Tag: Israel Military


No Man on the Moon: Samuel Thrope, Tablet, Jan. 25, 2017— During the Holocaust, Yariv Bash’s grandfather was forced to build V2 rockets for the Nazi army.

‘Startups as Far as the Eye Can See, all the Way to the Sea’: Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2017— Entering the 14th-floor hotel lounge following a morning stroll along the Mediterranean Sea, an enthusiastic Randall Lane grabbed a glass of water and sat down at a small table, his trademark fedora still perched on his head.

How Do Israel’s Tech Firms Do Business in Saudi Arabia? Very Quietly: Jonathan Ferziger and Peter Waldman, Bloomberg, Feb. 2, 2017— Over the course of 30 years working in Israeli intelligence, Shmuel Bar immersed himself in the hermeneutics of terrorism.

Drafting Up Innovation: Dan Senor, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3, 2017— Israel is a country of eight million people that at its narrowest point is 9 miles wide.


On Topic Links


First Israeli Research Nanosatellite Launched into Space From India: Anav Silverman, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 15, 2017

Apple Buys Israel’s Facial Recognition Firm RealFace – Report: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Feb. 19, 2017

Can a Desert Nation Solve the World's Water Shortage? (Video): Seth Siegel, PragerU, Oct. 17, 2016

Execs from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Explain Why They Use Israel for Their R&D: Sam Shead, Business Insider, Oct. 6, 2016


NO MAN ON THE MOON                               

Samuel Thrope                                 

Tablet, Jan. 25, 2017              


During the Holocaust, Yariv Bash’s grandfather was forced to build V2 rockets for the Nazi army. Now Bash has his eyes on a rocket of his own: one that will take the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon. Bash is one of the three co-founders of SpaceIL, the Israeli entrant in the Google Lunar Xprize, an international competition to send the first civilian mission to Earth’s nearest neighbor. The first team to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, which then travels 500 meters and broadcasts images back to Earth, will take home a purse of $20 million. With the strong support of the Israeli government and the backing of generous private donors, including billionaire investor Morris Kahn and casino magnate and political kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, SpaceIL is poised to make Israel the fourth lunar nation.


The planned SpaceIL mission, if it comes off, will also conduct a joint UCLA-Weizmann Institute of Science experiment to measure the changes in the moon’s magnetic field. The end of December was the final cutoff for the competitors—scientists, engineers, and private entrepreneurs from around the world—to secure a launch contract on a rocket bound for orbit. Of the 29 teams who registered for the competition in 2010, five remain: the American Moon Express, Team Indus from India, Hakuto from Japan, the international Synergy Moon, and SpaceIL.


SpaceIL was the first team to obtain its ticket to the moon and will be launching its spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket produced by billionaire investor Elon Musks’s private aerospace company, SpaceX , by the end of 2017. As SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman explained, the agreement with SpaceX represents more than just a means of transport. “The fact that a serious company signs a contract with a group like us means that we know what we’re talking about,” he said. “That we’ve passed all their tests and that our craft stands up to all their requirements.”


However, SpaceIL’s moon mission almost didn’t happen, according to Bash, a bespectacled and balding 35-year-old electronics engineer and entrepreneur who recounted the story in the Tel Aviv offices of his drone-delivery startup, Flytrex. Having learned of the competition only in November 2009, two years after it began and only a few weeks before the deadline to register, he posted an invitation on his Facebook page: “Who wants to go to the moon?” Kfir Damari, 34, a friend and telecommunications engineer, answered the call. The next Saturday, the two met in a bar in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, with aerospace engineer Yonatan Winetraub, and started plotting a way to the moon. On Dec. 31, the very last day to register, the three wired in the $50,000 entry fee and joined the competition.


“Space is the ultimate thing,” Bash said when asked what inspired him to join the Xprize moon race. “It’s something that is so hard to do, even today. In 2016, rockets still blow up; it’s still rocket science. This is one of the ultimate technological-engineering challenges.” Despite other teams’ head starts, SpaceIL quickly advanced. It was the first team to design a landing craft, provisionally nicknamed “Sparrow,” that could use its engines to “hop” the required 500 meters over the moon’s surface rather than rely on a separate lunar rover to cover the distance. Seeing the elegance of this solution, Bash said, other teams followed suit.


One of the most important measures of SpaceIL’s success is its strong financial backing. Between government support—limited by competition rules to 10 percent of the project’s overall budget—and private donations, SpaceIL has raised $50 million of the $70 million that it estimates it will take to complete the mission; the launch alone costs $20 million. “Spacecraft don’t fly on hydrazine,” a common rocket propellant, Bash explained. “They fly on green fuel. If you look at the competition, we’ve raised more than double the next team.”


The Sparrow spacecraft is being designed and built at Israel Aerospace Industries, the country’s leading aviation and defense manufacturer. IAI, founded in 1953 by American Jewish pilot and engineer Al Schwimmer, can be considered Israel’s Lockheed Martin or Boeing, although, unlike the American companies, it is entirely government-owned. IAI produces Israel’s drones, aircraft, and satellites, as well as the Iron Dome missile-defense system.


Rather than the bright, white-booted, and sterile workspace one might imagine, though, SpaceIL’s electronics- and software-testing lab at IAI’s campus in the city of Yehud, just north of Ben-Gurion Airport, sits in a modified trailer on a dusty patch of ground near the parking lot. While the body of the craft will be assembled in the same high-tech clean room used for Israel’s Amos communication satellites, Sparrow’s computing and navigational guts are put through their paces here.


On a sunny winter day, SpaceIL software manager Asaf Lewin demonstrated some of the craft’s components: the 15-year-old computer, a three-tiered, functional stack of processors some 6 inches high, originally designed for a nanosatellite; a sensor to ensure the craft’s solar panels are always facing the sun; and a star tracker for navigation. It amounts to several million dollars’ worth of proven equipment that has already been tested in the radiation and cold of outer space.


The lab’s makeshift vibe is a perfect metaphor for SpaceIL’s upstart approach to the lunar mission. As Damari, the telecom engineer, explained, in order to keep costs down SpaceIL has decided to forgo IAI’s usual exhaustive checks and double checks on cameras and other non-mission-critical systems, building faster and cheaper than many had thought possible. This success has shown the potential for a civilian space industry in Israel. In the wake of SpaceIL, several local companies have established the Israeli presence in this growing field, including Effective Space Solutions, which is developing technology to return wayward satellites to their correct orbits, and Spacepharma, which offers zero-gravity space labs for scientific experiments.


“Showing that you can send a deep space probe for less than $100 million, that’s breaking a glass ceiling,” Bash explained. “It’s not only NASA and the European Space Agency that can do deep-space missions but also smaller countries, maybe large organizations. It’s opening up space a bit more to the Wild West.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






                                                            Sharon Udasin

                                                                            Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2017


Entering the 14th-floor hotel lounge following a morning stroll along the Mediterranean Sea, an enthusiastic Randall Lane grabbed a glass of water and sat down at a small table, his trademark fedora still perched on his head. After prodding the reporter with questions – as any lifelong journalist is wont to do – the editor of Forbes magazine was eager to discuss a country that has “invented and is reinventing itself.” “When you look at the world’s great entrepreneurial cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are way, way up there, and it’s apparent to anyone who spends any time here,” Lane said. “We were able to see that the Start-Up Nation reputation is true. The Start-Up Nation ethos is pervasive.”


The Forbes editor spoke with The Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, ahead of the magazine’s upcoming Under 30 Summit – an event expected to draw hundreds of the most promising young innovators to Israel this April for the second year running. In Lane’s mind, Israel provides a “very natural” environment for the summit, due to the country’s position as a leading entrepreneurial hot spot combined with its unique cultural ties and history. “It’s an amazing event that happens to be in Israel but also does an amazing job showcasing the Israeli start-up and tech ecosystem – which is why we’re here,” Lane said.


After launching its popular 30 Under 30 lists in 2011, Forbes began hosting Under 30 summits for its American honorees in 2014, with the first event occurring in Philadelphia that year. As these US events proved increasingly successful, the magazine decided to begin organizing such conventions abroad, holding the first such event – the Under 30 Summit EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) – last year in Israel, followed by the Under 30 Summit Asia in Singapore.


For the second year in a row, Lane will be hosting the Under 30 Summit EMEA in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, from April 2 to April 6. In addition to holding panels with leading global innovators, the summit promises amenities such as regional food and drink, bar crawls and group tours. Approximately 750 young entrepreneurs from 35 countries and 25 industries – 40% of whom are CEOs and founders of their ventures – are expected to attend. “They come early and they stay late and they don’t sleep,” Lane said.

Like last year, approximately one-third of the participants at this year’s summit will come from the US, one-third from Europe and one-third from Israel and the rest of the Middle East and Africa region. While that latter third will mostly include Israelis, Lane stressed that there will be some representation from African countries, as well as Palestinian entrepreneurs. This year, Forbes is working with the Portland Trust, a British nonprofit that works to foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians through economic development, to host a mentoring track for Palestinian entrepreneurs during one of the middle days of the convention. “We want to be able to leave here having been a strong force for entrepreneurs in the whole region,” Lane said.


In addition to the special track for Palestinian mentorship, the summit this year will also include other small group opportunities, like a visit to archeological sites, a cybersecurity gathering and a venture capitalist meeting. While last year’s events only took place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, this year all the participants will also have the chance to go to the Dead Sea and Masada on the final day. “We’re just going to go all night,” Lane said. “Think about ending this thing with the metaphorical new beginning – one of the best places for sunrises in the world.”


Although Lane had done backpacking in Israel about two decades ago during his twenties, his interest in the country was rekindled only a couple years ago, when he was invited to speak at an ROI Summit, an annual convention held in Israel for young Jewish innovators. A particularly memorable portion of that trip for Lane was a visit to the SOSA (South of Salame) Tel Aviv start-up hub. “I was just absolutely struck by the entrepreneurial ethos here, and it’s hard to describe if you’re not here,” he said. “The feeling, the eureka moment, was in SOSA. I spoke there and I went up to the roof there, and you could see start-ups as far as the eye can see, all the way to the sea. It has that Silicon Valley feel but with this incredible location and history.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







Jonathan Ferziger and Peter Waldman

Bloomberg, Feb. 2, 2017


Over the course of 30 years working in Israeli intelligence, Shmuel Bar immersed himself in the hermeneutics of terrorism. Using techniques of literary analysis more familiar to Koranic scholars and Bible critics, he came to recognize the distinctive language and religious phrases that suicide bombers used in their farewell videos. “Victory is with the patient” appeared frequently in the martyrdom declarations of Hamas recruits. Al-Qaeda adherents favored the call “God, count them, kill them, and don’t leave any of them.”


Bar, a tousle-haired 62-year-old with a wry sensibility, emerged from government service in 2003 amid the proliferation of global terrorism, and in the rising sense of doom he saw a business opportunity. He founded a company called IntuView, a miner of data in the deep, dark web—a sort of Israeli version of Palantir, the Silicon Valley security contractor. Tapping engineering talent in Israel’s startup hub of Herzliya, he adapted his analyst’s ear for language to custom algorithms capable of sifting through unending streams of social media messages for terrorist threats. He sold his services to police, border, and intelligence agencies across Europe and the U.S.


Then, two years ago, an e-mail arrived out of the blue. Someone from the upper echelons of power in Saudi Arabia, Bar says, invited him to discuss a potential project via Skype. The Saudis had heard about his technology and wanted his help identifying potential terrorists. There was one catch: Bar would have to set up a pass-through company overseas to hide IntuView’s Israeli identity. Not a problem, he said, and he went to work ferreting out Saudi jihadis with a software program called IntuScan, which can process 4 million Facebook and Twitter posts a day. Later, the job expanded to include public-opinion research on the Saudi royal family. “It’s not as if I went looking for this,” Bar says, still bemused by the unexpected turn in a life spent confronting Israel’s enemies. “They came to me.”


Bar says he meets freely these days with Saudis and other Gulf Arabs at overseas conferences and private events. Trade and collaboration in technology and intelligence are flourishing between Israel and a host of Arab states, even if the people and companies involved rarely talk about it publicly. When a London think tank recently disinvited Bar from speaking on a panel, explaining that a senior Saudi official was also coming and it wasn’t possible to have them appear together, Bar told the organizers that he and the Saudi gentleman had in fact been planning to have lunch together at a Moroccan restaurant nearby before walking over to the event together. “They were out-Saudi-ing the Saudis,” he says.


Peace hasn’t come to the Middle East. This isn’t beating swords into plowshares but a logical coalescence of interests based on shared fears: of an Iranian bomb, jihadi terror, popular insurgency, and an American retreat from the region. IntuView has Israeli export licenses and the full support of its government to help any country facing threats from Iran and militant Islamic groups. “If it’s a country which is not hostile to Israel that we can help, we’ll do it,” Bar says. Only Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq are off-limits. The Saudis and other oil-rich Arab states are only too happy to pay for the help. “The Arab boycott?” Bar says. “It doesn’t exist.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Dan Senor

                      Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3, 2017


Israel is a country of eight million people that at its narrowest point is 9 miles wide. It is surrounded on all sides by enemies who would like to see it wiped off the map: Hezbollah to the north, Hamas to the south, plus Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Islamic State and Iran to the east. It wouldn’t take a particularly pessimistic person to bet against this besieged slice of desert. Yet this tiny nation has also built an air force, anti-missile defense system and intelligence apparatus that is revered around the world—and relied on by the U.S. military, among many others. And it’s done it with a minuscule fraction of the budget available to larger nations.


How has Israel pulled it off? In “The Weapon Wizards” Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot tell the story of how the Jewish state’s military and defense sector became one of the most cutting-edge in the world. In chapters focused on particular technologies and weapons, such as drones, satellites and cyber warfare, the authors make the case that the same factors that have made Israel a tech giant have also allowed it to become a “high-tech military superpower.” The country’s military, its schools and its extracurricular institutions inculcate in its young people tenacity, insatiable questioning of authority, determined informality, cross-disciplinary creativity and tolerance of failure.


Because of its hostile neighborhood, Israel has had the unlucky distinction of being the first target of the newest terrorist innovations—which has forced it to become a kind of laboratory for militaries across the globe. Israeli commercial airline passengers, for example, were among the world’s first victims of international hijacking campaigns. But elite Israeli commando units conducted the first successful airline hostage rescue in 1972, and then again at Entebbe in 1976. America’s Delta Force was founded partly in response to what the U.S. learned from the IDF’s operation in Uganda.


Two decades later, in the 1990s, Palestinian terror groups began deploying suicide bombers against civilians. By the time of the Second Intifada, the bombings were an almost daily occurrence. Israel responded by adapting: It built a security fence along the West Bank, equipped with sophisticated surveillance technology, which, alongside stepped-up security operations, helped drastically curtail the frequency of the bombings. It also boosted its focus on human intelligence, redeveloping sophisticated networks to track and apprehend planners and perpetrators inside the West Bank.


The Pentagon studied the IDF tactics used during the Intifada and applied lessons about effective urban warfare and the use of dogs in combat to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel also pioneered the use of attack helicopters and UAVs, both of which have been critical in America’s targeting of terror cells in Pakistan and Yemen.


The authors, both longtime national-security reporters and IDF veterans, are particularly interested in the army’s system of reserves and how it has bolstered the country’s military innovations. Many other countries have reserve forces that augment the standing army, but because Israel is so territorially small and its population so outmanned by its adversaries, no standing army could ever be large enough to defend the country. Thus in the IDF reservists not only man whole units but also serve as commanders.


Messrs. Katz and Bohbot argue that a straight line can be drawn from this unique reserves system to the success of Israel’s defense industry. “Israeli engineers’ experiences from the battlefield, as well as their continued training and combat in the reserves, help them better understand what the IDF requires for the next war as well as how to develop it,” they write. This is different from the U.S., where, the authors explain, the Pentagon “installs military officers in development teams at defense contractors, but they are often viewed as outsiders.” In Israel, “the outsiders are the insiders. Military experiences become lifelong experiences. This dual identity is a national asset.”


This was a big factor in the rapid development and deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, designed to intercept rockets launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon and by Hamas from Gaza. Iron Dome was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; the company’s missile factory is in the Galilee, not far from Israel’s border with Lebanon. Many of Rafael’s engineers live in northern Israel, fought in reserves during Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah or spent 34 days in bomb shelters during that war. In other words, they had far more than an academic understanding of the threat that they were developing technologies to defend against.


Israel’s defense industry also has a unique, export-oriented business model. For the past 30 years, for example, the country has been the world’s No. 1 exporter of drones, responsible for 60% of the global market (the U.S. share of global exports is less than half that).


For its willingness to sell its drones and many other defense technology products abroad, including to China, the country has been criticized. But Israel argues that this is an existential matter. The IDF has never been a sufficiently large buyer on its own to incentivize local companies to develop new weapons or technologies, write Messrs. Katz and Bohbot. This means Israeli defense tech start-ups and larger companies need the economies of scale that can only come from selling into foreign markets to “keep production lines open and prices down for the IDF.”


While “The Weapon Wizards” can be a bit technical for the lay reader, the authors have skillfully conveyed a key component of the dynamic innovation culture that has made the Jewish state one of the most important entrepreneurial and technology-driven economies in the world. Not bad for a country 9 miles wide.




On Topic Links


First Israeli Research Nanosatellite Launched into Space From India: Anav Silverman, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 15, 2017—Israeli academia’s first research nanosatellite was launched into space on Wednesday, February 15. Ben Gurion University’s BGUSAT nanosatellite was among the record 104 nanosatellites from five countries, which were launched on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan launching pad in India today. The Israeli nanosatellite will study climate change and scientific phenomena from space.

Apple Buys Israel’s Facial Recognition Firm RealFace – Report: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Feb. 19, 2017—Apple Inc. has acquired Israel’s Realface, a cybertechnology startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users. This is Apple’s fourth acquisition in Israel, the financial website Calcalist reported Sunday, and the deal is estimated to be worth a couple of million of dollars.

Can a Desert Nation Solve the World's Water Shortage? (Video): Seth Siegel, PragerU, Oct. 17, 2016— From California to Africa, we are facing a global water shortage. But one tiny country, in the middle of a desert, has found remarkable solutions. Which country? And can we replicate its success? Businessman and New York Times bestselling author Seth Siegel explains.

Execs from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Explain Why They Use Israel for Their R&D: Sam Shead, Business Insider, Oct. 6, 2016— Born just 68 years ago, Israel has developed a reputation as one of the world's most innovative tech hubs. Silicon Valley multinationals in particular have cottoned on, setting up offices in the region and acquiring numerous Israeli startups.



Why Israel Has the Most Technologically Advanced Military on Earth: Yaakov Katz, New York Post, Jan. 29, 2017— In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America.

Myth: Israel Is the Largest Beneficiary of US Military Aid: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Feb. 10, 2017— Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid.

Global Arms Sales at Highest Level Since Cold War: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2017— Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

After Gaza Flare-Up, Ministers Hear War Drums as Army Seeks Return to Calm: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2017— Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday…


On Topic Links


Can Israel Rely On Foreign Peacekeepers And Security Guarantees? (Video): Yoram Ettinger, Youtube, Feb. 8, 2017

IDF Trains For Doomsday Scenario Along Gaza Border: Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2017

Facing New Challenges: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Feb. 10, 2017

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017




ADVANCED MILITARY ON EARTH                                       

Yaakov Katz

                                       New York Post, Jan. 29, 2017


In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America. Israel desperately needed trading partners. Unlike its Arab adversaries, Israel did not have natural resources to fund its economy. There was no oil or minerals. Nothing. The delegation held a couple of meetings but was mostly met with laughs. The Israelis were trying to sell oranges, kerosene stove tops and fake teeth. For countries like Argentina, which grew its own oranges and was connected to the electrical grid, the products were pretty useless.


It’s hard to imagine this is what Israeli exports looked like a mere 67 years ago. Today, Israel is a high-tech superpower and one of the world’s top weapons exporters with approximately $6.5 billion in annual arms sales. Since 1985, for example, Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones, responsible for about 60 percent of the global market, trailed by the US, whose market share is under 25 percent. Its customers are everywhere — Russia, South Korea, Australia, France, Germany and Brazil. In 2010, for example, five NATO countries were flying Israeli drones in Afghanistan. How did this happen? How did Israel, a country not yet even 70 years old, become a superpower with one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world that is changing the way modern wars are fought?


