+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 24th November

Video: Is It True the UN Created Israel? 70 Years since UN General Assembly Resolution 181 – Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

It is often incorrectly asserted that the United Nations created the State of Israel by means of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, what is also known as the Partition Plan, which was adopted on November 29, 1947, 70 years ago. That is completely untrue.

UN Resolution 181 called explicitly for an independent Jewish state alongside of an Arab state and provided international legitimacy for the Jewish claim to statehood. It was a morally significant action, but like all UN General Assembly resolutions, it was not legally binding.

What established Israel was not the action of the UN. What actually established Israel was the Declaration of Independence by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, on May 15, 1948. To this day, what establishes states are not actions in the UN, despite what Mahmoud Abbas might hope.

When I served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, a campaign began which called for reviving Resolution 181, led by the Palestinian UN Observer, Nasser al-Qudwa. At the time, Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon said to me, “Go back to Ben-Gurion’s speech in the Knesset from December 1949.”

When Arab armies converged on the nascent State of Israel, put Jerusalem under siege, and bombarded the Old City with artillery, the UN did nothing. As Ben-Gurion told the Israeli Knesset in December 1949, “The UN didn’t lift a finger.”

Ben-Gurion declared, “We cannot regard the decision of the 29th of November 1947 as being possessed of any further moral force since the UN did not succeed in implementing its own decisions.” Eight days later he moved the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem just as the Jewish state was being reborn.

Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.

Girl injured in 2011 Jerusalem bombing dies of her wounds

Hodaya Asulin, injured at the age of 14 in 2011 Jerusalem terror attack, who succumbed to her wounds on November 22, 2017.

A girl who was wounded as a girl in a March 2011 bombing in Jerusalem succumbed to her wounds Wednesday, after more than six years in a coma.

Hodaya Asulin had been heading home to the Mevo Horon settlement when a bomb hidden in a backpack exploded at a bus stop outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

The blast killed British national Mary Jean Gardner and injured dozens of passersby.

In November 2013, a military court in the West Bank sentenced Palestinian Hussein Ali Qawasmeh to life in prison for orchestrating the terror bombing.

Asulin, who was 14 at the time of the attack, had been unconscious for the six and a half years since, receiving round-the-clock care from family, friends and volunteers.

She succumbed to her wounds early in the morning at the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem

“Her fight for her life inspired people to do so much good over these past six and a half years. It’s impossible to describe,” her uncle Rafi Asulin told The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed sorrow over Asulin’s death.

“I send condolences from the bottom of my heart to the family of Hodaya Asulin,” he said in a statement. “The entire Israeli nation is embracing and supporting the family, which wrapped Hodaya in warmth and dedication since the terrible attack. May her memory forever remain blessed and ensconced in our hearts.”  (the Times of Israel)

60% of Israeli Arabs say they are ‘proud’ to be Israeli, poll shows

Sone 73% of Israeli Arabs feel a sense of belonging and 60% are proud to be Israelis, according to a new poll commissioned by Israel Hayom and conducted by the New Wave Research Institute that was released Tuesday. The poll questioned 426 Arab Israelis aged 18 and up, and did not include the Druze community.

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents (65%) defined themselves as not religious, while 35% said they were religious. Some 46% identified as Israeli Arabs and 42% identified as Palestinian Arabs, while only 3% identified as Israelis.

Almost three-quarters of the respondents (73%) believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about land, while 19% believe it is about religion. The remaining respondents either did not know or declined to answer.

A total of 60% said they were “very proud” or “fairly proud” to be Israeli, while 37% said they were “not proud” to be Israeli.

Most Israeli Arabs also said they believed that Jews have historic and religious ties to Israel. Some 82% said they had no desire to live under Palestinian rule, while only 14% said they did. Some 4% said they did not know or refused to answer.

The poll also showed sweeping support for a right of return for Palestinian refugees, and slightly less than half of respondents said they supported Israel’s right to exist. Slightly more than half said they opposed Israel’s right to exist.

