Behind the News – December 2022
Nov 28, 2022 | AIJAC staff
ROCKET AND TERROR REPORT
Four rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Nov. 4, the first since the end of Operation Breaking Dawn in August. One was intercepted by Iron Dome while the others fell inside Gaza. Israel struck a Hamas facility in response.
Multiple shooting, stabbing, and car ramming attacks took place in the West Bank and Jerusalem. On Oct. 29, a Palestinian attacker killed an Israeli father and wounded his son, a rescue worker and others near Kiryat Arba, before himself being killed. On Oct. 25 in the village of Funduq, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli civilian, who later died. On Nov. 15, a Palestinian attacker killed three Israelis and wounded three others in a stabbing and car ramming spree in and around Ariel.
Israeli counterterrorism raids in October and November resulted in scores of detentions and targeted killings against the Lions’ Den terrorist group responsible for multiple attacks. Several other Palestinians were killed and wounded in these raids, mostly when attacking Israeli forces.
In October, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party boasted of conducting over 7200 “acts of resistance”, many of which would be considered terrorist attacks, in 2022.
MORE ISRAELI STRIKES IN SYRIA
Alleged Israeli strikes against Iranian positions in Syria continued. On Oct. 21, 24 and 27, sites near Damascus were struck. On Nov. 9, a suspected Iranian weapons convoy crossing the border from Iraq was targeted, and on Nov. 13, it was the Shayrat airbase. Casualties among Syrian, Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were reported.
PA AND HAMAS CRACK DOWN ON DISSENT
Repression by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) of freedom of speech and media has intensified, as illustrated by several recent incidents.
In Hamas-ruled Gaza on Oct. 31, journalist Ahmad Saeed was arrested after Hamas-affiliated police raided his home. Saeed had exposed alleged Hamas involvement in an attempt to smuggle Gazans to Europe that ended with at least seven passengers drowning.
On Oct. 23, police raided the Gaza home of Belgium-based activist Ramzi Herzallah and issued threats against his family, following accusations by Herzallah of Hamas involvement in corruption.
In the West Bank in early November, PA forces banned activists calling for reform of the Palestinian political system from holding two separate conferences.
IAEA “SERIOUSLY CONCERNED” ABOUT IRAN
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest periodic report on Iran, issued in early November, revealed that, as of late October, Iran had accumulated 62.3kg of uranium enriched to 60%, near military level – 6.7kg more than it had in September.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said he is “seriously concerned” about Iran’s continuous failure to present “technically credible explanations” about human-manipulated fissile material particles found in several locations in Iran. Following a meeting with Iranian representatives about this issue, Grossi stated that the Iranians “didn’t bring anything new.”
The IAEA’s Board of Governors meeting in late November again rebuked Teheran (as it did in June), noting that “it is essential and urgent” that Iran hand over to the IAEA “without delay” all information necessary for the agency’s investigation of the particles and allow IAEA access to the relevant locations and material.
Iran’s breakout time, the time needed to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear warhead, remains effectively zero. Iran would need only a few weeks to manufacture enough material for four warheads.
IRAN GETS CAPTURED WESTERN WEAPONS FROM RUSSIA
On Nov. 9, Sky News reported that an unnamed security source told it that Russia had supplied Iran with a cache of captured UK and US weapons, including British NLAW anti-tank missiles, US Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Iran could potentially reverse-engineer these weapons for use in future conflicts.
On Nov. 10, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Aerospace Force, claimed Iran has developed an advanced hypersonic ballistic missile.
Such missiles are both very fast, travelling at Mach 5 or greater, and highly manoeuvrable, giving them great ability to evade radar and defence systems. However, Western analysts expressed scepticism over Hajizadeh’s claim.
IRAN HUNTS JOURNALISTS AND DISSIDENTS IN THE WEST
On Nov. 16, the head of UK security agency MI5 revealed that Iran had tried to kidnap or kill ten British residents this year alone, and that the Metropolitan police had warned several UK-based journalists of threats to their lives from Iran. This includes two journalists working for the UK-based Iran International media outlet who were warned in early November that their lives were under serious threat from an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps hit squad. Iran has assassinated, or attempted to assassinate, multiple regime enemies in Europe over the years.
In the US, the Biden Administration confirmed that Iran is still trying to kill former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former senior official Brian Hook.
ISRAEL INCREASES ASSISTANCE TO UKRAINE
Israel has reportedly agreed to give military communication equipment to Ukraine. This equipment, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, had been requested months ago – before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This is in addition to an aid package of defensive equipment, including large numbers of helmets, protective vests, mine protection suits, and gas masks, that Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz agreed to supply in July this year, and earlier humanitarian aid.
However, Gantz reiterated in a briefing to EU ambassadors in Israel in October that while Israel would help Ukraine develop a missile early warning system, it would not be providing weapons systems.
ISRAELI DEFENCE EXPORT ACHIEVEMENTS
Satellite images published in September appear to reveal deployment in the UAE of two Israeli Barak 8 missile launchers, together with the Elta ELM 2084 radar system, near al-Dhafra airbase south of Abu Dhabi. This combined system provides defence capabilities against missile, aircraft and drone attacks like those recently conducted on Gulf states by Iran and its proxies. The supply of these systems to the UAE has never been publicly announced by Jerusalem.
The Barak 8 missile was developed together with India. Meanwhile, a new Israeli-Indian project to jointly develop an electronic warfare system for India’s Navy and Coast Guard was launched on Oct. 29
In addition, in early November, Israeli company Elbit Systems signed a US$70 million (A$103 million) deal to provide Morocco’s army with advanced electronic warfare and intelligence equipment.
ANOTHER NATURAL GAS FIND IN ISRAEL
In early November, the energy company Energean announced a new commercial natural gas discovery of 13 billion cubic metres off the shore of Israel.
The discovery confirmed the company’s initial speculation that the “Olympus area” located between the existing Karish and Tanin gas fields contained commercially viable quantities of gas.
Stranger Than Fiction
PA: Equal opportunity – for terrorists
The Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister for Women’s Affairs, Amal Hamad, and other senior female figures celebrated Palestinian Women’s Day on Oct. 26 by proudly saluting the gender equality in Palestinian society. Their proof? Palestinian women can participate in terrorism.
Speaking on PA TV, Hamad gave three examples of equality – the involvement of women in the violent 1929 anti-Jewish riots; mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi, who led a 1978 attack that killed 37 Israeli civilians; and the fact that “there are also female prisoners in the occupation’s prisons.”
Ramallah Governor Laila Ghannam, in the Oct. 26 edition of official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, lauded the fact that Palestinian women “have been self-sacrificing fighters, expelled, wounded, prisoners and Martyrs.” Similarly, Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila, in the same edition, wanted to emphasise “the role of the female Palestinian prisoners in all stages of the national struggle,” while her “message to the Palestinian women is that they should continue in the popular resistance” (translations from Palestinian Media Watch).
However, it appears that respect does not extend to non-Palestinian women who help the Palestinian cause. In the recent TV documentary series “Shtula” or “Double Agent”, which focuses on the behind-the-scenes goings on in “human rights organisations” in the PA areas, members of the International Solidarity Movement told a woman posing as an anti-Israel activist that she should expect sexual harassment from Palestinian men.
It then came out that an Israeli peace activist was “severely sexually assaulted in Sheikh Jarrah,” but the organisers of the Sheikh Jarrah protests pressured her to withdraw her complaint, and then warned all Western women to cover their hair and bodies. Another activist revealed to an Israeli reporter that she knew of other similar rape cases.
Apparently gender equality in the PA areas goes only so far.