August 25, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israeli Stealth Planes Penetrated Iranian Airspace without Detection (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Air Force F-35 stealth planes penetrated Iranian airspace on multiple occasions over the last two months, the London-based Saudi media outlet Elaph reported.
    Both Iranian and Russian radars failed to locate them.
    The operation, conducted with the U.S., was to simulate an aerial and maritime strike on Iran in the Red Sea, and the seizure of Iranian vessels in the Gulf.

U.S. Strikes Bunkers Used by Iranian-Backed Forces in Syria - John Ismay (New York Times)
    American planes struck bunkers containing ammunition and other military hardware used by groups affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards in Deir al Zour in eastern Syria, the U.S. Central Command announced Wednesday.
    A U.S. military official said the strike was in retaliation for an Aug. 15 rocket attack by Iranian-backed forces on American troops in Syria.

Three U.S. Service Members Injured in Syria Rocket Attacks - Courtney Kube (NBC News)
    Three U.S. service members were injured in two separate rocket attacks on facilities housing American troops in Syria on Wednesday, the U.S. Central Command reported.
    The U.S. responded with strikes from Apache attack helicopters, which destroyed three vehicles and equipment used to launch some of the rockets, and killed two or three Iran-backed militants responsible for firing the rockets.

U.S. Says Airstrikes in Syria Intended to Send Message to Iran - Lolita C. Baldor (AP)
    Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said Wednesday that recent U.S. airstrikes on facilities used by militias backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards demonstrated that "the United States will not hesitate to defend itself against Iranian and Iran-backed aggression when it occurs."
    "The threats that they engage in against our people in the region or elsewhere are not linked to wherever we end up on the nuclear deal," said Kahl. "It actually has nothing to do with our willingness and resolve to defend ourselves."
    Kahl said the attacks on two U.S. facilities this month fueled concerns that "Iran intends to do more of this and we wanted to disabuse them of any sense that that was a good idea."

Russian Military Convoy Attacked in Southern Syria (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
    A Russian military convoy was attacked by unknown assailants in southern Syria near Quneitra, close to the border with the Israel, for the second time in a week.

UK Envoy Praises Israeli Airstrike Campaign in Syria - Barak Ravid (Axios)
    In private discussions in Jerusalem in June, Jonathan Hargreaves, the British special envoy for Syria, told Israeli officials that the Israeli airstrike campaign against Iranian military targets is "probably the only thing that works in Syria," Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said.

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Israel to Begin Production at Karish Gas Field Next Month - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Although the maritime border dispute with Lebanon has yet to be resolved, the Energean firm, which holds rights to the Karish gas field, is preparing to begin producing natural gas from the Israeli offshore field next month.
    The Israeli government has made it clear that it would not allow Hizbullah to disrupt production.
    Energean CEO Mathios Rigas told Globes: "We have full belief in the Israeli government to protect its strategic assets and national security."

Israel Eyes Gas Exports to Europe as Production Surges by 22 Percent - Daniel Avis (Bloomberg)
    Israel's natural gas production surged 22% in the first half of the year, as the government plans to ramp up exports that will make their way to Europe.
    Production rose to 10.85 billion cubic meters year-on-year through June from the Tamar and Leviathan fields, with exports amounting to 42% of the total, according to the Energy Ministry.
    The gas is first sent to Egypt and then re-exported to the EU.
    See also Israel's Gas Royalties Jump 48 Percent in First Half of 2022 - Ela Levy-Weinrib (Globes)

Judge Rules Against Ben and Jerry's in Fight over West Bank Sales - Wilson Ring (AP-Washington Post)
    U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Carter on Monday rejected a request by Ben & Jerry's to block a plan by its corporate parent Unilever to allow its products to be sold in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank against their wishes.
    Carter ruled that "The products sold in Israel and the West Bank will use no English trademarks, instead displaying new Hebrew and Arabic language Ben & Jerry's trademarks."
    "Thus, the products sold in Israel and the West Bank will be dissimilar from other Ben & Jerry's products, mitigating, if not eliminating, the possibility of reputational harm."

