News Digest — 12/6/21

Security Guard Injured In Ramming Attack – Terrorist Killed

A security guard at the Tanim Crossing in the West Bank was moderately injured by a vehicle coming from the Palestinian side of the crossing in a suspected attack on Monday (6th).

The guard, a 34-year-old male, was standing at the crossing when the driver accelerated and hit him.

MDA medics and paramedics found the guard lying on the ground.  He was brought to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer with injuries to his limbs, chest and head in serious but stable condition.

MDA paramedic Alik Iskimov told Ynet: “We arrived to find a man in his 30s from the security forces who had apparently been run over by a terrorist.  We found him sprawled on the ground with extensive bruises all over his body.  We treated him with bandages and evacuated him to Tel Hashomer Hospital.”

Security forces at the scene shot the suspect who was driving the vehicle.  He was brought to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba where he died shortly after.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the security guards for quickly responding to the attack on Monday (6th) and wished a speedy recovery to the injured guard.  Gantz ordered a full investigation and raised the level of alert at all crossings in the West Bank.

This attack comes less than two days after 20-year-old ultra-Orthodox Avraham Elmaleh was stabbed by a Palestinian at the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon (5th).

In light of the uptick in violence in recent weeks, former IDF chief of staff, Moshe Ya’alon told 103FM on Monday (5th) that “we are in the midst of a new wave of individual terrorism.”

“We see similarities between what has been happening in the last two months and the individual’s intifada.’  There are things in the atmosphere and on the web,” said Ya’alon.  “The 16-year-old teen who conducted the ramming attack this morning was ‘fueled’ on the web with incitement and made his decision.”   



Bahraini Ambassador To Israel Lights Hanukkah Candle At Sheba

Sheba Medical Center hosted a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony on Sunday night (6th) with the Bahraini ambassador to Israel H.E. Khaled Yusuf Al Jalahama to celebrate the Abrahamic Accords and the collaborations resulting from them.

This was the first candle-lighting celebration and public event with the new Bahraini ambassador.

The Abraham Accords were signed in August 2020.  Even before their signing, Sheba had been working in various low-key capacities with some countries in the Gulf region.  Since then, it has signed multiple deals to work together with Bahraini and Emirati medical partners.

For example, Sheba has partnered with two of Bahrain’s largest hospitals on research initiatives and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi for developing improved healthcare services.  Sheba is also in dialogue with an additional Bahraini hospital.

Other hospitals, too, are working with the Gulf region and new research and development opportunities have emerged as a result of the peace deal.

“Healthcare is the most powerful engine of growth in life,” said Sheba Director-General Prof. Yitshak Kreiss.  “Fueled by the notion that healthcare is a non-political issue with no barriers in terms of what can be shared in health, together with the Government of Bahrain, we devised the ‘Prosperity Through Healthcare’ initiative to change the future of the Middle East.”

“I am excited to see this friendship and partnership grow,” he said.

“I am honored to celebrate Hanukkah with Sheba Medical Center who has become a great partner to the Kingdom of Bahrain in a very short period of time, becoming instrumental for building people-to-people relations between our two countries,” the ambassador said, adding that the collaboration between Sheba and two of the country’s  government hospitals will lead to the creation of an exchange program, including fellowships and training courses.

Other attendees at the event included members of the hospital’s diverse medical team, former Ambassador to the UAE Eitan Naeh and former Bahrain Ambassador to the United States Houda Nanoo.

“While there have been many large and small miracles since the signing of the Abraham Accords, I am particularly excited by the partnership between Bahrain and Sheba which will enable the miracle of health and research to be delivered to so many,” Nanoo said.



Mossad Chief To Pressure US To Take Military Action Against Iran In Washington Trip

Mossad Chief David Barnea flew to Washington on Sunday (5th) with the aim of convincing the US to take harsher action against Iran, Israel media reported.

This comes after a series of indirect talks between the US and Iran has left officials across the world fearing that the Islamic Republic is not taking the negotiations seriously.

