August 17, 2023
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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Militias in Jenin Deployed Teenage Girls to Report on Israeli Troop Movements during Combat - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Two 15-year-old girls - Jana Zakarna and Sadil Naghnaghia - who were deployed by Palestinian militias as "spotters" to spy and report on Israeli troop movements during combat, were killed in Jenin in recent months. They were buried with Palestinian military honors.
    On April 10, 2022, the Telegram channel "Jenin Al-Qassam" published instructions for Jihad fighters which included a section dealing with the "use of children and residents to conduct visual observation and information-gathering."
    The channel noted that Jenin has a network of observation units staffed by "young people" assisting terrorist groups by "documenting on video and delivering reports about the activities of IDF forces."
    The U.S. Department of Defense's "Law of War Manual" states explicitly that civilian spotters are combatants who are taking a direct part in hostilities and are thus deprived of protection from attack.

Qatar Paid for Rep. Ilhan Omar's Trip to Qatar to Watch the World Cup - Matthew Kassel (Jewish Insider)
    Israel critic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has frequently voiced concern over the influence of foreign interests on American politics.
    Yet her visit to Qatar last November to watch the World Cup was paid for by the Qatari government, according to House financial disclosure records.

The Potential for Political Change in Iran - Dr. Raz Zimmt (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    The excessive politicization of religion in Iran, the regime's inability to address economic and social challenges, and widespread corruption have together eroded much of the once-widespread public support for the revolutionary regime.
    The key to initiating political change in Iran relies significantly on the capacity to enlist what Iranian sociologist Hamidreza Jalaeipour refers to as the "silent majority." In July 2023 he estimated that 70% of Iranians comprise this silent majority.
    They are distressed by the authorities' actions and align with the civic aspirations of the youth. At the same time, they differ in their stance from radical groups that advocate the regime's overthrow through violent means.
    A notable weakness within the recent wave of protests in Iran was the absence of considerable social and economic population segments, including workers from major industries and the service sectors, who refrained from participating in the predominantly teenager and university student-led demonstrations.

UAE Hosts Trilateral Talks with Jordan, Israel to Advance Water, Energy Projects - Mahmoud Barakat (Anadolu-Turkey)
    The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Israel held trilateral discussions to advance water and energy projects on Monday in Abu Dhabi to implement a 2021 declaration of intent.
    The project could allow Jordan to get 200 million cubic meters of water annually.

Palestinian Journalist Injured by Palestinian Gunfire (Palestine News Network)
    The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) reported that journalist Ali Al-Samoudi was injured in the head by shrapnel after armed men in the Jenin refugee camp, celebrating a shooting attack against Israelis in Tel Aviv, fired their weapons into the air.

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IDF Unit Specializes in Detecting Sources of Enemy Rocket Fire - Seth J. Frantzman (BreakingDefense)
    When rockets are launched towards Israel, military radars trace the incoming munition to help intercept it or to predict where it might land.
    But one specialized IDF unit is tasked with seeing where the rocket was fired from and quickly getting that information to other Israeli units that can respond with lethal force.
    "We detect the LP (launch point) while other radars may also focus on the IP (Impact point)," said Lt.-Col. B, commander of Israel's 611 "Eagle" battalion of the 282nd artillery brigade.

Waves Start Producing Clean Power for Israel - Amir Garanovic (Offshore Energy)
    Eco Wave Power has connected its wave energy plant at Jaffa Port to Israel's national electrical grid, making it the first wave energy project to deliver electricity to the country's power supply.
    Featuring 10 floaters installed along the port's breakwater, the power station has an installed capacity of 100kW, which will produce enough energy to power 100 homes at peak efficiency.

Israel to Supply German Submarines with Advanced Operator Consoles - Dan Arkin (Israel Defense)
    The Israeli company Reouel Group has signed an agreement to supply Atlas Electronics, a subsidiary of Germany's ThyssenKrupp, with dozens of advanced operator consoles for various submarine systems.
    Reouel's consoles, which serve as monitoring and control stations, enable submarine operators to quickly and efficiently receive significant computing solutions.

