Israel and Palestinian Territories in August 2023
- Gaza Protests Demand End to Hamas Rule Amid Economic Hardship (Jerusalem Post). Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza protested against economic hardship, demanding an end to Hamas rule. The protests, triggered by high living costs and shortages of electricity and gas, saw some reports of Hamas security forces using force to disperse the demonstrators. While the protests are seen as a challenge to Hamas leaders, they don’t pose an immediate threat to their rule. Activists plan to resume the protests on Friday.
- Israeli Institutional Investors Transfer Over $8 Billion Abroad Amid Political Unrest and Market Underperformance (CTech). Israeli institutional investors have moved approximately $8.1 billion outside of Israel in the first half of 2023 amid ongoing political unrest and underperformance of the local stock market. Major insurance companies and investment funds are seeking higher returns abroad, anticipating a crisis in the Israeli stock market due to political instability and high-interest rates. Klirmark Capital has raised a record NIS 2.7 billion ($730 million) from local investors to support struggling companies and invest in the secondary market. Among the investors are Migdal Insurance, Clal Insurance, Meitav, Phoenix, Menora Mivtachim, Altshuler Shaham, and Amitim Pension Funds.
- Elite Israeli Army Intelligence Reservists Suspend Volunteer Service in Protest Against Government’s Judicial Overhaul (Middle East Monitor). Over 60 reserve officers from an elite Israeli army intelligence program, Havatzalot, have announced their plan to suspend volunteer service in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul. The move is part of a larger wave of protests by reservists from different units, including air force pilots, expressing their opposition to the judicial reforms. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant acknowledged the damage caused by the reservists’ protests but emphasized concerns about potential harm to the country’s readiness and security due to the deep divisions caused by the protests.
- Gaza’s Power Station Gets Boost with Qatari-Funded Fourth Generator Amidst Ongoing Electricity Crisis (Al Jazeera). The head of the Energy and Natural Resources Authority in Gaza, Jalal Ismail, announced the operation of the fourth generator at the only power station in the Strip, funded by Qatar. This new generator will increase electricity production from 65 to 70 megawatts to 85 to 95 megawatts. The Gaza Strip has been facing an electricity crisis for 17 years due to the blockade imposed since Hamas took power in 2006.
- Israeli National Security Adviser: No Objection to Saudi Arabia’s Civil Nuclear Enrichment for Research Purposes (The Middle East). Tzachi Hanegbi stated that Israel will not necessarily oppose an agreement that would allow Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium for research purposes. Hanegbi clarified that Israel’s consent is not required for such a move, pointing out that other countries like Egypt and the UAE operate nuclear research centers that are not considered dangerous. The road to normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia is still considered long, and far-right coalition members in Israel have rejected concessions towards Palestinians as part of any potential agreement.
- Russian Drone Attacks Damage 40,000 Tons of Grains in Ukrainian Port (Jerusalem Post). Early on Wednesday, Russian drone attacks caused significant damage to around 40,000 tons of grains in the Ukrainian port of Izmail. The damaged grains were destined for various countries in Africa, China, and Israel. Russian state news agency RIA reported that the strikes targeted port and grain infrastructure, as well as alleged foreign mercenaries and military hardware. Ukrainian authorities released a video showing the aftermath of the attacks, including large buildings in ruins and grain spilled from damaged silos. The situation highlights the ongoing conflict and tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
- Israel to Increase Natural Gas Exports After New Offshore Discoveries (New Arab). Israel plans to increase natural gas exports as new offshore fields increase reserves by 40%. In 2022, Israel produced 21.29 billion cubic meters of natural gas, with only 9.21 bcm exported to Egypt and Jordan. Israel aims to double gas production and enter new markets, including Europe, to secure economic stability and income for the Israeli economy. Natural gas discovery has brought economic benefits to Israel, lowering electricity prices and reducing its reliance on imports. However, further gas exports are hotly debated, with some advocating for energy independence while others stress the economic and diplomatic benefits of increasing exports.
- Israeli High Court Holds Hearing on Law Preventing Removal of Sitting Prime Minister (Times of Israel). The Israeli High Court of Justice held a pivotal hearing on Thursday regarding a law passed earlier this year that prevents the court from ordering the removal of a sitting prime minister. The law, passed in March, eliminates the High Court’s option to order a prime minister’s resignation and stipulates that only the government and the Knesset can make such a decision, based on medical grounds and requiring significant support from cabinet ministers and lawmakers.
- Amazon Plans $7.2 Billion Investment in Israel for Cloud Data Center Project (Times of Israel). Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud provider under Amazon, has announced its plan to invest $7.2 billion in Israel through 2037 as it launches its cloud-based regional data center project. The AWS Israel region will offer cloud-based services to government ministries, startups, enterprises, and other public entities. The investment will cover both capital and operational expenses for the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the AWS Israel (Tel Aviv) data center operations. The project is estimated to add about $13.9 billion to Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2037 and is expected to create around 7,700 job opportunities annually within local businesses.
- Israeli High Court Interferes in Recusal Law, Signals Potential Intervention (Times of Israel). The Israeli High Court of Justice has issued an interim injunction regarding the recusal law passed by the coalition, expanding the panel to 11 justices and suggesting possible intervention against the law. The law eliminates the ability of the court or attorney general to order a prime minister to recuse themselves from office. The court’s injunction instructs key authorities to explain why the law should not take effect at a later date, indicating the court’s consideration of an “interpretative” solution. The law, seemingly tailored for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has faced criticism and legal challenges.
- Hamas Quashes Gaza Protests Demanding Economic Improvement (Jerusalem Post). Hamas security forces and militants successfully thwarted attempts by Palestinian activists to launch large-scale protests throughout Gaza to demand economic relief and an end to power and gas shortages. Hundreds of Hamas officers and gunmen were deployed, conducting searches and setting up roadblocks. Despite this, small protests occurred in some areas, with clashes reported between demonstrators and undercover security officers. A senior Hamas official claimed the Palestinian Authority was behind the protests with the aim of removing Hamas from power. Critics argue the protests highlight growing frustration with Hamas’ governance.
- PM Netanyahu Indicates He Would Make Concessions to Palestinians to Achieve Saudi Deal (Times of Israel). In an interview released Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated he was open to gestures to Palestinians if a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia depended on it. He hinted that he would not let coalition members block an agreement. “Do I think it’s feasible to have that, and do I think political questions will block it? I doubt it,” Netanyahu told Bloomberg News. “If there’s political will, there will be a political way to achieve normalization and a formal peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
- Netanyahu Envisions Economic Corridor with Saudi Arabia (AlKhaleej Online). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed the establishment of an economic corridor between Israel and Saudi Arabia that could include energy, transportation, and communication technology, even if formal diplomatic recognition is not exchanged between the two countries. Netanyahu stated that such an economic initiative could yield substantial economic benefits for investors. He expressed optimism that if there is a political desire, normalization and official peace could be achieved between the two nations. This comes amid reports suggesting that a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia might require significant concessions from Israel, a prospect that could face challenges in Netanyahu’s current government.
- London Hedge Funds Raise Concerns Over Israel’s Political Turmoil Impact on Risk Premium and Credit Ratings (Times of Israel). London hedge funds and asset managers express unease over Israel’s ongoing political uncertainty, leading to discussions about Israel’s risk premium and potential effects on credit ratings. Bank Hapoalim’s chief strategist, Modi Shafrir, highlights how political developments and the uncertainty surrounding the appointment of the next Bank of Israel governor are influencing Israel’s risk premium and overall economic outlook. Geopolitical risk and concerns about the government’s judicial overhaul are causing fluctuations in market sentiment, with potential implications for Israel’s credit rating and investment climate.
- Israel’s Supreme Court to Convene Expanded Panel for Appeals Against Law Affecting Netanyahu’s Eligibility (The Siasat Daily). Israel’s Supreme Court announces that an expanded panel of 11 justices will hear appeals against a recently-passed law altering the criteria for declaring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ineligible for office. The court instructs the state to address concerns about the law’s potential to benefit Netanyahu and to explain why it shouldn’t take effect until after the next elections. The law, passed by Netanyahu’s coalition, changed conditions for declaring a prime minister unfit, sparking petitions and protests amid broader attempts to reshape Israel’s legal system.
- OIC Condemns Israeli Actions in West Bank, Urges International Intervention (Arab News). The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) denounced the killing of three Palestinians by Israeli forces in the West Bank and condemned the rise of organized terrorism by Israeli settler groups against Palestinians. The OIC called for international intervention to halt ongoing Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide protection for Palestinians. Additionally, a Palestinian teenager who was shot by Israeli troops after throwing a firebomb at soldiers last week in the West Bank has died, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
- Netanyahu Urges US Democrats to Consider Military Action Against Iran, Collaborate on AI Development (Times of Israel). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a US Democratic Congressional delegation and stressed the necessity of a credible military threat against Iran to prevent its nuclear ambitions. He also called for joint leadership between Israel and the US in advancing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, while emphasizing the need to address the potential risks and benefits of AI technology. Netanyahu highlighted the significance of innovation and collaboration among free nations to ensure positive outcomes from AI advancements.
- Settler Violence Fuels Palestinian Terrorism, says Israeli Military Spokesman (Times of Israel). Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated that the recent surge in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank has been contributing to an increase in Palestinian acts of terror. Hagari emphasized that such “nationalist crime and nationalist terror” push some Palestinians who are not involved in terrorism towards radicalization. He stressed the need to address this phenomenon to mitigate the overall level of terrorism and enhance security. The UN reported nearly 600 attacks on Palestinians and their property by settlers in the past six months.
- Gallant Warns Hezbollah Against Escalation: “We’ll Return Lebanon to The Stone Age (Times of Israel). Visiting the tense Mount Dov region on the border with Lebanon on Tuesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant threatened the Hezbollah terror group, which has been carrying out provocations along the frontier in recent months. In a video statement, Gallant warned the chief of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, “not to make a mistake…You have made mistakes in the past; you have paid hefty prices. If… an escalation or conflict develops here, we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age. We will not hesitate to use all our power and erode every inch of Hezbollah and Lebanon if we have to,” said Gallant after touring the area with senior Israel Defense Force officers.
- Finance Minister Smotrich Suspends Funds to Arab Towns in East Jerusalem (Arab News). Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has suspended funds for Arab towns and Palestinian education programs in East Jerusalem, citing concerns about crime and safety. Smotrich, a member of PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious government, expressed doubts about the allocation of budget funds to Arab local councils, suggesting they could end up in the hands of “criminals and terrorists.” This move has been criticized as racist by lawmakers and colleges, with accusations that it perpetuates disparities between Jewish and Arab citizens regarding social and economic opportunities. The freeze could impact essential services and education in these areas.
- PM Netanyahu Doesn’t Have the Votes to Remake the Judicial Selection Panel, Likud Said to Believe (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly lacks the necessary votes to pass a bill that would change the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee, a key element of his proposed judicial overhaul plan, according to an unsourced assessment within his Likud party. Despite Netanyahu’s recent indication that he intends to compromise on certain aspects of the overhaul plan, several Likud lawmakers have expressed hesitations about further unilateral changes. The uncertainty surrounding the bill’s passage has led to questions about Netanyahu’s motivations and tactics, with some speculating that he may be deliberately creating alarm over judge appointments to ease the passage of other controversial measures.
- In a Shift, US State Department Labels Israeli Settler Violence as a ‘Terror Attack’ (Al Monitor). The US State Department has labeled an Israeli settler attack that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old Palestinian as a “terror attack,” expressing its concern over a surge of violence in the West Bank…While Israeli police arrested two immigrants and detained five Palestinians, the State Department’s use of the term “terror attack” reflects a shift in its language, as it typically reserves this label for attacks on Israeli civilians.
- U.S. Reiterates Netanyahu is Not Invited to the White House, but Will Meet Biden ‘Somewhere in the US’ (Times of Israel). The White House has reaffirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not invited to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stated that a meeting between the two leaders is anticipated in the United States in the fall without specifying a location. This comes after Netanyahu’s office initially claimed that Biden invited him to a meeting in the US, and Netanyahu himself reiterated this claim in recent interviews with US media. The discrepancy highlights differing accounts of the communication between the two leaders.
- Israel FM Cohen Calls for US-Saudi Nuclear Defense Agreement in Normalization Deal (Jerusalem Post). Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has proposed that the United States include a guarantee to defend Saudi Arabia against Iranian nuclear aggression as part of a potential normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Cohen’s suggestion addresses Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and the potential for a regional nuclear arms race. He compares the situation to the US defense commitment that acts as a deterrent for South Korea against North Korean aggression. The Israeli National Security Council has been evaluating the impact of various possibilities on Israel’s security, focusing on advancing its ties with Saudi Arabia. However, Israel’s stance remains centered on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The US-Saudi defense agreement is expected to align with Israel’s security interests and may face challenges in the Senate if viewed as a security problem. The Biden administration aims to complete the deal by the end of 2023. Saudi normalization talks also involve concessions from Israel toward the Palestinians.
- Israeli Vessel Breaks Through Moscow’s Black Sea Grain Blockade (Jerusalem Post). An Israeli merchant ship, the Ams1, has reportedly defied Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea by entering the Ukrainian branch of the Danube, becoming the first vessel to openly challenge the blockade since Russia pulled out of an agreement with Ukraine allowing grain exports from its ports. The ship departed from the Port of Ashdod and was accompanied by the American aircraft P8 Poseidon for security. Four more vessels followed Ams1 into the Danube. Russia withdrew from the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal due to unmet demands and concerns about Ukrainian grain distribution. The blockade has caused global wheat and corn futures to rise.
- UAE’s Foreign Minister Met with Israel’s Opposition Leader Yair Lapid for Three Hours in Italy (Haaretz). UAE’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan held a three-hour meeting with former Israeli Prime Minister and current opposition leader Yair Lapid in Italy. They discussed strategic collaborations, Gulf country relations, and cooperation projects to deepen common interests. This meeting is significant as it comes amid a lack of contact between UAE officials and the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has not met with UAE representatives since returning to office in December. Netanyahu’s coalition’s hard-line views have reportedly strained relations with the UAE following the normalization of ties through the Abraham Accords in 2020.
- Israel Rescues 200 Citizens and Jews from Ethiopia Conflict Region (Times of Israel). Israel extracted some 200 citizens and local Jews from conflict zones in Ethiopia Thursday, the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office announced, amid fighting in the African country’s northern Amhara region. According to a joint statement, Israel rescued 174 Israelis and Ethiopians eligible to immigrate from Gondar in Amhara, home to thousands of Ethiopians waiting for permission to move to Israel. Another 30 Israelis were rescued from Amhara’s capital city of Bahir Dar.
- Israeli Desalination, Wastewater Treatment Becomes Global Model for Water Scarcity (Times of Israel). In the scorching summer heat, an Israeli farmer tends to a dripline taking a mix of ground and recycled water to palm trees — an approach honed for decades in the arid country and now drawing broad interest abroad. At the plantation in a desert near Eilat, the mineral-rich water passes through a plastic tube, nourishing the dates high above. “All of Eilat’s sewage is treated,” said Arik Ashkenazi, chief engineer of Ein Netafim, Eilat’s water and sewage utility, during a facility tour that sees wastewater cleared of solids and biological hazards. “The treated wastewater is transferred, to the last drop, to farmers” who mix it with groundwater and use it on the trees, he said.
- Netanyahu Pledges to Unfreeze Funds for Arab Towns (Arab News). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to release at least $54M to Arab towns after his finance minister’s decision to withhold them drew accusations of racism. Netanyahu said the money would be transferred after a review but gave no details on what that would entail or how long it would take.
