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Title:Israel News Digest - Daily News Alert from Israel
Description:Daily Alert is a digest of news and commentary about Israel and the Middle East, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. All items are linked to their original sources. Topics include Israel's security challenges, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestinians, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Gaza, West Bank, terrorism.
Keywords:Israel, Jewish, Jerusalem, Arab-Israeli, peace process, Palestinian, PLO, Middle East, terror
Israel News Digest - Daily News Alert from Israel
Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Daily Alert Mobile
Search Back Issues
July 8, 2016
In-Depth Issues:
ISIS Influence in Israel - Ilan Evyatar (Jerusalem Post)
Iman Kanjo, an Israeli-Arab woman from Shfaram, was sentenced to 22 months in prison on Monday after confessing to forging links with an ISIS supporter on Facebook, and seeking to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.
On Tuesday, three residents of Yatta in the West Bank were indicted for involvement in the shooting attack in Tel Aviv in June that left four people dead. Yunis Aish Musa Zin, who backed out of the attack at the last minute, said they had been inspired by ISIS.
On Jan. 1, Nashat Melhem, an Israeli Arab who shot three people to death in Tel Aviv, left behind a black ISIS banner at the scene.
Several other ISIS-inspired cells have been uncovered by the Israel Security Agency and dozens of Israeli Arabs are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the group.
Man Held for Spying on German-Israeli Group for Iran (AP-Times of Israel)
German authorities have arrested a Pakistani man, Syed Mustufa H., 31, accused of spying for Iran on Reinhold Robbe, the former head of the German-Israeli Society.
Federal prosecutors said Thursday the man arrested was "in contact with an intelligence unit attributed to Iran"聺 and handed over information to Iran in October.
Growing Demand for Israel's Barak-8 Anti-Missile and Air-Defense System - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
The June 30 test by the Indian Air Force of a medium-range, land-based version of Israel's Barak-8 anti-missile and air-defense system "validated all components of the weapon system to the satisfaction of the customer," according to Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
In three flight tests, the missile successfully destroyed targets simulating enemy threats.
Boaz Levy, IAI executive vice president, noted that Barak-8 provides the "ultimate answer" to the Russian Yakhont anti-ship sea-skimming cruise missile, assumed to be in the hands of Hizbullah.
It also "allows robust defense against aircraft, helicopters and missiles of all types."
Yossi Weiss, IAI president and CEO, said the firm's backlog for Barak-8 exceeds $3 billion and will grow once additional prospective partner nations are aware of its unique capabilities.
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Israel to Aid U.S. Payment Security Task Force - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
A U.S. federal task force will invite to its discussions Israeli companies specializing in protecting financial payment systems from malicious hacker attacks.
This cooperation was announced during a conference on financial technology (FinTech) development held by the Israeli consulate in Atlanta last week.
Egyptian Mob of 5,000 Attacks Christians for Opening a Church - Katie Mansfield (Express-UK)
Vigilantes torched two homes and looted ten in Baidaa village in Egypt after hearing rumors that Christian worship was taking place on the top two floors of the home of villager Naim Aziz Moussa.
A baying mob gathered and threw stones, shouting, "We don't want a church, we will knock down the church building, Egypt is an Islamic country."
Many of the 80 Coptic Christians who live in the village were injured by the mob of 5,000.
Israeli Brings Urban Gardening to Harlem Kids - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
A young woman with roots in Israel started an urban hydroponic farm in Harlem supplying organic locally grown produce served up alongside a helping of youth empowerment.
Leigh Ofer's Seed Street has Harlem kids planting hydroponic vegetable gardens inside repurposed shipping containers.
Israeli Technology Expands Sports Journalism - Abigail Klein Leichman (Jerusalem Post)
Thousands of amateur sports writers across 13 countries are using the 90min and 12up platforms from Israeli sports media and technology company Minute Media to produce, publish and share more than 15,000 pieces of content in 10 languages every month.
90min, a platform for soccer citizen journalists in Europe, South America and Asia, has more than 110 million users monthly.
12up, launched in May as a media platform for fans of American sports, reaches more than four million users.
Photos: The IDF Mixed-Gender Caracal Combat Battalion - Alex Wheeler (International Business Times-UK)
The Caracal Battalion, an infantry combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces, is one of two combat units which has both male and female soldiers.
Based in the Negev desert, on the border with Egypt and Jordan, Caracal is 70% female.