Israeli Desalination, Wastewater Treatment Becomes Global Model for Water Scarcity - Jonah Mandel (AFP-Al-Monitor)
    Yossi Yaacoby, vice president of engineering for Mekorot, Israel's national water company, says reuse of sewage water has reached almost 100% in Israel and 90% of treated wastewater goes to agriculture.
    That wasn't enough, so Israel began desalinating seawater, which now provides 60-80% of Israel's drinking water.
    "We supply the Jordanians 100 million (cubic meters) from the Sea of Galilee, and a similar quantity to the Palestinians - mainly in the West Bank with a small amount to Gaza, and it will increase," Yaacoby said.
    Israel has a large reservoir of knowledge accumulated over the years pertaining to managing water sources and is "constantly developing technologies," Yaacoby said.
    See also How Israel Achieved One of the Most Secure Water Economies, Drip by Drip - Corin Degani (Ha'aretz)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Approves Sale of Arrow 3 to Germany in Largest Arms Deal in Israeli History
    The U.S. approved a $3.5 billion sale of Israel's Arrow-3 missile defense system to Germany on Thursday, in what will be Israel's biggest-ever defense deal, the Israel Defense Ministry said. The Arrow was developed jointly by Israel and the U.S.
        Russia's war in Ukraine laid bare a shortage of ground-based air defense systems. While Patriot and the more recently developed IRIS-T cover the medium layer of air defense, Arrow-3 - produced by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing - offers protection for the higher layer, designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside the earth's atmosphere. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Sanctions Hizbullah "Green" Front Group
    The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Wednesday sanctioned Lebanon-based Green Without Borders (GWB) for providing support to and cover for Hizbullah's operations along the Lebanon-Israel border over the last decade while publicly operating under the guise of environmental activism. "The United States rejects Hizbullah's cynical efforts to cloak its destabilizing terrorist activities with false environmentalism," said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.
        GWB has outposts manned by Hizbullah operatives in more than a dozen locations. These outposts serve as cover for Hizbullah's underground warehouses and munitions storage tunnels. UN peacekeepers in Lebanon have been prevented from overseeing these outposts. (U.S. Treasury Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Thwarts Palestinian Attack near Nablus - Emanuel Fabian
    Palestinian gunmen opened fire from a passing vehicle at a military post close to Nablus early Wednesday. IDF troops returned fire at the vehicle, managing to stop it and detain one of the wounded gunmen. The soldiers seized the gunman's assault rifle, and found a grenade and more than a dozen magazines inside the vehicle.
        Meanwhile, a different IDF unit entered the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus to destroy an explosives lab and a storage site. Soldiers found at least 15 primed makeshift bombs. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Try to Fire Rocket at Israel from Samaria - Emanuel Fabian
    Palestinians in the Jenin area attempted to launch a homemade rocket at the nearby Israeli community of Shaked on Tuesday. Israeli forces discovered the rocket still on the launcher, after it exploded and failed to launch. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire at Israeli Border Police, Who Return Fire - Emanuel Fabian
    Undercover Border Police officers seeking to detain a wanted Palestinian man in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho on Tuesday and to search for weapons at his home came under fire from Palestinian gunmen. The Israeli officers returned fire, killing two. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • How Much Is an American Hostage Worth? - Bret Stephens
    The Biden administration agreed to a deal with Iran that paves the way for five American citizens to come home after long imprisonments on spurious charges. The prize for Tehran? $6 billion - a price tag of $1.2 billion per hostage. Iran's leaders have learned that an excellent way to erode American sanctions is to take more hostages. This is a lesson not only for Iran but for other hostage-taking regimes, too, particularly Russia.
        The long record of negotiating with the Islamic republic shows it never pays to pay Tehran. Far from smoothing the way toward another nuclear deal with Iran, as the administration hopes, the hostage agreement means Iran will raise its price. In the meantime, other hostages are sure to be taken. (New York Times)
  • Iran's Nukes Are a Thorn for Saudi-Israeli Peace - Richard Goldberg
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly made a joint U.S.-Saudi nuclear-enrichment program a top condition for a peace deal with Israel. This is untenable. The U.S. can't discount the potential for a future Saudi leader to use an industrial-scale enrichment infrastructure to produce fissile material as part of a nuclear weapons program. Once Saudi Arabia builds an enrichment program, Turkey and Egypt will want one too. A race to enrich throughout one of the world's most dangerous and unstable regions is a national-security recipe for disaster.
        But when any American tells a Saudi official that the U.S. can't support enrichment on Saudi soil, an obvious question comes back quickly: You're saying you can support an enrichment program in Iran, which is trying to kill Americans every day, but you can't support an enrichment program in Saudi Arabia, a close strategic partner? After all, the 2015 nuclear deal and subsequent negotiations have all but normalized illicit Iranian nuclear activity.
        The results of a policy that legitimizes enrichment on Iranian soil are on full display. Iran has raced over the past two years to produce enough near-weapons-grade enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs in a matter of weeks.
        The writer, a former National Security Council official, is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • If Israel Strikes Iran over Its Nuclear Program, the U.S. Must Have Its Back - Michael Makovsky and Gen. (ret.) Chuck Wald
    The Biden administration needs to work closely with Jerusalem to prepare for the growing likelihood that Israel will feel it has no choice but to initiate a military campaign against Iran's nuclear program. No Daylight, a new report from JINSA, explains that the U.S. guiding principle should be "no daylight with Israel," to ensure Israeli military success, mitigate Iranian retaliation, and limit the scope of the conflict.
        If Israel is compelled to act, due to a failure in U.S. policy and deterrence, the extent of U.S. backing will directly impact Iranian action. The more the Iranian regime perceives strong U.S. support for Israel, and believes it risks direct confrontation with America's unmatched military power, the likelier that it will limit its response.
        Because Israel is widely perceived as a close American ally, strong American support will reassure allies from Warsaw to Abu Dhabi and Taipei, while American equivocation will shred Washington's credibility and embolden adversaries from Tehran to Moscow and Beijing.
        Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official, is president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). Gen. (ret.) Chuck Wald, a former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, is a fellow at JINSA. (The Hill)
        See also No Daylight: U.S. Strategy if Israel Attacks Iran (JINSA)

