News Digest — 10/25/19

IDF Releases New 5-Year Plan To Address Israel’s Main Threat: Iran

On Thursday (24th), the IDF unveiled its new five-year plan of operations, with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi stressing that Israel’s primary strategic threat remains Iranian entrenchment near its borders and its efforts to develop precision missiles with which to attack the Jewish state.

“The situation is fragile in the north and south – and may deteriorate into a confrontation,” warned Kochavi, according to the Algemeiner.

Kochavi added, “At the heart of security threats to Israel is entrenchment of Iranian and other forces in Syria and the precision missile project – in both situations, this is an Iranian-led effort, using the territory of countries with extremely weak governments,” reported Ynet.

In his comments, Kochavi also referred to activities by both the Hamas terror group in Gaza and the Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon.

With regards to Lebanon, Kochavi commented that Hezbollah holds the country hostage and dictates its “security policy.”

“Israel’s central strategic challenge lies in the northern area,” Ynet quoted Kochavi as saying.

Key features of the new operational plan, code-named “Momentum,” include massive investments in the IDF’s military capabilities, such as beefing up Israel’s mid-sized drone fleet, acquiring large numbers of precision-guided missiles from the U.S., and obtaining more air defense batteries, reported, Times of Israel.

Under the plan, IDF training exercises will shift focus to urban combat, as opposed to open fields, which are the traditional venues for military exercises.  These drills will simulate fighting in cities and towns, according to the Times, where the IDF believes future conflicts could take place.

While the plan officially goes into effect at the beginning of 2020, the Finance Ministry has yet to approve expenditures to pay for the costly initiative.  The spending required for the “Momentum” plan represents a significant increase compared to the IDF’s previous five-year strategy, the “Gideon” plan.

The underlying philosophy driving the “Momentum” plan is that Israel must decisively gain victory in any future conflict as rapidly as possible to prevent Hezbollah from launching a large-scale strike on the Jewish state.

On a practical level, this means being able to strike targets immediately to take out weapons and military assets that could be used to harm Israelis.



Hamas Arrests Dozens Of Activists To Deter Gaza Protests

Over the last few days, Hamas police units have arrested dozens of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip to prevent protest attempts in the wake of the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Lebanon.

The activists arrested are affiliated with left and center political factions in Gaza, among them the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and Fatah.

Calls for a protest on Thursday evening (24th) were voiced all this week on social media, promoted with the tagline “enough, we are tired!”

The focus of the protest organizers – whose identity is still unknown – was to promote a similar civil protest to the one that occurred in Gaza in March.  That protest, focusing on the social and economic strife endured by Gazan citizens, was brutally put down by Hamas.

Palestinian sources told Ynet that a feeling of fear hangs over the Gaza Strip due to the arrests, and it was very clear that people are afraid to take to the streets.

These sources also pointed out that the organizers made sure to distance themselves from the Hamas regime and tried to give the protest a civil and apolitical tone.

Nonetheless, it appeared that some attempts to promote the protest on social media were done by sources belonging to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah –  possibly intelligence.

This week the Lebanese government approved a series of reforms intended to calm the rage in the streets there.

“This is an economic revolution,” said Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, adding that no government in the history of Lebanon has ever implemented such wide scale reforms.  

In the last few months, there has been relative quiet along the Gaza-Israel border, mainly due to actions taken by Israel to ease conditions for Gazan civilians.



Erdogan Is No Friend Of America – Daniel Pipes

→ President Erdogan’s invasion of Syria found broad support within Turkey.  Yet the invasion damages Turkey internationally: Western and Arab governments have condemned the military operation, as have the Russian, Iranian, Indian and Chinese governments.

→ Erdogan wrongly assumes that the cunning and aggression that brought him political success internally will also work internationally.  This explains his unleashing thugs on the streets of Washington, abducting Turkish citizens accused of coup plotting from multiple countries, attempting to smuggle dual-use materials to Gaza, illegally drilling for natural gas in Cypriot waters, and shooting down a Russian jet fighter, among other bellicose actions.

→ Europeans seethe when Erdogan threatens to send 3.6 million displaced Syrians their way.  Israelis despise him for a vitriolic anti-Zionism that compares them to Nazis. Egypt’s president hates Erdogan’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

→ Erdogan has consolidated power over Turkey’s institutions: the military, the intelligence services, the police, the judiciary, the banks, the media, the election board, the mosques and the educational system.  He has supported the private security company Sadat, which some analysts consider a “private army.”

→ Academics who signed a 2016 petition critical of Erdogan’s policies toward the Kurds have lost their jobs, faced criminal charges and even been jailed.  The 1,150-room palace he had built symbolizes his grandiosity and ambition.

→ In short, Erdogan is a dictator with strange ideas, wild ambitions and no restraints.

The writer is president of the Middle East Forum.



AJC: 88% Of American Jews Fear Rising Anti-Semitism

The American Jewish Congress revealed alarming finds on Wednesday (23rd) in a new survey that spotlighted American Jewish fears of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S.

The organization said it is “the largest and most comprehensive examination ever of American Jews’ experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism.”

This new poll comes almost a year since the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which 11 Jews were killed by a gunman during a Sabbath morning service.

To start the survey, 88% of Jews surveyed by the AJC said anti-Semitism is a problem in the United States.  38% of that group said hate is “a very serious problem.”

“American Jews could not be clearer about the reality of anti-Semitism in the U.S.,” AJC CEO David Harris said in a press release.

“Our survey provides for the first time, an in-depth assessment of American Jewish perceptions of, and experiences with, anti-Semitism in their own country,  This hatred is real, comes from multiple sources, and is growing. It needs to be taken seriously and dealt with in a sustained, multi-pronged response,” he added.



Rare Tropical-Like Storm To Batter Israel, Egypt On Saturday

Israel is set to be lashed by a rare hybrid tropical storm over the weekend that is expected to bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and flooding across the country.

Forecasters said the “storm” brewing in the eastern Mediterranean would make landfall by Saturday (26th).

Flash flood warnings were issued in the south, and hiking trails of tourist sites in the Judean Desert were closed for the weekend.

Precipitation is predicted to reach anywhere from four to eight inches, with winds possibly reaching 70 miles an hour.

Forecasters said the majority of rainfall and flooding would occur in low-lying areas in central and southern Israel.

Officials in the Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency on Friday (25th) that will stay in effect until Saturday evening (26th).

Israel’s national electric company has advised people to remove any objects from their balconies and rooftops that are susceptible to being blown away or damaged by the storm.

Satellite images on Friday morning (25th) showed the tropical-like storm, a cyclone approximately 300 miles wide, barreling toward Israel and Egypt.

Tropical-like cyclones in the Mediterranean are a rare meteorological phenomena that are observed only every few years.  On a few occasions, the storms have reached the force of a Category 1 hurricane.