The answer, I believe, is a combination of a number of national characteristics unique to Israel. First, despite Israel’s small size, about 4.5 percent of its GDP is spent on research and development, almost twice the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average. Of that amount, about 30 percent goes to products of a military nature. By comparison, only 2 percent of German R&D and 17 percent of the US R&D is for the military. Another major contribution is the culture of innovation and creativity in Israel. Israelis are more willing to take risks than other nations. They get this from their compulsory military service during which they are tasked, at a young age, to carry out missions often with deadly consequences. While Israeli 19-year-olds embark on operations behind enemy lines, their Western counterparts can be found in the safety of their college dormitories.


Lastly, Israel has been in a perpetual state of conflict since its inception, fighting a war almost every decade. This reality, of having your back up against the wall, sharpens the mind. It forces Israelis to be creative and come up with innovative ways and weapons to survive. This is the Israel story …


Robotic border patrols: The Guardium is a part of a new category of robotic weapons known as Unmanned Ground Vehicles or UGVs. Israel is the first country in the world using these robots to replace soldiers on missions like border patrols. Already, Guardium UGVs are deployed along Israel’s border with Syria in the north and the Gaza Strip in the south. The Guardium is based on a Tomcar dune-buggy-like vehicle and equipped with a range of sensors, cameras and weapons. It can be driven by a soldier sitting in a command center miles away or receive a pre-designated route for its patrol, making it completely autonomous.


The increasing use of robots by the Israel Defense Forces is part of a larger strategy to minimize risk to soldiers when possible. In addition, soldiers require breaks, food and water. All a Guardium needs is a full tank of gas. Other UGVs in use by the IDF include the Segev, which is based on a Ford F-350 pickup truck.


Facing terrorists who use tunnels to infiltrate into Israel from places like the Gaza Strip, Israel is also relying on UGVs like robotic snakes to slither their way into underground passageways and enemy headquarters. The robots will then map out the structures, giving soldiers an accurate picture of a battle area before the place is stormed. The same is happening at sea. Israeli defense contractor Rafael has developed an unmanned patrol ship called Protector which is being used by Israel to protect its strategic ports and patrol the country’s long Mediterranean coastline.


The Arrow anti-missile program: In 2000, the Israeli air force received its first operational Arrow missile battery, making Israel the first country in the world with an operational system that could shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The idea to create the Arrow was born in the mid-1980s after President Ronald Reagan floated his Star Wars plan and asked America’s allies to partner in developing systems that could protect the country from Soviet nuclear missiles.


The Arrow was a revolutionary idea. Due to Israel’s small size and lack of territory, all ballistic missiles deployed in the region — Syria, Iraq and Iran — can reach anywhere within the country and pose a strategic and possibly even existential threat. Israel, the developers argued, needed a system that could shoot down enemy missiles over neighboring countries and provide overall protection for the tiny Jewish state. The program had its ups and downs but got a huge boost in funding after the First Gulf War in 1991, when Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scuds into Israel, paralyzing the country and forcing millions of Israelis into bomb shelters with their gas masks.


The Arrow was just the beginning. Today, Israel has the Arrow, which is partially funded by the United States, to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, David’s Sling to intercept medium-range rockets and cruise missiles as well as the combat-proven Iron Dome, which has intercepted hundreds of Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in recent years. Israel is the only country in the world that has used missile defense systems in times of war. These systems do more than just save lives. They also give the country’s leadership “diplomatic maneuverability,” the opportunity to think and strategize before retaliating against rocket attacks. While other countries have also invested in missile defense, none has created a multi-tier architecture like Israel….

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Feb. 10, 2017


Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid. Israel receives 55%, or $US3.1 billion per year, followed by Egypt, which receives 23%. This largesse comes at the expense, so it is claimed, of other equal or more important allies, such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The complaint conjures the specter of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn. The response to the charge is simple: Israel is not even a major beneficiary of American military aid. The numerical figure reflects official direct US military aid, but is almost meaningless compared to the real costs and benefits of US military aid – which include, above all, American boots on the ground in the host states.


There are 150,500 American troops stationed in seventy countries around the globe. This costs the American taxpayer an annual $US85-100 billion, according to David Vine, a professor at American University and author of a book on the subject. In other words, 800-1,000 American soldiers stationed abroad represent US$565-665 million of aid to the country in which they are located.


Once the real costs are calculated, the largest aid recipient is revealed to be Japan, where 48,828 US military personnel are stationed. This translates into a US military aid package of over US$27 billion (calculated according to Vine’s lower estimation). Germany, with 37,704 US troops on its soil, receives aid equivalent to around US$21 billion; South Korea, with 27,553 US troops, receives over US$15 billion; and Italy receives at least US$6 billion. If Vine’s estimate is correct, Japan’s US military aid package is nine times larger than that of Israel, Germany’s is seven times larger, and Italy’s is twice as large. The multipliers are even greater for Egypt. Even the Lilliputian Gulf states, Kuwait and Bahrain, whose American bases are home to over 5,000 US military personnel apiece, receive military aid almost equal to what Israel receives.


Yet even these figures grossly underestimate the total costs of US aid to its allies. The cost of maintaining troops abroad does not reflect the considerable expense, deeply buried in classified US military expenditure figures, of numerous US air and sea patrols. Nor does it reflect the high cost of joint ground, air, and maritime exercises with host countries (events only grudgingly acknowledged on NATO’s official site). US air and naval forces constantly patrol the Northern, Baltic, and China Seas to protect American allies in Europe and in the Pacific – at American expense. Glimpses of the scale of these operations are afforded by incidents like the shadowing of a Russian ship in the Baltics, near run-ins between Chinese Coast Guard ships and US Navy ships dispatched to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and near collisions between US Air Force planes and their Chinese counterparts in the same area.


In striking contrast, no US plane has ever flown to protect Israel’s airspace. No US Navy ship patrols to protect Israel’s coast. And most importantly, no US military personnel are put at risk to ensure Israel’s safety. In Japan, South Korea, Germany, Kuwait, Qatar, the Baltic states, Poland, and elsewhere, US troops are a vulnerable trip-wire. It is hoped that their presence will deter attack, but there is never any assurance that an attack will not take place. Should such an attack occur, it will no doubt cost American lives.


This cannot happen in Israel, which defends its own turf with its own troops. There is no danger that in Israel, the US might find itself embroiled in wars like those it waged in Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of US$4 trillion, according to Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor and Harvard University researcher.


Japan’s presence at the top of the list of US military aid recipients is both understandable and debatable. It is understandable because Japan is critical to US national security in terms of maintaining freedom of the seas and containing a rising China. It is debatable because Japan is a rich country that ought to pay for the US troops stationed within it – or in lieu of that, to significantly strengthen its own army. At present, the Japanese army numbers close to 250,000, but it is facing the rapidly expanding military power of its main adversary, China. A similar case can be made with regard to Germany, both in terms of its wealth and its contribution towards meeting the Russian threat.


What is incomprehensible is not why Israel receives so much US military aid, but why Japan has received nine times more aid than Israel does. This is a curious proportion given the relative power Israel possesses in the Middle East and its potential to advance vital US security interests in times of crisis, compared to the force maintained by Japan relative to China. Ever since the Turkish parliament’s decision in March 2003 not to join the US-led coalition, and the Turkish government’s refusal to allow movement of American troops across its borders, Israel has been America’s sole ally between Cyprus and India with a strategic air force and (albeit small) rapid force deployment capabilities to counter major threats to vital US interests.


It takes little imagination to envision these potential threats. Iran might decide to occupy Bahrain, which has a Shiite majority seriously at odds with the ruling Sunni monarchy. It might take over the United Arab Emirates, which plays a major role in the air offensive against the Houthis, Iran’s proxies in the war in Yemen. There might be a combined Syrian and Iraqi bid to destabilize Sunni Jordan, in the event that both states subdue their Sunni rebels. Any of these moves would threaten vital energy supplies to the US and its allies. Only Israel can be depended upon completely to provide bases and utilities for a US response and to participate in the effort if needed.


The politicians, pundits, and IR scholars who attack Israel and the Israeli lobby for extracting the lion’s share of US military aid from a gullible Congress know full well that this is not true. Israel receives a small fraction of the real outlays of military aid the US indirectly gives its allies and other countries. These experts also know that 74% of military aid to Israel was spent on American arms, equipment, and services. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, that figure will be changed to 100%. The experts simply cite the wrong figures.


The US is now led by a businessman president who knows his dollars and cents. He has been adamant about the need to curb free-riding by the large recipients of real US aid. He will, one hopes, appreciate the security bargain the US has with Israel – a country that not only shares many common values with the US, but can make a meaningful contribution to American vital interests with no trip-wires attached.






Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2017


Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says the volume of international weapons transfers has “grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4% between 2007-11 and 2012-2016,” with the flow of arms to the Middle East, Asia and Oceania spiking in part due to conflicts raging in the Middle East and tensions in the South China Sea.


The five biggest exporters – the US, Russia, China, France and Germany – accounted for 74 percent of the total volume of arms exports. France and Germany accounted for 6% and 5.6% respectively. But the report stated the low rate of French arms exports would likely end due to a series of major defense contracts signed in the past five years. Russia is reported to have accounted for 23% of global exports between 2012–16, with 70% of its arms exports going to four countries: India, Vietnam, China and Algeria. Of all the arms exported by the United States, almost half ended up in the Middle East, with the main buyers being Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey.


“The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world – significantly more than any other supplier state”, said Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defense systems account for a significant share of US arms exports,” he said. According to the report, arms imports jumped by 86% between 2012 and 2016 in the Middle East, accounting for 29% of global arms purchases, almost double the previous five-year period studied.


Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer after India, with an increase of 212% compared to the previous five-year period, while imports by Qatar rose by 245%. According to senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman, “over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities. Despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions.”


Several countries in the Middle East are involved in armed conflicts, such as the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen and in Syria, and tensions remain among them and with Iran. Wezeman told The Jerusalem Post that, due to the continuing arms embargo prohibiting states from exporting arms to Iran, “there is major asymmetry when comparing Iran to other countries in the region, like the rich Gulf countries.” However, Tehran’s arms industry produces weapons that are ending up in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen, he said.


According to Wezeman, while Israel is “out of the league of major importers, it is one of the larger arms exporters,” ranking 10th of all countries. Israel belongs to a group of smaller countries that plays a large role in arms trade, such as Germany or France, Wezeman told the Post, adding that, while Israel has not been a major arms importer in the past five years, by next year “we will see a change, especially due to the F-35 program.” Israel is set to receive a total of 50 of the stealth fighters, two full squadrons, by 2022. Of the MOU signed between Washington and Jerusalem in September that provides Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, at least $7 billion of the MOU has been earmarked for purchasing the F-35s…


India was reported by SIPRI to be the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2012-16, accounting for 13 percent of the global total – far greater than regional rivals China and Pakistan. “With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals,” said Wezeman, adding that “while China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the US, European states, Israel and South Korea.” Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyers of military hardware. Over the last five years defense trade between the two countries has averaged annual sales worth more than $1 billion…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







 Judah Ari Gross

           Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2017


Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday, following a tense day of IDF air and tank strikes in response to a rocket attack from the Strip on Monday morning, but the army stressed it had no interest in further conflict on the southern front. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that a war was “a matter of when, not if…In Gaza, they are continuing to threaten us and try to harm us,” Bennett said at a ceremony in southern Israel commemorating the death of an Israeli student killed by Hamas rocket fire in 2005. “Only with a total victory over our enemy will we put an end to this,” Bennett added.


In a Tuesday morning interview on Army Radio, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general, also said there was a chance of escalation and conflict with the Hamas terrorist group later this year. “The [current] reality, in my assessment, might lead to a situation in which Hamas is drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer,” said Galant, a former head of the army’s Southern Command. Galant’s predictions have not always been accurate. In April 2016, in another Army Radio interview, the minister predicted a war in Gaza that summer as well, but no such conflict occurred.


The IDF, meanwhile, has sought to calm some of the tensions surrounding the Gaza Strip. “We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfill our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza,” army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The Times of Israel


In response to the IDF strikes, the Hamas terrorist group said Monday it holds Israel “fully” responsible for any fallout or escalation in hostilities between the two sides. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem also called on regional and international authorities to curb Israel’s “aggression.” On Monday morning, a rocket was fired from northern Gaza at Israel, striking an open field south of the city of Ashkelon. Later in the day, an IDF patrol was also fired upon near the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave. No Israelis were injured in the attacks. In response, the army targeted at least eight Hamas positions in the Strip, with both airstrikes and tank shellings. Two Palestinians were reportedly injured by shrapnel to an unknown degree, according to the Gaza health ministry.


The army said its strikes were in response not only to Monday’s rocket attack and gunfire, but also to “other incidents from Gaza in the last month.” This was a reference to smaller-scale incidents that have occurred along the security fence surrounding the Strip. Following the 2014 Gaza war, which aimed to stem rocket fire from the Strip against Israeli towns, the rate of such attacks dwindled to, on average, one or two missiles per month. These rockets have been launched mainly by radical Salafist groups. But Israel sees Hamas, which has ruled the Strip for the past 10 years, as ultimately responsible for any any attacks coming from Gaza…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Can Israel Rely On Foreign Peacekeepers And Security Guarantees? (Video): Yoram Ettinger, Youtube, Feb. 8, 2017

IDF Trains For Doomsday Scenario Along Gaza Border: Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2017—The following is a report from the IDF blog, which described a massive civil defense and military drill that included an elementary school along the southern border with Gaza on Wednesday.

Facing New Challenges: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Feb. 10, 2017—Ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week and his Feb. 15 meeting with President Donald Trump, the differences between the Israeli Right and Left's worldviews, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, has become more poignant.

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017—When all pertinent factors are taken into account, U.S. President Donald Trump could sometime undertake more-or-less selective military action against Iran. In response, the Islamic Republic – then having absolutely no meaningful option to launching at least certain forms of armed reprisal – would target American military forces in the region and/or carefully chosen Israeli targets.



The Price of Powerlessness: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2016— This week Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The State Department pretended not to be surprised. It should be. It should be alarmed. Iran’s intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now.

What Outcome Do We Seek in Syria?: Shoshana Bryen, Jewish Policy Center, Aug. 22, 2016— Russian warplanes took off this week from Iran to hit targets in Syria. Russia has used Iranian bases for refueling and resupply in the past, but this is its first bombing mission from the Islamic Republic — it is also the first foreign military operation to take place from Iranian soil since the 1979 revolution. Iran’s National Security chief said Iran and Russia “enjoy strategic cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and share their facilities and capacities to this end.”

Israel’s Virtual Security Zone: Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 12, 2016— Cautious and prudent, Israeli policy over the last five years has largely succeeded in sealing off the Syrian civil war from Israel’s territory. This has been achieved through the careful cultivation of a working relationship with rebel militias on the other side of the Golan Heights border, along with a readiness to act on occasion decisively to neutralize emergent dangers.

Israel Values U.S. Military Aid But Does Well On Its Own Steam, Too: Moshe Arens, Haaretz, Aug. 22, 2016— A number of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics claim they could have obtained a better deal in the negotiations for the U.S. military aid package; it’s like in that Irving Berlin song: “Anything you can do I can do better.” There’s a lot of hype in these claims, but the subject of U.S. military aid to Israel is still worth discussing.


On Topic Links


Iranian Vessels Chases US Ship Out of International Waters [WATCH]: Abra Forman,Breaking Israel News, Aug. 25, 2016

US Moves Nuclear Weapons From Turkey to Romania: Georgi Gotev& Joel Schalit, EurActiv, Aug. 18, 2016

U.S. Concedes $400 Million Payment to Iran Was Delayed as Prisoner ‘Leverage’: David E. Sanger, New York Times, Aug. 18, 2016

Raqqa Delenda Est: Why Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” Should Be Destroyed: Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, Aug. 10, 2016

Were Obama and Hillary Founders of ISIS? You Bet: Kenneth R. Timmerman, Breitbart, Aug 12, 2016




Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2016


This week Russian bombers flew out of Iranian air bases to attack rebel positions in Syria. The State Department pretended not to be surprised. It should be. It should be alarmed. Iran’s intensely nationalistic revolutionary regime had never permitted foreign forces to operate from its soil. Until now.


The reordering of the Middle East is proceeding apace. Where for 40 years the U.S.-Egypt alliance anchored the region, a Russia-Iran condominium is now dictating events. That’s what you get after eight years of U.S. retrenchment and withdrawal. That’s what results from the nuclear deal with Iran, the evacuation of Iraq and utter U.S. immobility on Syria. Consider:


Iran: the nuclear deal was supposed to begin a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Instead, it has solidified a strategic-military alliance between Moscow and Tehran. With the lifting of sanctions and the normalizing of Iran’s international relations, Russia rushed in with major deals, including the shipment of S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russian use of Iranian bases now marks a new level of cooperation and joint power projection.


Iraq: these bombing runs cross Iraqi airspace. Before President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq, that could not have happened. The resulting vacuum has not only created a corridor for Russian bombing, it has gradually allowed a hard-won post-Saddam Iraq to slip into Iran’s orbit. According to a Baghdad-based U.S. military spokesman, there are 100,000 Shiite militia fighters operating inside Iraq, 80 percent of them Iranian-backed.


Syria: when Russia dramatically intervened last year, establishing air bases and launching a savage bombing campaign, Obama did nothing. Indeed, he smugly predicted that Vladimir Putin had entered a quagmire. Some quagmire. Bashar al-Assad’s regime is not only saved. It encircled Aleppo and has seized the upper hand in the civil war. Meanwhile, our hapless secretary of state is running around trying to sue for peace, offering to share intelligence and legitimize Russian intervention if only Putin will promise to conquer gently.


Consider what Putin has achieved. Dealt a very weak hand — a rump Russian state, shorn of empire and saddled with a backward economy and a rusting military — he has restored Russia to great-power status. Reduced to irrelevance in the 1990s, it is now a force to be reckoned with. In Europe, Putin has unilaterally redrawn the map. His annexation of Crimea will not be reversed. The Europeans are eager to throw off the few sanctions they grudgingly imposed on Russia. And the rape of eastern Ukraine continues.


Ten thousand have already died and now Putin is threatening even more open warfare. Under the absurd pretext of Ukrainian terrorism in Crimea (reminiscent of Hitler’s claim that he invaded Poland in response to a Polish border incursion), Putin has threatened retaliation, massed troops in eight locations on the Ukrainian border, ordered Black Sea naval exercises and moved advanced anti-aircraft batteries into Crimea, giving Moscow control over much of Ukrainian airspace.


State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Aug. 18 that negotiators had “deliberately leveraged” Iran’s desire to get a $400 million payment from a decades-old arms deal to ensure authorities would not renege on freeing three Americans in January. (U.S. Department of State) And why shouldn’t he? He’s pushing on an open door. Obama still refuses to send Ukraine even defensive weapons. The administration’s response to these provocations? Urging “both sides” to exercise restraint. Both sides, mind you. And in a gratuitous flaunting of its newly expanded reach, Russia will be conducting joint naval exercises with China in the South China Sea, in obvious support of Beijing’s territorial claims and illegal military bases.


Yet the president shows little concern. He is too smart not to understand geopolitics; he simply doesn’t care. In part because his priorities are domestic. In part because he thinks we lack clean hands and thus the moral standing to continue to play international arbiter. And in part because he’s convinced that in the long run it doesn’t matter …

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Shoshana Bryen

Jewish Policy Center, Aug. 22, 2016


Russian warplanes took off this week from Iran to hit targets in Syria. Russia has used Iranian bases for refueling and resupply in the past, but this is its first bombing mission from the Islamic Republic — it is also the first foreign military operation to take place from Iranian soil since the 1979 revolution. Iran’s National Security chief said Iran and Russia “enjoy strategic cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and share their facilities and capacities to this end.”


Whether temporary or serving longer term Russian interests, the increasing breadth and capability of the Russian military in the region — allied with the State Department’s number one designated state sponsor of terror — presents problems for the United States. The Obama administration, however, appears oddly unconcerned.


A State Department spokesperson said, “We have nothing to announce at this time. We speak regularly with Russian officials about ways to strengthen the Cessation of Hostilities, improve humanitarian access and bring about the conditions necessary to find a political solution to this conflict.” Another spokesperson called it, “unfortunate, but not surprising or unexpected.” From the Pentagon, “As we understand it, they hit three areas in Syria. One area had ISIS fighters in it, and we have hit there ourselves before. The other two areas do not have ISIS concentrations.”


The area that did not have ISIS fighters had anti-Assad rebels. Does the State Department think Russian bombing will help “find a political solution to the conflict”? What does the U.S. think a “political solution” should look like?