A resounding majority of Israeli Arabs said they have Jewish friends and are willing to send their children to school with Jewish children. However, most believe there is a great deal of anti-Arab incitement among Israeli Jewish society, while only a few said they believe there is a great deal of Arab incitement against Jews.

Asked about issues involving Israeli Arab society specifically, the issue of greatest concern to respondents was violence, followed by education, racism, and housing. When asked about national political issues, most respondents said they felt that the Supreme Arab Monitoring Committee and Arab MKs did not represent them.

A separate poll probed the positions of Arab residents of east Jerusalem, most of whom do not see themselves as Israeli Arabs. Some of them hold permanent resident status rather than citizenship.

On most issues, the stance of east Jerusalem Arabs was the opposite of Israeli Arabs. Most of the east Jerusalem residents polled said they do not feel like they belong to Israeli society and only half said they had Jewish friends.

Arabic speakers conducted the poll by telephone in September this year. Respondents were not informed that Israel Hayom was behind the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.7%.  (Israel Hayom)

Trump divulged to Russia details of a daring Israeli raid in Syria

US President Donald Trump revealed details of a daring top-secret mission into northern Syria by Israel’s Mossad spy agency and elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit in a May meeting with Russian officials, sticking a dagger into the robust Israeli-American intelligence-sharing apparatus, according to a report Thursday.

The account, published in Vanity Fair based on information from unnamed sources the magazine described as “experts on Israeli intelligence operations,” sheds new light on both the highly sensitive covert operation deep in the heart of Syria and the damage done to the security relationship between the allies after the president revealed the secret information while apparently bragging about the quality of his intelligence reports.

A number of details about the operation, which involved an Israeli intelligence source that uncovered an Islamic State plot to use laptops to bomb planes, have already been reported on.

According to the Vanity Fair account, two Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters carrying Israeli commandos and Mossad agents flew into northern Syria, as part of a mission to insert a listening device to spy on an Islamic State cell that was devising new methods of carrying out bombing attacks sometime at the end of last winter.

The troops and spies were dropped off and transferred to jeeps, in which they drove to their target, where the commandos patrolled while the Mossad agents planted the device. The commandos and agents then raced back to the helicopters and returned to Israel undetected, the report said.

Several days later, signal intelligence troops from Israel’s Unit 8200 were reportedly able to listen in on an Islamic State soldier explaining how to make and use the laptop bombs, apparently devised by Saudi explosives mastermind Ibrahim al-Asiri.

Despite having been warned by US officials that Trump had been “leveraged” by Moscow and could pass sensitive info to the Russians, Israel shared the information with the US intelligence community, sparking the temporary ban on bringing laptops out of several Middle Eastern countries.

The report did not name the location or exact date of the operation, but Trump, in recounting details of it to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US, during an oval Office meeting on May 10, did reveal the location, potentially endangering assets Israel had on the ground.

Just as worrisome for Israel, though, was the idea that the Russians could pass the information on to their Iranian or Syrian allies.

The Israeli government has not officially confirmed that it is the source of the reportedly leaked intelligence. Yet Trump’s indiscretion sparked anger in the Israeli intelligence community, prompting calls by some for a scaling back of intelligence sharing with the US.

“Trump betrayed us,” the magazine quoted a senior Israeli military official as saying. “And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.”

Former heads of the Mossad have also publicly railed against the US president and implied that officials today should be far more guarded about the types of intelligence they pass along to their American counterparts.

“If tomorrow I were asked to pass information to the CIA, I would do everything I could to not pass it to them. Or I would first protect myself and only then give it, and what I’d give would be totally neutered,” Shabtai Shavit, who led the Mossad in the 1990s, said in a phone interview with The Times of Israel in May.

He described the US president as a “bull in a china shop” — or as the Hebrew version of the expression goes, an “elephant in a china shop” — cavalierly passing along information to Russia without first being properly briefed and unwittingly violating the unwritten codes of conduct of espionage.

