DAILY ALERT
Thursday,
September 28, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

New Saudi Envoy to PA Cancels Visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque to Avoid Palestinian Backlash - Gianluca Pacchiani (Times of Israel)
    Nayef al-Sudairi, the newly appointed Saudi ambassador to the Palestinians, canceled a planned visit Wednesday to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount after critical reactions by Palestinians on social media, with some considering it a sign of normalization with Israel and calling to prevent it.



Gaza Wastewater Treatment Plant Collapse Sends Sewage to Israeli Shores - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    The North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment Plant (NGEST), the largest of five sewage treatment facilities run by Hamas in Gaza, recently stopped operating due to overload.
    The facility could absorb 43,000 cubic meters of sewage per day, but the plant was receiving 51,000 cubic meters.
    This was due to population growth, more available water, and more Gazans connecting to sewage systems. Hamas, which controls Gaza, did not make the necessary adjustments.
    As a result, the Palestinians diverted the wastewater to the Mediterranean Sea and the Hanoun River, which runs through the area of the Israeli community of Netiv HaAsara in the northwest Negev and the Erez Crossing.
    This has created a serious environmental hazard for Israel as the sewage reaches Israeli shores.
    Israel's southernmost Zikim Beach was closed more than two weeks ago. If there is no change, the next step will be to close the beaches of Ashkelon.
    Meanwhile, the Israel Water Authority is currently pumping Gaza wastewater from the Hanoun River to the wastewater treatment facility shared by Sderot and the communities of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council.



U.S. State Department Funding Supporters of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (NGO Monitor)
    The U.S. State Department has provided $90,000 to the Phoenix Center for Research and Field Studies at Gaza University for 2023-24.
    Phoenix's website includes reports on several conferences and panels it has hosted which supported "armed resistance" against Israel.
    In discussing a conference it hosted on Dec. 13, 2022, Phoenix wrote, "the priorities of future agendas must include the need to reintegrate armed resistance and popular resistance."
    During a Nov. 9, 2022, Phoenix symposium, its Director of Programs, Salah Abdalati, expressed support for new terrorist cells in the West Bank, noting "the joy created by the phenomena of the Lionsí Den, the [Palestinian Islamic Jihadís] Jenin battalion, and the Nablus battalion.Ē
    A Sept. 27, 2022, Phoenix workshop was held in a room honoring the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S. and EU-designated terrorist organization. It featured PFLP flags, posters of terrorists, and graffiti praising the group.



Poll: Israelis More Skeptical of a Two-State Solution; Decrease in Muslim Israelis Experiencing Discrimination - Sarah Austin (Pew Research Center)
    Only 35% of Israelis think "a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully," according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April 2023 and released Tuesday. This is down from 44% in 2017 and 50% in 2013.
    20% of Muslim Israelis reported having experienced discrimination in the past year, down from 30% in a 2014-15 survey.


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20 Percent of Jordan's Water Comes from Israel - Ayoob Kara (JNS)
    Today, 60-80% of Israel's drinking water is provided by desalination plants. Israel is pumping desalinated water into the Sea of Galilee from five different plants.
    Israel supplies Jordan with 100 million cubic meters of water from the Sea of Galilee, which fulfills 20% of Jordan's water needs.
    The writer served as Israel's minister of communications.



Israeli Satellite Industry Booming - Yuval Azulay (Calcalist)
    Since the beginning of the year, Israel's space industry has launched three satellites, four if we include ImageSat International's (ISI) EROS-C reconnaissance satellite, launched by SpaceX in California.
    In mid-June, ISI launched the RUNNER-1 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base for the Chilean government.
    In March, Israel Aerospace Industries launched the Ofeq-13 intelligence satellite.
    In July, Israel launched a satellite from India that was built for another Asian country.
    Israel also supplied two reconnaissance satellites to Azerbaijan.



Israel and U.S. Conduct Joint Air Defense Training - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. and Israel conducted joint training on missile and air defense systems, Israel's Defense Ministry said on Sept. 21.
    During the exercise, Israel activated its multi-layered defense systems, including Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow.
    The American forces activated the Patriot, AEGIS, and THAAD weapon systems.