There is no easy side for America to take — if we take any. On one side is a war criminal, whose allies are Russia, Iran, and Hizb’allah (a U.S.-designated terrorist organization). On the other is the “opposition,” a collection of fighters including Jabhat al-Nusra — until last week calling itself an arm of al Qaeda — the Free Syrian Army, ISIS-affiliated rebels, and groups with acronyms previously unknown. Some will fight ISIS. Someare ISIS. Some will fight only Assad. Just about all are Sunni Islamists supported financially by America’s erstwhile allies in the Gulf plus Turkey. Among the Kurdish groups, some are Assad’s allies; some are America’s allies. All are the enemy of Turkey, a NATO member.


Our allies have their own agendas, as do our adversaries.


The Iran-Russia axis anchors the ends of the Shiite Crescent from Iran across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, ending in the Mediterranean. The Crescent is an Iranian goal that threatens a variety of countries on its periphery, including Israel and Turkey. Russia’s goals include 1) maintaining a friendly government in Damascus that will permit Russian bases at Tartus and Latakia, 2) broader military access to the region, and 3) status as “go to” power as the United States withdraws its influence. Partnership in the Shiite Crescent ensures all three.


Washington has been trying to find a way to cooperate with Russia in Syria without acknowledging that Russia’s goals, and Iran’s, are inimical to the president’s insistence that Assad has to go. The Washington Post reminded its readers this week of Mr. Obama’s words in 2012. “With allies and partners, we will keep increasing the pressure, with a diplomatic effort to further isolate Assad and his regime …

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Jonathan Spyer

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 12, 2016


Cautious and prudent, Israeli policy over the last five years has largely succeeded in sealing off the Syrian civil war from Israel’s territory. This has been achieved through the careful cultivation of a working relationship with rebel militias on the other side of the Golan Heights border, along with a readiness to act on occasion decisively to neutralize emergent dangers.


The success of such a policy is by definition fragile, as is the calm it produces. A single mishap could transform the situation. In recent weeks, there has been a notable uptick in the volume of incidents on the border, though a general deterioration still seems distant.


Reserve soldiers serving along the borderline describe a reality in which both regime and rebels are engaged in constantly testing the alertness of Israeli forces, looking to take advantage of any momentary lapse of attention. Israel responds to all instances of fire into Israeli territory, including when these appear to be inadvertent rather than deliberate. The intention is to keep the war away from the border.


One of the unplanned results of this policy is the emergence of small tent emplacements close to the line of division. Refugees have made their way to the border area, assuming that the Syrian Army will tend to avoid it. July was a busy month. On July 4, the technical fence was damaged by Syrian Army fire. Israel responded by striking at two regime targets. Then on the 18th, a drone was dispatched across the border to Israel. Israeli attempts to down it were unsuccessful – Russian officials later reportedly admitted that the UAV belonged to the Russian military. A week later, Israel responded to stray Syrian mortar rounds that came across the border. An Israeli aircraft destroyed the mortar emplacement.


July witnessed an unexpected visit to the Quneitra area by Gen. Muhammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij paramilitary forces in Iran. There were also reports of Israeli bulldozers operating in the demilitarized zone east of the technical fence, in the area between Ein Zivan and Quneitra. This reporter witnessed evidence of this work, on a recent trip to the Golan.


The Assad regime and its allies control only a few points along the border. Most of it is held by rebel forces, described by IDF soldiers stationed at one of the border posts as a mix of Jabhat al-Nusra and other free army groups. The southern part of the border, however, is the area of greatest concern. This is held by the Khaled Ibn al-Walid Brigade, a franchise of Islamic State, formerly known as the Shuhada al-Yarmuk Brigades. The Israeli assumption is that, at a certain point, this organization will almost certainly turn its guns against Israel. In the meantime, the two sides watch each other closely.


The entry of rebel and civilian wounded via the border fence is a regular occurrence, as is the transfer of humanitarian aid. The UN is the body that facilitates this process. It all seems to be working smoothly. The sound of gunfire punctuates the days and the nights on the Golan. Sometimes it is the distant, ominous boom of heavy artillery, perhaps from the area south of Damascus. The Syrian capital is only 70 km. away. At other times the rattle of small arms fire can be heard. This is closer, perhaps evidence of a skirmish between the rebels and the jihadists of the Khalid Ibn al-Walid …

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Moshe Arens

Haaretz, Aug. 22, 2016


A number of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics claim they could have obtained a better deal in the negotiations for the U.S. military aid package; it’s like in that Irving Berlin song: “Anything you can do I can do better.” There’s a lot of hype in these claims, but the subject of U.S. military aid to Israel is still worth discussing.


After the Yom Kippur War, when the Israel Defense Forces had to be rebuilt and rearmed, U.S. military aid to Israel equaled 20 percent of Israel’s gross domestic product and covered about half the Israeli defense budget. Most of the equipment the IDF acquired came from the United States.


The quality edge, so essential to Israel, was provided by American arms that were superior to the Soviet arms in the hands of Israel’s enemies. This was assistance that Israel needed for its survival, both from an economic and a military point of view.


Much has changed in the past 42 years. Israel has prospered, and in most areas, with the exception of fighter aircraft, the IDF’s quality edge in weaponry is the product of Israeli research and development. At the present time, Israel’s GDP is well over $300 billion, and U.S. military assistance equals about 1.5 percent of Israel’s GDP and covers a little over 20 percent of Israel’s defense budget.


U.S. aid is much appreciated, but at this stage it’s not essential to Israel’s survival. If an economic crisis in the United States led to a cancellation of this aid, Israel would have to, and could, survive without it. It’s economically possible to cover the entire defense budget from Israeli resources, but this of course would require cuts in the budgets of other sectors. A change in the U.S. aid package deleting the money Israel is allowed to spend in the Israeli defense industry would hurt most in the near term.


Actually, the major downturn in U.S.-Israeli military relations came with the cancellation of the Lavi fighter aircraft in 1987. The Lavi project reflected U.S. consent that a substantial part of U.S. military aid could be applied to procurement in Israel, rather than being restricted to procurement in the United States.


But conveniently forgotten by many, the Lavi was an Israeli-American project in which American aerospace companies were major participants. This was part of a breakthrough in U.S. policy that permitted American defense contractors to participate in the project and allowed free transfer of U.S. technology.

A Lavi fighter aircraft prototype. Courtesy of IAI


Pratt & Whitney provided an engine developed specifically for the Lavi. Grumman built the wings and tail. Lear Siegler provided the fly-by-wire computer, and Hughes Aircraft the head-up display. All were permitted to sign license agreements with Israeli companies for subsequent production in Israel. That kind of technological cooperation between Israel and the United States, which would have been a precursor to future cooperation, ended with the cancellation of the Lavi …

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


Moshe Arens, Former Israeli Minister of Defense and Ambassador to the U.S, is a Member of CIJR’s International Board



On Topic Links


Iranian Vessels Chases US Ship Out of International Waters [WATCH]: Abra Forman, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 25, 2016— Four Iranian warships harassed a US Navy destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, speeding so close to the destroyer that the US ship had to swerve to avoid collision. The incident took place in the strait leading out of the Persian Gulf. The USS Nitze, a guided-missile destroyer, was surprised by four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy high-speed patrol boats weaving towards it in a serpentine formation.

US Moves Nuclear Weapons From Turkey to Romania: Georgi Gotev& Joel Schalit, EurActiv, Aug. 18, 2016— EXCLUSIVE/ Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara. According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms. “It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.

U.S. Concedes $400 Million Payment to Iran Was Delayed as Prisoner ‘Leverage’: David E. Sanger, New York Times, Aug. 18, 2016— The State Department conceded for the first time on Thursday that it delayed making a $400 million payment to Iran for several hours in January “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day.

Raqqa Delenda Est: Why Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” Should Be Destroyed: Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, Aug. 10, 2016— While Iran remains the greatest threat to the region, the continued existence of IS fortifies rather than enervates Iran’s quest for hegemony. The destruction of IS should be the first stage in a campaign designed ultimately to isolate and contain Iran.

Were Obama and Hillary Founders of ISIS? You Bet: Kenneth R. Timmerman, Breitbart, Aug 12, 2016— Even the left-stream media is now acknowledging that Donald Trump “has a point” when he blasts Hilary and Obama for creating ISIS. “Hillary Clinton is vulnerable. ISIS did gain strength during her time as Secretary of State,” said ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz


Canada Should Keep its Fighter Jets in the Middle East: Allan Levine, National Post, Oct. 26, 2015 — Given his busy schedule the past two months, you can forgive prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau for not having had the time to watch the first episode of season 5 of Homeland …

A New Phase to an Old Conflict: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 15, 2015— The spate of murderous, unorganized Palestinian attacks on Israelis probably won’t end any time soon.

Proactive Redemption in Responding to Palestinian Violence: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, Oct. 11, 2015— The ongoing discourse among Israeli cabinet members and, to a large extent among settler leaders, has been largely over how to provide security to Israelis.

Obama’s Military Policy: Down-Size While Threats Rise:  Michael O’Hanlon, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2015 — The Obama administration’s official policy on U.S. military ground forces is that they should no longer be sized for possible “large-scale prolonged stability operations.”


On Topic Links


IDF Prepares for Possible Combined Attack from Iranian-Backed Syrian Forces: Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 3, 2015

US Military Intensifies Cooperation With Israel: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News,  Oct. 18, 2015

A Joint Israeli-Arab Attack on Iran?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Nov. 4, 2015

What Coordination? Russia and Israeli Warplanes Play Cat and Mouse Over Syria: Debka, Nov. 2, 2015




Allan Levine                                                         

National Post, Oct. 26, 2015


Given his busy schedule the past two months, you can forgive prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau for not having had the time to watch the first episode of season 5 of Homeland, the intense television drama about the CIA and the realities of terrorism. He probably also has not had a chance to read Yale University historian Timothy Snyder’s new book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Both should be on his to-do list before he carries through with his decision to withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the mission against the Islamic State.


In the new Homeland episode (mild spoilers ahead), CIA operative Peter Quinn (actor Rupert Friend), who has spent two years in Syria including the city of Al-Raqqah, now controlled by the Islamic State, is invited to offer his assessment of the U.S.-led bombing strategy to a room full of American decision-makers. “What strategy?” he poignantly asks them. He explains that ISIL does have a strategy based on its distorted interpretation of the Koran. “They’re gathering right now in Raqqah by the tens of thousands … and they know exactly what to do,” he says. “They call it the ‘end of times.’ What do you think the beheadings are about? The crucifixions and the revival of slavery? Do you think they make this shit up? … They’re there for one reason and one reason only to die for the Caliphate and usher in a world without infidels. That’s their strategy and it’s been that way since the 7th century.” Pressed further as to what he would suggest, he says that the Americans should dispatch 200,000 soldiers for a ground war and the same number of doctors and teachers. The officials tell him that’s not possible. Then, says, Quinn, “Hit reset. Pound Raqqah into a parking lot.”


That may be problematic, but it is probably not overstating the case: That the only way ISIL will be stopped is by a massive allied assault, precisely the same approach the west took with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Imagine if one of Trudeau’s Liberal Party predecessors, William Lyon Mackenzie King, had decided that Canadian participation in the Second World War would have consisted only of providing training.


Perhaps this is not an accurate comparison with what is transpiring in Syria and Iraq. Yet, Timothy Snyder’s new book, though far from perfect in its analysis, does provide insight into Hitler’s global strategy to rid the world of Jews and then reshape the planet. The Nazi plan for world domination was broader than ISIL’s quest to re-establish its Caliphate, yet both share an extreme and brutal mindset in which negotiation and diplomacy has no part.


Justin Trudeau may be correct that Canada’s six fighter jets are only minimally effective in the war against ISIL, but at least they are doing some damage. Doing nothing militarily is worse — and on the ground training of Iraqi troops, while helpful, is hardly the answer. It is difficult to figure out Trudeau’s exact thinking or logic on this issue. In an interview last January, London, Ont., radio host Andrew Lawton attempted without success to pin Trudeau down on explaining when he would consider it essential for Canada to participate in a ground war against terrorism. The best Lawton could obtain was Trudeau’s comment that: “I’ve never been against Canada engaging robustly against ISIS. What I have been concerned with is the prime minister’s choice around the way we should best do that.” Lawton had pointed out that a United Nations report had indicated that 8,400 Iraqi civilians had been killed by ISIL up to then.


“Well, I think it is warranted if there is a reasonable chance of success,” Trudeau explained further. “If there’s a way that Canada can offer expertise the rest of the world is unable to provide.” He also added that looking at conflicts in the Middle East that “very few people believe there is a military-only solution to what is going on in the Middle East … there are a lot of different paths that need to be taken by the international community to de-fang and neutralize ISIS.”


Two months later, during the debate in the House of Commons on extending and expanding the anti-ISIL mission into Syria, Trudeau asserted that “we are all committed to keeping Canadians safe.” He argued, as he still does, that Canada “does have a role to play in responding to humanitarian crises and security threats in the world” and “that when we deploy the Canadian Forces — especially into combat operations — there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada.”


Finally at the end of June, in an interview with Terry Milewski on CBC television’s Power & Politics, Trudeau once more was asked to explain his reasoning about confronting ISIL. “I was very much focused on making sure that Canada’s position is the right one for the long term,” he said. “And that’s where crossing the line from a non-combat mission into a combat mission is a decision that has to be taken very, very carefully and [responsibly]. And to be quite frank about it, the prime minister did not take that aspect of it very seriously. He preferred to play politics … ”


One cannot but get the feeling that it is Justin Trudeau who is now “playing politics.” Having made his promise to end the anti-ISIL air mission, he is stuck with it — even if it does not serve the larger and desperate needs of the thousands of people being terrorized by ISIL, and even if it leaves our allies left in the fight while Canada goes home. Whether Canadian CF-18’s are making a huge difference is not really the point; at least they are doing something pragmatic in a difficult battle that we cannot afford to lose. More talk, training and humanitarian aid are all important, but they are not going to produce the desired result. On this significant issue, Trudeau should try channelling Winston Churchill, not Neville Chamberlain.                                                                 




A NEW PHASE TO AN OLD CONFLICT                                             

Yaakov Lappin                                                               

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 15, 2015


The spate of murderous, unorganized Palestinian attacks on Israelis probably won’t end any time soon. Despite the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this latest phase of terrorism is driven by the same fundamental force that has been behind all previous stages: The rejection by Palestinians of Israel’s existence in this land. As such, Israelis will have to stand firm in the face of the effort to terrorize them as security forces get down to the business of formulating effective ways to minimize the number of attacks.


The IDF is joining forces with the Israel Police, which is stretched to the limit, and has sent 10 companies of soldiers from Training Base One and other units to enable police to beef up their presence in every district. Additionally, the army has made available more than 20 Combat Collection Intelligence units to police in east Jerusalem. The units provide visual intelligence assistance to enable the police to identify in real time the movement of terrorists on their way to try and butcher Israeli civilians.


The IDF understands that if it does not help police reduce the level of attacks in east Jerusalem and Israeli cities, the violence will spread to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It is focused on the mission of seeking to improve Israelis’ sense of security and avoiding a situation in which Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah-Tanzim and the Palestinian Authority’s own security forces join in the violence – a development that would dramatically escalate the situation.


Along the border with Gaza, the IDF deployed two additional battalions to cope with the new phenomenon of Palestinian rioters approaching the fence. Wherever rioters approach the border fence in the vicinity of Israeli communities, army units are under orders to respond more aggressively to ensure that civilians are not at risk. In cases where mobs riot near the fence in open areas, a more flexible response, which decreases the chances of casualties and a further escalation, is encouraged.


At the end of 2014, the IDF’s Military Intelligence assessed that the Palestinian arena was the most likely front to erupt. Yet, that does not mean the defense establishment is sure of where things are headed. This phase of terrorism is, despite the claims of terrorist organizations, unorganized, and it is coming from the depths of Palestinian society. This society is deeply radicalized, as polls show 16 percent of Gazans and 13% of West Bank Arabs support Islamic State. In Arab countries around Israel, this support is at between 3% and 4%.


This provides a clue to the depth of the pent-up hatred that is now coming to the fore. Certain triggers have amplified this rage, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas speech at the UN last month, when he transmitted a message of desperation to the General Assembly. According to the military’s assessments, systematic incitement to hate, false claims of a changing status quo at the Temple Mount and incidents like the deadly arson attack on the Duma family home all helped nourish the already-existing hate. A growing number of incidents in which settlers attack Palestinians in Area B of the West Bank could also prove explosive.


This is a new phase of an old conflict in which the spilling of blood and symbols of al-Aksa generate more attacks every day. Yet, away from east Jerusalem, in the West Bank, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are continuing to keep a reasonable level of control over organized terrorism. The IDF maintains more soldiers in Judea and Samaria than all the forces under the Northern and Southern commands put together. It is these security personnel who risk their lives every night to make arrests based on accurate Shin Bet intelligence and stop organized terrorist cells from maturing into imminent threats.


Now, however, the fire is focused in east Jerusalem, and the IDF must adjust its operational and intelligence capabilities to deal with the new threat. A number of key restraining factors still remain in place. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are wary of an open conflict with Israel in Gaza, and are not firing rockets into Israel (though Islamic State-affiliated terrorists are, on occasion). Fatah is restraining its Tanzim militiamen in the West Bank from engaging the IDF in gun battles.


And the PA, despite its public rhetoric, continues to coordinate security with the IDF, which is a key Israeli interest (as well as serving the PA). PA forces are instrumental in holding back large Palestinian riots. The livelihoods of some 100,000 Palestinians continue to rely on Israel, a fact that prevents workers from swelling the ranks of the rioters. Given all of these factors, the IDF has not begun calling up its reserves. If this changes, it will mean the current efforts to contain and reduce the terrorist attacks have failed.      





PROACTIVE REDEMPTION IN RESPONDING TO PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE                                              

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

BESA, Oct. 11, 2015


The ongoing discourse among Israeli cabinet members and, to a large extent among settler leaders, has been largely over how to provide security to Israelis. While this is obviously a valid objective, it has nevertheless locked Israel into a defensive posture.


Israel's defense doctrine, devised by Israel's first prime minster, David Ben-Gurion, seeks to transfer the battlefield into enemy territory, in part because Israel's narrow borders makes defensive maneuvering difficult. But the main reason why Ben-Gurion favored this approach was his belief that to win a war, even a defensive war, Israel had to seize the initiative. In other words: Israel must be proactive, rather than, reactive.


It is not enough to arrest those who killed Israelis after they perpetrated their crime. When you call such crimes terrorism, it blurs the need to figure out what the terrorists tried to achieve. Even if it is hard to pinpoint exactly who the masterminds are, the attacks create a trend that undermines Israel's strategic and vital interests and its very sovereignty in its capital.


Under the government's defensive strategy, the Israel Defense Forces is tasked with providing security. The government expects the IDF to take a series to steps to respond to the situation, with the expectation that the overall operational effect would lead to the ebbing of violence. But reality is more complex. When the Palestinians create a reality in which certain areas are essentially off bounds for Jews – as has been the case in the current reality we live in – they consider it an accomplishment.


Helping a derailed train get back on track is a technical solution that restores order. The job is done when the train resumes normal operation. But when it comes to the complex relations between human beings, even when calm is restored, a new reality is created. In this part of the world, to reshape reality according to one's preference, a proactive and strategic initiative is necessary. It is incumbent upon us to subscribe to a new modus operandi to effect the desired change by departing from the reactive pattern of behavior.


But what kind of proactive action would serve Israel in the current state of affairs? This question puts Israel (in) a critical crossroad that could define the very essence of our presence on this land: Do we want Israel to be a homeland where Jerusalem serves as the linchpin of statehood, with all the religious and national implications; or do we simply want a country that serves as a safe haven for persecuted Jews and is recognized by the international community?


At the height of the War of Independence, in 1948, Ben-Gurion explained why he set the capture of Jerusalem as a primary objective in the war. Speaking before the Zionist General Council, he said, "I don't need to tell you what value Jerusalem has had in the history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel and world. … If a land has a soul, then Jerusalem is the soul of the land of Israel, and the battle for Jerusalem is paramount, not just in a military sense. … We are duty bound to stand by Jerusalem, and it deserves it. The pledge we took on the rivers of Babylon is binding now as it was binding then, otherwise we would no longer be able to call ourselves the people of Israel."


Indeed, that pledge is recited by every Jewish groom: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." Jerusalem is a point in the universe that encapsulates the Jews' religion, nationhood and polity. The Palestinians also consider it as their national focal point. That is why the city has fueled this current conflagration.


