Category Archives: Gaza

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

BLOG 522

June 21, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Here’s a couple of indicators that real change is occurring in the Middle-East. A new poll released Tuesday finds a dramatic surge in Palestinian support for Hamas following last month’s Gaza conflict, with around three-quarters of the Palestinian population viewing the Islamist terrorists as victors in a battle against Israel to defend Jerusalem and its holy sites.The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research also found plummeting support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was sidelined by the fighting but is seen internationally as a partner for reviving the long-defunct peace process. The poll found that 53% of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer Abbas’ secular Fatah party.

Abbas has delayed elections for years and was supposedly set for an immediate election. These numbers do not spell success for him.

On the Israeli side, there is new hope. Israel’s 36th government is a coalition of the courageous. Each leader who has led his or her party into this strange and unwieldy government has taken a risk. Among the leaders of this coalition, none has been more self-sacrificing than Yair Lapid. Though Lapid was the senior politician within the anti-Netanyahu coalition and head of its largest party, he deferred to Benny Gantz, who seemed the more likely to defeat Netanyahu. And now he has deferred to Naftali Bennett, leader of one of the coalition’s smallest factions. In so doing, Lapid has embodied the meaning of leadership and love for Israel, restoring to our politics its lost nobility. 

Two Israels were on display at the Knesset swearing-in ceremony for the new government. There was the Israel of desecration, MKs (Members of Knesset) shouting, faces contorted with hate, trampling on the dignity of the state as they refused to allow the prime minister-designate to speak at his own inauguration. And there was the Israel of Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid, speaking with passion and reason and self-control as they presented their coalition of healing.

After years of officially inspired campaigns of hatred and divisiveness, contrived to serve one man’s political needs, we have the most diverse government in the country’s history. After the worst violence between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews since 1948, we have the nation’s first Jewish-Arab coalition.  

If the new coalition achieves nothing more than liberating Israel from those who have tried to unravel the delicate balance between nationalism and democracy, decency and power – dayenu, it is sufficient. If the new coalition achieves nothing more than offering a counter-vision of an Israel that strives to respect and manage its essential differences and place the country above sectarian needs – dayenu.  

Can this coalition last? Given its bare majority and inner contradictions, the odds aren’t brilliant. And yet even if it doesn’t survive its term, it has already won.   

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO PARISHED

BLOG 519

May 31, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO PARISHED

On this Memorial Day weekend, Americans remember those dear ones who have passed on. The same is true in the Middle East, but for their own particular reasons. The Palestinians lost at the least 200 people while Israel death were small. The question for diplomats is where do we go from here.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that in the wake of the recent conflict in Gaza and unrest in Jerusalem, the United States plans to focus on addressing “the underlying causes” that could spark yet another round of violence, Tuesday evening. Blinken indicated that the Biden administration will be actively involved in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, echoing comments he made earlier in the day during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken met with top Israeli officials including Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz  before heading to Ramallah for high-level meetings with Palestinian Authority leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Blinken also stressed the “critical role” played by Egypt in brokering the Gaza ceasefire, and called Jordan “a voice for peace and stability in the region.”

In contrast, Hamas had its own objectives. The terrorist organization was able to hijack protests in Jerusalem and use the last week of Ramadan for their own purposes.  Moreover, Hamas firing rockets into the city on “Jerusalem Day” made them appear to be a credible  resistance force. This action aimed at making PA President Mahoud  Abbas look incompetent.  In fact, Abbas completely failed to  cash in on the tensions that had developed in East Jersualsm over the housing question. Hamas has now placed itself on center stage. To create a ceasefire, Egypt had to talk with Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas stopped short of urging a Palestinian revolt against Abbas for fear of being directly responsible for a Palestinian civil war. Moreover, they would not have done well with the PA soldiers on one front and the Israeli on the other.

It now appears America’s goal is to “give the Palestinian people, including those in Gaza, a renewed sense of confidence, of optimism, of real opportunity,” Blinken said. “If we are able to do that together, then Hamas’s foothold in Gaza will slip. We know that, and I think Hamas knows that.”

We don’t need another war in the Middle East. Let’s hope this Memorial Day will be a reminder of the grief that always comes with such a conflict.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East

THE DAY AFTER

BLOG 518

May 24, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

THE DAY AFTER

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has spilled over into America. A Jewish man was badly beaten by a pro-Palestinian mob in New York City on Thursday. Joseph Borgen thought he was “going to die” during the attack. He was assaulted while wearing a kippa (prayer cap) on his way to a pro-Israel rally. “I would never think I’d ever have to worry about my religion or ethnicity being a problem in NYC.” Jewish people in America are facing such an event with increasing personal concern.