Greece Approves Procurement of Israeli Precision Munitions - Stavros Ioannidis (Ekathimerini-Greece)
    The Government Council for Foreign and Defense Affairs (KYSEA), Greece's top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, on Tuesday green-lighted the acquisition of at least 300 Spice bombs, an air-to-surface precision guided munition manufactured by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
    The Israeli-made weapons will dramatically increase the attack capabilities of Greece's upgraded F-16s.
    Greece has one of the largest and most modern fleets of F-16s, but without the weapons that take full advantage of their capabilities.



Israeli Groups Improving Lives in Africa - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    "Africa stands to benefit significantly from Israel's expertise in scientific and technological innovations," says Dana Manor, deputy director at SID Israel (Society for International Development), an umbrella organization encompassing 170 Israeli entities working in international development and humanitarian aid.
    Israeli NGOs have emerged as significant players in addressing environmental, water, health and agricultural challenges.
    Agricultural initiatives that empower local farmers and provide food security and economic opportunities are implemented by CultivAid-Knowledge Based Development, Fair Planet, Africa 2030, JDC, and Engineers Without Borders-Israel.
    Israeli NGOs promoting health in Africa include Save a Child's Heart, Gye Nyame Mobile Clinic, Operation Ethiopia, Bilu Uganda, Eye from Zion, NALA Foundation, and Bringing Lives into the World.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Once Inconceivable, Official's Visit Highlights Warming Saudi-Israeli Ties - Patrick Kingsley
    In the first-ever public visit by an Israeli minister to Saudi Arabia, Haim Katz, the Israeli tourism minister, attended a multilateral tourism conference in Riyadh on Tuesday and Wednesday that was organized by the UN. Inconceivable for most of Israel's history, the visit symbolized how Israel and Saudi Arabia are gradually setting the stage for the formalization of their relationship, amid escalating efforts by the U.S. to broker a deal between the two countries.
        Saudi Arabia has never recognized the Jewish state since it was founded in 1948. Now, its leaders have signaled that they are considering recognizing Israel despite a nearly decade-long lull in peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli Cabinet Member Receives Warm Welcome in Riyadh
    After an Israeli delegation led by Tourism Minister Haim Katz landed in Saudi Arabia for a UN tourism meeting, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb said Wednesday: "There is a delegation here in the country for the first time. I hope they were received well. Welcome. Everyone in this room understands that tourism is the bridge between people and between cultures." Earlier in September, an Israeli diplomatic delegation arrived for the first time in Saudi Arabia, for a meeting of UNESCO. (JNS)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Put Palestinian Authority on Notice for "Pay for Slay" Terrorist Payments - Andrew Bernard
    The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday discussed efforts to stop the Palestinian Authority (PA) from continuing to reward terrorists and their families for carrying out attacks against Israelis. The PA "Martyrs' Fund" makes official payments to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, the families of "martyrs" killed in attacks on Israelis, and injured Palestinian militants. The hearing also focused on the implementation of the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits U.S. funding to the PA so long as it maintains its "pay for slay" program.
        Middle East subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) said, "Five years ago, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which said that no U.S. economic aid could directly benefit the Palestinian Authority unless the Palestinian Authority fully dismantled this grotesque pay-for-slay system. Unfortunately, five years later, terrorists are still getting their blood money, and Israelis are living through another wave of violent attacks.... The Palestinian Authority is paying people to commit acts of mass murder."
        Nearly 10% of the entire PA budget is allocated for this purpose, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israeli think tank. (Algemeiner)
        See also below The Palestinian Authority Continues to Reward Terrorists - Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Uncovers Iranian Plot to Assassinate Minister - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Security Agency said Wednesday it had uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and others. Two Arab Israeli citizens and three Palestinians were in custody for their part in the terror plot. Two of the Palestinians received their instructions from a person living in Jordan who was working on behalf of Iranians and were asked to gather intelligence on public figures and assist in smuggling weapons across the Jordanian border. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas-Led Riots on Israel-Gaza Border Continue
    Palestinians rioted for the 12th straight day along the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday, throwing stones and explosive devices, burning tires and shooting at Israeli soldiers. Palestinians have also floated incendiary kites and balloons across the border, setting fire to Israeli farmland. Israel has responded with airstrikes and tank fire against Hamas targets. (Times of Israel)
        See also Erez Border Crossing to Open for Gaza Workers despite Continuing Violence
    The Erez Crossing will reopen on Thursday for Gazans working in Israel after being closed due to daily violent riots along the Gaza border, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Gazans Working in Israel Hope to Return to Work amid Border Tension (Xinhua-China)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Iran

