DAILY ALERT
Thursday,
March 23, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
Dan Diker, President - Yechiel Leiter, Director General

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Security Forces Have Dozens of Concrete Terror Alerts - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Israeli security forces have received dozens of concrete alerts about terrorist plots, said Col. (res.) David Hacham, a senior research associate at the MirYam Institute and a former advisor on Arab affairs to seven Israeli defense ministers.
    Addressing Sunday's regional summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, designed to secure a de-escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hacham said the talks were "divorced from the reality on the ground."
    "The PA is struggling to impose its authority on the ground. The agreements reached will not be worth the paper they were written on."



Israel Warns Passover Travelers of Iranian Plots to Harm Them Abroad - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    Israel's National Security Council warned on Monday that Iran and its proxies present a threat to Israelis in countries neighboring Iran, including the UAE, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Bahrain. Israelis in Cyprus and Greece are also possible targets.
    Turkey, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt are listed as Level 3 threats, meaning that all non-essential travel should be avoided.



Israeli Missiles Hit Arms Depot in Syria's Aleppo Airport (AFP)
    An Israeli missile strike destroyed an arms depot used by Iran-backed militias on the perimeter of Aleppo airport on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
    Iran-backed militias have a heavy presence in the Aleppo region.



Tunnels Used for Missile Production in Syria Attacked in March 12 Airstrike (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    An intelligence report by ImageSat International has determined that an attack in Syria on March 12 included attacks on entrances to underground tunnels that contained the means for the production of surface-to-surface missiles.
    The same location has been attacked several times in the past.



Israeli President Herzog Wishes Happy Ramadan to Leaders around the World (i24News)
    Israel's President Isaac Herzog spoke with his counterparts in the UAE, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and other Arab leaders wishing them a happy Ramadan, his office said on Tuesday.
    On Monday, Israel announced the easing of security restrictions for the Palestinian population in the West Bank during Ramadan.



Syrian Spy Caught by Israel Reveals Hizbullah's Methods - Israel Moskovitz (Ynet News)
    Ghaith Abdullah, 24, a Syrian national arrested by Israeli security forces in January and accused of spying for Hizbullah, revealed during his interrogation the terror group's espionage methods at the northern Israeli border, Ynet learned on Wednesday.
    Abdullah, who lives in the Syrian Golan, was recruited by Hizbullah in 2019 to monitor IDF maneuvers along the Syrian border and gather classified information.
    He received a camera and began taking photos and videos of Israeli forces.


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Russian Military Police Steal Fuel from Syrian Airbase to Sell on Black Market (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK)
    Russian military police steal diesel fuel from T4 airbase near Homs and sell it on the black market.
    Reliable sources confirmed that the Russian forces steal diesel twice a day - 1,000 to 1,500 liters each time - and sell it to merchants in northern Homs at double the price set by the government.
    The transfers take place in coordination between the Russian military police and Jaafar Jaafar, who is backed by Hizbullah and is close to the Syrian regime intelligence service.



The Washington Post Invests Time and Money in a Blood Libel - Sean Durns (CAMERA)
    A March 10 Washington Post investigation of a Feb. 22 Israeli counterterror raid in Nablus used four reporters and 3D imagery. Yet the report was littered with misleading omissions and reliance on anti-Israel sources.
    The paper largely glossed over why the raid was even taking place. For nearly a year, Israel has been experiencing a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks.
    Palestinian Authority forces no longer control parts of the West Bank. The result has been various Palestinian groups using the security vacuum to plot and launch attacks against the Jewish state.
    The Post omitted the key fact that most Palestinians killed have been terrorists in the midst of planning or perpetrating attacks. Their names and affiliations are detailed in reports by think tanks.
    As for civilian casualties, it is not uncommon for civilians to be caught in the crossfire during gun battles in urban environments. This is a problem that counterterrorist forces the world over encountered.
    Terrorist groups want civilians to die; it's a propaganda victory for them.
    The writer is a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.



IDF Soldiers Rescue Camel - Ilana Curiel (Ynet News)
    At the Nabi Musa military base in the Judean Desert, IDF soldiers this week noticed a camel that fell into a large crevice and couldn't get out.
    Capt. Razkallah Ghanem, who first spotted the distressed animal, said: "The camel had fallen into a pit about three meters (10 feet) deep and couldn't get out."
    Soldiers tried to help, but were unsuccessful. An adult camel can weigh hundreds of kilograms.
    Then Israel Nature and Parks Authority inspector Noam Yihya arrived. He said: "I went down the pit with a gun sling and asked the soldiers to pull me slowly until I was able to help the camel get out. I was glad we managed to pull the camel out in good condition. I saw that it was walking normally."



