspaper claimed Thursday that the Israeli Air Force helped kill Abu Omar al-Ansari, a military leader in the terror group's Sinai Province, in April.
    The report said Israeli jets and drones have intensified their air support for the Egyptian army in the past month, in fighting in northern Sinai close to the border with Gaza.
    On Saturday, suspected Islamic State terrorists blew up a natural gas pipeline in northern Sinai.

Massacre of Nearly 300 in Syria by Assad Regime Revealed - Ugur Umit Ungor and Annsar Shahhoud (New Lines)
    Videos leaked in 2019 show in chilling and unprecedented detail Syrian military personnel committing a massacre on April 16, 2013, of 288 civilians, including seven women and 12 children, in the Damascus district of Tadamon.
    The shootings appear to be routine and repetitive: One perpetrator takes out a blindfolded and zip-tied civilian from a white van and marches him to a large, pre-dug pit. Another executes him with an AK-47 assault rifle.
    A few victims are shot with pistols. One agent is filming, while the other two are shooting.

Iran Ramps Up Oil Exports as China Pulls Back on Russian Crude - Benoit Faucon (Wall Street Journal)
    Iran is ramping up oil exports and benefiting from a rise in oil prices as its main buyer, China, pulls back on its purchases of Russian oil due to the war with Ukraine.
    Iran oil exports - which go almost exclusively to China - rose to 870,000 barrels a day in the first three months of 2022, up 30% from an average of 668,000 barrels a day in 2021, said commodities data provider Kpler.
    An Iranian official said oil shipments were higher and reached 1.2 million barrels a day, with an additional 300,000 barrels a day delivered to China through third-party countries.

Bloomberg Errs on Israeli Arab Identity - Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
    In an April 12 story, Gwen Ackerman wrongly reports that Israeli-Arabs "mostly identify as Palestinian." In fact, they mostly don't.
    A 2019 Israel Democracy Institute poll found that only 13% identify as Palestinian.

Four Israeli Women Earn Medals at European Judo Championships - Ido Rakovsky (Ha'aretz)
    On Friday, Timna Nelson-Levy and Shira Rishony won gold and bronze medals respectively at the European Judo Championships in Bulgaria.
    On Saturday, Gili Sharir won a bronze medal, and on Sunday, Raz Hershko won a silver medal.

Israeli High School Team Takes Second Place in Robotics Competition - Roy Baharir-Perl (Calcalist)
    An Israeli team from Aviv High School in Ra'anana claimed second place in an international robotics competition involving 9,000 teams in Houston, Texas, on Saturday night.

