June 13, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

UN: Iran Removing 27 Cameras from Nuclear Sites - Kareem Fahim and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post)
    Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Thursday that Iran is removing 27 cameras used by the agency to monitor the country's nuclear sites.

Israel, Turkey Foil Iranian Plot Against Israeli Targets - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israeli and Turkish intelligence services recently foiled an Iranian plot to attack Israeli targets on Turkish soil, senior Israeli officials told Ynet on Sunday.
    One official confirmed there had been a recent rise in Iran's attempts to carry out attacks.
    The successful operation comes less than two weeks after Israel's National Security Council issued a severe travel warning urging Israelis to avoid traveling to the country and several other destinations bordering Iran, fearing Iranian revenge for the assassination of IRGC Col. Hassan Sayad Khodaei that was attributed to Israel.
    See also Iranian Kidnapping of Israelis Thwarted in Turkey (Shafaq News-Kurdistan, Iraq)
    Israeli and Turkish security agencies last month uncovered an Iranian plot to kidnap Israeli tourists in Turkey.
    Israel's Channel 11 reported that the attempted kidnapping happened before the killing of a senior IRGC officer.
    Israeli security officials believe there are still Iranian terror units operating in Turkey.

Israel Unveils New Radar Capable of Tracking Thousands of Targets at Once (i24News)
    Israel's Elbit Systems has revealed a new radar system capable of simultaneously detecting and tracking thousands of targets.
    It can detect a small drone at a distance of 7.5 miles and a person at 9.3 miles.
    The Raketa sysem can deal with multiple unmanned aerial vehicles, and at the same time identify and track helicopters, vehicles, ships, infantry, and people.
    See also Unvailing a Simultaneous Multi-Mission Tactical Radar System (Elbit Systems)

Cheerleaders for Palestine Ignore Dysfunctional Society - Alex Ryvchin (The Australian)
    With the Palestinian Authority's payment of life pensions to the families of terrorists, Palestinian society operates under a system of inducement and reward that has turned the killing of Jews into an industry.
    Any visitor to a Palestinian village in the West Bank will have seen the banners and posters dedicated to their "martyrs," with photoshopped photos of smiling terrorists to convince the youth that there is glory in death.
    The violent purging of suspected "collaborators" is another feature of this system.
    To make them worthy of the adulation, the marches, and the pledges to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians have been reconstructed as a mythical version of themselves, cleansed of all sin and stripped of all responsibility.
    The consequence is that there is absolutely no incentive for Palestinians to self-examine, let alone reform, let alone develop a society that is functional, just and worthy of a state.
    Should our new government wish to revisit Australia's position on aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it ought to see the Palestinian leadership not as it wishes it to be but as it is, and to hold Palestinian leaders to the same standards as in every other society.
    The writer is the co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

