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Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Updated: 32 min 6 sec ago

Israeli Couple Arrested in Turkey for Espionage Are Innocent Civilians

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Ha'aretz-Times of Israel) Jonathan Lis - Vacationing Israeli bus drivers Natalie and Mordi Oknin are being held in Turkey over espionage charges after they photographed Turkish President Erdogan's residence from a telecommunications tower in Istanbul with observation decks. The building in question, the waterfront Dolmabahce Palace, is a popular tourist attraction that has not been used as an official residence for decades. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett said Sunday that the two Israeli tourists are "innocent civilians" and that the government is working to secure their release.

Photos of Erdogan's Residences Appear on Government Websites

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Ha'aretz) Zvi Bar'el - After taking a photo in Istanbul with a cellphone camera, Natalie Oknin sent it back to Israel in a WhatsApp message, saying: "Look at Erdogan's house. See how beautiful it is." Turks know that using the term "Erdogan" on social media immediately sets off alarms in the surveillance computers of the Turkish intelligence services. From 2014 through 2019, 129,000 internet users in Turkey were charged with "insulting the president of Turkey." Erdogan has built a number of palatial residences at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. The presidential palace in Ankara, the White Palace, was built in 2014 at a cost of over $650 million. In August 2020, Erdogan inaugurated a new presidential palace near Lake Van in eastern Turkey. Last July, the architect who planned Erdogan's summer residence north of Marmaris released pictures of the palace, completed two years ago at a cost of $74 million. All these palatial structures have been photographed inside and out, with the images appearing on government websites, yet no one has been put on trial for publishing the pictures.

Egyptian Troops to Permanently Deploy on Israel Border

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(The National-Abu Dhabi) Hamza Hendawi - "The joint (Egyptian-Israeli) military committee has succeeded through a co-ordination meeting with the Israeli side to amend the security agreement to increase the number of border guards and their capabilities on the border area at Rafah" near Gaza, Egypt's chief military spokesman wrote on his Facebook page on Nov. 8. "It is the first time in nearly five decades that we have troops permanently deployed along the border with Israel," said Egyptian military analyst Sameer Farag, a retired army general. According to the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, only policemen with light arms were allowed in the section of Sinai bordering Israel and Gaza. Egypt's deal with Israel to permanently station troops along a troubled stretch of the border in Sinai represents a qualitative leap in relations that caps years of growing security co-operation, analysts say. The deal was concluded in a meeting between Egyptian President El Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Bennett in September.

Thousands in West Bank Attend Funeral of Top Hamas Official

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Post) Khaled Abu Toameh - Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral in Jenin on Friday of top Hamas official Wasfi Kabaha, 62, who died of Covid-19 last week. Dozens of masked gunmen belonging to the armed wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad participated in the funeral. The mass funeral was seen by Palestinians as a show of force and a direct challenge to the Palestinian Authority. Kabaha, who spent 14 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses, was an outspoken critic of the PA.

Israel Thwarts Weapon-Smuggling from Jordan

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Times of Israel) Judah Ari Gross - IDF troops seized 8 shotguns, 3 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 2 pistols and an M-16 rifle and arrested a Palestinian who tried to smuggle weapons from Jordan into Israel on Thursday.

Israel's Elbit to Provide South Korea with Airborne Munitions

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Xinhua-China) Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems announced Thursday that it signed a 5-year, $74 million contract to supply a range of precision airborne munitions to the South Korean air force.

Are We for Free Expression and Dialogue or Intolerance and Violence?

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Sunday Express-UK) Amb. Tzipi Hotovely - Dialogue and critical thinking are the cornerstones on which universities were founded. In the Jewish tradition, open discussion is a fundamental value in which generations of Jewish scholars have been educated. It is clear that the crowds who gathered to shout outside the London School of Economics last week did not seek discourse. They sought to achieve their will by violent means and the suppression of alternative voices. I received dozens of messages of support, concern and apology from every political, social and ethnic group that makes up the fabric of British society. This support moved me greatly. People have realized that it's an issue of values: to be for free expression and dialogue or on the side of intolerance and violence. The support I received demonstrates there is a broad consensus in Britain that Israel is an important ally who shares common values. The writer is Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom.

