News Digest — 7/8/22

Abraham Accords Yield $3B In Israeli Defense Sales To Arab Countries

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords about two years ago, Israeli defense and IDF officials have held about 150 meetings with their counterparts in Arab countries in the region, not including Jordan and Egypt, resulting in more than $3B in defense procurement transactions, Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed.

The Abraham Accords which were signed in September 2020, established diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and shortly after that with Sudan and Morocco.

The Abraham Accords, the first pact between an Arab country and Israel in 25 years, is expected to lead to similar agreements with other Arab countries, possibly Oman or Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday (6th) ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the region next week, Gantz also spoke about the drones dispatched by the Hezbollah terror organization in the past week sent from Lebanon toward Israel’s Karish gas rig and said they were produced by Iran. 

The reduction of Iran’s power and influence in the region, as well as the nuclear agreement being discussed between the West and the Islamic Republic, will be at the center of meetings with Biden, Gantz said.

Gantz revealed last month that the Middle East Air Defense Program (MEAD) has already thwarted Iranian attempts  to challenge Israel and other countries, apparently confirming reports that Israel has developed a regional defense system shared with other Arab countries in the area. 

Recent reports in the media told of unprecedented actions that have recently been taken by Israel to strengthen operational cooperation with neighboring air forces, in order to expand Israel’s strategic depth and its ability to intercept threats beyond the country’s borders while defending the other countries as well.  Some reports say that Israel has deployed advanced warning systems in several Gulf countries, including in some that do not have official ties with the Jewish state, essentially creating a regional defense umbrella.

Most of the collaborations are confidential so as not to embarrass the partners in the emerging alliance.  The parties’ common concern is the spread of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) sponsored terrorism, which includes attacks with drones and cruise missiles on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by Iranian proxies, including the Houthis in Yemen.

In this context, Biden is expected to visit the Palmachim airbase and will be shown several defense systems, including the Arrow, David’s Sling, the Iron Dome, and the high-power Laser Interception System, which is still under development.



Caught: Arab-Israeli Joined IDF To Spy For Gaza Terror Group

An Arab-Israeli Bedouin who volunteered to join the IDF intended to act as a spy for a Gaza-based terror group, and engaged in illegal activity before being arrested by agents from the Shin Bet security agency.

Shedadeh Abu Al-Kiyan, 25, from the Negev town of Hura, was detained just days after he successfully enlisted in the Israeli military, the Shin Bet announced in a statement.

He was arrested over a month ago, but the gag order on reporting the case publicly was only lifted on Thursday (7th).

Abu Al-Kiyan is being charged with a number of security offenses, including active membership in a terrorist organization, aiding the enemy in war, and intelligence gathering on behalf of the enemy with the intention of harming state security, according to Ynet.

“Intelligence gathering, photographing sites in Israel and stealing weapons in order to deliver them to terrorist elements” was Abu Al-Kiyan’s mission, the Shin Bet said.  The relatively obscure terror group Katab al-Mujahideen, a Fatah splinter group, had recruited the man.

Notably, the Shin Bet said that one of Abu Al-Kiyan’s primary motivations for aligning himself with the terror group was to seek revenge against the State of Israel for actions against his father’s illegally built home.

According to Hebrew media reports, Abu Al-Kiyan volunteered for the IDF and was accepted in April – despite the fact that he is distantly related to Muhammed Al-Kiyan, who killed four Israelis in an ISIS-inspired terror attack in Beersheba.

Shehadeh Abu Al-Kiyan was in the midst of basic training when he was arrested by the Shin Bet.



Twenty-Year Scars Of The Second Intifada – Shany Mor

20 years ago on the first night of Passover 2002, the most infamous suicide bombing in Israel took place.  That night and the weeks that followed, marked a dramatic turning point in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians which still dictates the contours of the conflict today.  Options for a political settlement that might have existed before, disappeared into a new reality.

In March 2002 alone, more than 100 Israelis were killed in suicide bombings; hundreds more were injured sitting at cafes, riding buses, or walking through outdoor markets, imbued with a feeling of danger.  When Israel responded, protests against Israel erupted in all the major Western capitals, though there were few, if any protests against the Palestinian suicide bombings.  The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling for sanctions against Israel. International media coverage of Israel’s response to the attacks was overwhelmingly negative.

The 1993 Oslo Accords were pitched to Israelis with a promise that they would improve security.  And if that promise remained unfulfilled – even after Israel recognized the PLO and carried out the withdrawals from Gaza and the West Bank as called for in the agreements – then the whole world would see who the bad guys really were and stand by Israel.

That promise was never realized and this left deep scars on the Israeli psyche.  An enormous skepticism emerged about peace with the Palestinians.  Moreover, the broad center of Israeli politics no longer is moved by expectations of global support.

