Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Behind the News - August 2016

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ROCKET AND TERROR REPORT

On 30 June, a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the Givat Harsina outpost near Kiryat Arba on the West Bank, entered a house and stabbed to death 13 year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel as she slept in her bed. The attacker,19 year-old Muhammed Taraiyre, was subsequently shot dead by settlement security guards. On July 1, Palestinians committed a drive by shooting attack on a family of Israeli civilians south of Hebron. The father, Rabbi Michael "Miki" Mark, 48, a father of ten, was killed and his wife and two of his children were wounded.

On June 30, a 40-year-old Palestinian ran along a main street in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, stabbing three civilians before he was shot dead. While overall attacks were again down, numerous other non-fatal attacks were still recorded.

On the evening of July 1, a rocket from Gaza hit a children's activity centre in Sderot, which was empty.


PA SALUTES TERRORISTS

Following the murder of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel (see above), the Palestinian Authority (PA) funded a mourning tent for the murderer, Muhammed Taraiyre, with an official close to PA President Mahmoud Abbas attending to pay respects on behalf of the PA, and flags of Abbas' Fatah Party adorning the tent. Fatah's official Facebook page also hailed the murderer a "martyr", as did WAFA, the PA news agency.

In addition on 17 July, the Palestinian Authority and PLO dedicated a statue in downtown Ramallah to Ahmad Jabarah, a terrorist who murdered 15 people by detonating an explosives-filled refrigerator in downtown west Jerusalem in 1975.

Meanwhile, on July 17, the Izz a-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, announced that it had opened its annual summer camps, which incorporate military training, and that this year's theme is "soldiers of Jerusalem". More than 30,000 Gaza youths are expected to attend the camps, which, the Brigades say, will "prepare an army of victory for the liberation of Palestine."


NUCLEAR DEAL'S SECRET ANNEXE

As Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif boasted on July 19 of his country's ability to reconstitute its nuclear program despite the nuclear agreement, revelations that there was a hitherto secret annexe to that agreement, obtained the day before by Associated Press, were coming to light. The annexe states that as of January 2027, Iran will be permitted to begin replacing its centrifuges with thousands of more advanced versions. These will allow Iran to enrich uranium at more than twice the current rate, thus reducing the time needed for a nuclear breakout. It also allows Iran to carry out testing on even more advanced centrifuges.

Further, on July 13, Iran's own semi-official Fars news agency reported that Behrouz Kamalavani, the Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, announced that Iranian experts are testing newly-designed centrifuges which he said are 15 times more powerful than its current ones. He also warned that Iran could bring its nuclear operations back on line surprisingly quickly if it so desired.

Meanwhile, in a report released in the first week of July, German intelligence has revealed that Iran has a clandestine program to illegally obtain nuclear technology and equipment from German companies "at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level" - efforts which violate the terms of the nuclear deal. The report also said that there are 950 Hezbollah members and supporters and 300 Hamas members resident in Germany.


ANOTHER IRANIAN MISSILE TEST

American intelligence officials say that on July 11, Iran unsuccessfully attempted to launch a new type of ballistic missile based on North Korean technology and with a range of nearly 4,000 km.

Meanwhile, on July 20, an Argentinean investigating judge requested Singapore and Malaysia extradite Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Iranian Foreign Minister, for his alleged senior role in the July 1994 bombing of the Jewish community AMIA building in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people. Velayati is currently on a lecture tour in Southeast Asia.


IRAN AIR BOOSTING ASSAD

Further reports have surfaced of Iran repurposing civilian aircraft to bolster its war effort in Syria and provide support for the ailing regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The American think-tank AEI says that flight data shows that since June 2015, 31 airplanes belonging to Iran Air and the private airline Mahan Air have departed from airports in Iran and landed in Syria and these flights were almost certainly related to resupply of Iran's war efforts.

These reports come amid confirmation that Boeing and Airbus are set to sell dozens of aircraft to Iran Air, following the recent removal of sanctions placed on the state airline by the US Treasury Department for previously transporting military equipment to Syria.


ISIS AND ASSAD COLLUDE ON OIL SALES

ISIS continues to export oil to the tune of US$30 million from fields captured in Syria, according to a recent defector.

Ali Omar Mohammad Alosaimi joined ISIS in April 2014 and managed the exports from its oil fields near Raqqa. Alosaimi is one of the most senior ISIS defectors to pass on intelligence about ISIS's oil smuggling operation.

He said that ISIS has consistently worked with the Assad regime, which has become the largest buyer of ISIS oil. This follows previous reports of collusion with Assad on oil sales in April after a US and British raid.


HAMAS UPDATE: IRAN IN, SAUDI ARABIA OUT

After relations deteriorated between Hamas and Iran in 2012 as a result of disagreements over the Syrian civil war, Teheran and Gaza are now pursuing closer cooperation and openly acknowledging close links. While military funding never stopped - as Hamas leaders acknowledge - all funding has since been restored and relations resumed in recent months, reports say.

The deputy head of Hamas' political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk openly praised Iranian support for Hamas in a June 15 interview with Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, saying, "The support offered by Iran to the Palestinian resistance - be it in logistics, training or funds - is unmatched and beyond the capabilities of other countries."

The open ties with Iran appear to be a result of the fact that Saudi Arabia has completely rejected the ties with Hamas that elements of Hamas - particularly the political wing - had been seeking. Although King Salman was initially viewed as a potential ally for Hamas when he took the throne in January 2015, the Saudis, particularly Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed, have reportedly concluded Hamas should be viewed as a proxy of Iran, Saudi Arabia's main regional adversary.

Hamas was reportedly stunned when on July 9, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal, at an Iranian opposition rally in Paris, publicly denounced Hamas as an Iranian proxy and part of Iran's plans to destabilise the region.


US GOVT. FUNDED ANTI-NETANYAHU CAMPAIGN

A US State Department grant to the Israeli group OneVoice wound up aiding a campaign against Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu in the 2015 Israeli election, a 12 July US Senate report found. The grant funded the establishment of a voter database used to promote the Middle East peace process, as the grant intended. However, after the grant expired and Netanyahu called elections, the database was given by OneVoice to Victory 15, an unsuccessful campaign against Netanyahu.

Because the grant money had already expired, no State Department regulations were broken, the report said. However, Senator Rob Portman, co-author of the report, said that more should have been done to prevent the use of US Government funded-programs against an elected leader, especially given OneVoice's history of political campaigning.

 

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