How Hizballah Uses the Internet to Promote Palestinian Terror

In recent years, Hizballah has focused its energy on quashing rebel forces in Syria and building up its arsenal along Israel’s northern borders while refraining from direct attacks on the Jewish state. Instead, it has used social media to recruit West Bank Palestinians and even Israeli Arabs to carry out acts of terror, providing these individuals with funding and coordination. Michael Shkolnik and Alexander Corbeil explain:

Hizballah operatives [often] use Facebook groups to establish contact with an individual. After a nascent relationship is forged, the Hizballah operatives usually communicate with the prospective recruit via email and send instructions on how to use encrypted communications platforms. . . . For example, Hizballah operatives . . . sent Muhammad Zaghloul [of the West Bank city of Tulkarm] requests for information on IDF bases and instructions on how to carry out suicide bombings. Not all suggestions flowed top-down: . . . Zaghloul initially proposed killing a specific Israeli soldier to his handler after providing the officer’s picture and personal information.

[Most] of the plots’ objectives involved conducting suicide bombings or shooting and bombing attacks, or combinations thereof, against IDF patrols in the West Bank. [One] cell, however, was plotting to carry out a suicide bombing against an Israeli bus and was disrupted after its members had already started to build explosive devices. . . . In each case, significant sums of money were promised and often transferred.

Hizballah is presumably aware that operations that depend on in-person recruitment and training are time-consuming, costly, and rarely bear fruit. Contacting, inciting, funding, and directing self-selecting operatives reduces these associated costs, avoids exposing Hizballah members to capture in foreign jurisdictions, and skirts the complex logistics of smuggling operatives into Israel or the West Bank.

A recent uptick in deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks (August-September 2019), one of which involved a sophisticated remotely detonated explosive device, may give Hizballah new opportunities to exploit heightened tensions in the West Bank. Even unsuccessful attacks cost Israeli authorities time and manpower.

Read more at CTC Sentinel

More about: Hizballah, Internet, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy