Behind the News – October 2023
Sep 27, 2023 | AIJAC staff
ROCKET AND TERROR REPORT
No rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza from July 5 to late September, although another failed rocket launch from the West Bank was reported on Sept. 10, the eighth such effort from the area this year.
Throughout September, violent riots occurred along the Gaza-Israel border fence involving hundreds of Palestinians, some hurling explosive devices and grenades. Some Palestinian casualties occurred as a result.
Continued attempted and successful attacks, including shootings, stabbings and car-rammings against Israeli civilians and security personnel in the West Bank and Jerusalem, resulted in some casualties. One IDF soldier was killed and a number of soldiers and civilians injured, in a car-ramming attack at the Maccabim Crossing on Aug. 24. An explosive device that detonated at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on Sept. 14 may also have been related to a terror plot.
IDF counterterrorism raids throughout the West Bank continued to round up dozens of terrorist suspects, and sometimes resulted in Palestinian casualties.
G20 PUSHES SAUDI-ISRAEL TRANSPORT CORRIDOR
At the G20 Summit meeting held in New Delhi on Sept. 9, world leaders announced plans to build a rail and shipping corridor linking India with the Middle East and Europe. The corridor would traverse India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel, with the aim of boosting political cooperation and economic growth, as well as trade, transport, energy resources and digital connectivity. No timeline has been set for the completion of the corridor, although a working group is expected to present a plan in the next 60 days. Touted as an alternative to China’s international “Belt and Road” infrastructure ambitions, the White House is reportedly seeking to tie this new infrastructure plan into its ongoing efforts to achieve an agreement to normalise relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
IRAN EXPELS IAEA INSPECTORS
Britain, France and Germany announced on Sept. 14 that, in response to Iran’s “consistent and severe” JCPOA nuclear deal noncompliance, they would not be lifting the ballistic missile and nuclear sanctions on Iran which, under the terms of the 2015 deal, were slated to expire on Oct. 18.
Possibly in response to this announcement, Iran subsequently withdrew the visas from a number of experienced International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, said by the agency to constitute “one-third of the core group of the Agency’s most experienced inspectors” in Iran. Reports suggest the expelled inspectors were all or mostly German or French. IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said in response, “I strongly condemn this disproportionate and unprecedented unilateral measure.”
IAEA REPORT: IRAN STILL EDGING TOWARD NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The September 2023 reports by the IAEA indicate that Teheran continues to edge closer to obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities.
The reports show a slight slowing in the rate of uranium enrichment, but also that Iran’s stock of highly enriched uranium has increased since May, and that Teheran can currently produce enough weapons-grade fissile material for one warhead within less than two weeks, and ten such devices in under four months.
In addition, IAEA supervision of Iran’s nuclear activities remained very limited, with Teheran preventing the reinstallation of IAEA monitoring equipment and continuing to limit agency access to its atomic sites.
IRANIAN AIRFIELD IN LEBANON
On Sept. 11, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant revealed the existence of an Iranian airfield in southern Lebanon, in the Hezbollah-controlled area of the Qalaat Jabbour mountain, a mere 20 km from the border with Israel. According to Gallant, the Iranian flag openly flies over the airfield, which is designed to be used “for terror” against Israel. Analysts say that this airfield can be used by drones and is connected to underground tunnels used for weapons storage and shelters.
UNESCO DESIGNATES JERICHO A PALESTINIAN WORLD HERITAGE SITE
On Sept. 17, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee voted to designate ancient Jericho as a Palestinian World Heritage site. According to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim tradition, Jericho marks the place where the Israelites entered the Promised Land after their Exodus from Egypt, and there is ample archaeological evidence of a historic Jewish presence in the city, including ancient synagogues.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the nomination by the Palestinian Authority was “another sign of the Palestinians’ cynical use of UNESCO” and the “politicisation of the organisation.”
ISRAELI EARTHQUAKE AID TO MOROCCO
The Israeli Government offered to send aid to Morocco within hours of the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco’s south on Sep. 8, killing approximately 3,000 people and impacting another 300,000.
An emergency relief mission comprised of IDF search and rescue troops and medical experts from the Magen David Adom rescue service, armed with medical supplies and equipment, was swiftly assembled and approved, landing just 24 hours after the earthquake struck. A second mission later set up a field hospital.
Multiple independent Israeli NGOs, including IsraAID, SmartAID, United Hatzalah and NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief, also dispatched aid teams to assist Moroccans affected by the earthquake.
On Sept. 5, Papua New Guinea (PNG) inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, making it the fifth nation to do so. PNG Prime Minister James Marape emphasised religious and historical ties at the embassy opening, which he attended alongside Israeli PM Netanyahu. Marape also requested Israel open an Israeli embassy in Port Moresby, though there are reportedly no current plans to do so.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 4, Israel opened its first embassy in the Bahraini capital of Manama. Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen made his first trip to Bahrain for the occasion and met with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani.
LIBYA-ISRAEL MEETING LEADS TO CONTROVERSY
In mid-August, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met in Rome with Najla Mangoush, his counterpart from one of Libya’s two rival governments, to discuss possible cooperation and safeguarding the heritage of the Libyan Jewish community. When news of the meeting was about to be leaked to the press, Cohen issued a statement confirming it had happened.
Following protests about the engagement with Israel in Libya, Mangoush fled to Turkey and was fired by her Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh. However, Arab media subsequently reported that Dbeibeh himself had held secret talks in 2022 with David Barnea, head of Israel’s Mossad, to iron out details of possible normalisation between the two countries.
ISRAEL’S “IRON BEAM” ALMOST READY
On Aug. 27, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Chairman Yuval Steinitz announced that Israel will possess a partial system of laser-based defences against missiles, rockets and drones within a year, becoming the first country with this capability. He said he was also optimistic about achieving full protection within two years.
Israel’s advanced laser air defence systems, sometimes termed “Iron Beam”, are being developed through a collaboration between Israel’s Defence Ministry’s Directorate of Research and Development and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems.
Stranger than Fiction
We’re Bigger Terrorists than You!
When two organisations both present themselves on the world stage as leaders of their people, ready to govern that people in an independent state, and aspire to international recognition as such, one would expect they would want to distance themselves from heinous crimes as much as possible. For instance, crimes like the terrorist murder of innocent civilians.
Sadly, when it comes to the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas, the exact opposite is the case – to the extent that they’ll even claim responsibility (or, as they see it, credit) for murders committed by the other, and mock each other for not killing more people.
On Aug. 21, Israeli kindergarten teacher and mother of three Batsheva Nagari was shot dead in front of her 12-year-old daughter in a drive-by murder. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, part of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, immediately claimed responsibility. However, it turned out that a Hamas terrorist, Muhammad al-Shantir, was actually responsible.
Hamas responded by releasing a parody post attributed to the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, purporting to show the Brigades taking credit for shooting down the plane of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin over Russia on Aug. 23.
Hamas may have still been annoyed about a statement put out by Fatah in October 2022 claiming to have carried out 7,200 attacks against Israelis, while tweaking Hamas for supposedly having done nothing.
On Sept. 5, Fatah took its proud association with terror even further, bragging that 23 terrorists killed while attacking Israelis were members of the PA security forces in a poster it released, titled “Martyrs of the Palestinian Security Forces” (Translations from Palestinian Media Watch).
It’s a good thing Fatah is Israel’s partner for peace. Imagine how bloodthirsty it would be if it was Israel’s enemy!