  • Palestinian Arabs

  • What Happened in Burqa? - Akiva Van Koningsveld
    A visit to the desolate open area between the small Jewish farming community of Oz Zion and Burqa, where Palestinian Kosai Ma'atan, 19, died on Aug. 4, seems to tell an entirely different story than the prevailing narrative. The U.S. State Department has repeatedly referred to the incident as a "terror attack" by Israelis.
        According to multiple Israeli witnesses, a large crowd of Arabs from Burqa confronted a lone Jewish shepherd grazing his flock. "Suddenly, a mass of 30 or 40 people began to surround me from all directions and throw stones at me," the young shepherd said Thursday. "I called the guys here in the Oz Zion area. They came very quickly." Yet as sunset approached, between 80 and 120 more Arab villagers arrived at the scene, the shepherd related, and initiated a "crazy attack" using wooden and iron bars.
        Israeli Yehiel Indore, 22, has said that he fired a warning shot but was then surrounded, and he only shot to kill in self-defense after he was struck in the head by a rock. Indore said he never experienced "such severe danger to life" during his IDF service. "We tried to escape the whole time [but] they attacked us from several directions." TikTok videos shared by Palestinian accounts show local Palestinians brandishing wooden clubs.
        As to claims that the Jewish group sought the confrontation, a spokesperson for the Binyamin Regional Council explained that Burqa is not visible from the site of the confrontation. The site is in Area C, under full Israeli control, and Israelis are allowed to be there without restrictions. The Arab rioters had to hike approximately 500 to 700 meters (550 to 765 yards) uphill (from Area B) before encountering the shepherd. (JNS)
  • The Palestinians Never Meant to Make Peace with Israel - Pinhas Inbari
    The Oslo peace process with the Palestinians differed significantly from the two peace agreements that Israel signed with Jordan and Egypt. Egypt and Jordan sincerely wanted to make peace with Israel, seeking to improve their economies and their international status and to stabilize the common borders. Arafat's innovation was to make the "peace process" a tool for continuing the struggle, including the armed struggle.
        In his most recent address to the UN, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas set Israel's borders at the 1947 lines, essentially burying those of 1967. He had in mind the return of the Palestinian refugees to their original homes. It was believed by Israel and the West that the 1967 lines constituted the basis for the peace agreement. However, the Palestinians had a different objective, centered on realizing the right of return within Israel itself.
        A look at Arafat's statements makes clear that, from the start, he had no intention of making peace with Israel. In his conception, the Palestinian people would inherit Israel's legitimacy and replace Israel. His gaze was directed not at Jericho, Nablus, and Ramallah but at Jerusalem and Israel itself. Moreover, for Arafat, the conflict was not just national but also religious, with the Nakba seen as a blow to Islam. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh Lies to U.S. Delegation about Palestinian Democracy - Bassam Tawil
    Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met with a visiting U.S. Democratic Congressional delegation in his office in Ramallah on August 8. During the meeting, Shtayyeh blamed Israel for the fact that the Palestinians have not held general elections for nearly two decades. The real reason that Palestinians have not been able to hold parliamentary and presidential elections is the ongoing power struggle between the PA and Hamas.
        In the last Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006, Hamas won a majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, yet PA leaders never accepted the results of the vote. After numerous attempts, elections were to be held in 2021, but less than a month before the vote, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called them off. Palestinian and Arab political analysts said the reason was because Abbas feared his own Fatah faction would again lose to Hamas.