Israel Donates Drip Irrigation System to Children's Park in Delhi (ANI-India)
    On the occasion of World Water Day, Israeli Ambassador to India Naor Gilon donated and inaugurated a drip irrigation system at Children's Park at India Gate in Delhi on Wednesday.



The Heroes Who Saved Jewish Performers from the Nazis - Barry Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan that Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich, by Canadian author Isabel Vincent, follows the lives and courage of non-Jewish British siblings Ida and Louise Cook, who rescued 29 mostly Jewish musicians and opera professionals during World War II.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel to UN: Palestinians Are "Dead Set on Encouraging More Violence" - Edith M. Lederer
    At the UN Security Council's monthly meeting on the Mideast on Wednesday, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan called his country "unquestionably the most vibrant liberal democracy in the Middle East" and accused the Palestinians of repeating lies, glorifying terrorists who spilled innocent Israeli blood, and "regurgitating fabrications" that are not going to solve the decades-old conflict.
        "To the Palestinian representative, I say: 'Shame on you.'...Your president and the rest of (the) Palestinian leadership regularly incite terrorism, never condemn the murders of Israeli civilians, praise Palestinian terrorists, and actively attempt to rewrite facts and the truth by erasing Jewish history."
        Erdan accused the Palestinians of being "dead set on encouraging more violence," while Israel has taken significant steps to de-escalate the current tensions by sitting down with Palestinian officials in Jordan in February and on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh. (AP)
  • U.S. Targets Iran's Drone, Weapons Programs with Sanctions
    The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four entities and three people in Iran and Turkey for involvement in the procurement of equipment, including European-origin engines of drones, in support of Iran's drone and weapons programs. The procurement network operates on behalf of Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics.
        Moreover, a federal court in Washington unsealed two indictments on Tuesday charging multiple defendants, including several targeted in Tuesday's sanctions, over their roles to procure and export U.S. technology to Iran between 2005 and 2013. (Reuters)
  • UK and Israel Sign Landmark Agreement Deepening Tech, Trade and Security Ties
    British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in London on Tuesday to sign a 2030 Roadmap for Israel-UK Bilateral Relations. The Roadmap contains detailed commitments for deepening cooperation on trade, cyber, science and tech, research and development, security, health, climate and gender. It includes 20 million pounds of joint funding commitments on technology and innovation.
        Cleverly said, "The UK-Israel Bilateral Roadmap is a testament to the strength of our close and historic relationship....The UK and Israel also stand together, defiant in the face of the malign influence of Iran in the region, and against the wider scourge of antisemitism."
        There are more than 400 Israeli tech firms operating in the UK and the trade relationship is worth 7 billion pounds. Israeli investment in the UK drives growth and jobs, adding 1 billion pounds to the UK economy and creating 16,000 jobs in the last 8 years. (Foreign Office-UK)
  • Turkey's President Erdogan Reaffirms Determination to Strengthen Ties with Israel - Merve Aydogan
    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israel's President Isaac Herzog discussed bilateral relations in a phone conversation on Monday. The Turkish Communications Directorate said Tuesday that Herzog congratulated Erdogan for the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while the Turkish president congratulated his Israeli counterpart's Jewish Passover holiday.
        Thanking Israel for its solidarity and support after last month's massive earthquakes, Erdogan also reaffirmed Ankara's determination to strengthen relations. (Anadolu-Turkey)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Clarifies Lifting Ban on Entry to Evacuated Communities in Samaria - Tovah Lazaroff
    After the Knesset voted to lift the ban on the entry of Israelis to the sites of four evacuated communities in northern Samaria - Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sa-Nur - that were destroyed during the 2005 Disengagement, the U.S. summoned Israeli Ambassador Mike Herzog to the State Department to clarify the matter.
        The Prime Minister's Office clarified the position of the Israeli government on Wednesday, saying: "The Knesset decision to repeal parts of the Disengagement Law brings to an end to a discriminatory and humiliating law that barred Jews from living in areas in northern Samaria, part of our historic homeland. It is no coincidence that senior figures in the opposition have supported this law over the years. However, the Government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas."  (Jerusalem Post-Prime Minister's Office)
        See also below Observations: Legal Perspectives on Israel's Legal Rights to Rescind Parts of Its 2005 Disengagement Law - Amb. Alan Baker and Lenny Ben David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israeli-American Ex-Marine Says It Was a "Miracle" He Survived Shooting Attack
    David Stern, an Israeli-American man shot on Sunday in a Palestinian terror attack, said Tuesday that it was a "miracle" that he managed to return fire and survive the attack. Stern said he was driving with his wife through the Palestinian town of Huwara on their way to Jerusalem when he stopped to give the right of way to a pedestrian, who then pulled out a gun and fired. "I noticed he was blocking one hand in a very suspicious way," Stern recalled. "I immediately reached for my handgun, the terrorist turned toward us, and we started shooting, almost at the same time."
        After the attacker fled, Stern drove a few hundred meters, stopped, and started bandaging himself before an ambulance arrived. Huwara is just about the only Palestinian town that Israelis must regularly travel through. There are plans to build a bypass road, but construction has been stalled. (Times of Israel)
  • Tel Aviv Shooting Victim Succumbs to Injuries - Bar Peleg
    Or Eshkar, 32, who was seriously wounded by a Palestinian gunman in Tel Aviv on March 9, died on Monday. He was one of three people wounded in the shooting attack, which was claimed by Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Armed Group Commander Killed - Jack Khoury
    Amir Imad Abu Khadija, 25, commander of the Tulkarm Squad, a local armed group, was killed on Thursday by Israeli security forces in Izbat Shufa near Tulkarm in the western West Bank. Undercover border policemen and IDF forces raided an apartment where Khadija was hiding. Khadija participated in several shooting attacks against Israeli communities and security forces. During the operation, Khadija's weapons were seized. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Israeli Soldiers Wounded in Explosion of Old Mine on Lebanon Border - Emanuel Fabian
    Two Israeli soldiers were hurt when an old landmine exploded on the border with Lebanon on Tuesday during routine engineering activity. Many of Israel's border regions are pocked with minefields planted during wars. (Times of Israel)
  • Photo Shows Palestinian Stabbing Israeli Woman in Netanya - Emanuel Fabian
    Photos show a Palestinian from the West Bank stabbing an Israeli woman who was walking with her children in Netanya on March 12, police said Tuesday. He stabbed her in the shoulder, but she was unharmed as the blade was blocked by her coat. Police officers detained the man, still armed with the knife. (Times of Israel)
  • Gaza-Directed Terror Cell Planned Shooting, Bombing Attacks - Emanuel Fabian
    Four Palestinians from the West Bank who were recruited by the Hamas-funded Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza to carry out major attacks were detained in recent weeks, the Israel Security Agency said Tuesday. Two cell members planned a "significant" shooting attack in Jerusalem; their guns were seized. In addition, two Palestinian brothers were detained after being recruited to carry out a bombing attack in Israel. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Iran