A New Military Strategy for Israel in Gaza

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Post) Col. (res) Grisha Yakubovich - While Israel is perfectly capable of launching a major air campaign and a ground offensive to topple Hamas in response to the next rocket barrage, it is the last thing Israel should do. Every round of combat since 2008-9 has left Hamas emerging stronger than before. As a result, a new military strategy for Israel is critical. Signs of this new approach could be seen during the escalation in May with Israel's missile precision and ability to conduct pinpoint strikes on Hamas targets in order to reduce noncombatant casualties. On the diplomatic-political front, Israel must enable the gradual - albeit unofficial - integration of Gaza into Egypt, which is leading the reconstruction of Gaza today. This is a process that is already underway and would force Hamas to focus its energies on maneuvering in the Arab arena. War with Israel is what keeps Hamas relevant. Hamas needs casualties and headlines to dominate the Palestinian and Arab arenas. Israel's central objective should therefore be to force Hamas to deal with its economic needs and to encourage it to abandon war - because armed conflict is Hamas' bridge to increasing its power base in the West Bank. Should Hamas once again flood Israeli cities with rockets, Israel should take a deep breath, rely on Iron Dome to deal with the initial attacks, and then launch an open-ended campaign of strategic attrition and targeted strikes without any deadline. The writer, an expert at the Miryam Institute, concluded 30 years of IDF military service in 2016 as head of the civil department for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

A Syrian Woman's Experiences with Hamas in Gaza

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Forbes) Allison Norlian - One of the scariest moments of Manar Al-Sharif's life was the day six men and three women Hamas operatives barged into her apartment, confiscated her phone and laptop, forcefully searched and blindfolded her, and took her to an all-women prison, where she spent two weeks in solitary confinement in a cell with no windows or light. Her crime: helping create a virtual event for Gazans to Zoom with Israelis. She was released after three months. Al-Sharif was born and raised in Damascus, but her family fled to Egypt in 2013 because of the civil war. Because she and her family are conservative, religious Muslims, her family preferred she attend college in Islamic-controlled Gaza. So in 2017, she enrolled in the Islamic University to study journalism, but left because the "Hamas propaganda was too pronounced....It wasn't professional and it wasn't journalism." Around the same time, she was sitting in her apartment with friends - both men and women - when building security called the police because Hamas forbids intermingling of the sexes. They took her to jail, where she was beaten for two days before being released. In October 2020, Al-Sharif, labeled a "dangerous person" by Hamas, was sent back to Egypt.

Jerusalem Consulate for Palestinians Is a Fight Biden Doesn't Need

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Bloomberg-Washington Post) Zev Chafets - The U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem was long seen in Israel as an advocate for the agenda of the Palestine Liberation Organization. A de facto U.S. embassy to the Palestinians, the consulate stood as a symbol of America's refusal to accept Israeli sovereignty over the entire city or to formally recognize it as Israel's capital. That policy ended in 2018, when the Trump Administration moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. For Israel, this was the fulfilment of a national dream. The vast majority of its Jewish citizens see Jerusalem as the country's sovereign capital. If the U.S. presses, Israel will push back. Prime Minister Bennett is counting on a dose of realism in Washington to save the day. President Biden faces a long list of international challenges. Bennett is betting that Biden will not want to add a contentious dispute with Israel over Jerusalem to his list. The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office.

