Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Iran ‘opened Pandora’s box’ in cyber attack on Israeli water system



by Yaakov Lappin (June 2, 2020 / JNS) 

The Iranian cyber-attack in early April on an Israeli water-treatment facility, designed to get computers to add too much chlorine to the Israeli water supply, represents a new phase in Iranian aggression, a former Israeli defense official has said.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister told JNS on Sunday that there is no historical experience for cyber wars and their consequences, and that therefore, much caution is needed when assessing them.

According to international media reports, Israel retaliated by paralyzing Iran’s key seaport—the Shahid Rajaee port in the city of Bandar Abbas, which is a strategic hub for Iranian sea imports, exports and trafficking of illicit weapons.

“It is not possible to know whether Israel’s reported response will deter Iran, which to a certain extent has opened a “Pandora’s box’ in a cyber-attack designed to harm civilians,” said Amidror.

In its attack, Iran also “placed itself at great risk,” he added.

Amidror, who is also first distinguished fellow at the Jewish Institute for the National Security of America (JINSA), said that cyber maneuvers have the potential to deteriorate into war, if the side that is attacked “feels that it has been greatly harmed, and it cannot suitably retaliate against its enemy, and therefore remains vulnerable to attacks from it.”

However, as in any difficult decision, he added, “decision-makers must also take into account whether responding to a cyber-attack with a kinetic [physical] strike will succeed, and what price might be paid if the adversary also decides to respond kinetically.”

A ‘cyber winter is coming’

April’s cyber strike on Israel’s water systems was a “synchronized and organized attack” designed to harm civilian infrastructure, Yigal Unna, who heads Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, said recently.

In comments relayed by the Associated Press, Unna said that recent developments have marked the start new era of covert cyber war, warning that a “cyber winter is coming.”

“Rapid is not something that describes enough how fast and how crazy and hectic things are moving forward in cyberspace, and I think we will remember this last month and May 2020 as a changing point in the history of modern cyber warfare,” Unna told a digital international cyber conference. “If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot we would now be facing, in the middle of the corona[virus] crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that,” he added.

A Western intelligence official told the Financial Times that had the Iranian attack succeeded, it would have “triggered fail-safes that would have shut down the pumping station when the excess chemical was detected, but would have left tens of thousands of Israeli civilians and farms parched in the middle of a heatwave.”

Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told Israel’s 101 FM radio station in recent days that the reported cyber-attack on Bander Abbas port sent a powerful message to Iran’s regime about Israel’s cyber capabilities.

Bander Abbas “is not far from Hormuz Straits, which is outlet for shipping from the Persian Gulf to world,” noted Rabi. He described the port as a “central life artery” for Iran for exports, imports, sea trade and military activity.

The Washington Post reported that Israel was accused of a cyber attack that crashed the port’s computer systems and caused “total disarray,” including kilometers-long truck lines and long lines of sea vessels outside of the port. Satellite imagery was shown in the report of the chaos.

“There is no doubt if you turn off the switch with a hidden hand, that calls out for attention,” said Rabi, in reference to the reported attack on the port. “If it’s true that Iran tried to intrude with a polluted hand into Israel’s water infrastructure and harm the civilian world, then at a public-awareness level, a line has been crossed. Israel could not let this pass.”

The reported Israeli retaliation will give the Islamic Republic reason to think twice before launching a new cyber-attack on Israeli civilian targets, assessed Rabi.

Israel’s reported response hit an Iranian nerve center, and demonstrated to Tehran “how big the asymmetry is, including in the cyber field,” argued Rabi, although, he added, Iran is making progress in its cyber-attack abilities.  “This is how the Iranian regime needs to be treated … Israel must speak in a Middle Eastern language. The message to Iran is: Find a different tree to climb. If you climb the Israeli tree, the price will be very high.”

Monday, June 1, 2020

EU's Unconditional Support for PA Breaches of Oslo II.


The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip September 28, 1995 (hereinafter: Oslo II) seeks to implement the Oslo I Agreement of 13 September 1993. It defines the security, electoral, public administration, PLO`s obligations and economic arrangements during the interim period of five years from the date of the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area of 4 May 1994 until permanent settlement in accordance with Security Council Resolution 242 and 338.

The relationship between Israel and the Palestinians is intended to be conducted in accordance with Oslo II. The main critic of Israel today is undoubtedly the European Union (EU), a witness to Oslo II. Yet there are almost no obligations that have not been breached by the Palestinians, there is no Palestinian breach that has not been overlooked by the EU, there is no unilateral Palestinian action which was not given unconditional EU support and there are no limits to Palestinian “rights” invented by the EU, unbelievably, a witness to Oslo II. Accordingly, the EU has no further role to play.

