April 24, 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:

Video: Israel Arrests Jordanian MP for Weapons Smuggling - Emanuel Fabian (Twitter)
    Jordan's Foreign Ministry says Jordanian member of parliament Imad al-Adwan has been arrested by Israeli authorities for weapons and gold smuggling while attempting to cross the Allenby Bridge border by car on Saturday.
    While Israeli media have been restricted on what they are allowed to report on this matter, video footage of the seized weapons posted by Times of Israel military correspondent Emanuel Fabian shows around 200 handguns and a dozen assault rifles.

Israel Seizes 63 Pistols Smuggled from Jordan - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    Israeli security forces arrested a Bedouin Israeli for smuggling weapons into Israel from Jordan, confiscating 63 handguns, the IDF and Israel Police said Thursday.
    In 2022, Israeli forces seized 500 firearms on the Jordanian border.
    See also Weapons Smuggling Is an Increasing Threat to Israel - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas, Fatah Supporters Clash at Temple Mount (Jerusalem Post)
    Violent clashes broke out on Friday afternoon between Hamas and Fatah supporters at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

New Israeli Financial Measures Boost Palestinian Authority - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    A senior National Security Council official said Thursday that Israeli authorities have granted final approval to reduce the handling fee Jerusalem charges Ramallah for fuel transfers from 3% to 1.5%; raise the percentage of revenues it transfers to Ramallah from the fees it collects from travelers at the Allenby border crossing with Jordan; and expand the list of tax-free imports that it facilitates on the PA's behalf.
    The three measures are being enacted against the backdrop of sustained pressure from the Biden administration.
    They have the potential to add millions of dollars to Ramallah's coffers annually.

Israelis, Palestinians Share Kosher Ramadan Iftar Meal (AFP-Times of Israel)
    At a Palestinian property near Gush Etzion, Palestinians and Israelis gathered to share the evening iftar meal breaking the fast during Ramadan.
    Honored at the iftar was Mohammed, from a nearby village, who recently rescued an Israeli couple when a group of Palestinians surrounded their car and pelted them with stones.