  • Israel to IAEA: Iran Is Conducting a Military Nuclear Program - Tovah Lazaroff
    Iran is conducting a military nuclear program, Israel Atomic Energy Commission Director-General Moshe Edri told the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference in Vienna on Tuesday. "There is no doubt that Iran conducted a military nuclear program aimed at producing several nuclear weapon devices. Iran continues to advance this program by gaining relevant technology and knowledge, along with fissile material in alarming amounts."
        "Iran has been conducting covert nuclear activities in undeclared sites for many years. The Agency has found concrete evidence of these activities, including the use of undeclared material." The Islamic Republic has "continuously failed to provide credible explanations or clarifications regarding the nature of these activities, and continues to deceive the Agency and the international community."
        "Iran continues to develop, test and deploy long-range ballistic missiles, in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions." The expiration in October of UNSC Resolution 2231 would allow "Iran to continue to advance its ballistic missile program without any formal limitations. This situation is dangerous and troubling. Iran, equipped with nuclear weapons and delivery systems, is not an option that Israel, or the world, can or should tolerate."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Poses an Existential Threat to the West - Jake Wallis Simons
    On Sept. 19, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, nicknamed "the Butcher of Tehran" for executing more than 30,000 political prisoners, was allowed to address the UN General Assembly in New York. Aside from Israel, no democracy spoke out. Outside the UN, an emboldened member of the Iranian delegation told a journalist: "I really like that your hand is trembling. You'll all be trembling like this for the rest of your lives. All the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran must tremble."
        In August, the U.S. released $6 billion into Iranian coffers to secure the release of five Americans. The theocracy now operates in the knowledge that if it ever runs short, it can always resort to kidnapping, at a going rate of $1.2 billion per hostage.
        Tehran's rulers are bent on ushering in the apocalypse; realizing a prophecy of world war starting with Israel, out of which a messianic figure known as the Mahdi will emerge. This is a theological mania on a par with Islamic State.
        For years, thugs from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have bullied and threatened dissidents on Britain's shores, attempting to assassinate 10 British residents in 2022. Minister of State for Security Tom Tugendhat confirmed that Iran was tracking prominent British Jews as "preparation for future lethal operations."
        If the ayatollahs go nuclear, the Jewish state is simply first in line for the evil that will come for us all.
        The writer is editor of the Jewish Chronicle-UK. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israeli UN Ambassador Erdan: Iranians across the Globe Were Moved by My Protest - Lahav Harkov
    When Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi prepared to speak at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan stood up and held a photo of Mahsa Amini, the woman whose brutal killing by Iran's modesty police a year ago inspired a protest movement in the Islamic republic. UN security grabbed Erdan and escorted him out of the room.
        He later told Jewish Insider: "I felt that really we should highlight to the world the fact that we stand in solidarity with the Iranian people...and say that we separate between the people of Iran and the ruthless radical regime that oppresses them."
        "I never expected them to forcibly drag me out. It was crazy that they touched me....When security detained me, I told them that when the war in Ukraine broke out, I remember many ambassadors were holding signs and Ukrainian flags and no one did anything. It's an anecdote that made the whole story much more interesting, because it showed the world how distorted the moral compass of the UN is. They're so pressured to give a mass murderer oppressing his people the red carpet treatment, but the one silently holding up a sign is dragged forcibly outside."
        "Most of the Arab world covered the story and I received thousands of emails from Iranians across the globe."  (Jewish Insider)
  • My Strange Meeting with the Iranian President - Danielle Pletka
    At a meeting last week with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the president was his usual irate self, ineffective because he wandered seamlessly between angry leftist alt-politics and outright lies. He wouldn't talk of dealing with the Biden administration and would not comment on widespread reports - even in the Iranian press - of the "understanding" between Washington and Tehran to have Iran ramp down attacks on Americans and take a day off from accumulating highly-enriched uranium.
        Was it worth the trip? No. It seemed eminently clear that there was zero chance of a productive diplomatic conversation with these people - which begs the question of what exactly our diplomats are talking about with their Iranian interlocutors during their ongoing chats in Oman. Nothing will change in Iran until everything changes at the top.
        The writer is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at AEI. (American Enterprise Institute)


