Israel media review

Sanction nation: 7 things to know for August 8

As Iran enters an old-new reality of economic pressure from abroad, local media contemplate the Islamic regime’s next move

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An illegal street money changer poses with his US banknotes in downtown Tehran, Iran, August 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
An illegal street money changer poses with his US banknotes in downtown Tehran, Iran, August 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

1. With an outstretched arm: The re-imposition of sanctions this week by US President Donald Trump continues to dominate the agenda of politicians and Israeli media outlets alike, with many from both camps showering unprecedented praise on the move and the American leader.

  • While in Israel Hayom, which is considered closely associated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday was mostly dedicated to celebrating the sanctions, today’s paper is all about practicalities. In an article titled “And the arm is still outstretched,” the daily enthusiastically details the restrictions that are set to be put back in place, making it a point to stress that the limitations will no doubt have a crippling effect on Iran’s economy.
  • As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the article explains, the Iran government can no longer buy US banknotes and any entity trading with Tehran will automatically be placed in a US Treasury blacklist. Trump has warned (albiet on Twitter) that those blacklisted will be prevented from dealing with the US in the future.
  • Sanctions on the Islamic Republic are set to get even heavier in November, when the energy sector will join in on Trump’s trade ban, and oil buyers as well will be forced to stop purchasing Iranian crude.

2. Piddly protests: Meanwhile, within Iran itself, leaders’ vows not to bend in the face of American pressure are being drowned out by mass protests rocking the country.

  • Since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal in May the Iranian rial has slipped to record lows, and has consequently led many in the authoritarian country to dare to explicitly call for an end to the rule of Iran’s Islamist leadership.
  • However, Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el notes the demonstrations have so far remained sporadic and do not effectively threaten the regime in Tehran as a whole.

3. Not a one-off: On that note, Bar’el goes on to explain that the Iranian leadership has explicitly decided that it would not pull out of the nuclear deal, which is still adhered to by the European powers who signed it, as well as China and Russia.

  • “Rouhani’s willingness to continue with diplomatic moves on condition that the sanctions be removed and the United States returns to the nuclear agreement indicate that Iran does not view the agreement as a one-time event,” Bar’el writes.
  • Bar’el also posits that the anti-Iran moves by the US may actually strengthen the regime, which will likely do anything in its power to “mobilize the public against the enemy that seeks to topple the regime.” He adds that “therefore, opposition to the regime at this time [will be considered by many in Iran as] tantamount to betraying the homeland.”

4. Optimism in Gaza: Closer to home, a senior Hamas member signaled the terror group was optimistic regarding efforts to broker a ceasefire with the Jewish state, saying talks on an agreement would likely wrap up by the end of August.

  • According to Haaretz, the official said the ceasefire would last at least five years, and that the truce deal would include a returning of the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during 2014’s Gaza war and whose remains are believed to be held by Hamas.

5. On the line: Goldin’s family has been in the spotlight over the past days following the publication of a heated exchange between the soldier’s mother and the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu.

  • According to a report in Israel’s Hadashot news broadcaster, in a June 2017 phone call, Sara Netanyahu told Leah Goldin to stop her criticism of the prime minister.
  • The report comes after earlier this week Israel’s Channel 10 said that Sara Netanyahu called Goldin and her husband “ingrates,” in a phone call two years ago. Netanyahu also threatened that the release of Goldin’s remains could be delayed as an act of political retribution.

6. Sea-stopper: As part of Israel’s efforts to rein in on Hamas and halt terrorist attacks of any sorts against civilians, the IDF has in recent days released details of its progress in building a naval barrier along the northern shore of the Gaza Strip.

  • The barrier, according to the IDF, will be 200 meters long, 50 meters wide and will include a six-meter high fence atop of it.
  • The barrier will also consist of three layers. One of the layers will be below sea level, another layer will be made of stone and the third layer will be made of barbed wire.

7. Coast is toast: While the naval barrier is deemed by security officials as essential to Israel’s safety, some have voiced concerns over the structure’s environmental implications.

  • The Environmental Protection Ministry has warned that the barrier will lead to a withdrawal of up to 50 meters along the Zikim beach for nearly a kilometer, as a result of blocking the flow of natural sand in the sea.
  • The Defense Ministry, however, says it took these considerations into account and determined that the consequences are minor, and that it will in any case monitor changes in the coastal line to assure that the effects remain contained.

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