- Israel Claims it Foiled a Hamas Attempt to Smuggle Drones into Gaza Strip (New Arab). Israeli security forces claim to have foiled an attempt to smuggle ten reconnaissance drones into the Gaza Strip, which were hidden inside a suitcase and a vehicle bound for the area. The Israeli ministry stated that the drones were suspected to be intended for use by Hamas to enhance its weapon capabilities and pose a security threat to Israel. As of now, Hamas has not responded to Israel’s claims.
- In Surprise Move, Palestinian Leader Abbas Ousts 12 West Bank, Gaza Governors (Times of Israel). Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has unexpectedly removed 12 regional governors out of 16, including those in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with no explanation. This move comes amid warnings of the PA’s financial collapse and its diminishing control over security. Abbas has also ordered the creation of a committee to find suitable replacements for the removed governors. The PA’s strained relationship with the Hamas-led government in Gaza has led to recent attempts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
- Saudi Arabia Appoints Ambassador to Palestinian Territories (France24). On Saturday, Saudi Arabia appointed a non-resident ambassador to the Palestinian territories, who will also assume the position of Consul General in Jerusalem, in a new place being announced amid increasing talk about efforts to achieve normalization between Israel and the Kingdom. The work was entrusted to the current Saudi ambassador to Jordan, Nayef Al-Sudairi…Traditionally, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Amman handles the file of the Palestinian territories…Al-Sudairy said in statements carried by the Saudi Al-Ekhbariya channel that this is an “important step,” stressing the desire of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to “strengthen relations with the brothers in the State of Palestine… and give them a boost of an official nature in all fields.”
- Israeli Foreign Minister Says Israel Won’t Allow Opening of Saudi Mission to Palestinians (National News Center). On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that Israel will not allow the opening of a Saudi diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority…”They don’t need to ask our permission,” Cohen said. They did not consult us and did not need to. But we will not allow the opening of any diplomatic mission,” noting that “the decision was prompted by progress in the normalization negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia…The Saudis want to clarify to the Palestinians that they have not forgotten them. But we do not allow countries to open consulates. This contradicts our positions.”
- Israel’s Lapid Warns Against Saudi Arabia Enriching Own Uranium as Netanyahu Pleads Normalization (Al-Monitor). Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid warns against Saudi Arabia’s ambition to enrich uranium on its soil, fearing it could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. Lapid, while supportive of normalization with Saudi Arabia, believes this move endangers regional and Israeli national security. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia, but Lapid’s opposition could challenge the Biden administration’s agreement approval.
- Netanyahu Criticizes US-Iran Deal Unfreezing Iranian Assets in Exchange for Release of Prisoners (Times of Israel). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the tentative US-Iran deal, which involves the release of American detainees in exchange for billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets. Netanyahu argues that any agreement that doesn’t dismantle Iran’s nuclear program will only provide funds for Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups. The deal would convert frozen Iranian assets in South Korea to Euros, which would then be held in restricted accounts in Qatar for humanitarian purposes. Iran’s slowing of uranium enrichment and reduction of its stockpile has been reported, though Tehran denies this. Critics liken the money transfer to ransom payments encouraging Iran’s behavior.
- West Bank ‘Apartheid’ is ‘Just Like Nazi Germany’ Says Former IDF Commander (Jerusalem Post). Former IDF Northern Command commander Amiram Levin has compared the situation in the West Bank to “absolute apartheid” akin to Nazi Germany during an interview with KAN Reshet Bet radio. He criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, stating that the lack of democracy in the West Bank has led to a situation where the IDF is complicit in war crimes and rampant settler activity. Levin also expressed concern about the presence of criminals and draft dodgers in critical positions within the Israeli government. In the past, Levin has supported the Breaking the Silence organization, which publishes testimonies about abuse by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- PA’s Abbas to Hold Three-Way Summit with Egyptian and Jordanian Rulers (Newstral). Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will attend a three-way summit in Egypt with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. The meeting will address recent developments in the Palestinian cause and coordinate efforts to garner international support for Palestinian rights, freedom, and independence, with East Jerusalem as the capital…The summit coincides with US efforts to broker an Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization deal.
- Jordan and Israel Meet in the UAE to Finalize Controversial Water-For-Energy Deal (New Arab). Jordan, the UAE, and Israel held a trilateral meeting in the UAE to advance a controversial water-for-energy deal. The conference aimed to push forward the implementation of a 2021 memorandum of understanding (MOU) brokered by the UAE and the US, which involves Jordan building 600 megawatts of solar power capacity to export to Israel in exchange for 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water. The project seeks to address water shortages in Jordan and strengthen regional cooperation. The MOU was signed at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, and the UAE’s role in normalizing relations between Israel and Gulf states is emphasized.
- Israel’s Netanyahu Cools Censure of Protesting Reservists as Judicial Crisis Simmers (Reuters). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has softened his criticism of military reservists protesting against his judicial overhaul plan as concerns about the country’s war readiness arise. The reservists have stopped reporting for duty and are protesting against a bill limiting the Supreme Court’s powers. Netanyahu changed his language in a statement, rejecting “conditional reserve duty,” but the reservist group, “Brothers in Arms,” remained unmoved, accusing him of downplaying military readiness risks. The ongoing protest and its potential impact on military operations have raised debates about Israel’s democracy and security.