Leaked Document Shows Ukraine Planned Attacks on Russian Forces in Syria - Evan Hill (Washington Post)
    Ukraine's military intelligence agency developed plans to conduct covert attacks on Russian forces in Syria, according to a leaked top-secret U.S. intelligence document.
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directed a halt to the planning in December.
    Ukrainian officers considered training operatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the military force of Syria's Kurdish-controlled autonomous northeast, to strike Russian targets and conduct "direct action activities along with UAV attacks," according to the document.
    SDF spokesperson Farhad Shami responded, "The documents that you are talking about regarding our forces are not real; our forces have never been a side in the Russian-Ukrainian war."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel: Iran Gives Hizbullah $700 Million a Year, Is Driving Force of Current Escalation - Rina Bassist
    Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Thursday that Israel is facing a new security era with possible threats from multiple fronts simultaneously. Gallant said, "Iran is the driving force in the convergence of the arenas. It transfers resources, ideology, knowledge and training to its proxies."
        Gallant said Iran has increased its financial support to its proxies. Hizbullah received $700 million from Iran last year as well as "knowledge and strategic weaponry" such as precision-guided munitions. Hamas received $100 million and tens of millions went to Islamic Jihad. Iran also transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to Iranian-backed militias in Syria and to the Syrian government.
        Gallant added, "The IDF continues to systematically hurt Iranian assets and targets in the region. We are working on all this on a large scale. Since I took office, in the first quarter of 2023 the rate of attacks in Syria doubled."  (Al-Monitor)
        See also Every Country Iran Touches Becomes a Failed State
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Iran International in Washington: "The Islamic Republic's biggest export is failed states. Every state that the regime touches fails. It touches Lebanon, Lebanon fails; it touches Syria, Syria fails; it touches Yemen, Yemen fails." He underlined that Iran spends $20 to $30 billion a year to support terror groups. (Iran International)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Continue Support for Defensive Aid to Israel - Marc Rod
    Lawmakers from both parties have come out in force to support continued funding for a range of U.S.-Israel defensive programs as part of the 2024 appropriations cycle. This is seen in a series of letters in March and April expressing support for cooperative counter-drone, counter-tunneling and missile-defense programs. (Jewish Insider)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli President: Judicial Reform Talks Are Being Conducted Seriously
    Israeli President Isaac Herzog stressed in an interview Sunday that the judicial reform talks taking place between the coalition and the opposition in the President's Residence are being conducted seriously and in good spirits. He noted that there's a strong desire by the political echelon to get out of the crisis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jerusalem Arab Dentist Convicted of Spying for Hizbullah - Michael Starr
    Jerusalem dentist Ahmad Zahra, 32, was convicted of spying for Hizbullah and sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, the Israel Justice Ministry said on Monday. Zahra had reached out to a released terrorist living in Lebanon and sought to work for Hizbullah. He received funds and a cell phone with encrypted messaging software in Turkey and delivered updates and reports on the routines of senior police and IDF officers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Muslim Preacher Dies in Hamas Detention - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Mohammed al-Sufi, 43, a Muslim preacher from Gaza, died hours after he was detained by Hamas police last Wednesday after returning from Egypt. Sufi was known for his criticism of Hamas leaders and their ties to Iran. Sufi's clan said that Sufi died as a result of "torture" and that it holds Hamas fully responsible for his death. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza called for an investigation. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iranian Military Developments and Trends - Michael Eisenstadt
    The Islamic Republic of Iran has three core components to its national security policy: its grey zone regional strategy, its unconventional force structure, and its nuclear hedging strategy.
        Since its inception, the Islamic Republic has relied extensively on activities in the "grey zone" between war and peace to advance its anti-status quo regional agenda. Its toolkit consists of unilateral and proxy activities, covert or overt, in both the physical and cyber domains. They include hostage-taking; embassy invasions; terrorism; rocket, drone and missile strikes; and attacks on maritime traffic.
        Tehran typically tests adversaries to see what it can get away with. It engages in covert or proxy activities to preserve a degree of deniability. It relies on incremental action and indirection to create ambiguity regarding its intentions.
        In recent years the Islamic Republic has shown a greater willingness to incur risk and use force unilaterally against Israel, the Gulf Arab states and the U.S. For instance, it has plotted to kill former senior U.S. government officials and abduct or kill Iranian dissidents in the U.S. and Europe.
        Iran's force structure emphasizes long-range strike systems (drones and missiles), proxy militias, and sea denial capabilities. Tehran will work to increase further the range, accuracy, and payload of its drone and missile force. It will also seek to improve its ability to neutralize enemy defenses, developing missile penetration aids and countermeasures.
        Although the emerging axis between Iran and Russia may create new procurement opportunities for Tehran, Moscow will be hard-pressed to spare large numbers of modern arms when its own military is taking heavy losses.
        The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Chatham House-UK)
  • No, Israel Is Not Planning to Take Control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque - Itay Milner
    In 1929, Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, a prominent Muslim leader in Jerusalem, fabricated a claim that Jews planned to take control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Spurred by his antisemitic campaign, Arabs throughout the Holy Land brutally murdered 133 Jewish men, women, and children with guns, clubs, and axes.
        Nearly 100 years later, Palestinian Arabs have sought to obstruct visits by Jews to their holiest site, the Temple Mount, portraying them as "taking over" and "defiling" the area with their "filthy Jewish feet," and encouraging Palestinian youth to "defend" against fabricated Israeli threats.
        In fact, visits by Jews are conducted in accordance with agreed-upon limits placed on all non-Muslims; Jews can only visit the Temple Mount at fixed times and cannot enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Every year, there are claims of a Jewish takeover of Al-Aqsa. One would expect that by now, the world would recognize that if such an event has not occurred, it is likely not true.
        The writer is consul for media affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York. (Newsweek)
  • Be a Rebel: Dare to Be a Zionist - David Suissa
    Few words are less popular in polite society today than the word "Zionist." But the true rebel thinks: the hell with polite society. Rebel Zionists know that Zionism is the dramatic manifestation of a people yearning for 1900 years to return to their biblical homeland. They know they are part of one of humanity's greatest and most miraculous stories. If that means they get looked down upon by the self-righteous cliques of Zionist bashers, they see that as a badge of honor.
        The rebel Zionist doesn't apologize for the fact that Israel must be very strong just to survive in the world's most dangerous neighborhood. The rebel Zionist knows that Israel would be a lot more popular with progressives if hundreds of Israelis would die during rocket attacks instead of protecting themselves in bomb shelters. Sorry, we won't die just to make you love us.
        The rebel Zionist has no problem telling Palestinians that peace is a two-way street and they must do their share if they want a better future. Rebel Zionists, in short, understand that their people need them. They are not at all embarrassed that Israel is powerful. Just the opposite: They think it's really cool to not be victims and to stay alive. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

Israel Is a Major Player in Supporting Africa - Eliav Belotsercovsky (News24-South Africa)
  • Israel has gone through the stages of a developing country. From a barren desert, the size of Kruger National Park, Israel became one of the world's leaders in science and technology, innovation and creativity.
  • The Israel Technical Cooperation Agency - Mashav - was established in 1958 to share Israeli knowledge and expertise with developing countries. Some 36,000 people from various sub-Saharan African countries have been trained in Israel, while 31,000 professionals have benefited from courses conducted in Africa.
  • In the medical field, Israel provides equipment as well as training and follow-up support. For example, two neonatal units were constructed and equipped in Kumasi, Ghana, and local doctors and nurses went to Israel for training. Intensive care and trauma units were set-up and equipped in Gonakry, Guinea, where Israeli doctors arrived to train local professionals. Israel renovated and equipped maternity units in Abobo Gane in the Ivory Coast. Similar medical projects occurred in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Eritrea and Mauritania.
  • Ethiopia benefited from Israeli experience in avocado cultivation, with the crop becoming one of the main Ethiopian agricultural exports. Agricultural equipment and Israeli irrigation systems were installed at the Gambia School of Agriculture. In Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, an agricultural demonstration farm was established. Similar projects took place in Malawi, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda, Cameroon, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. Israeli agricultural experts based in Nairobi and Lilongwe support and supervise these activities in Africa.
  • The Israeli NGO "Innovation Africa" has for the last 15 years connected water and electricity to more than four million people in Africa using Israeli technology. More than half a million people in Limpopo and Mpumalanga have access to running water thanks to this NGO.

    The writer is the Israeli ambassador to South Africa.

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