Newsletter : 20fx0918.txt
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Israel Busts Iranian-Hizbullah Terror Cell in Jerusalem
The Shin Bet revealed on Thursday the existence of a joint effort by the Iranian Quds
Force and the Lebanese terror group Hizbullah to recruit Israeli and Palestinian civilians
and residents to carry out terrorist activities in Israel. The recruitment network was
uncovered through a joint investigation by the Shin Bet, the Israel Police's Lahav 433
investigation unit and other security agencies, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
In August, Yasmin Jaber, a resident of Jerusalem's Old City who works at the National
Library, was arrested for questioning, due to suspicions that she had been recruited by
Hizbullah, according to the Shin Bet. Several of Jaber's acquaintances were also taken
into custody, including one Tasnim al-Qadi, a Ramallah resident who has lived in Turkey in
The investigation revealed that Hizbullah organizes conferences in Lebanon for young
Palestinians for the express purpose of identifying potential recruits from Israel and
Judea and Samaria. Jaber was identified as a potential recruit at one such conference in
Lebanon in 2015. According to the Shin Bet, she was given the code name "Racheel," the
Arabic form of "Rachel."
During a subsequent visit to Lebanon in 2016, Attaya Abu Samhadna and Muhammad al-Hajj
Musa, known operatives in the Quds Force and Hizbullah's joint terror unit, linked her to
a senior figure in this unit, known as "Fares Awda." According to the Shin Bet, "Fares
Awda" is the nickname of Jaafar Kabisi, who is known to have been involved in additional
attempts to recruit assets in Israel and Judea and Samaria. Jaber maintained contact with
her Hizbullah operators via secret messages on social media, such as Facebook and
As part of her activities for Hizbullah, Jaber traveled to Turkey for meetings, during
which she received instructions from Rand Wahba, code name "Wafaa," a Hizbullah operative
in the joint terror unit.
At these meetings, it was made clear to Jaber that her role was to recruit additional
Israeli operatives to serve as a terror cell under her command. She was instructed to
focus her efforts on recruiting Israeli Arabs, and particularly women, due to their
greater freedom of movement in Israel.
During her interrogation, Jaber's friend Tasnim al-Qadi revealed that she, too, had met
members of the joint terror unit at a conference in Lebanon in 2015, and that she had
maintained contact with them since. Al-Qadi served as the unit's liaison with Jaber, as
part of the clandestine communication channels used by the terror unit to prevent the
disclosure of its activities to elements in Israel, and even received money from them.
Investigators discovered that in 2018, al-Qadi, too, had met with Hizbullah operative Rand
Wahba, and accepted Wahba's offer to put her in touch with Hizbullah operatives in
Lebanon. Jaber and al-Qadi will be indicted for security offenses in the coming days.
A senior Shin Bet source called the investigation "another step in the counter-terrorism
efforts carried out in the past year against Quds Force and Hizbullah attempts to recruit
Israeli Arabs. The Shin Bet, together with its partners in the defense establishment, will
continue to work resolutely to thwart all terrorist and espionage activities of Iran and
Hizbullah, including those originating in the Turkish arena, and to expose all elements in
Israel and Judea and Samaria."
Socotra Figures in Multiple Threats to Israel Following UAE, Bahraini Pacts
Two radical forces are gunning for Israel's interests in the Gulf region since they
were formalized in pacts with the UAE and Bahrain on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Middle East
sources claim that the United Arab Emirates and Israel are setting up spy bases on the
Yemeni island of Socotra which the Emirates took over in 2017. The same sources disclose
that the UAE and Israel have deployed espionage equipment on the island for monitoring the
Houthi insurgents on the Yemeni mainland, 350km away, as well as Iranian naval movements
in the Red Sea and the Strait of Hormuz.
The Yemeni government has called the takeover an act of aggression and Al Qaeda's Yemen
branch (AQAP) threatens to attack the putative UAE-Israeli intelligence base on Socotra.
AQAP warned that if Israel set foot in Socotra "you and your Emirati partners will be
targets for our fire, our commando attackers and our martyrdom bombers." This Socotra
archipelago sits athwart the Red Sea shipping routes from the Persian Gulf and Indian
Ocean and is therefore a major strategic asset, especially if Iran were to block the
Strait of Hormuz.
