外交官的國際新聞導覽及中東中亞的歷史故事 Diplomat's daily news review and history research on Middle East and Central Asia
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2021 年 9 月 30 日 11:13
2021 年 7 月，有報導稱摩薩德網絡被捕後，伊朗公佈了涉嫌摩薩德特工的鏡頭伊朗情報部
Tzvi Joffre 為本報告做出了貢獻。
Iran says it killed head of 'terrorist' group backed by enemy states
In July, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed that it had arrested a network of Mossad agents and seized a heavy shipment of weapons.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 11:13
Iranian Americans rally against Ebrahim Raisi outside the United Nations headquarters during the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, in New York, US, September 21, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DAVID 'DEE' DELGADO)
Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had killed the leader of a group that it claimed was supported and guided by the intelligence services of countries hostile to Iran.
The group allegedly planned to strike sensitive and vital sites in Iran, according to Iranian media. All members of the group were arrested by Iranian intelligence forces.
The Intelligence Ministry did not specify which hostile states were supporting the group, but Iran's state broadcast IRIB broadcast a documentary after the news was announced, referring to the meeting of US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and insinuating that the US and Israel were behind the group.
The documentary also seemed to insinuate that the group was armed in Azerbaijan, showing pictures of Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, while stating that it was armed in "one of the neighboring countries."
In July, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed that it had arrested a network of Mossad agents and seized a heavy shipment of weapons and ammunition after they entered Iran through its western border. The seized weapons included pistols, grenades and shotguns, according to the ministry, which added that some of the weapons have been used to “provoke clashes” during protests.
Footage of alleged Mossad agents in Iran published after reports Mossad network was arrested, July 2021IRANIAN MINISTRY OF INTELLIGENCE
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.
2021 年 9 月 30 日 11:30
阿塞拜疆國防部發布的一段視頻中的靜態圖像顯示，阿塞拜疆武裝部隊成員在亞美尼亞和阿塞拜疆之間在納戈爾諾-卡拉巴赫領土上的不明地點發生衝突時發射大砲，這張靜態圖像來自 2020 年 9 月 28 日發布的鏡頭
據RFE / RL稱，這些卡車正在亞美尼亞城鎮卡潘和戈里斯之間的一條公路上行駛，這條公路部分穿過去年納戈爾諾-卡拉巴赫戰爭後移交給阿塞拜疆的領土。這條由俄羅斯維和人員巡邏的高速公路是亞美尼亞與伊朗的唯一通道。
據 RFE/RL 稱，本月早些時候，阿塞拜疆軍隊設立了一個檢查站，並開始對在高速公路上行駛的伊朗商用卡車徵稅和檢查。一些伊朗卡車司機甚至被捕。
阿塞拜疆總統伊利哈姆阿利耶夫週二在接受土耳其阿納多盧通訊社採訪時對伊朗卡車繼續通過阿塞拜疆領土表示憤慨，質疑為什麼伊朗如此堅持與一個只有 25,000 名居民的地區繼續進行貿易。
在接受阿納多盧通訊社採訪時，阿塞拜疆總統對伊朗決定在其邊境舉行軍事演習表示震驚，稱這是阿塞拜疆 30 年獨立歷史上第一次發生這種情況。
伊朗外長侯賽因·阿米爾-阿卜杜拉希安上週在聯合國大會期間與阿塞拜疆外交部長傑洪·拜拉莫夫會面時強調了兩國之間良好關係的重要性，但補充說“不應允許某些第三方影響良好關係，”據伊朗 IRNA 通訊社報導。
伊斯蘭革命衛隊 (IRGC) 陸軍指揮官穆罕默德·帕克普爾 (Mohammad Pakpour) 週二警告說，伊朗希望鄰國不會“成為猶太復國主義政權邪惡行為的溫床”，據伊斯蘭革命衛隊附屬機構稱。塔斯尼姆通訊社。
帕克普爾強調，伊朗沒有對近幾個月該地區國家進行的 37 次演習作出反應，並尊重每個國家進行演習的不可剝奪權利。
伊朗陸軍地面部隊指揮官基烏馬爾斯·海達里 (Kiomars Heydari) 週四宣布，將於週五在伊朗西北部開始一項名為“海巴爾征服者”的演習，以測試武器和裝備並評估武裝部隊在任何領域的準備情況據伊朗法爾斯通訊社報導，沿著伊朗邊境。
週二關於伊朗 IRIB 廣播公司的視頻報導似乎暗示，它最近挫敗的一個“恐怖”組織在阿塞拜疆武裝，展示了阿塞拜疆首都巴庫的照片，同時指出它在“一個鄰國”武裝。
阿塞拜疆和以色列關係密切，阿塞拜疆總統在 5 月與尼扎米甘賈維國際中心的一次討論中說，與以色列的關係非常多樣化，在國防工業方面尤其強大。“阿塞拜疆可以完全獲得以色列國防工業產品，這已經不是什麼秘密了，”阿利耶夫當時說。
據報導，阿塞拜疆去年在與亞美尼亞的納戈爾諾-卡拉巴赫戰爭中使用了包括 LORA 導彈和以色列航空航天工業公司 (IAI) Harop 自殺式無人機在內的以色列武器。
Tensions grow with Azerbaijan as Iran moves forces to border
Tensions spiked between Azerbaijan and Iran recently surrounding trade with Armenia and military exercises in the region.
By TZVI JOFFRE
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 11:30
A still image from a video released by the Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry shows members of Azeri armed forces firing artillery during clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in an unidentified location, in this still image from footage released September 28, 2020
(photo credit: DEFENCE MINISTRY OF AZERBAIJAN/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Tensions spiked between Azerbaijan and Iran in recent weeks after Azerbaijan began targeting Iranian trucks with fines and arrests, and Iran moved military forces to its border with Azerbaijan and warned against Israeli influence near its borders.
In August, the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry invited the Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, due to "undesirable facts" concerning what it called illegal travel of Iranian trucks to the Karabakh region without the permission of Azerbaijan. A statement by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated that the new Iranian administration would take steps to end such incidents.
The trucks in question were traveling on a road between the Armenian towns of Kapan and Goris which partially crosses through territory handed over to Azerbaijan after the Nagorno-Karabakh war last year, according to RFE/RL. The highway, patrolled by Russian peacekeepers, is Armenia's only link to Iran.
Earlier this month, Azerbaijani forces set up a checkpoint and began taxing and inspecting Iranian commercial trucks traveling on the highway, according to RFE/RL. A number of Iranian truck drivers were even arrested.
Azerbaijani officials have stated that Azerbaijani law requires all foreign vehicles, not just Iranian ones, entering the country to pay road and transit fees.