Israeli Startups Raised Record $1.4B in Q2 of 2016 - Tali Tsipori (Globes)
Israeli companies raised an all-time record $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2016, compared with $1 billion in the first quarter and $1.1 billion in the second quarter of 2015.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
German Intelligence Report Charges Iran Seeking Illegal Nuke, Missile Tech - Benjamin Weinthal
Germany's equivalent of the FBI - the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution - said in its annual report last week that Iran has a "clandestine" effort to seek illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies "at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level....It is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives."聺
German Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored the findings in a statement to parliament, saying, "Iran continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council." (Fox News)
Iran: Israel's Annihilation Is Imminent
Speaking in Tehran on July 1, Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said: "Today, more than ever, there is fertile ground - with the grace of God - for the annihilation, the wiping out, and the collapse of the Zionist regime. In Lebanon alone, over 100,000 missiles are ready to be launched....These missiles will pierce through space, and will strike at the heart of the Zionist regime. They will prepare the ground for its great collapse in the new era."
"Tens of thousands of other high-precision, long-range missiles, with the necessary destructive capabilities, have been placed in various places throughout the Islamic world. They are just waiting for the command, so that when the trigger is pulled, the accursed black dot will be wiped off the geopolitical map of the world, once and for all."
"Today, unlike in the past, the potential exists to destroy this regime and to make it collapse. The Zionist regime does not have strategic depth on the ground for defense purposes. In some places, the regime has a depth of only 14-24 kilometers. In a single ground attack, its back will be broken." (MEMRI)
House Passes Measure to Stop Sale of Boeing Aircraft to Iran - Richard Lardner
The U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote Thursday approved measures aimed at blocking U.S. companies from selling commercial passenger aircraft to Tehran.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the amendment's sponsor, said,
"To give these types of planes to the Iranian regime, which still is the world's largest state sponsor of terror, is to give them a product that can be used for a military purpose." (AP-ABC News)
See also Congress Weighs Restrictions on Boeing Sales to Iran - Julian Pecquet
A number of House Democrats joined their Republican colleagues July 7 in expressing support for setting conditions before Boeing can proceed with its $17.6 billion deal to sell 80 passenger aircraft to Iran Air.
"We're being asked to transfer planes to a company, Iran Air, that has served as an air force for terrorism. And we're being told, oh, but just trust them, or just trust that we'll be able to do something if they violate," Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said at a committee hearing. "When Iran comes forward with a plan to guarantee that these planes are not being used for terrorism or to support Assad, then we could consider [granting export licenses]."
The nuclear deal commits the U.S. to "allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran." It also prohibits their use "for purposes other than exclusively civil aviation." (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Netanyahu Wraps Up East Africa Tour - Herb Keinon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that his four-country trip to East Africa is opening doors to other African states as well.
During his current Africa visit he held a phone conversation with the Muslim head of an African state with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, and they agreed to meet. While reports spoke of contacts with Somalia's president, Netanyahu said the leader with whom he spoke was not from Somalia. The Jerusalem Post has learned that delegations from Mali and Chad visited Israel recently.
On Thursday Netanyahu, the first prime minister to ever visit Ethiopia, also addressed both houses of parliament where he was greeted warmly. He began by sending greetings from Jerusalem, where he said Solomon and the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba met some 3,000 years ago. "The struggle for freedom unites our two nations," he said. "You resisted foreign rule and live as a free people in your ancestral homeland, and we too live as a free and independent people in our ancestral homeland." (Jerusalem Post)
Israel and Hamas Get Ready for the Next Round - Yaakov Lappin
On July 8 two years ago, one of Israel's longest wars erupted. In the summer of 2014, the IDF and Hamas in Gaza traded fire for 50 days; Israeli cities came under near daily Hamas rocket attacks, warning sirens rang out and Iron Dome interceptors flooded the skies; IDF ground units moved into the Strip to destroy 34 cross-border tunnels; and the Israel Air Force dropped thousands of bombs at Hamas targets, which had been hidden near residential buildings, hospitals and mosques.
Hamas' armed wing is gradually seizing power in Gaza at the expense of the political wing and it is prepared to engage in an endless series of wars against Israel. During the past two years, Hamas has worked to replenish its rocket stockpiles through its local arms production industry. At the same time, Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system has continued to evolve. The batteries can intercept at greater range, deal with larger salvos, and have additional, classified abilities.
To deal with the tunnel threat, advanced tunnel detection technologies are in place. The IDF Southern Command is also constructing a massive underground barrier on the Gazan border, which should be completed within a year and a half, and stymie the tunnel diggers.
