News Digest — 8/1/22

PA Raises Salary For Terrorists Who Killed 9 At Hebrew University

The Palestinian Authority increased its monthly payments to the terrorists responsible for the deadly attack at Hebrew University in 2002, Palestinian Media Watch found.

The 14.29% raise in the salaries of four terrorists coincided with the 20th anniversary of the bombing, which took place on Sunday, (7/31).

Over the past 20 years, the PA paid Wael Qassem, Wassim Abbasi, Alla Aldin Abbasi and Muhammed Odeh over $2.5 million.  Their monthly payments are set to increase from $2,251 per month to $2,572; they also receive a supplement of $95 each month because they were residents of Jerusalem.

Four other terrorists convicted for taking part in the attack receive a salary from the PA, as well.

The Palestinians in question bombed the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at the Hebrew University campus on July 31, 2002, murdering Janis Routh Coulter, 36, Dina Carter, 38, David Gritz, 24, Daphna, Spruch, 61, Levina Shapira, 53, Benjamin Blustein, 25, David Ladowski, 29, Revital Barashi, 30, and Marla Bennet, 24.  They also injured 80 others.

Palesinian Media Watch provided official documents showing the terrorists salaries and how they increased over time.

The Israeli Security Cabinet voted on Sunday (7/31) to deduct NIS 600 million (over $177 Million) from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the PA, as it is legally required to do as long as the PA pays terrorists who attacked Israelis.

The practice is called “Pay for Slay” by its critics, and the “Martyrs’ Fund” by the PA.  The Knesset passed a law in 2018 requiring the Israeli government to withhold funds equal to the amount the PA pays terrorists each year.



Israeli Barely Escapes Lynching By Arabs In Samaria – Dog Beaten To Death

An Israeli man was attacked by an Arab mob in Samaria on Friday (7/29) and barely escaped a lynching attempt.

Dozens of residents of the village of Burkin marched on Friday (7/29) after prayers toward the Israeli community of Alei Zahav, where they encountered an Israeli who was walking with his dog. The mob attacked them both.

IDF forces who were alerted to the scene succeeded in pushing back the crowd, and the Israeli victim escaped with minor injuries.  He was taken to Beilinson Hospital for further treatment.  His dog was beaten to death by the terrorists.

The mob, carrying PLO flags, was reportedly led by Mustafa Barghouti.

The rioters also blocked a main route in the area and threw rocks at Israeli motorists.  One of the rioters was reportedly shot and killed by IDF forces.

On Saturday night (7/30), the IDF and other Israeli security forces conducted counterterrorism activities in a number of locations in Judea and Samaria, including in the villages of Shukba and Beit Deko.

In the village of Beit Fajar in the Gush Etzion area, the forces arrested three wanted persons suspected of terrorist activity.

A total of six persons  were arrested throughout Judea and Samaria.  There were no Israeli casualties in any of the incidents.

The arrests were made as part of Operation Wave Breaker, Israel’s counterterrorism operation following several deadly terror attacks that the country experienced  in recent months.



‘Alarm Bells’ In Israel Over China Aid That Could Up Syria’s Intel Capabilities

A new aid deal between China and Syria that will include the delivery of communications equipment to Damascus has set off “alarm bells” within the Israeli security establishment, according to a report by news site Breaking Defense.

Israeli sources told the outlet that while the exact nature of the Chinese products remain unknown, they are expected to “fill current gaps in Syria’s military communications network.”

One source said that Israel has indications that Chinese experts in recent months visited Syrian military installations that were damaged heavily during the civil war.

“We believe that many facilities of the Syrian army will be rebuilt by the Chinese, who have the capability of bringing in thousands of laborers to complete the work in the shortest time.” the source was quoted as saying in the report.

While Chinese state media outlet Xinhua said the assistance was meant to “improve local network infrastructure, especially in those areas hit hard during the Syrian crisis since 2011,” Israeli officials reportedly  fear the equipment will be used to enhance Damascus’ intelligence capabilities.

China has donated tens of millions of dollars in aid to war-torn Syria over the past decade.



