Another Late Winter Storm Soaks Israel

After nearly two weeks of spring-like weather, winter returned to Israel with a vengeance overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning with low temperatures and rain. The Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) rose noticeably while several smaller streams and tributaries throughout the country also saw their levels rise. Faith leaders in Israel were quick to offer thanks but also to implore supporters of Israel to continue praying for additional rainfall before the end of winter.

US President Trump Harshly Denounces Iran
Israelis found much to cheer about in US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, including a very harsh condemnation of Iran. “My administration has acted decisively to confront the world's leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran,” Trump said. However, remarks a bit later in the speech hinting at further withdrawals of US ground forces from Syria and the wider Middle East region also prompted expressions of concern from Israeli defence and security circles.

Here is a video showing a segment of Trump’s speech in which he spoke about Iran

In related news, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh complained during an interview with a domestic media outlet Tuesday that "No European country is buying oil from Iran except Turkey,” despite public statements by the EU and certain European governments that they would not be complying with US sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Mentioning former clients in Italy and Greece he continued to complain that "We have called them many times, but they do not return our calls."

PA Vows to Continue Stipends to Families of Terrorists
The Palestinian Authority issued a statement on Tuesday that they will continue to pay stipends to the families of Palestinian terrorists killed or captured and imprisoned during attacks against Israelis despite a plan recently announced by Israel to withhold tax receipts and duties collected on the PA’s behalf if the practice continues. The PA added that it would “go to international courts and institutions and to take all legal and diplomatic measures” in order to dissuade Israel from following through with the plan.

“Any deduction from these revenues is nothing but a continuation of Israeli piracy against billions of dollars that Israel has stolen,” the PA cabinet said in a statement following its weekly meeting. “This is also a clear and blatant violation of Israeli obligations in accordance with signed agreements, especially the Paris Economic Protocol.”

Shalva Band Withdraws from Eurovision Competition
The Shalva Band, a musical group made up of young Israelis with physical disabilities, has announced that it is withdrawing from the competition to represent Israel at the upcoming Eurovision competition due to their refusal to violate the Sabbath. The international competition to be held in Tel Aviv this year, will include recordings and broadcasts on Friday evening and Saturday. Efforts to accommodate observant Jewish contestants have been made at the highest levels of the Israeli government but the international organizing committee has not agreed to these efforts.

Israel Keeping a Close Watch on Northern Border
The S-300 air defence systems sent to Syria by Russia are nearly operational according to ImageSat, a commercial operator of surveillance satellites. If the reports are confirmed, it could complicate Israeli efforts to strike Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria. In related news, the IDF’s Givati reconnaissance battalion held the latest in a series of exercises this week designed to improve readiness for war with Hezbollah on the northern border.

Maj. Alon Peiser, deputy commander of Givati’s Gadsar reconnaissance battalion, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “In war, our troops will march toward the enemy and when they meet him, they will kill him. We will defeat the enemy in the minimum amount of time and with the minimum amount of collateral damage. I hope, for the sake of Israeli civilians, I hope there won’t be a war,” (but) “the Lebanese shouldn’t try us. But if they try something, they will pay a price. We are ready for war now, we were ready yesterday. We are prepared. You can count on us in the next war.”

Today's video shows a recent panel discussion on issues between Israel and Jewish communities in the US

Pope Francis Visits Middle East

Pope Francis, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, became the first pontiff in history to visit the Arabian Peninsula when he landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday to take part in an inter-faith dialogue event hosted by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Several Jewish rabbis also participated in the event, which received a great deal of positive coverage in Arab and international media outlets. Francis avoided making any overtly political statements during his visit, aside from an appeal for an end to the suffering in Yemen, Libya and Syria and a demand that religious leaders refrain from endorsing armed conflict for any reason. He also called for “the full recognition” of the rights of all people across the region, a comment some analysts said was a veiled reference to the Palestinians.

He also said he hopes for “concrete opportunities for [interfaith] meeting, not only here but in the entire beloved region, a focal point of the Middle East…I look forward to societies where people of different beliefs have the same right of citizenship and where only in the case of violence in any of its forms is that right removed.”