In the Middle-East, Egyptian mediators held talks Saturday to firm up an Israel-Hamas ceasefire. Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have begun to assess the damage from 11 days of intense fighting. Saturday marked the first full day of a truce that ended the fourth Israel-Hamas war in just over a decade. In the fighting, Israel unleashed hundreds of airstrikes against terrorist targets in Gaza. Hamas fired more than 4,300 rockets toward Israel. More than 250  Palestinians were killed,. Israel asserts some 200 were terror operatives.

Gaza City’s busiest commercial area, Omar al-Mukhtar Street, was covered in debris, smashed cars, and twisted metal after a 13-floor building in its center was flattened in an Israeli airstrike. Merchandise was covered in soot and strewn inside smashed stores and on the pavement. Municipal workers removed broken glass and twisted metal from streets and sidewalks.

Both Israel and Hamas claimed victory. While there was a widespread expectation that the ceasefire might stick, another round of fighting at some point seems inevitable. Underlying issues remain unresolved, including the Israeli-Egyptian border blockade. In its 14th year, the barricade is choking Gaza’s more than 2 million residents because the Hamas terrorist organization won’t disarm. Israel says the blockade is necessary to limit access to weapons by Hamas. Israel is sworn to its destruction.    

The war further sidelined Hamas’s main political rival, the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority. The P.A. oversees autonomous areas of the West Bank. Hamas has increasingly positioned itself to appear to be a defender of Jerusalem in  order to sway Palestinian public opinion.  On Friday, hours after the ceasefire took effect, thousands of Palestinians on the Temple Mount chanted against PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his government. “Dogs of the Palestinian Authority, out, out,” they shouted, and “The people want the president to leave.” It was an unprecedented display of anger against Abbas.

The conflict also brought to the surface deep frustration among Arbs, whether in the West Bank, Gaza or within Israel, over the status quowith the Israeli-Palestinian peace process all but abandoned for years.

What’s ahead? No one can say or whether the ceasefire will hold. The number of Palestinians killed means nothing to Hamas as they have previously used their own people as human shields. They believe martyrs help their cause. Whatever they lost to Israel, they have gained in further diminishing Fatah and President Abbas. A strange logic prevails in their terrorist attacks. Loss of human lives doesn’t appear to matter.  However, if they fire more rockets, Israel will continue to eradicate their positions.

Sound like a hot summer ahead? Undoubtedly!

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Jews, The Middle East

OVERNIGHT IN THE MIDDLE EAST: EXPLOSIONS!

BLOG 514

April 26, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

OVERNIGHT IN THE MIDDLE EAST: EXPLOSIONS!

Rocket salvos fired following the Hamas call for attacks on Israel spread worry over Jerusalem. Barrages by terror groups, marked the worst assault from the Gaza Strip in many months. Thirty-six rockets were fired toward Israel from Gaza overnight with six projectiles intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, The Israel Defense Forces reported the assaults Saturday morning.

In response, the Israeli military struck multiple Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Saturday morning, including rocket launchers and underground infrastructures. Some fell in communities while others landed in open areas..  In response to several salvos of rockets fired into Israel overnight, the Israeli Army struck back. Sirens sounded in numerous Israeli communities near the Strip overnight, including Ashkelon and the Eshkol, Sdot Negev, Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regional councils.

The Iron Dome is programmed not to deploy when rockets are projected to hit non-populated areas.  It was unclear why it had not activated to intercept the projectiles that landed in the border towns.

A spokesperson for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade said “We will burn the occupation’s settlements for you, O Jerusalem. The greatest has yet to come.” In addition, Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said “The Palestinian resistance is ready to respond to aggression, even the score with the occupation and prevent its violations against our people.” Two terror groups in Gaza took responsibility for the rocket fire — Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades. Israel has stressed in the past it holds the ruling Hamas terror group responsible for all violence emanating from Gaza.

The UN special envoy for the Middle East process, Tor Wennesland, said Saturday that he was “alarmed” by the escalation in violence in Jerusalem and around the Strip. The provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease. The indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli population centers violates international law and must stop immediately,” Wennesland responded in a statement.

