Australia/Israel Review


Behind the News – February 2023

Jan 27, 2023 | AIJAC staff

Mohammad Mehdi Karami (Image: Twitter)
Mohammad Mehdi Karami (Image: Twitter)

ROCKET AND TERROR REPORT

A rocket that was aimed at Israel but fell inside Gaza was detected on Jan. 3.

Late December and early January saw multiple instances of shootings at both IDF and civilian vehicles and targets, including a bus, reported in the West Bank, resulting in no Israeli casualties. Three policemen were wounded in an attack on Dec. 23, while the attacker was killed. 

Israeli security forces announced on Dec. 14 they’d thwarted a terrorist network in the West Bank planning bombing attacks inside Israel. 

Months-long sweeping Israeli counterterrorism raids throughout the West Bank continue, resulting in dozens of Palestinians detained or killed, almost all of them terrorist operatives or those attacking security forces. 

A Hezbollah drone that crossed into Israel from Lebanon was downed on Dec. 19. 

The IDF released statistics showing there were 285 shooting attacks and 14 stabbing attacks in the West Bank in 2022, and more than 1,162 rockets were launched from Gaza. 

Meanwhile, data from Israeli insurance companies revealed that in December alone, between 1,200 and 1,300 cars were stolen in Israel, double the numbers in December 2021 – with 95% of those cars ending up in areas under the Palestinian Authority. An insurance executive stated, “This is a kind of economic intifada… an organised industry.”

 

UN SENDS ISRAEL TO ICJ

On Dec. 30, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to refer Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with 87 in favour, 26 against, and 53 abstentions.

The referral asks the ICJ to examine Israel’s presence in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem and give an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation … including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said, “No international body can decide that the Jewish people are ‘occupiers’ in their own homeland.”

On Jan. 5, the UN Security Council held an emergency session to discuss a 13-minute visit by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Temple Mount on Jan. 3. All 15 member countries expressed concern about the visit and called for the retention of the status quo on the holy site, but Erdan said the visit was within the status quo and called the meeting an “insult to our intelligence.”

 

ISRAEL SANCTIONS THE PA

On Jan. 6, the Israeli Government introduced sanctions against the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a consequence of the Palestinian push to have Israel reviewed before the International Court of Justice.

The sanctions include the transfer of NIS 139 million (AUD$58.74 million) in tax fees Israel collects on behalf of the PA to victims of Palestinian terrorism, offsetting the payments made by the PA to terrorists and their families in 2022; placing a moratorium on Palestinian construction plans in Area C of the West Bank; and denying benefits to Palestinian VIPs who are involved in leading the political and legal war against Israel.

 

IRANIAN EXECUTIONS AND OTHER KILLINGS CONTINUE

The Iranian regime has continued to use executions of detained protesters as a means to suppress ongoing anti-regime protests. On Jan. 7, Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Sayed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged in Karaj, bringing the total executions to four since December. There are reportedly at least 109 additional protesters at risk of execution. Regime security forces have also gunned down at least 500 Iranian citizens and arrested more than 14,000. 

On Jan. 11, Iran announced it had hanged British-Iranian citizen and former Iranian Deputy Minister of Defence Alireza Akbari on charges of espionage and “corruption on earth”. He was accused of working for British intelligence. 

In December, Iranian illustrator and author Mehdi Bahman was reportedly sentenced to death for espionage after giving an interview to Israel’s Channel 13 last April in which he called for normalisation of relations. 

 

ISIS-LINKED WMD PLOT IN EUROPE

On Jan. 8, German authorities arrested two Iranian brothers suspected of plotting to use the deadly gases cyanide and ricin in an Islamist-motivated terror attack in a public area. Israeli sources confirmed that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence organisation, provided the Germans with the information that resulted in the arrests. 

 

IRAN TO GET ADVANCED RUSSIAN FIGHTER JETS

According to a statement from a senior Iranian MP, Moscow is expected to deliver SU-35 fighter jets to Teheran within the upcoming Iranian year, which starts on March 21. The Sukhoi SU-35 is considered one of the most advanced fighters in the world today, and would be a dramatic improvement to Iran’s air force compared to its current very obsolete jet fleet.