In an interview with the Turkish Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed outrage at the continued travel of Iranian trucks through Azerbaijani territory, questioning why Iran was so insistent on continuing trade to a region with only 25,000 inhabitants.
"Is this market really so important? Is this trade really so important that you show such outright disrespect for a country you consider friendly and fraternal?" said Aliyev to Anadolu Agency.
Tensions also rose recently due to joint military exercises carried out by Azerbaijan and Turkey in the Caspian Sea, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry warning that such drills violated international conventions banning the military presence of countries other than the five states which border the sea.
In the interview with Anadolu Agency, the Azerbaijani president expressed shock at Iran's decision to hold a military exercise along its border, saying it was the first time in Azerbaijan's 30-year history of independence that this had occurred.
While Aliyev admitted that every country has the sovereign right to conduct military exercises in its own territory, he questioned why Iran chose this specific time to do so. The president stressed that he does "not wish to see a single fact that would undermine long-term cooperation in the region" and hopes that the "emotional reaction" to Azerbaijan's "legitimate steps" is temporary.
After the interview, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated that Aliyev's remarks were "surprising" as such issues should have been handled through proper channels and not the media.
Concerning the upcoming Iranian military drill, Khatibzadeh stated that it was aimed at "protecting regional security," adding however that Iran "will not tolerate the Israeli regime’s presence near its borders even if it’s ceremonial" and "will take any actions it deems necessary to protect its national security."
In a meeting with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stressed the importance of good relations between the two countries, but added that "some third parties should not be allowed to affect the good relations," according to the Iranian IRNA news agency.
The "third parties" comment has been interpreted by some as referring to Israel, an ally of Azerbaijan, but an enemy of Iran.
On Tuesday, Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the land forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), warned that Iran expected neighboring countries not "to be a breeding ground for the evil deeds of the Zionist regime," according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.
"The Islamic Republic expects our neighboring border areas and neighboring countries to be a safe and secure environment for countries and the region," said the commander. "Therefore, it is expected that while being doubly sensitive to this, they will not allow a foreign element such as the Zionist regime, whose conspiracies and malice with the Muslim nations are not hidden from anyone, to make the soil of our neighbors a bedrock to achieve its evil and criminal goals."
Pakpour warned that there is "no doubt" that Israel is helping "some countries in the region" with the goal of created discord and division among Muslim countries.
"We cannot accept that some countries, under the influence of third countries, make unrealistic and provocative statements regarding the promotion of the readiness of the combat units of the Islamic Republic and undermine our actions," said Pakpour. "Neighboring governments know better than anyone else the reasons for holding Iranian exercises."
Pakpour stressed that Iran had not reacted to 37 exercises conducted by countries in the region in recent months and respected the inalienable right of every country to conduct drills.
Kioumars Heydari, commander of the Iranian Army's Ground Forces, announced on Thursday that an exercise, named "Conquerors of Khaybar," would start on Friday in northwestern Iran in order to test weapons and equipment and assess the readiness of the armed forces in any arena and along the borders of Iran, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.
The name of the exercise, "Conquerors of Khaybar," may be a reference to the Battle of Khaybar, in which the Muslims, led by Muhammad, fought against the Jews in Khaybar, eventually defeating and imposing a tax on them.
An opinion piece published in Kayhan, a newspaper associated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, warned against an alleged "invisible alliance" between the US, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Israel, saying that it could have a "major impact" on Iran's and Russia's political weight in the region.
The author of the piece warned that Turkey and Azerbaijan must know that "Iran can thwart the conspiracy designed for them in a regrettable way."
A video report on Iran's IRIB broadcaster on Tuesday seemed to insinuate that a "terrorist" group that it recently thwarted was armed in Azerbaijan, showing pictures of Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, while stating that it was armed in "one of the neighboring countries."
Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had killed the leader of a group that it claimed was supported and guided by the intelligence services of countries hostile to Iran. The group allegedly planned to strike sensitive and vital sites in Iran, according to Iranian media. All members of the group were arrested by Iranian intelligence forces.
Azerbaijan and Israel have close ties, with the president of Azerbaijan saying in a discussion with The Nizami Ganjavi International Center in May that relations with Israel were very diverse and were especially strong in the defense industry. "It is no secret that Azerbaijan has full access to Israeli defense industry products," said Aliyev at the time.
Israeli arms, including the LORA missile and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Harop suicide drone, were reportedly used by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh war with Armenia last year.
2021 年 9 月 30 日 16:56
（圖片來源：MEHDI MARIZAD/FARS 新聞社）
為什麼這很重要？過去，前伊斯蘭革命衛隊聖城部隊負責人卡西姆·蘇萊曼尼在報導中被視為“影子指揮官”，這個人物在中東四處走動，廣泛推動伊朗的議程，但他並不經常吹噓自己的角色。2020 年 1 月，美國在一次無人機襲擊中殺死了蘇萊曼尼，取而代之的是能力不明的卡尼 (Qaani)。傳聞卡尼是阿富汗問題專家，可能是他在那裡的角色幫助美國今年從喀布爾撤出，但他在伊拉克和敘利亞的角色尚未完全成型。
但是，為什麼之前由在西方享有盛譽的賈瓦德·扎里夫（Javad Zarif）管理的魔法部需要聖城部隊的祝福？因為這說明了真正的權力結構以及該部如何與 IRGC 密切合作。
婦女聚集在巴格達機場，伊朗聖城旅指揮官 Qasem Soleimani 和伊拉克民兵指揮官 Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis 去年在美國空襲中喪生。 WISSAM AL-OKAILI/REUTERS
伊朗最高外交官還指責美國是“恐怖主義”，並聲稱美國殺害蘇萊曼尼是“恐怖主義”。親伊朗組織經常聲稱美國支持 ISIS，即使它正在與 ISIS 作戰。
Iran's IRGC Quds Force head hints at group's power at home and Middle East
Qaani's meeting with the Foreign Ministry is to show coordination between Iran's diplomats and officers.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 16:56
Wax statue of former IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Tehran
(photo credit: MEHDI MARIZAD/FARS NEWS AGENCY)
Recent years have seen an ascendancy of key individuals linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran. The IRGC already has a parallel state in Iran, controlling parts of the economy and foreign policy, and building up new military technologies such as missiles, drones and attack boats.
According to the Tasnim News Agency, IRGC Quds Force head Ismail Qaani congratulated Dr. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on his election as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a visit to the ministry.
