August 14, 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:

Report: Iran Closer to Testing Nuclear Weapons - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran is closer to testing a nuclear weapons device and has sought to obtain illicit technology for its atomic weapons program, according to intelligence reports from the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany.
    The Netherlands General and Intelligence Security Service (AVID) determined that the Iranian regime's fast-moving development of weapons-grade uranium "brings the option of a possible Iranian first nuclear test closer."
    IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said, "Iran is evidently committed to its nuclear weapons plan. The European intelligence reports describe covert Iranian efforts to shorten the breakout time to a nuclear arsenal by illegally acquiring equipment and knowledge from various European countries."
    He said the U.S. and other international powers are "rewarding Iran with a new 'understanding' and would only motivate Iran to continue and enhance its efforts to obtain the required components of nuclear weapons."

Israel Evacuates 204 Israelis, Ethiopian Immigrants from Battle Zone - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    204 Israelis and Ethiopians who are eligible for immigration were rescued on four different flights from an area in northern Ethiopia where severe clashes between armed militias and Ethiopian security forces have taken place in recent days.

Explosions Hit Rocket Warehouses of Iranian-Backed Militias near Damascus (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK)
    On Sunday, violent explosions were heard in Damascus as a result of an explosion in rocket warehouses of Iranian-backed militias west of the capital.

Hizbullah Displays Armored Vehicles in Lebanon (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Photos and videos showing armored vehicles and tanks belonging to Hizbullah in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon were posted on social media on Sunday.
    The vehicles are to be displayed on Monday during a Hizbullah military parade on the 17th anniversary of the end of the July 2006 war.

Banned Jihadi Group in Push to Infiltrate UK Campuses - David Rose (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Prominent members of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose stated goal is to establish a global Muslim caliphate governed by sharia law, have been the keynote speakers at ten separate events at UK universities in the last 18 months, despite a longstanding ban on the Islamist group by the National Union of Students.
    The failure to mention the speakers' Hizb ut-Tahrir affiliations in publicity has prompted the Jewish Community Security Trust (CST) to warn that the group has been trying to "infiltrate universities by covert means."
    "This is a well-known extremist organization with a long record of spreading anti-Jewish hatred, and a history of using front groups to get their speakers onto campus," a CST spokesperson said.

Indian Air Force Deploys Israeli Drones on China, Pakistan Borders (The Week-India)
    The Indian Air Force has deployed four Israeli-made Heron Mark 2 drones along the country's border with China and Pakistan.
    The drones can operate over long distances for close to 36 hours, meaning that multiple sectors can be handled in a single mission.
    They can operate at sub-zero temperatures and in any weather condition.