1) Article XXXI (9): “The PLO undertakes that, within two months of the date of the inauguration of the Council, the Palestinian National Council will convene and formally approve the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant, as undertaken in the letters signed by the Chairman of the PLO and addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel, dated September 9, 1993 and May 4, 1994.”
  • 25 years later, Arafat`s letter has not yet been ratified nor its charter amended. The effect is that the official policy of the Palestinians remains a Palestinian state in place of Israel, not a two-state solution. The EU has never requested Palestinian compliance. Silence means EU`s consent.

2) Article IX (5)(a): “The Council will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.” 
  • The Palestinians have relations with about 140 states, including about 20 embassies in EU countries and even appointing an ambassador to the EU. The EU is a full partner to this unilateral Palestinian contravention of Oslo II to which it is a witness
3) Article XV(1): “Both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other's authority and against their property and shall take legal measures against offenders.”
  • The Palestinians have ignored and breached this provision of Oslo II continuously since 1995. In Judea and Samaria alone, in 2019, 2018 and 2017 there were 34, 55 and 82 respectively significant terrorist attacks with 5, 12 and 18 respectively Israelis being killed. In addition, Israel thwarted 560 significant violent attacks in 2019 alone. From Gaza, 1,403, 1,119 and 29 rockets and mortars were fired in 2019, 2018 and 2017 respectively. The EU, with their High Commissioners always attacking Israel, has said nothing and done nothing to prevent these attacks. Again, silence means consent. Worse, through the EU`s substantial but unsupervised financial support of the Palestinians, the Palestinians have the funds to finance their “pay for slay” policy. The only time the EU is heard is when criticizing Israel for exercising its legitimate right to self-defence.

There are many other provisions which have been breached by the Palestinians such as incitement, education and not joining international organizations. EU countries did nothing to prevent the Palestinians signing the Rome Statute, another unilateral breach. The ICC is largely financed by EU countries.

Oslo II clearly contemplates that areas of Area C will remain with Israel. In view of the Palestinian breaches of most of the provisions of Oslo II, including but not limited to unilaterally joining international organizations, unilaterally claiming sovereignty as a State, its almost daily attacks of terrorism and hostility, its failure to ratify Arafat`s letter, all tacitly agreed to by the EU`s silence, there is nothing to prevent Israel unilaterally implementing the intent of Oslo II and applying Israeli law to all or part of Area C in its discretion. With the EU`s demands for parameters which were never included in Oslo II and its open bias against Israel, the EU no longer has any role to play in implementing new and different arrangements as proposed by the USA to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What the Palestinians are Stll Saying


Just three of many comments made this year by representatives of the PA,
and with this level of incitement, we are supposed to make peace?
(with thanks to Palestinian Media Watch)

"Might we accept this [peace deal]? ... We will stand before two choices: Either we will succumb on our own, and humiliate ourselves, and we will receive shame for eternity – or we will say, as our chosen beloved [Prophet Muhammad] said: 'I will fight them... The Palestinian leadership has said clearly and definitely: If they harm our rights in this deal of shame... Die while you are honorable, die with your head held high... If death is the price of dignity, sovereignty, and honor, then death is welcome... The Palestinian hand has not yet been created that can sign this deal of shame."
     [Official PA TV, Jan 24, 2020]

“PLO Executive Committee member and head of the [PLO] Department of Refugee Affairs Dr. Ahmad Abu Houli... emphasized the firm and principled position of the Palestinian leadership that adheres to the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homes."                                 [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 21, 2020]

“Palestine is from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. It is the Palestinian people’s historical homeland, and the status of Acre (i.e., Israeli city) is the status of Nablus, and the status of Jaffa (i.e., Israeli city) is the status of Hebron.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 7, 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Abbas's Precious Gift to Iran: Hamas


Once again Abbas has threatened to stop "all" security cooperation, a threat he has made numerous times. The consequences for Abbas are very serious

  • By halting the security crackdown on Hamas, Abbas would be paving the way for terrorists to kill him and his associates in the West Bank, as they had already begun to do in 2007 in the Gaza Strip, and possibly again in a coup in 2014.
  • If and when Abbas does suspend security coordination with Israel, he will be sending a message to Iran and its Palestinian proxies that the time has come to turn the West Bank into a center for Jihad against Israel and the "infidels."
  • At the same time, Abbas will be signing his own death warrant: Hamas has apparently not relinquished its desire to "hang Abbas in front of the Palestinian people." It appears to be decision time: Will Abbas ally himself with those who are protecting him or with those who execute him as a traitor?
For more on this story go to https://tinyurl.com/ycnszkm5  

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Israelis Find Joy in Corona-Restricted Weddings


Time will tell if small, modest weddings will remain popular when the pandemic ends. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in mid-March that the country must self-quarantine in order to contain the coronavirus, brides and grooms were forced to rethink their plans.


Indeed, many couples found unexpected satisfaction in how their celebrations turned out. Hadassah Tzach, who moved to Israel from New Jersey in 2018, had a large wedding planned for March 16. Following Israel’s first-round of regulations on March 12, stating that no more than 100 people could gather, the plans were suddenly changed.