PFLP Boasts about Its Ties to Iran

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Long War Journal-FDD) Joe Truzman - In a recent interview, Abu Jamal, a spokesperson for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, boasted: "We and the Islamic Republic [of Iran] fought the Zionist enemy in Lebanon and we also fought them in Gaza and the West Bank." Jamal referred to Iran's Revolutionary Guards as "blood brothers" and "comrades" who shared a "common destiny" in defeating Israel. Iranian military and financial support to the group has been continuous since 2013 and a PFLP delegation met with President Ibrahim Raisi after his swearing-in ceremony in August. After the May 2021 Gaza-Israel conflict, the PFLP held a military parade where its fighters displayed pictures of former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza Praises Iran and Hizbullah for Arming Group

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Long War Journal-FDD) Joe Truzman - In a recent interview, Abu Atayya, spokesperson for the al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, said: "Every missile, shell, or any tool of the Resistance, the hands of the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force have been credited with delivering, developing and supplying them to us and to all military arms facing the Zionist enemy."

Algeria Confronts Europe and the West over Gas and the Western Sahara

Sun, 11/14/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Amb. Dore Gold - There has been a notable radicalization of Algerian foreign and security policy. On Oct. 31, Algeria decided to halt all gas exports to Spain and Portugal through the Maghreb-Europe pipeline that crosses Morocco. Two months earlier, Algeria cut diplomatic relations with Morocco. In essence, the Algerian government was singling out Morocco and escalating tensions in North Africa. Since 2018, Algeria has given new support for the Polisario Front insurgents in the Western Sahara that threatened the Moroccan armed forces. Algeria has allowed the Islamic Republic of Iran to use its embassy in Algiers as a conduit for arms, funding, and training for the Polisario forces. Iran employed Hizbullah for this training mission because its operatives spoke Arabic. In response, Morocco cut off diplomatic relations with the Iranian government. Algeria has closed its airspace to French fighter jets heading to the civil war in Mali, where jihadist forces were aligned with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in the north and with the Islamic State in the south. Keeping allied airpower out of Algerian airspace effectively strengthened jihadist groups in the Sahel (the region south of the Sahara Desert), undermining Western interests. In October 2021, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2602, which called for the resumption of consultations between Algeria, Morocco, and the Polisario to advance "a mutually acceptable political solution" in the Western Sahara based on compromise. Algeria utterly rejected the resolution. The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Jeering Pro-Palestinian Crowd Threatens Israel's UK Ambassador

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Daily Mail-UK) James Gant - Israel's ambassador to the UK was bundled out of the London School of Economics on Tuesday when pro-Palestinian students tried to storm the building. Tzipi Hotovely, 42, was rushed into her diplomatic vehicle by her bodyguards as protesters screamed and tried to grab her. Home Secretary Priti Patel, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and Minister for the Middle East in the Foreign Office James Cleverly condemned the "aggressive and threatening behavior" on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said: "Ambassador Hotovely was invited to speak with students at the LSE titled the 'New Era in the Middle East.' It was a successful, open and fruitful discussion that went ahead as planned. Outside the venue, there was a demonstration organized by Palestinian and Islamic societies across London universities." Earlier video showed Hotovely speaking to students during a calm question and answer forum. She said: "The IDF never targets civilians, period. The IDF will target civilian places where rockets are being launched from because, according to international law, you're allowed to target places that are the infrastructure of a terror organization. But the IDF never, and I can stand behind this, the IDF never targets civilians. Terrorist organizations are targeting [Israeli] civilians." Reem Ibrahim, 19, who is studying government at the university, said: "Anyone who thinks that shutting down open discussions will help Palestinian people is deluded." Members of the LSE Student Union Debate Society are understood to have received death threats for hosting the event, despite them hosting another event Thursday with Husam Zomlot, Head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK.