Palestinian Tourists Arrive in Cyprus on First Direct Flight from Israel - Iole Damaskinos (Cyprus Mail)
    Palestinian tourists landed on Monday at Larnaca International Airport for the first time on a direct flight from Ramon International Airport in southern Israel, on a flight operated by Israeli airline Arkia.
    Previously, Palestinians from the West Bank had to first cross into Jordan and fly out from Amman.
    The flight was part of new confidence-building measures agreed upon during the recent visit of U.S. President Biden to Israel.
    See also PA Threatens Palestinians Who Use Israel's Ramon Airport - Ahmad Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
    The Palestinian Ministry of Transportation has threatened to take punitive measures against Palestinians who use Ramon Airport in southern Israel for travel.
    Ministry Spokesman Musa Rahal said that the Palestinians refuse in principle to use the Ramon Airport for travel and that steps will be discussed by the Palestinian Cabinet to prevent every citizen who uses that airport from renewing their Palestinian passport.
    Al-Monitor recently monitored an increasing desire by some Palestinians in the West Bank to travel through Ramon Airport, which was reflected on social media platforms.
    They noted that they would pay a travel tax to the Israelis only once at the airport, instead of paying a tax four times - at Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian border checkpoints, as well as at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Warns Palestinians Against Bid for Full UN Membership - Barak Ravid
    The Biden administration has urged the Palestinian Authority not to pursue a vote at the UN Security Council on gaining full UN membership, stressing it will likely veto any such move, U.S. and Palestinian sources said. The PA announced several weeks ago it will renew its push to gain full UN membership during the upcoming General Assembly meeting in New York. (Axios)
  • Gazans Call for Probe into Islamic Jihad Missiles that Killed Civilians
    During the recent round of fighting in Gaza, a missile launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) near the Imad Aqel mosque veered off course and killed seven people, including four children, and injured 21 in Jabalia, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported. The incident angered many Gazans. Israel reported that of the 1,100 PIJ rockets fired toward Israel, 200 fell inside Gaza.
        A resident of Jabalia told Al-Monitor, "Everyone knows that the missile that fell on Saturday was a local missile, but no one dares talk about it, especially to the media and the press, let alone name names....Whoever holds the PIJ responsible for the missiles that veered off course is deemed unpatriotic."
        "We are all for the Palestinian resistance, but we must stand up to this crime and demand an investigation, as this is not the first time that the rockets have fallen on civilians. During the four previous wars, a lot of rockets fell on fields and rooftops, even on people, killing them or seriously injuring them. In 2008, I lost my best friend in one of the explosions caused by resistance rockets, and in 2014 one of them fell on my aunt's house and left her child totally disabled."  (Al-Monitor)
  • Iran: Stop Ruthless Attacks on Persecuted Baha'i Religious Minority
    Iranian persecution of the Baha'i religious minority has increased in intensity with a recent flurry of raids, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions and land grabs. Since July 31, 2022, Ministry of Intelligence agents have raided and confiscated dozens of Baha'i properties and arrested at least 30 members of the community in various cities. The authorities have subjected many more to interrogations and/or forced them to wear electronic ankle bracelets, claiming that those arrested were "core members of the Baha'i espionage party."  (Amnesty International)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Looming Deal Will Not Stop Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons - Prime Minister Yair Lapid
    Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the foreign media in Jerusalem on Wednesday: "On the table right now is a bad deal. It would give Iran a hundred billion dollars a year...that will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe."
        "This money will fund the Revolutionary Guards. It will fund the Basij who oppress the Iranian people. It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East. It will be used to strengthen Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. This money will go to the people who are trying to kill authors and thinkers in New York. And of course, it will be used to strengthen Iran's nuclear program."
        "We have made it clear to everyone: if a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel. We will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state. We are not prepared to live with a nuclear threat above our heads from an extremist, violent Islamist regime. This will not happen - because we will not let it happen."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Palestinian Weapons Explosion Kills Two in Gaza - Emanuel Fabian
    The Israel Defense Forces said a deadly explosion on Tuesday in Khan Younis that killed two and wounded several others was due to improperly stored weapons in the home of a terror group member. (Times of Israel)
  • PA Security Forces Raid University Dorms, Beat Students - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday raided student dormitories at Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, as part of an ongoing crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank. A representative of the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc at the university said two of his colleagues were severely beaten during the raid.
        In May, Hamas scored a landslide victory in elections for the Bir Zeit University Student Council, winning 28 seats, while their Fatah rivals received 18 seats. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Will Anyone Punish Iran for Its Murderous Campaign? - Bret Stephens
    The Islamic Republic of Iran did not take responsibility for the August 12 murder attempt on author Salman Rushdie in New York. But Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa against him remains in effect. In 2007, Rushdie reported that every Feb. 14 he receives a "sort of Valentine's card" from Iran recalling its promise to kill him.
        On Aug. 10, the Justice Department unveiled criminal charges against Shahram Poursafi, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, for trying to orchestrate an assassination attempt against former national security adviser John Bolton. It was reported the same day that Iran had put out a $1 million bounty for the murder of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