Before returning to Rome on Tuesday afternoon, Francis held a mass for approximately 135,000 Catholics, mostly expat workers from the Africa and Asia, at a sports stadium in Abu Dhabi, some of the estimated 2 million Catholic expat workers in the UAE and surrounding Gulf countries.

Israel’s AA Credit Rating Affirmed by S&P
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another devastating defeat this week when credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) announced that it is affirming the Jewish State’s AA rating, saying that “the stable outlook on Israel balances external and security risks against Israel’s solid economic growth prospects.” However, the statement added that Israel could potentially have an even higher rating if not for its “moderately high public debt burden” and “significant security and geopolitical risks” from conflict in neighboring countries.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said S&P’s announcement was “further proof of the strength of the Israeli economy and its global status.”

In related news, the Tourism Ministry issued a press release Monday saying it had recorded an 11% increase in visitors in January 2019 over the same month the previous year. “The rise in the number of tourists over several years is proof of the quality of the Israeli tourism industry," said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. "I hope and believe that 2019 will continue this unprecedented momentum in tourism, that we have created in the past several years."

Here is a video about tourism in Israel

Iran Dismisses EU Concerns Over Missiles, Terrorism
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday derisively dismissed a European Union statement issued the day before criticizing the Islamic Republic for its illegal ballistic missile program, domestic human rights abuses and plots to carry out terrorist attacks on European soil, saying the EU statement was "baseless" and "non-constructive." However, the Iranian Foreign Ministry had nothing negative to say about the other part of the EU statement which dealt with its recent inauguration of a mechanism for bypassing US sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its renegade nuclear program.

Austrian Delegation on Solidarity Tour of Israel
Austrian President Van der Bellen and his wife, along with a delegation of dignitaries and officials from Austria, are in Israel this week on a solidarity tour which took them to Jerusalem’s Grove of the Nations Monday to plant trees symbolizing the friendship between Israel and Austria. “I am honored to be the 109th leader to plant a tree in the Grove of Nations and become part of this tradition,” der Bellen said. “Planting a tree provides future generations with something that will succeed us when we are gone; may this tree I plant in the state of Israel grow in peace and serenity.”

Iran Celebrates Islamic Revolution by Unveiling Missiles

Iran’s clerical regime celebrated the 40th anniversary of the violent coup which brought it to power over the weekend by, among other things, unveiling a new cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload 1,350 km which defense officials claimed had recently undergone a successful test. On Saturday, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General Hossein Salami told an official media outlet that "If the Europeans, or anyone else, want to conspire to disarm Iran of missiles, we will be forced to make a strategic leap."

He added that in his opinion the world should "come to terms with the new reality of Iran's missile might: there are no obstacles or technical limitations to us increasing [their] range" but also hastened to add that the powerful new weapons he spoke of were merely part of the Islamic Republic’s "defensive strategy" which shouldn’t be cause for alarm among any of its neighbors.

On Sunday, CBS Face the Nation broadcast an interview with US President Donald Trump in which he said that although he is determined to re-deploy US forces out of the Middle East, he plans to keep a robust contingent in Iraq and possibly Afghanistan in order to monitor and if necessary act to contain Iranian aggression.

"We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do," he said.

Finally, a mysterious fire over the weekend at Iran’s self-described “Space Research Center” in Teheran did extensive damage to the facility and killed three scientists. Israeli and Western analysts have long suspected the Center of being a cover for aspects of Iran’s renegade ballistic missile program.

Here are some videos giving insights into the history of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and analysis of current events in the Islamic Republic

UN Ambassadors visit Israel

A contingent of UN ambassadors from 40 countries around the world visited Israel recently in a trip coordinated by Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon. Their visit included trips to Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s City of David archeological park and several other landmarks. They also met with senior officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

“There is a great change taking place in the Middle East, and this is the rise of the aggressive theocracy in Iran that wants to conquer the Middle East, destroy Israel, and rule many other parts of the world,” Netanyahu told the delegation as they prepared to embark on a helicopter tour of the northern border region. “Iran has many branches. One of them is Hezbollah that has now joined Lebanon’s government. This is actually misleading; Hezbollah essentially controls the government of Lebanon, which means that Iran controls the Lebanese government.”