The rocket attack followed days of tensions and clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank that involved Palestinian and Israeli civilians as well as Israeli security forces. Before the morning strikes, the military had not responded to the rockets throughout the night, except for a single tank strike after the first volley, that targeted a Hamas post.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command initially instructed residents in the areas under threat to remain close to shelters, ordered the closure of Zikim beach, banned outside gatherings and agricultural work near the security fence and limited groups to under 100 people indoors. However, it later removed the restrictions. Additionally, the Sdot Negev Regional Council recommended residents avoided going to synagogue on Saturday morning.

The terrorist attacks are basically financed by Iran. Finances and rockets are smuggled in to the Gaza Strip. Because Iran blames Israel for the recent successful sabotage of one of their nuclear facilities, these current attacks may be a form of “pay back” Even if eschewed, there is usually some logic behind these outbursts.


My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Iran, Israel, The Middle East, Violence

CHANGE BLOWING IN THE WIND

BLOG 509

March 22, 2021

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

CHANGE BLOWING IN THE WIND

If you follow Israeli politics, the latest polls show Netanyahu ahead in the race for Prime Minister. That’s the update, but the big story is an important shift has occurred in Israeli society.

Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a groundbreaking ruling on Monday that will mean formal recognition by the state to non-Orthodox Jewish communities in the country. The ruling will likely spark a dramatic uptick in the country’s religious culture wars and, quite possibly, a move in the Knesset to clip the wings of the court.

Clarification is needed for what the decision doesn’t do: it does not require the Haredi-controlled state rabbinate to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions. Only the Interior Ministry must do so. And even there, the decision only slightly expands the scope of the Interior Ministry’s existing recognition for those conversions. After all, the Interior Ministry has for two decades formally accepted Reform and Conservative conversions conducted overseas as conferring the right to citizenship under the Law of Return.

Monday’s ruling is, in a sense, very narrow. It instructs the Interior Ministry (but not the rabbinate) to recognize as Jewish for the purposes of immigration (but for no other purposes, such as marriage or burial) only those few Reform and Conservative conversions conducted each year inside Israel. That’s the change. As of Monday, a non-Jewish non-Israeli living in Israel who converts to Judaism in the Conservative or Reform religious streams and then asks to become a citizen based on the Law of Return will have their conversion recognized by non-religious state bodies as conferring on them that right.

The Jewish state has long refused to recognize the institutions of the Reform and Conservative movements in the country, a shunning rooted in the political power of the ultra-Orthodox and religious-Zionist political parties. This all began when Orthodox religious parties got David Ben-Gurion’s ear just as Israel was becoming a state in 1948.

Very little is likely to change in the life of Reform and Conservative converts because of Monday’s ruling. But Israel itself will change.If the ruling stands, it will mark a watershed in state recognition for Jewish religious options long rejected by Orthodox political parties and the state rabbinic apparatus.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II

Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Please watch and subscribe to my new YouTube channel MIRACLES NEVER CEASE, where I post interviews with people sharing their experiences with divine encounters!

Let the miracles begin!

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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Jews, The Middle East

THE ELECTION, ISRAEL, AND IRAN

BLOG  495

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

THE ELECTION, ISRAEL, AND IRAN

Mr. Joe Biden, the American president-elect, has said he will ‘rejoin’ the 2015 nuclear deal. He has also stressed his ‘steadfast support for Israel’s security.’ From Israel’s point of view that’s a contradiction.

Before Biden is sitting  behind the Oval Office, he’s got an important issue to consider. US President Donald Trump declared three weeks ago that up to 10 more countries were preparing to warm their ties with Israel, with five of them firmly on course and the others also “right in the mix.” But that was before the November 3 presidential election.

Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden, and Biden’s explicitly stated intention to “rejoin” the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement  has at a stroke remade the region’s calculations on Iran. The question of which other countries, and when, might now decide to normalize their relations with Israel is only one aspect of the wider recalibration triggered immediately by Biden’s victory.

The Middle East doesn’t do vacuums, and Trump’s defeat is rippling across our neighborhood. The Palestinians have suddenly decided to resume security cooperation with Israel, and are indicating that they want to reestablish ties with the US, assuming that the Trump peace vision they so loathed is off the table. In Israel, with Trump deemed most unlikely to authorize annexation of settlements, since that plan was explicitly suspended under the terms of the Israel-UAE deal, Netanyahu is under pressure from his own right-wing camp to legalize dozens of West Bank outposts before Biden takes office.

And on Iran, the pieces are moving by the hour.