In light of this reality, the government should do more than just approve the security establishment's operational plans. Proactive measures are required that go beyond the authority of security authorities. At the strategic level, the situation calls for increased construction in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem. Such action will serve the national interest, not just a narrow sectarian interest. At this critical juncture, those who view this land and country as a stepping stone for redemption and as a national homeland will act differently than those who view Israel merely as a safe haven. We have to make fateful choices that will shape our future here, and our decision should be clear.                              





OBAMA’S MILITARY POLICY: DOWN-SIZE WHILE THREATS RISE                                                             

Michael O’Hanlon                                                                                                                 

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2015


The Obama administration’s official policy on U.S. military ground forces is that they should no longer be sized for possible “large-scale prolonged stability operations.” The policy was stated in the administration’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, and dutifully reasserted last year in the Pentagon’s signature planning document known as the Quadrennial Defense Review.


“Stabilization operations” can include the range of missions spanning counterinsurgency, state-building, large-scale counterterrorism, and large-scale relief activities conducted in anarchic conditions. Though constraints like sequestration have limited the money available for the U.S. military, the Obama policy calling for a smaller standing ground army reflects a deliberate strategy shift and not just a response to cost-cutting, since some other parts of the military are not being reduced.


It is understandable that in the aftermath of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama would want the military to avoid messy ground operations in the future and rely instead on drones, commandos and other specialized capabilities. But as a guide to long-term force planning, the order to end America’s ability to mount such large-scale missions is dangerous. It should be corrected by the next president before it does real harm to the nation’s military.


There are lots of reasons to worry about the effect of the edict. As a direct result of it, during the 2013 government shutdown standoff, Pentagon internal budget reviews contemplated an active-duty army of only 380,000 soldiers. That would have been less than half Reagan-era levels and almost 200,000 fewer than in the George W. Bush and early Obama years. Such a figure would also have been 100,000 fewer than in the Clinton years, when the world seemed somewhat safer than it does today.


Nonetheless, people such as former Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead have advocated an army of less than 300,000 full-time soldiers which, at least in terms of size, would barely leave it in the world’s top 10. The U.S. Army is already smaller than those of China, North Korea and India—even if one adds the Marine Corps’s 180,000 active-duty forces.


Such small-is-enough thinking echoes a romantic part of America’s past. For most of its first 150 years, the U.S. had a very modest standing army. Until the Civil War, the figure hovered around 15,000 soldiers, and after the war it declined to similar levels. At the turn of the 20th century, U.S. ground forces barely ranked in the top 20 in the world in size. After World War I they were cut back to a comparable standing, as America consciously sought to avoid the ways and mores of the European nation-states and their permanent militarization.


After World War II, the U.S. disbanded its armed forces so fast that five years later, in 1950, the nation that had recently wielded the greatest military machine in history was unable to fend off North Korean communists attacking the South. By Vietnam the U.S. had forgotten so much about the innate character of war that it wound up waging a counterinsurgency campaign that overemphasized tanks, artillery, B-52s and napalm.


After Vietnam, the national revulsion against messy ground war, combined with a fascination with precision-strike technology after Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91, persuaded us that traditional ground conflicts would not be repeated. As a result, the U.S. was caught off guard by the tactical requirements of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


With defense budgets declining, China rising, and high-tech frontiers beckoning, the temptation is again to put all of our strategic eggs in the baskets of cyber operations, high-tech air and sea operations, robotics, space technologies and special forces. All are important and should be pursued in certain ways. But history suggests they will not be enough.


To protect core national security interests, the U.S. must anticipate a range of possible large-scale ground operations. Some—like scenarios involving Russia’s President Putin and aggression against the Baltic states, or conflict between the Koreas—have more the character of classic preparation for war. Others range from stabilization and relief missions after a massive tragedy or Indo-Pakistani war in South Asia, to a peace enforcement mission after a future peace deal in Syria, to a complex counterinsurgency alongside an Ebola outbreak in a place like northern Nigeria.


In every case, deterrence would be better than having to fight. But deterrence may fail. Each crisis could directly threaten the U.S. and its security, and could require American forces as part of a multinational coalition. This suggests that while the Army may not need to grow significantly, it should not be cut further.


It is one thing for President Obama to try to avoid more Mideast quagmires on his watch. It is quite another to direct the Army not to be ready for the plausible range of missions that history, as well as ongoing trends in demographics and technology and global politics, counsels us to anticipate. In our future defense planning, we should remember the old Bolshevik saw: You may not have an interest in war, but war may have an interest in you.



On Topic


IDF Prepares for Possible Combined Attack from Iranian-Backed Syrian Forces: Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 3, 2015 — A senior source in the IDF told Israeli media outlets that the Mount Hermon Brigade, the IDF brigade which sits closest to the Syrian border, is preparing to counter combined terrorist attacks from Iranian-backed forces in Syria.

Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/52843/idf-prepares-for-possible-combined-attack-from-iranian-backed-syrian-forces-idf/#zQ4Vu4SlGS7PfAhk.99

US Military Intensifies Cooperation With Israel: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News,  Oct. 18, 2015—The US and Israel are marking a jam-packed week of military-to-military cooperation that cuts across all services and command echelons, from America’s top-ranked officer – USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford – to members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), who are winding up a five-month deployment with rest and relaxation here in this Red Sea resort town.

A Joint Israeli-Arab Attack on Iran?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Nov. 4, 2015 —Israel and Sunni-led Arab states are worried that Iran might produce nuclear weapon, i.e. "the Bomb".

What Coordination? Russia and Israeli Warplanes Play Cat and Mouse Over Syria: Debka, Nov. 2, 2015—Syrian media reported an Israeli air force attack Sunday, Nov. 1, after two sorties Friday night against Syrian army and Hizballah bases in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Lebanese border.


We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 




Islamic State Fighters are Moving Ever Closer Towards Israel: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2014— Islamic State has suffered severe losses as a result of coalition air strikes in the last months.

Desperate for Soldiers, Assad’s Government Imposes Harsh Recruitment Measures: Hugh Naylor, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 28, 2014 — The Syrian regime has intensified efforts to reverse substantial manpower losses to its military with large-scale mobilizations of reservists as well as sweeping arrest campaigns and new regulations to stop desertions and draft-dodging.

Hezbollah Appears to Acknowledge a Spy at the Top: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Jan. 5, 2015— The admission from Hezbollah’s deputy chief was startling.

As Hezbollah Grows, Corruption Takes Root: Nicholas Blanford, Daily Star, Jan. 3, 2014— The revelation that yet another spy working for Israel has been exposed inside the ranks of Hezbollah raises serious questions about the integrity of the organization at a time when it faces allegations of corruption and mismanagement.


On Topic Links


Hezbollah: Sunnis, Shiites Will Unite Against Israel in Next War: Roi Kais, Ynet, Jan. 4, 2015

Inside the War Against Islamic State: Joseph Rago, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014

The Child Soldiers Who Escaped Islamic State:  Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014

Research on the Islamic State: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, Dec. 16, 2015





Jonathan Spyer                                

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2014


Islamic State has suffered severe losses as a result of coalition air strikes in the last months. Over 1,000 of its fighters have been killed, and Kurdish peshmerga forces have driven the jihadists back on a wide front between the cities of Erbil and Mosul. The terror movement has also failed to conquer the symbolic town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) close to the Syrian-Turkish border (further south, Islamic State losses have been more modest and at least partially reversed). Yet despite these setbacks, there are no indications that Islamic State is anywhere close to collapse. And while American bombers and Kurdish fighters are preventing its advance further east, there are many indications the jihadists are continuing to advance their presence in a south and westerly direction – from the borders of their entity towards Damascus and Lebanon, and incidentally, in the direction of Israel.


A largely hidden contest is under way in Deraa province in southern Syria, between Islamic State and the rival jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra. Deraa, where the Syrian rebellion was born in March 2011, has been the site of major losses for the Assad regime over the last year. Nusra established itself as a major force in the area after its fighters were defeated by Islamic State further east. But now it appears that Islamic State is seeking to establish a foothold in this area, too. In recent weeks, reports have emerged that three rebel militias in Deraa have pledged bay’ah (allegiance) to Islamic State. The largest of these is the Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade; the others are Saraya al-Jihad and Tawheed al-Junub. While the Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade has since denied pledging formal allegiance to Islamic State, the reports have Nusra and the Western- supported rebel groups in the south nervous. They are acutely aware that in locales further east, such as al-Bukamal on the Syria-Iraq border, in the course of 2014 Islamic State came in not through conquest, but by recruiting the non-Islamic State groups that held the area to its flag. Nusra now fears that Islamic State wishes to repeat this process further south.


This fear is compounded by the appearance of Islamic State-linked fighters in the Damascus area in recent weeks. In the town of Bir al-Qasab, fighters affiliated with the terror movement have been battling other rebels since early December; Islamic State has engaged in resupplying these fighters from its own territory further east. Nusra and other rebel groups have begun to speculate about the possibility of a push by the jihadists either toward Deraa or Eastern Goutha, adjoining Damascus. Finally, further west, in the Qalamoun Mountains, Islamic State and Nusra fighters have clashed in recent weeks. Reports have surfaced that Islamic State has begun to demand that other rebel groups in the area, including Nusra, pledge bay’ah to it.


This is despite the notable fact that the Qalamoun area had been the scene in recent months of rare cooperation between Islamic State and Nusra, out of shared interest in extending the conflict into Lebanon. The events there come amid Lebanese media speculation as to the possibility of an imminent Islamic State push from Qalamoun toward the Sunni town of Arsal across the border (or even, in some versions, toward the Shi’ite towns of Baalbek and Hermel). Such an offensive would form part of the larger campaign against the regime and Hezbollah in this area.


So, what does this all amount to? First, it should be noted that Nusra’s presence in Quneitra Province, immediately adjoining the Golan Heights, is the point at which Syrian jihadists currently come closest to Israel. And while Nusra has not yet been the subject of hostile Western attention, it is no less anti-Western and anti-Jewish than its Islamic State rivals. The fact that it cooperates fully with groups supported by the Military Operations Command in Amman should in itself be a matter of concern for the West. But Nusra, unlike Islamic State, appears genuinely committed to the fight against Syria’s Assad regime. And at times, at least, it is prepared to set aside its own ambitions to pursue this general goal. This means, from Israel’s point of view, that while its presence close to the border is a matter of long-term concern, in the immediate future the al-Qaida franchise’s attentions are largely turned elsewhere. Such calculations could not be safely made regarding Islamic State, which by contrast works only for its own benefit.


Its sudden push into Iraq in June and then August show the extent to which it is able to abruptly change direction, catching its opponents by surprise. The record of Islamic State against other rebel groups thus far has been one of near uninterrupted success. Conversely, it is now being halted in its eastern advances by the US and its allies. But neither the US Air Force nor the Kurdish ground fighters are present further south and west, so there is a clear strategic logic to the current direction of Islamic State activity. As Islamic State loses ground further east, it seeks to recoup its losses elsewhere; this trend is bringing jihadists closer, toward the borders of both Israel and Jordan. It may be presumed this fact is not lost on Israeli defense planners – hence the reports of increased activity by Military Intelligence collection units and reinforcement of the military presence on the Golan Heights. The single war now raging in Syria, Iraq and increasingly Lebanon, is moving closer – toward Israel.






ASSAD’S GOVERNMENT IMPOSES HARSH RECRUITMENT MEASURES                                                                    

Hugh Naylor                                                                                                           

Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2014


The Syrian regime has intensified efforts to reverse substantial manpower losses to its military with large-scale mobilizations of reservists as well as sweeping arrest campaigns and new regulations to stop desertions and draft-dodging. The measures have been imposed in recent months because of soaring casualties among forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, as well as apparent increases in desertions and evasions of compulsory military service, analysts say. Some speculate that the moves also could be part of stepped-up military efforts to win more ground from rebels in anticipation of possible peace talks, which Russia has attempted to restart to end nearly four years of conflict.


But the regime’s measures have added to already simmering anger among its support base over battlefield deaths during the conflict. The anger may be triggering a backlash that in turn could undermine Assad’s war aims, Syrians and analysts say. “These things have obviously angered core constituents, and they show just how desperate the regime is to come up with warm bodies to fill the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army,” said Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow and Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In October, the regime stepped up activations of reserve forces. Tens of thousands of reservists have been called up, and soldiers and militiamen have erected scores of checkpoints and increased raids on cafes and homes to apprehend those reservists who refuse to comply. Similar measures increasingly target those who avoid regular military service, a compulsory 18-month period for all men who are 18 and older. In recent weeks, the regime also began upping threats to dismiss and fine state employees who fail to fulfill military obligations, according to Syrian news Web sites and activists. In addition, they say, new restrictions imposed this fall have made it all but impossible for men in their 20s to leave the country.


Since the start of the uprising in 2011, Syrian authorities have used arrests and intimidation to halt desertions, defections and evasion of military service — but not to the extent seen recently, Syrians and analysts say. Men who are dragooned into the army appear to be deserting in larger numbers, they say, and the government’s crackdown is driving many of these men as well as more of the large number of draft-evaders to go into hiding or flee abroad. “I can’t go back. All these things would make it certain that I’d be forced into the military,” said Mustafa, 25, a Syrian from Damascus who fled to Lebanon in September because of the new measures. Citing safety concerns, he asked that only his first name be used. Joseph, a 34-year-old Christian from Damascus, learned two weeks ago that his name was on a list of thousands of people who would soon be activated for reserve duty. Having completed his compulsory military service in 2009, he wants to flee Syria. “Of course I don’t want to return to the military,” Joseph said by telephone from the capital. He also requested that only his first name be used.


A report issued this month by the Institute for the Study of War says the number of soldiers in the Syrian military has fallen by more than half since the start of the conflict, from roughly 325,000 to 150,000, because of casualties, defections and desertions. Combat fatalities alone have surpassed 44,000, according to the report, which used data from Syrian activists, monitoring groups and media reports. Christopher Kozak, a Syria analyst at the institute who wrote the report, said in an e-mail that reservist mobilizations and efforts to stop desertions appear to be partly related to the departure in recent months of pro-regime militiamen. Scores of these largely Shiite fighters, who come from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, left for Iraq in the summer to counter an offensive by the Islamic State, the extremist Sunni group. Iranian fighters in particular have been crucial in helping the Syrian regime restructure its forces. One such effort was the founding of the National Defense Force, a militia composed of paid volunteers. The foreign fighters helped the Assad regime win back strategic territory from rebels. Kozak wrote that these supplemental militias “are no longer sufficient to meet the regime’s projected needs — spurring the regime to reinvigorate its conscription efforts” in the military.


Imad Salamey, a politics professor at the Lebanese American University, said that efforts to boost numbers in the military are partly driven by concern that Assad’s allies, Iran and Russia, appear increasingly interested in a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war. In recent weeks, Russia, with Iranian backing, has engaged in diplomatic efforts to restart the Geneva peace talks that collapsed in February. “There is rising urgency in these countries for a settlement to the conflict and the regime senses this, so it’s trying to win as much ground as possible to strengthen its negotiating position,” he said. Yezid Sayigh, a Syria expert and senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said economic crises in Iran and Russia because of falling oil prices could affect their support for the Assad regime, which until now has prevented its collapse. “The question for me really is whether Iran and Russia are going to push the regime harder to engage in diplomatic efforts,” he said. He added that a worsening problem for the regime is anger among its supporters over mounting casualties. Rare protests over the issue have been held by the minority Alawite population, which is the backbone of the Assad regime’s forces…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







HEZBOLLAH APPEARS TO ACKNOWLEDGE A SPY AT THE TOP                                                                 

Anne Barnard                                                                                                              

New York Times, Jan. 5, 2014


The admission from Hezbollah’s deputy chief was startling. The group, he said over the weekend, is “battling espionage within its ranks” and has uncovered “some major infiltrations.” To analysts and even some Hezbollah loyalists, the remarks were immediately taken as confirmation of long-swirling reports that a senior operative had been caught spying for Israel, disrupting a series of assassination plots abroad. The accounts in the Lebanese and Arab news media, relying on unnamed sources, identify the mole as Mohammad Shawraba, the man charged with exacting revenge for Israel’s assassination of a top operative, Imad Mughniyeh, in 2008. They say Mr. Shawraba fed information to Israel that foiled five planned retaliation attempts.


The Hezbollah official, Naim Qassem, who is often called upon to handle difficult issues, made no mention of the specific allegations. In his remarks on Al-Nour, a Hezbollah-affiliated radio station, he added that Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful militant organization and political party, was able to contain any damage from espionage. This is not the first time that Hezbollah has admitted to spies within its ranks. But this breach, if confirmed, comes at a time when the party has grown from a tight, exclusive cell focused on fighting Israel to a much larger operation that has significantly expanded its mission, sending thousands of its Shiite fighters to Syria to prevent the overthrow of its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, by Sunni insurgents. That, in turn, has angered Lebanese Sunnis, who call Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria an abuse of the national consensus that supports the group’s keeping an independent militia only for fighting Israel, known here as resistance.


Another complication of the Syria operation, with its heavy demands on logistics and manpower, is that it could have disrupted top officials’ focus on deterring Israeli espionage, said Randa Slim, a Lebanese analyst of Hezbollah affiliated with the Middle East Institute in Washington. The supposed breach, she added, is a blow that “goes right straight to their resistance brand.” Mr. Qassem’s reference to infiltration was “the first indirect confirmation, the first attempt by the party at controlling the narrative,” Ms. Slim said. “The spin is that we are like any other organization, we have our problems, and as Hezbollah grows, as it becomes influential, there will be more and more attempts at infiltration, but things are under control.” A Hezbollah spokesman said Sunday night that the party would have no comment on the spying allegations. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is set to deliver one of his frequent speeches on Friday. Mr. Qassem said that while Hezbollah aimed for “purity,” it was made up of human beings who can make mistakes. Analysts said the timing of his remarks, and his frequent role in reassuring constituents, appeared to lend some credence to the reports. Several Hezbollah loyalists spoke of the breach as an established fact after hearing the remarks.

Israeli officials, who rarely speak publicly on espionage matters, did not respond to a request for comment. Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser, also refused to comment beyond saying that he was familiar with Mr. Shawraba and joking that his family should not expect him to come home soon. But the emergence of reports about the supposed mole, and Mr. Qassem’s seeming confirmation, suggest that Hezbollah has been working assiduously to launch attacks in response to Mr. Mughniyeh’s death — and that the absence of a major strike on Israel since then is not for lack of trying, as Ms. Slim put it, “but because the guy in charge of these plots is a spy.” They could also serve as a warning to Israel that Hezbollah has purged its ranks and is ready to resume efforts to avenge Mr. Mughniyeh’s death. These are likely to be aimed at high-level targets that Hezbollah would consider proportional in importance to Mr. Mughniyeh, Ms. Slim said, and if successful could lead to a new war between Hezbollah and Israel, ending the wary cease-fire that has persisted since 2006.


A Hezbollah fighter and party member in the Bekaa Valley town of Baalbek said the infiltration “won’t affect the whole party” but would have a strong effect on the areas in which Mr. Shawraba worked. Those were described in various accounts as heading Hezbollah’s activities outside Lebanon and running the security detail for Mr. Nasrallah. “The party now has to change everything about his post,” the fighter said. “It’s very normal to catch collaborators.” Talal al-Atrissi, a Lebanese analyst close to Hezbollah, called the breach “a loss but not a substantial loss” for the party. “The party works in tiny circles, not big circles,” he said. “Even party members don’t know each other.” Still, Lebanese and Arab news reports have given details of what they say are numerous consequences of the infiltration, as well as how Mr. Shawraba, said to be 42 and from the southern Lebanon town of Nabatiya, was caught. Mr. Shawraba was captured a month ago after a seven-month investigation and is now being tried, along with four accomplices, in a Hezbollah court, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper. Some reports implicated him in the death of Mr. Mughniyeh himself, and others said he leaked information to Israel that led to the assassination of Hassan al-Laqees, another senior commander who was gunned down in Beirut in 2013. The Daily Star said Hezbollah began to suspect a mole when Bulgarian authorities fingered two Hezbollah operatives in a bombing that killed Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian tourist town of Burgas in 2012. The newspaper said their identities were passed to the Bulgarians by Israel, which learned them from Mr. Shawraba.