“It is important to convey this powerful message,” Netanyahu said. “Just as we have prevented the terror tunnels that reached Israel, we will prevent any aggression from Lebanon, Syria or Iran itself. We are committed to preventing this aggression, and thereby are defending not only Israel, but also all our neighbors and the entire world.”

Prior to arriving in Israel, the group, whose trip was sponsored by the March of the Living and the American Zionist Movement, visited the Majdanek death camp in Poland.

Here is a video of their visit to the City of David archeological park in Jerusalem

Israelis Cheered by Jewish Superbowl MVP
Israelis largely ignored the NFL’s Superbowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but were nonetheless gratified to learn upon waking up Monday morning that Wide receiver Julian Edelman, one of the NFL’s few Jewish players, had been named MVP of the game. With ten receptions for 141 yards, Edelman was one of the few offensive standouts in a low-scoring game otherwise dominated by the defense of both teams.

Israel Blesses the World
Scientific Reports, a professional journal of medicine and related research, published an article this week detailing the work of Professor Amiram Goldblum and his team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem which describes an algorithm they invented identifying 27 new molecules which activate a special protein called PPAR-delta, giving hope to millions of people around the world who suffer from fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetic nephrotoxicity, and related pathologies. Professor Goldblum cautioned however that much more research will be required before treatments will be made available to the general public.

Report says German NGO’s Funding Palestinian Terror
The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry published a report last week entitled “The Money Trail: European Union Financing of Organizations Promoting Boycotts against the State of Israel.” The report gives details of financial transfers to Palestinian NGOs which are staffed by convicted terrorists by self-described “Humanitarian Aid” groups in Germany, as well as a think tank connected to Germany’s Green Party.

Today’s video shows opportunities to study in Israel in English

IDF Holds War Games Amidst Regional Tensions

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) held a large-scale training exercise this week to simulate a war with the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah. “The next war will be different than it was in the past,” one officer who participated in the exercise told the Jerusalem Post. “The enemy has gotten better, and has more advanced weapons and more experience. Both sides have advanced, and we know our enemy. But, at the same time I am sure they know us, too.”

“I have high confidence in my men,” he added. “I have fought in many wars with the IDF and I have a lot of trust in them and their professionalism. In terms of reservists, there’s a strong connection between them and conscripts. They fight shoulder-to-shoulder, we train together a lot and they have a lot of advanced equipment... They will tell you that they are ready for war…at the end of the day, every month that passes, we get better and better. We understand our enemy more and more.”

Meanwhile, the IDF Navy also held drills this week to simulate defending against missile attacks on offshore natural gas extraction platforms.

“Many fleets are deployed in the Mediterranean, and in the northern front there are superpowers like the Russians. In the end of the day, this requires a larger and wider naval presence in Israel’s economic waters,” said a senior officer on Thursday. “The navy’s purpose is to protect the country’s EEZ. Any enemy ship that tries to attack our strategic facilities will be destroyed.”

Here is a video giving some analysis of Israel's strategic situation at the beginning of 2019

BDS Movement Suffers Devastating Setbacks
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat this week when details emerged of the mega-deal agreed to between the US-based tech giant Intel Corp. and Israel, including a clause which will see Intel purchase $4 billion worth of Israeli goods and services over the next six years in exchange for an Israeli government grant and other assistance in the construction of a massive new chip production facility in Kiryat Gat. The plant is expected to directly create over 1,000 high-paying jobs and indirectly support many more.

In another sign of Israel’s increasing importance to large players on the international stage, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced this week that it has signed contracts to provide $93 million worth of defensive equipment to the Indian Navy.