Anticipating a more empathetic approach to Tehran by a successor whose victory he has yet to concede, Trump reportedly mulled doing in his final weeks dismantling the ayatollahs’ rogue nuclear weapons program  by striking at one or more of the Islamist regime’s nuclear enrichment sites. That he was talked out of this by his worried aides, and that this has become public, has already emboldened Tehran, whose Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday magnanimously agreed to discuss how the US could reenter the 2015 deal, provided it first lifts all its sanctions on Tehran. This, even as Iran deepens its breaches of the deal by accelerating its uranium enrichment. Sorry. No deal there.

Israel remains the regional military heavyweight with no choice but to stand up to Tehran. After all, the regime avowedly seeks our destruction and works implacably to attain the tools to achieve that ambition. But Israel’s room for maneuver, and that of likeminded nations in the Middle East and beyond, is immensely widened if the United States fulfills its superpower role.

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Filed under Gaza, Iran, Israel, The Middle East

COMING EVENTS!

BLOG  491

October 26,  2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

COMING EVENTS!

Here’s two stories you’re not likely to hear about locally … but worth knowing.

NUMBER ONE!  

The Tel Aviv university has just launched the only graduate program in the world to focus on Ethiopian Jewish scriptures. Called “Orit Guardians,” it entails an interdisciplinary study of the Ethiopian Jewish scripture and its ancient liturgical language, Ge’ez, combined with the scientific study of biblical translation and interpretation, with the goal of recording the biblical scriptures that have been orally transmitted to the Beta Israel community in their own common tongues, Amharic or Tigrinya, for the past several hundred years at least.  “Bible departments all over the world are working on ancient translations and there has not been any development of a study of the Ethiopian Jewish tradition. No one has recorded the translation and interpretations,” Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni  said. “The reason, she asserted, “is mostly because until now, no one has had both the scholarly know-how and the language and cultural proficiency to speak with the kes, or priestly class, who, until the community’s mass immigration to Israel, led communal worship. We are trying to do is focus on the biblical side of the text and the translations and interpretive tradition, and we’re suggesting we can do it by using a set of professional tools.”

NUMBER TWO!

In previous blogs, I’ve warned there is smoke on the horizon. Here’s a recent development. The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terrorist group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability. The multi-day drill — dubbed “Deadly Arrow” — will predominantly focus on how various headquarters and command centers work together and communicate in wartime, the military said. It was also set to include physical maneuvers by ground forces, naval vessels and aircraft.

The military explained the exercise would simulate a “multi-front scenario focused on the northern arena.”

The IDF believes that any future war against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group would not only be waged in southern Lebanon, but would also include attacks from Syria and potentially the Gaza Strip as well.

Israel knows it can not close it’s eyes for a moment to the fact that terrorists never quit until they are dead. From the point of view of the Israel military, the Hezbollah situation remains tense.

My latest books:

I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!

by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Jews, The Middle East

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST Part 2

BLOG 488

October 5, 2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Part 2

In my last blog, I described some of the tension brewing in Lebanon and Gaza that could have a future impact on Israel and the Middle East. My suggestion was that we must always keep an eye open for what is happening behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not. This just released news story from Iran makes the point.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday unveiled a new naval ballistic missile with a potential range of over 700 kilometers (430 miles), local media reported, following months of tensions with arch-enemy the United States. According to Tasnim news agency, the missile, dubbed “Zolfaghar Basir”, is the naval variant of the surface-to-surface Zolfaghar ballistic missile. Its range is more than twice that of the Islamic republic’s other naval missiles, including the “Hormuz-2”, with a range of 300 kilometers, which Tehran said it successfully tested in March 2017.  Images published by Tasnim showed the Zolfaghar Basir installed on a launcher truck during the Tasnim did not specify whether or not the new missile has been tested yet.

inauguration of Tehran’s National Aerospace Park on Sunday.

 “This exhibition shows the comprehensive plan of the deterrent power of the (Islamic republic’s) system,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said at the inauguration, according to Tasnim.  Iran’s Guards used the Zolfaghar in 2017 and 2018 against the Islamic State group in Syria in retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out in the country. The missile was also used in January to target bases in Iraq housing US troops, according to IRNA news agency, days after the US killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad.

The unveiling of the Zolfaghar Basir comes more than a week after an American aircraft carrier crossed the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and days after the Guards opened a new naval base near the waterway, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes. The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters were the scenes of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year when ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.

Tensions have soared between Washington and Tehran under US President Donald Trump, who pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran. The arch-enemies have twice come to the brink of direct confrontation since June 2019.

Washington suffered a setback in mid-August when it failed to win support from the United Nation’s Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Tehran that will progressively expire starting on October 18.