  • U.S. Military Leaders Support Arming Israel to Prevent a Nuclear Iran
    44 retired U.S. generals and admirals asked the White House and Congress on Monday to "immediately provide Israel with the advanced weapons it needs to deter and prevent a nuclear Iran. As retired American military leaders who devoted our lives to the defense of our nation, we prefer a diplomatic solution that would genuinely end the threat posed by Iran's escalating nuclear program. But no such deal is imminent, nor realistic."
        "The only thing that can stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold is a credible military threat. Only Israel offers that, since it alone demonstrates the will and effectiveness in containing and rolling back Iranian aggression and nuclear development."
        "Specifically, the U.S. should expedite delivery - through outright sale, temporary lease, or prepositioning in Israel - of KC-46A aerial refueling tankers, F-15Is, F-35s, and precision-guided munitions, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). Our military experience has taught us that demonstrating the willingness and capability to use force offers the best chance against having to do so."  (JINSA)
  • Improved Saudi-Iran Relationship Has Israel Nervous about Iran and China - Arie Egozi
    According to Israeli government sources, the new agreement restoring diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia has already resulted in halting negotiations over an "advanced defense system" that Israel was in discussions to sell to an Arab nation, with a potential $1 billion price tag. Sources said the Israel Ministry of Defense asked for the pause to evaluate the risk that the new agreement could result in the transfer of Israeli technology to Iran.
        Israel also has to deal with the clear Chinese effort to become a major player in the Gulf region and Africa. Israel, at the urging of Washington, has been disentangling itself from relations with Beijing for several years. Israeli sources said that in Tehran there is a belief that China's involvement in the region will shield them from an attack by Israel if Tehran pushes towards a nuclear bomb. (Breaking Defense)


