Israel’s Newest Security Threat – Is the US Next?

“The Chinese are imposing a kind of sanction on us. They don’t officially declare it, but they are delaying shipments to Israel…. In electronic products, there are tens of thousands of components, but if even one component doesn’t arrive, we cannot deliver the product.” — Unnamed senior figure in a factory, Ynet, December 24, 2023.

Also immensely disturbing is that “massive” amounts of advanced Chinese military equipment were found in Gaza by the IDF during its military operations there.

“[I]f you set up systems with technology for critical infrastructure, like electricity, energy, water, transport, these are tied to one another. One can be used to bring the other down.” — Harel Manshari, Head of Cyber at the Holon Institute of Technology and research fellow at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, JNS, January 8, 2024.

China recently hosted delegations from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, ostensibly to facilitate “unity” between the two factions, all the while pretending to be a neutral mediator interested in peace in the region.

Is the enemy, already inside Israel’s gates, also inside the US?

The Iranian-orchestrated Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 — which resulted in mass rapes, the murders of 1,200 men, women, children and infants; taking more than 250 hostages and firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and cities — has shown that China, which Israel might have thought was an ally, turned out to be, sadly, more of an enemy.

China refused to condemn Hamas and its terrorist invasion of Israel, choosing instead to condemn Israel just a week after the massacre and before Israel had even launched its ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s actions in Gaza have gone “beyond the scope of self-defense” and the Israeli government must “cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza,” China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on October 15.

In contrast to earlier conflicts between Hamas and Israel, China has now openly embraced Hamas.

On March 17, in Qatar, Chinese diplomat Wang Kejian met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and said:

"... China's firm positions towards the Palestinian issue and its standing by the just demands of the Palestinian people for freedom, independence, and statehood.... Hamas is part of the Palestinian national fabric and China is keen on relations with it."

At the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, where South Africa and other countries accused Israel of “genocide,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor, Ma Xinmin, defended Hamas:

"Palestinian people's use of force to resist foreign oppression and complete the establishment of an independent state is an inalienable right... Armed struggle in this context [the October 7 massacre] is distinguished from acts of terrorism."

China has used Chinese-owned TikTok to incite and brainwash Western children, teenagers and young adults to hate Israel and to “free Palestine.” The less-than-charming results can be seen on university campuses and even high schools across the US. One Chinese social media video bragged that “TikTok Has Won Big for Palestine.” China is evidently seeking to undermine the United States as much — or more — as it is seeking to undermine Israel.

According to Michael Singh, head of The Washington Institute for Near East Polic:

"This approach is a stark departure from Beijing's past impassivity toward Middle East conflicts in which Chinese officials had usually sought to avoid entanglement. Rather, it reflects the government's new inclination to use far-flung conflicts as opportunities to undermine the United States."

“China has changed its attitude to Israel dramatically and it’s gone totally towards a position of anti-Semitism now,” an unnamed Israeli intelligence source said.

"Before October 7, the Chinese loved Israel and Jews and felt a sense of admiration [for them] but now, the media coverage hasn't even shown the Chinese public what happened on October 7, only the aftermath. The regime is brainwashing the public in a totally different direction and it's happening at an unprecedented pace."

“It’s just pure maths,” said Tuvia Gering, a specialist in China at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

"There's only one tiny Israel, and there's only one country that supports it, which is the US. Well, you have today 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and that's a lot of votes in the [UN] General Assembly."

Israel has had diplomatic ties with China for more than three decades, and has cultivated increasingly close-knit ties with it for the past decade, especially after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2017 visit to China which led to 25 cooperation agreements, including in science, technology, transport, food and agriculture, at an estimated value of $2 billion. At that time, Netanyahu expressed interest in joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative and invited China to build infrastructure projects in Israel.

Netanyahu’s invitation has since led to China’s deep involvement in Israeli infrastructure. That includes building the new automated deep-sea port in Haifa Bay; the Carmel Tunnels in Haifa; a railway tunnel in northern Israel; a port in Ashdod, and the Tel Aviv light rail system. China also manages some desalination and electricity infrastructure in Israel. Between 2002 and 2020, Chinese companies, including Alibaba and Huawei, invested in 463 Israeli companies, predominantly in the technology sector, especially in the life sciences, software development and IT sectors. Fifty-three percent of the Chinese investors in Israeli companies were state-owned, according to a 2021 study. China controls Tnuva, Israel’s milk and dairy giant, as well as the crop-protection company Adama Agricultural Solutions. In addition, Israeli universities all have partnerships with Chinese universities.

China’s energetic embrace of Hamas — whose officials have vowed to repeat the October 7 attack, time and again, until Israel is annihilated — therefore, appears to have come as something of a shock to Israel, mixed, apparently, with deep disappointment.

In December 2023, Israeli tech companies and manufacturers reported that while China had not officially announced sanctions against Israel, Chinese suppliers had begun to make it difficult for them to import necessary materials.

“The Chinese are imposing a kind of sanction on us. They don’t officially declare it, but they are delaying shipments to Israel,” one unnamed senior figure in a factory told Ynet.

"They have various excuses and pretexts, such as requiring suppliers from China to obtain export licenses to Israel that did not exist before. Additionally, they demand that we fill out numerous forms, causing significant delays. This has never happened to us before. We are talking about many different types of components. In electronic products, there are tens of thousands of components, but if even one component doesn't arrive, we cannot deliver the product."

In January 2024, COSCO, China’s state-owned shipping giant, cut ties with Israel. The company announced that it would cease operations in Israel. According to Ynet, the decision seemed “a principal decision by the Chinese to no longer operate with ports in Israel.”