        Ramzy Baroud, editor of The Palestine Chronicle, wrote, "The truth is Abbas canceled the elections because all credible public opinion polls showed that this month's legislative vote would have decimated the ruling clique of his Fatah party....If this scenario were to occur, a whole class of millionaires who turned the Palestinian struggle into a lucrative industry, generously funded by 'donor countries,' was at risk of losing everything."  (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • The West's Long Demonization of Israel - Bruce Thornton
    The implied moral equivalence between murderers and their victims has for decades been a sign of the West's shameful moral idiocy and cowardice when it comes to Israel. Just give the Palestinians their own state, we've been told, and peace will bloom throughout the region.
        But this solution assumes that a majority of the Palestinian Arabs really want a Palestinian state - something that could have been created before 1967, when the West Bank was illegally occupied by Jordan, or with the five subsequent offers of a state, all summarily rejected. And Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005. Instead of peace, Israel reaped thousands of missiles attacking its civilians.
        No, Israel is not hated because it thwarts the yearning for a "national self-determination," a Western idea alien to traditional Islam. Israel is hated for what it is: a cultural and civilizational outpost of the infidel West. It is a constant and bitter reproach to Middle Eastern Islamic civilization's failure to adapt to the modern world despite its abundant oil wealth and long history of imperial and colonial success as one of history's biggest empires.
        Thus nothing Israel does or concedes will change the Islamic need for it quite simply to disappear. The agitation for a Palestinian state is merely a tactic, to be selectively employed for achieving that long-term strategic goal.
        The writer is an emeritus professor at California State University, Fresno, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. (FrontPage Magazine)
  • Israel Faces Intensifying External Threats - Clifford D. May
    At Israel's northern border, on the Israeli side everything is green because the Israelis irrigate and plant trees. On the Lebanese and Syrian sides, everything is brown because agriculture is not a priority for those who rule. Lebanon is dominated by Hizbullah, a foreign legion of Iran with an estimated 150,000 missiles pointing at Israelis. Syria is ruled by Bashar Assad, a dictator propped up by Tehran and Moscow who has slaughtered over half a million Arabs, many times the number of Arabs killed in wars against Israelis.
        Tehran has been attempting to set up bases in Syria, one more platform from which to attack Israel. In the West Bank, Iran's rulers are also arming Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and other terrorist groups that have ensconced themselves in areas that, under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for governing. And from the south, Hamas, which rules Gaza, receives financial assistance, arms and training from Iran to target Israelis.
        The writer is founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • Is It Time to Reduce U.S. Military Aid to Israel? - Elliott Abrams
    I, too, would like to see a time when a reduction in U.S. military aid will be sensible. I'd like to see a world where the Islamic Republic of Iran has fallen and is no longer building nuclear weapons and threatening "Death to Israel." Where Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are not murdering Israelis with weapons and money supplied by Iran. Where Hizbullah does not have 100,000 rockets financed by Iran aimed at Israeli cities. Where the U.S. does not seem to be withdrawing from the Middle East and weakening its support for friends and allies there.
        For the U.S. to end military aid today would send a message to all of Israel's enemies that Israel's greatest friend was stepping away, so they should double down on their plans for more, and more deadly, assaults on the Jewish state. The arguments for ending aid virtually ignore the real and murderous threats the Jewish state is facing.
        The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House. (Commentary)

