Behind the News – March 2022
Mar 1, 2022 | AIJAC staff
ROCKET AND TERROR REPORT
No rockets were fired into Israel between Jan. 2 and late February.
A massive operation to smuggle weapons to Gazan terrorist groups was thwarted on Feb. 7.
On Feb. 8, three militants affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade were killed by Israeli security forces in Nablus. Four retaliatory attacks against IDF troops and vehicles were claimed by the group and its allies from Feb. 9-14, but no casualties were reported.
On Feb. 18, a small Hezbollah drone crossed into Israel for 40 minutes and was reportedly able to return to Lebanon despite Israeli jets being scrambled and Iron Dome attempting to intercept it.
Statistics recently released by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center showed a total of 54 major Palestinian terrorist attacks occurred in 2021 in Israel, including shootings, stabbings, and vehicular attacks in which three Israelis were killed and 34 injured. This was a rise from 40 attacks the previous year. There were also 1,700 rock-throwing attacks and 350 fire-bombings.
PHILIPPINES THWARTS HAMAS PLOT
On Feb. 15, the Philippine National Police claimed to have thwarted an alleged Hamas attempt to recruit local extremists to carry out terrorist attacks targeting Israeli tourists and Jews in the Philippines. A Philippines recruit had reportedly travelled to Malaysia several times over recent years to receive terrorist training there and meet with a senior Hamas figure to plot attacks. Sources name the Hamas operative as Fares al-Shikli, the alleged head of Hamas’s Foreign Liaison Section.
EGYPT REPORTEDLY STEPPING UP GAZA ROLE
Egypt is reportedly lifting its profile in Gaza and positioning itself as a regional peacemaker.
Egypt had previously adopted a hardline stance against Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, after current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi overthrew a Muslim Brotherhood government when he took over Egypt in 2013.
Following the conflict in May 2021 between Israel and Gaza, Egypt pledged US$500 million (A$691.5 million) towards Gaza’s reconstruction.
According to Gaza’s Housing Ministry, Egypt is currently subsidising construction of three towns in Gaza, which is expected to generate several thousand much-needed jobs.
Construction materials are entering the enclave through the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Control of the crossing, together with the promised aid, provides Egypt potential leverage over Hamas.
FUNDING WITHDRAWN FROM PFLP-LINKED NGO
The Dutch Government and the British charity Oxfam have ceased funding the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), a Palestinian NGO with links to the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – one of six NGOs designated by Israel as terrorist organisations because of these links in Oct. 2021.
The Dutch move followed a government investigation which found that 34 UAWC employees had been active in the PFLP between 2007 and 2020. The Netherlands had previously donated 21.5 million euros (A$33.7 million) to the UAWC.
Oxfam, whose last payment to UAWC was in November 2021, was instructed to suspend its funding by the EU while it carries out its own investigation.
SYRIAN MISSILE EXPLODES OVER ISRAEL
An SA-5 anti-aircraft missile exploded in the skies over the West Bank in the early morning of Feb. 9, setting off sirens and leaving some shrapnel in the area. In response, unconfirmed reports indicate the IDF attacked Syrian radar stations and anti-aircraft batteries in the Damascus area.
Analysts consider the main aim of Israeli airstrikes in Syria has been to undermine Iran’s extensive presence in that country. New reports claim that, in addition to its large military presence, Iran has recently started to try to settle non-Syrian Shi’ites from across the Middle East on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, close to the Israeli border.
IRAN REPORTEDLY AWASH WITH OIL MONEY
Despite the continued application of oil sanctions imposed on Iran following the US withdrawal in 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, Iran’s oil exports increased by 40% in 2021. This represents approximately US$25 billion (A$34.6 billion) in revenue.
Approximately 75% of these exports are reported to flow to China, the rest going to Syria, Venezuela, Russia and other unknown destinations.
IRAN’S MISSILE PROGRAM ADVANCES
Iran unveiled a new long-range, solid-fuel ballistic missile on Feb. 9 with the reported ability to hit Israel. The missile is called “Khaybar Sheikan”, an allusion to a battle in which Muhammad’s army defeated Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century.
