The Israel Defense Forces launched a two-day exercise simulating war in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, to test how well the military learned the lessons from May’s conflict against terror groups in the enclave.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian state television said Tuesday that a cyberattack has targeted gas stations across the Islamic Republic.
However, the new activity does not involve keeping the product, said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a report seen by the Reuters news agency.
The move has prompted the IAEA to "increase the frequency and intensity of its safeguards activities" at the above-ground Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz, the agency said.
The IAEA said in a statement outlining the report that Iran informed it last week of changes to the setup of centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, at the plant - Iran would feed uranium enriched to up to 20% into limited numbers of extra centrifuges without collecting the product.
"On 25 October 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding (uranium hexafluoride gas) enriched up to 20% U-235 into a single IR-6 centrifuge in R&D line 2 at PFEP and that the resulting product and tails streams were being re-combined," the IAEA report said, meaning that after separating the enriched product it was mixed with the centrifuge's waste and not kept.
Iran had said it planned to also feed uranium enriched to up to 20% into other single centrifuges or small- to medium-sized cascades, or clusters, of machines on the same line, but those were not being fed at the time, the IAEA said.
Iran last April reported an explosion at the Natanz plant which disrupted the electrical distribution grid at the site. An Iranian official blamed "sabotage" for the of the Natanz nuclear facility.
Iran’s top nuclear official condemned the attack on the Natanz plant as an act of “nuclear terrorism”, and hinted that Iran may retaliate. Then-Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the incident and promised revenge.
The IAEA later said that Iran has installed extra advanced centrifuges at the underground uranium enrichment plant and plans to add even more.
In July, diplomats said Iran had been restricting UN nuclear inspectors’ access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns following the April attack on the site.
The survey, released Monday, is the latest in an annual series commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to understand how Jewish Americans and the general public experience and perceive antisemitism.
A survey of American Jews found that over the last year, 17% said they “avoided certain places, events, or situations,” 22% avoided making themselves visually identifiable as a Jew and 25% refrained from posting Jewish-related content online.
A companion survey of the general public, meanwhile, found that the proportion of Americans who say they understand what antisemitism is rose sharply in the last year, from 53% in 2020 to 65% this year.
Last year’s survey was taken shortly before the presidential election in which Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump. At the time, just 4% of American Jews said they felt more secure than they had in the past; this year that proportion was significantly higher, at 10%.
“Almost 40% of Jews have changed their behavior. This is horrible and heartbreaking data,” Holly Huffnagle, the AJC’s U.S. director for combating antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about this year’s findings.
“But I think we can’t hide the fact that more Jews feel secure today,” she added, noting that when the surveyors asked for an explanation, “The change in the administration was by far the biggest response to that.”
This year’s surveys were taken in September and early October and included 1,214 Americans overall and 1,433 Jews. The margin of error for each survey was 3.9%. In a shift, the majority of the surveys were completed online, rather than by phone, although Huffnagle said researchers had concluded that the change had not influenced results in any particular way.
Some of the results, including the finding about the proportion of American Jews who changed their behavior out of fear, cannot be directly compared to the AJC’s past antisemitism surveys because this year’s version asked about experiences only in the last year. Previous surveys asked about experiences and perceptions in the past two or five years.
“We decided to lose the trend data in favor of accurate information,” Huffnagle said. READ MORE
This begs the question, what would a religious run government of Israel look like, and what would its policies be?
What would such a government’s position be on sovereignty in Judea and Samaria?
Would it continue the current government’s reactive approach vis a vis its enemies or would it take a more proactive approach?
To what extent would diplomacy and military policy be restrained by its reliance on the US and other world powers?
Would such a government finally prioritize Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic one?
One intriguing factor to consider in such a scenario is that the haredi religious parties are guided and directed by Torah sages. Therefore if a haredi religious party were to lead the government, the effective Prime Minister would be the Gadol Hador (Torah leader of the generation). When was the last time that there was a leader in Israel who was both a great sage of the generation and the effective political leader?
Would the Gadol Hador agree to take on that responsibility given the monumental risks and unimaginable opportunities? If he accepted this responsibility, what would his approach be to policy making- not as the leader of a fledgling minority, but as the leader of the entire country? READ MORE
Monday, October 25, 2021
Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered ambassadors from 10 leading democracies to be declared “persona non grata,” cementing Ankara’s shift toward authoritarianism and its alliance with countries which oppose the US and the West.
Israeli helicopters hit three targets in Syria near the border in the early hours of Monday, Syrian media reported.
KHARTOUM — Here is a recap of events in Sudan since autocratic president Omar al-Bashir was toppled over two years ago:
2019: Bashir ousted
2020: Unrest spreads
A former Israeli diplomat and lawmaker has accused the Biden administration of pursuing an ‘anti-Semitic’ policy, and urged the Israeli government to challenge the planned reopening of the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem.
Speaking with Radio 103FM Monday morning, former Israeli Ambassador to the US and former MK Michael Oren excoriated the Biden White House over its plans to reopen a consulate in eastern Jerusalem which in the past served as a de facto mission to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel lauded the Trump administration for closing the consulate in 2019, arguing that the presence of such a consulate for the PA in Jerusalem negated Israeli sovereignty over its capital city.
The move came after the Trump White House relocated the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Now, Oren argued Monday, the Biden administration is working to undermine that recognition, effectively reversing US policy vis-à-vis Jerusalem.
“This is a pivotal reversal on American recognition of Jerusalem as our capital,” Oren said. “It effectively makes American policy similar to that of Russia, which recognizes the western part of the city as our capital, but not all of it.”
Noting the use of the consulate prior to 2019 to offer services to Palestinian Arabs, Oren said the situation before the consulate closure was “absurd”.