A Jerusalem-based newspaper, Al Manar, said Hezbollah narrowed down the tasks of Mr. Shawraba’s unit and revealed him by feeding him false information as a test. It said Mr. Shawraba told his handlers of weapons shipments for Hezbollah at a location in Damascus; Israeli warplanes soon bombed the location. Israel has struck several targets in Syria during the war there, aiming at Hezbollah arms. Hezbollah has previously acknowledged several spies, including two who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, and a trusted car dealer who fitted Hezbollah vehicles with GPS trackers used by the Israelis. In 2011, one of the original members of Hezbollah, Mohammad Slim, known as Abu Abed, defected to Israel, which lifted him over the border with a piece of construction equipment, The Daily Star reported. Hezbollah later denied that he had been a party member.                                                             





AS HEZBOLLAH GROWS, CORRUPTION TAKES ROOT                                                                         

Nicholas Blanford                                                                                     

Daily Star, Jan. 3, 2015


The revelation that yet another spy working for Israel has been exposed inside the ranks of Hezbollah raises serious questions about the integrity of the organization at a time when it faces allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Hezbollah once had an enviable reputation for financial probity in a country where sleaze and nepotism is endemic. Yet Hezbollah’s enormous expansion in manpower, military assets and cash generation since 2006 has perhaps inevitably led to a weakening of the party’s internal control mechanisms, making it susceptible to the lure of corruption and penetration by Israeli intelligence agencies. In the years ahead, the phenomenon of corruption will pose an even graver threat to Hezbollah than Israel’s military might.


The alleged arrest of Mohammad Shawraba, variously described as a former top official in Hezbollah’s external operations unit and Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s personal security chief, is said to have been the most serious infiltration yet of the party by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Shawraba reportedly offered Israel information that allowed it to thwart a number of attacks that were intended to serve as revenge of the 2008 assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s former military commander. If the allegations are confirmed – and Hezbollah has not yet denied the reports – Shawraba would be only the latest of several Hezbollah members or Shiite figures trusted by the party to have been caught spying for Israel in the past eight years. Others include Mohammad “Abu Abed” Slim, one of the original members of Hezbollah who reportedly served in the party’s counter-intelligence apparatus and was financial chief for external operations. He defected to Israel in 2011, apparently by jumping on board the bucket of an Israeli poclain excavator which lifted him over the border fence near Rmeish. Hezbollah subsequently said Slim had never been a member of the party.


In 2009, Hezbollah arrested Marwan Faqih, a car dealer from Nabatiyah who was sufficiently well trusted by the party to supply the cadres with vehicles. Hezbollah discovered that Faqih’s cars were fitted with GPS transmitting devices that tracked the movements of the vehicles. The recorded GPS tracks presumably allowed the Israelis to build up a map of secret Hezbollah facilities across Lebanon. Then in 2012, Hussein Fahs, reportedly a top financial officer and head of Hezbollah’s communications network, was said to have fled to Israel, taking with him $5 million along with sensitive maps and documents, after Hezbollah discovered that he was involved in a massive fraud operation involving the party’s fiber-optic communications network. Fahs was an embezzler rather than an Israeli spy prior to his departure for Israel, although the distinction would have made little difference to Hezbollah, which had to assess and contain the damage caused by his defection.


Twenty years ago, however, allegations of corruption and Israel’s recruiting of Hezbollah officials were unheard of. That may in part be explained by the fact that it is only in the past decade or so that Hezbollah has fielded an effective counter-intelligence unit to track down spies within its ranks. But then again, Hezbollah was a much smaller organization in the 1990s with tighter discipline and internal controls and a deeper sense of personal security among the cadres. At the time, Hezbollah was focused on confronting Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon which won it a swath of admirers across the sectarian divide. Politically, Hezbollah had an effective parliamentary presence and was steadily building up its support base and challenging the Amal Movement’s then leadership of the Shiite community. Israel had few covert successes against Hezbollah in the 1990s due to the air-tight security in which the party operated. It assassinated then Hezbollah chief Sayyed Abbas Mussawi in 1992, although that operation backfired as Israel lost an embassy in Buenos Aires a month later and Mussawi was replaced by the even more effective Nasrallah. Israel was able to recruit some non-Shiite Lebanese agents in the 1990s.


Perhaps the most damaging for Hezbollah was Mahmoud Rafeh, a retired policeman from Hasbaya who, following his arrest in 2006, admitted responsibility for the 1999 road-side bomb assassination of Ali “Abu Hasan” Deeb, the head of Hezbollah’s special operations unit in south Lebanon, and the 2006 car bomb killing of Nidal and Mahmoud Majzoub, two top Islamic Jihad commanders. Since the 2006 war, Hezbollah has grown immensely in political and martial power and its army of fighters is perhaps five times larger than before 2006, representing a genuine challenge for Israel in any future war. Yet, paradoxically, its rapid expansion has also made it more vulnerable internally. In some respects, Hezbollah has become a victim of its own success, turning from the relatively small streamlined resistance group of two decades ago into a sprawling bureaucracy with looser internal controls which is dissolving its previously impermeable wall of security. Even within Shiite circles, among Hezbollah’s general support base, there is talk of how the party has lost its aura of integrity compared to before 2006…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic


Hezbollah: Sunnis, Shiites Will Unite Against Israel in Next War: Roi Kais, Ynet, Jan. 4, 2015—A top official from the terror group Hezbollah claims that despite deep internal divisions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, thousands of Sunnis will join the radical Shiite terror group in its next fight against Israel, Lebanon's Daily Star reported.

Inside the War Against Islamic State: Joseph Rago, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014—Some six months ago, the Islamic State terrorist army poured south from Syria through Iraq’s Tigris and Euphrates valleys, conquering multiple cities including Mosul and the border city of al Qaim. Iraqi army regulars disintegrated, the offensive carved out a rump state controlling somewhere between a quarter and one-third of Iraq’s sovereign territory, and mass executions, repression and videotaped beheadings followed.

The Child Soldiers Who Escaped Islamic StateMaria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014—Jomah, a 17-year-old Syrian who joined Islamic State last year, sat in a circle of trainees for a lesson in beheading, a course taught to boys as young as 8.

Research on the Islamic State: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Middle East Forum, Dec. 16, 2015


























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A Crystal Ball on 2015: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Jan. 2, 2015— One year ago, I forecast — accurately — that in 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama would continue to fudge the nuclear issue with Iran.

Battlelines Emerge in Israel’s Election Campaign: Jonathan Spyer, Gloria Center, Dec. 27— With the date of the elections set for March 17th, the campaigning season has begun in Israel.

Gadi Eisenkot’s Challenges and Opportunities: Dr. Eitan Shamir, Besa, Dec. 8, 2014 — Major General Gadi Eisenkot, 54, will become the Chief-of-Staff (COS) of the IDF in the spring.

Israel’s Gas Offers Lifeline for Peace: Stanley Reed & Clifford Krauss, New York Times, Dec. 14, 2014— Alarms rang out across the Tamar natural gas platform off the coast of Israel.


On Topic Links


Mounting Election Turmoil: Isi leibler, Candidly Speaking, Dec. 30, 2014

Could Obama Swing the Israeli Election?: Steven J. Rosen, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 3, 2015

2015 IDF Military Intelligence ‘Crystal Ball’ Report:  Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Dec. 28, 2014

Natural Gas Strengthens Israel, But It Won’t End Conflict: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Dec. 14, 2015

Israel's Gas Dream – The End Is Nigh: Gal Luft, Middle East Forum, Dec. 23, 2014



A CRYSTAL BALL ON 2015                                                                                                         

David M. Weinberg                                   

Israel Hayom, Jan. 2, 2015


One year ago, I forecast — accurately — that in 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama would continue to fudge the nuclear issue with Iran. I also foresaw that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would agree to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's formula for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, but that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would cut and run from the negotiations at the last moment. Easy predictions. But I was wrong in expecting to see the hero of the social protest movement Professor Manuel Trajtenberg join Moshe Kahlon's new political party. Instead, he recently joined the ranks of Labor. I was also wrong in hoping and praying to see Natan Sharansky named the president of Israel, instead of Reuven Rivlin.


Looking into my crystal ball for the year ahead, this is what I see: The March Knesset elections: The vote will yield five main blocs of more or less equal size — Likud, Labor, Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-Orthodox parties, and some kind of Kahlon-Yair Lapid-Avigdor Lieberman league — making for convoluted and unstable coalition politics. The only way to overcome this and craft a workable government will be to establish a Likud-Labor national unity government. As usual, Netanyahu will tack to the Right for the duration of the election season and then revert back toward the center after the vote.


American decline: In the final two years of his presidency, Obama will be freer than ever to pursue his true ideological convictions in the areas of foreign and security policy, and free to cement a complete reorientation of U.S. policy in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. After all, over the past year, he has granted Russian President Vladimir Putin gargantuan international victories, given Syrian President Bashar Assad a new lease on life, re-legitimized Iran and re-energized the morally bankrupt United Nations, all while playing Hamlet about his own authority to strike Syria or defend Israel. He has made only a ridiculously miniscule effort to confront Islamic State. Obama very clearly believes that the humbling of America will bring healing to the world; that he will be leaving the world a better place by cutting America down to size, and allowing other "legitimate" actors, such as Iran, to assert their rights.


Iran: One result of this weltanschauung is that Obama will soon cut whatever deals are necessary to postpone Tehran's bomb production for a few years — two to be exact, just long enough for Obama to depart the White House without having to confront the Iranians. This suits Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani just fine. They continue getting sanctions relief while running out the clock on the West, all the while advancing their nuclear weapons research and missile production and maintaining full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities. Obama administration officials are already downplaying Iran's destabilizing role in the Middle East (including its support of Hamas and Hezbollah) and saying that U.S.-Iranian relations have moved into "an effective state of detente." Without clear evidence of an Iranian "breakout" blitz, Israel is left with few options. Striking at Iran is not an option under these circumstances. You might say that Obama has bested Netanyahu on this issue.


The United Nations: Obama will continue to feign dismay at Israel's increasing isolation in international forums like the U.N. Security Council, while in practice paving the way toward a global distancing from Israel. Alas, Obama will find himself "unable to manage" the many assaults on Israel or to mount a sufficient defense of Israel, as he has warned. The Palestinian Authority lost a vote this week, but the day is coming when Washington will sandbag Israel with a Security Council resolution demanding a timetable for Israeli withdrawals to specific borders and endorsing punitive measures unless Israel complies. I don't think this is far-fetched at all. Obama is once again misplaying his hand with the Israeli public. Israelis will overwhelmingly back Netanyahu's opposition to rapid establishment of a Palestinian state in the current jihadist regional climate, and they will push back against Obama's attempts to halt the development of Jerusalem and divide the city.


Abbas: The threats of this aging and ill Palestinian leader to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and end security coordination with Israel should be dismissed. He won't do it. The Palestinian Authority has no alternative other than being eaten alive by Hamas. To failed negotiators John Kerry and Tzipi Livni I say: The status quo in the West Bank is indeed "sustainable" for a while longer. It is certainly preferable to almost all the other near-term alternatives, for both Israelis and Palestinians. In any case, Abbas is washed up as a peace partner, certainly since his establishment of a "unity" government with Hamas, the launching of his campaign of lies and incitement regarding the Temple Mount, and his lauding of terrorists who attacked Israelis in Jerusalem. Everybody in Israel remembers Abbas' monstrous speech at the U.N. in September accusing Israel of "genocide" in Gaza, and swearing "never" to recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and "never" to renounce the so-called "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. If Abbas persists in his helter-skelter, burn-all-bridges appeals to world forums against Israel, he will soon find himself on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.


And now for some dreams: In 2015, America will move its embassy to Jerusalem. One hundred thousand American Jews will immigrate to Israel. The Saudis will recognize Israel. The Palestinian Authority will renounce the "right of return" (but be criticized by J Street for doing so). Massive building across Israel (including Judea and Samaria) will bring housing prices down by 50 percent. The ultra-Orthodox will enlist en masse in the Israel Defense Forces. Livni will admit failure and retire from public life, instead of jumping to her fifth political party. Zehava Gal-On will start observing Shabbat and eating kosher. Amen.





BATTLELINES EMERGE IN ISRAEL’S ELECTION CAMPAIGN                                                             

Jonathan Spyer                                                                                                    

Gloria Center, Dec. 27, 2014


With the date of the elections set for March 17th, the campaigning season has begun in Israel. There was little public enthusiasm for the new polls. It is only 20 months since the last time Israelis turned out to vote. The 2015 contest will be the fifth general election in Israel since 2003. This means the average life expectancy of an Israeli government is less than two and a half years. It isn’t a recipe for political stability, or for the pursuing by governments of clear and consistent policy objectives. The too-frequent polls are the product of the Israeli electoral system, which produces the need for complex and inevitably fragile governing coalitions. Still, the present campaign is shaping up to be an interesting one. For the first time since the collapse of the “peace process” into war in 2000, Israel’s center and left parties scent the chance of victory.


The optimism of the left derives from a shrewd move by Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog. Previously regarded as the latest in a long line of no-hopers at the Labor helm, Herzog has united his Labor Party list with that of Tzipi Livni’s “Hatnua” party. Livni drove a hard bargain. If the united list forms the next government, the prime ministership will be shared — two years for Herzog, two for Livni. Current opinion polls have this list neck and neck with Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling center-right Likud. A poll taken by the respected Geocartographia Institute on Sunday had the Likud on 27 seats, with Labor-Hatnua on 25. The right-of-Likud Jewish Home list was third with 11 seats. Previous polls had put Likud and Labor-Hatnua each on 21 seats, with Jewish Home close behind.


The lines of debate are also emerging as the campaign gets into gear. All the signs are that this election will be fought largely over national and diplomatic issues, rather than bread-and-butter social questions. Despite the urgency and importance of many social questions in Israel, this is natural and appropriate. Because the ground around Israel is burning. A sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Arabs is raging in the large land area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Iraq-Iran border. To Israel’s south, an Islamic State-affiliated movement (Ansar Beit al-Maqdis) is engaged in an insurgency against the government of Egypt. The Islamist Hamas movement remains firmly in control of Gaza, from where rockets continue to be launched against Israel. The Islamic State has begun to make its ominous appearance in Gaza too. Meanwhile, the government of Israel’s main ally appears to be oblivious to the danger posed by the onward nuclear march of Iran.


On the diplomatic front, the Ramallah Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas abandoned negotiations in April, and is now embarked on a path of seeking to build a campaign of international pressure on Israel, in order to force it into a retreat on the West Bank and in Jerusalem, in return for nothing. The resolution presented by Jordan to the UN Security Council on behalf of the PA exemplifies this stance. The PA’s campaign has been encouraged from the growing hostility to Israel in some western European countries, particularly emerging from the growing political strength of Muslim communities in those countries and in turn from the sympathy for political Islam among those communities. It is possible that societal exhaustion and strong native traditions of anti-Semitism are also playing a role in this emergent stance. In the face of all this, the center left in Israel needs to explain why it is the government of Israel which is the cause of the country’s difficulties. It needs to outline why its own more accommodating approach is more in tune with the underlying realities.


The form that this will take is already becoming clear. The center left will argue that Israel’s problems are to a great extent of its own making, and that if there is a danger of extremism it is to be found largely among Israeli Jews, rather than among their neighbors. Thus, in her most memorable statement so far, Livni recently told reporters that “(Israeli) extremists…are turning our country into an isolated, boxed-in country, and an alienating one — even for its own citizens.” She later claimed that she was responsible for the U.S. decision to delay the vote on the Palestinian state resolution at the UNSC. According to a diplomatic source quoted by Foreign Policy magazine, Kerry himself has confirmed this. Beyond all the inevitable posturing at election time, there is a kernel of dead seriousness here. The belief underlying the Israeli center-left’s campaign is evidently that if Israel is “boxed in” it is because of its own “extremists” and that the solution to this is greater accommodation to the U.S. administration. The U.S. administration, however, has opposed or prevaricated over the key measures that Israel has found necessary to take against the threats gathering around it.


Thus, Israel has been infuriated by the administration’s decisions to leak information on Israeli targeting of regime and Hizballah positions in Syria — moves Israel found necessary to prevent the arrival of game-changing weaponry to the Shia Islamist group. Similarly, during Operation Protective Edge, Secretary Kerry sought to involve the Muslim Brotherhood bloc of Qatar and Turkey in efforts to mediate a ceasefire, and was critical of Israel’s tactics during the war. An Israeli government which believes that Israeli “isolation” is mainly Israel’s fault and which thinks that the solution to this is greater accommodation to the Obama administration is an Israeli government which will be less likely to act in Israel’s vital interests, at the right time and with sufficient determination. This, in turn, is likely to increase the threat to Israelis — see the 2000-2 period, when a reluctance to abandon the internationally sanctified illusions of the “peace process” led to a failure to act against the Palestinian terror campaign in a determined fashion. But if this is indeed to be the thrust of the center-left’s campaign in the elections, success is likely to continue to elude it.

Israelis are deeply aware both of the threats that surround them, and of the cold attitude of the current U.S. administration toward their country. A campaign which seeks to blur or obscure these or to claim that they are largely of Israel’s own making is likely to win its proponents a further term in the opposition.





GADI EISENKOT’S CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES                                                                     

Dr. Eitan Shamir                                                                                                         

Besa, Dec. 8, 2014


Major General Gadi Eisenkot, 54, will become the Chief-of-Staff (COS) of the IDF in the spring. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved his nomination upon the recommendation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon as well as former IDF generals. Born in Israel, Eisenkat was drafted into the IDF in 1978. He joined the Golani Brigade where he served in a variety of roles. During the 1982 Lebanon War he served as an officer and shortly afterwards, he became the commander of Golani’s Battalion 13. After commanding an infantry reserve brigade and regional brigade in the mid 1990s, he returned to Golani as its commander in 1997.


In 1999 Eisenkot was appointed Military Secretary to then-Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Since then he has commanded the 366th Division and the West Bank Division. He was promoted to head of the Operations Directorate in June 2005. Following criticism over the conduct of Major General Udi Adam in the 2006 Lebanon War, Eisenkot was asked to replace him as General Commanding Officer (GOC) of the Northern Command. On January 2013, following a short leave, he returned as Deputy Chief of General Staff, second only to outgoing COS Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. When he was appointed by then-COS Moshe Ya’alon as chief of the Judea and Samaria Division, an important position at the time of the Second Intifada, Eizenkot was one of the leaders of the “mowing the grass” approach to defeat Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank. This led to a halt in suicide attacks and to near-total calm at the end of the uprising in 2005 andfollowing the Second Lebanon War, he was sent to rehabilitate the Northern Command – a task he carried out successfully.


Eizenkot served as the head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate during the Second Lebanon War. He was among the very few who demanded that reserve forces be called up at the beginning of the war – to no avail. Despite that, he remained loyal to his commander and kept his criticism to discussions within the General Staff’s top brass. He also supported the destruction of Beirut’s Dahiya suburb and called for attacking Lebanese infrastructure as an act of deterrence. In fact he was one of the leading architects of the “Dahiya doctrine,” a military strategy advocating massive aerial strikes on all of the enemy’s assets in Lebanon in an attempt to halt the rocket and missile fire at Israel’s home front. Nevertheless, Eizenkot has emphasized the importance of ‘limited military objectives’ and has urged the IDF command not to launch risky operations that would endanger the troops. Eizenkot forced ‘limited objectives’ during Operation Protective Edge, and rejected the idea of expanding the operation into a full-scale invasion in order to overthrow Hamas. Eizenkot had a minor involvement in the embarrassing Harpaz document affair, but he was cleared of criminal involvement. While this matter could still delay his final appointment, the chances of that happening are low.


In all likelihood, the relative quiet that the IDF has benefited from in recent years will not last for long. Thus Eizenkot must capitalize on the support and legitimacy he enjoys to swiftly make necessary reforms in the IDF force structure. These reforms should transform and prepare the IDF to better confront its current challenges; fighting various non-state entities while at the same time continuing to develop its high-end capabilities for the less likely scenario of state-to-state conflict. There are those who raise doubts in Eisenkot’s ability to deeply reform the IDF in such a way. They point out his role in planning the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge and some of the reoccurring faults in these operations. The critics point to an IDF preference to reach decision through stand-off fire rather than aggressive ground maneuvering. In both operations, the ground phase was delayed and when it was finally executed, it was done so in unimaginative ways which unnecessarily extended the fighting.