  • Palestinian Arabs

  • Israel's Pre-emptive Offensive Against Palestinian Islamic Jihad - Yoni Ben Menachem
    According to Palestinian officials in Gaza, senior members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Damascus and Lebanon went underground following the death of Ali Ramzi Alaswad, 31, a senior member of PIJ in Damascus, on March 19, 2023. Foreign sources said that agents of the Israeli Mossad killed him. It appears that Israel has launched pre-emptive strikes on Islamic Jihad ahead of Ramadan to reduce the terrorist attacks it is planning against Israeli targets.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the Israeli policy of preempting a new intifada when he told the weekly cabinet meeting, "Dozens of terrorists have been eliminated in the past month; many others have been arrested. I reiterate: whoever tries to harm Israeli citizens will pay the price. We will find the terrorists and the architects of terrorism everywhere."
        According to well-informed sources, Israel has decided to renew the targeted killing of senior members of the terrorist organizations in Syria and Lebanon that operate in the West Bank and Gaza. The operations are quiet and carried out without Israeli fingerprints or taking responsibility.
        Under the guidance of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hizbullah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations are preparing for a new wave of terrorism during Ramadan. According to senior security officials, the man responsible for establishing nine new armed terrorist groups in the northern West Bank is Akram Al-Ajouri, the head of Islamic Jihad's military wing. On November 13, 2019, Israel tried to kill Al-Ajouri at his home in Damascus. Israel has a bank of targets at the top of the terrorist organizations: senior terrorists who plan to harm Israel's citizens and its security forces. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Reframing the Middle East Narrative - Melanie Phillips
    Israel's defenders need to do to its enemies what is done to Israel: to paint them as extreme, unconscionable and a mortal threat to life and liberty. Its defenders should do it through truth, morality and reason, redefining who is truly victim and victimizer in the Middle East.
        The Jews are the indigenous people of Israel. While many others have lived there over the centuries, the Jews are the only people - as a people - for whom it was ever their national kingdom, and the only people still around today who had their homeland there taken away from them by force.
        Historically, Arabs and Muslims were colonial invaders who occupied the Land of Israel by force. The "Palestinians" are Arab colonialists who aim once again to occupy the land and wipe out the indigenous inhabitants, the Jewish people, from their own homeland. Palestine was the insulting name given to Judea by the Romans. The Arabs living there at the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 identified themselves mainly as southern Syrians or else just as Arabs.
        The Palestinians repeatedly declare that not one Jew will be allowed to live in a state of Palestine. Around 20% of Israel's population consists of Israeli Arabs with full civil rights. All who promote the Palestinian agenda therefore endorse racist ethnic cleansing. (Substack)


  • Antisemitism

  • Anti-Jewish Harassment Occurred in 94 Countries in 2020 - Jeff Diamant
    Jewish people were targets of harassment in 94 countries in 2020, with incidents ranging from verbal and physical assaults to vandalism of cemeteries and scapegoating for the Covid-19 pandemic. (Pew Research Center)