  • Palestinian Arabs

  • The Palestinian Authority Continues to Reward Terrorists - Elliott Abrams
    So far this year, 35 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists - more than in all of 2022. Underlying this increase is the Palestinian Authority's continuing refusal to fight terrorism. As long as the "pay for slay" system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded.
        There are clear alternatives to "pay for slay." It would be reasonable for the PA to say that the criminal's family and children should not suffer. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system of family allowances, but they have steadfastly refused to do so.
        The Taylor Force Act "urges the Department of State to use its bilateral and multilateral engagements with all governments and organizations committed to the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians to highlight the issue of Palestinian Authority payments for acts of terrorism and to urge such governments and organizations to join the United States in calling on the Palestinian Authority to immediately cease such payments." I do not believe this is being done.
        The Act "calls on all donor countries providing budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority to cease direct budgetary support until the Palestinian Authority stops all payments incentivizing terror." Giving cash to the inefficient, ineffective, and corrupt PA encourages and fuels more corruption and allows the PA to continue its "pay for slay" system.
        I have no optimism that the PA will change its tune and stop rewarding terrorists in the foreseeable future. Assistance to Palestinians will have to go around the PA rather than through it.
        The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at CFR, 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. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Palestinians: Israeli Concessions Are a Sign of Weakness - Bassam Tawil
    Palestinian terror groups still see Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 not as a humanitarian gift but as the beginning of the "comprehensive liberation" of all the land stretching "from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea" - a euphemism for the elimination of Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization's 1974 "Ten Point Plan" states that the Palestinians should take whatever land they are given and use it as a launching pad for getting the rest.
        Hamas and other Palestinians never saw the withdrawal from Gaza as a sign that Israel seeks to live in peace and coexistence with its Arab neighbors. They saw the withdrawal as an Israeli retreat - a defeat in the face of a massive wave of terror. The message the Palestinians came away with was not that the Israelis had given them land in the hope of peace, but rather: "We were shooting and they ran away, so let's keep on shooting and they will keep on running away!"
        The Palestinian terror groups are trying to drive Jews out of the West Bank through drive-by shootings, stabbings, rockets and car-rammings. They want to turn the West Bank into another launching pad for attacking Israel the same way they did with Gaza. The Palestinians want all "settlers" removed - from the West Bank, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and all of Israel. In their view, "all of Israel" is just one big settlement.
        The Palestinians' rhetoric and actions since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza have clearly proven that the conflict with Israel is not about borders and settlements, but about the refusal to allow Israel to exist. It is time for decision-makers in Washington and other countries to trust what the Palestinians are saying: that they perceive Israeli concessions not as gestures of peace, but as gestures of surrender. (Gatestone Institute)


  • Other Issues

  • Israel Must Not Roll the Dice When It Comes to Nuclear Threats - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel
    It seems that the discourse regarding a narrow defense pact between the U.S. and Israel has lost momentum, mainly due to a lack of American (White House) motivation to promote an alliance at this time, which is a very good thing. The drawbacks of such an alliance far outweigh the advantages.
        Riyadh's main demands for an agreement with the U.S. are security guarantees, based on a defense agreement along the lines of the Asian model, mainly against Iranian aggression; advanced weaponry deals; a free trade zone, and more. These are demands that Israel can accept, assuming its qualitative military edge (QME) is maintained.
        On the other hand, the demand for a full nuclear fuel cycle capability on Saudi soil is problematic. While the Saudis are ready for any supervision and control measures imposed by the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency to prevent a future shift to a military program, I recommend continuing the approach of not rolling the dice when it comes to nuclear capabilities.
        We should ignore irresponsible reports saying Israel is developing "hidden capabilities" that in the future will prevent Saudi Arabia from shifting to a military nuclear program. There is no way of knowing how things unfold. If Israel's rejection of allowing enrichment means the derailment of normalization deals, so be it. Israel should not give in; this is essential. Accepting the Saudi nuclear demands will of course serve as a basis for demands by other countries in the region such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
        Israel should remind the world that the Iranians have violated every treaty and agreement that they have signed. Despite this, the recent understandings struck with Tehran (which the Americans deny) grant the regime permission to continue to enrich to 60% purity, which constitutes about 98% of the required path for full military enrichment level.
        The writer is a former Israeli national security adviser and head of Israel's National Security Council. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Battle for UNIFIL's Independence in Southern Lebanon - Matthew Levitt and Assaf Orion
    The UN secretary-general's latest report on UNIFIL - published July 13 - documented many of the Hizbullah violations that are responsible for raising tensions on the border with Israel this year. The report details 18 cases of attacks, harassment, impeded movement, and prohibited access against UN peacekeepers, an average of 4.2 incidents per month between January and May. Hizbullah has doubled its pressure on UNIFIL in the past two years. After Pvt. Sean Rooney, a UNIFIL peacekeeper from Ireland, was killed in December, surveillance camera footage showed armed men surrounding his patrol and declaring, "We are Hizbullah."
        The report notes that "the Lebanese Armed Forces continued to object to some patrol routes proposed by UNIFIL to expand its presence outside main routes and municipal centers." In response, UNIFIL has limited its activity to main roads and municipal centers, leaving most other "locations of interest" unmonitored. UNIFIL commanders on the ground have thus far capitulated to Hizbullah coercion and Lebanon's collusion.
        Matthew Levitt is director of the Washington Institute's Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion, an International Fellow of the Washington Institute, is a former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