BDS Goes Full Anti-Semite - Jeffrey Salkin (Religion News Service)
    "The Mapping Project" locates Jewish institutions and individuals in the Boston area that anti-Israel activists believe to be responsible for Israeli "crimes" against the Palestinians.
    As the Boston Jewish Community Relations Council has noted, "the underlying messages are clear: Jews are responsible for the ills of our community."
    The project mentions the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, the ADL, a Jewish high school, local philanthropists, an arts group, and even J Street - a left-leaning advocacy group.
    In its pernicious labeling and scapegoating of the Jews, and its imagined web of Jewish influence, it comes straight out of the playbook of any medieval Jew hater.
    The BDS people and their allies do not want a better State of Israel. They want no State of Israel.
    And how does the "Mapping Project" improve the life of one single Palestinian?
    The writer is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla.
    See also Community Response to BDS-Supported Mapping Project (Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah Threatens to Hit Israel's Offshore Gas Rig
    Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah, a staunch Iran ally, threatened Thursday to strike a gas rig Israel is setting up in the Mediterranean Sea in a location that is part of its UN-recognized exclusive economic zone. (AP)
        See also Gas Rig Is in Israeli Territory, Not in Disputed Zone, Satellite Images Show - Avi Scharf
    A Ha'aretz investigation shows that Israel's gas-drilling rig, stationed in the Karish gas field west of Haifa last week, is 10 km. south of Lebanon's self-defined maritime border and is not in the area Lebanon claims. Diplomatic and defense sources told Ha'aretz that the rig was placed in an area that was never controversial, and that Lebanese officials involved in the negotiations have confirmed this. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Iranian Occupation of Lebanon - Khaled Abou Zahr
    The disputed gas field in the Mediterranean is symbolic of the domination and occupation of Lebanon by Hizbullah and the Iranian regime. Since 2010, Lebanon has never accepted any of the proposals for solving the maritime dispute. Represented by President Michel Aoun, it kept switching between maximalist positions and silence.
        A decade ago, the U.S. mediation offered a demarcation that gave 55% of the disputed area to Lebanon and 45% to Israel. Beirut did not accept it. And, when negotiations took place again in 2020, Lebanon claimed a larger part of the territory to the south, reaching close to 900 km. If Beirut today accepts the first U.S.-proposed demarcation or even its latest position, which claims an extra 370 km. to the south, then the Karish field where the new Israeli drilling rig has arrived falls in the Israeli part.
        The writer is editor of Al-Watan Al-Arabi (France). (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Damascus International Airport Damaged in Airstrike
    Sources at Damascus International Airport have confirmed that maintenance work on the airport runway, control tower, navigation lights and old terminals is in full swing and will continue for two weeks or more due to damage to the airport following the Israeli attack at dawn last Friday. Buildings targeted by Israeli strikes included those in which Iranian weapons are temporarily stored, before being transferred to Iranian headquarters in areas south of Damascus.
        The northern runway was put out of service after the strikes targeted three warehouses of Iranian-backed militias. The northern runway was the only runway in service after the southern runway was put out of service in 2021 due to Israeli strikes which targeted shipments and warehouses of Iranian-backed militias. (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK)
        See also Israel Shut Down Damascus Airport to Thwart Weapons Smuggling from Iran - Amos Harel
    Israel's latest strike on Damascus airport stopped all flights for weeks. It seems the move was intended to thwart weapons smuggling from Iran by means of commercial flights. In the past, kits for satellite navigation systems to be installed on the rockets in Hizbullah's possession were smuggled in Iranian cargo planes landing in Damascus and from there sent in trucks to Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA President Asks U.S. to Hold Off on Appointing Special Envoy to Palestinians - Jacob Magid
    The U.S. planned to announce that Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, would be elevated to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians before President Biden's upcoming trip to Israel. As part of Amr's new portfolio, he would visit the region regularly and work closely with the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU), currently a branch within the U.S. Embassy to Israel housed at the old U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem, which would start reporting directly to Amr in Washington.
        However, during a phone call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 31, PA President Mahmoud Abbas did not respond well to the proposals and asked Blinken to hold off on announcing them. "These proposals are band-aid solutions," a Palestinian official said. (Times of Israel)
        See also Critics See Change in U.S. Policy toward Palestinians - Benjamin Weinthal
    Responding to the upgrade of the U.S. Palestinian Affairs Unit in Jerusalem, Arsen Ostrovsky, an Israeli human rights attorney and chairman of the International Legal Forum, said, "Having been unable to force upon Israel their plan to open a consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, this is a transparent attempt by the Biden administration to go round the back door, with a de facto consulate, in a clear attempt to water down the Trump administration's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The move, a direct challenge to Israel's sovereignty, which potentially might also breach the Jerusalem Embassy Act, will only reward Palestinian intransigence and violence."  (Fox News)
  • Upgrading U.S.-Palestinian Relations in Jerusalem Impacts Status as Israel's Capital - Editorial
    The upgrading of the U.S. State Department's Jerusalem office to the Palestinians as the "U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem" is not merely cosmetic. It is a sign of President Biden's desire to reopen a U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinians, reversing the action by his predecessor.
        The issue is not about whether there should be a consulate to handle Palestinian affairs, but why a U.S. Consulate for the Palestinians should be based in Jerusalem and not, for example, in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority's seat of government. It would be unprecedented to have both the U.S. Embassy to one country and the de facto embassy to a foreign entity operating from the same city.
        Upgrading ties with the Palestinians in return for nothing but intransigence does nothing to encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Israel must continue to make clear to the U.S. that reopening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem is a red line on which the broad spectrum of Israeli society agrees. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Never Targets Journalists - Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
    Less than two hours after the death on May 11 of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, I contacted Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian minister responsible for cooperation with Israel, and proposed that we hold a joint investigation into her death. The Palestinians refused. Being a journalist in wartime is a dangerous business. I know - I was a journalist for 31 years and covered the First Lebanon War.
        What happened next can't be excused by the fog of war. Palestinian propaganda used Abu Akleh, accusing Israel of deliberately targeting her. She would surely have known better. If the outrageous claim that Israel targets journalists were true, why would she have worked in the region for more than 20 years? Today hundreds of foreign journalists work in the same place. Al Jazeera, a network run by an Islamist state that is openly hostile to Israel, has permanent staff in Israel.
        Everything you know about this conflict is the product of hundreds of journalists who work in the field under the protection of a democratic state that believes with all its heart in both freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
        Missing from the media coverage of Shireen Abu Akleh's death is the reason for the fighting that led to it. Israel conducted antiterror operations around the city of Jenin because terror cells that murdered innocent Israeli civilians came from there. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The U.S. Fixation on the "Two-State Solution" - Elliott Abrams
    Barak Ravid of Axios reported on June 8 that the Biden administration proposed to hold a high-level summit with the Palestinian Authority. A high-level summit with the PA right now would serve no useful purpose. As the Israelis suggest, there is a real downside in creating an expectations crisis.
        Even inveterate peace processors in the U.S. and Israel acknowledge that there is no chance for any agreement today. This is largely because the PA has the support of so few Palestinians, and is viewed widely as both incompetent and corrupt. As of last fall, 80% of Palestinians were demanding the resignation of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and roughly the same number have complained of corruption in poll after poll. Another 2021 poll found that 67% of Palestinians want to annul the Oslo Accords entirely.
        Even more significantly, 60% opposed the principle of a two-state solution, and 54% opposed resuming negotiations with Israel. Perhaps strong, credible leaders could change public opinion, but the Palestinians have no strong leaders who favor peace. Serious negotiations always require compromises, and the PA is in no condition to make any.
        U.S. officials should be seeking pragmatic ways to help Palestinians, who face enormous economic and governance problems. They should be dealing with realities on the ground and trying to make lives better. And they should stop dreaming of summits that would very likely produce nothing but more tension.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (National Review)
  • Missiles and UAVs in the Battle of Ukraine: Preliminary Lessons for Israel - Dr. Uzi Rubin
    Russia's "Special Military Operation" in Ukraine is indistinguishable from a high intensity, full-scale war between unequal contenders. A careful perusal of videos from the war uploaded to social media yields some preliminary impressions on the impact of precision missiles and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) in the fighting (as of April 2022).
        The invasion was preceded by a preemptive air strike on Ukraine Air Force airbases and air defense bases with 100 cruise missiles launched from Russian bombers flying over Russian territory. Indications are that while the Russian missile strike degraded the UAF's operational capabilities, it failed to extinguish them entirely. According to a source in the U.S. Air Force, many Russian cruise missiles "failed to launch, missed or failed to explode after impact." One satellite photo showed a Ukrainian runway with three fresh craters in the surrounding terrain, while the runway itself is untouched.
        The air-launched hypersonic Kinzahl precision missile made its world debut. The 2,000-km.-range Kinzahl, launched from MiG-31 heavy combat aircraft, has tremendous maneuvering capability. It can curve at the last minute into the target, preventing the defender from predicting its final trajectory and rendering all existing missile defense systems impotent against this type of threat.
        It seems the ground attacks by armed UAVs of both sides did not have any discernable effect on the course of the battle, and that the most significant impact of UAVs was in providing real-time battlefield reconnaissance, presenting "the transparent battlefield" where nothing can be hidden. Compared to the land-based firepower from artillery and anti-tank weapons, the level of firepower provided by armed UAVs is negligible. It seems that the Russians managed to shoot down most of Ukraine's 20 Turkish Bayraktar armed UAVs during the first three weeks of the war.
        The writer was founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)