Eisenkot is expected to create an offensive and creative military. This change will allow for short and decisive operations that will achieve long-term deterrence in the future conflicts with Hezbollah and Hamas and with additional likely enemies such as the Islamic State and Jahbat al-Nusra. To achieve this, Eisenkot will have to enhance the performance of IDF ground forces in executing quick and decisive maneuvers in dense urban centers saturated with booby traps, snipers and advanced anti-tank missiles. He will have to do this while also preparing the IDF for a possible popular uprising on the Palestinian front, as well as continuing to invest in the IDF’s long range strategic arm in order to deter and perhaps strike Iran. In addition, Eisenkot faces continued battles over budget cuts that might force him to do more with less – he will therefore have to examine how to achieve a better ‘tail for teeth’ ratio. However, Eisenkot is fortunate to have an excellent team beside him in a young and creative General Staff. Hopefully, Eisenkot’s style of leadership will engender trust and cooperation among the generals, and will encourage open debate and disagreement alongside mutual commitment.                    




ISRAEL’S GAS OFFERS LIFELINE FOR PEACE                                                                    

Stanley Reed & Clifford Krauss                                                                                    

New York Times, Dec. 14, 2014


Alarms rang out across the Tamar natural gas platform off the coast of Israel. The Israeli navy had detected smoky signs that a rocket might have been fired by Hamas from the shores of Gaza. As a voice over the loudspeaker warned to take cover, the crew raced up the metal stairs to a small gym that doubles as an air raid shelter. It turned out to be a false alarm. Natural gas is both a geopolitical tool and a target in Israel, where a newfound bonanza of resources has the potential to improve ties with energy-hungry Egypt, Jordan and even the Palestinian Authority. But the linchpin of this diplomatic push is not an Israeli official, a Middle Eastern king or an American ambassador. It is an oil company in Texas.


Noble Energy, the Houston-based company that runs the Tamar platform and is developing another field nearby, has struck a series of deals in recent months to sell gas from Israel to its neighbors, an export strategy encouraged by the Obama administration to help ease tensions in the region. Both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have signed preliminary agreements in recent months, while Noble is in talks to supply larger amounts of gas to Egypt. The corporate connection is crucial. As the main negotiator and broker, Noble is giving cover to leaders who could otherwise face political blowback for buying gas supplies in deals directly with the Israeli government. “What these deals demonstrate is that gas can be a tool for partnerships that are commercial with strong, positive geopolitical benefits,” said Carlos Pascual, a former international energy coordinator at the State Department.


Noble Energy, which has a taste for risky exploration in unlikely places like the Falkland Islands and Nicaragua, started exploring here in the late 1990s. The platform was built in Corpus Christi, Tex., and transported by boat to its present site. A slice of Gulf of Mexico oil culture came, too. The canteen serves fried shrimp and Dr Pepper. A handful of American industry veterans monitor the gas flows and train Israeli technicians. Noble, which completed the development of Tamar last year for $3.5 billion, says that it has found more than 800 billion cubic meters of gas off Israel. The finds would be enough to satisfy current Israeli demand for about a century, greatly easing the country’s need for imported fuels. Noble is acutely aware of its surroundings. Half of Israel’s electric power now comes from the natural gas that flows through Tamar, making the platform and an onshore processing plant a tempting focus for rockets from Hamas or more distant enemies. Security makes up about half the personnel on the Tamar platform. The platform “is a sitting duck,” said Amit Mor, an Israel energy consultant. While Israel’s gas consumption is growing fast, the domestic market is not large enough to fully tap Tamar’s potential, much less develop a much larger field called Leviathan. So Noble and its Israeli partners have focused on Egypt and Jordan as the nearest, cheapest-to-reach places to export. “As we learned more about the regional market and the need for gas of Israel’s neighbors, that became the more attractive approach,” said Binyamin A. Zomer, an Oklahoman who heads Noble’s operation here.


…While Jordan’s relations with Israel have been tense lately, the country has been a receptive customer because it badly needs gas for its growing energy needs. Since 2011, Jordan, like Israel, has had its gas supply disrupted, as militants in Sinai repeatedly attack a major gas pipeline from Egypt. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talked to King Abdullah of Jordan about Israeli gas in 2011. Amos J. Hochstein, a top energy diplomat at the State Department, approached Noble Energy in early 2012 about making a deal with the Jordanians, according to American officials with knowledge of the meeting. Formal negotiations, involving company executives as well as Israeli, Jordanian and American officials, began that year at the Royal Court in Amman. But the talks dragged on for two years with negotiators shuttling between hotels on Jordan’s Dead Sea coast and the Hilton Hotel at London’s Paddington Station. In a volatile region, King Abdullah risked drawing the fire of domestic critics if he bought fuel from Israel. United States officials tried to smooth the process. They provided funding to train Jordanians in gas regulation. The American ambassador to Jordan, Stuart E. Jones, invited negotiators to continue talks in the relaxed atmosphere of his Amman residence when talks got tense elsewhere. Noble helped break the impasse by striking a separate deal with two Jordanian mineral companies, Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine. The companies will buy about $500 million of gas over 15 years from Tamar…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy New Year!




On Topic


Mounting Election Turmoil: Isi leibler, Candidly Speaking, Dec. 30, 2014 —It is still several months until the elections and the current opinion polls, in all probability, will be far from an accurate reflection of how voters actually cast their ballots.

Could Obama Swing the Israeli Election?: Steven J. Rosen, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 3, 2015—This is the first time since 2009 that the Obama Administration may think it has a credible opportunity to replace Benjamin Netanyahu with an Israeli government prepared to make more concessions to the Palestinians.

2015 IDF Military Intelligence ‘Crystal Ball’ ReportHana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Dec. 28, 2014—The upcoming calendar year will be filled with changes in the Arab world and new challenges for Israel to face, according to the IDF annual ‘crystal ball’ report from military intelligence. None of that is news to anyone living in this region.

Natural Gas Strengthens Israel, But It Won’t End Conflict: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Dec. 14, 2015 —Give the New York Times credit. Though much of the rest of the journalistic world has long ago given in-depth coverage to the story of how Israel’s development of natural gas fields is in the process of making it an energy superpower, the so-called newspaper of record eventually got around to it.

Israel's Gas Dream – The End Is Nigh: Gal Luft, Middle East Forum, Dec. 23, 2014—In the five years since the discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields off the coast of Israel, the Israeli energy discourse has focused on questions like what to do with the gas, how much of it to export and to whom, and what the fairest distribution of profits would be among the gas partners, headed by Noble Energy and Delek Energy, and the Israeli public.


























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Amb. Alan Baker: The Latest Hamas-Israel Confrontation — Some Pertinent Legal Points

Much is being written and spoken about in the international media and by leaders in the international community regarding the recent violence between the Hamas terror entity in the Gaza Strip and Israel, especially given the graphic pictures displayed by the various media sources. But there are pertinent legal points that do not always figure in this barrage of selective, often inaccurate, and even malicious commentary and criticism.

The following points summarize some of the legal aspects of this situation:

The Inherent Character of Hamas as a Terrorist Entity


The professed ideological foundation of Hamas, as set out in its national charter1 , aligns it integrally with the Muslim Brotherhood and clearly identifies it as a terrorist entity. According to Hamas’ ideology, Israel has no place in the world and its declared goal is the destruction of the Jewish state: “Hamas strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” In addition, the organization promotes an anti-Semitic ideology that glorifies jihad and the killing of Jews.


Whether the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip is regarded as a component of the Palestinian Authority, following the recent April 2014 unification accord with the head of the PLO Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen),2 or as a “quasi-state,” a “non-state entity,” or even as a “state” (with borders and government), its character as a terrorist entity is well-established and universally recognized.


Such recognition includes formal and legal classification and outlawing of Hamas as a terror organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Japan.3


Its declared modus operandi advocates and espouses terror against Israel as the means to achieve its ends. It views every Israeli man, woman and child as a legitimate military target thereby justifying its terrorist attacks by missiles, suicide bombings, murder and abductions. It openly admits its strategy of terrorizing Israel’s civilian population through the use of rockets and missiles indiscriminately aimed at Israel’s towns and villages. Its leaders and spokesmen are on public record admitting their responsibility for such acts of terror. Thus the indiscriminate rocket fire is consistent with its ideology, which sees Israeli civilian casualties as strategic and tactical military successes. 4

Terrorism in International Law


International law and practice outlaw the use of terror, for whatever reason or justification. This is confirmed in a number of resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, especially following the 11 September 2001 attacks against the United States.5

In its resolution 1269 (1999)6   the Council, in the first operative paragraph of the resolution:


“Unequivocally condemns all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed, in particular those which could threaten international peace and security”.


More specifically, United Nations Security Council resolution 1566, dated October 2004, passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, states as follows:


“Condemns in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed, as one of the most serious threats to peace and security”. “….criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, which constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature.” 7


No less than 16 international conventions and protocols have been adopted between 1963 and the present day by the United Nations, criminalizing all aspects of international terror, including significant landmark resolutions of the UN General Assembly. Together they represent the clear consensus of opinion of the international community in outlawing all forms of terror.8


One such UN Convention, the 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings9 , determines:


“1. Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally delivers, places, discharges or detonates an explosive or other lethal device in, into or against a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system or an infrastructure facility:


(a) With the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury; or


(b) With the intent to cause extensive destruction of such a place, facility or system, where such destruction results in or is likely to result in major economic loss.”


Similarly, in this context the operative provisions of the unanimously supported 1994 “UN Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism” 10 are no less relevant:


“1. The States Members of the United Nations solemnly reaffirm their unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, including those which jeopardize the friendly relations among States and peoples and threaten the territorial integrity and security of States;


2. Acts, methods and practices of terrorism constitute a grave violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, which may pose a threat to international peace and security jeopardize friendly relations among States, hinder international cooperation and aim at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the democratic bases of society;


3. Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or another nature that may be invoked to justify them;”


In addition to the multinational instruments outlawing terror, there is an extensive series of regional counter-terror conventions, encompassing the African Union, OAS, ASEAN, CIS, SHARC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Council of Europe, EU Action Plan, Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference11 .

International Crimes and Criminal Responsibility by Hamas


The terrorist actions practiced by Hamas – both indiscriminate targeting of Israeli towns, villages and civilians, as well as the exposure of its own residents as human shields — are violations of international law and internationally accepted humanitarian norms, specifically, the violation of the rule of distinction, which requires combatants to limit attacks to legitimate military targets.12


As such these constitute both crimes against humanity and war crimes, prosecutable before the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as before municipal courts and tribunals that are guided by universal criminal jurisdiction.


Advocating a religious holy war aimed at creating a regional Islamic entity encompassing the whole of the territory of Israel, and the call to “liberate Palestine” and to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine”13 appear to contravene the provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.14


The 1998 Rome Statute that founded the International Criminal Court (ICC) declares that the court is intended to deal with “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.” Specifically, it gives the court jurisdiction regarding the above-mentioned crimes, and in the absence of a referral by a state, it enables both the UN Security Council and the court’s prosecutor to initiate investigations. 15


Hamas has its own structured military force, political and social institutions, and de facto control over a defined territory, and has launched thousands of rockets towards Israeli towns, terrorizing and jeopardizing the lives of thousands of Israelis. Hamas, even as a non-state entity, or part of a non-state entity, is considered by all accepted criteria, to be fully accountable under international humanitarian law for its actions in carrying out its terror attacks against Israeli civilians and for using its own civilians as human shields.Thus, its leadership, commanders and fighters are punishable for crimes against humanity and war crimes.


In her article “Accountability of Hamas under International Humanitarian Law” jurist Sigall Horowitz states the following16 :


“Under international law, non-state actors are bound by customary IHL norms when they become a party to an armed conflict. Thus, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone held as follows: “it is well settled that all parties to an armed conflict, whether states or non-state actors, are bound by international humanitarian law, even though only states may become parties to international treaties.” 17


Regarding the individual criminal responsibility of Hamas members Horowitz adds:


“…the use by Hamas members of Qassam and Grad rockets in connection with the armed conflict, may amount to a war crime under the Rome Statute. Accordingly, these acts may entail the individual criminal responsibility of Hamas fighters who committed, ordered or assisted them, or otherwise contributed to their commission. These acts may also entail the individual criminal responsibility of Hamas military commanders and political leaders, under the principle of superior responsibility.“18


In addition to the crime of conspiring and attempting to commit genocide referred to above, the following acts of terror carried out by Hamas constitute serious crimes of concern to the international community:

Indiscriminate Targeting Israeli towns and Villages and Civilians with rockets

a. 1907 Hague Regulations19 :


            Article 25: “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.“


b. 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions20 :


            Article 48: “In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives”.


            Article 51(2): “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited“.


            Article 51(4): “Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

(a)  those which are not directed at a specific military objective;


(b)  those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or


(c)  those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.”


            Article 57 requires that civilian population, civilians and civilian objects be spared in the conduct of military operations, and that all feasible precautions be taken in order to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects, and the giving of effective advance warning of attacks.


Using Civilians as Human Shields


    Deliberately storing and firing rockets from within, or in close proximity to hospitals, mosques, schools and houses in densely-populated areas, both to shield and camouflage rocket emplacements and in order to deliberately generate Israeli military action against such emplacements and thereby endanger Palestinian civilians, constitutes a war crime.21


    The storing of rockets in an UNRWA school in Gaza is perhaps a typical example of this crime, which generated a statement of condemnation by UNRWA itself.22


    The use of one of Gaza’s central mosques – the Al-Farouq Mosque in the Nuseirat refugee camp – for storing rockets and weapons and as a compound for Hamas operations is a further example of this crime.23


    Article 51(7) of the 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Convention24 states:


“The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.”


    Article 58(b) requires avoiding locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.


The following provisions of the ICC Statute refer to such crimes:


    Article 7: crimes against humanity — the multiple commission of “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.”


    Article 8: war crimes – large-scale commission, as part of a plan or policy of intentional attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians and civilian objects; intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental  loss of life or injury to civilians; attacking or bombarding towns, villages dwellings or buildings which are not military objectives; utilizing the presence of civilians to render certain points, areas or forces immune from military operations; and using children under fifteen to participate in hostilities.


Israel’s Right to Self-Defense


International law recognizes two basic rights to self-defense, conventional international law as set out in Article 51 of the UN Charter:


“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations…”25

The second right is that of customary international law, based on the Caroline case (1837) which established a right of self-defense in the face of a necessity which is “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation”.26

Israel’s right to invoke the Article 51 right to self-defense vis-à-vis terrorist attacks against its towns and villages was curiously denied by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Israeli Security Fence case27 on the grounds that the threat can only come from another “state.”  This strange conclusion has been rejected both by judges of the court as well as international jurists.


As stated by Judge Higgins (UK):


“I do not agree with all that the Court has to say on the question of the law of self-defence. In paragraph 139 the Court quotes Article 51 of the Charter and then continues “Article 51 of the Charter thus recognizes the existence of an inherent right of self-defence in the case of armed attack by one State against another State.” There is, with respect, nothing in the text of Article 51 that thus stipulates that self-defence is available only when an armed attack is made by a State. The question is surely where responsibility lies for the sending of groups and persons who act against Israeli civilians and the cumulative severity of such action…..


This is formalism of an un-evenhanded sort.”


In a similar vein, Judge Buergenthal (U.S.)28 criticized the above conclusion as being “dubious” and stated29 :


“…the United Nations Charter, in affirming the inherent right of self- defence, does not make its exercise dependent upon an armed attack by another State.”


“Attacks on Israel coming from across that [green] line must therefore permit Israel to exercise its right of self-defence against such attacks, provided the measures it takes are otherwise consistent with the legitimate exercise of that right.”


In several key resolutions, the Security Council has made clear that “international terrorism constitutes a threat to international peace and security” and has affirmed the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations in the face of such terror.


This has been reiterated in resolution 1368 (2001) 30 , adopted only one day after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, in which the Security Council  invokes  the  right of self-defense in calling on the international  community to combat terrorism. Similarly in Security Council resolution 1373 (2001)31 adopted pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council “reaffirmed the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence as recognized by the Charter of the United Nations as reiterated in resolution 1368 (2001)”.

Needless to say, neither of these resolutions imposed any limit on their application to terrorist attacks by State actors only, nor was an assumption to that effect implicit in these resolutions.32

Claims Being Made against Israel

Collective Punishment


The claim that Israel is collectively punishing the population of the Gaza Strip, enunciated by the UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg,33 is both wrong and based on misleading legal assumptions. As stated above, Israel’s actions are directed towards one strategic and tactical purpose – not to punish the population but to halt the indiscriminate rocket fire and use of infiltration tunnels to carry out acts of terror against the civilian population.

While international law bars “collective punishment,”34 none of Israel’s combat actions against Hamas constitute collective punishment, whether in the form of imposition of penalties on individuals or groups on the basis of another’s guilt, or the commission of acts that would otherwise violate the rules of distinction and/or proportionality.35

However, the deliberate and systematic exposure by Hamas of its residents to Israeli combat activities, rather than permitting them to enter shelters and tunnels, and the systematic intimidation and threat of terror through   indiscriminate daily rocket attacks directed against Israeli towns and villages, constitute collective punishment of millions of Israeli citizens as well as Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip and as such, are flagrant and willful violations of the norms of international humanitarian law.

Deliberate Targeting of Residences


Israel is being falsely accused by the United Nations and others of deliberately and willfully targeting residences.36


Tragically, one of the many violations by Hamas of international humanitarian norms is the conduct of its terror activities within residential areas throughout the towns and villages in the Gaza Strip, including the use of commanders’ own homes where their families and other civilians may be residing. These houses have been used for weapons storage, command, control, and communication centers.


The use of houses, homes and other residential structures for military purposes endangers them and render them as legitimate military targets under international law.


Article 52(2) of the First Geneva Protocol37 specifically refers to the obligation to limit attacks to military objectives – “objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage;”

In order to accurately determine military targets, the IDF employs advanced methods, including multiple levels of intelligence, the provision of legal advice; and extensive prior training provided to operational commanders. Even when a house is considered by all relevant legal criteria to be a legitimate military target, the Israeli forces minimize potential harm to the surrounding civilian population through real-time visual coverage in order to assess the civilian presence at a target; provision of advance warning before striking a target; and the careful choice of weaponry and ammunition in order to minimize harm to civilians.38


As such, Israel has no policy of deliberately targeting civilians or civilian property, and makes every effort to give effective advance warning of impending strikes that could potentially affect the civilian population.


Despite the deliberate policy and practice of Hamas to forcibly use civilians, including children, to shield their rocket and weapons emplacements, Israel has gone to great lengths in responding to the Hamas rocket attacks to ensure minimal harm to such civilians.  This includes providing early warnings to persons residing or located in, or in the vicinity of houses targeted because of their use for purposes of planning acts of terror, storing weapons or as rocket emplacements, and public appeals to non-combatants to distance themselves from such targets.39

The Claim of Disproportionate Force/Casualties


Allegations in the international media and by international organizations and some governmental representatives40 that Israel’s actions are “disproportionate” and thus in violation of international law, are both factually and legally incorrect .


The requirement of proportionality in armed conflict is a measure of the extent of force needed in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. It is not a comparison between casualties of the parties involved, nor of the damage caused during the fighting.41


A monograph entitled “Applying the Principle of Proportionality in Combat Operations,” published by of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed conflict42 , states:

“…harming civilians is not in  itself  illegal.  An injury to civilians  or  damage  done  to  civilian  objects  as  a  side-effect  of  a  military  operation  may  be permissible provided that it is proportionate to the military gain anticipated from the operation.


This principle is considered part of customary international law, which binds all states. It has become  part  of  the  positive  law  of  armed  conflict  (IHL)  with  its  codification  in  the  First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1977. Article 51 para. 5b) states that “[a]n attack  which  may  be  expected  to  cause  incidental  loss  of  civilian  life,  injury  to  civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated,” is prohibited.”


The tragic and regrettable fact that there are more civilian casualties and property damage within the Gaza Strip than there are in Israel is not a function of disproportionate use of force by Israel, or use of disproportionate weaponry, but of the fact, as outlined above, that Hamas forcibly and deliberately utilizes civilians and civilian structures and homes as human shields.  The buildings  are used for their rocket emplacements and command centers, thereby knowingly exposing the residents to harm with a view to both preventing Israeli actions against their rocket launching and other military facilities, and to cynically parade dead civilians  in front of television cameras that transmit these gruesome pictures around the world with captions blaming Israel.


In so doing, Hamas is committing a double war crime by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians while at the same time embedding its weapons, leaders, operatives and infrastructures in the midst of uninvolved Palestinian civilians.