- Palestinian Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike against Israeli Repressive Measures (Tasnim News Agency). Thirteen Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli facilities have launched an open-ended hunger strike to protest against their administrative detention and repressive measures by the Israeli regime. The strike was initiated by detainees in “Rimon” prison, including individuals from Qabatiya, and other prisoners have joined in various facilities. Israel’s policy of administrative detention allows imprisonment without trial or charge, and detainees can be held for up to six months with the possibility of indefinite extensions. This strike coincides with similar actions by administrative detainees in other prisons.
- Power Cuts and Heatwave Disrupt Lives of Sick Gazans (Reuters). A heatwave and worsening power cuts in Gaza have led to significant challenges for residents, particularly those with health conditions. Ismail Nashwan, who suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, has struggled to manage his condition due to power cuts preventing the use of necessary medical equipment like ventilators and fans. High demand for air conditioning has exacerbated power cuts, lasting around 12 hours a day. The Gaza Strip, home to over 2.3 million people, faces these difficulties amid a 16-year Israeli blockade that Hamas attributes to the region’s economic hardships. The extreme heat and power interruptions have increased respiratory problems and hospital visits during the hottest months.
- Shin Bet Foils 9-Man Hamas Cell Planning Kidnapping of Soldier in West Bank (Times of Israel). The Shin Bet security agency said it foiled plans by a Hamas terror cell to kidnap a soldier and carry out shooting and bombing attacks in the West Bank. Nine Palestinians were arrested by Israeli security forces during the past month over their suspected involvement in establishing the cell on behalf of the Gaza Strip-based Hamas in the West Bank town of Biddu on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The Shin Bet said the investigation of the suspects revealed that they were planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier and carry out shooting attacks and bombing attacks against Israeli forces in the central West Bank.
- Hamas and Islamic Jihad Seen Importing Gaza Military Tactics to the West Bank (Times of Israel). Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been exploiting the power vacuum in the northern West Bank to strengthen their military presence and replicate the fighting tactics against Israel they developed in Gaza, according to a new report. The analysis, published last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), highlights the various indications pointing at a recent military infrastructure emerging in the Jenin and Nablus areas — resembling what already exists in the coastal enclave ruled by Hamas since 2007 — thanks to the dwindling control of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority over the place. Among these indications are local manufacturing of weapons and advanced explosive devices; excavating tunnels; launching rockets; and fostering cooperation among terror organizations, similar to the “Joint War Room” they set up in the Gaza Strip.
- Netanyahu and Levin Said They’re Aiming to Halt Overhaul for a Year to Focus on Haredi Draft Law (Times of Israel). Netanyahu’s coalition allies express ‘disinterest’ in judicial reform and warn that without IDF exemption law approval in the upcoming winter session, Haredi factions’ coalition commitment might waver.
- Fatah Moves Closer to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a Rare Gaza Meeting (Jerusalem Post). Leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Fatah faction held a rare meeting in Gaza to discuss strengthening bilateral relations amid mounting tensions between the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and PIJ. The meeting followed discussions between PIJ leaders and Hezbollah in Beirut regarding regional developments. The tensions escalated after Palestinian security forces arrested PIJ members in the West Bank and were further strained by attacks on a police station and limited clashes. The Gaza meeting aimed to enhance unity, resistance against occupation, and preserve Palestinian rights. The two sides agreed to continue such discussions to address challenges and strengthen relations.
- Intel Backs Out of $5.4 Billion Deal to Buy Israeli Firm Tower Semiconductor (Reuters). Intel has canceled a $5.4 billion deal to acquire Israeli semiconductor company Tower Semiconductor due to its failure to obtain approval from Chinese regulators, as required by the contract. As a result of the cancellation, Intel will pay Tower Semiconductor $353 million. Tower Semiconductor has been a manufacturer of analog semiconductor chips for various sectors for nearly 30 years. The deal’s cancellation comes as Intel seeks to advance its integrated device manufacturing strategy and expand its chip manufacturing facilities. This would have marked Intel’s sixth acquisition of an Israeli company in recent years.
- Soldiers Clash with Palestinian Gunmen Near Nablus, Destroy Explosive Lab (Times of Israel). Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinian gunmen near Nablus in the northern West Bank, detaining one assailant who opened fire at a military post. The troops seized the gunman’s assault rifle, a grenade, military equipment, and magazines. Meanwhile, Israeli forces, including the Yahalom combat engineering unit, entered the Balata refugee camp and destroyed an explosives lab and storage site, finding and detonating around 15 primed makeshift bombs. Palestinian rioters and gunmen confronted soldiers during the operation, but no soldiers were reported injured. Violence has escalated in the West Bank, including shootings, arrest raids, and settler attacks, resulting in casualties on both sides.
- IDF Officers Brief Knesset Subcommittees on Readiness Amid Reservist Protests (Jerusalem Post). Top Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers updated Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) subcommittees regarding the military’s state of readiness due to reservists resigning in response to the government’s judicial reform measures. The officers highlighted key concerns and emphasized that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and Intelligence Corps are the most affected units, directly impacting national security.
- Historic $3.5 Billion Israeli-German Military Deal for Arrow 3 Air-Defense System Gets US Approval (Al Monitor). The largest military export deal in Israel’s history is set to proceed following the United States endorsement of Germany’s $3.5 billion acquisition of the advanced Arrow 3 air-defense system. Developed through a collaboration between the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the United States Missile Defense Agency and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Arrow 3 system is poised for formal commitment with a letter signed by senior officials from both countries. The entire contract will be finalized by the year’s end, subject to approval from the German and Israeli parliaments.
