Home » Special Feature » Recent Articles:

US Sanctions Iran Nuclear Group after Threat ‘Highlighted’ by Israeli Intelligence

Israel and the US are working hard to counter Iran’s nuclear threat. Illustrative photo of Netanyahu discussing Iran’s “secret nuclear files”. Photo courtesy of: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The United States last week levied sanctions on a total of 31 persons and entities for their connections to an Iranian group believed to be a threat capable of re-launching Iran’s nuclear weapons program when the timing was right—and Israeli spycraft helped showcase that risk. The sanctions target those affiliated with Iran’s Organization for Defense Innovation and Research, known in Farsi by the acronym “SPND.” That entity, according to a background briefing from two US Senior Administration Officials published by the State Department, is headed by the founder of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and controls groups specializing in radiation, explosives, and missiles.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released from his office on Saturday, congratulated US President Donald Trump and other key figures in the US Administration for the sanctions moves, which his office said came in the “wake” of Israel unveiling an Iranian nuclear program archive in 2018.

“Iran continues to deceive the international community and lie to the world about its military nuclear program,” said Netanyahu. “The Iranian regime continues to conceal its capabilities and to strive for nuclear weapons. Iran endangers the peace of the Middle East and the entire world and must be blocked.” … Continue Reading

Israel Strikes Weapons Storage Day after US Espouses Support of anti-Iran Action in Syria

January 13, 2019 Special Feature, Syria

PM Netanyahu & US Secy. of State Pompeo. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday last week provided American backing for Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from setting up a new base of operations in Syria. One day later, Israeli warplanes struck weapons storage facilities belonging to Iran, including a target at an international airport in Syria’s capital of Damascus. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the unusual position of claiming credit for the attack on Sunday.

“Israel attacked an Iranian weapons warehouse at the international airport in Damascus,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “This reflects our consistent policy and strong determination to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria. If necessary, we will step up these attacks.”

The Israeli strike follows Pompeo’s speech backing such action at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, which was republished by the State Department. Pompeo told the audience, “We strongly support Israel’s efforts to stop Tehran from turning Syria into the next Lebanon.” … Continue Reading

2018 Sets Record for Tourism to Israel as More than 4 Million Visit

January 6, 2019 Special Feature

Jerusalem tourism information center. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

It took Israel 69 years to reach 3 million tourists visiting in one year. It took just one year to reach 4 million tourists in a year. 2018 set a record for the number of tourists to visit Israel in one year, with more than 4.1 million arriving in the Holy Land. “This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year,” Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said in a Sunday press release from the Tourism Ministry. “…What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world.”

In 2017, around 3.6 million tourists visited Israel, which was itself a record at the time according to a prior press release from the Tourism Ministry. Sunday’s press release noted that it took 30 years—from 1948 to 1978—for Israel to finally have 1 million tourists in one year. 40 years later and the United States alone sent almost a million tourists to Israel, with 897,100 Americans visiting in 2018. France and Russia were next on the list with more than 300,000 visitors each. … Continue Reading

Israeli Civilian Discovers Ancient Roman Busts While Just Taking a Walk

December 30, 2018 Special Feature

The uncovered Roman busts. Photo courtesy of Eitan Klein, Israel Antiquities Authority

It’s not every day that the average person finds 1,700-year-old sculptures, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen during an everyday activity in Israel. A local resident recently discovered two “impressive” Roman busts near the city of Beit She’an in northern Israel while just taking a walk, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The top of one of the two sculptures was poking out of the ground and seen by the woman, who along with her husband contacted the IAA Theft Prevention Unit. Inspectors sent to the site were able to find the antiquities, which are believed to be from the Late Roman period (3rd–4th centuries CE).

Nir Distelfeld, IAA Theft Prevention Unit inspector, said in the press release, “It seems that the busts were exposed following the recent heavy rainfall in the area. These are very important finds, which tell us a great deal about the inhabitants of the Beth She’an area in antiquity. We thank the Beit She’an resident for her alertness and good citizenship and she will receive a certificate of appreciation.” … Continue Reading

Israeli Parliament Votes to Move Elections Up to April—will Netanyahu Win Again?

December 27, 2018 Special Feature

Israeli Knesset Building. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock.

The Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, voted on Wednesday to dissolve its current rendition and move elections up to April. A press release on the Knesset website said the vote passed overwhelmingly by a 102-2 margin. Just over four years since the last round of elections were held in March 2015, Israelis will be going to the polls again to determine if Benjamin Netanyahu will be able secure his fourth consecutive term as the leader of the Jewish State.

So far, it looks likely. According to a poll earlier this week originally published by the Maariv Hebrew newspaper and reposted in English by The Times of Israel, Netanyahu’s Likud party would win more than double the number of Knesset seats as the runner up party—earning 30 seats compared to 13 for what was then a hypothetical new party to be created by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz. The Knesset is comprised of 120 seats, making 61 the threshold for holding a majority.

Generally, that is accomplished by multiple parties joining forces in a coalition. The poll, conducted by Panels Politics, found that Netanyahu could narrowly cobble together a government coalition of right-leaning and religious political parties similar to the current government. … Continue Reading

‘Moderate’ Palestinian Leaders Oppose UN Resolution Condemning Hamas Terror

December 2, 2018 Special Feature

UN headquarters in New York. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The world is generally united against terrorism, but for some reason the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership is opposed to the United Nations condemning Hamas terrorism against Israel. The WAFA Palestinian news agency quoted a spokesman of the Fatah political faction that heads the PA as saying they “totally reject American-Israeli efforts to brand Hamas with terrorism at the UN.” Spokesman Usama Qawasmi further accused Israel—who has had to defend themselves against Hamas rockets and other violence aimed at their civilians—of sponsoring terrorism and committed to oppose “all hostile efforts to condemn” Hamas at the UN.

A resolution condemning Hamas terrorism, seeking to be the first of its kind passed by the UN, is backed by the United States and the European Union and references Hamas rockets and arson balloons . The resolution further calls for the Palestinian factions to reunite under the PA’s leadership. The US Mission to the UN said in a statement last Friday that the Palestinian representative at the UN requested a delay of a vote on the resolution from last week to next Thursday. In response, the US was clear on the importance of the vote.

“The issue before the United Nations on Thursday is not whether it supports one form or another of a Middle East peace plan. The issue is as plain as the resolution’s text,” said the US statement. “Each country will be asked to vote for or against the activities of Hamas, along with other militant groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad. If the UN cannot bring itself to adopt this resolution, then it has no business being involved in peace discussions.” … Continue Reading

Know the News and how it impacts You

Stay informed! Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow The Mideast Update on Twitter

Like The Mideast Update on Facebook

Categories