(Jerusalem Post)
See also The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted - Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Criticism of Israeli Building Based on Palestinian Disinformation - Yochanan Visser
Reacting to the approval of 800 new housing units for Jews and 600 for Arab residents in the Jerusalem area, the State Department on Wednesday accused Israel of systematically seizing "Palestinian land."
Apparently, State Department spokesman John Kirby based his statement on inciting and incorrect information he received from the Palestinian side. No settlement will be expanded outside existing zone plans. Furthermore, the announcement of the plan was, in fact, phase two in a long procedure that started in 2012 when a planning committee approved the proposal.
His accusation that there is "a systematic process of land seizures" is false; the plan doesn't involve land expropriation.
The only construction plan that is scheduled to be executed outside an existing neighborhood is the building of 600 units for Arabs near the existing Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa. (Western Journalism)
Can the Palestinians Hold Free and Fair Elections? - Khaled Abu Toameh
The Palestinian Authority decided on June 21 to hold municipal elections in 382 municipalities in the West Bank and 25 in Gaza on October 8. The last Palestinian local elections were held in 2012, but only in the West Bank; Hamas did not participate.
For the PA, the decision to hold new municipal elections is a gigantic gamble. If Hamas does decide to participate, it could easily win in several Palestinian cities, especially in the Hebron area in the southern West Bank. By holding the elections without Hamas' participation, the PA will risk further consolidating the split between the West Bank and Gaza - reinforcing the reality that the Palestinians already have two separate mini-states.
Finally, even if the PA does hold the elections, the Palestinian street is convinced that its leaders will in any event steal the vote and install their loyalists.
(Gatestone Institute)
See also Will Upcoming Local Elections Unite Palestinians, or Divide Them Further? - Adnan Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
Love and Jihad in Kindergarten - Micah Lakin Avni
Here is a picture from my daughter's nursery school graduation in Tel Aviv this week. In the background is a mural depicting children of various cultures. The Hebrew caption reads: "Children all around the world hold hands." My daughter and her friends are holding traditional Arab drums called Darbuka and demonstrating how they learned to count in Arabic. We are educating our children in the core values of diversity, pluralism, love, and mutual respect.
The second picture is from a kindergarten play in Gaza. Two boys point guns at the head of a third child who kneels on the ground, his hat adorned with a blue and white Star of David. Tragically, this is a typical Palestinian elementary school. They are teaching their children to hate and to kill. As long as radical Islamists continue to teach this to their children, terror will continue to spread throughout the Western world. The writer is the son of Richard Lakin, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem in October 2015.
(Times of Israel)
Other Issues
Why I Don't Call Out Israel on the "Occupation" - David Bernstein
Most mainstream Jewish leaders acknowledge that Israel's rule in the territories ain't pretty. But we are far less certain Israel has the power on its own to bring about peace and security.
Those calling for an immediate end to the "occupation" are often sketchy on the details. They simply assume that if Israel tried to cut a deal, the Palestinian leadership would follow suit and make peace. Few, however, seem to question whether the Palestinian Authority would agree to a solution that leaves a Jewish state intact.
In 2008, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused an offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that would have given Palestinians a contiguous state with a capital in Jerusalem. Eight years earlier, Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority demonstrated little willingness to cut a two-state deal. There were multiple offers put on the table from September to December 2000, the last of which was extended by President Clinton. The Palestinian leadership would not budge.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian population, not just the leadership, overwhelmingly rejects a peace deal. Moreover, high-minded plans sometimes look better on paper than they do on the ground. It's not at all certain that the PA would survive the winds of instability blowing through the region. It's quite possible that the PA would be deposed or implode, and Israel would eventually face a hostile adversary in the closed quarters of Jerusalem and a few miles away from its international airport.
These reservations about the achievability and sustainability of a peace deal don't mean that Israel shouldn't pursue such a peace deal. Pursuing peace offers hope. Such doubts do, however, influence my public stance toward the Jewish state. I don't demand that Israel take action that may not work. And
I believe that peace takes two. The writer is president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. (New York Jewish Week)
Iran Sees Modest Economic Progress after Nuclear Deal - Patrick Clawson
Economic progress in Iran will be slow at best, given the collapse in international oil prices and the degree to which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other vested domestic interests are resisting the reforms needed to fully participate in the global economy. The Islamic Revolution's economic performance has long been mediocre, particularly when compared to its neighbors. At the time of the 1979 revolution, GDP in the United Arab Emirates was around one-third that of Iran but is now just as large. In 1978, Iran's per capita GDP was 30% larger than Turkey's; today it is 50% smaller.