- 80% of New Israeli Startups Opt for Incorporation in the US Amid Economic Advantages and Judicial Overhaul Uncertainty (Times of Israel). According to reports by Reuters, a substantial 80% of emerging Israeli startups are choosing to incorporate in the United States, predominantly within Delaware. The trend is attributed to the combination of economic benefits in the US and mounting uncertainty surrounding Israel’s ongoing judicial reform. This shift is evident in the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) survey. It indicates that as many as 80% of new Israeli tech startups in 2023 selected Delaware as their incorporation destination, a significant increase from the 20% recorded in 2022.
- Iron Dome Activated to Intercept Gaza Drone (Jerusalem Post). Israel’s Iron Dome was activated near the Gaza border on Sunday morning in response to a drone heading toward Israel from Gaza, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. Israel’s Air Force followed its route and used the Iron Dome to intercept the drone, which according to the IDF did not pose a threat to Israeli citizens near the Gaza border and therefore did not trigger any national alerts.
- Hamas Leader Calls for Efforts to Confront Israeli Settlement Expansion Plans (Press TV). Hamas has called for efforts to confront Israel’s plans to expand the construction of settlements across the West Bank, saying the schemes aim to displace Palestinians and relocate them to Jordan. “The Israeli plans seek to purge the West Bank of Palestinians, and impose Israeli Judaization plans in al-Quds,” Khaled Meshaal, head of the Palestinian group’s office in the diaspora, said in a recorded speech on Saturday evening as he addressed rallies in support of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Meshaal warned of the grave danger threatening al-Aqsa Mosque, adding that Jewish settlers have been escalating their incursions into the sacred site.
- 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails Go On Hunger Strike (Taghrib News). One thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have initiated a collective hunger strike to protest the Israeli prison service’s aggression against prisoners. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club announced the strike and began following Israeli forces’ raids on Palestinian inmates’ cells in the Negev prison. The move came unexpectedly without prior preparation, reflecting the situation’s urgency in the occupation jails.
- Egypt Intel Officials Visited Israel to Discuss Security and Economic Cooperation (New Arab). An Egyptian intelligence delegation recently visited Israel to discuss security matters, economic cooperation, and the potential for Saudi-Israeli normalization. The panel included high-ranking officials, one from the intelligence agency and another from the North Sinai security sector. Topics of discussion encompassed security concerns, specifically addressing new measures following the killing of three Israeli soldiers by an Egyptian conscript. Economic cooperation, energy collaboration, and Gaza Strip reconstruction were also raised…This visit aligned with Egypt’s hosting of a tripartite summit involving Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
- After Israeli Raids, Palestinian Police Struggle in Militant Hotbed, Reflecting Region on the Brink (Associated Press). After a significant Israeli military raid on a Palestinian refugee camp, Palestinians expressed anger at their security forces and protested the Palestinian Authority’s failure to protect them. The Palestinian Authority’s cooperation with Israel to suppress militant groups and maintain power in the West Bank has led to resentment. Palestinian security forces are struggling to restore order and regain trust, especially in areas like Jenin that have seen a rise in militant attacks. The Palestinian security forces are caught in a delicate balance between maintaining law and order and dealing with the broader political and security challenges posed by Israeli military actions and radical elements.
- Israeli Cabinet Okays $843M Development Plan for East Jerusalem, While Other Funds Withheld (Times of Israel). The Israeli cabinet has approved a $843 million development plan for East Jerusalem over five years, aimed at infrastructure development, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, welfare, and cultural programming. This plan replaces a $680 million plan that Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich froze due to objections regarding funding for an academic preparatory program for Arab students. However, Smotrich still withholds $55 million earmarked for Arab towns nationwide. In response to the ongoing budget freeze, local authorities plan a two-hour strike in solidarity with Arab villages. The plan for East Jerusalem is seen as an attempt to reinforce Israeli sovereignty over the area, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed it as a step towards uniting Jerusalem.
- 150 Arab Victims of Violence Since Start of 2023: Two Men Shot dead in Latest Killings (Times of Israel). Since the beginning of 2023, 150 Arab individuals have been victims of violence, according to the Abraham Initiatives organization, which tracks statistics on killings in the Arab community. This marks a significant increase from the same period last year when 68 Arabs had been killed in violence…These incidents are part of a broader wave of violent crime that has affected the Arab community, and community leaders often blame the police for failing to crack down on influential criminal organizations and ignoring the violence. Despite recent police raids and arrests, authorities have struggled to curb the violence.
- Lapid Says Saudi Uranium Enrichment Endangers Israeli Security (Jerusalem Post). Opposition leader Yair Lapid warned that Saudi Arabia’s uranium enrichment, even for civilian purposes, would endanger Israel’s security. Lapid responded to Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer’s statement about not opposing a civilian Saudi nuclear program, pointing out that Iran is the only Middle Eastern country enriching uranium as part of a nuclear program. Lapid emphasized the need for an agreement that strengthens Israel’s national security without endorsing uranium enrichment in the region. He previously warned that allowing Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium could trigger an arms race in the region, with other countries following suit. Former national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat also cautioned against concessions related to nuclear matters in the Middle East.