The writer, an Adjunct Fellow at FDD, is a former Director for Foreign Policy at Israel’s National Security Council



Canadian Army Helping Palestinians Take Over Judea & Samaria

In recent weeks, a delegation of senior Canadian military personnel has been documented patrolling in uniform in Area C in Judea and Samaria, including at an illegally-built structure, the Regavim organization reported Thursday (7th).

Area C is under full Israeli security and civilian control, as per the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Last week, a high-ranking Canadian army officer, together with a delegation of Canadian military personnel, visited an illegal structure built on state land belonging to the Israeli community of Maon in the southern Hebron Mountains, where he met with Arabs from the area.

The delegation was also hosted by the IDF’s Central Command General Yehuda Fuchs, hence their identity is known and their presence on the ground is known to IDF officials.

The illegal building that the Canadian delegation visited was erected during the night within a few hours, in Area C on land designated for agriculture and belongs to the nearby Israeli community of Maon.

The Israeli residents of the community appealed to the IDF and the Civil Administration to stop the work and demolish the building.  According to them, the Civil Administration has pledged to enforce the law but so far has not done so.

Shortly after the referral to the Civil Administration, the visit of the Canadian delegation, which included two uniformed military personnel, was documented.

The delegation was also documented during a visit to the village of Zurif near the community of Carmi Tzur in Gush Etzion, and this week they were discovered again in a meeting with Arabs near the village of Kisan in eastern Gush Etzion, also in Area C.

“Imagine that Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walking around the Canadian border wearing a uniform with ranks on his shoulder and reinforcing criminal border smugglers,” said Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s Director-General.

“Is Canada planning to start a war with Israel?  A senior military figure from a foreign country who encourages criminals who have invaded the country’s lands under the auspices of the PA is utterly insane and a blatant and rude move against the State of Israel,” he stated.

Deutsch added that “as long as the State of Israel sees itself as a guest in Judea and Samaria and does not conduct itself as the landlord, the rest of the world will also see the State of Israel as a guest and not as a landlord.”



Dutch MEPs: International Law Must Be Applied Consistently, Including When It Concerns Israel

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday (4th), following numerous statements regarding Israel’s “occupation” by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Netherland MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen told the parliament that Borrell’s characterizations were “incorrect and careless.”

“He constantly talks about occupation.  According to international law, this is a term that should only be used if the occupied territory belongs to another recognized state.  But who did the West Bank belong to before 1967?  Not to Jordan, not to the Ottoman Empire, not to Britain.  It is peculiar that in the case of Northern Cyprus, where its legal status is crystal clear, the High Representative does not speak of illegal settlement activity.”

Netherland MEP Michiel Hoogeveen asked, “Why hasn’t the EU ever called any other people’s residential activities in other occupied territories an international crime?  We are aware that there are many territories the EU deems occupied around the world, even in Europe.  Yet, people move in and out of them all the time.  However, the EU only talks about illegal settlers in relation to Israeli Jews.”

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum’s international law department, said, “It is not just Israelis who are appalled by the EU’s creation of supposedly ‘international’ law rules that only apply to one country.”  He said, “the term ‘illegal settlements’ has no general applicability; it is merely a diplomatic euphemism for Jews living where we don’t want them to.”



150 Ethiopian Jews Make Aliyah To Israel

The arrival of an Ethiopian Airways jetliner at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport earlier this week set the scene for an emotional reunion between family members, some of whom hadn’t seen their relatives in two decades.

The operation, spearheaded by Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata, is designed to help the remaining community of Jews living in refugee camps in Gondor and Addis Ababa make their way back to Israel.

So far, more than 5,000 people who have first-degree relatives already living in Israel have moved or are scheduled to move in the near future.

The flight consisted of 150 people and was made possible through a joint initiative of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ); Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration; and the Jewish Agency for Israel as part of “Operation Tzur Israel” (“Rock of Israel”).

Escorting the group back to Israel, Yael Eckstein, President of IFCJ said, “It’s a source of great pride to be able to assist hundreds more olim to come home.  The most powerful part of this flight is knowing that many of these passengers have been waiting for decades for this moment, and we see it as a central Zionist ideal to be able to make these types of reunions possible.”

Among the arrivals was 50-year-old Astabal, who said that he hadn’t seen his parents in 18 years since they moved to Tel Aviv.  New immigrant, Azanu Geremay Malesa, similarly has not seen her mother in nearly 20 years.  She lost her eldest son recently after he fell fighting in the nation’s civil war, which helped spur the family’s decision to make the journey to Israel.

“When this awful thing happened to me, I was very lonely,” she said.  “Coming to Israel was always our dream, and we believe only good things are going to happen to us here.  I believe we are making a great choice, and it opens up a great opportunity for our children, and I will again see my mother, after 20 years.”