News Digest — 1/14/20

Intel Report: Gaza Conflict Peaked In 2019, W. Bank Terror Is Dropping

The volume of rockets in 2019 from Gaza hit new highs for a non-war year, while terrorism emanating from the West Bank continued to drop, a new report said on Monday (13th).

Forecasting 2020, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center report obtained and published first by The Jerusalem Post said 2020 was likely to be a quieter year due to potential “quiet for quiet” understandings between Israel and Hamas.

At the same time, the report said, Hamas had not given up on using violence to pressure Israel.  Hamas’ continued violence, along with “Islamic Jihad having its own agenda,” could easily unravel any “understandings” and lead to an eruption into a new war at any time, the report said.

Looking at 2019 in comparison to prior years, the report noted that 1,403 rockets were fired at Israel, obliterating the 2018 non-war high of 1,119 rockets, which itself had been a massive jump from 31 rockets in 2017 and 15 in 2016.  Including wars, the high was 3,852 in 2014, coinciding with the summer 2014 Gaza War that lasted 50 days.

Still, the report said most of the rockets in 2019 were fired during spikes of violence in May and November, which made up 1,269 of the total rockets.  Seven of the other months saw rocket fire in single digits, and two other months saw rocket fire at the low levels of 14 and 13 per month.

Regarding West Bank terrorism, the number of Israelis killed in 2019 fell to five, from 12 in 2018.  Similarly, the number of “substantial” attacks, referring to violent attacks that could cause the loss of life, fell from 55 in 2018 to 34 in 2019.

The drop in the volume of attacks does not mean that terrorists in the West Bank are not trying.  The Shin Bet thwarted about 450 significant potential attacks in 2019, compared with 480 in 2018. Based on the attempted attack statistics, the level of violence emanating from the West Bank dropped slightly.

In the report, it warned that if PA cooperation with Israeli security forces drops due to ongoing tensions, West Bank terrorism could spike once again.

But until PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas has a successor who shows a willingness to keep terrorism trends under control, the potential for the West Bank to explode continues underneath the trend of calm, the report said.



PA Up In Arms After EU Conditions Aid On Severing Ties With Terror Groups – Eldad Beck

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has launched a political campaign to convince the European Union (EU) to rescind its decision to prohibit monetary aid to PA-affiliated organizations and institutions if it doesn’t sever all ties with terrorist organizations.

“The national Palestinian campaign to reject conditional funding” has picked up steam in recent weeks, after the European Union, for the first time, introduced a fundamental change to the financial aid contracts Palestinian bodies are required to sign, whereby any cooperation with terrorist organizations will result in the unilateral cessation of funding.

The Palestinian campaign to annul this stipulation is based on the claim that “the struggle against Israeli occupation” is not terrorism, and that PA institutions included on the European Union terrorist list are political parties for all intents and purposes.  In one instance, Omar al-Qarout, the director of the Gaza-based Hemaya Center for Human Rights, sent a letter to the president of the European Union Parliament and EU foreign ministers, expressing his astonishment over the new condition.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Israel Hayom. al-Qarout says: “Our concern as a Palestinian civil organization is that this condition will be maliciously exploited against the Palestinians by the Israeli courts, which will use it as a basis for preventing the funding of projects.”

Ten days ago, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat sent an official letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell demanding that the European Union reconsider the new stipulations.  

Erekat condemned the new restrictions, arguing that some of the organizations on the EU list are “Palestinian political parties” and that therefore the new conditions could be viewed as an attempt to disrupt civilian Palestinian political activity and violate “Palestinian human rights as anchored in international law.”

An official in Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry said in response that “Erekat’s letter shows that the most senior echelons on the Palestinian side are involved in the campaign”

Prior to the submission of Erekat’s letter, 134 Palestinian organizations, which promote the de-legitimization of Israel and boycotts against it, sent a joint letter to the European Union’s envoy to the PA, Thomas Nicholson, claiming that declared terrorist organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas were essentially “political parties” and that they are not willing to be the European Union’s “policemen.”