CNN's Obsession with Israel - David M. Litman (CAMERA)
    There are 493 million people living in the Middle East and North Africa. Some 14.6 million live in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - less than 3% of the region's population. Yet those 3% took up 67% of CNN's coverage of the region during July 2023.
    In July, CNN's Middle East section featured 40 articles: 27 focused on Israel, 5 focused on Iran, 2 on Iraq and 1 on Syria.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Gives Iran Access to $6 Billion in Exchange for Five Detained Iranian Americans - Farnaz Fassihi
    The U.S. and Iran have reached an agreement to win the freedom of five imprisoned Americans in exchange for several jailed Iranians and access to $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue. As a first step, Iran has released five Iranian Americans to house arrest. Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran's deputy foreign minister, said the U.S. and Iran had also reached a deal for the release of billions of dollars of Iranian assets. Iranian media presented the deal as a victory for President Ebrahim Raisi.
        The U.S. will transfer $6 billion of Iran's existing assets in South Korea to the central bank of Qatar. Iran can use the money only to pay for humanitarian purchases such as medicine and food. (New York Times)
        See also Israel Opposes Release of Billions for Iran - Jacob Magid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday expressed opposition to a tentative deal which would see Iran release five American detainees in exchange for the release of several billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets. "Arrangements that do not dismantle Iran's nuclear infrastructure will not stop its nuclear program and will only provide it with funds that will go to terrorist elements sponsored by Iran," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. (Times of Israel)
  • 2 Killed in Clashes in Lebanon after Hizbullah Weapons Truck Crash - Najia Houssari
    At least two people were killed on Wednesday in clashes between armed Hizbullah fighters and Christian residents of the mountain village of Kahaleh, after a Hizbullah ammunition truck overturned on the road between Damascus and Beirut. A force from the Lebanese army intervened and prevented armed men from militias in the area from approaching the truck. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Crashed Hizbullah Truck Believed to Carry Iranian Anti-Tank Missiles (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Foils Hamas Plot to Kidnap IDF Soldier, Carry Out Terror Attacks
    The Israel Security Agency (ISA) on Monday announced it had arrested a Hamas terror cell which had planned to kidnap an IDF soldier and to perpetrate shooting and bombing attacks against the IDF in the West Bank. Nine Palestinians affiliated with Hamas were arrested last month in Biddu. The cell used surveillance of IDF patrols to gather intelligence in order to best carry out the kidnapping and the other planned attacks. It also established its own explosives laboratory. Two years ago the ISA thwarted a similar Hamas cell including relatives of many of those in the current cell. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iranian Jewish Spy Denied Entry, Deported after Landing in Israel - Tzvi Joffre
    An Iranian Jew was detained by the Israel Security Agency on Friday on suspicion of spying for Iranian security forces. The man, who has relatives in Israel, admitted that he had come to gather intelligence and take photos for Iranian security officials. After the investigation was completed, the Iranian Jew was refused entry to Israel and boarded a plane to head back to Iran.
        Defense sources said that because the man was thought to have been pressured to spy on Israel by Iranian intelligence and also motivated by a large payout, he was not arrested. "He was stopped before he could do anything," a defense official said. (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Hurl Firebombs at Rachel's Tomb near Jerusalem
    Palestinian rioters threw rocks, glass bottles, and firebombs at Jews praying at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on Thursday. Footage from the scene shared by Border Police shows Palestinian men, some masked, hurling rocks inside the tomb complex as well as at oncoming traffic. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Attempts to Stab Israelis at Bus Stop - Emanuel Fabian
    A Palestinian arrived by car at a bus stop outside the Israeli community of Nili in the West Bank on Thursday and tried to stab two Israeli women. He then threw the knife to the side, got back in his car, and fled the scene. (Times of Israel)
  • Three Palestinians Searched for a Jew to Stab in Jerusalem - Emanuel Fabian
    Three Palestinian teenagers were indicted Friday for stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli man in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood on July 20. Muhammad Alabiyat, 18, Wizan Abiyat, 19, and a 17-year-old from Bethlehem purchased three knives, drove from the Palestinian town of Beit Jala and continued by foot to Gilo, where they searched for a Jewish victim to stab.
        The group approached Or Sayar, 25, and began to converse with him to ensure he was Jewish, then stabbed him several times before fleeing back toward Bethlehem. One of the knives remained lodged in the victim's back. Israeli forces detained the suspects two days later in a cave where they hid. Sayar remains hospitalized. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Biden-Iran Hostage Deal - Editorial
    The Biden Administration seems prepared to hand over $6 billion to Iran's ruling mullahs in return for five Americans it has taken prisoner to get precisely this kind of ransom. Iran keeps raising the price for its hostage-taking, and the U.S. keeps paying it.
        White House spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that Iran will only be able to use the $6 billion for "humanitarian purposes." Money is fungible, as the White House knows, and its "humanitarian purposes" line is best understood as political cover to justify the money-for-hostages deal. Iran will use the cash the same way it did the money it received from the 2015 nuclear deal - to spread mayhem in the Middle East and beyond. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Former Captive: Iran Incentivized to Take Hostages after U.S. Prisoners Freed - Tariq Tahir