  • Weekend Features

  • Israel Ranked 4th Happiest Country in 2023
    Israel is the 4th happiest country in the world, according to the 2023 UN World Happiness Report released on Monday. Israel was ranked 9th in 2022 and 12th in 2021. (Ynet News)
        See also How Is Israel the 4th Happiest Country? - Herb Keinon
    The World Happiness Report rankings are based on six key areas: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and absence of corruption. Israel consistently scores high on life-satisfaction. This has to do with a sense of purpose and meaning that many people have, coupled with being close to loved ones and friends. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Text: World Happiness Report 2023 - John F. Helliwell et al. (Sustainable Development Solutions Network)
  • There Is No Arab Demographic Time Bomb - Yoram Ettinger
    Israel is the only Western democracy with a relatively high fertility rate. Israel's Jewish fertility rate is higher than those of all Muslim countries other than Iraq and the sub-Saharan Muslim countries. The Jewish fertility rate of 3.13 births per woman is higher than the 2.85 Arab rate (since 2016) and the 3.01 Arab-Muslim fertility rate (since 2020).
        Far from facing a "demographic time bomb," the Jewish state enjoys a robust demographic tailwind, aided by immigration. The official Palestinian figures include a 100% artificial inflation of population numbers, due to the inclusion of overseas residents, double-counting Jerusalem Arabs and Israeli Arabs married to Judea and Samaria Arabs, an inflated birth rate and deflated death rate.
        The number of Israeli Jewish births in 2022 (137,566) was 71% higher than in 1995 (80,400), while the number of Israeli Arab births in 2022 (43,417) was 19% higher than in 1995 (36,500). In 2022, Jewish births were 76% of total births, compared to 69% in 1995. The unique growth in Israel's Jewish fertility rate is attributed to optimism, patriotism, attachment to Jewish roots, communal solidarity, and a frontier mentality.
        In 2021, Israeli males' life expectancy was 80.5 years and Israeli females' was 84.6. Israel's Arab life expectancy (78 for men and 82 for women) is higher than the U.S. life expectancy. In 2023, there is a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria (7.5 million Jews, 2 million Israeli Arabs and 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria). (JNS)
  • Israel in the Eyes of New Immigrants - Nitzi Yakov
    Even when Israel is embroiled in intense disputes, new immigrants continue to arrive. A Young New Immigrants Fair for those interested in studying at Bar-Ilan University saw many attendees from Russia and Ukraine, as well as immigrants from Turkey, Ethiopia, and Peru.
        Shelly Shuver, 20, who immigrated from Paris, said, "In France, the situation has become less safe, and not just for Jews. There have been many attacks, so as a Jew and generally as a human being, I personally prefer the country and the security here....Nothing will make me leave because I have no other place to be."
        Georgi Zaves, 18, from Belarus, said, "The security situation in Israel doesn't worry me at all....Those of us coming from Russia, with all the tensions there, the war with Ukraine, the economic pressure, not to mention the violation of freedom of expression and violent repression - I fear nothing....You in Israel simply don't know how to appreciate the freedom you have, the ability to express an opinion freely without someone handcuffing, arresting, or severely punishing you for it. In Russia, you can only dream of a free democracy like you have in Israel."
        Tefra Gethon, who immigrated from Ethiopia, said, "The State of Israel is known for its democracy and the ability of every person to express their opinions freely, unlike in Ethiopia." Bayilan Worku, 25, also from Ethiopia, said, "Many people in the world admire the State of Israel and its democracy. This is precisely the reason that more and more young people, including immigrants from all over the world, choose to live there and start a family there, to raise children in peace. Israel is a good place to live."  (Ynet News)
Observations:

Legal Perspectives on Israel's Legal Rights to Rescind Parts of Its 2005 Disengagement Law - Amb. Alan Baker and Lenny Ben David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • In a press briefing on March 21, 2023, State Department Principle Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel expressed U.S. concern at new Israeli legislation rescinding parts of a 2005 disengagement law. Similar concerns were voiced by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to Israel's ambassador Michael Herzog.
  • The 2005 law, which implemented Israel's 2004 Disengagement plan, had called inter alia to remove four Israeli settlements Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim, and Kadim in the northern part of the West Bank area of Samaria, prohibiting further residence there by Israelis.
  • The new legislation rescinded this 2005 prohibition on residence in the four localities on the principal grounds that it had overlooked the basic property rights of the residents and, as such, was discriminatory, and that it had failed to result in any reduction in Palestinian hostility and terror.
  • The new legislation would enable the return of the residents to their homes and properties after the implementation of requisite legal and security arrangements and the resolution of land ownership claims by Palestinians. (The sites of Ganim and Kadim are reported to now be part of Jenin's municipal boundaries in Area A, effectively putting them off-limits to Israelis.)
  • U.S. spokespersons and former Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer wrongly claim that the new legislation contradicts previous undertakings by the Israeli Government to the U.S. "to evacuate these settlements and outposts in the northern West Bank in order to stabilize the situation and reduce frictions."
  • In fact, the 2004 unilateral and independent Israeli plan to evacuate those villages, even after implementation, failed in its stated purpose to secure and encourage a reduction in Palestinian hostility and violence.
  • Israel's new legislation rescinding the provisions prohibiting residence in the four settlements is distinctly not intended to enable new settlement construction but merely to allow the return of those residents previously removed from their homes and the concomitant restoration of their rights.
  • The reciprocal U.S.-Israeli commitments of 2004, which served as the premise for the implementation of Israel's disengagement plan, contained an essential affirmation by President George W. Bush that "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion."

    Amb. Alan Baker, Director for Diplomatic Affairs at the Jerusalem Center, served as Legal Adviser and Deputy Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

    Lenny Ben David, Director of the Institute for U.S.-Israel Relations at the Jerusalem Center, served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Israel's Embassy in Washington and as Director of AIPAC's Israel office.
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