April 17, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
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In-Depth Issues:

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militia Threatens Drone Strikes Against Israel (MEMRI)
    On April 13, 2023, the Iran-backed Iraqi Al-Nujaba militia posted a video to its Telegram channel threatening to strike Israel with Iranian Ababil drones.
    The video, which has Hebrew subtitles, depicts officers in the Al-Nujaba war room coordinating a drone strike attack.
    It then depicts the skyline of an Israeli city with smoke rising from its buildings.

PA TV Airs Musical Calling to Fight in All of Israel with Machine Guns, RPGs, Daggers, and Bombs (MEMRI-TV)
    On March 27, 2023, PA TV aired a musical with dancers dressed in military fatigues and carrying rifles singing about fighting the "enemy" with machine guns, RPGs, daggers, rifles, and bombs, everywhere between Gaza and Rosh HaNikra in northern Israel.
    The men sing: "The blood of the martyrs will light our way."

Following Warnings, IDF Deploys Additional Iron Dome Batteries throughout Israel (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli army has deployed additional Iron Dome batteries throughout the country in recent days, particularly in the direction of Lebanon and Syria, following warnings received by Israel's security establishment.

Gen. Amidror: "Israel Must Prepare to Confront Iran" (JNS)
    "We must prepare for war, and it is possible that Israel will arrive at a juncture whereby it will have to attack Iran without America's help," Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, former head of Israel's National Security Council, said Thursday in an interview with Radio 103 FM.
    "America is no longer the same America it once was, and the Iranians have noticed this. The United States has more complex issues to deal with than the Middle East."

Ofek 13: A Powerful New Israeli Eye in Space to Keep Tabs on Iran - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    On April 10, Israel's Defense Ministry revealed that the Ofek 13 spy satellite, launched on March 28, had successfully transmitted its first images.
    Ofek 13 uses synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to capture highly detailed images even through cloud cover or at night.
    The satellite "will drastically improve Israel's intelligence capabilities from space for years to come," said the head of the Israel Defense Ministry's Space and Satellite Administration, Avi Berger.

Pentagon Leak Uncovers Tense Russian-Iranian Relationship - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    Leaked top secret U.S. documents from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) say the U.S. government believes that despite cooperation between Russia and Iran in the war in Ukraine, the two were not and would not be allies.
    "Enduring points of friction likely will limit Tehran and Moscow to a mostly transactional relationship during the remainder of the conflict," the report says.

U.S. Kills Three ISIS Fighters in Syria - Luis Martinez (ABC News)
    U.S. forces conducted a raid against ISIS militants in northwest Syria on Sunday, killing three.
    "The raid resulted in the probable death of a senior ISIS Syria leader and operational planner responsible for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe," said U.S. Central Command spokesman Joe Buccino.

Saudi Arabia Investing Millions in Israeli Startups - Assaf Gilead (Globes)
    Sanabil, the private investment arm of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, has disclosed its allocations to venture, growth, and buyout funds which have invested extensively in Israeli startups.
    In some cases, they have representatives that sit on the board of directors of Israeli tech companies.