At the other end of radical extremism, are Iran-backed Shiite terrorist groups in Bahrain.
With close operational links to the Lebanese Hizbullah, they proclaim their intention of
opposing the Gulf kingdom's pact with Israel. The Saraya Wa'ad Allah, the first group out
with a statement, says it has set up a new specialized sub-unit for attacking Israeli
interests. The group strongly denounced "this false normalization with the Zionist
" calling it "a cancerous gland on the body of the Ummah."
On Eve of Lockdown, Netanyahu Warns Tougher Measures Could be 'Unavoidable'
By Israel Hayom & World Israel News
On Thursday, the day before Israel once again entered a strict nationwide lockdown that
could extend for the entire duration of the High Holidays, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu asked Israelis to make an extra effort to ensure that it produces the desired
results by bringing down the coronavirus' community spread.
Netanyahu warned that the lockdown, which begins at 2 p.m. Friday (7 a.m. EDT) just before
Rosh Hashanah commences, may get another layer of restrictions next week, in the wake of
criticism that there were too many exceptions aimed at catering to specific interest
The current lockdown, approved earlier this week, is to last until early October at least.
But even before it expires, Netanyahu said and that stricter measures that would do away
with virtually all exceptions might become "unavoidable" throughout that period. A
decision would only be made in the coming days, after the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
"This lockdown is important, and it is essential; we will go through this together,"
Netanyahu said in a special televised address. He added that his government would soon
pass an additional stimulus package aimed at encouraging businesses to keep employees and
help individuals make ends meet despite the expected loss in income, including through
"I suspect all countries will ultimately have to decide whether to go into lockdown or
not, and they will most likely have to do so as a last resort," Netanyahu said. "As I have
said before, we will lift some of the measures when morbidity drops, and increase it when
it spikes. One of the main criteria is the healthcare system and how overwhelmed it is,
and that is why we are imposing the lockdown tomorrow."
Netanyahu said that the lockdown could become much more restrictive because of the data he
had received Thursday. "I held a long discussion with the health minister, with the
coronavirus manager, and with various experts ... and following that meeting I have come
to the conclusion that under the current infection rates, as per the recommendations of
many, there may not be any other option but to add more restrictions. My job, as prime
minister, is not just to take care of people's health, but to take care of those who are
For a lockdown to work, it requires the cooperation of its citizens. Israeli authorities
aren't at all sure they have it. Some 6,000 policemen will enforce the curfew measures.
They'll be assisted by hundreds of soldiers stationed at checkpoints throughout the
It might not be enough if the grousing from citizens aired by the Hebrew media is any
indication. Business owners interviewed by the news say they won't follow the health
guidelines. They're still nursing their wounds from the first lockdown and say in one
voice that they simply won't survive another.
Giving a tailwind to those who threaten to disobey is the general disappointment among
Israel's citizenry with the government, which is blamed for having allowed the pandemic to
spiral out of control and has zigzagged in its decision-making, leaving Israelis confused.
Indeed, the guidelines for the lockdown were only approved on Thursday morning, some 30
hours before it was to go into force at 2:00 p.m. on Friday.
Perhaps recognizing that Israelis will not be following the rules exactly as laid out over
the next three weeks, and that there are holes in the lockdown rules themselves, the
health minister, the deputy health minister and the director general of the ministry all
issued pessimistic forecasts for the lockdown's success. They said it was unlikely to stop
the rising corona rate in any meaningful sense, and that even harsher tightening would
likely be needed after the three-week period.
Hamas Nabs Explosives from Sunken WWI Warship
By World Israel News
The Hamas terror group in Gaza looted the high explosive ammunition from a sunken British
warship off the coast of Gaza, even though the IDF had known the ship's location for years
but failed to act on it, Channel 12 News reported.
"Hamas discovered a British warship sunk in the Gaza Sea. The ship has a lot of weapons
that can be developed or recycled. Everyone surrounded Hamas and prevented them from doing
everything that could be manufactured as a weapon, so God opened a door for them," Hamas
supporter Ahmad Samara tweeted, referring to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza
to prevent Hamas from getting weapons.
The Royal Navy ship HMS M15 was a Monitor-class warship with a large cannon for shore
bombardment. It was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on Nov. 11, 1917 and sank in
waters 33 meters deep, about one kilometer off the shore of Gaza City. Of the 69 man crew,
26 were lost in the incident.