Why does this matter? In the past, former IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani was seen as the “shadow commander” in reports, a figure who moved around the Middle East and pushed Iran’s agenda far and wide, but who did not often brag of his role. When the US killed Soleimani in a drone strike in January 2020, he was replaced by Qaani, a man of unclear abilities. Qaani was rumored to be an expert on Afghanistan, and it may be that his role there helped remove the US from Kabul this year, but his role in Iraq and Syria is not yet fully formed.
Nevertheless, the reports of his meeting at the Foreign Ministry seek to showcase his power and influence. In the meeting he emphasized “the special and significant position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in securing the national interests of our country,” the report said.
But why does the Ministry, previously run by Javad Zarif, who had fame in the West, need the blessings of the Quds Force? Because this illustrates the real power structure and how the ministry works hand in glove with the IRGC.
Zarif – although he postured as being close to the IRGC when necessary, and as a “moderate” when speaking to Western audiences – was not really close to Soleimani. Of interest here, the report says that Amir-Abdollahian, “while appreciating the valuable presence of Sardar Qaani in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the irreplaceable role of Soleimani in the fight against terrorism.” Iran uses the term “terrorism” to refer to ISIS and other extremists. “Today our region was different,” the minister apparently said. “If ISIS had succeeded in Syria and Iraq, it would have faced terrorism and extremism all over the world today.”
Why did they discuss ISIS? Because the Quds Force helped Iraq defeat the worldwide jihadist group. “Amir Abdullahian called the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a soldier without borders who has made a great contribution… to regional and global security and peace,” the report says. The minister said that today Iran seeks to follow in the path of Soleimani in the region, using the Quds Force to achieve its goal of extending “friendship with the countries of the region.”
WOMEN GATHER at Baghdad Airport, where Iran’s Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in a US airstrike last year.WISSAM AL-OKAILI/REUTERS
It’s important to note here that he used the word “terror” several times and that Iran has recently accused Israel of “terror” attacks in Iran. Iran also bragged this week about defeating a “terrorist group” and other reports in Iran appeared to indicate that the Islamic Republic was angry at Azerbaijan, which it has accused of having close ties to Israel.
Iran’s top diplomat also accuses the US of “terrorism” and claims the US killing of Soleimani was “terrorism.” Pro-Iran groups often claim that America backs ISIS, even though it is fighting ISIS.
This means the Iranian use of the term “terror” is quite broad and may refer to Quds Force action against Israel, the US and other countries, as well as the battle against ISIS. Iran claims it is the “axis of resistance” in this framework. The publication of details of the Qaani meeting is intended to show that the new regime of Iran coordinates closely with the Quds Force.Iran’s IRGC Quds Force head hints at group’s power at home and Middle East
Qaani’s meeting with the Foreign Ministry is to show coordination between Iran’s diplomats and officers.
作者：GIDEON KOUTS / MAARIV
2021 年 10 月 1 日 09:21
（圖片來源：Maryam Kamyab/Mehr 通訊社）
代表們等待上個月在奧地利維也納舉行的關於恢復 2015 年伊朗核協議的談判的開始。（來源：歐盟駐維也納代表團/通過路透社的講義）
'War with Israel already started' says Iranian FM spokesman
A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told Maariv that a solution must be found for regional issues according to UN resolutions.
By GIDEON KOUTS / MAARIV
OCTOBER 1, 2021 09:21
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh
(photo credit: Maryam Kamyab/Mehr News Agency)
"The war with Israel has already started," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told Maariv. "Israel has carried out attacks that were intended to destroy our nuclear program for peaceful purposes. It murdered nuclear scientists and harmed the Iranian people. Iran is accused of terrorism, but there is no good or bad terrorist. The whole crisis in the region is Israel's fault."
Khatibzadeh later claimed that Israel had "done everything" to thwart the nuclear talks in Vienna and to cause conflict between Iran and the world powers. He accused the United States of "soft terrorism" by holding up medicine and starving the people of his country.
The Iranian spokesman said that Iran's strategic decision to return to the seventh round of nuclear talks in Vienna had already been made and that its country had already announced this two weeks ago to the EU representative responsible for the talks.
DELEGATES WAIT for the start of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, Austria, last month. (credit: EU DELEGATION IN VIENNA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Asked if he thought a return to the nuclear deal would prevent a military operation by Israel, the spokesman replied: "Israel has severely damaged our research and civilian system. There is talk of an Iranian nuclear threat, but Israel has hundreds of bombs, and it has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
However, Khatibzadeh, who spoke at the World Peace Forum, said that "the region is tired of wars. We must find a new approach to solving the problems according to UN resolutions. All parties must show political will for an arrangement."
2021 年 9 月 30 日 21:53
土耳其總統塔伊普·埃爾多安於 2020 年 8 月 7 日在土耳其伊斯坦布爾聖索菲亞大清真寺參加週五祈禱後與媒體交談。
土耳其總統雷傑普·塔伊普·埃爾多安 (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) 發表煽動性言論，抨擊美國官員與“恐怖分子”有關聯，此前土耳其與莫斯科舉行了高層會議。
2016 年 11 月 6 日，美國反伊斯蘭國聯盟特使布雷特麥格克在美國駐約旦安曼大使館舉行的新聞發布會上發表講話。（圖片來源：REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED）
美國認為 HTS 是一個與基地組織有聯繫的組織，該組織曾在伊德利卜省與土耳其合作，是一個類似於 ISIS 的恐怖組織。
美國還制裁了土耳其支持的極端組織 Ahrar al-Sharqiya，因為它在 2019 年 10 月土耳其入侵並佔領了敘利亞北部的部分地區時濫用職權。
這意味著土耳其和美國似乎都在指責對方支持恐怖分子。主要區別在於，Ahrar al-Sharqiya 和 HTS 等團體從事針對平民的恐嚇活動、鎮壓異議、謀殺和騷擾少數民族和婦女。美國支持的自衛隊沒有在敘利亞東部參與有記錄的恐怖襲擊。
土耳其聲稱自衛隊與 PKK 有聯繫，土耳其和美國都將其視為恐怖組織。土耳其入侵伊拉克北部的部分地區是為了打擊它聲稱的庫爾德工人黨。土耳其還對伊拉克辛賈爾的雅茲迪少數民族發動了多次空襲，聲稱正在打擊恐怖主義。
Turkey’s president bashes Biden admin as being 'arm-in-arm' with terrorists
Turkey singled out US White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk in the recent attack by Erdogan on the Biden administration.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 21:53
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks to media after attending Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey August 7, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER/FILE PHOTO)
Incendiary comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slamming US officials as being linked to “terrorists” came after Turkey held high-level meetings with Moscow.
