Archive for October 23, 2018

Off Topic: ‘Witnesses in uniform’: Israeli Police on Holocaust memorial visit in Poland 

October 23, 2018

Source: ‘Witnesses in uniform’: Israeli Police on Holocaust memorial visit in Poland – Israel News – Jerusalem Post


The delegation is visiting several concentration camps and memorial sites and are accompanied by Holocaust survivor Shela Altaraz and her granddaughter.

 OCTOBER 23, 2018 15:32

Israel Police Poland

On Monday, on the second day of their visit, the officers visited the Treblinka death camp, where the Jewish community of Štip, Macedonia, formerly Yugoslavia, where Altaraz was born, was murdered. According to Yad Vashem, Altaraz is the sole survivor of that Jewish community.

The police officer formed a human Star of David to honor the memory of the victims, and standing in the middle of them, Altaraz shared her testimony.

The delegation includes officers, commanders, non-commissioned officers, representatives of bereaved families, and police officers who were wounded in the line of duty from various districts, divisions and ranks.


Off Topic: Erdogan’s “Khashoggi speech” is meant to boost his Muslim credentials (and Turkish lira) – DEBKAfile

October 23, 2018

Source: Erdogan’s “Khashoggi speech” is meant to boost his Muslim credentials (and Turkish lira) – DEBKAfile

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan withheld the promised “naked truth” about the Saudi role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on Oct. 2 in his speech to parliament on Tuesday, Oct.23.
He failed to produce any of the audio or video evidence of the crime, which Turkish authorities claimed to possess during weeks of disseminating sensational leaks to the world media. His references to Saudi King Salman were deferential: “His denial of prior knowledge of the crime is sincere.” And he made no mention at all of the beleaguered Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Turkish president noted that the 18 people arrested in Riyadh were those named by Turkey as the assassins, saying they should be tried in Istanbul. He also referred to a team of three people, without identifying them, who he said, arrived in Riyadh the day before Khashoggi’s disappearance and scouted a forest near Istanbul. This suggested that the Saudis had prepared a hiding place for the murdered journalist’s remains and therefore knew where the body was. Erdogan called for an independent inquiry into the affair, asserting: “This was a political killing!”

DEBKAfile’s analysts make certain inferences from the mildness of the Turkish president’s accusations. One is that he and the Saudi royal house have come to a deal to defuse the affair, to which President Donald Trump is a party. Alternatively, Erdogan himself was short of smoking-gun evidence to support those accusation. It is also possible that he has learned from his own record of making political opponents disappear, whether from the Turkish army, police or intelligence service, that holding back information increases his bargaining power.
He has already milked international outrage over the assassination of the Saudi journalist for great personal benefits and can afford to allow it to die down.

In all 15 years at the helm of Turkish government (11 as prime minister and four as president), he has never felt stronger or closer to his imperial ambitions. In the weeks after the Khashoggi episode erupted, he bounced his fortunes from rock bottom to the pinnacle of world affairs. Before, he was grappling with a sinking currency, a bitter hate contest with fellow Muslim rulers, excepting only Qatar, over his support for the Muslim Brotherhood, one foot out of NATO, and nearly half a million Turks deprived of their livelihood by his massive purges after the 2016 that nearly toppled him.
After the Khashoggi affair broke, Erdogan is sought after by world leaders, whether in Washington or hostile Riyadh, and entertains high hopes of achieving goals that were once out of his reach:

  • Stabilizing the Turkish lira with US and Saudi financial assistance. Riyadh may fork out generous sums for removing the Khashoggi affair from international headlines and agenda.
  • From being treated like a pariah by mainstream Muslim nations like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Erdogan’s Turkey may win acceptance as an ally.
  • His standing in the Muslim world will be much enhanced, one of his most coveted ambitions.
  • This enhancement will pave the way for his appointment as mediator in the Saudi-UAE feud with Qatar.
  • Erdogan gains more say in determining Syria’s post-war future.
  • His clout is seriously strengthened in dealings with Moscow and Tehran.
  • He has opened the door to alliances with parties which are hostile to Israel, so gaining clout over the Jewish state.


Making it that much harder for Iran 

October 23, 2018

Source: Making it that much harder for Iran – Israel Hayom

Yoav Limor

The recent disclosure of Hezbollah’s covert activity along the Lebanese border with Israel is part of the wide-scale campaign Israel is waging against the terrorist organization and its Iranian patron.

Disguised to appear as though they belong to an environmental advocacy group, the observation posts are themselves of tactical significance: They allow Hezbollah to maintain a presence on the border, in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the Second Lebanon War, and regularly collect intelligence it can use direct operational activity inside Israeli territory in real time.

But the disclosure is in fact of even greater significance. By exposing Hezbollah’s efforts on the border, Israel is in fact demanding the international community enforce its decisions and put an end to Hezbollah’s illicit activity. The move also serves as a warning to the Lebanese government as well as the Lebanese people from Israel that this activity could drag Lebanon into a war, and that it is Hezbollah that would be responsible for such a development.

This disclosure is part of Israel’s so-called “campaign between the ‎wars,” a strategic concept that encompasses a host of covert and low-‎intensity military and intelligence efforts to prevent enemy states and ‎terrorist organizations from becoming stronger and thwart their ‎offensive activity.‎  While this campaign is known to make headlines when it involves an airstrike on an Iranian weapons convoy or facility in Syria, there are also other dimensions to Israel’s efforts, and they can involve diplomatic or economic efforts and even the media.

This is not the first time Israel is behind this type of report, which has appeared in both the local and foreign press. In some instances, the report is aimed at deterring an imminent attack, other times it is aimed at deterring the continuation of the illegal activity. When Israel exposed Hezbollah’s activities along the border in the past, it resulted in the organization lowering its profile. One can assume that officials in Israel hope that this most recent report will spur Hezbollah to pull back from these front-line observation posts.