IDF Rescue Teams Heading Home from Brazil
The IDF Spokesperson’s office Tweeted late Thursday evening that its mission to assist the search and rescue teams in Brazil had come a close and the Israeli delegation to the disaster zone surrounding the Bumandinho dam which collapsed last Sunday, sending a wave of water and debris into nearby villages which is believed to have killed as over 100 people. "Our aid mission to Brazil has come to an end, and our soldiers will soon be heading home to Israel. Brazil, we are proud to have been by your side," the IDF Twitter account said.

Here is a video about the rescue mission posted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Space Week Launches in Israel
Israel’s Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis took part in ceremonies this week to launch the 16th annual “Space Week” which included a variety of activities to educate and inspire the public. “I foresee a great future for the State of Israel in general and in the high-tech industry and the space industry for the next decade,” he said.  “I think that we are a powerhouse of innovation...I have no doubt that the strong desire to cooperate in the research and technology of Israel in particular improves our relations in science. I call it ‘science diplomacy.’” 

European Governments Set to Grant Iran Sanctions Relief

The governments of Germany, France, and Britain announced this week that they will soon put into effect a mechanism to allow companies based in their countries to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. The so-called special-purpose vehicle (SPV) will use various channels including bartering and is expected to be put into effect by Friday, despite recent declerations by various European governments and the EU that Iran’s support for terrorism in their countries and its ballistic missile program were “areas of concern.”

In related news, Iran’s President Hassan Rohani made a speech during a ceremony Wednesday to honor the late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, addressing the Iranian people as a whole and saying they should blame America for the economic hardships they are suffering from, not his government.
Here is a video about Iran’s export of precision missiles to Lebanon

Ethiopian Community Holds Protest Against Police
Several thousand members of Israel’s Ethiopian community and their supporters turned out for a demonstration in Tel Aviv Wednesday evening to protest what event organizers said was a pattern of racism and brutality by the police against members of the community. The protest was triggered by an incident earlier this month in which a 24-year old Ethiopian man named Yehuda Biadga was shot dead by police when he charged at them during a confrontation. His parents said he was suffering from mental illness and several commentators questioned if a young white man acting in a similar way would automatically be shot by police.

The demonstration, which was mostly peaceful until the very end when a handful of demonstrators clashed with police resulting in several injuries and arrests, included a march from the Azrieli Junction to Rabin Square, with some protesters also walking out onto the Ayalon Highway to block traffic. Chants were heard at the demonstration including “violent cops belong in prison” and calling on Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to “go home.” However, several speakers made a point of saying they loved and supported their country while demanding reforms in the police.

Israel Blesses the World 
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) launched a project this week in partnership with Israeli firms SOSA and Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) with the goal of turning New York City into a world leader in the field of cybersecurity and creating thousands of jobs in both NYC and Israel. “This initiative makes the US market even more accessible for Israel’s export-oriented cyber industry,” SOSA CEO Uzi Scheffer told the Jerusalem Post. “It’s good for the Israeli economy to accelerate exports, and we believe this supports New York’s strategy to see companies land in the city, and grow naturally and create jobs.”

Florida State Government Recognizes Jerusalem
The government of the US State of Florida issued a proclamation this week declaring the city of Jerusalem to be the “eternal and undivided capital” of Israel. “We have made it clear that we stand with our closest ally in the Middle East. I too believe in standing strong with our friend and partner and ally,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “As a state we must continue to demonstrate our broad and deep support of our ally and economic partner by implementing pro-Israel policies. Today we declare to the world that Florida stands united with Israel.”

IDF Soldiers Indicted for Allegedly Beating Terror Suspects
Five soldiers from the IDF’s ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion were indicted on Thursday for an incident in which they allegedly beat two Palestinian men who had been arrested and had been restrained by handcuffs and blindfolded. The alleged incident occurred during a search by the IDF for terrorists suspected of murdering Israeli civilians during which friends of the indicted soldiers had been killed and wounded.

Iranian Entrenchment in Syria Continues

The regime’s in Teheran and Damascus continued to consolidate their alliance on Tuesday with the launch of a new banking and financial agreement. The deal, one of many signed by officials of the Assad regime and visiting Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri this week, will also give Iranian companies, many of which are controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) an advantage in winning contracts for the reconstruction of Syria’s infrastructure and military. Philip Smyth, the Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Jerusalem Post in an interview Tuesday that despite its public statements on the subject, Russia lacks both the will and the capacity to force Iran out of Syria.