Turkey opposes the US role in eastern Syria, where the US helped the local Syrian Democratic Forces defeat ISIS. Ankara’s ruling party, which has backed extremists in northern Syria and has ethnically cleansed Kurds, Christians and Yazidis, has frequently bashed the US in the past.
Turkey singled out US White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk in the recent attack by Erdogan on the Biden administration. Turkey’s Daily Sabah, a pro-government daily, said Erdogan was “speaking to reporters on his way back from Sochi, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.”
“McGurk supports terrorism and has almost become the PKK/YPG/PYD’s manager,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.
“It deeply disturbs me that this man is arm in arm with terrorists in an area where I’m fighting them,” he reportedly said.
The comments were reported in leading Turkish media, indicating that the ruling party wants the comments to be known widely.
Turkey has slammed McGurk and Biden in the past. During the US election campaign in 2020, Ankara and its media, which is almost all linked to the ruling party, often slammed Biden and was openly pro-Trump.
Turkey’s ruler, Erdogan, had close relations with Trump and often tried to use the media to get favors from the US, such as trying to portray the SDF as linked to “Antifa” during riots in the US.
In 2018, Turkey accused the US of training terrorists in eastern Syria. When Ankara uses the term “terrorists,” it frequently refers to Kurdish political groups on the far Left. There is no evidence of any “terrorism” by these groups in Syria.
Brett McGurk, U.S. envoy to the coalition against Islamic State, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, November 6, 2016. (credit: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)
The US views HTS, a group linked to al-Qaeda that has worked with Turkey in Idlib province, as being a terrorist group similar to ISIS.
The US has also sanctioned Ahrar al-Sharqiya, a Turkey-backed extremist group, for abuses in October 2019 when Turkey invaded and occupied part of northern Syria.
This means that both Turkey and the US appear to accuse each other of backing terrorists. The main difference is that groups such as Ahrar al-Sharqiya and HTS have engaged in terrorizing activities against civilians, crushing dissent and murdering and harassing minorities and women. The US-backed SDF has not engaged in documented terrorist attacks in eastern Syria.
Turkey claims the SDF is linked to the PKK, which both Turkey and the US view as a terrorist group. Turkey has invaded part of northern Iraq to fight what it claims is the PKK. Turkey has also launched numerous airstrikes on Yazidi minorities in Sinjar in Iraq, claiming it is fighting terrorism.
In one case, Ankara bombed a medical facility. It is unclear why Ankara’s claims to fight “terrorism” often coincide with bombing minorities in Iraq and Syria and carrying out attacks against Christian, Kurdish and Yazidi minorities.
The recent comments attacking McGurk, a key member of the Biden administration’s Middle East team, is designed to create a divide with Washington and to showcase Ankara’s close relations with Moscow. Ankara appears to be ditching any pretense it might work with the US now in Syria, using the usual bullying and hate rhetoric that underpins how Ankara treats the US. Ankara doesn’t use such language with Iran, Russia or other authoritarian regimes it prefers.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has drifted toward increased authoritarianism, suppressing minorities, women, LGBT-rights activists and the media. This also manifests itself in support for Hamas and anti-Israel and anti-US comments.
It is unclear if the US will respond to the incitement against McGurk and the US administration by Turkey, which claims to be a “NATO ally” of the United States.
2021 年 9 月 30 日 13:59
9 月 21 日，在聯合國大會第 76 屆會議期間，埃及總統塞西在紐約聯合國總部進行遠程講話。
（照片來源：（MARY ALTAFFER /POOL VIA REUTERS））
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Al-Ahram，埃及，9 月 20 日
過去幾週，塞西總統在他發表的幾次演講中重申了一個重要觀點：尊重宗教和信仰自由的必要性。在總統發表講話的同時，愛資哈爾大學比較法學和伊斯蘭法教授謝赫·艾哈邁德·卡里馬 (Sheikh Ahmad Karima) 提供的證據表明，這種自由源於伊斯蘭法本身。Sheikh Karima 指出，在可蘭經文本中，有幾節經文證實了人有選擇如何實踐信仰的自由。上週在國家電視台播出的一次採訪中，謝赫卡里馬警告那些聲稱代表伊斯蘭教發言並壟斷我國宗教的人。他強調，每個人都有權以自己的方式觀察。
Voices from the Arab press: Freedom of Belief and Religion in Egypt
In the past few weeks, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi repeated an important point in several of the speeches he delivered: the need to respect the freedom of religion and belief.
By THE MEDIA LINE
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 13:59
EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT Sisi speaks remotely during the 76th Session of the General Assembly at UN headquarters, New York, September 21.
(photo credit: (MARY ALTAFFER /POOL VIA REUTERS))
Freedom of Belief and Religion in Egypt
For more stories from The Media Line go to themedialine.org
Al-Ahram, Egypt, September 20
In the past few weeks, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi repeated an important point in several of the speeches he delivered: the need to respect the freedom of religion and belief. In parallel with the president’s remarks, Sheikh Ahmad Karima, professor of comparative jurisprudence and Islamic law at Al-Azhar University, provided evidence that such freedom had strong origins in Islamic law itself. In the Koranic text, Sheikh Karima pointed out, there were several verses confirming man’s freedom to choose how to practice his belief. In an interview aired on national television last week, Sheikh Karima warned against those who claimed to speak on behalf of Islam and monopolize religion in our country. Each person, he emphasized, had the right to observe in his own way.
Another point raised by the sheikh was the origin of this monopoly. According to his analysis, it was the Ottomans who changed the discourse surrounding religion in the Middle East, and turned it from a religion that can be practiced in a multitude of ways into a religion that must only be practiced based on one law. This was also the source of a lot of our region’s religious strife. Unfortunately, despite these clarifications from leading religious scholars, extremists in our midst still insist on the correctness of their religious interpretations and worldviews. They automatically attack any attempt to reform religion and vehemently oppose the principles of equality, tolerance, and social cohesion. We thus have no other choice but to confront them through all means available at our disposal. We must take advantage of media outlets to spread a different message of tolerance and hope. We must enact legislative reforms that enhance people’s rights to practice religion freely, through whatever rituals they see
fit. President Sisi provided a great example in authorizing the establishment and expansion of churches alongside mosques. The only way to battle religious fundamentalism is to educate the masses against it and outlaw the activity of extremists. Only then will we convince the public that their ideas are dangerous and must be decried and condemned by all of us.