U.S. Tests Israel's Iron Dome in Guam as Defense Against Chinese Cruise Missiles

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Wall Street Journal) Alastair Gale - Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system is being tested in Guam by U.S. military planners concerned about Chinese missiles. Guam is a U.S. territory in the Pacific that is home to 190,000 American civilians and servicemen. Its Air Force, Navy and Marines bases are 1,800 miles from China, making them the closest bases to China on American soil. Facilities on the island would be critical staging points during any conflict in the region. Iron Dome was developed in cooperation with Raytheon and designed to destroy short-range rockets and artillery up to 40 miles away - the kind of weapons Palestinians fire against Israel. Nonetheless, the system has shown some ability to intercept cruise missiles that travel below the speed of sound, such as CJ-20 missiles that the Pentagon says could threaten Guam if fired from Chinese bombers. In August, the U.S. Army destroyed eight cruise-missile surrogate targets in a test of the Iron Dome at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Iranian Arms Smuggled from Yemen into Somalia

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Reuters) Katharine Houreld - Guns supplied by Iran to its Houthi allies in Yemen are being smuggled across the Gulf of Aden to Somalia, according to the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, a Geneva-based think tank. Based on data from more than 400 weapons documented in 13 locations across Somalia, "a preponderance of evidence points to Iranian state supply," said the study published on Wednesday.

Palestinian Human Rights Worker Convicted of Terror Financing

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Post) Yonah Jeremy Bob - An IDF West Bank court on Wednesday convicted Spanish-Palestinian human rights activist Juana Rashmawi of financing terrorism in a plea bargain. Rashmawi, who worked for the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC), confessed to the same kind of terrorism-financing conduct that Israel has accused six other NGOs of. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, "The defendant dealt extensively with fundraising for the PFLP. Donors, including countries around the world and international organizations, were systematically misled to fund a terrorist organization." A Foreign Ministry source called the case "a big piece of the puzzle" regarding the NGOs. "She knew she was raising money for terrorism and admitted it."

Hizbullah-Iran Plot Against Israelis in Cyprus Revealed

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Globes) Cypriot police on Sunday reported that six members of Hizbullah and Shi'ite organizations were being charged with planning a terror attack against five Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus on behalf of Iran. The group was headed by Orkan Asadov, 38, an Azari citizen, who was arrested in the parking lot of a swimming pool in Nicosia with a gun in his hand. He was found to be using five names and had four Russian passports and various driving licenses. On his phone was the insignia of Hizbullah. Asadov was working with a Pakistani who was arrested in Paphos. Three others arrested are Pakistani Shi'ites living in Iran with Cypriot-Lebanese citizenship.

Report: Chief IRGC General in Syria Shunned by Assad

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Maariv-Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel) Syrian President Bashar Assad has shunned the commander of Iranian forces in Syria, Javad Ghaffari, Al-Arabiya reported Wednesday. Sources in the presidential palace said Ghaffari had been dealing with the smuggling of goods and the establishment of a black weapons market that could compete with the Syrian market. In addition, the Saudi news channel Al-Hadath reported that the Syrians blamed the Iranians for taking advantage of Syria's natural and economic resources for its own gain and for evading tax payments to the Syrian regime. It also revealed that Ghaffari had stationed Iranian forces in places that were not approved of by Syria and conducted a number of attacks against the U.S. and Israel against the regime's guidelines, including the drone attack on the U.S. base at At-Tanf in southeastern Syria on Oct. 20 by Iranian-supported militias.

Israel Broadens Strikes Against Iran in Syria

Wed, 11/10/2021 - 16:00
(Ha'aretz) Amos Harel - A reported Israeli airstrike in Syria on Monday targeting a missile factory in Homs province would be the seventh such action in a month. Israel is seeking to prevent Iranian weapons from reaching Hizbullah. It is also striking at other Iranian interests, such as Shi'ite militia bases and locals working for Iran and Hizbullah near the Golan border. The operations attest to the availability of precise intelligence which allows for precision strikes. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that Israel will not allow Hizbullah and other Iranian proxies to "equip themselves with means of combat that will undermine our superiority in the region." Two weeks after a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sochi, it is evident that Russia is not especially concerned about Israeli attacks on Iranian targets. It is also doubtful whether the attacks are of much concern to the government in Damascus.

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