August 22 ,2023
- Israel’s Iron Dome Activated to Intercept Unmanned Drone over Gaza (Jerusalem Post). The Iron Dome system was activated in the early morning hours to target an unmanned drone flying over Gaza, as confirmed by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The drone did not breach Israeli airspace, and the Israeli Air Force closely monitored its flight from its inception. The IDF later clarified that the drone’s trajectory remained under observation throughout the incident. Since the drone did not pose an immediate risk to civilians residing near the Gaza Strip, no safety alerts were issued. Additionally, on Sunday morning, Israel’s Iron Dome was again activated near the Gaza border, responding to another drone originating from Gaza and heading towards Israel, as reported by the IDF.
- Israeli Leaders Netanyahu and Gallant Accuse Iran of Fueling Surge in Terror Attacks (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have attributed the recent escalation in terror attacks to Iran. Speaking live from the location of a recent attack, where a woman was fatally shot, and a man sustained serious injuries, Netanyahu stated, “We are facing a wave of terrorism that is being incited, guided, and funded by Iran and its affiliated groups.” He emphasized ongoing efforts to apprehend the perpetrators and stressed that “the most notable shift on the ground is linked to Iranian funding and motives.” Defense Minister Gallant echoed the sentiment, stating, “Iran is actively seeking avenues to harm the people of Israel.” He pledged decisive measures to restore security for Israeli citizens, asserting that “we will implement multiple strategies to ensure the safety of our citizens.” Gallant emphasized that all possible approaches are considered, indicating a comprehensive response.
- Violent Protests Erupt in Gaza Strip as Palestinians Clash with IDF Forces (Times of Israel). Hundreds of Palestinians are engaged in violent protests near the border with Israel in the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson reports that rioters have thrown multiple explosive devices while several individuals attempted to breach the security barrier. According to the spokesperson, IDF forces have apprehended numerous Palestinians in the vicinity, subsequently transferring them to the Shin Bet security agency for interrogation.
- IDF Central Command Head Addresses Press After Hebron Shooting Attack (Arutz Sheva). Following the shooting attack near Hebron, Major General Yehuda Fuchs, the Head of the IDF’s Central Command, conducted a press conference to discuss the incident. The attack resulted in the tragic death of Batsheva Nigri, a mother of three, and left Aryeh Gotlieb seriously wounded. Major General Fuchs commenced the conference by emphasizing that the responsibilities of Israel’s security forces extend beyond counterterrorism efforts and border protection.
- Iranian-Funded Wave of Terror in West Bank Is ‘Just the Beginning’ (Jerusalem Post). Israel expects recent terror attacks across the West Bank to be “just the beginning” as Palestinian terror group Hamas appears emboldened by internal divisions within Israel, security establishment sources assessed on Tuesday morning, according to Army Radio. The defense sources also linked tensions in Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Hezbollah to recent attacks, the latest of which claimed the life of an Israeli mother near Hebron on Monday. The link, as per the sources, is the Iranian funding of terror activities by Hezbollah, as well as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
- Israel and Jordan Inch Closer to Water-for-Energy Deal (Jerusalem Post). Jordan will build a massive solar farm in the desert that will generate clean energy to be sold to Israel in return for desalinated water. “This is going to be the flagship example of bilateral relations and also of the Israeli integration into the region,” said Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and former Israeli ambassador to Jordan. In return, Israel would provide the water-scarce kingdom with 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water from the Mediterranean.
- Israeli Missiles Hit Three Iran-Linked Targets In Syria (Iran International). Israel launched missiles at suspected Iranian and Hezbollah targets in the vicinity of Syria’s capital Damascus. The attack left one Syrian soldier injured and “caused some material damage,” the Syrian state news agency SANA reported, citing a military source. A London-based Syrian group (SOHR) monitoring the conflict in the war-stricken country reported that three areas were hit that contain warehouses and military positions of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian militias, but said no casualties were reported.
- Israel Bombs Vicinity of Damascus for Third Time During August (Enab Baladi). A soldier of the Syrian regime forces was injured in an Israeli bombardment that targeted points in the vicinity of the capital, Damascus. This is the third such attack this August. The official Syrian News Agency (SANA) said that a soldier was wounded, in addition to material damage, as a result of an Israeli aggression that targeted points in the vicinity of Damascus, at around 23:05 on Monday, August 21
- Palestinian Factions Fear Israeli Assassinations After Security Cabinet Meeting (Jerusalem Post). Palestinian factions raised their level of alert in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and warned Israel against conducting targeted assassinations a day after the Prime Minister’s Office said the security cabinet had decided to “attack terrorists and those dispatching them.” Sources in the factions told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the leadership of the factions in Gaza and abroad has taken “unprecedented” security measures amid concerns that they could be targeted by Israel. The factions are taking recent threats by Israeli officials “seriously,” according to the report, with the factions in Gaza evacuating their main positions due to the concerns. The sources added that a heightened presence of reconnaissance drones has been noticed above Gaza.
- Arab Local Officials Are Under Threat, Criminologist Warns as Violence Skyrockets (Times of Israel). The unrelenting violent crime wave battering Arab Israeli society is seeping into the political sphere two months ahead of countrywide local elections, putting municipal officials under threat, an expert warned, as a municipal leader and mayor candidate were killed this week. Abdul Rahman Kashua, director general of the Arab municipality of Tira in central Israel, was shot dead on Monday evening in unclear circumstances. According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence advocacy group, 156 members of Israel’s Arab community have been killed since the start of the year, mostly in shootings. Over the equivalent period last year, 68 were killed.