– Ahmed Abdel Tawab
2021 年 9 月 30 日 21:30
2021 年 5 月 22 日星期六，成千上萬的猶太人和阿拉伯人在特拉維夫遊行，爭取和平與共存。
聯合國安理會應投資於基層和平建設，而不是通過關於以巴衝突的決議，活動家梅雷迪思·羅斯巴特 (Meredith Rothbart) 週三在紐約集會時告訴這個由 15 名成員組成的機構。
“我是以色列猶太人，”草根組織 Amal Tikvah 的聯合創始人兼首席執行官羅斯巴特說，該組織旨在促進以色列人和巴勒斯坦人之間的公民社會和平建設。“我是一名猶太復國主義者，在耶路撒冷與你交談，”她解釋道。
巴勒斯坦和以色列婦女遊行，這是 2017 年 10 月 8 日在約旦河西岸由“婦女工資和平”組織組織的一項活動的一部分，該活動呼籲結束約旦河附近的以巴衝突。（來源：REUTERS /Ronen Zvulun)
“以色列的限制性和規劃政策阻止巴勒斯坦人支付或獲得建築許可。這導致西岸和東耶路撒冷 C 區的大多數巴勒斯坦人和貝都因人容易遭受房屋損失。房屋拆毀和暴力的後果對這些地區的巴勒斯坦人的心理健康產生了深遠的影響。”
愛爾蘭大使聯合國杰拉爾丁·伯恩·納森 (Geraldine Byrne Nason) 曾邀請兩位年輕女性發言，她的國家在 9 月擔任了輪值理事會主席。
UNSC must invest in grassroots Israeli-Palestinian peace, activist says
"The UN has passed resolution after resolution," Rothbart said. "But in order to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians, I ask you to consider investing in social peace."
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 21:30
Thousands of Jews and Arabs march in Tel Aviv for peace and coexistence, Saturday, May 22, 2021.
(photo credit: STANDING TOGETHER)
The UN Security Council should invest in grassroots peace-building rather than passing resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, activist Meredith Rothbart told the 15-member body when it gathered in New York on Wednesday.
“I’m a Jewish-Israeli,” said Rothbart, co-founder and CEO of the grassroots group Amal Tikvah that promotes civic society peace-building between Israelis and Palestinians. “I am a religious Zionist speaking to you from Jerusalem," she explained.
"The UN has passed resolution after resolution," Rothbart said. "But in order to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians, I ask you to consider investing in social peace. Commit to investing in the infrastructure needed for real peace. Help us build a multilateral inter-entity.”
Rothbart said that UN investments could transform small-scale projects such as those focused on climate change, food security, female entrepreneurship, or adjacent community centers.
It was no coincidence, Rothbart said, that she had been invited to speak by the Irish Ambassador because that country knows the “power of civil society peace-building. It is clear to all who are observing our political reality that negotiations at the highest diplomatic levels would not result in substantive peace right now.
“The Oslo Accords failed because the agreement came from a secret process between elite leaders with no women, no religious leaders, and no representative of those wishing to disrupt the process with violence. Let’s not do that again.
Palestinian and Israeli women march, as part of an event organised by ''Women Wage Peace'' group calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, near the Jordan River, in the West Bank October 8, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
“We know that civil society peace-building is not only an affirmative step, but it also works and it is a required precondition for a negotiated peace agreement, especially in an intractable conflict.”
The “intractable nature” of the conflict must be broken “into manageable parts” that can be tackled “one by one,” said Rothbart.
“We must build a popular belief that peace is actually possible, and that all people, Israelis and Palestinians, have an integral role and a responsibility in its pursuit,” she said.
Palestinian activist Mai Farsakh, of the Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center also addressed the UNSC at Ireland’s invitation.
She focused her remarks on Israelis settlement expansion, outlining the harm it causes to Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
“Israeli actions are undermining a two-state resolution and the possibility of peace in the region,” she said. “Settler violence plays a key role in maintaining West Bank settlements. Such violence takes the form of verbal assault and intimidation, physical attacks up to murder, destruction of property, [and] fencing off of land among other measures.
“Israel’s restrictive and planning policies that prevent Palestinians from affording or obtaining building permits. This leads the majority of Palestinians and Bedouin in Area C of the West Bank and east Jerusalem vulnerable to homes loss. The ramifications of home demolitions and violence have far-reaching ramifications on the mental healths of Palestinians in these areas.”
Irish Ambassador UN Geraldine Byrne Nason, whose country held the rotating council presidency in September, had invited both young women to speak.
“We have heard your voices,” she told them. “It is my view, it is your generation and maybe your gender that holds the key for a brighter future for both Palestine and Israel.”
2021 年 9 月 30 日 23:38
2020 年 11 月 9 日，阿姆哈拉地區民兵成員乘坐卡車前往與埃塞俄比亞提格雷接壤的阿姆哈拉地區桑賈的提格雷人民解放陣線（TPLF）。
美國譴責埃塞俄比亞驅逐 7名聯合國官員，白宮新聞秘書 Jen Psaki 週四表示，並警告華盛頓將毫不猶豫地對那些阻礙該國人道主義工作的人實施制裁。
埃塞俄比亞總理阿比·艾哈邁德週日在他的 Facebook 頁面上發布了一段來自亞的斯亞貝巴的視頻。（信用：屏幕截圖/路透社）
自 11 月衝突爆發以來，已有數千人喪生，超過 200 萬人逃離家園。7 月，戰鬥從提格雷蔓延到鄰近的阿姆哈拉和阿法爾地區，數十萬人流離失所。
“我們必須在幾週內看到有意義的步驟，以啟動討論以實現談判停火，允許不受阻礙的人道主義准入並確保尊重人權。如果沒有重大進展，我們將採取行動 - 我們有辦法做到這一點，”Psaki 說.
US condemns Ethiopia's expulsion of seven senior UN officials
The White House warned it will not hesitate to use sanctions against those who obstruct humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 23:38
Members of Amhara region militias ride on their truck as they head to face the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), in Sanja, Amhara region near a border with Tigray, Ethiopia November 9, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI)
The United States condemns Ethiopia's expulsion of seven United Nations officials, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday, warning that Washington will not hesitate to use sanctions against those who obstruct humanitarian efforts in the country.
The expulsions were announced by Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs two days after the world body's aid chief said that a government blockade of humanitarian aid had likely forced hundreds of thousands of people in the northern region of Tigray into famine.
"The US government condemns in the strongest possible terms the government of Ethiopia's unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations," Psaki told reporters at a regular news briefing.
"This is a stain on our collective conscience, and it must stop."
Psaki called on the UN Security Council and other countries to take urgent action to make clear to the Ethiopian government that impeding humanitarian operations is unacceptable.
ETHIOPIAN PRIME Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks from Addis Ababa in a video posted on his Facebook page on Sunday. (credit: SCREENSHOT/REUTERS)
Washington has repeatedly called for a negotiated end to a conflict in the northern region of Tigray between federal forces and those aligned with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party that controls the region.