Rami Sadnai, a veteran of the IDF's elite naval commando unit, says that the existence of
the British ship was known to him and his friends. "For many years we planned to dive into
it, we had accurate maps and suitable equipment, but each time the security situation
prevented us from coming and diving," Sadnai said. "It simply sank too close to the Gaza
coast and Hamas unfortunately beat us to it."
According to the report, the ship lay on its side and its main gun had fallen off,
spilling high-explosive artillery shells onto the seabed. Hamas divers who were on a
training mission came across the wreck, saw the exposed artillery shells and realized the
potential. For several weeks they made dives to the sunken ship and slowly brought the
shells ashore, after which Hamas posted pictures of the underwater recovery.
The ammunition was taken to underground rocket training workshops in the heart of the Gaza
Strip, where they were dismantled by Hamas sabotage experts. It is not known how usable
the material will be after being underwater for just over 100 years. Following the IDF
closure on the Gaza Strip and Egyptian army efforts to shut down the smuggling tunnels
Hamas used to have under the Egypt-Gaza border, the terror group has been having a hard
time smuggling weapons materials for use in its home-grown rocket industry.
Survey: One-Third of Netanyahu's Voters Believe COVID-19 was Sent by God
By the Jerusalem Post
One quarter of Jewish Israelis, and more than one-third of Jews who voted for Binyamin
Netanyahu, believes the coronavirus was sent by God as a punishment or to send a message,
according to an annual survey. The survey includes 800 Jewish Israeli respondents and has
a 3.5% margin of error.
The survey, put out by Hiddush, which advocates for religious freedom and pluralism in
Israel, also found that 70% of Israelis reject the notion that criticism of haredi, or
ultra-Orthodox, conduct during the pandemic stems from bigotry as opposed to how haredi
communities have conducted themselves.
The survey, which was conducted in July, was published Thursday, one day before Israel is
due to enter a nationwide lockdown. The lockdown, Israel's second this year, is an attempt
to curb the spread of the virus during a week when Israel has recorded some of the highest
numbers of new cases per capita in the world. It's been a stunning reversal for a country
that thought it had beaten the pandemic four months ago.
The significant minority of Likud voters who see the coronavirus as a divine punishment,
however, does not surprise Regev, who chalks it up as an emotional response to the
pandemic. While only 26% of respondents overall accept that claim, the number jumps to 36%
of Likud voters and 41% of right-wingers. "Look at the breakdown of the Likud voters:
There is a high percentage of religious and some percentage of haredi," he said. "Here you
touch a more emotional, faith issue."
Otherwise, the survey's results resemble those of previous years: A solid majority of
Jewish Israelis wants less Orthodox control over marriage, Jewish conversion and everyday
life. Israel only recognizes Jewish marriages performed by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.
Orthodox conversions are likewise the only recognized ones in the country. Public transit
is shut down across much of the country on Shabbat, and haredi men are exempt from
Israel's mandatory military draft.
Most Jewish Israelis want all of that to change. As in past years, 63% of respondents want
separation of religion and state in Israel. A similar percentage want Israel to recognize
civil marriages and non-Orthodox Jewish weddings. More than 70% want the option of public
transit on Shabbat and to obligate haredi men in military conscription or some form of
The Jewish-Israeli right, however, displays markedly less support for all of those things.
Jewish right-wingers oppose separation of religion and state as well as recognition of
civil and non-Orthodox Jewish marriages. They're split evenly on allowing public transit
on Shabbat. Support for drafting haredi men is also weaker, though still a solid
That's likely in part because, as the survey shows, haredim and religious Jewish Israelis
(like growing numbers of American Orthodox Jews) have placed themselves solidly in the
right-wing camp. Among haredim, 84% identify as right wing, while 71% of religious
nationalist Jews identify that way. Religious Jewish Israelis also make up a
disproportionate share of Likud's base. While haredim and religious Jews together comprise
21% of the Jewish-Israeli population, they make up 36% of Likud voters.
The trend has borne out politically as well. While haredi political parties were seen as
something of a swing faction in previous decades, they have consistently supported
Netanyahu in recent years. The vast majority of haredi voters vote for haredi political
parties. "Their constituency is overwhelmingly right wing," Regev said. "They won't allow
the haredi parties to enter into a pact with the left."
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