Egyptian Copts Resume Pilgrimage Trips to Jerusalem (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    680 Egyptian Coptic Christian pilgrims arrived in Israel on April 21 to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem, after trips had been suspended for two years due to the Covid pandemic.
    A total of 3,000 Coptic pilgrims were expected to arrive by April 24, the Coptic Easter.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Nuclear Talks Freeze over Terrorist Label for Revolutionary Guards - Stephanie Liechtenstein
    Despite having an agreement to restore the Iran nuclear deal virtually ready to go, there is one final sticking point: the terrorist status of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The terrorist label for the group technically falls outside the purview of the nuclear agreement.
        "The U.S. position has been that unless Iran agrees to take certain steps to assuage security concerns beyond the JCPOA, Washington will not lift the terror designation, which itself is beyond the JCPOA," a U.S. official said. And that stance is not changing, "especially given ongoing threats by the IRGC against [Americans]." "The Biden administration is highly unlikely at this point to drop the designation in the context of the JCPOA talks."
        In the meantime, the tide in Washington has been turning against taking the group off the terrorist list. A growing number of Republican senators, as well as some key senators from Biden's Democratic Party, are putting pressure on the White House to not budge. (Politico)
        See also IRGC Says Time Has Come for End of Israeli Regime
    On Thursday, the IRGC issued a statement condemning "the normalization of relations with the...Israeli regime by some Arab states as a repetition of the great historical mistake of the traitor Anwar Sadat." The IRGC further noted that the Israeli regime has reached its end. (Mehr News-Iran)
  • Photos: Thousands of Iranians Vow to Destroy Israel and Chant "Death to America" - Jack Newman
    On Friday, Iranians chanted "death to America" and burned Israeli and U.S. flags at state-organized marches to mark Quds (Jerusalem) Day, an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan, to express support for Palestinians and condemn Israel. State TV said millions were in attendance and showed supporters burning photos of Joe Biden.
        Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech that all previous peace agreements - such as the 1993 Oslo Accords, the two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and former president Donald Trump's plan dubbed the Deal of the Century "are null and void."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Israel Denounces Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's Hitler Comments
    Israel denounced on Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for suggesting that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots, and demanded an apology from Moscow. During an interview with Italy's Rete 4, Lavrov was asked how Russia could claim that it needed to "denazify" Ukraine when the country's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was Jewish. "When they say 'What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews,' well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing," Lavrov said.
        Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, called Lavrov's remarks "an insult and a severe blow to the victims of the real Nazism." Dayan said Lavrov was spreading "an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory with no basis in fact."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Terrorists Murder Israeli Security Guard in West Bank - Anna Ahronheim
    Two Palestinian terrorists murdered Vyacheslav Golev, 23, a security guard, at the entrance to the West Bank city of Ariel on Friday night. The two men were later arrested. Golev was at the guard post with his fiancee and shielded her with his body, saving her life. (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
        See also Father of Palestinian Shooter Aided Son in Attack - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Supporters Demonstrate on Temple Mount at End of Ramadan - Gilad Cohen
    When tens of thousands of Muslims prayed on the Temple Mount on Monday during the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, a massive Hamas poster was displayed in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Several hundred Hamas supporters chanted praise for the terror group.
        On Saturday, Muslim worshippers clashed with dozens of masked men who attempted to raise Hamas flags. The worshippers asked Israeli security sources to intervene and remove the Hamas supporters from the mosque compound. "You are ruining the prayer," the worshippers said. "Your actions are only hurting and will ignite violence. Many will be hurt because of you."  (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians Mark Ramadan by Destroying Temple Mount Antiquities - Itsik Saban
    During the riots on the Temple Mount on April 15-16, 2022, rioters pulled out ancient stones, including sections of columns, and smashed them to pieces to use as weapons. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Arrests Five Palestinians for Attacking Buses in Jerusalem during Passover
    Police in Jerusalem over the weekend arrested five Palestinians for attacking buses and cars headed to the Western Wall in Jerusalem on April 17 during Passover. A collaborator in a private car helped hold up traffic, allowing the attackers to target the vehicles. Several buses were heavily damaged in the assault and some passengers were injured. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Honors Its Fallen Soldiers - Emanuel Fabian
    Israel's Memorial Day will begin on Tuesday evening. 24,068 people have died during service to the country since 1860. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Christians Are Safe and Thriving in Jerusalem - Fleur Hassan Nahoum
    On the day before Christmas Eve, I stood in the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem with Issa Kassissieh, a Christian Arab and Jerusalem's only Santa Claus, to give out Christmas trees, as the Jerusalem municipality has done for a decade. The city also outfitted streets with Christmas decorations. On Easter Sunday, Jerusalem's Christian denominations celebrated peacefully as they do every year.
        Over the past seven years, in particular, unprecedented resources have been channeled into the Old City and eastern Jerusalem to close the social gaps and to herald a new era of equal opportunity. The City of Jerusalem and its police authorities are completely engaged in protecting Christian residents, and any reported acts of intolerance are acted upon quickly and decisively.
        Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing. Figures from the Israel Democracy Institute show that 84% of Christians are satisfied with their lives in this country; as an example, the most educated women in Israel are from the Christian community. In tragic contrast, the numbers living under the Palestinian Authority are dwindling. In the 27 years the PA has controlled Bethlehem, the Christian population has shrunk from 80% to 12%.
        The writer is Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. (Telegraph-UK)
  • 11 Years of War in Syria: Situation Assessment - Eden Kaduri and Jony Essa
    After 11 years of civil war, Syria is divided, subject to the influence of foreign forces, and suffering from a severe economic and humanitarian crisis. The Assad regime remains obligated to Iran and does not intend to break off relations with it, even in order to return to the Arab world and obtain essential economic aid. Moreover, Iran is expected to increase its influence in Syria as Russia's involvement is cut back due to the war in Ukraine.
        However, Assad will try to limit the presence and military visibility of Iran in his country in order to avoid paying the price of Israeli attacks. Israel must therefore continue working to block Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the military threat that it poses - and in order to provide Assad with grounds and leverage to remove Iran from Syrian territory. This means a continuation of the aerial attacks, while retaining the mechanism of coordination with Russia, and improving the efforts to achieve more meaningful and long-term influence.
        In this framework, Israel should work on building special ties with potential local allies, in particular the Kurds in the northeast of the country and the Druze in the south.
        Eden Kaduri, who served in IDF Intelligence with a focus on Syria, is a research assistant at INSS. Jony Essa is a research associate at INSS and a doctoral candidate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