“It was a totally absurd situation. Not only are these American policies impractical, they’re anti-Semitic,” Oren continued, slamming US opposition to Israeli residential neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.
“This is the only place in the world where Jews are prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods. Would anyone dare pass such a law in New York?”
“Basically what the Americans did is to recognize the eastern part of the city as not being part of Israel, then went on to ban Israeli Jews from living there. If you ever visited the eastern Jerusalem consulate’s website, you’d think there aren’t any Jews living in the city. There wasn’t any Hebrew there at all.”
Israel, Oren said, should challenge the plans to reopen the consulate, but avoid a serious break with the US.
“We need to take the cost of a diplomatic break with the US into account. Everything has a cost, and we need to be mindful of the fact that the US is an important ally that helps us military, and there will be a cost politically. I don’t say we should oppose them at any cost, I’m saying that we need to strongly oppose this.”
Sunday, October 24, 2021
At Sochi, President Vladimir Putin prolonged his talks with visiting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett from two to five hours on Friday, Oct. 22 as they strolled through his Black Sea estate and private residence at Sochi. Bennett failed to elicit from his host supports on the Iranian nuclear issue. Their interpreter, Israel’s Housing Minister Zeev Elkin reported later that Putin had urged his guest to continue the policy of his predecessor, Netanyahu, on relations with Moscow. He indicated that Israel’s campaign of air strikes for curtailing Iranian and proxy presence in Syria could continue, so long as PM Bennett was careful to avoid upsetting the Assad regime in which Moscow was heavily invested.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the watchdog’s monitoring program in Iran is no longer “intact” after Tehran refused requests to repair surveillance equipment damaged in a June attack on an Iranian nuclear site that has been blamed on Israel.
One of Iran’s most senior leaders threatens that if Israel attacks, Tehran’s response will require the Jewish state to spend “tens of thousands of billion dollars” to reconstruct the country.
A senior Al-Qaeda leader was killed in a US drone strike in Syria, the Pentagon said Friday, according to AFP.
The strike came two days after a base in southern Syria, used by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, was assaulted.
"A US air strike today in northwest Syria killed senior Al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar," said Central Command spokesman Army Major John Rigsbee in a statement.
There were no other known casualties from the strike, he said, adding it was conducted using an MQ-9 aircraft.
"The removal of this Al-Qaeda senior leader will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks," he said.
At the end of September, the Pentagon killed Salim Abu-Ahmad, another senior Al-Qaeda commander in Syria, in an air strike near Idlib.
"Al-Qaeda continues to present a threat to America and our allies. Al-Qaeda uses Syria as a safe haven to rebuild, coordinate with external affiliates, and plan external operations," Rigsbee said, according to AFP.
Last October, the US Army said it had carried out a drone strike against Al-Qaeda leaders in northwest Syria near the border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 jihadists were killed in the strike, including five foreigners and six commanders.
Four years ago, a drone strike led by the US-coalition killed the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.
That year, an American air strike killed another Al-Qaeda leader in northern Syria, Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi.
During the cabinet meeting this morning (Friday), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke about his lengthy meeting on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was also attended by Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Elkin.
Bennett said: '' After four hours in a meeting with Putin, Elkin fell asleep because we did not sleep all night, we had a 'white night' on the flight. So I give him an elbow and Putin laughs and says, 'I see you weren't on call with him.'"
Elkin remarked with a smile: "Sorry, when you started to fall asleep you asked for a cup of coffee - I was not even offered a glass of water."
Economy Minister Orna Barbivai wondered about the bag Elkin was holding in his hands on his way to the meeting in Sochi. "There were classified materials in the bag, and we cannot take them by hand because we were photographed," Minister Elkin replied.
At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister said: "We landed a few hours ago from Sochi, Russia, for a week full of significant, reality-changing decisions. The meeting with President Putin was very good and very in-depth, and I would like to thank Minister Elkin for his exceptional work, both in the preparation for the meeting and during it."
"President Putin and I talked about the situation in Syria, of course, because in a sense the Russians are our neighbors to the north, and it is important that we manage the delicate and complex situation there smoothly and without incident.
Bennett added: "We have reached good and stable conclusions, and I found that President Putin's ear is attentive to Israel's security needs. We also talked about the Iranian nuclear program, which is a cause for concern for everyone."
Saturday, October 23, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook held back from doing all it could to stop users from being radicalized and US election misinformation from flooding the social network, according to media reports Friday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during their meeting in Sochi on Friday that the two nations would continue to implement the so-called deconfliction mechanism that works to prevent Israeli and Russian forces from clashing in Syria, a senior Israeli official said.
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday that "a confrontation with Iran is only a matter of time, and not a lot of time."
Speaking to Walla! and quoted by i24NEWS, Liberman stated that "no diplomatic move or agreement will stop the Iranian nuclear program."
"This is a problem of the international community but first of all ours because they have stated that their policy is the destruction of Israel, and they do mean it," he added.
Liberman also commented on Israeli government’s approval of a 5 billion shekel ($1.5 billion) package designed to build up Israel's capabilities to strike at Iran's nuclear program.
"They were surprised why such a large budget was approved for the IDF. The money goes to empowerment and the purchase of advanced systems," Liberman said.
The interview with Liberman comes as talks between Iran and world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled.
The previous Iranian government, headed by former President Hassan Rouhani, had been holding indirect talks with the Biden administration on a return to the agreement.
However, the negotiations were adjourned on June 20, two days after Ebrahim Raisi won Iran's presidential election, and no date has been set for a resumption of dialogue.
On Monday, Raisi said that the United States should lift the sanctions on his country to prove it is serious about restarting stalled nuclear talks in Vienna.
“Lifting sanctions is an indication of seriousness of the other party,” he stated.