        The Islamic Republic has been carrying out a campaign of assassination, kidnapping and intimidation of its critics from its earliest days. Those who argue that Iran was merely responding for wrongs done to it - the 2020 assassination of Maj.-Gen. Qassim Suleimani of the Revolutionary Guards, for instance - have cause and effect backward. Suleimani was targeted after a career spent killing hundreds of Americans, according to the Pentagon.
        What signal does it send to Tehran that we will do nothing to punish it, and will continue to negotiate with it, even as it seeks to murder Americans on our own soil, including former senior officials?
        Moreover, what do Iran's murderous tentacles reveal about the character of the regime? Advocates of a deal can tell themselves that it will have safeguards to verify compliance. But Iran has found ways to cheat, and the lifting of sanctions will provide it with a financial bonanza that it will immediately put to destructive use. (New York Times)
  • Progress on the Nuclear Deal: How Should Israel Act? - Col. (res.) Eldad Shavit and Sima Shine
    Both the Iranians and the Americans are taking steps to prepare public opinion for the renewal of the Iran nuclear deal. So far, no official details have been provided about the content of the agreement, and most of whatever information there is comes from leaks by Iranian sources.
        The essence of the agreement is that the U.S. will remove the sanctions reimposed on Iran after the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement. As a result, Iran will resume oil exports, will be able to receive the large sums of money frozen in the countries that purchased oil and could not transfer the payments through the banking system, and will be able to enjoy free trade and economic cooperation.
        Most of Israel's attention should be directed to the portions of the nuclear program in which Iran has advanced in recent years. This applies to the removal of fissile material outside the borders of Iran, and the operation of new centrifuges that will remain on its territory.
        The main efforts for Israel at this stage should be focused on formulating a common position for the two countries the day after the two possible scenarios: the realization of an agreement or, alternatively, its collapse.
        Col. (res.) Eldad Shavit, a senior researcher at INSS, previously served in senior roles in Israeli Defense Intelligence and the Mossad. Sima Shine, formerly responsible for the Iranian file at Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs (2009-2015), was also head of research at the Mossad. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Israel Eyes Nearing Iran Deal - Arie Egozi
    With signs that an agreement is close on restarting the Iran nuclear deal, Israel is indicating that military action against Tehran is again on the table as a response, although leaders in Israel have been careful not to publicly criticize the Biden administration. Israel has also made it clear it does not feel bound by any agreement.
        Behind the scenes, Israel has repeatedly delivered information to Washington showing what it describes as bad-faith actions from Iran that should disqualify it from receiving the benefits it would get in any return to the deal. Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata is in Washington this week to share with American defense officials more details of what Israel calls "the Iranian nuclear scam."
        The Israeli intelligence community feels the White House has ignored the information presented by Israel because it is set on rolling back the Trump decision to kill the Iran agreement. "We have proved again and again by hard intelligence evidence that Teheran is lying continuously, and does not intend to fulfill everything it will promise to do in the framework of a new agreement," a senior Israeli defense source said. (Breaking Defense)
  • Iran Prepares to Take Out Israel - Right after Iran Deal Is Signed - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The mullahs in Tehran appear convinced that once the Biden administration capitulates to their demands for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, they will be able to step up their efforts to eliminate Israel and are encouraging their Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist proxies to prepare for waging war on Israel.
        Moreover, they are issuing direct threats not only against Israel, but also against any Arab country that dares to cooperate with the Israelis. The mullahs are sending a message to America's allies in the Arab world that if they believe they can trust the Biden administration to protect them against Iran's expansionist plans, they are sorely mistaken.
        Meanwhile, the mullahs are busy trying to open a new battlefront against Israel in the West Bank. The commander of the IRGC, Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami, revealed that Iran was working with Hamas and Islamic Jihad to extend their terrorist attacks from Gaza to the West Bank in order to wage a war of attrition against Israel.
        Salami said, "Just as Gaza was armed [by Iran], the West Bank can be armed in the same way....There is no safe place at any time for Israel and its citizens." He said he recently met in Tehran with Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah and discussed with him "the disintegration and erosion of the capabilities of the Zionists."
        Anyone who thinks that the mullahs will abandon their bloody schemes against Israel and Arab countries after the signing of a new nuclear deal is deceiving themselves. Appeasement will only further fortify the mullahs and their proxies, and place in further peril the lives of both Arabs and Jews. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Iran's Weakening Influence in Baghdad - David S. Cloud
    Since the U.S. ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iran has backed a network of Iraqi militias that helps Tehran extend its reach. Now, Iraq's Shia factions are deeply divided in a sign of Iran's weakening influence in the country. One side led by influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has shunned association with the Iranians, is in its fourth week of occupying the parliament grounds in Baghdad's Green Zone.
        The reluctance to be linked to Iran reflects a widespread weariness with Tehran. Protesters have shouted anti-Iran slogans. Many Iraqis blame Tehran for empowering militias that fought the Islamic State but are now perceived as armed wings of Shiite political factions and as enforcers of a corrupt status quo.
        "The Iraqi public right now is pushing against sectarianism and really wants more of a nationalist government," said Marsin Alshamary, a research fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School. "This is not a good case scenario for Iran because it weakens the political parties that it is close to."  (Wall Street Journal)