In January, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tested a new solid fuel rocket motor, ostensibly as part of its space program that experts agree is actually intended to develop solid fuel technology for intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
VISITS SOLIDIFY ABRAHAM ACCORDS
On Feb. 15, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Bahrain where he met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in the first visit by an Israeli PM to the country. Bennett also met with Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, who told him he was among friends in Bahrain, and other ministers. Bennett stressed that his goal was a “people to people” peace, adding, “By fostering this relationship in high-tech, in trade, in agriculture, in technology and many other areas, we can do great things together.”
This followed a Feb. 2 visit by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who had also met the King and Crown Prince, and signed security agreements with Bahrain.
Earlier, on Jan. 30, Israeli President Isaac Herzog made the first ever visit by an Israeli President to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with the de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
ISRAEL TIES GROW WITH MOROCCO AND SUDAN
Ties between Israel and Morocco are flourishing. In February, Israel’s Aerospace Industries agreed to a US$500 million (A$691.5 million) sale of its cutting-edge Barak MX missile and drone defence system to the Moroccan army.
In addition, during a visit to Morocco by Israel’s Economy Minister Orna Barbivai, the countries signed an agreement to expand trade and create joint business committees. Barbivai expressed hopes bilateral trade would increase from US$70 million (A$96.8 million) in 2021 to $US500 million (A$691.5 million) within five years.
Meanwhile, a presidential envoy from Sudan reportedly visited Israel during February to discuss boosting ties. In addition, the de facto ruler of Sudan, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, publicly praised ties with Israel, telling Sudanese state-run TV on Feb. 12 that an exchange of intelligence with Israel helped Sudan’s security services dismantle militias inside the country.
COVID IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN AREAS
On Feb. 21, total cumulative COVID-19 deaths in Israel passed 10,000.
The Omicron surge continued, with 1,274,114 of the 3,576,923 total cases Israel has experienced occurring between Jan. 22 and Feb. 22. However, from a peak of 83,739 cases on Jan. 23, numbers have steadily fallen, and there were only 10,107 new cases on Feb. 22. Sadly, 1,589 deaths occurred between Jan. 22 and Feb. 22.
The surge was less pronounced in the Palestinian-ruled areas of the West Bank, with 119,628 cases between Jan. 22 and Feb. 22 and 382 deaths in that period. Gaza recorded 49,594 cases between Jan. 22 and Feb. 21.
Stranger than Fiction
The All-Conquering Palestinians
Palestinian Authority PM Muhammad Shtayyeh seems to think that if you’re going to mythologise your own history, you might as well go big. On Jan. 9, on PA TV, he claimed, “We are the people of the land and the children of its soil… We have defeated the Hyksos, the Romans, the Greeks, the Persians, the Tatars, and the Pharaohs.” (Translation by Palestinian Media Watch).
The Hyksos were a foreign dynasty that ruled Egypt in the 1600s and 1500s BCE until they were expelled by the returning pharaohs, and there is a theory that they were actually the Israelites. The Romans were driven out of Jerusalem by the Sassanids, from pre-Muslim Iran, in 613, allied with Jewish inhabitants.
The Greeks, or Seleucids, were defeated by the Jewish Maccabees, as celebrated in the Jewish festival of Chanukah.
The Persians were driven out by an alliance of Jews, Egyptians and Sidonians (from Sidon in Lebanon), but after a short period of autonomy, the Greeks conquered the area.
By Tatars, he probably means the Mongols, who raided the area and briefly stayed on occasions in the mid-to-late 13th century, but were quickly replaced by Mamluks, from Egypt, each time.
The Pharaohs were defeated by the neo-Babylonian, or Chaldean, empire.
It is unclear how Shtayyeh would explain that all of these disparate conquerors were really Palestinians, but his delusion had a more sinister follow up. He added, “We have defeated all the invaders who passed through the land of Palestine. On behalf of the martyrs we will defeat this hated occupation [Israel] that will leave our land.”
In other words, his fantabulous, fabricated history was simply a means for incitement, and an apparent call for the ethnic cleansing of Israelis from “Palestine”.