July 25, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Another IRGC Official Interrogated by Israel's Mossad in Iran (Iran International-UK)
    Israel's Mossad captured a senior IRGC official on Iranian soil and interrogated him about weapons shipments to Iran's proxies.
    Video footage of the interrogation shows a man introducing himself as Yadollah Khedmati, deputy commander of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Logistics, discussing shipping weapons to Iran's proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.
    The Mossad agents later released Khedmati unharmed.
    This is the second time evidence emerges of Israeli agents detaining an IRGC operative inside Iran and taping confessions.
    A short audio recording was published by Israeli media in May with a photo of Iranian national Mansour Rasouli, 52.
    Rasouli said he was sent to Turkey by the IRGC to establish a network to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Istanbul, a Germany-based U.S. general, and a journalist in France.

Iran Paid $35,000 to Agents to Kill Israelis in Istanbul (Times of Israel)
    The Turkish Daily Sabah reported more details Saturday on the plot by Iranian nationals to kill Israelis in Turkey.
    Iranian agents were instructed to target three Israeli tourists staying at a hotel near Istanbul's Taksim Square, in exchange for $35,000.
    A video showed a man photographing areas inside the hotel.

Belgium Ratifies Treaty to Release Iranian Terrorist - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    The Belgian Parliament ratified a treaty with Iran on Wednesday allowing Brussels to release convicted Iranian terrorist Assadollah Assadi, who only served a year of his 20-year sentence for plotting to bomb a rally of an exiled opposition group near Paris in 2018.
    In return, the Belgian government expects the release of Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, detained in Iran in February.
    Brussels University Prof. Ahmadreza Djalali, who has dual Iranian-Swedish citizenship, has also been held by Iran since 2016 on trumped-up charges of espionage.
    See also A Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card for Iranian Terrorists - Masih Alinejad (Wall Street Journal)

Iran Will Keep IAEA Cameras Turned Off until Nuclear Deal Is Restored (Reuters)
    Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it had removed IAEA equipment, including 27 cameras installed under the 2015 pact.
    "We will not turn on the IAEA cameras until the other side returns to the nuclear deal," Iranian nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said Monday.

Cameras to Replace Peacekeepers at Strategic Red Sea Strait - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Remote-controlled cameras will take over responsibility from U.S.-led peacekeepers on Tiran Island for ensuring international shipping retains freedom of access to the Gulf of Aqaba, President Biden announced during his visit to the region.