Israel’s efforts to counter the observation posts is just one small piece in a much more complex puzzle, aimed at making Hezbollah’s and Iran’s operations more difficult. Israel also recently exposed the organization’s efforts to establish weapons factories inside Lebanon to convert previously unguided rockets into highly accurate missiles.  Despite the media reports, it seems those efforts are ongoing. Several reports in recent days have even tied Israel to an attack on a weapons convoy in Lebanon, the first since the downing of a Russian plane last month. This has also been hinted at in speeches delivered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in which they said Israeli activity against Iran was ongoing, despite Russia’s decision to provide Syria with the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system following the Syrian army’s downing of a Russian plane last month.

Nevertheless, it seems Israel is now trying to keep this activity out of the public eye in the past, in order to avoid a new confrontation with the Kremlin. This concerted effort to not draw attention to its activities may also be the result of a certain slowdown in Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon, which stems in part from Tehran’s desire to understand the repercussions of Russia’s new policy as well as the difficulties it now faces as a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and sanctions implemented by his administration.

These challenges are expected to exacerbate on Nov. 4, when an additional wave of U.S. sanctions on Iran take effect. Israeli officials believe it will be difficult for Iran to circumvent these sanctions, which are set to deliver another serious blow to its economy. As a result, the ayatollah regime will need to decide whether to continue to invest billions of dollars every year in wars in places like Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and risk further angering its citizens by squandering state funds to this end instead of investing them in the Iranian people. Iran could also decide to decrease funding overseas, a move that would be detrimental to its efforts to the export of the Islamic Revolution and Tehran’s customers, among them Hezbollah.

These measures will have a direct impact on the security situation in the north, and to a lesser extent in Gaza. As it stands, the southern front is still much more volatile than the north, which poses a more dangerous threat due to the might of Hezbollah. Nonetheless, the Shiite organization is being very cautious, and despite this new-old activity on the border, is taking care to avoid an escalation with Israel, which for the time being, is the last thing it wants.

IDF finds Hezbollah post disguised as environmental facility on border 

October 23, 2018

Source: IDF finds Hezbollah post disguised as environmental facility on border – Israel Hayom


Defense minister urges ‘tough blow’ to Hamas as Gazans riot on border 

October 23, 2018

Source: Defense minister urges ‘tough blow’ to Hamas as Gazans riot on border – Israel Hayom


Iran is now manufacturing, upgrading missiles in Iraq, sources say 

October 23, 2018

Source: Iran is now manufacturing, upgrading missiles in Iraq, sources say – Israel Hayom


Playing into Iranian hands 

October 23, 2018

Source: Playing into Iranian hands – Israel Hayom

Prof. Eyal Zisser

The situation along the Gaza Strip border is all about containment. It appears that every time some kind of truce deal is about to be finalized, things abruptly escalate and  both sides suddenly find themselves on the verge of a large confrontation, with Israeli troops entering the Gaza Strip and rockets hitting central Israel.

But Israel and Hamas are not the only players that are bracing for a possible conflagration. Over in Tehran, the ayatollahs know that renewed hostilities would help distract the world’s (and Israel’s) attention from their regional aggression.

Things are not easy for Iran as of late. Renewed U.S. sanctions have crippled the economy and led to unprecedented discontent. The Iranian people want their rulers to use the country’s wealth domestically rather than let the Revolutionary Guards squander it on misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. The regime is particularly concerned that Washington would join Israel in attacking its regional assets, particularly in Syria.

Over the past several days, Iranian officials have been upbeat because of signs that the regional coalition built by Jerusalem and Washington may be unraveling.

Just over a year ago President Donald Trump made a historic visit in Saudi Arabia in which he announced the creation of a pan-Arab Sunni alliance against Iran. Israel was to play a behind-the-scenes role in this coalition, with Riyadh being its linchpin.

But the Sunni Arab pact has fallen apart quickly. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have caused regional turbulence in the Gulf by picking a fight over regional prestige. This has spiraled out of control and has effectively undone the united front against the Iranians. Turkey, who was to play a role in this alliance, has found itself  trading barbs with Saudi Arabia over the latter’s involvement in the  death (and likely execution) of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anti-Saudi rhetoric cannot be attributed to his commitment to a free press (a concept that has long been discarded under his regime). It is his way of expressing outrage over having Turkish sovereignty infringed, and could be a way to do some score-settling with Riyadh for being cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, who are not his cup of tea.

Israel, which is an important actor in any anti-Iranian front, has found itself busy with its own crisis vis-à-vis Hamas, and has been dragged into an unwanted conflagration because of intra-Palestinian strife.

No wonder, then, that the Iranians feel giddy now. But they are more than just giddy. Just last week it was reported that Iran has increased its weapons shipments to Hezbollah, which include guidance components to upgrade the organization’s rockets.

Iran has also taken advantage of the constraints on Israel in the wake of Russia’s decision to bolster Syria’s air defense. Russia has supplied Syria with advanced S-300 air defense systems and has recently handed over other sophisticated systems. President Vladimir Putin has even said that Iran’s future in Syria was none of his concern. Perhaps Israel’s window of opportunity in Syria is about to close.

The only positive development is that Washington has recently announced a new strategy aimed at driving Iran out of Iraq and Syria. This is a welcome change in U.S. policy, but it appears that the strategy is based on economic warfare, which has a very limited effect with concrete measures on the ground.

The U.S must put out the fire that has spread in the region and engulfed its regional allies, it must save Saudi Arabia and its crown prince Mohammed bin Salman from himself and make the Khashoggi affair go away lest the kingdom lose its regional and international stature. On top of that, the U.S. must also take action on the ground rather than just talk about Iran’s presence in the region.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.