- IDF Prepares to Demolish Homes of Alleged Terrorists Behind Deadly Hebron Attack (Times of Israel). Israeli troops operated in the West Bank city of Hebron early Wednesday morning to prepare to demolish the homes of two Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli woman in a terror attack. Batsheva Nigri, a 42-year-old mother of three, was shot dead in front of her daughter in the attack near Hebron on Monday morning. Another man was seriously wounded in the attack. Israeli security forces arrested two men, reported to be brothers, suspected of carrying out the shooting the following day.
- Israeli Police Uncover Nazareth Tunnel Used to Hide Weapons, Criminals (Jerusalem Post). Police uncovered a tunnel in Nazareth used by criminal organizations to hide weapons and members of the organizations, police said on Thursday. Intelligence operations by the police found that criminal organizations would hide weapons and criminals in the tunnel during police raids. The police discovered the tunnel opening in an abandoned house, finding ammunition and other evidence inside.
- Network of Hezbollah Operatives in Israel Exposed (Arutz Sheva). Four Arab citizens of Israel from Kfar Qasim and Lod were arrested on suspicion of receiving many high-quality Iranian-made weapons from the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Further arrests were made in a raid by Shin Bet, Border Police, and YAMAM agents on a residential complex in Lod. The detainees are suspected of plotting to use one of the explosives obtained by the first group for criminal purposes. The Shin Bet investigation revealed that Hezbollah worked to recruit and operate a network of smugglers in Israel to receive unusual and illegal weapons and distribute them to various parties, including criminal elements.
- Israel to Export More Gas to Egypt as Cooperation Grows (Al Monitor). Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said the country will increase exports to Egypt by an additional 38.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) over the next 11 years. According to multiple reports, production from Israel’s Tamar gas field in the Mediterranean Sea will also increase by 6 cm per year starting in 2026 — a 60% increase from current levels.
- Libyan FM Flees to Türkiye Amid ‘Historic Meeting’ Controversy with Israel; Haftar and Son Revealed as Frequent Visitors (France 24). Israel media’s “historic meeting” report between Libya’s foreign minister and an Israeli counterpart ignited Libya’s accusations of government betrayal. PM Dbeibah suspended Mangoush, launching an inquiry. Libyan foreign ministry’s “pre-arranged” statement was affirmed by Israeli media, linked to U.S. The foreign minister fled to Turkiye to avoid a three-year jail term over the meeting. Israeli press also highlighted Haftar and son as frequent visitors.
- Qatar Stresses Non-hostility Towards Israel (Arutz Sheva). Qatar’s PM clarifies non-hostile stance towards Israel, citing concerns over Palestinian occupation and referencing the Arab peace initiative.
- Blinken Uses X to Caution Israel Over Saudi Deal Expectations (Times Of Israel). (Secretary of State Blinken, via Twitter) According to a Friday report, US officials stressed to Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer during a recent visit that Israel must make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians to secure a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.
- Israeli F-16s Unleash Precision Strikes on Aleppo’s Nairab Airport: A Dire Warning to Iran’s Military Supply Chain in Syria (Enab Baladi). Israeli F-16s launched a strategically calculated attack on Aleppo’s Nairab Airport, marking the third such action this year and the fourth in August. Executed from the Mediterranean without entering Syrian airspace, the strike partially damaged the airport but did not halt its operations.
- Israeli Minister Faces Backlash Over Libya Meeting (Times of Israel). Cohen blames political opponents, highlighting Foreign Ministry’s global efforts. Meeting triggered Libyan fallout, protests, and Mangoush’s firing. US reportedly angered, doubting Israel’s explanation.
- Libya Meeting Leak Strains Negev Forum Revival and Regional Diplomacy (Times of Israel). The incident strained Israel’s U.S.-mediated diplomacy. The leak of Cohen’s meeting with Libyan counterpart Mangoush, known to Netanyahu, triggered criticism and raised doubts. Netanyahu’s directive aimed to distance himself. Arab diplomats expressed Negev Forum revival concerns, highlighting unease with Israel’s policies.
- Israel Tests Game-Changing Oron Surveillance Aircraft (Breaking Defense). Israel’s Defense Ministry has begun test flights for the cutting-edge Oron surveillance aircraft, a collaborative effort involving multiple defense and intelligence sectors. Packed with advanced sensors and C4I systems, Oron promises to be the world’s most advanced of its kind. Once operational, it will grant the IDF advanced real-time monitoring across terrains and weather conditions.
- Netanyahu Thanks Saudi Arabia for Emergency Landing Assistance (France 24). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed appreciation to Saudi Arabia for permitting an emergency landing of a plane carrying 128 Israeli citizens at Jeddah airport due to technical issues. The incident is notable as it comes amid U.S.-led efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
- Palestinian Delegation to Discuss Israeli Concessions in Saudi Arabia (Times Of Israel). Palestinian officials are set to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss Riyadh’s conditions for potentially normalizing relations with Israel. The focus will be on Saudi demands for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. This signifies a change in the Palestinian Authority’s approach, as it now chooses to engage rather than boycott such processes. Both Israeli and U.S. officials suggest that such concessions will be crucial for any deal.