  • Palestinians

  • How the Truth about the Palestinians Is Silenced - Ohad Zemet
    In all areas of Palestinian control, whether under Hamas or the Palestinian Authority, free speech does not exist. Journalists, officials, teachers, doctors, academics, and farmers are all forced to give the same narrative. A Palestinian who dared to speak against their leadership would be threatened, jailed, or tortured. This is the sad reality for millions of Palestinians.
        This greatly affects the quality of news that British readers and viewers get from their media regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For many British journalists, a misfire by a terror organization which killed Palestinian children is not a story for them. A few explained to me that their fixers in Gaza would face dangerous consequences if they reported these facts. I can understand their fear of putting a colleague in danger of losing his livelihood or even his life.
        British readers who are not exposed to Israeli media know nothing about how their news is being made, or about the terror of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas, or the system of intimidation and violent silencing of journalists. This blindspot over coverage of Palestinian violence is not only denying people from knowing the truth, but it also contributes to blocking any path forward to improving the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and bringing this conflict to an end.
        The writer is the spokesman for Israel's embassy to the UK. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Palestinian Textbooks Rife with Holocaust Denial - Itamar Eichner
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claimed in his doctorate that the Holocaust was nothing more than a "fantastic lie." The textbooks distributed to over a million students in the West Bank are rife with antisemitism, including Holocaust denial. Under Abbas' directive, the Palestinian Education Ministry implemented a comprehensive curriculum reform, with the content in school textbooks becoming significantly more radical compared to previous years.
        The reworked educational material now includes calls to Jihad, violence, and incitement against Israel and Jews. Additionally, previous attempts to reach peace with Israel, such as the Oslo Accords, have been deliberately omitted from the new textbooks. The Holocaust was completely omitted from the history books that teach about World War II.
        The 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists is presented as an example of a legitimate Palestinian struggle. Dalal Mughrabi, who led the attack on an Israeli bus in 1978 that ended with the murder of 38 Israelis - including 13 children - is idolized as a role model in a 5th grade textbook.
        Palestinian students also learn that Jews are racists who control the world's money, media and politics. The Jews are characterized as liars and corrupt, and as "enemies of Islam." Some textbooks speak openly of the genocide that is waiting for Jews at the end of days. (Ynet News)