Similarly, the fact that Hamas prevents civilian access to its underground web of tunnels and bomb shelters, reserving them for its military commanders and for storage of rockets, and the fact that Israel has developed extensive framework of shelters as well as its “Iron Dome” anti-missile defensive system, cannot be used as basis for accusing Israel of disproportionate force.

The Comparison of Casualties


Perhaps one of the most reprehensible practices of the international media is the so called “body-count” comparison, and the sad conclusion that disproportionality is exemplified by the fact that more Palestinians are killed than Israelis.43 The absurd assumption that this comparison makes is that more Israeli casualties would be preferable in order to “even-out” the count. Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system, which has protected thousands of potential Israeli civilian casualties from Hamas rockets, is blamed as the cause of this disparity in casualties.


Clearly Israel cannot be held responsible for such an equation. As in any armed conflict, and especially in light of the circumstances of the present one, civilians are tragically killed and injured. Unlike Hamas, Israel does not have a policy of deliberately targeting civilians, but regrettably, whether due to the fact that Hamas deliberately exposes its civilians to shield targets, or whether due to the occasional human or targeting error or inaccurate mapping, civilians are casualties.


Israel has very strict policies of investigating such instances, and in cases of alleged war crimes or negligence, taking the appropriate legal and disciplinary action.

Threats to Institute Action against Israeli Leaders in the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Amongst the media hype and political declarations by Palestinian leaders and senior elements within the international community, there is a constant wave of threats to institute proceedings for alleged war crimes against Israel’s leaders and military commanders before international and national criminal tribunals.,


As outlined above, Israel’s code of military law and command structure require strict conformity with international humanitarian norms, and any allegation of violation of such norms by soldiers or commanders are duly investigated and where appropriate, legal proceedings are instituted within Israel’s military justice framework. As such, the threats to institute action in the ICC are unrealistic and fail to consider the requirements of the statute of the ICC.


However, the openly-admitted and blatant series of war crimes committed by Hamas and its leaders as detailed in this paper and the lack of any will, capability, legal framework or means within the Hamas or Palestinian legal structure of investigating and trying such crimes, require that they be referred to the ICC with a view to ensuring that the leaders and instigators of the Hamas terror infrastructure be brought to criminal justice.

Closing Points


This paper is intended to place the current Hamas-Israel conflict within the proportions of international law and practice, with a view to dispelling some of the media hype and exaggeration, and the selective and biased statements and allegations being made against Israel.


Armed conflict in any circumstances involves situations in which civilians are regrettably affected. International law aims to limit harm to innocent civilians by ensuring that the involved parties conduct the hostilities in accordance with humanitarian norms with a view to preventing, as much as is possible, civilian casualties.


Israel, a sovereign state with an army that conducts itself in accordance with such norms, is making every effort to abide by them, despite the blatant, willful and indiscriminate violation by Hamas, both vis-a-vis its own population as well as vis- a-vis Israel’s population.

One hopes that the crimes against humanity and the war crimes committed by the leaders and senior terrorist commanders of Hamas will not go unpunished, and that the international community will act to ensure that they do not benefit from impunity.


* * *


1 Hamas Charter, http://www.acpr.org.il/resources/hamascharter.html see Article 2:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.
See also article 7:
Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter.
And Article 13:
There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game
2 http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/19580
3 See U.S. “Country reports on terrorism 2005″, United States Department of State. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. U.S. Dept. of State Publication 11324. April 2006. p 196
see also http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm.
See Canadian “Currently listed entities”. Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. November 22, 2012.
See EUCouncil Common Position 2003/651/CFSP.
See Jordan policyhttp://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3978/king-abdullah-hamas  .
SeeCairo court bans activities by Palestinian Hamas in Egypt, brands it a terrorist organization. Associated Press. March 4, 2014
4 See headline in “Middle East Eye”, 8 July 2014 “Hamas claims responsibility for rockets fired at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa” – See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israels-army-prepared-ground-assault-gaza-official-275282816: “For the first time, the Ezzedine al- Qassam Brigades strike Haifa with an R160 rocket, and strike occupied Jerusalem with four M75 rockets and Tel Aviv with four M75 rockets,”
See also “Hamas claims responsibility for rocket fire on Israel”.http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Hamas-claims-responsibility-for-rocket-fire-on-Israel-361830and “The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rockets fired toward Tel Aviv”http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Rocket-alert-sirens-sound-in-Zichron-Yaakov-120-km-north-of-Gaza-362087
See also i24newshttp://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/36623-140708-gaza-israel-launches-operation-protective-edge “In a video statement that was broadcast across Arab media late on Thursday evening, the brigade said: “The more shahids falling make us stronger and more determined for victory. For the first time yesterday, we showered from the north of the homeland to the south in Dimona. Tens of rockets showered the center of the occupation. That is only a few of what is waiting…”
See also Fatah joins Hamas and Islamic Jihad in missile launches | The Times of Israelhttp://www.timesofisrael.com/moderate-fatah-joins-hamas-and-islamic-jihad-in-missile-launches/#ixzz37KhRmK25
See also http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/israeli-warplanes-pound-gaza-strip/story-e6frg6so-1226982452456?nk=30dd8b2330cf43d6507b130e303ae6c6 “The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it had fired four M75 rockets at Jerusalem, which lies 65 kilometres from the Palestinian enclave. It also claimed to have launched a rocket at Haifa, 165 kilometres away. There was no report of anything hitting the northern port city but the army said a rocket did fall on Hadera, 100 kilometres north of Gaza. Hamas militants also said yesterday they fired four rockets at Tel Aviv, 60 kilometres north of Gaza, setting sirens off across the city. Earlier, another rocket aimed at Israel’s commercial capital was shot down by the Iron Dome antimissile defence system.”
See also: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.604437 Hamas armed wing has warned airlines that it intends to target Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport with its rockets from Gaza and has told them not to fly there, a statement by the group said on Friday.
See also http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182770#.U8I-Yy2KCM8 State Department spokeswoman reminds reporters that Israel is defending itself against endless rocket attacks by Hamas. “There’s a difference between Hamas, a terrorist organization that’s indiscriminately attacking innocent civilians in areas where there are innocent civilians in Israel, and the right of Israel to respond and protect their own civilians. And that’s what we’re seeing on the ground take place,”
See Canadian Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/lopsided-rocket-warfare-rages-on-between-israel-and-hamas/article19578271/“Hamas also showed no sign of letting up its missile strikes against Israel, acknowledging responsibility for scores of rockets fired Friday against Israeli centres including the launch of a powerful Iranian-built Fajr-5 against Tel Aviv.”
http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/article_xinhua.aspx?id=229441“The armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement, al-Qassam Brigades, said on Saturday that it will fire new rockets called J80 into Tel Aviv and its suburb at 9:00 p.m. local time. It is the first time that Hamas declared in advance that it will fire rockets into Israel. The group claimed responsibility for launching hundreds of rockets into Israeli over the past five days against the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip”.
Washington Free Beaconhttp://freebeacon.com/national-security/hamas-rockets-from-gaza-target-haifa-reach-far-into-northern-israel/:  “The barrage of rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip reached far beyond the known range of Hamas’ missile arsenal, hitting the northern Israeli town of Hof HaCarmel on Wednesday. The town is just south of Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that Haifa was the intended target.”
See also http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_07_08/Israeli-Defense-Forces-launch-operation-Protective-Edge-against-Hamas-6359/
“The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attacks. ‘Al-Qassam fired dozens of rockets on Netivot and Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ofakim in response to the Zionist aggression,’ a statement said. ‘Qassam rockets are a natural reaction to the Israeli crimes against our people.’”
5 See UN Security council resolutions 1267 (1999) of 15 October 1999, 1373 (2001) of 28 September 2001, 1540 (2004) of 28 April 2004 as well as its other resolutions concerning threats to international peace and security caused by terrorism.
6 http://www.mefacts.com/cached.asp?x_id=10835
7 http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/un/66959.htm
8 http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/instruments.shtml
9 http://www.un.org/law/cod/terroris.htm
10 http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/49/a49r060.htm
11 https://www.unodc.org/tldb/en/regional_instruments.html
12   See Yoram Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities Under the Law of International Armed Conflict, 82 (2005).
13 Article 6 of the Hamas charter
14 78 UNTS 277
15 http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf. See specifically Articles 7(1)  and (2)a (Crimes against humanity) and Article 8(2)(b)(i)(ii)(iv) (War crimes), and Article 13 (Exercise of the court’s jurisdiction)
16 See Sigall Horowitz “Accountability of the Hamas under International Humanitarian Law”, 2009 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs  http://jcpa.org/article/accountability-of-the-hamas-under-international-humanitarian-la/ Horowitz adds “…it can safely be argued that Hamas fighters, who daily targeted Israeli civilians by launching Qassam and Grad rockets, violated the provisions of Common Article 3 (to the Geneva conventions)”
17 Quoted in Horowitz article, citing Prosecutor v. Sam Hinga Norman, Case No. SCSL-2004-14-AR72(E), Decision on preliminary Motion Based on Lack of Jurisdiction (Child Recruitment), 31 May 2004, para. 22. – See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/accountability-of-the-hamas-under-international-humanitarian-la/#sthash.MX0iG9Iu.dpuf
18 Ibid. See also Lisbeth Zegveld, Accountability of Armed Opposition Groups in International Law(2002).
19 http://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=D1C251B17210CE8DC12563CD0051678F  Art. 25, Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907.
20 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflictshttp://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=8A9E7E14C63C7F30C12563CD0051DC5C
21 For a detailed exposure of the use by Hamas of homes of senior Hamas operatives as command centers and weapons storage facilities see http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20677/E_116_14_1313703276.pdf
22 http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-strongly-condemns-placement-rockets-school. Evidently, according to media reports, this did not prevent the UNRWA officials from transferring the rockets found in the school, to the Hamas authorities. See http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/280357
23 http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Data/articles/Art_20672/E_113_14_1401598645.pdf
24 See note 10 above
25 http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml
26 http://www.uni-miskolc.hu/~wwwdrint/20042rouillard1.htm
27 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf at para 139
28 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1687.pdf
29 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1687.pdf
30 http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2001/SC7143.doc.htm
31 http://www.un.org/en/sc/ctc/specialmeetings/2012/docs/United%20Nations%20Security%20Council%20Resolution%201373%20(2001).pdf
32 See Thomas Franck, “Terrorism and the Right of Self-Defense”, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 95, 2001, pp. 839-840
33 http://rt.com/uk/173592-clegg-israel-gaza-ceasefire/
34 http://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter32_rule103
35 “International Law and the Fighting in Gaza” Justus Reid Weiner and Abraham Bell, 1 Global Law Forum 2008 at page 16 http://jcpa.org/article/international-law-and-the-fighting-in-gaza/
36 See statement by Robert Turner, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza at http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/statement-director-unrwa-operations-gaza-robert-turner-unfolding
37 See note 10 above
38 http://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/10/idf-strikes-houses-gaza-used-military-purposes/
39 http://israelaa.ca/palestinian-envoy-to-unhrc-israelis-warn-civilians-before-attacks-we-dont/
40 Argentina condemned the violence in Gaza and Israel’s “disproportionate” use of military force http://www.telam.com.ar/english/notas/201407/2801-argentina-condemned-the-violence-in-gaza-and-israels-disproportionate-use-of-military-force.html see also Turkey condemns “disproportionate” Israeli violence in Gaza http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Turkey-condemns-disproportionate-Israeli-violence-in-Gaza see also British parliament accuses Israel of war crimes.https://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/british-parliament-accuses-israel-of-war-crimes/
41 http://www.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_cha_chapter4_rule14
42 Janina Dill “Applying the Principle of Proportionality in Combat Operations” http://www.elac.ox.ac.uk/downloads/proportionality_policybrief_%20dec_2010.pdf
43 Stephanie Gutman “The Body-Count Cliché – The victim-loving Western media have a weakness for Palestinians.
http://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2014/07/the-body-count-cliche/?utm_source=Mosaic+Newsletter&utm_campaign=41f995f534-2014_7_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b0517b2ab-41f995f534-42449961 See also Time magazine, Eric H. Yoffe, July 14, 2014, 2014 “The Bizarre Moral Criticism Against Israel” http://time.com/2982215/israel-gaza-casualties/
Publication: Jerusalem Viewpoints
– See more at: http://jcpa.org/article/hamas-israel-confrontation-legal-points/#sthash.KNmohENH.dpuf


We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org


Israel Remembers 23,169 Fallen Soldiers: Israel Hayom, May. 2, 2014— This year's Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers will commemorate the 23,196 soldiers who have died since 1860.

Not Home Alone: Foreigners Came to Israel's Rescue in 1948: Andrew Esensten, Ha’aretz, Jun. 15, 2012— Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion called them "the Diaspora's most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel," and in recent years the volunteers from 58 countries who fought for Israel during its War of Independence have sought greater recognition for the crucial role they played in the struggle for a Jewish homeland.

We Haven’t Forgotten: Itay Itamar, Israeli Air Force Magazine, Feb. 27, 2013— George Frederick "Buzz" Beurling was born in Montreal in December 1921 to an observant Christian family.


On Topic Links


Tibi Ram: The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video): IDF, Apr. 27, 2014

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014

The Last Descendant – The Story of Those Who Can’t Speak: IDF Blog, May. 2, 2014

With New Films, Hollywood Finally Telling Story of Fledgling Israeli Air Force: Tom Tugend, JTA, Apr. 3, 2013




Ya’akov Lappin                                                                                       

Israel Hayom, May 2, 2014


This year's Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers will commemorate the 23,196 soldiers who have died since 1860. Since last year's Memorial Day on April 15, 2013, 57 soldiers and 50 disabled veterans died. According to Defense Ministry for 2014, there are 17,038 bereaved family members, including 2,141 orphans and 4,966 widows of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers and security agents. Eighty-seven percent of bereaved parents and 74% of widows are more than 60 years old.


According to National Insurance Institute data published in advance of Memorial Day, 2,495 civilians have been killed in terror attacks since the end of the Independence War on Jan. 1, 1950. Since last Independence Day, two civilians were killed in such attacks. From the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000 until today, 996 civilians were murdered in terror attacks. Terror attacks have left 2,853 children without a parent, 99 of whom lost both parents. There are 978 widows and widowers as a result of terror attacks, and 800 bereaved parents.


This year marks the fifth year that the Knesset will hold a joint commemoration ceremony for fallen soldiers and terror attack victims on the eve of Memorial Day. The event, called "Songs in their Memory," will take place on Sunday evening… The state memorial ceremony will take place on Monday afternoon on Mount Herzl beside the monument in memory of terror victims. The ceremony will be attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Edelstein, Mor-Yosef, IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz and Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis. On Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m., a minute-long siren will be sounded throughout the country signaling the beginning of Memorial Day. At 11:00 on Monday, a two-minute-long siren will be sounded before state memorial ceremonies begin.


Each Memorial Day, there are typically three state ceremonies: a candlelighting ceremony, the laying of flowers on the graves of the fallen and the laying of Israeli flags with a black ribbon attached to them on each grave. The Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry is preparing for some 1.5 million people to arrive at military cemeteries throughout the country. A new Israeli application called "We will Remember Everyone" will allow visitors to navigate through the military cemetery on Mount Herzl and to receive information about the fallen soldiers buried there by scanning the gravestone. The application is part of an initiative called "Memorialize." The initiative, including the idea and execution of the application, was done as a volunteer project by David Ansbacher, CEO of Otzarot, a company that specializes in educational tourism using innovative technology.


On Thursday evening at an event for bereaved families called "Life Afterwards," in which people showcased art that they created as a way to deal with loss, Ya'alon said, "This exhibition gives us a glimpse of a unique and touching way to deal." Peres met with the head of the Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry, Aryeh Moalem, Yad Labanim Chairman Eli Ben-Shem and Bereaved Families representatives ahead of Memorial Day. One representative said, "Israeli children do not know stories of heroism from the war." To which Peres responded, saying, "The heroes of Israel's wars endangered their lives to defend the nation, and we must remember them for the good of our country."





Andrew Esensten                      

Ha’aretz, Jun. 15, 2012


Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion called them "the Diaspora's most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel," and in recent years the volunteers from 58 countries who fought for Israel during its War of Independence have sought greater recognition for the crucial role they played in the struggle for a Jewish homeland. A new addition to the core exhibition at Tel Aviv's Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, represents a modest step in that direction, said several of the volunteers, now in their late 80s and early 90s, at the opening of the exhibit earlier this month (The exhibition continues to be open in 2014—Ed.). The exhibit is entitled "By Land, By Air and By Sea: Volunteers from Abroad in Israel's War of Independence."


"Machal is one of the glorious chapters in the annals of modern Jewish history," said Stanley Medicks, 86, using the Hebrew acronym for Mitnadvei Chutz Le'aretz, or overseas volunteers. "I find that Beit Hatfutsot is the ideal place to tell the remarkable, heroic story of what we did in 1948." Medicks was born in Nairobi to Polish parents, served in the 72nd Infantry Battalion and later founded a branch of the World Machal organization for UK and Scandinavian veterans. He told Ha’aretz that he petitioned the museum for years to recognize Machal and, after finally getting approval for an exhibit, raised the NIS 120,000 necessary to mount it from donors around the world, including the American Veterans of Israel.


Approximately 4,500 Machalniks – men and women, Jews and non-Jews – served in the Israel Defense Forces and its forerunners (the Haganah, Palmach and other underground organizations ) between 1947 and 1949. Most of them were recently discharged World War II veterans who put their lives on hold to travel to Israel and offer their desperately needed military expertise. Some, like Murray Greenfield, participated mainly out of Zionist fervor and a sense of Jewish solidarity, especially in the wake of the Holocaust. "We failed our fellow Jews during the Holocaust," said Greenfield, 85, who was recruited at a synagogue in New York for the clandestine mission to resettle European Jews in Mandate Palestine known as "Aliyah Bet." "You cannot sit back and think things are going to happen," Greenfield said. "You've got to make them happen."


While Machalniks served in all branches of the Israeli military and held key positions of command, often despite speaking little Hebrew, they may have had the greatest impact as members of the Israel Air Force. Nearly all of the IAF's aircrew and technical personnel were overseas volunteers who helped buy and smuggle planes, train Israeli pilots and lead bombing missions. Harold "Smoky" Simon, a veteran of the South African Air Force, served as the IAF's chief of air operations and flew 24 missions in 1948. His logbook, which is on display in the exhibit, contains details of raids on Arab cities. "When we really wanted to start showing our muscle, we attacked Damascus," recalled Simon, 92, who is the chairman of World Machal. "We flew in a DC-3 Dakota aircraft and we loaded her with 16 80-kilogram bombs, boxes of incendiaries and crates of empty bottles, which created a terrifying noise when they fell to the ground. The planes didn't have bomb racks in the early days, so we had a category of 'bomb-chucker,' young Israelis who carried the bombs on their laps and pitched them when we were over the target."


The exhibit features handmade models of the planes flown by Simon and his comrades, as well as black-and-white photographs from the war and line drawings of Machalniks by celebrated Israeli artist Nachum Gutman. A short documentary plays on one wall of the exhibit, which is located in the "Return to Zion" section of the core exhibit. A number of the Machalniks interviewed expressed muted disappointment with how the exhibit turned out, though they said they took pride in the fact that future visitors to the museum, including newly enlisted IDF soldiers, will know something of Machal's history.


"What is missing that you will get from talking to every single one of us is the passion, the determination, the spirit of mission, the understanding of our place in this moment of history," said Zipporah Porath, 88, a New Yorker who arrived in Israel in 1947, intending to study at the Hebrew University, but who joined the Haganah instead and served as a medic during the Siege of Jerusalem. "This exhibition is only the beginning," said Medicks.


Shira Friedman, the exhibit's curator, explained that her goal was to incorporate the Machal experience into the larger narrative of Jewish volunteerism and heroism. She commended the Machalniks for pursuing their ambitious vision for the exhibit, even when it clashed with her own. "If they have one thing in common, it's that personality: I have a target and I'm going to conquer the target," said Friedman, who is part of the team that is completely redesigning the core exhibit at Beit Hatfutsot. (A museum spokesperson said the new exhibit is expected to open in 2014. )


As Friedman came to learn, the Machalniks are proud of their service and protective of their legacy. Their website, www.machal.org.il, contains exhaustive Machal archives and more than 200 personal narratives. They have organized smaller exhibits around the world, including at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City and on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. In addition, they erected a Machal Memorial monument near Sha'ar Hagai in the Judean Hills to commemorate the 123 fallen volunteers and gather there every year on Israel's Memorial Day to honor their memory.