“Like every bride, I spent many months planning our wedding plus years of imagining what it would look like. I never expected the way it would turn out,” Tzach, who refers to her last-minute event as “Coronavirus Elopement Wedding,” she said.

Watching the news about the coronavirus, she could see her dream wedding disintegrating before her eyes. “I tried to stay optimistic as much as I could even when most of my family and friends had to cancel their flights. Thankfully, my mom and brother got to Israel before the ban,”

There is a Sefardic tradition that a few days before a wedding, friends and family gather for a pre-celebration, called a “Henna,” where the red substance is put on the palms of hands as a symbol of posterity for the young couple. Additionally, the bride prepares a challah dough with the appropriate blessings to symbolize the expansive blessings that should fill their lives. A festive meal is served along with sweets and dancing.

“During the henna party, we found out that new restrictions were starting at midnight. I thought there was zero chance we would have our wedding under the circumstances,” Tzach said. “I excused myself from dancing and started to cry in the kitchen. My soon-to-be mother-in-law came in and said, ‘Why don’t you get married right now while everyone is here together?’ I was shocked but then thought, ‘It’s now or never.'”

The bride was whisked away to her house to put on her wedding gown and the groom was told to get ready for his nuptials. They called the rabbi to quickly come and officiate.
“Everything came together beyond what I could ever have imagined,” she said. “And I never thought my wedding would cost only 800 shekels [about $230].”

Ayelet Mor, who moved to Israel from Connecticut in 2018, said that after shedding many tears and discussing the changes in her wedding plans with her parents and siblings, she “felt good and excited” about her big day.

“After receiving so much support from my family, we officially decided to do a small, intimate wedding in Tekoa on our original wedding date and a bigger one with family and friends in the – hopefully – near future,” she said. “It was the prettiest wedding I could have ever asked for, as Tekoa overlooks the Judean mountains. It was bittersweet not having my family there, that was hard for me. But having just a few people in the most beautiful setting was so, so special.”

One charity organization did a survey called “The 100 Person Wedding” to evaluate whether people are open to holding more affordable affairs long after the pandemic is over.

“One positive point that came out of the ‘corona era’ is that weddings have become limited in scope, focus more on family and are more economical,” noted the survey. “This has created public discourse about today’s customarily accepted elaborate weddings, whether they are justified and correct or whether corona weddings revealed that it was possible to do things differently.”

“There is a lot of peer pressure [to make fancy weddings], and this is an issue that needs urgent and substantial improvement,” noted the survey.

No matter what the future brings, one thing is certain. We wish all the new couples years of health and happiness.



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Three Gulf states seek partnership with Israel to fight coronavirus



by Lahav Harkov   May 10, 2020

For full report see https://tinyurl.com/y6wwmzf3 

Three Gulf states have reached out to Israel in recent weeks to receive information and assistance in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID -19. The three make up half of the countries that are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Bahrain and another Gulf state reached out to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, expressing interest in the hospital's response to the pandemic, and the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations said publicly that her government would be willing to work with Israel on a vaccine.

 “I have heard leaders in the Gulf say over and over, ‘with our resources and wealth and Israeli innovation, we can create a vaccine and a cure’…They have seen this pandemic as an opportunity for cooperation between themselves and Israel,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who has extensive ties in the Persian Gulf as president of the interfaith dialogue organization Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. “There’s an opportunity to join forces here. So many issues transcend politics in the Middle East.”

Schneier and Yoel Hareven, director of Sheba's International Division, said that Bahrain and another Gulf state, which they declined to name, have taken an interest in telemedicine or remote medicine innovations in Israel and the ways the Jewish state has responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We offered them any help they need, even if it’s connecting doctors or nurses, or sending teams to them, sharing logistical knowledge,” Hareven said. “Whatever help we can give our neighbors – we will do it happily.”

Hareven said the unnamed country is “central and different” in the Gulf and is “not one we’re used to hearing about,” adding that Israel is not known to have ties with it, which is why they are keeping a low profile.

“There are a lot of things happening above and below the surface,” Hareven said, noting that the governments in that region are very centralized, which means the contact with Sheba took place with the leaders’ approval. “They believe very strongly in the connection with Israeli medicine and Israel generally.”

Talk of cooperation with Gulf states on fighting coronavirus comes after years of closer ties between Israel and those countries, in light of their opposition to Iran and encouragement from the Trump administration.



Friday, May 8, 2020

Arab Land Grab in Judea and Samaria During Corona Pandemic


This is the sad reality  in Israel. Arabs are illegally grabbing Jewish 
land in Judea & Samaria, all with the support of Israel’s Supreme 
Court, hence they are protected by the Israeli police. Nati Rom is 
a pioneer in Judea & Samaria standing up for the rights of the Jews 
and the State of Israel in our ancestral heartland.