Since the conflict erupted in November, thousands have been killed and more than two million have fled their homes. Fighting spread in July from Tigray into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
Psaki warned that absent clear and concrete changes, the United States will impose sanctions.
She said President Joe Biden's administration is preparing to take "aggressive action" under an executive order issued earlier this month that allows Washington to impose sanctions on parties to the conflict if they obstruct humanitarian access, commit serious human rights abuse or prolong the conflict.
"We must see meaningful steps within weeks to initiate discussions to achieve a negotiated ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access and ensure respect for human rights. Absent significant progress, we'll take action - and we have the methods to do that," Psaki said.
以色列必須停止虐待以色列國防軍士兵 - 社論
2021 年 9 月 30 日 20:54
今年早些時候，社交網絡上發布了鴿子坐在 IDF 餐廳內碗中的照片。緊隨其後的N12調查報告發現，在許多軍事基地，食物是不可食用的，在某些情況下，甚至是危險的。
2018 年 4 月 1 日，訓鴿師 Haim Wolf 在以色列基布茲 Givat Brenner 抱著一隻信鴿。照片拍攝於 2018 年 4 月 1 日（圖片來源：RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS）
Kohavi 上任後不久，他向以色列國防軍高級指揮部展示了他的基本意識形態。他說：“人是寶貴的，家庭是寶貴的。” “我們不會僅僅因為我們讓他進入 bakum [IDF 的入口處理指揮基地] 就認為這個人是理所當然的……我們應該以有尊嚴和人道的方式對待他們。我希望所有士兵在他們的基地都有賓至如歸的感覺。”
Israel must stop mistreating IDF soldiers - editorial
Why are soldiers, who are giving two to three years of their lives to serve the country, treated this way?
SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 20:54
IDF soldiers guard a fence near the West Bank.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Last week, outrageous photos of soldiers cramming inside the trunk of a bus were posted on social media, which went viral within minutes.
The photos were taken at a Central Bus Station in one of Israel’s largest cities. The soldiers, who could not find a place on the bus, decided to risk their lives and ride inside the trunk, fearing that they would be late arriving at their base, and would be punished.
This scene is not rare: every Sunday, soldiers throughout the country struggle to find seats on buses and trains that will take them to their bases and outposts. Soldiers sit on the floor of buses or on each other’s laps on the train and bus. The overcrowding also causes soldiers to gather in masses near traffic junctions, putting their lives — and drivers’ lives — at risk.
The reason is that the Transportation Ministry and Defense Ministry are not allocating enough means of transportation for soldiers to arrive at their bases on time. At the same time, the IDF does not show consideration to those who cannot get to the base on time, forcing soldiers to risk their lives in order to do so.
This phenomenon is just another indication that the lives of soldiers, and the conditions of their service, are not taken seriously by the state’s institutions. It seems like officials in the defense ministry, and in other ministries, believe that if these young women and men are willing to risk their lives for the country, they might as well be treated as inferior.
Earlier this year, images of pigeons sitting inside serving bowls inside an IDF dining room were posted on social networks. It was followed by an N12 investigative report that found that in many military bases, the food is inedible, and in some cases, it is even dangerous.
Pigeon handler Haim Wolf holds a carrier pigeon in Kibbutz Givat Brenner, Israel, April 1, 2018. Picture taken April 1, 2018 (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
This adds to crumbling walls and deteriorating living conditions in some old Golan Heights bases, like cold water in the showers and other complaints that are heard regularly by soldiers serving in the IDF.
Why are soldiers, who are giving two to three years of their lives to serve the country, treated this way? Why can’t they have decent living conditions through these years of service, when many of them are risking their lives on the ground, in the air, and at sea protecting our borders?
In August, the government approved an addition to the defense budget for pensions for IDF officers.
Whose salaries were not raised? The regular soldiers. Those who receive a ridiculously low allowance, which is not enough for some of them to pay their bills, will keep receiving the same amount.
After heavy criticism, it was reported that IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered a raise in soldiers’ salaries by 25%-50%. However, this has not happened yet.
A little after Kohavi assumed office, he presented his basic ideology to the IDF senior command. “The person is precious, the family is precious,” he said. “We will not take the person for granted just because we got him in the bakum [the IDF’s entrance processing command base]… We should treat them in a dignified and humane way. I want all the soldiers to feel at home on their bases.”
It has been two and a half years since that speech, and it’s still a very long way to go to fix things.
Soldiers should not be taken for granted. It is true that every single person born in Israel grows up knowing that he or she is expected to join the army. It is a necessity in Israel, and no one doubts it.
But this is not an excuse for the state to insult the lives of the soldiers.
We should remember that these are among the best years in a person’s life. In other countries, young men and women at this age are going to university, investing in themselves and being exposed to new ideas.
The country should appreciate what it has in its hands, and take good care of it.