  • Other Issues

  • When Rockets Hit Israel from Gaza, Egypt Is Partly to Blame - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi
    Israel conquered Gaza from Egypt in 1967 and controlled it until 2005, after which Israel withdrew unilaterally and left Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. However, Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, making it one of the first territories in the world to be governed by an internationally recognized terror organization. True to its jihadi creed, since 2007 Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have fired at least 15,000 rockets at Israel from Gaza, killing dozens of Israelis and wounding hundreds, while simultaneously bringing ruin and destruction on the area under its control.
        The 7.5 mile Egypt-Gaza border is the main enabler of Gazan terror against Israel. Through a sprawling array of active commercial tunnels, the Gazan terrorists import all their Iranian-funded weapons. Egypt has made efforts to block, flood, or collapse some of the tunnels over the years. Recently, however, Egypt has made no effort to stop the flow of arms.
        I find it inconceivable that Egyptian security forces fail to stop the steady flow of weapons through Sinai to Gaza. There is essentially one road to and from the Egyptian border town of Rafah, and if blocking tunnels is too advanced for the Egyptians, maybe they should try intercepting the shipments of weapons before they enter the tunnels. Egyptian inaction against the flow of weapons to Gaza warrants U.S. attention and clear demands to take effective and immediate action.
        The writer served as deputy commander of the IDF Gaza Division. (Newsweek)
  • Britain Should Relocate Its Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel's Capital - Stephen Daisley
    The British Embassy is currently situated in Tel Aviv, despite Israel's capital being Jerusalem. The international community has danced along for decades, refraining from acknowledgement of Israel's capital in the hopes it would encourage the Palestinians to the negotiating table. The U.S. has formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved its embassy there, as have Taiwan, Nauru, Honduras, Guatemala, and Kosovo. Russia and Australia have both recognized West Jerusalem as the capital. It is cowardly and absurd for the UK to pretend not to know where Israel's capital city is based.
        This is a friendly country with whom we already have a 5 billion pound trading relationship, are currently negotiating a free trade agreement, and which supplies us with intelligence to foil terror plots on UK soil. Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem has brought stability, prosperity and religious liberty for Jews, Muslims and Christians, a trifecta achieved by no other state or occupying power in modern history. (Spectator-UK)
  • Time to Reform the UN Human Rights Apparatus - Orde Kittrie and Bruce Rashkow
    The world's most repressive dictatorships have dominated the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) since its founding in 2006. Since then, the UNHRC has issued 99 resolutions condemning Israel, a robust democracy rated "Free" by Freedom House. This is roughly the same as the total number of resolutions condemning all other countries. Currently, the UN has seven formal bodies investigating Israel, in addition to a new Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        The Biden administration should leverage its role as the top funder of UN human rights work. Congress should work with the Biden administration to persuade the UN secretary-general to nominate by August 31 a high commissioner for human rights who will halt the UN human rights apparatus' bashing of Israel; dissolve the Israel-Palestine COI, whose mandate and commissioners are biased; and repeal the position of "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," whose mandate is one-sided.
        Orde Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University, is a senior fellow at FDD. Bruce Rashkow is a former U.S. State Department assistant legal adviser for UN affairs and former director of the UN Office of Legal Affairs' General Legal Division. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)

  • European policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears increasingly out of tune with the reality on the ground. A better approach would entail Europe abandoning its permissive approach vis-a-vis the PA leadership and taking steps to check the Palestinian Authority's authoritarian drift, while pushing for conditions that would allow for Palestinian democratic political renewal.
  • In April 2021, PA President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled what would have been the first Palestinian general elections in 15 years, thus ending any immediate hope of rejuvenating Palestinian leadership.
  • Europe could hold the PA accountable for its repression, conditioning budget support for the justice and interior ministries, for example, on benchmarks. It could redirect some funds earmarked for the interior ministry to Palestinian civil society, especially human rights watchdogs. It could more decisively put its weight behind Palestinian legislative elections.
  • Behind closed doors, many European officials admit that the hope for Palestinian statehood is an illusion. While continuing humanitarian and development aid to Palestinians at a level that has declined steadily since 2015, Europe has moved from efforts to build a Palestinian state to attempts at managing an ever-worsening "status quo."
  • Some European diplomats on the ground want a change of approach involving greater pressure on Israel. However, European leaders balk at the price of revising their bilateral relationship with Israel, especially at a time when the U.S. itself is barely engaged and influential Arab capitals are normalizing ties with Israel.
  • For powerful EU states like France and Germany, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict's importance pales in comparison to the war in Ukraine and the larger standoff with Russia, which they and others view as existential questions for the continent's security. They see the situation with the Palestinians as contained and not a priority.
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