  • Israel's Economy

  • Fitch Affirms Israel's Credit Rating at "A+": Outlook Stable
    Fitch Ratings has affirmed Israel's Long-Term Rating at "A+" with a Stable Outlook, noting its diversified, resilient and high value-added economy and strong external finances.
        The government has indicated it may no longer seek to give an automatic majority in the judicial appointment committee to the ruling coalition, and has dropped an initiative that would allow parliament to override Supreme Court decisions against legislation. Fitch considers the current measures are unlikely to trigger a material exodus of talent and capital in the high-tech sector.
        We project growth of about 3.1% of GDP in 2023 and 3.0% in 2024. Our base case assumes limited impact from the judicial changes beyond the protests' impact on consumption and a delay in some capital investment decisions. Growth will be supported by continued exports from the high tech and defense industries as well as strong population growth.
        Funds raised by the local high-tech sector have fallen this year. In our view, uncertainty generated by the judicial changes only partly explains this, with global trends accounting for a larger part, as investment was down in competing locations. The sector's diversification and maturity provide substantial resistance to shock. (Fitch Ratings)
        See also Unemployment in Israel Falls to Pre-Covid Low - Aharon Katz
    The unemployment rate in Israel fell in July 2023 to 3.4%, the same level as it was in February 2020 on the eve of the Covid crisis. (Globes)

Israeli Settlements Are Not Illegal - Eugene Kontorovich (Tablet)
  • Judea and Samaria are those areas of Mandatory Palestine that were ethnically cleansed of Jews by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1948. Many take the position that the Jewish state must enforce a ban on Jewish residence perfectly congruent with the zone of Jordanian ethnic cleansing, until such places might come again under the control of an Arab government committed to "not a single Israeli." Such rules are applied nowhere else in the world.
  • The U.S. formally adopted the legal view that Israeli settlements are not illegal in 2019 and the Biden administration has not retracted it. This should not be surprising, because no U.S. government has taken the position that settlements are illegal.
  • The arguments for lack of occupation focus on the lack of Jordanian sovereignty over the territory before 1967. The Danube Navigation case held that territory that was not under the sovereignty of any state could not become occupied. That means that the West Bank, which was not under Jordanian sovereignty, could not be deemed occupied. Danube Navigation was decided before 1967, and would thus reflect the law as it was when Israel took control of the territories.
  • Moreover, one cannot occupy one's own territory: If Ukraine retakes Crimea from Russia, it will not be an occupation just because it had long been administered by Moscow.
  • Discussions of Art. 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention invariably arise only in the context of Israel alone. Prior to 1967, the rule now directed against Israel had never been applied anywhere. To demonstrate that Israeli settlements are illegal, one needs to show that comparable conduct by other countries has been regarded as illegal. But when we look for the alleged rule applied elsewhere, we find nothing. No UN body has ever accused any other country of violating Art. 49(6).
  • From Morocco in Western Sahara to Indonesia in East Timor, from Turkish-occupied northern Iraq to formerly Vietnamese-occupied Cambodia, prolonged occupations of territory have almost always seen migration from the territory of the occupying power. Their demographic impact typically dwarfs that of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Yet the ICC has specifically declined to find that such movement constitutes a war crime.
  • The conduct of other countries has never been regarded as illegal. Indeed, the alleged prohibition is Israel-specific. What is clear is that in the late 1960s, the moment that mattered, nothing in international law demonstrated that Israel must engage in the unprecedented action of not allowing its Jewish population to live in the areas from which they were expelled.

    The writer is a professor at the George Mason University Law School and director of its Center on the Middle East and International Law.
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