    The release from prison of four Americans by Iran in return for the unfreezing of funds could "incentivize" Tehran to take more hostages, former captive Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert has warned. She said the deal in which South Korea unfroze $6 billion of Iranian funds amounted to the paying of a "ransom." The Australian-British academic was held in prison on trumped-up espionage charges, detained for 804 days, and spent months in solitary confinement before being released in a prisoner swap in November 2020. A former lecturer in Islamic studies, she had been invited by an Iranian university to join a seminar on Shiite Islam.
        Dr. Moore-Gilbert said the deal was the third "major cash-for-hostages deal Western countries have agreed upon with Iran, and by far the most lucrative, with the Americans transferring more than $1 billion per hostage."
        "Iran's hostage diplomacy strategy must be actively and resolutely curtailed to prevent further ransom payments and further hostage-takings. The Americans in particular must develop policy in this area to establish red lines around negotiating the release for American hostages abroad, and in my view, they should rule out any future cash-for-hostages deals, as they do when a non-state actor kidnaps an American citizen."  (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Don't Expect a Saudi-Israel Deal Soon, or Maybe Ever - Jennifer Rubin
    Last week, a breathless report in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the "U.S. and Saudi Arabia have agreed on the broad contours of a deal for Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel in exchange for concessions to the Palestinians, U.S. security guarantees and civilian nuclear help." Umm, not really. Not even close.
        If Saudis expect to get a NATO-like partnership with the U.S. (pledging to go to war if the Saudis are attacked), approval for a civilian nuclear program, and even more U.S. high-tech weaponry, they might find out there is little appetite for any of that on either side of the congressional aisle. Next to China, Saudi Arabia holds the distinction as the country that generates the most bipartisan animosity because of the kingdom's atrocious human rights record and oil price gamesmanship. Senate ratification of a deal would make the Iran nuclear agreement battle look like a walk in the park.
        And with whom should the U.S, Israel and the Saudis deal on the Palestinian side? The corrupt, aging and ineffectual Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has seemingly given up on his role in anti-terror cooperation, and he certainly can't speak for Hamas. (Washington Post)
  • Will Iranian Regime Change Be Doable when Ayatollah Khamenei Dies? - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Thursday that, when Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies (he is 84), the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would be vulnerable and a democratic transition more plausible. Speaking at a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs webinar on "Supporting Iran's Quest for Democracy and the Urgency of Europe Proscribing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps," Bolton noted that Khamenei has been sick many times, and that the Islamic Republic has no real clear path for the transition of power.
        Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel told the webinar, "We urge our friends in the UK and EU to take a stand for moral clarity and to outlaw" all of the IRGC "as an arm of terrorism which holds the Iranian people hostage to terrorism and torture." The regime "oppresses 88 million people and exports terrorism, subversion, and assassination across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard Prepares for New Protests as the Anniversary of Mahsa Amini's Murder Approaches - Suzan Quitaz
    Beginning on September 16, 2022, nationwide protests rocked the Islamic Republic of Iran after the killing of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who was visiting Tehran when the morality police detained her for breaching the country's mandatory headscarf law.
        The regime's brutality and terror have crushed the Amini protest movement, but there are still pockets of resistance in some Persian cities. Yet the Amini uprising has left a profound legacy of bravery the world has not seen in modern times. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed protesters, men and women, poured into the streets. Brutal security forces killed hundreds.
        According to the Javan Daily, affiliated with the IRGC, "93% of the protesters are no older than 25." Although the Amini uprising failed to topple the regime, this was not the end. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Has Iran Successfully Suppressed the Hijab Protest? - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Since its creation, Israelis have suffered tens of thousands of attacks by Palestinian terrorists. Thousands of people, mostly civilians who were intentionally targeted, have been murdered.
  • The Palestinian terrorists are not part of an established army and do not respect International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or the Laws of War.
  • On most occasions, they intentionally abuse their urban surroundings as cover for their operations. This allows them to blend into the civil population and blur the ability of Israel to identify and distinguish them as combatants.
  • The terrorists often use the surrounding Palestinian civilians as "human shields" as a defense against Israeli counter-terror measures. This allows the terrorists and their supporters to use every civilian death as a means to promote a propaganda assault on Israel for the alleged intentional killing of civilians.
  • Most conflicts involving Western militaries today take place far from the homefront, and their civilian population is not under direct threat or attack. In Israel, however, its population is under constant attack. In such a context, if targets are not attacked quickly, this can directly harm Israeli civilians.
  • This report compares the Palestinian death toll in Israeli operations to civilian casualties in Western military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The writer, Director of the Palestinian Authority Accountability Initiative at the Jerusalem Center, served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps and was director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.

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