Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Behind the News - November 2017

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TERROR AND ROCKET REPORT

On Oct. 4, a 69 year-old Israeli man was stabbed to death in a terror attack at his business in the Israeli-Arab town of Kafr Kassem. Two Palestinians from the West Bank were subsequently arrested in connection with the murder. Meanwhile, attacks involving the use of guns, knives, molotov cocktails and rocks continued.

On Oct. 15, two rockets fired from Sinai by ISIS landed in open areas in the Negev. According to ISIS, the rockets were part of a broader attack on Egyptian security forces. On Oct. 8, a rocket fired from Gaza towards Israel by a small Salafist group landed within the Strip. The IDF attacked Hamas installations in response.


ISIS TRAINING CAMP ON ISRAELI BORDER

Islamic State has set up a training camp for around 300 recruits near the Golan Heights border with Israel, according to a report from Israel's Channel 2. The training camp is reported to have been set up by Islamic State commanders who fled battles in northern Syria and Iraq.

Israel has said it will prevent ISIS operating close to its border. Both the Islamic State-affiliated Khalid ibn al-Walid Army and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the al-Nusra Front, linked to al-Qaeda, already reportedly have a presence close to Israel's Golan borders.

On Oct. 23, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed Israeli war planes had carried out air strikes on a base belonging to the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army in southern Syria, which killed at least 10 fighters from the Islamic State-linked group. Israel did not confirm or deny the report.


ESCALATION IN SYRIA

Israel drew a red line when it neutralised a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft battery on October 16, analysts say.

After warning the Syrians about their anti-aircraft fire since March 2017, Israeli planes struck the battery, located 50 kilometres east of Damascus, in response to its targeting of Israeli F-16 jets conducting a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon.

In a deviation from Israel's usual strategy of neither confirming nor denying such operations, IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Maneli called the missiles a "clear Syrian provocation" and said the IDF would react to all such incidents.

Subsequently, five rockets were fired from Syrian artillery cannons into Israel on Oct. 20, with Israel responding by destroying three cannons with their own missiles. Israeli analysts speculated that these strikes were likely not unintended spillover from the Syrian civil war, like past fire into Israel from Syria, but an intentional signal from Syria and Iran intended to deter Israel from carrying out further military action in Syria.


CLAIM NEW IRANIAN NUCLEAR SITES IDENTIFIED

A new 52-page investigative report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), titled: "Iran's Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites," claims that Teheran's nuclear weapons program has not stopped.

NCRI identified four major sites that "with high degrees of certainty" they said were involved in various aspects of the allegedly ongoing nuclear weapons project. NCRI officials noted that none of the sites has been inspected by the IAEA.

Furthermore, NCRI claims that North Korean experts have cooperated with Iran and have been "particularly helpful in designing the aerodynamics aspects, the shape of the warhead, and have also provided the design for the Hemmat site, its tunnels, and underground centers." NCRI has been responsible for revealing previously unknown Iranian nuclear sites in the past.

Meanwhile, according to German newspapers, three German intelligence reports say Iran repeatedly tried to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs in 2016. The new intelligence reveals that Iran made "32 procurement attempts ... that definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation programs." These attempts all reportedly occurred in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.


IRAN BEHIND CYBER-ATTACK ON BRITISH PARLIAMENT

It has been revealed that Iran was likely behind a cyber-attack in June this year which successfully compromised 90 UK parliament email accounts.

In the 12-hour "brute force" attack on 9,000 accounts, including that of Prime Minister Theresa May, hackers repeatedly targeted weak passwords of MPs and advisers. User accounts were locked as officials worked to minimise any potential damage.

The attack was initially thought to have originated in Russia, but officials now say it likely originated in Iran.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on October 10 that Israeli government hackers had found United States National Security Agency software on computers belonging to Russian-based antivirus software giant Kaspersky, whose products are suspected of facilitating Russian espionage.

The US Department of Homeland Security ordered federal agencies to remove all Kaspersky software from their networks on September 13 after being warned by their Israeli counterparts, the story said.


NEW IRANIAN MISSILE NORTH KOREAN?

On September 22, Iran displayed its newest "Khoramshahr" ballistic missile as part of its annual "Sacred Defence Week" military parade. The missile is a new single-stage, 13-metre-long projectile with an announced range of 2,000 km and a 1,800 kg warhead, bringing most Western European capitals within range, and large enough to carry an intermediate-sized nuclear weapon.

The Iranians covered the missile's bottom section during the parade, but observers noted major similarities to North Korea's HS10 IRBM missile. In addition, a video of the missile released shortly after the parade appeared to show a similar trail of flame.


EGYPT ATTEMPTS ILLEGAL NORTH KOREAN WEAPON IMPORT

According to the Washington Post, in August Egyptian customs intercepted a bulk freighter named Jie Shun, flying Cambodian colours, and carrying more than 30,000 North Korean rocket-propelled grenades concealed under bins of iron ore.

A subsequent United Nations report said this was the "largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

However, the UN investigation also uncovered that the military hardware had in fact been intended for Egypt, under a complex arrangement in which Egyptian business executives ordered millions of dollars worth of North Korean rockets for the country's military.

US officials confirmed that the delivery of the rockets was foiled only when US intelligence agencies spotted the vessel and alerted Egyptian authorities through diplomatic channels - forcing them to take action and stop the delivery.


STUDY FINDS INCITEMENT IN PALESTINIAN TEXTBOOKS

According to a study released by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Middle East Forum and the Centre for Near East Policy on Sept 27, textbooks used in schools run by UNRWA, the UN agency caring for Palestinian refugees, display strong anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment.

The study examined 150 textbooks for grades one through to twelve, finding frequent anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish and pro-violence statements including that Jews have no holy places and no rights in the area and labelling Jews as having "greedy ambitions."

The Wiesenthal Centre labelled the textbooks "a clear violation of the UN's own rules." A Centre representative stated that, "Instead of preparing the next generation for a two-state solution, living in peace alongside Israel, new Palestinian textbooks, including many used in UN schools, indoctrinate violence, denial, deceit, and demonisation of the Jewish people."

 

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