How Muslims Changed the Status Quo on the Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as formulated by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan in 1967, no longer exists. In the 55 years since the Six-Day War, changes in the status quo have greatly improved the Muslims' hold on the Temple Mount.
  • Muslims have inaugurated four new mosques on the Temple Mount since 1967: the Dome of the Rock, which originally was not built as a mosque; the El-Marwani Mosque, located underground in Solomon's Stables; the "Ancient Al-Aqsa" Mosque, established in 1998 under the existing upper mosque; and the Gate of Mercy prayer area, set up and turned into a mosque in 2019.
  • The establishment of additional mosques on the mount stemmed from a new definition of the Temple Mount compound by the Muslims, who began to refer to all of the area as "Al-Aqsa" and to regard the entire mount as one great mosque. Until the Six-Day War, the compound as a whole was called "Al-Haram al-Sharif" (the Holy and Noble Place), and was defined differently from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • In the first decade after the Six-Day War, Jews were allowed to enter the mount through the Chain Gate and the Cotton Merchants' Gate, but today can only enter through the Mughrabi Gate. For two decades, Jews were allowed to visit for more hours of the day and at all parts of the mount, even the interior of the mosques. Today, Jews' visits to the mount are much more limited in time and in the areas permitted.
  • While displaying flags is prohibited on the Temple Mount, in practice, the only flag not displayed there is Israel's. Palestinian Authority, PLO, Hamas, and Hizb al-Tahrir flags can often be seen, while a small Israeli flag on the desk of an officer at the Temple Mount police station had to be removed following Muslim protest.
  • After a succession of changes to the status quo by the Muslim side, a change was also made on the Jewish side. For several years, on the eastern flank of the Temple Mount, with the permission and surveillance of the police, Jews have been praying in a "nondemonstrative" manner, without prayer shawls or prayer books.

    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a veteran Israeli journalist.

        See also Israel's Terms for Restoring the Temple Mount Status Quo - Prof. Yitzhak Reiter
    Israel must demand that the Waqf will be in charge of quelling unrest at the holy site or allow Israeli police to step in if they fail to do so. Israel must demand the construction of a tall gate or installation of a net that would prevent projectiles from being thrown from the Temple Mount onto the Western Wall plaza. If this condition is met, Israeli police will have no reason to enter the Temple Mount compound.
        The Waqf must clear out all waste, rocks, and construction materials used by rioters to attack security forces during clashes. Israel must demand oversight over inflammatory sermons blaring from the mosque's overhead sound system and the option to turn them off if need be. The two parties must agree on the installation of advanced surveillance cameras around the compound's gates, and the establishment of a joint command room for Israeli police and the Waqf.
        The writer, professor of Islamic, Middle East and Israel Studies at Ashkelon Academic College, served as deputy advisor on Arab Affairs for three Israeli prime ministers. (Ynet News)

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