  • Antisemitism

  • Jews Are Not "Stealing" Judea - Rabbi Yaakov Menken
    Less than a century after the Holocaust, antisemitism is sweeping across America to a degree unimaginable a few decades ago. Though just 2% of the U.S. population, Jews are the most targeted religious group in America. An identifiably Jewish person is several times more likely than a member of any other minority to be a victim of a hate crime. Diversity advocates, engaging in willful blindness, have pronounced Jews, whom the Nazis massacred for being non-white, to be beneficiaries of "white privilege."
        Today, society's supreme concern is respect for human rights. But this noble cause has been derailed by antipathy towards Jews. As the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks observed, "most antisemites do not think of themselves as antisemites." In other words, antisemites will define antisemitism in ways that exonerate their own bigotry.
        The story of the Promised Land is part of common parlance. Everyone knows what it is, where it is, and to whom it was promised - and how central it is to the faith of Moses and the Jewish people. Yet millions of Americans, including many who claim to value both religious tolerance and human rights, have adopted a fictional narrative built upon a European colonialist term for that Jewish homeland: Palestine.
        In this alternate reality, descendants of Arab marauders are "indigenous Palestinians," whose homeland, by miraculous coincidence, happens to trace the borders of modern Israel. The Jews, in other words, are "stealing" Judea. By the way, the word "Palestinians" referred to Jews for over 2,000 years. In the 1930s, the "Palestinian" soccer uniform featured the Star of David. Today, "Palestinian" is used to exclude those same Jews and to call them "colonialists" for returning home.
        The writer is managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values. (Newsweek)
Observations:

The 2023-2024 Gaza Terror Campaign - Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch (Israel Defense and Security Forum)
  • Hamas has earned its international designation as a terror entity by carrying out thousands of terror attacks. Hamas' Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and declares all of Israel is Islamic territory - that no one has the right to place under the rule of any non-Islamic foreign entity.
  • Over the last 18 years, terrorists in Gaza who belong to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and a host of other organizations have used Gaza as a launching pad for over 20,000 attacks against Israel and Israelis.
  • These attacks have included over 17,000 missiles and mortars, hundreds of IEDs and firebombs, hundreds of shooting attacks, thousands of incendiary kites, and attempted and successful infiltrations of terrorists into Israel to murder Israelis.
  • In recent months, $30 million in monthly aid from Qatar to Gaza has been "delayed" because the Qataris are annoyed with the growing relations between Hamas and the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah axis of terror. As a result of the cumulative effects of the worsening financial situation and ongoing disillusion with the Hamas leadership, throughout the summer, different groups of Gazans took to the streets to protest.
  • In response, Gaza's Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar needed to do something to divert attention of Gazans and has chosen violence. He seeks to drag Israel into a battle and then peddle dead Palestinians as a means to rally the troops - both internally and in the international community - and re-direct the public hatred of Hamas towards Israel.
  • Destroyed buildings mean another international effort to "reconstruct Gaza," which in turn brings in more building materials and provides jobs for thousands.

    The writer, director of the Palestinian Authority Accountability Initiative at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 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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