Israel's E1 Building Plan: The Most Strategic, Consensual - and Frozen - Project - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The plan to link the city of Maale Adumim (pop. 40,000) to Jerusalem by building housing units in the E1 area, a proposal backed by nine Israeli prime ministers, has been frozen for 28 years because of U.S. and European opposition. The E1 plan covers an area of 12 square kilometers of state land. In April 1994, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave the mayor of Maale Adumim the documents for the annexation of E1 to his town.
  • The central claim of the plan's opponents is that building E1 will obstruct Palestinian continuity of building and traffic between Ramallah and Bethlehem, from north to south. Yet Israel wants to preserve continuity from west to east, between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, leading to the Dead Sea and the Jordanian border.
  • There has been large-scale illegal Palestinian building between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem along the Jerusalem-Jericho road and in the E1 zone itself for many years. This illegal activity - conducted in Area C under Israeli civil and security control - has already significantly narrowed the corridor through which the main traffic artery runs between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.
  • The international community has worked to thwart measures to stop the illegal building in the area. Often, the Europeans themselves are involved in illegal construction activity in Area C.
  • Israel is offering the Palestinians a solution to maintain transportation continuity between the northern and southern West Bank by the use of a road to link these areas, providing the Palestinians free movement from the Ramallah area to the Bethlehem area.
  • Israel's need for strategic depth, as an aspect of defensible borders, is now recognized by most Israeli security and military professionals. In case of the reemergence of an eastern front that threatens Israel, the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem - and further eastward, toward the Dead Sea - is essential for Israel's strategic depth.

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

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