Danny Gold 博士：領導以色列開發新武器的人
Gold 擁有電子工程和商業管理兩個博士學位，於 2016 年開始在國防部研究與發展局任職。
2021 年 10 月 1 日 10:36
MAFAT 負責人 Danny Gold
（圖片來源：MARC ISRAEL SELLEM）
準將的辦公室。（已退役）國防部研究與發展局（DDR&D，希伯來語為 MAFAT）的負責人 Danny Gold 博士可以俯瞰特拉維夫，在晴朗的日子裡可以看到耶路撒冷山。
這是一個稀疏的辦公室，但在國防部 (IMOD) 和 IDF 的 Kirya 軍事總部的頂層，這裡是關於該國未來武器和技術的所有重大決策的製定地——因為隨著國家的敵人繼續發展他們的軍隊能力，以色列需要保持遙遙領先，預測未來戰爭將需要什麼類型的技術。
MAFAT 是國防部 (IMOD) 和 IDF 的聯合機構，由於兩者之間的整合與合作，在國防研發方面取得了非凡的成果。
它負責開發國防技術的創新概念、管理 IMOD 的短期和長期項目、監督國防技術的研發、與國際合作夥伴合作以及培訓下一代以色列國防技術專業人員。
Gold 擁有電子工程和商業管理兩個博士學位，在 IMOD 和以色列空軍擔任過多個職位後，於 2016 年開始擔任職務，包括 IMOD/IDF 研發部門負責人、電子和電子戰負責人以及軍備和航空電子設備的負責人。
坐在辦公室裡，戈爾德對 MAFAT 和數百名服務人員、文職員工以及以色列國防和商業公司所做的工作感到興奮。
MAFAT 正在研究兩個基於激光的系統。Rafael Advanced Defense Systems 正在完成的一項工作是，將與 Iron Dome 集成的地面高功率激光器的研發處於高級階段。與此同時，MAFAT 還與 Elbit 合作開發機載高功率激光器。
MAFAT 與 IDF 和民用公司合作，並與世界上許多國家進行廣泛合作，在提供使 IDF 在所有領域包抄敵人成為可能的技術方面至關重要。
MAFAT 的下屬機構之一是以色列導彈防禦組織 (IMDO)，負責該國所有導彈防禦系統的研發。Gold 多年來一直致力於以色列的導彈防禦系統，並於 2012 年因其發起和管理鐵穹而獲得以色列國防獎。IMDO 與美國導彈防禦局 (MDA) 合作開發各種系統，由 Moshe Patel 領導。
以色列應對日益增長的導彈威脅的綜合保護傘包括旨在擊落短程火箭的鐵穹頂、攔截地球大氣層外彈道導彈的箭（Arrow-2 和 Arrow-3）系統以及大衛的吊索導彈防禦系統旨在攔截戰術彈道導彈、中遠程火箭以及射程在 40 至 300 公里之間的巡航導彈。
OFEK-16 衛星于 2020 年 7 月 6 日在以色列中部發射升空。（圖片來源：國防部發言人辦公室/路透社的講義）
“沒有哪個系統像 Iron Dome 那樣經過更新，”他說，並解釋說自 2011 年 4 月首次部署以來，已經進行了九次以上的重大更新。
MAFAT 還在開發新版本的 Arrow 武器系統——Arrow-5——以取代已經服役 20 多年的 Arrow-2。
Iron Dome 開發商 Danny Gold 博士專注於以色列的下一代武器（來源：MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST）
伊朗還在繼續發展生產核武器庫以及能夠攜帶核彈頭的彈道導彈的能力，據戈爾德說，“伊朗導彈需要 10 到 12 分鐘才能到達以色列。”
伊斯蘭共和國有幾枚可以到達以色列領土的火箭，包括射程可達 2,000 公里的 Khoramshahr 2 和 Shahab-3。
在 6 月的試驗中，安裝在一架民用賽斯納飛機上的激光系統在不同的距離和高度摧毀了幾架無人機。據國防部稱，以色列是世界上首批成功將激光技術集成到飛機上並在作戰場景中攔截目標的國家之一。
這些試驗是 MAFAT 和 Elbit Systems 多年試點計劃的第一階段，該計劃旨在開發一種空中激光系統，以應對以色列面臨的一系列威脅，包括遠程火箭射擊。
但是原型機還需要幾年時間才能投入使用，希望再過十年 MAFAT 將擁有一個可以降低目標的系統。
MAFAT 負責人 Danny Gold 博士在特拉維夫國防部大樓（圖片來源：MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST）
另一個有助於密切關注伊朗構成的威脅的 MAFAT 部門是空間和衛星管理局，負責開發衛星及其發射系統。
以色列是世界上擁有衛星發射能力的 13 個國家之一併不是空穴來風。發射本身就是一項偉大的成就：它是向西進行的，反對地球自轉，因此它的軌道將它帶到地中海上空，以便在發射期間避開任何敵方領土。
MAFAT 目前正在研究重量小於 10 公斤的納米和微型衛星，這些衛星可用於軍事和民用目的。但是 MAFAT 並不是從頭開始這個項目。相反，他們正在利用民用市場上已有的技術，並“增加一個秘密層”，戈爾德說。
採用現有的民用技術並將其用於以色列目的是 MAFAT 的擅長之處。
MAFAT 目前正在開展 1,500 多個不同的項目，其中數十億謝克爾用於新興技術。MAFAT 也在採用軍用級技術並將其反轉用於民用。
Dr. Danny Gold: The man leading Israel's charge for new weaponry
Gold, who has two PhDs in Electronic Engineering and Business Management, began his role in the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research and Development in 2016.
OCTOBER 1, 2021 10:36
Head of MAFAT Danny Gold
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The office of Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Danny Gold, head of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research and Development (DDR&D, or MAFAT in Hebrew), has a commanding view over Tel Aviv, and on a clear day one can see the Jerusalem Hills.
It’s a sparse office, but on the top floor of the Ministry of Defense (IMOD) and IDF’s Kirya Military Headquarters, it’s where all the major decisions about the country’s future weaponry and technology are made – because as the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel needs to stay far ahead, predicting what types of technology will be needed in future wars.
“We work to stay two or three generations ahead of our enemies,” Gold told the Magazine. “People know the problems; we need to find the ideas to solve those problems. We take the vision and make it a national mission.”
MAFAT, a joint Ministry of Defense (IMOD) and IDF body, produces exceptional results in both defense research and development because of the integration and cooperation between the two.
It is responsible for developing innovative concepts for defense technology, managing the IMOD’s short- and long-term projects, overseeing the research and development of defense technology, work with international partners, and training the next generation of Israel’s defense technology professionals.
Gold, who has two PhDs in Electronic Engineering and Business Management, began his role in 2016 after holding several positions in the IMOD and Israel Air Force, including as head of the IMOD/IDF’s Research and Development Unit, head of electronics and electronic warfare and the head of armament and avionics.
BORDER Police officer checks a unit at a laser system aimed to intercept incendiary balloons, near the Gaza border. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
State of the art
Sitting in his office, Gold was excited about the work done by MAFAT and the hundreds of service members, civilian employees and Israeli defense and commerial companies.
MAFAT is working on two laser-based systems. One which is being done with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is in advanced stages of research and development of a ground-based high-powered laser that will be integrated with the Iron Dome. In parallel, MAFAT is also working on an airborne-based high-powered laser with Elbit.
“We set the state of the art,” he said. “We are setting the new frontiers of technology innovation and creativity in the world. Sometimes the ideas come from the top, but sometimes from the bottom up. And these are always ideas that no one thought about before.”
MAFAT, which works with the IDF and civilian companies and engages in extensive cooperation with many countries around the world, is critical in providing the technology that makes it possible for the IDF to outflank its enemies in all areas.
It continues to invest significant effort and funds into safeguarding the borders from existing and future threats, be they from missiles or drones, cyberattacks or threats from underwater and underground.
“We need to find ways to deal with anti-tank guided missiles, rockets – the spectrum, as well as make more effective and precision munitions,” Gold noted.
And with Israel’s enemies working around the clock to find ways to kill and maim Israeli citizens and Jews around the world, “we need to be fast and not waste time.”
One of MAFAT’s subdivisions is Israel’s Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), responsible for the R&D of all of the country’s missile defense systems. Gold has worked on Israel’s missile defense systems for years, and in 2012 was awarded the Israel Defense Prize for his initiation and management of the Iron Dome. IMDO, which works alongside the American Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on the development of the various systems, is headed by Moshe Patel.