For Jordan, Iran’s Threats Come In Many Forms

Facing an increasing threat from Iran, King Abdullah of Jordan needs Israel more than ever.  Not only because its border with the Jewish state is its quietest, but because contrary to his statements about an “Arab military alliance,” he understands that the United States and Saudi Arabia might not be committed enough to him.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a vengeful man, as proved by his choice to embarrass his guest, President Joe Biden, with leaks about their conversations pertaining to the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.  The media heard how MBS preached that the values of other countries should be respected.  And if that is how he treated the leader of the free world, then certainly he might act similarly with regards to Abdullah too.  MBS surely remembers how in 2015, the Jordanian leader refused to join an Arab coalition in the Yemen War.

As for the US, similar to other Arab leaders at the Jeddah summit, Abdullah got the impression that Washington is uninterested in confronting Iran.  As such, in an interview with Jordanian media he said that if Tehran changed its ways, rapprochement would be a possibility.

“That’s what was agreed upon in Jeddah,” Pinhas Inbari, Mideast expert and senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said.  “The Arab countries had one question for Biden: ‘What are you going to do with Iran?  Will you give up on it and gain allies, or do you want to continue with the renewal of the nuclear deal?’”

“Biden provided no answer, and they were disappointed.  This cold shoulder attitude is because Biden didn’t give a definite answer.  That’s why Arab countries are back to political games.  They see Iran as an enemy, but they are not the ones pulling the strings.”

According to Jordanian commentators, the country faces four threats from Iran: the infiltration of terrorist cells; intelligence cooperation between Iranian militias; activation of dormant terror cells in Jordan; and the trend of “lone wolves,” followers of the Iranian Shiite revolution, who might get inspired to act on their own.  This includes mysterious cyberattacks on Jordan, which have been attributed to “countries and organizations.”

Jordan is also struggling with drug trafficking.  Iran’s goal is to flood the kingdom with weapons and drugs that will reach criminal gangs and eventually destabilize the government.

“The Jordanians see this as a strategic danger, the aim to turn Jordanian youth into drug addicts,” Inbari explained.  “The Iranian-Syrian units are smuggling huge amounts of drugs into Jordan.  So there is now a reinforcement of the Jordanian military at the border to stop drug smuggling, which includes drones, which transport drugs and land in Jordan.”

Iran has at least two main interests in destabilizing Jordan, one connected to its imperialist ambitions and the second is its desire to pave an arms smuggling route for terrorist elements in the West Bank.  As such, it is in Israel’s interest to help Abdullah.

But although Abdullah recently met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, he continues to have considerations he cannot ignore, the most prominent of which is the Palestinian public that makes up half of Jordan’s entire population.

This, along with the anger of Bedouin tribes and the large migration of Iraqi immigrants to Jordan, increases the chances of closer ties with Israel.



Iran Accelerating Work At Underground Nuclear Facility At Fordo

Iran is continuing and even accelerating the pace of its work at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo, opposition website Iran International reported on Saturday (7/30).

According to the report, which is based on information disseminated on a Telegram forum affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, several advanced IR-6 centrifuges have already been installed at the secretive site, and the regime can “turn Iran’s nuclear program into nuclear weapons in the blink of an eye.”

With that, the report implies that the regime in Tehran is preserving “the nuclear weapons option” in case Israeli leaders order an attack on Iran’s above-ground nuclear site at Natanz in the Isfahan Province some 280 miles south of the capital.

In June, the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that Iran was preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges, which can more easily switch between enrichment levels, at Fordo.

As a reminder, Iran’s nuclear weapons program was directed by the country’s former chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated in November 2020 near Tehran in an operation widely attributed to the Israeli Mossad.

The ayatollah regime directly accused Israel of killing Fakhrizadeh, particularly after he was mentioned by name by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a 2018 presentation unveiling stolen Iranian nuclear documents.

Also over the weekend, Iranian intelligence agents arrested a Swedish national on charges of espionage.

A statement by Iran’s intelligence ministry said the suspect was in touch with several other figures in Iran and had visited Israel.  This is the second Swedish citizen Iran arrested in recent months.  In May, Sweden confirmed that Iran arrested one of their citizens at a tense time for ties between Stockholm and Tehran.