Philippine Navy Gets Two More Israeli-Made Fast Attack Boats (Esquire-Philippines)
    The Philippine Navy received two new Fast Attack Interdiction Craft missile boats last week made by Israel Shipyards, joining two patrol gunboats that arrived last year.
    Five more will be delivered within the next two years.
    Each comes with remote-stabilized weapons, short-range missiles, 30mm main cannons, and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.
    Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr. said the Navy may acquire 15 more Israeli-made missile boats in the future.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Is Recruiting Militant Allies to Launch Attacks Against Israel - Summer Said
    Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qaani, who leads the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, has held a series of clandestine meetings in recent weeks with militant leaders across the region, including some operating in Syria and Iraq, in order to launch a fresh wave of attacks on Israeli targets.
        He also met with the leaders of Hamas, Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, where they finalized plans for the April 6th rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon. Rockets were also fired at Israel from Gaza and Syria. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Netanyahu Hopes to Reach Judicial Reform Consensus - Chuck Todd
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Meet the Press" on April 16, 2023: Regarding judicial reform, "I've decided to take a time out, try to get a balance between the opposing views, and there are strongly opposing views on both sides of our society. And I hope to reach this by consensus. I think that's actually the right thing to do."  (NBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iranian Cyberattacks Temporarily Down Israeli Bank Sites, Post Office - Ofir Dor
    On Friday, the websites of several Israeli banks and the Israel Postal Service were bombarded with heavy hackers' traffic and hit by denial of service attacks that took them offline before they returned to service.
        Israel's National Cyber Directorate said, "Thanks to the banks' strong defenses, except for certain disturbances, the sites are continuing to be available online. The attack attempts are only on the marketing sites and are not connected to the internal systems of the banks."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Greek Orthodox Official Asked Israel to Limit Visitors at Church Ceremony - Lazar Berman
    Contradicting allegations that Israel Police unnecessarily infringed on Christian freedom of worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during the Holy Fire ceremony on Saturday, a letter reviewed by the Times of Israel indicates that restrictions were imposed at the request of a Greek Orthodox official.
        The April 3 letter sent to the Israel Police by church architect Teo Metropoulos stresses that the maximum number of visitors for the ceremony should be 1,800 inside the building and 200 more in the courtyard. The letter emphasizes that "the only entrance to the church has an opening of 3 meters without any other dangerous [sic] exit," and asks police to keep all internal corridors open.
        Police said Thursday that the cap on crowd size was not their initiative. They said the limitation on attendance was a "necessary safety requirement" set by a safety engineer to prevent a potentially deadly stampede. Israel, which imposed similar restrictions on the event last year, said it wanted to prevent another disaster after a crowd crush at a packed Jewish holy site in 2021 left 45 people dead. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Thwarts Eight Terrorist Attacks in Jerusalem
    Israeli police and security forces recently thwarted eight terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Municipality and Israel Police announced on Monday. Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman noted that some of the attacks were thwarted thanks to intelligence information, while others were thwarted by vigilant police officers who spotted the attackers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Exposes Attempts by Iran to Recruit Palestinians
    The Israel Security Agency has exposed attempts by Hizbullah and the IRGC's Quds Force to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank to conduct terrorist operations, the ISA announced Monday. Yussef and Marsil Mansour were contacted by Hizbullah officials and agreed to smuggle weapons to Israel, gather information about IDF operations in the West Bank, and recruit additional operatives. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Intelligence Analysts Assess the Iranian Threat
    Senior Israeli experts from IDF Military Intelligence spoke to Maariv about Iran. They noted that while the regime pledges to destroy the Jewish state, it is more concerned with internal threats. They said 80% of the Iranian public does not support the regime, reaffirming the belief that the regime's power is waning. "This protest expresses deep trends that exist in the Iranian public of moving away from the regime's values and a dramatic decrease in trust in it," one officer said.
        Iran knows the U.S. has no plans to launch an attack of any kind, further emboldening the regime. Iran is nearing the upper end of enrichment to 90% and even a return to the nuclear deal cannot change this. One senior officer said, "In our opinion, Iran does not seek to develop nuclear weapons in the immediate term. And even if they reach 90% enrichment now, then even once they decide to develop a bomb and assuming no one prevents them from doing so, it will take them between two and three years. Iran understands that the development of nuclear weapons is a very dangerous issue, and no one in Tehran wants to take a step that they will regret."
        "Today we are preparing much more for a possible attack on Iran, and are making much more offensive and defensive military preparations in the Iranian context," an official said. (Iran International)
  • A Security Threat Assessment - Amir Rapaport
    On Passover, April 6, the heaviest rocket barrage since the 2006 Second Lebanon War was launched from Lebanon towards Israeli territory, attributed to Hamas. Hamas wouldn't have been able to build a rocket force in southern Lebanon without Hizbullah's approval. Hizbullah was established by Iran, mostly as a force intended to cause Israel massive damage in case the Iranian nuclear facilities are attacked.
        Iran is seeking to break through in its nuclear program, until it is a mere two weeks away from having enough enriched uranium to build its first nuclear bomb. Manufacturing the actual bomb will still take a year or two. Either way, it seems that the Iranian bomb can no longer be avoided.
        Is Israel headed to a multi-front war with Hamas in Gaza and with Hizbullah from Lebanon, parallel to terror attacks from the West Bank and perhaps even attacks from Iran and the involvement of Israel's Arab population in attacks and riots? This nightmare scenario is still far from realization. The vast majority of Israel's Arab citizens have stayed out of the events. In the West Bank, the general public has not joined the violence as it did during the two Intifadas. At the same time, the possibility of a major round of fighting with Hamas and Hizbullah simultaneously could materialize.
        The writer, former chief military commentator for Ma'ariv and chief military correspondent for Yedioth Ahronot, is editor-in-chief of IsraelDefense Magazine. (IsraelDefense)
  • Claims that Hamas Fired Rockets at Israel from Lebanon without Hizbullah's Knowledge Are Untenable - Huda al-Husseini
    Hizbullah sources have claimed they had not been informed by Hamas about the rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon. Everyone knows that Hizbullah has total, unfettered control over South Lebanon. The Lebanese remember very well the martyrdom of 1st. Lt. Samer Hanna, whose Lebanese army helicopter was brought down by a Hizbullah rocket as it passed over an area that Hizbullah has declared off-limits to aircraft. Thus, claims that Hamas could have fired 34 rockets at Israel without Hizbullah's knowledge are untenable. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Hate in the Shadow of a Terrorist Attack - David Collier
    Whenever they occur, terrorist attacks are met with global sympathy for the victims - except when they happen to Jews in Israel. On April 7, Lucy Dee and her daughters Maia (20) and Rina (15) were attacked by Palestinian terrorists. Once their car had crashed, the terrorists came and shot all three at point blank range - their lives stolen from them by hate-filled people who believe that killing Jews is a religious duty.
        Political figures talked of "violence on both sides" - thus equating Jews who are defending themselves against terrorism with the death cult of the terrorists. Newspapers rushed to "blame the victim," with most editors making sure to write the word "occupied" more often than humanizing details about the innocent civilians that were murdered. The Guardian spent more time bashing Israel than criticizing the terrorists.
        Imagine for a minute an article about the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 focusing on what the UK and U.S. did in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan rather than the young concert goers who were massacred. No sane newspaper editor in the Western world would have tried to rationalize the actions of the terrorist, Salman Ramadan Abedi, in the way that Palestinian terrorism is always excused. The murder of Jews is treated differently. Somehow the media always finds a way to suggest we deserved it. (David-Collier.com)

Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins on Monday, April 17, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
  • Robert (Reuven) Bonfil was born in 1937 in Karditsa, in the Thessaly region of Greece. In 1941, Italy occupied Thessaly and the Germans arrived in 1943. Robert and his mother hid in a coal bunker under the house. Later Robert and his parents hid in the home of a Greek Orthodox family in Apidea. When German troops approached the village, they hid in a cabin in the mountains. Robert immigrated with his family to Israel in 1968. He is Professor Emeritus of Medieval and Renaissance Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Efim Gimelshtein was born in 1935 in Minsk in the Soviet Union (Belarus). A month after the German occupation, Efim and his family were imprisoned in the Minsk ghetto. His mother's brother-in-law, Pinchas Dobin, and his sons dug a hiding place under their house next to the Jewish cemetery in the ghetto. In October 1943, when the Germans began to liquidate the Minsk ghetto, 26 people entered the bunker, including Efim, where they sat in almost complete darkness for nine months, suffering from thirst, hunger, weakness and disease. On July 3, 1944, after Minsk was liberated and the group was discovered by Soviet soldiers, only 13 had survived. In 1992, Efim and his wife Rivka immigrated to Israel.
  • Tova Gutstein was born in Warsaw in 1933. After the establishment of the ghetto in October 1940, Tova would go out of the ghetto through the sewers and beg for food from local Poles or collect produce from the fields. She was outside the ghetto when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out. She reached the forest and was taken in by partisans. When the partisans went on missions, she would climb into a ditch covered with branches. One day, the partisans did not return and Tova was left alone in the forest until the end of the war. Tova immigrated to Israel in 1948 and became a hospital nurse.
  • Ben-Zion Raisch was born in 1932 in Cernauti, Romania (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine). In July 1941, the Romanians and the Germans occupied Cernauti and the Jews were confined in a ghetto. He would crawl under the ghetto fences and collect sugar beets that would fall from freight wagons in order to survive. Using knitting needles he made from a barbed-wire fence, he and his mother knitted socks, gloves and sweaters for the villagers in exchange for potatoes. In March 1944, the Red Army occupied the area and in January 1946 Ben-Zion arrived in Eretz Israel with his mother. He studied at the Technion and worked at Rafael for many years, where he was involved in the development of electronic warfare.
  • Malka Rendel was born in 1927 in Nagyecsed, Hungary. In 1944, Malka and her family were deported to Auschwitz in a cattle car, where most of the family did not survive the selection. Months later, as the Red Army approached, Malka and two sisters were forced on a death march to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. They were transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where her sisters died. They were thrown through the window onto a pile of corpses. "That memory still haunts me," Malka says. After liberation, Malka boarded a refugee ship to Eretz Israel, but was caught and imprisoned in the British detention camps in Cyprus. After reaching Israel, she became a teacher.
  • Judith Sohlberg was born in Amsterdam in 1935. In September 1943, Judith and her family were deported to the Westerbork transit camp. Every Tuesday, deportations left for the east and the family was sent to Bergen-Belsen. In April 1945, the family members were put on a train that traveled without a destination and many of the prisoners died on the train before the Red Army arrived. In Switzerland, Judith met Saul, a classmate of hers who had been hidden with Christian farmers in the Netherlands. The two married and immigrated to Israel in 1959.

        See also The Holocaust Survivors Currently Living in Israel - Meirav Cohen
    147,199 Holocaust survivors were living in Israel in 2023, including 462 who have celebrated their 100th birthday, the Holocaust Survivors' Rights Authority said Sunday ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day. 37% were born in the former Soviet Union, 11% were born in Romania, and 5% were born in Poland, with others born in Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Libya and Tunisia. (Walla-Jerusalem Post)

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