The new aeroplanes are part of several arms deals between the two countries that reportedly also include the supply of sophisticated Russian air defence batteries, missiles and helicopters to Iran.

 

NEGEV SUMMIT PREPARATORY MEETING

On Jan. 9, Israeli officials met in Abu Dhabi with their counterparts from Morocco, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt and the US, to prepare for the as yet unscheduled summit of the Negev Forum foreign ministers in Morocco in the next few months.

In addition, the Forum’s Working Groups in the areas of regional security, clean energy, food and water security, health, tourism and education and coexistence held their first official meetings. Their goal is to identify joint initiatives that will benefit their populations and the wider region. 

The Forum’s inaugural meeting was held in March 2022 in Sde Boker in Israel’s Negev region, and was an initiative of the US and Israel’s then Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

In further diplomatic progress for Israel, Papua New Guinea (PNG) Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko announced in mid-January that his country would be opening a new embassy in Jerusalem within the next three years. PNG currently only has a consulate in Tel Aviv.

 

UAE TO TEACH HOLOCAUST 

The UAE will add Holocaust education to its school curriculum for primary and secondary students, the UAE Embassy in Washington confirmed on Jan. 5. The UAE’s Culture and Youth Ministry is developing the education materials with assistance from Yad Vashem and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se). 

On Twitter, the international Combat Antisemitism Movement called the announcement “a major step in combating the regional culture of Holocaust denial.”

On Jan. 10, a Hamas spokesman issued a statement condemning the move. Placing the term Holocaust in quotes, he slammed such education as “support for the Zionist narrative and a form of cultural normalisation.” 

Meanwhile, a January IMPACT-se report into Indonesia’s school curriculum found it was largely tolerant, promoting peace and coexistence. The report found most references to Jews in Islamic education textbooks are neutral or positive, and while Israel is termed a “colonising country”, the indigenous status of Jews is recognised. 

 

ISRAEL RECORDS RARE BUDGET SURPLUS 

Israel’s government revenue exceeded spending last year, according to the country’s Ministry of Finance Accountant General. The budget surplus of NIS 9.8 billion (A$4.1 billion), representing 0.6% of GDP, was the country’s first since 1987.

The combined value of Israel’s exports was also expected to reach a new record of at least US$160 billion (A$229 billion) in 2022 – up more than 10% from 2021.

 


Stranger Than Fiction

ANIMAL CRACKERS

The Palestinian Authority and its publications have a rich history of ludicrous accusations and conspiracy theories against Israel. Many of these have involved animals, including birds, rats, dogs and sharks, all allegedly trained by Israel to attack or spy on Palestinians.

Now we can add cows to this malignant menagerie. 

Reported as fact in the official Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Dec. 27, Khirbet Yanun village elder Rushd Morrar claimed that the nearby settlers let their cattle loose against the village, where they eat everything, ruining the crops. However, there’s more. These aren’t just any cattle, the paper reported. “These are recruited and trained cattle, as on the neck of each cow they hang a medallion with an eavesdropping and recording device on it, and sometimes cameras, in order to monitor every detail in Khirbet Yanun.”

Morrar also claimed “the settlers release herds of wild boars in the direction of the agricultural territories,” as part of a laundry list of crimes including murder. However, unlike their bovine colleagues, the boars don’t seem to have been trained in espionage (translation by Palestinian Media Watch).

Morrar was far from the first to accuse Israel of weaponising boars against the Palestinians. PA President Mahmoud Abbas did so in November 2014, and more recently, on Nov. 15, 2022, the ironically named Institute for Middle East Understanding claimed, “Israel is using wild boars to strengthen its colonial hold on Palestinian land,” with “Israeli settlers hav[ing] been found to release wild boars onto Palestinian farmland as a form of abuse.”

In fact, wild boars are a protected species, and problems with damaging behaviour from them are common inside Israel as well.

As with so many other Palestinian accusations against Israel, these claims of spy cows and colonialist boars are udder nonsense. 

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