The decision by COSCO is all the more remarkable, because Chinese state-owned companies built, own and operate Israel’s new automated container port in Haifa. The port, which opened to much fanfare in September 2021, was built by the China Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), another Chinese state-owned giant, which Israel granted the right to operate the port until 2046. COSCO is a shareholder in the port.

“In practice it is maintaining a trade boycott on Israel,” wrote Shaul Schneider, chairman of the board of another port in Israel, Ashdod Port, about COSCO’s decision to cut ties with Israel. Schneider threatened that in response, Ashdod Port would not be sharing information with SIPG.

China, however, gets all the information it needs and more from simply spying on Israel. The US warned at the time against the new Chinese terminal in Haifa Bay, by announcing that U.S. Navy ships would not dock in the nearby Israeli naval base due to the threat of China’s surveillance of the port, including the collection of data about joint Israeli-American operations.

Then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned on a visit to Israel in May 2020:

"We don't want the Chinese Communist Party to have access to Israeli infrastructure and to Israeli communication systems – all of the things that put Israeli citizens at risk, and in turn – put the capacity for America to work alongside Israel on important projects at risk as well."

In 2022, Nir Ben Moshe, former director of Security of the Defense Establishment in the Israeli Ministry of Defense and a researcher in the Israel-China program at the Institute for National Security Studies warned that it was “not impossible” that alongside its official public cooperation with Israel, China was engaged in espionage activity against Israeli civilian, military, and government targets.

"Israel's advanced capabilities in elite technology, cyber, medicine, agriculture, and more have the potential to contribute technologically to almost every aspect of China's buildup plans. Thus, Israel is an attractive source of technologies needed in China, as explicitly expressed by the Comprehensive Partnership for Innovation signed between the countries in 2017...

"The security establishment and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are likely a target of said Chinese intelligence efforts, both in themselves and considering their deep connections with their counterparts in the United States. The objects of these efforts would include major weapon systems in Israel that are developed in cooperation with the United States or produced by it, with some of the Israeli industries having subsidiaries in the United States, while others produce components that are integrated in American weapon systems. It is likely that advanced Israeli military technology designated for export is also a target of Chinese intelligence activity, including within the territories of the countries that have acquired it."

China’s deep involvement in Israel’s infrastructure, technology, food and agriculture industries is deeply concerning, especially because Iran and China are close partners. In 2021, the two regimes signed a massive 25-year comprehensive strategic cooperation deal amounting to a total of $400 billion, which included military cooperation, joint training, research and intelligence sharing, in exchange for Iran’s sale of oil and gas to China at a heavily discounted price.

“One of the most worrying clauses in the agreement between Iran and China is the intelligence sharing,” said Amos Yadlin, former IDF chief of Military Intelligence and the head of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, at the time of the signing.

Also immensely disturbing is that “massive” amounts of advanced Chinese military equipment were found in Gaza by the IDF during its military operations there. An Israeli intelligence source told The Telegraph:

"This has come as a big surprise as before the war, relations were very good, but we have found massive amounts of Chinese weaponry and the question is, did it come directly from China to Hamas or not?... This is top-grade weaponry and communications technology, stuff that Hamas didn't have before, with very sophisticated explosives which have never been found before and especially on such a large scale."

Guermantes Lailari, a visiting Scholar at National Chengchi University in Taiwan and a retired US Air Force Officer, wrote in a recent report for the Jewish Policy Center:

"The IDF found Chinese military equipment in Hamas warehouses, including large numbers of assault rifles (QBZ assault rifles) and grenade launchers (QLZ87 automatic grenade launchers), telescopic sights for rifles and cartridges for M16s, high-end communications equipment, listening devices, tactical military radios, and sophisticated explosives. The discovery of massive quantities of sophisticated Chinese explosives was alarming because Hamas only recently acquired such lethal explosives. Additionally, the IDF discovered Chinese rocket technology in one of Hamas' laboratories.

"In January 2024, the PRC denied providing Hamas with high-quality military equipment. Even if the Chinese military supplies discovered in Gaza were provided by Iran, PRC officials knew that Iran forwarded equipment to Hamas. Certainly, Iran provided funding and training to use the equipment."

Lailari appeared to suggest that China had an even more direct role in supporting Hamas terrorism:

"One source noted that PLA [China People's Liberation Army] military advisors and tunnel warfare specialists helped design and build these [Hamas] tunnels. What other PLA personnel have helped Hamas and to what extent?"

China does not consider itself an ally of Israel, said Harel Manshari, an Israeli expert in cyber warfare, who is the Head of Cyber at the Holon Institute of Technology and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, as well as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). In January, Manshari sent a letter to Yuli Edelstein, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in which he warned about the risk that China poses to Israeli infrastructure:

"Despite warnings from the security establishment, in the last decade, the Chinese government has invested extensively in strategic assets in Israel... We see, clearly, more extreme conduct against Israel by China... I believe that Israel must prepare itself and decrease Chinese involvement in Israeli infrastructure... if you set up systems with technology for critical infrastructure, like electricity, energy, water, transport, these are tied to one another. One can be used to bring the other down."

China recently hosted delegations from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, ostensibly to facilitate “unity” between the two factions, all the while pretending to be a neutral mediator interested in peace in the region.

All China’s actions show the reality to be quite different. China, while exerting deep involvement in Israeli infrastructure, business and technology, is actively working against Israel.

Is the enemy, already inside Israel’s gates, also inside the US?

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