Israel’s comprehensive protective umbrella that counters the growing missile threats include the Iron Dome designed to shoot down short-range rockets, the Arrow (Arrow-2 and Arrow-3) system that intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the David’s Sling missile defense system designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40km and 300km.
THE OFEK-16 satellite is shot into space in central Israel, July 6, 2020. (credit: Defense Ministry Spokesperson’s Office/Handout via Reuters)
Updating the next generation
Israel continuously improves the technology behind the country’s anti-missile systems, and Gold told the Magazine that the next generation of the Iron Dome, which is an integral component of Israel’s multi-layered defense array, is currently being updated.
“There’s no system that has been updated like the Iron Dome,” he said, explaining that there’s been over nine significant updates since it was first deployed in April 2011.
MAFAT is also working on a new version of the Arrow weapon system – the Arrow-5 – to replace the Arrow-2, which has been in service for over 20 years.
According to Gold, all these systems are crucial in handling the growing threat posed by enemy rocket salvos as well as Iranian missiles.
Israel considers Iran’s nuclear program the No. 1 concern, and though Iran has consistently denied seeking to build a nuclear bomb, no government in the West believes it, and tensions have risen as the West seeks to resume talks on reviving the deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iron Dome developer Dr. Danny Gold is laser-focused on Israel’s next-generation weaponry (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Iran is also continuing to develop the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapons arsenal as well as produce ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and according to Gold, “it would take 10-12 minutes for an Iranian missile to reach Israel.”
The Islamic Republic has several rockets that could reach Israeli territory, including the Khoramshahr 2 with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers, and the Shahab-3.
The IDF has admitted that Iran’s conventional missile threat is a major worry for Israel, which despite its multi-layered air defenses, may not be able to contend with intensive missile barrages fired by Iran and its proxy groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon or Shi’ite militias in Iraq.
The laser system
MAFAT has also been working on developing a laser system that would be able to take down incoming rockets or missiles launched toward Israel.
The IMOD has already successfully carried out a series of interceptions using an airborne laser system installed on a civilian plane, downing several drones.
During the June trials, the laser system that had been installed on a civilian Cessna aircraft destroyed several unmanned aerial vehicles at different ranges and altitudes. According to the Defense Ministry, Israel is among the first countries in the world to succeed in integrating laser technology onto an airplane and intercept targets in an operational scenario.
The trials were the first phase in a multi-year pilot program of MAFAT and Elbit Systems to develop an aerial laser system to counter a number of threats facing Israel, including long-range rocket fire.
The method of airborne interception using a powerful laser has many advantages, including a low cost per interception, the ability to effectively intercept long-range threats at high altitudes regardless of weather conditions, and the ability to defend vast areas.
“From the moment a laser is on the target, it takes a few seconds before they are downed,” Gold said, adding that such a system would be used alongside the Iron Dome.
But it will be another few years before a prototype will be operational, and hopefully in another decade MAFAT will have a system that can down targets.
MAFAT head Dr. Danny Gold at the Ministry of Defense building in Tel Aviv (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Another MAFAT subdivision that is instrumental in keeping an eye on the threats posed by Iran is the Space and Satellite Administration, responsible for the development of satellites and their launching systems.
In July, the Ofek-16 satellite was launched into orbit using a Shavit launcher, which according to foreign reports is used to launch Jericho ballistic missiles. It later sent back a number of images, including over the Syrian city of Palmyra close to where Iranian forces are known to operate.
One of 13 countries
That Israel is one of the 13 countries in the world with satellite launching capabilities is not a given. And the launch alone is in itself a great achievement: it is carried out to the west, against the rotation of the Earth, so that its trajectory takes it over the Mediterranean Sea in order to avoid any enemy territory during the launch period.
MAFAT is now working on nano and microsatellites that weigh less than 10 kilos, which can be used for both military and civilian purposes. But MAFAT is not starting from scratch with this project. Instead, they are taking the technology already available on the civilian market and “adding a secret layer,” Gold said.
Taking civilian technology already available and adapting it for Israeli purposes is something MAFAT excels in.
“We don’t want to start from the beginning if it’s already there,” Gold explained. “We are a huge R&D and infrastructure center in Israel,” with thousands who use their creativity and brainstorming to come up with the right solutions.
MAFAT is working on dozens of dual-use projects, including one that will help troops in the field as well as solve the growing issue of traffic in Israel. Another project involves energy sources, to free soldiers from some of the burden of carrying heavy equipment when going into battle.
The Carmel AFV (called Carmel for the Hebrew acronym for Advanced Ground Combat Vehicle) is under development by MAFAT and the Defense Ministry’s Merkava Tank Administration, and will constitute a quantum leap in the field of armored vehicles. It is expected to be at the forefront of the military’s new combat concept, which is based on autonomous and automatic maneuvering capabilities, artificial intelligence, hybrid propulsion and more.
Designed to play a lead role on the future battlefield, the next-generation combat vehicle takes artificial intelligence capabilities that enable full situational awareness and fast responses to enemy threats while drastically reducing the workload of the crew.
With numerous sensors and cameras, the Carmel allows the crew to order autonomous actions such as searching for several enemy targets simultaneously, and then prioritizing the targets and off-road driving.
Artificial intelligence capabilities
The Carmel is just one of several platforms being designed to use artificial intelligence capabilities that enable full situational awareness and fast responses to enemy threats, while drastically reducing the workload of the crew as well as the threats posed to troops on the battlefield.
Since current explosive detection technologies still pose a significant risk to personnel, MAFAT is working on biological engineering projects that would take bacteria or germs and tailor them to generate a signal in the presence of explosives.
The technology is not new. In the mid-1990s, Robert Burlage worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to get bacteria to light up in response to organic waste and land mine chemicals. In Israel, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have also been working for the past decade on developing such sensors using E.coli bacteria.
“If I can take bacteria and bioengineer them or change them so that when they detect explosives they will do something like emit light, and I get the light by drones, [then] it’s a good way to detect buried explosives,” Gold said.
There are tools to bioengineer the germs so that when they come close to explosives they sense them and create light. It’s not science fiction – it’s a technology that’s been demonstrated before.
There are over 1,500 different projects currently being worked on by MAFAT, with billions of shekels being placed on emerging technology. MAFAT is also taking military-grade technology and reversing it for civilian use.
“We want to take huge the medical, commercial and academic knowledge and the investment of billions of dollars and make it dual-use in Israel,” Gold said. “And we can give back – the commercial market can take our technology and use it.”
And all of that, he said, is because “we want to be able to help both civilians and the military.”