At the dedication of the memorial in 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said of the volunteers: "You came when we needed you most, during those dark and uncertain days in our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The People of Israel and the State of Israel will never forget." Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, the IDF's chief education officer, said in remarks at the opening of the exhibit that the Machalniks left a powerful legacy that continues to be felt today. "The foundation that you laid in spirit and action brings to Israel hundreds of volunteers each year to serve in the IDF and participate in the critically important defense mission," said Shermeister. Simon, of World Machal, said he frequently gives "pep talks" to groups of volunteers from the United States, England, South Africa, Australia and many other places. "It's wonderful," he said, "that we're able to maintain the spirit and the tradition of Machal."



WE HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN                  

Israeli Air Force Magazine


George Frederick "Buzz" Beurling was born in Montreal in December 1921 to an observant Christian family. By age 14 he was already flying and wanted to join the Canadian army but was rejected on the grounds that he didn't yet know enough about flying. As World War II broke out, a desperate need arose for brave and talented pilots. The Royal British Air Force agreed to enlist Buzz and he crossed the ocean to enlist as a Spitfire pilot. He was an excellent pilot, a fact reflected in his many accomplishments during the war: he shot down 32 Italian and German enemy aircraft, 27 of them in combat above the island of Malta. He is remembered as the Canadian pilot who shot down the most enemy planes ever.

He was considered a ‘lone wolf' and developed fighting methods that he later taught the Israeli Air Force. For example, Beurling found that by shooting cannon on the approximated flight path of an enemy plane, one could attack the plane without straightening one's tail, utilizing a side angle. Pilots that flew with Beurling said that he would be able to notice approaching planes before anyone else, and was capable of counting them. As others were unable to see what he was talking about, they thought that he was simply nervous or tense, but in the end he was always accurate.

He ejected from two planes and was awarded four citations, making him the most decorated Canadian pilot in history. He was severely wounded but recovered and returned to fly. Towards the end of the war he returned to Canada as a national hero whose exploits and adventures were documented in detail in the book "Spitfires over Malta", co-written with Leslie Roberts.

George and Rick's father studied Holy Scriptures and the education that the brothers received at home and their worldview about Israel and the Jewish people was very much influenced by faith. "We very much identified with the history of the people of Israel. Our father always said that one day Israel would become an independent state and we always waited for it to happen", remembers Rick. "I think that after Buzz's experience in World War II, together with the fact that Israel was about to become a nation, he ran to help. Even though he wasn't Jewish, he had a Jewish heart".


George Beurling was offered a large sum of money to join and fly in one of the air forces that fought during the Israeli War of Independence, but he, of course, rejected the offer. He turned to the Jewish community in Montréal and offered himself as a volunteer to serve in the young air force, but he was turned down due to suspicion that he was a spy or was working for an enemy country's military. He did not give up and turned to Sydney Solomon, a Jewish community leader who was involved in joint activities between Canada and Israel, and tried to convince him. "Sydney sat with us in the kitchen and told us that it was very difficult for them to believe my brother, because they thought that it was a trick or a type of bait", recalls Rick. Sydney was skeptical of George's motivations, asking why he would want to come to fly for the State of Israel and George, whose allegiance was unmatched, was insistent and answered Sydney's questions with passages from the bible. "He wanted to be part of creation of Israel, re-establishing the State of Israel", says Rick.

At the outbreak of the War of Independence, Leonard Yehudah Cohen, a British pilot that also fought in Malta and George Beurling volunteered in the Mach"al (volunteers from abroad) group in the young IAF. Both of them were supposed to join Squadron A, today known as "Flying Camel" squadron, which was at the time practically the entirety of the IAF. "I didn't have a chance to speak with him then", explained Rick with sadness. "Sydney told us that he explained to George not to let us know when the time came. One day someone picked him up off the street, he got into their car, and got on a plane and left. There wasn't a chance for him to speak with anyone".

Their first task was to bring a Norseman plane from Italy to Israel. On May 20th, 1948, Buzz and Leonard went on a test flight on the plane that was to be brought to Israel. During the test flight, the plane caught fire and they crashed in the Rome airport. Maj. Gen. Motti Hod, formerly commander of the IAF, was then a young pilot named Mordechai Fein. He too was supposed to be on the plane. The circumstances of the accident are still unknown, but the conventional wisdom is that someone sabotaged the plane before the flight took off, knowing that it was bound for Israel. In the beginning, Beurling was buried in a Catholic cemetery in Rome.

"My father replied to the telegram that the "Hagannah" sent as follows: Your request touches us in our hearts. George, who devoted his last days to fight for the establishment of the State of Israel needs to be laid to rest in the holy land". On November 9, 1950, George was laid to eternal rest with full military honors in a Christian cemetery in Haifa. "At a later time, they said that maybe it was a mistake to request to hold his body in Israel and that they would check the possibility of returning him to Canada, but my family insisted that he would stay in Israel because that is where he wanted to be", explained Rick proudly.

This wasn't the first time that the Beurling family had visited Israel, but it was the first time that they fit it together with Buzz's story through the IAF. "60 years might seem like a long time", said Rick, "but it did not seem that way from a wider perspective". Buzz, considered today a member of the "Flying Camel" squadron, is honored in the memorial room of the squadron. 60 years after his burial in Israel, the Fallen Soldiers Department of the IAF renewed its connection with his family and invited the Beurlings to come to Israel for an official visit on Israel's National Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. During the IAF ceremony on "Mountain of Pilots", Rick served as a representative of bereaved families from abroad. "This is an opportunity for me to remember my big brother as a brother, not necessarily as a hero", said Rick. "It is very gratifying to see how much care the Israelis demonstrated in honoring his memory. I think that he was a bigger hero here than he was in Canada. In Montreal, he has a street named after him and in the last few years it was decided to name a school after him – Beurling High School".

"On our wall at home hangs a certificate from Israel, on which it is written that 300 trees were planted in Israel in memory of George a few years ago", continued Rick. "Every year, the Consulate General of Israel to Toronto invites us to celebrate Israeli Independence Day with them. One time I received a ‘Legion of Honor' in the name of General Wingate from the Canadian Legion. I was very proud to wear the uniform and a hat with the Star of David on it. Three years ago, the Canadian Air Force Attaché to Israel presented golden wings to me in Buzz's name in the presence of the IAF. My family and I are very appreciative of the treatment that we receive here in Israel, still after so many years. We always said that there was no way the Jews would forget my brother".                                                                                                            [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]   


CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic


Tibi Ram: The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video): IDF, Apr. 27, 2014 —During the Holocaust Ze'ev Tibi Ram lost his whole family. He survived Auschwitz, a labour camp, and Bergen-Belsen. After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after. Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014—For me, at the age of almost 94, this evening presents an outstanding opportunity to express my profound gratitude for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me along my life’s journey.

The Last Descendant – The Story of Those Who Can’t Speak: IDF Blog, May. 2, 2014 —The Last Descendants are those who came alone to Israel – the only place where they could live their lives without fear – because the rest of their family perished in the Holocaust. Later, these individuals lost their lives defending the State of Israel and the Jewish people, leaving behind no family and effectively ending their family legacy.

With New Films, Hollywood Finally Telling Story of Fledgling Israeli Air Force: Tom Tugend, JTA, Apr. 3, 2013—Some 65 years after a band of foreign volunteers took to the skies to ensure Israel’s birth and survival, filmmakers are racing to bring their exploits to the screen before the last of the breed passes away.

















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Arieh O’Sullivan
Jerusalem Post, March 28, 2011


Zmira Almog quietly arranges a bouquet of flowers in her shop on the main road of Beersheba, Israel’s largest city in the south and latest target for rockets fired by the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, the Israeli Air Force deployed for the first time home-grown anti-rocket technology giving residents a sense of security and sending what Israeli leaders say is a deterrence message that rocket attacks will be dealt with a firm hand.

“I am happy,” Almog says. “I believe this is going to give us a sense of security. I hope that it works. I hope that we won’t need to use it and it won’t be necessary, but I have a better sense.”

The rocket shield is called Iron Dome and its first battery was deployed on the dunes on the outskirts of Beersheba facing Gaza.… Residents of this city of close to 200,000 residents have put pressure on the government to deploy the Iron Dome shield as quickly as possible—and a little faster than the army would like—after two Grad-type rockets slammed into the city last week, injuring one person.

Over the past two weeks, since the border between Israel and Gaza heated up, some 100 rockets and mortar shells have hit Israel.… While Hamas says its rockets are aimed at military installations, nearly all of them land in civilian areas.…

The new defense system, developed by the state-owned Rafael defense industries, is designed to knock down incoming rockets at a range of four to 70 kilometers. The multi-mission radar of each battery is supposed to lock in on incoming rockets and send out a firing sequence to one of its three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors.

“Iron Dome is a very capable system, but on the other hand it is important to highlight that we are in the evaluation phase in the operational sites,” says Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish, commander of Israel’s air defenses. “Today we are trying to accelerate the operational tests in order to be ready as fast as we can.…”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that Iron Dome wouldn’t be the only defense against Palestinian rocket attacks. “I don’t want to create an illusion that the Iron Dome system, which we are deploying for the first time today, will provide a full or comprehensive response,” Netanyahu said. “The real response to the missile threat is in the combination of offensive and deterrent measures with defensive measures, and with a firm stance by the government and public.”

Israeli media reports said that a second Iron Dome battery, which is mounted on mobile trailers, was to be deployed near the coastal city of Ashkelon, another recent target of Palestinian rocket attacks.

The home-made Kassam rockets used by Hamas and other Gaza militants have been gradually upgraded over the years.… As the rockets’ ranges and force have grown, so has the threat. Where once the rockets launched from Gaza were capable of reaching targets within a few kilometers inside Israel, a thinly populated area of farms and open stretches, today the army fears that millions of Israeli civilians are within rocket range, even if Hamas hasn’t employed its most sophisticated arms.

Iron Dome’s value to Israel extends beyond the contest with Hamas. To its north, the Lebanese Shi’ite movement, Hezbollah, is believed to have a far larger and more lethal arsenal of missiles. In Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, thousands of missiles rained down on the country’s north, forcing a third of the country into bomb shelters during the month-long conflict.

Each Iron Dome battery reportedly costs some $50 million and each interception costs some $25,000, a hefty sum considering that the incoming rockets cost just a few-hundred dollars to produce. But Gavish says the cost shouldn’t be measured missile-for-rocket, but by considering the damage a rocket could cause if it hit a school, hospital or heavily trafficked street. “It’s more important to understand if you didn’t shoot something down, what would it hit?” he says. “This is a unique system. There is no other system in the world that shoots missiles against rockets.…

Despite [Gavish’s] confidence, some residents of Beersheba remain ill at ease. “It’s not going to help 100%. If they fire 10 at one time, okay, maybe they’ll intercept four. What about the other six?” asks Nisso Kfir, owner of a small accessories store in the city, who says the Grad rocket that hit last week landed just 100 meters from his house. “The best protection is to attack. Attack is the best defense.”

But his neighbor Yigal Bar-Eli says his spirits have been boosted by the deployment of the Iron Dome battery to protect his city. “This will really help the residents of Beersheba, so that next time there’s something like this, it will be able to stop it. It gives us a good feeling and sense of security,” Bar-Eli says.

Sgt. Nadav, an operator of one of the launchers who can only be identified by his first name under army policy, is optimistic that the interceptors will work and is itching to test it on a real incoming rocket. “It feels good to know that the citizens of Israel depend on us and to know that we can help them against something that is not real easy to protect them from,” he says. “I’ve seen the experiments and I’ve seen how it works. It works pretty well.”


Jerusalem Post, April 11, 2011


The Iron Dome mobile short-range missile defense system was described by one Ashkelon resident who saw it in action over the weekend as something “straight out of a science fiction movie.” Another local man told Army Radio Sunday, “We saw it launched. It was amazing.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the successful operational debut of Iron Dome in the last few days “an extraordinary achievement for the IDF.”

Such superlatives are justified. Over the weekend, the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system intercepted 10 Katyusha and Kassam rockets fired by Hamas in the direction of Ashkelon and Beersheba, the two locations where batteries of the short-range missile defense system are stationed.

The rockets were literally shot out of the air just seconds after being launched at innocent Israeli civilians.

These initial successes have silenced quite a few naysayers who had been critical of Iron Dome in the less than five years since then defense minister Amir Peretz decided to begin its development in the wake of the Second Lebanon War—when hundreds of Hezbollah’s Katyushas rained down on northern Israel.

Much fuss was made of the expense of the system.… Concerns were raised that Hamas and other Islamist terrorists in Gaza would launch a war of economic attrition on Israel: Assuming each Grad, Kassam or mortar shell costs just a few hundred to a few thousands dollars, heavy, relentless fire could require Israel to launch large numbers of costly Iron Dome intercepts. Those financial worries are valid, but the critics’ main assertion was that the system wouldn’t work.

Plainly, it does.

Along with the obvious fact that life is priceless, implementation of Iron Dome will actually have numerous economic and tactical benefits.

First, it can help prevent the expensive destruction of property. The Hamas mortar shell that destroyed a chicken coop in Kibbutz Nir Oz over the weekend is just one small example of the tremendous damage wreaked by Hamas’s various projectiles.… Secondly, the knowledge that residents of the south are, relatively, a little bit safer as a consequence of Iron Dome could provide the IDF with valuable time to carefully plan counter-offensives when barrages of rockets are launched from Gaza. Finally, the fact that Hamas and like-minded terrorists forced the Iron Dome into an earlier-than-planned deployment has meant that it is already battle-tested. Proving its efficacy in Ashkelon, Beersheba and other southern towns will make Iron Dome an attractive defense product. Singapore and America have already shown an interest in the Israel Aerospace Industries’ technology.…

For all of their science fiction-like capabilities, neither Iron Dome nor any other Israeli innovation goes to the heart of the problem the current escalation exemplifies, which is Islamists’ unrelenting blind hatred for the Jewish state and for those who live in it. Unfortunately…the Jewish people have little if any control over the hatred directed against them. But Jews do manage to make the best of the circumstances. Iron Dome is a perfect example.


Sima Kadmon
Ynet News, April 12, 2011


What is the price of the personal sense of security felt by hundreds of thousands of southern residents, the feeling of solidarity, and the recognition that the State wants to and is capable of caring for its citizen? As it turns out, the price is much lower than we expected. And even if it’s still high, it’s worth every penny.

The Iron Dome anti-rocket system is emerging as an incredible success story. It’s also a top notch proof that we haven’t lost it: The spark, the initiative, and the abilities. We haven’t lost the human resource, and the Jewish genius.…

The sight of Iron Dome intercepting a missile fired at one of our southern cities is among the most pleasant and inspiring spectacles we’ve seen around [Israel] in recent years. At times like this we are allowed to cast cynicism aside and say “yes, we’re proud.” [We can take passing comfort in] an emotion that has almost been forgotten—national pride—[and rejoice in the fact that] our defense industry [has] the ability to build a sophisticated, life-saving system that functions without killing innocents.

We don’t get to enjoy many pleasurable moments like that, certainly not as of late. We are used to waking up to mornings that give rise to stories of corruption rather than success. We learned to bow our heads in the face of failure rather than to be excited by victory. So many times we appeared to be a Third World country; a banana republic. What’s more, a long time ago we lost the faith that there is someone here taking care of us.…

Within this landscape of disappointments, failures and mistrust, the Iron Dome story is an exception.… This achievement has, first and foremost, immense psychological significance that is no less important than the military implications: It means that finally we are doing something for our own sake. Not because of defeatism and not because we are following someone else’s orders.… Rather, we initiated this project and assumed responsibility for our own fate. We did it based on the understanding that a State that does not care [for] its own citizens cannot expect someone else to.

So Iron Dome may not provide 100% protection to southern residents, and we may need many more batteries to secure this objective.… Yet for the first time in many years there is a feeling here that this State is functioning after all. That despite all, we have strong minds and thinking people here. And that maybe all is not lost.


Yossi Yehoshua
Ynet News, April 11, 2011


The anti-rocket Iron Dome system turned into a source of national pride the other day, and rightfully so. No politician would miss out the photo opportunity next to the IDF’s air defense troops in Ashkelon who intercepted eight out of the nine rockets fired at the southern city.

However, at the end of the day we must keep in mind that Iron Dome is still no more than a Tylenol in the face of a grave illness. A moment before we are blinded by Iron Dome’s incredible operational success, we must remember that the defense establishment only has two Iron Dome batteries. Even if officials decide to immediately purchase four more batteries, they will be here two years from now, at best.

Until that time, we must also keep in mind that Hezbollah possesses some 50,000 rockets and Hamas has another 10,000. If we take into account the fact that Iron Dome has another original mission—safeguarding vital sites, such as army bases and strategic facilities, at times of emergency—it’s clear that we should keep everything in proportion.

The success of Iron dome merits some pride, but it is not a cause for celebration.… Those in the know view the latest round of fighting in the south as a sort of “dry run” by Hamas. The rockets fired at Ashkelon and Beersheba may have been designated, among other things, to examine Iron Dome’s performance and draw some lessons ahead of the next, bigger round.

The Iranians are also monitoring developments and have a good reason for doing so—they are doing it ahead of the big game which everyone knows is only a matter of time. When the time comes, decision-makers here will face the dilemma of whether to protect Ben-Gurion Airport, Israeli towns, our refineries, or Air Force bases—while we’re short on Iron Dome batteries.…

And so, until the next big round, we should ask our politicians to forgo the Iron Dome photo ops, and instead approve the acquisition of many batteries, while simultaneously boosting our deterrent power.


David Horowitz
Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2011


Those fiendish Jews. They are making it so hard for us to kill them. They pulled every last father, mother and child out of the Gaza Strip, where we could get at them easily. They pulled their army out too. Every last tank, every last soldier. The only one we’ve got here now is Gilad Schalit.

Some of them thought that this might sate our ambitions. Idiots. They thought the “international community” would give us hell if we carried on trying to kill them. Fools. Of course we weren’t going to stop, and of course no one was going to stop us. We won’t stop till we’ve terrorized them all the way out of Palestine. And it’s not like we’re making any secret of that; it’s all there in our charter.

But, heaven help us, they don’t shift easily. And they do value life. Even our people’s. We make sure our fighters are surrounded by women and children before we open fire. We make sure our fighters are indistinguishable from civilians; no uniforms for us. And still those Jews insist on holding their return fire unless they can be reasonably sure they’ll only kill our men. Unbelievable: We’re doing everything we can to get our ordinary people killed, and they’re doing everything they can not to kill them. What kind of upside-down world is this?…

And as for their lives? Like I said, it’s just getting harder and harder to kill them. They have early-warning systems and alarms and bomb shelters and safe rooms and protective concrete cubes and fantastic, heroic medical services. Just imagine, if we adopted those kinds of measures, we’d have none of our people killed, and then where would we be?

Come to think of it, we wouldn’t need to adopt any of those measures if we just stopped shooting at them. It’s not as though they’d shoot first. But if we stopped firing, how could we complain to the world about those vicious Zionist enemies? How could we keep the UN and the rest of those suckers on our side? How could we keep the Jew-hatred at fever pitch among our people? How could we serve our noble, bloody cause?

But, damn them and their clever innovations.… Now they’ve come up with this “Iron Dome” gadget. In a million years, we didn’t think it would work. They’re going to fire rockets at our rockets and shoot them out of the sky? Yeah, right. This isn’t Xbox or PlayStation. Last time I looked, it was a pretty big sky out there.

But bless my soul, they’ve managed it. Ten of our rockets blasted out of the air in the past two days alone. Nauseating. We were sure we’d have some meaty kills out of those salvoes. I mean, it’s not even supposed to be working properly yet; it’s still in the experimental stage; the Israeli media were laughing at its developers; they were certain it was useless.

Sometimes, I swear, I start to wonder if God’s on their side. Crazy, huh? I don’t know what’s getting into me. But look at the evidence: This weekend we had a Grad land near a kibbutz administration building. We got one right next to a school in Ofakim. Not a single fatality. A few minutes earlier on Thursday, we might have had a bus full of schoolkids near Kibbutz Sa’ad. But no, they got off just before we hit that bright yellow, sitting-duck target, and all we got was one teenager and the driver.

What? What’s that you say? Put the weapons away? Internalize the sanctity of human life?

That’s ridiculous talk. Next you’ll be telling me to make peace with them. To acknowledge that they have the right to live here. To build a state alongside theirs. To give our people a better future. To turn our attention away from war and violence and death and killing, toward something productive.

Never, I tell you. Never.