Earlier reports said an Israeli intelligence asset embedded in the terrorist group had provided the tip-off that eventually led to the laptop ban, and that Trump’s information-sharing possibly put that asset’s life in danger.

Facing criticism over the leak, Trump admitted he had given information to the Russians, though he asserted in a tweet he had the right to do so. At the time, the source of the confidential material hadn’t yet been confirmed, but while media reports pointed first at Jordan, speculation quickly turned to Israel as being the original provider.

The US president then seemed to inadvertently confirm that Israeli operatives were the source of the intelligence in an off-the-cuff remark to journalists during his visit to Israel at the end of May: As he headed into a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said he had “never mentioned the word Israel” in his conversation with the Russian foreign minister.  (the Times of Israel)

In possible nod to Israel, two top Saudi officials visit Paris synagogue

In a historic first and possible nod to Israel, two top officials from Saudi Arabia – both former government ministers – visited a synagogue in Paris this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The officials were Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Muhammad Abdul-Kareem al-Issa, a former Saudi justice minister, and Khalid bin Mohammed Al Angari, a former Saudi education minister who currently serves as Riyadh’s ambassador to France.

The Muslim World League is an international Islamic NGO based in Mecca that works to spread Islam. Alongside al-Issa’s work in the league, he also serves as an official adviser to the royal court in Riyadh and to the Saudi minister of defense.

The pair, who visited the Grand Synagogue in Paris on Monday, were hosted by France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia and the synagogue’s rabbi, Moshe Sebbag.

Sebbag and Korsia removed a Torah scroll from the Ark during the visit and showed it to the Saudi officials, explaining the significance of the text and showing them various ornaments in the sanctuary.

“This was very exciting,” Sebbag told the Post on Wednesday. “This was their first time in a synagogue, and I was frankly surprised that they came.”

Rabbi Moshe Sebbag of the Great Synagogue of Paris (far right) and France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korzia (second from right), host Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Muhammad Abdul-Kareem al-Issa (third from left) and Khalid bin Mohammed Al Angari, the Saudi ambassador to France (second)

The Saudi officials told their hosts that it was their first time visiting a synagogue.

Their visit came amid reports of growing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and just a few days after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot gave an interview to a London-based Saudi newspaper in which he said that Israel would be prepared to share intelligence on Iran with the kingdom.

In addition, Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz – a member of the security cabinet – revealed on Sunday that Israel had covert ties with the Saudis.

“We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually [we are] the party that is not ashamed,” Steinitz said. “It’s the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet. With us, usually, there is no problem, but we respect the other side’s wish, when ties are developing – whether it’s with Saudi Arabia or with other Arab countries or other Muslim countries.” (Jerusalem Post)

Big data and robots are part of the Israeli military’s ‘new world’

United by a common need to analyze huge quantities of streaming data, and to recognize the key information contained within all of it, the Israeli Air Force (IAF), Google, Facebook and other high-tech firms came together in Herzliya last week to share lessons and insights.

The Future Tech conference was organized by the IAF’s Information and Communications Technology Department. It saw private sector leaders, such as the CEOs of the Israel-based operations of Google and Facebook, deliver talks to members of the military.

Col. Shai (full name withheld for security reasons), head of the Information and Communications Technology Department, told JNS.org, “We are in a new world. The Israel Defense Forces and IAF have a big technological gap to fill when it comes to catching up with the civilian world, and bringing this technology to the military world.”

The end objective, he said, is to gain an across-the-board advantage over the enemy.

“Technology allows us to develop this advantage,” he said.

One key area of mutual learning with high-tech firms, Col. Shai said, is big data. With an ever-growing range of sensors and capabilities feeding the IAF with vast quantities of intelligence, the personnel would be swamped without big data processing and analytical tools.

“The quantity of data coming in is very big. We have to create automation,” the officer said, referring to computing abilities that can receive the big data and analyze it automatically, drawing human operators’ attention to the critical information.

During the conference, a doctor told military personnel about how the medical profession is struggling to deal with an over-saturation of information on patients, and that big data tools are now being employed to detect disease and prioritize information, keeping doctors focused on the important data.