Israel's Maccabiah Games Are Connecting Thousands of Jews Worldwide - Howard Blas (JNS)
    The 21st Maccabiah games, the "Jewish Olympics," which opened on July 12, brought more than 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries to compete in 42 sporting events all around Israel.
    When the athletes aren't competing in their sports, they can choose from a variety of options for experiencing the Jewish homeland.
    Professor Yaniv Poria of Ben-Gurion University notes: "The Maccabiah is not just a sports competition; it is an event that is part of the heritage of the Jewish people. When we watch the Maccabiah competitions, we do not do so in the expectation of seeing world records."
    "When we watch the incoming delegations, it is an event of a Jewish nature. Even the athletes who come here are not only interested in competing but in getting to know other Jewish athletes, and getting to know the country and its inhabitants." 
    See also "Over-50" Canadians Take Back More than Medals from Maccabiah - Felice Friedson (Medialine)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Doesn't Want a Nuclear Deal, British Spy Chief Says - Phil Stewart
    Richard Moore, chief of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6, said on Thursday he was skeptical that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei actually wants to revive a nuclear deal with world powers but said Tehran won't try to halt talks either. "I'm not convinced we're going to get there....I don't think the Supreme Leader of Iran wants to cut a deal," Moore told the Aspen Security Forum. (Reuters)
  • Ex-U.S. Diplomat: Iran Has Enough Uranium to Build "One, If Not Two," Nuclear Bombs - Tom Brown
    Former U.S. Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph told MailOnline: "The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented that Iran has 60%-enriched uranium, enough for at least one, if not two, bombs. We have been saying for years 'they're approaching this breakout point.' They're there."  (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Israel's Mossad Reveals Secret Hizbullah Cell Executed Argentina's Terrorist Attacks in 1990s - Ronen Bergman
    A terrorist attack in 1992 which killed 29 people at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, and a second in 1994 killing 85 people at the city's Jewish community center, were carried out by a secret Hizbullah unit, according to an investigation by the Mossad, Israel's secret service. Israeli intelligence believes that Iran approved and funded the attacks and supplied training and equipment.
        The bombings were carried out by Hizbullah, using secret infrastructure it had constructed over the years, in revenge for Israeli operations against the Shiite militia in Lebanon. The explosives used in both attacks were smuggled into Argentina by Hizbullah operatives in shampoo bottles and chocolate boxes on commercial flights from several European countries.
        The same Hizbullah operatives responsible for the community center bombing were behind the downing of a Panamanian plane the next day that killed 21 passengers, including 12 leaders of the Jewish community in Panama. The attackers were not brought to justice and are living in Lebanon. The Mossad inquiry found no evidence that Argentine officials or other local citizens took part in the attacks. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Is Preparing to Prevent a Nuclear Iran - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday: "Should we jump to a war [with Iran] at the first opportunity we have? No. Should we be able to conduct military operations to prevent it [a nuclear Iran] if needed, the answer is yes. Are we building the ability? Yes. Should we use it as a last resort? Yes - and I hope that we will get U.S. support."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Pressing Palestinians to Cooperate on Abraham Accords - Jacob Magid
    President Joe Biden asked PA President Mahmoud Abbas to cooperate in leveraging the Abraham Accords normalization agreements to advance measures that benefit the Palestinians, a senior U.S. official told the Times of Israel.
        "We've made very clear that normalization and the implementation of the Abraham Accords is happening. This is a trend and for the Palestinians to try to stand against it is not in anyone's interest," said a second senior U.S. official. "We have found the Arab capitals are very supportive of folding Palestinians into Abraham Accords efforts and we've increasingly found the Israelis to be so as well."
        One of the first fruits of the U.S. effort was a plan to open the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan 24/7 by Sep. 30, an initiative proposed by Morocco. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Palestinian Gunmen Killed in West Bank - Jack Khoury
    Muhammad al-Azizi, 25, and Aboud Sobh, 28, members of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, were killed Sunday morning after they shot at an IDF force that had entered Nablus in the West Bank to arrest terror suspects. A number of terrorists barricaded themselves in a house and fired live rounds and explosives at the Israel force, which responded with live fire until the terrorists were neutralized. After the shootout, a large number of weapons and explosive devices were found inside the house. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Losing Control of Northern West Bank to Fatah and Islamic Jihad Gunmen - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority is rapidly losing control of the northern West Bank, where hundreds of gunmen belonging to the ruling Fatah faction and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have increased their presence and activities in recent months. Most of the gunmen are based in and around Nablus and Jenin, and have stepped up attacks on Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers and installations. The phenomenon has also spread to large parts of Ramallah, where Fatah-affiliated gunmen seem to have established their own law-enforcement agencies.
        PA leaders are aware that there's little they can do to disarm the armed groups. Meanwhile, the Palestinian public continues to view the gunmen as "heroes" who are ready to sacrifice their lives for the Palestinian cause, while the PA leaders and security forces are denounced as "traitors" and "collaborators" with Israel.
        "There's a feeling that the Palestinian Authority is no longer in control," said a Palestinian academic from Ramallah. "Many of these armed men belong to Fatah, and that's why they are treated as if they are part of the Palestinian security apparatus."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Sinks Boat Smuggling Equipment to Hamas from Egypt - Emanuel Fabian
    The Israeli Navy sank a vessel smuggling equipment intended for Hamas off the coast of Gaza on Sunday. The crew swam ashore. Ynet reported that the IDF believed the boat was transporting ammunition and anti-tank missiles. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Takes Putin's Side in Ukraine War - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin
    The leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia who gathered in Tehran last week did not focus on Israel. Iran has wholeheartedly taken Putin's side against the U.S. by justifying Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Supreme Leader Khamenei declared that "the U.S. and its European allies left Moscow with no choice but to invade," and that they would have declared war on Russia in any case if Moscow had not pre-empted them.
        Iran can assist Russia in bypassing sanctions and providing it with weapons systems that it lacks, such as drones. At the same time, it is important to remember that between Iran and Russia and between Turkey and Russia there are difficult historical legacies of wars and crises, and inherent strategic rivalries.
        The war in Ukraine also creates tensions between Moscow and Tehran. They are competing for the Chinese oil market, which bypasses sanctions, and Beijing is exploiting their situation to demand lower prices. In Syria, Iran and Russia have a complex relationship of partnership and competition. They each support Assad while competing for influence over the regime, the military, infrastructure projects and revenues.
        The writer is former Head of the Israeli Defense Intelligence and former Director of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine: Ukraine Is Learning Self-Reliance, Like Israel Did
    Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky told Interfax-Ukraine, "You will simply have no other choice for Ukraine to continue to exist as a strong independent state, other than to become 'Israel' in some sense." There are three points that Ukraine can use.
        "The first is to rely only on itself....Surely, we have partnerships with many countries, we have strategic relations with the United States, this is a very important trump card, but in the military sense, Israel relies only on itself....It proceeds from the fact that in a moment of danger one cannot count on anyone's help."
        "The second point is to preserve democracy and freedom of speech at all costs....This is the strength of the state, in different opinions, the opportunity to express their opinions, to conduct discussions. Despite wars...there is a danger of slipping into authoritarianism, strangling freedom of speech. Israel did not follow this path and it was right. Ultimately, this would weaken society and the state."
        The third is "everything that concerns connection with the diaspora." "The Ukrainian diaspora is growing....You can look at this as a loss, or you can look at it as an asset of the state with which you need to work. And which in the end can support the country in difficult times and not only. This is what Israel had from the very beginning."  (Interfax-Ukraine)
        See also Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine: Accusations of Ukrainian State as Nazism Are Nonsense
    Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky told Interfax-Ukraine, "I think it is complete nonsense to accuse Ukraine of Nazism. Probably, like in any other country, there are nationalists, anti-Semites in Ukraine...and in this sense Ukraine is no different from other countries. At one time, I and my predecessors as ambassadors spoke about my disagreement with certain trends in Ukrainian society. It concerned certain historical figures....We spoke about this openly with the leadership of Ukraine. I am sure that after the end of the war this historical discussion will continue."  (Interfax-Ukraine)
        See also Survey: Educated Israeli Women from Former USSR Side with Ukraine - David Baron
    A survey conducted by Dr. Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin, a senior lecturer at the Ruppin Academic Center in Netanya, sampled 467 women between the ages of 25 and 60 with academic degrees who arrived in Israel between 1988 and 2018. Overall, support for Ukraine among those sampled stands at 80%. Among Ukrainian-born women, this is 87%.
        The survey also found that the war bolstered the sense of belonging to Israel and gave more validation to the decision to make aliyah. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jewish Americans and Antisemitism: How their Views Compare with the Rest of America - Dr. Irwin J. (Yitzchak) Mansdorf
    Following the taking of hostages at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15, 2022, we surveyed a random group of 1,077 "general" Americans on Feb. 1 and 851 who self-identified as Jewish on Feb. 6 regarding issues of antisemitism in the U.S., security of synagogues, and the general feelings of safety of the Jewish community.
        While Jewish Americans still see right-wing ideology as primarily responsible for the hate-related activity of white supremacy groups, there appears to be increased concern over Islamic extremist activity as well as a trend of increased attribution of anti-Jewish activity to progressive or "woke" sources.
        We found that antisemitic acts are seen mainly in the form of offensive language and very little in the form of actual physical violence. The subjective intensity of antisemitism in the daily lives of Jewish Americans may be less than it appears to be based on media reports and not very different from hate-based activity against other groups.
        The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center specializing in political psychology. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Former IDF Military Intelligence Chief: We Don't Need a Middle East NATO - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Tamir Heyman interviewed by Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
  • Former IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Tamir Heyman, now executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies, said that Israeli officials should lower their tone about a regional air defense system.
  • He waved off the suggestion of posting the Israeli Iron Dome systems and lasers in the UAE or other Abraham Accords countries as wildly unrealistic or relegated to the very distant future. Rather, he said the current air defense talk is about radar and sharing data relating to detecting threats.
  • On a technical level, Israel "can do a [regional] defense system immediately, without it being publicized, with the U.S. and with cooperation and reciprocal respect from all of those involved. We just attach all the radar systems and benefit from having more connected sensors." But he emphasized that "it is forbidden for Israel to lead it. The U.S. needs to lead."
  • Asked about a Middle East NATO, he said, "We don't need an alliance. They don't want it, and we don't....In NATO, if one country is attacked, everyone must counterattack the attacker. We don't want to be in this situation" where Israel is obligated to go to war on behalf of a Sunni Arab country.
  • "We don't want them to intervene [militarily to help Israel] - we don't need it; we do not want to rely on them."
  • On the other hand, "We do have common threats. There are relative benefits to cooperation, but we need to do it quietly, under the table and with modesty....Do not talk about an alliance."

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