Saudi Arabia won’t be happy with this development. Other Middle Eastern countries will feel the same way. Israel will be watching with a a finger on the trigger.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Iran, Israel, The Middle East, United Nations, United States History

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 487

September 28,  2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

This year in my recent trip to Israel, I observed the bitter feelings that exists between Israelis and Palestinians and vice versa. Hostilities are everywhere.  In recent blogs, I’ve celebrated the diplomatic breakthroughs achieved between Israel and Arab countries. Such is an important achievement. However, those accomplishments only mask a fierce reality waiting below the surface.

The Jerusalem Post suggested that Hezbollah had stored massive amounts of weaponry in Lebanon that were part of the terrible explosion in Beirut. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said,  “Iran has taken Lebanon hostage through Hezbollah.”   Moreover, in August Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Hamas (who controls the Gaza Strip) that Israel would respond forcefully if the terrorist group did not stop launching incendiary and explosive balloons into Israel.  

What is currently happening inside Gaza? Hamas military prosecutors on Thursday charged three Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip with “weakening revolutionary spirit” — a charge that could lead to years in prison — for holding a video conference with Israelis.

Rami Aman, a 38-year-old peace activist and Gaza resident, was detained in early April after holding a public “Skype With Your Enemy” video call in which Israelis participated. He has said his organization seeks to empower young Palestinians and that many in Gaza share his view that speaking to Israelis should not be forbidden.

“If I were to go into the streets and tell people ‘let’s talk with an Israeli,’ thousands of people would be here,” Aman said during a videoconference, (Facebook)

Authorities in Gaza view “normalizing” with Israelis as a criminal offense. While Hamas does permit merchants and those seeking humanitarian assistance inside Israel to communicate with Israeli authorities, it has cracked down on those who have sought to establish person-to-person ties with Israelis. “Holding any activity or communication with the Israeli occupation, under any cover, is a crime punishable by law; it is a betrayal of our people and its sacrifices,” Interior Minister Iyad al-Bozm wrote in a Facebook post in April.

Hamas routinely arrests and tortures critics and dissidents within the coastal enclave. Aman himself had already faced harassment by security forces for his activism. In July 2019, Hamas detained him for two weeks after organizing a joint bike ride with Israelis: Gazans biked side by side with Israelis, with only the security fence dividing them. On another occasion, Aman was detained for three days after he publicly criticized the alleged beating of a young man by officers from the Hamas-run interior ministry, according to Human Rights Watch. Although both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International immediately called for the activists’ release, Hamas authorities have held the detainees for five months without trial.

Get the picture? Hostilities could  explode at any time.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaza, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Palestinians, The Middle East

RAPID CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 486

September 14,  2020

RAPID CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

In recent blogs, I’ve commented on the change occurring in the Middle East. Notably, the United States has little to do with most of this. movement However, these are signs that Israel’s position is shifting and receiving wider acceptance in the Arab world. These blogs were barely published when news arrived that Bahrain had established full diplomatic relations with Israel.

A day after the announcement that Bahrain is establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Saturday that Jerusalem would work to establish an embassy in Manama in the near future. The two country’s foreign ministers, Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi and Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, spoke on the phone Saturday, and exchanged congratulations on the deal and discussed the importance of pushing relations forward in various fields and in support of common interests

According to Kan news, in addition to the establishment of embassies and the appointment of ambassadors, the two countries have also agreed to the operation of direct flights as well as a number of unspecified joint ventures. Earlier this month, Bahrain announced that it was opening its airspace to Israeli flights.

Netanyahu hailed the agreement as part of a “new era of peace” and predicted more accords would follow. The Bahraini king’s senior adviser Khalid al-Khalifa said in a statement that the normalization deal “sends a positive and encouraging message to the people of Israel, that a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people is the best path and the true interest for their future and the future of the peoples of the region.”

Regional power player Saudi Arabia remained noticeably silent following Friday’s announcement of a normalization agreement between Israel and Bahrain.  Bahrain is seen as a client state of its neighbor and close ally Saudi Arabia, and the tiny Gulf state is not likely to have moved forward with normalization without approval from Riyadh.

Predictable responses followed from the usual quarters. The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group both condemned Friday’s Israeli-Bahraini normalization deal as another “stab in the back” by an Arab state and act of “aggression” against their people. Turkey and Iran also condemned the accord.

Israel is on a roll. Got to be a good sign for the Middle East.

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Filed under Arabs, Gaza, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, The Middle East