Olga Deutsch, vice president of Israeli watchdog group NGO Monitor, called the new stipulation “an important and welcome step from Israel’s perspective.”

NGO Monitor was involved in discussions with the European Union on the matter of preventing funding from reaching the hands of terrorist groups.

The most disconcerting thing is that the EU is now in negotiations with the Palestinians over the conditional funding clause.  This stipulation needs to be a given. The negotiations over it contribute to legitimizing the discourse about terror,” said Deutsch.



Son Of Iranian Opposition Leader Arrested

The son of a leader of Iran’s opposition Green movement was arrested on Monday (13th), Reuters reported, citing the Iranian Sahamnews website.

Hossein Karoubi, son of Mehdi Karoubi, was arrested two days after his father called on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to step down over the handling of the shooting down of the Ukrainian jetliner.

The elder Karoubi has been under house arrest since 2011.  He and fellow opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi were reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential election and questioned the shock-victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which led to mass protests.

A year later in 2010, government forces firebombed the five-story Tehran home of  Karoubi and beat his bodyguard into unconsciousness.

In 2011, both leaders ended up under house arrest for their part in protests, which regime leaders called “the sedition.”

This is not the first time that Hossein Karoubi has been arrested.  In 2017, he was sentenced to six months in prison over “propaganda against the regime,” after he published a letter his father sent to President Hassan Rouhani.

His arrest on Monday (13th) comes as Iranians continue to protest against the regime over the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane last week.  Footage from the protests shows the Iranian Revolutionary Guards firing at demonstrators.

The protests began on Saturday (11th) after the military admitted it shot down the civilian Ukrainian plane.

The protests are continuing as masses of Iranians are seen avoiding giant Israeli and American flags on the ground during the demonstrations, so as not to trample them.



Finally, A Pill That Could Fix The Root Cause Of Diabetes

Of the 463 million people in the world with diabetes, up to 95% have type 2 (T2D).  In T2D, peripheral cells – mostly muscles – are resistant to insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas to stabilize blood-sugar levels and enable the body to use and store sugar from carbohydrates in food.

Medications available today treat the symptoms and complications of T2D but do not solve the core problem of insulin resistance.

Zygosid-50, a drug under development in Israel, could be the first to restore near-normal cellular sensitivity to insulin, without side effects.

Concenter BioPharma in Jerusalem is raising funds for clinical trials approved by the FDA based on evidence from earlier testing in animal models for T2D.

“One in three people in the world is diabetic or prediabetic,” said Dror Chevion, CEO of Concenter Biopharma. “The number is expected to reach 700 million by 2045.  In the United States, 31 million people suffer from diabetes and 90 million are prediabetic. The age of people with type 2 diabetes is getting younger and younger.

“Diabetes is a global epidemic and is expected to grow,” says Chevion.  “The estimated cost of treating diabetes per year is over $850 billion. More than 150 companies are developing diagnostics or applications for diabetes, but there are no drugs to treat the actual problem of insulin resistance without side effects.  This is what we are doing,” he said.



Anti-Semitic Graffiti Found At Brooklyn High School

Graffiti reading “Kill All Jews” and a swastika were discovered drawn in black marker in the stairwell of a high school in Brooklyn, New York.

The graffiti was discovered on Thursday afternoon (9th) at Brooklyn Technical High School.  A school employee discovered the messages at the end of the school day, The New York Daily News reported.  The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating, according to the report.

Gov. Cuomo told the newspaper that he was “appalled” by the graffiti.

“This is New York and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts as this,” he said.  “When you attack one of us, you attack all of us, and we will stand united with the Jewish community to condemn these illegal acts and eradicate this cancer of hate.”

As of Monday (13th), no arrests had been made in the case.

The incident comes amid an increase in anti-Semitic violence against Jews in the city.