“It’s about building long-term capabilities,” he said. “The Israelis have been rather effective in countering certain things that have been brought in (from Iran to Syria) but this is a longer term process. The Syrian front has allowed them so much access, it’s a dream come true for Tehran…the Iranians are looking at this as a decades-long process, the war in Syria gave them a new opportunity... They are on the ground, they have force-presence there and they are building local, domestic Hezbollah segments. Over the long-term, even if they are not ideologically loyal to them, they are still taking a check from Tehran.”

Here is a video giving some more insight into the Iranian-Russian dynamic in Syria and its importance for Israel

Israel Gets High-Profile Visitors
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered a couple more defeats this week as the Jewish State was visited by some of the world’s most popular celebrity chefs and diplomats from some of its closest European allies. The so-called “celebrity chef Birthright” was organized by culinary industry heavyweight Herb Karlitz, who told the Jerusalem Post “My goal is for them to have this amazing experience in Israel, very organic, and return to the United States almost as ambassadors, unofficial ambassadors for Israel and its food.”

Several of the participants have already posted dozens of pictures and videos of their to social media, allowing their millions of followers to see what the Holy Land has to offer visitors.

“We’ve done everything we can to make this apolitical,” Karlitz said. “We’re not taking a stand on anything – this is about breaking bread, food, cuisine, the culture.”

Meanwhile, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis was in Jerusalem on Tuesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials, telling journalists that he is “very glad that Israel is at the frontline defending Europe” from various threats.

Metzger’s Request for a Pardon Denied
President Reuven Rivlin announced on Tuesday that he is denying a request for a pardon by former Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who is currently serving a four and a half year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges that he abused his position to acquire millions of shekels in bribes, as well as other misconduct. The plea agreement also included steep fines and asset forfeitures which Metzger has tried unsuccessfully to have overturned.

Israel Blesses the World
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and German space company OHB System AG are collaborating on a European Space Agency (ESA) effort to send a mission to the moon. The joint effort was announced Tuesday at the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Tel Aviv. “IAI is proud to partner with a leading global satellite company and to cooperate with the German and European space agencies,” said IAI CEO Nimrod Sheffer.

Today’s video shows the most important natural resources in Israel

PM’s Resignation Ignites Crisis Among Palestinian Factions

The resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah late Tuesday has resulted in a political crisis among Palestinian factions, with two sub-groups within the PLO declaring they will not participate in a newly formed government coalition, a process which could take many months. Hamdallah has said his government will continue in a “caretaker” role for the time being, but events on the ground, particularly in Hebron, threaten to upend these and other plans put forth by both Palestinian and Israeli factions.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide issued a statement on Tuesday declaring that Israel, by refusing to renew the mandate for the so-called Temporary International Presence (TIPH) in Hebron, was endangering the nearly thirty years old Oslo Accords.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat agreed, declaring that the move amounted to an “additional step towards Israel’s nullification of all signed agreements, including the Oslo Interim Agreement.” He added that it “further consolidates the Israeli colonial enterprise and represents one further step towards a ‘de jure’ annexation of further areas in the occupied State of Palestine…we call upon the UN to deploy [a] permanent international presence in occupied Palestine, including east Jerusalem, until the end of Israel’s belligerent occupation.”

The TIPH, which is not a UN project, consists of 13 local staff members and 64 civilian observers from five countries, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Norway and Turkey. It’s members have been filmed physically abusing members of Hebron’s 1,000 member Jewish community while insisting that it is necessary to protect the 220,000 Palestinians living in Hebron from that community.

Hebron Jewish community spokesman Yishai Fleisher said that the TIPH observers “created an atmosphere of conflict, not a congenial atmosphere of peace.”

In related news, the World Council of Churches announced that it will also be withdrawing its own observers from Hebron as it no longer feels they would be safe from “harassment” by the 1,000 Jewish residents of the city and the IDF soldiers who are deployed there to protect them.

