Rutgers Israel Public Affairs Committee Israel Update

Israeli Journalist Briefs Hill Staff on Gaza Threat

A top Israeli journalist on July 23 briefed some 70 congressional staffers and interns about the nature of the rocket threat to Israel from Gaza and  other challenges that the Jewish state faces in the region. Avi Issacharoff, Arab affairs correspondent for Haaretz,  discussed the chaos in the Sinai in the aftermath of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarack’s fall from power. He noted the increased arms smuggling into the territory, which has led to increasing tensions between Israel and Egypt and a new round of Hamas rocket attacks against Israel. While Israelis used to flock to the Sinai for vacation, he said, Israelis no longer enter the territory. Issacharoff also pointed out the relative quiet in the West Bank, noting the economic growth in the area and the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to capture those –both from Hamas and Fatah – who would commit violence against Israel.

Free Sinai Salafists Threaten Israel, Egypt Security

Security in the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula continued to be a pressing  issue in Egypt and Israel this week, with threats to both countries from the al Qaeda-affiliated jihadi groups who have found fertile breeding grounds in Sinai since the Egyptian revolution, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday,  November 1. On Thursday, Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party demanded law  enforcement authorities move to regain control of security in Sinai – following a week of reports of terrorist activity in the troubled peninsula. Over the past months, al-Qaeda-linked groups have conducted a series of deadly terrorist attacks against both Egyptian and Israeli interests at the border, including a September 21 shootout that killed an Israeli soldier. The jihadi activity has led to increasing calls for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to amend the Camp  David peace accords with Israel in order to allow for a greater Egyptian military presence in Sinai.

Iran Confirms It Has Finished Installing Centrifuges at Fordo

Iran on Thursday, November 1 confirmed for the first time that it had finished installing centrifuges for enriching uranium at its underground nuclear facility in Fordo, Haaretz reported. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi, told Iran’s Fars news agency that “Iran is completing its nuclear activities regardless of the negative Western media speculations and reports.” “Our response to such reports is working harder,” Abbasi added, referring to a report a few days ago, which quoted Western diplomats as saying that Tehran would soon finish installing the last of the centrifuges planned for the Fordo facility. The Fordo site is extremely important to the Iranian nuclear program, since the centrifuges are located deep underground, at an estimated depth of 260 feet. This makes it very hard to destroy them with an aerial attack.