“The same thing is happening in the IDF,” said Col. Shai. “We need automation to deal with the large flow of data. Military personnel can’t deal with it all by themselves.” Just as these tools can be used for early illness detection, they can also be utilized by the IDF for early threat detection, he added.

Another area of shared learning with the high-tech sector is data fusion.

“This is an ability we want, for ‘acquiring’ the enemy, by tracking its activities through a variety of sensors,” Col. Shai said. “This is a part of achieving victory. The one who controls knowledge will win the war.”

With increasing numbers of drones and quadcopters joining more traditional aircraft in feeding intelligence to the IDF, the ability to fuse the data together will be a significant factor in any future conflict.

The officer said that augmented reality technology is just beginning to enter the IAF, adding, “We are at the start of a revolution. Right now, it is as the pre-flight cockpit stage, where we use Augmented Reality for checklists, and keep the hands free. This is not yet operational. Our exposure to this came from the civilian world.”

The officer stressed that people continue to be in the loop in the IDF, and will have the final say on whether to use intelligence to strike targets, a process known in the military as the “sensor to shooter cycle.”

In recent years, the IAF has linked up its command network to the rest of the IDF, becoming part of an interconnected synergy, according to Col. Shai.

“No one works alone anymore,” he said.

The Israeli company Roboteam’s “Probot” vehicle, pictured here at the recent Future Tech conference in Herzliya, carries up to 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of equipment along with soldiers in the field.

The arrival of military robots

One of the exhibition stalls at the conference was staffed by the Israeli company Roboteam , which has become a pioneer in the area of military robots. Its systems are in operational use in both the IDF and the U.S. Army.

Shai Dvir, of Roboteam’s Implementation Department, said the company’s MTGR—the world’s lightest tactical ground robot—is being used by the IDF to prepare for tunnel warfare and urban combat. The IDF has ordered dozens of MTGRs, and it has been in service for a year and a half.

The remote-controlled robot, Dvir told JNS.org, can “climb stairs in houses, or enter tunnels. It can carry sensors for tracking targets. All of the reconnaissance and elite units have them.”

The robot goes ahead of human personnel, towards the enemy, entering a danger zone first and sending back intelligence. “It saves lives. It has been used operationally,” said Dvir, himself a former member of an elite military unit.

The U.S. Army has also ordered “a large number of these systems,” he added.

Roboteam is now working on a next-generation tactical robot for the IDF, called Tiger. The company has also sold the IDF a remote-controlled vehicle that carries up to 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of equipment along with soldiers in the field. The vehicle, called Probot, has been in service in the IDF for six months. Its upgraded versions will be autonomous, and will carry both weapons and observation sensors.

“The IDF’s demand for high-tech civilian sector solutions is high,” said Dvir. “It is a part of the modern battlefield.”  (JNS)

First Israeli marine station launched in the deep Mediterranean

The first permanent marine station to study the deep sea off the coast of Israel will be launched after completing a successful, one-year pilot project.

The station is 50 km. from the Haifa shore and run by Bar-Ilan University and other universities along with the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR).

The station will monitor environmental changes in the open sea that may be a result of offshore gas drilling and of the marine “biological pump” working under conditions of global warming. Preliminary findings suggest that increased biological activity and winter storms can facilitate the transport of organic carbon to the deep sea and sea floor.

The Deep Sea Research Station, commonly known as Deeplev, is a marine research station, or a “mooring,” placed off the coast of Israel. Anchored to the seabed at a water depth of 1,500 m., the station contains a large number of stateof- the-art measuring instruments, which gathers information through a cable running from the seabed to near the sea surface, enabling continuous study of the physical and ecological system in the eastern Mediterranean.

The team consists of Bar-Ilan Prof. Yishai Weinstein from the department of geography and environment and Prof. Ilana Berman-Frank from the faculty of life sciences, as well as Prof. Barak Herut and Dr. Timor Katz from the IOLR.

Also involved are researchers from a variety of fields in marine sciences from Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and the Geological Survey.

The station is of importance in order to understand the sea’s response to, for example, occurrences of pollution following unfortunate leaks or accidents that result from the increasing number of gas exploration and production platforms in the eastern Mediterranean.

A few days ago, a seminar was held at the IOLR in Haifa to mark the conclusion of the pilot and to present preliminary findings.

Herut and Weinstein noted that the establishment of the station is a “turning point” in the study of the Mediterranean Sea, a highly fragile and sensitive ocean basin that has been subject to several environmental stresses, including the digging of the Suez Canal, the drilling for offshore gas and the construction of desalination plants on its shores.

Berman-Frank presented information on the unique biological system of the eastern Mediterranean and its importance for studying the “biological pump,” a natural process that carries carbon from the sea surface to the deep sea, thereby regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Weinstein stressed that goals of a global nature have been set for the station, including better understanding the effects of global warming. The eastern Mediterranean waters are unusually warm, even at a depth of more than 1,000 m., making it a natural lab for researching and predicting the behavior of the oceans after years of being subjected to warming.

Dr. Olga Zlatkin, a postdoctoral researcher on the project, and doctoral student Ronen Alkalai, study materials captured in the “sediment traps” located along the marine station’s cable. At the symposium they presented preliminary findings indicating a constant flow of particles from the surface to the bottom of the sea, enabling the transport of organic carbon for safekeeping in the “dark zone” of the sea – more than 1,000 m. down – which is part of the biological pump.

The findings also suggest an interesting possibility that the flow of particles and the efficiency of the pump increases during winter storms, when large quantities of dust and materials drifting from the seabed in the coastal region reach the open sea.

These findings can also teach about the effectiveness of disposal from the sea surface to the floor during pollution events – a possibility that will be further explored later in the study.

Dr. Nir Stern of the IOLR disclosed a surprising finding during the pilot’s first six months. The sediment traps, which were placed at depths of 180 and 280 m., were completely filled with deep-sea fish called “sharpchin barracudina,” which have rarely been documented in the waters near Israel and whose adult fish have never been reported in the scientific literature.

Next week, a group of researchers will visit the station aboard the new IOLR-operated research vessel Bat Galim. The mooring will be released from its anchor using acoustic signals, and the cable and devices will be loaded carefully on board.

The samples and physical data collected will be dismantled and studied in the lab, and after maintenance, the station will be re-positioned for more sampling and recordings until the next visit. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Red Lines on Iran’s Foothold in Syria – Udi Dekel and Zvi Magen (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

The U.S. and Russia have finalized a deal regarding the ceasefire and de-escalation zones in southern Syria. Among the understandings reached this month between the powers is acceptance of Iranian forces and Iranian-controlled militias deployed not far from the Golan Heights border, where Israel had announced it would not tolerate an Iranian presence.

A senior U.S. official said the understandings allow Iranian troops, Shiite militias, and Hizbullah to be stationed 7 km. from the Israeli border on Mount Hermon and 20 km. from the border in the central and southern Golan Heights.

During the previous round of talks between the U.S. and Russia in July, Israel worked behind the scenes to keep Iran’s forces and proxies 60 km. from the border. In neither round of talks was there discussion of Iran’s consolidation in Syria – including the establishment of Iranian ground, naval, and aerial bases and infrastructures for the manufacturing and storage of advanced arms.

Senior Israeli officials have stressed that Israel is opposed to any Iranian military presence in Syria, and that the understandings between Russia and the U.S. do not provide a solution for Israel’s security interests in Syria. Thus, Israel is not bound by these understandings and will continue to maintain the red lines it drew in the past.

The U.S. and Russia have handed Iran control and influence over Syria on a silver platter and at this point have no desire to confront it. Now Iran is busy tightening its long-term grip on Syria.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel, managing director of INSS, was head of the Strategic Planning Division in the IDF General Staff.

Lt.-Col. Zvi Magen, who served in IDF Military Intelligence, is a former Israeli ambassador to Russia and Ukraine.