Finally, Israeli police reported on Wednesday morning that a female Palestinian teenager attempted to stab security forces at  the  Za'ayem crossing near the Jerusalem suburb of Ma'ale Adumim and was shot dead by her intended victims.

Israel Drenched by Late Winter Storm

The surface level of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) rose by several centimeters Monday as heavy rains drenched northern and southern Israel and more snow fell on Mount Hermon. The precipitation came after a week of summer-like weather which returned to Jerusalem and other areas Tuesday morning, but meteorologists are holding out hope for at least one more storm bringing heavy rain to the Eastern Mediterranean region before the end of winter.

Judo Tournament Winners Congratulated at PM’s Residence
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev hosted an event Monday at the Prime Minister’s Office to honor medal winners from the the Tel Aviv Grand Prix judo tournament, held last week with participants from 53 countries. "This is a great accomplishment for each one of you, but also a great accomplishment for the country," said Netanyahu, adding that Israel’s increasing stature in the international sporting scene is also helping the Jewish State in the diplomatic and political arenas.

Intel to Invest Nearly $11 Billion in Israel
In the latest crushing defeat for the campaign to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced on Monday night that US-based technology firm Intel Corp plans to invest nearly $11 billion in expanding its operations in the Jewish State, directly creating thousands of jobs and infrastructure projects in the south of the country. "This is huge news for everyone who cares about the State of Israel, the Israeli economy and Israeli citizens," Kahlon said.

"Intel's choice to continue to significantly invest in Israel is an important expression of confidence in the State of Israel and the Israeli economy," added Economy Minister Eli Cohen. "We see Intel as a partner for progress and its renewed choice to invest in Israel strengthens the economy and employment in Israel, and we expect that this collaboration will also continue into the future."

Synagogue Vandalized in Jerusalem
Jerusalemites awoke Monday morning to the shocking news that a synagogue in the capital had been vandalized. Ritual objects including Torah scrolls and prayer books were damaged or destroyed at the synagogue in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, which has a history of tension between religiously observant and secular residents. "I am shocked at the desecration of a synagogue in Jerusalem," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "The police must immediately find those responsible in order to bring them to justice."

"This morning we were shown a shocking case of the desecration of a synagogue and destruction of Torah Scrolls in Kiryat Yovel," Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said. "This was a serious incident that is reminiscent of dark times of the Jewish people; we will not allow crimes like this to occur in our time."

Israel Declines to Renew Mandate for Hebron Observers
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced on Tuesday that he will not renew a 22-year old agreement which saw international observers participate in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) project, which has been sharply criticized by Jewish residents of Hebron as facilitating activities against them. “Together we proved that it is possible to bring an end to the injustice and folly that has lasted for many years,” Hebron’s Jewish community said in a statement.

“The Israeli government’s decision means it has abandoned the implementation of agreements signed under international auspices, and given up its obligations under these agreements,” retorted Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Today’s video shows a recent INSS Conference Panel on the Modern Middle East

Russian Officials in Israel to Discuss Syria and Iran

Senior Russian officials were in Jerusalem on Tuesday for meetings with their Israeli counterparts, with discussions about the ongoing situation in Syria and relations with Iran at the top of the agenda. The meetings come amidst an escalating war of words between the Kremlin and Iran’s clerical regime, as well as an increasing willingness on the part of the EU and individual European governments to censure Iran over its conduct in Syria and its development of nuclear capable ballistic missiles.

“The enemies say Iran’s missile power should be eliminated, but we have repeatedly said our missile capabilities are not negotiable,” Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami told Iranian media on Tuesday.

Similar bellicose statements were made by senior Iranian officials in various forums on Monday and Tuesday.

In a related development, the EU’s Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) announced Monday that it had reason to believe Iran is working to increase its abilities in the cyber realm in order to engage in more sophisticated online espionage against its neighbors and Western powers.

A senior Iranian official reacted by dismissing the report, saying "these are all part of a psychological war launched by the United States and its allies against Iran."

Here is a video showing a recent discussion on the roles of Russia and the US in Syria


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