As Iran’s extreme demands raise red flags, Barnea, alongside Defense Minister Benny Gantz, is set to convince the US to intensify economic sanctions, and in addition, take military action against the Islamic Republic.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a Thursday (2nd) phone call to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that world powers must cease to negotiate with and begin to impose stricter measures on Iran.  A day later, Blinken reflected the international crowd’s concerns when he said that it seems Iran is not serious about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.

“What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance, which is why we ended this round of talks in Vienna,” Blinken said.



Did Someone Sabotage Iran’s Natanz Facility For The Third Time?

Did the Mossad or someone else just try to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities at Natanz Saturday (4th) for the third time, since July 2021?

Reports are still hazy, but as of Saturday night (4th) the narratives varied from: Iran undertook a preplanned air defense drill unrelated to sabotage (with loud explosions), and shot down an attack drone thwarting a sabotage attempt.  However, electricity and the Internet were down for some unspecified part of Natanz, which could mean a sabotage attempt succeeded, but the Islamic Republic is still trying to cover it up.

Natanz was hit by physical explosive sabotage in July 2020 and again in April this year.

The July 2020 attack was more successful, and destroyed the vast majority of an above-ground nuclear site.

An April 2021 attack destroyed centrifuges and a variety of utilities of a newer underground site, but only fully delayed Iran’s advanced centrifuge process for about four months, while causing some longer-term slowdowns.  Curiously this attack took place near the start of the Vienna nuclear negotiations.

If Saturday’s event (4th) was an attack, it would have taken place at the end of the first week of renewed nuclear negotiations.

Both in July 2020 and in April, Iran initially tried to deny there was an attack or deny its success until The Jerusalem Post reported that the attacks were successful and had caused severe damage.

Following the Post’s and other media reports, Tehran was forced to acknowledge that its nuclear sites had been hit, and badly.  It later accused the Mossad of both hits, so Tehran’s initial denials should be taken with a grain of salt.

Another nuclear site, Karaj, was hit this past June, days after Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s new president.

This could be a second message to Raisi that his attempt to push the envelope with increasing nuclear violations as well as taking maximalist positions in Vienna could leave him vulnerable, even if much of the West is intimidated by him.

Or maybe this time Iran’s air defenses improved and thwarted an attack.

Then again, for the first time in four such similar events, maybe it was just a pre-planned air-defense drill.

Sabotage footage made it impossible for Tehran to cover up the damage in both Natanz attacks, but strangely, satellite footage was slower in coming with Karaj, when Raisi had taken power and the Biden administration was seeking a return to talks.

It will be interesting to see what satellite footage shows this time of the event on Saturday (4th).



Kuwait Bans Entry Of Ships With Israel-Bound Goods

Kuwait has banned entry of all ships carrying goods to and from Israel, Kuwait media reported Saturday (4th).

According to an order by Kuwait’s Works and State Communications and Information Technology Minister Dr. Rana al-Faris, commercial ships loaded with goods heading to and from Israel are prohibited from entering the Kuwaiti territorial waters.

“The ban includes all ships coming from other ports to unload part of their cargo in Kuwaiti ports whenever they are carrying any of the goods stipulated in the ban, with the intention of shipping them to and from… Israel,” said Kuwaiti paper Al Anba on Sunday (5th).

This bans goods being carried from Israel that are being brought to another country outside of Kuwait from entering Kuwaiti waters.  

The Hamas terror group issued a statement, welcoming the decision and urging other countries to follow suit.

Kuwait passed a law in May prohibiting any form of contact with Israel and banned both Kuwaiti nationals and expats from visiting the country.  The bill also outlawed “expressions of sympathy” with Israel.

Kuwait boycotted a renewable energy conference in Abu Dhabi in January 2014 as it was attended by Israel.  After former US President Donald Trump said he believed Kuwait would be the next to normalize ties with Israel following the signing of the Abrahamic Accords, Kuwait said it would be the “last to normalize ties.”

“Our stance on Israel has not changed, following the UAE normalization agreement, and we will be the last to normalize relations,” the al-Qabas newspaper reported in August 2020, citing an unnamed senior official.