Iran's oil output is up, but revenues on 2.3 million barrels at $50 brings $115 million a day, less than the $130 million that came from exporting 1.3 million barrels at $100. Unusual sources of funding are being tapped: $1 billion is to come from selling citizens the right to avoid conscription.
The writer is director of research at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The Importance of Interests in Israel-Turkey Reconciliation - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
Israel's once-close relationship with Turkey began losing its luster in 2003, when the Islamist Erdogan was elected prime minister. His backing of the 2010 effort by the Mavi Marmara-led flotilla to break the maritime blockade imposed on Gaza was an attempt by Ankara to expand its reach and become a player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Erdogan's object was in part to manifest the regime's anti-Israel position, and in part to win political gains within the Arab world or at the very least on the Arab street.
A UN commission of inquiry headed by Geoffrey Palmer, an esteemed maritime law expert, stated that under international law, Israel was within its rights to impose a maritime blockade on Gaza, and the naval commandos' raid on the vessel seeking to breach the cordon complied with the enforcement standards allowed under international law.
At the end of the day, the Israel-Turkey reconciliation agreement boils down to interests; not trust, and certainly not sympathy. This deal will not usher in a new golden age in Jerusalem-Ankara relations, but it will normalize relations with a major Middle Eastern power. Most importantly, the deal anchors Israel's right to both impose and enforce a maritime blockade on Gaza.
The writer is a former Israeli national security advisor and former Director of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
Terms of Turkish-Israeli Reconciliation Agreement Favor Israel - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
The Turkish-Israeli reconciliation agreement yielded terms very much in Israel's favor.
There is no hope for a true change of mind on Turkish President Erdogan's part; his hostility towards Israel is deeply ingrained, as is his sympathy towards Hamas, yet Turkish pressure over the Gaza blockade has been lifted. Hamas cannot possibly be allowed to trade freely, or Gaza will soon be inundated with Iranian arms.
The writer, former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council, served for over 20 years in IDF Military Intelligence.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
The UN Has Been Taken Hostage - Yair Lapid
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness harshly criticized Israel's decision to demolish the homes of two terrorists who last December stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem. UNRWA is the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. It is supposed to help Palestinians find work and assist them with food and medication. That's it. It doesn't have another role. There is nothing in UNRWA's mandate which justifies intervention in Israel's security matters.
Why doesn't the State of Israel appear on maps in UNRWA schools? Why can someone be born in Qatar, live in a villa in Paris, hold a Spanish passport and still be considered a Palestinian refugee? In fact, why is it that only the Palestinians have a refugee agency of their own? What do they deserve that the 21.5 million refugees from Tibet, Darfur, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere don't?
Six countries - the U.S., Japan, France, UK, Italy and Germany - fund 65% of the UN budget. All that is required of those countries is to raise their voices and say they refuse to allow the wild and distorted UN attacks against Israel to continue, and then they would end. The writer, chairman of the opposition Yesh Atid party, is a former Israeli finance minister. (Jerusalem Post)
Weekend Features
The Israelis Who Went to Jupiter - Elad Zeret
Dr. Yochai Caspi, 42, a planetary researcher at the Weizmann Institute, and Prof. Ravit Heled, 36, from Tel Aviv University, were a part of the Juno satellite project to study Jupiter. Caspi was at the NASA visitors center in Pasadena, California, to witness when Juno went into orbit around Jupiter. "After over ten years of work, the satellite was travelling at about 200,000 km. an hour as it became the satellite to make the closest pass of Jupiter ever, and then went into an elliptical orbit around the gas giant," he explained.
Prof. Heled wasn't able to make it to California as she is expecting to give birth soon, but was talking to her team the entire time via Skype. Now that Juno is in orbit around Jupiter, her work has only just begun. "I'll be looking into the internal structure of the planet," she said.
(Ynet News)
Intel Uses Israeli Vision Technology in New Yuneec Drone - Shoshanna Solomon
Intel has installed Israeli-developed technology into a new drone developed by the Shanghai-based aerospace company Yuneec International. The drone incorporates Intel's Real Sense technology, a camera developed at Intel's lab in Haifa that enables the craft to see like a human eye - to perceive a sense of depth and track human motion. The technology enables the drone to map out its surroundings, follow objects and avoid collisions.
(Times of Israel)
Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Barriers to Peace - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Now is precisely the wrong time to put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict near the top of our foreign policy priorities. Certain current ideas about doing precisely that carry a very real risk of doing more harm than good.
Such well-intentioned but actually self-defeating ideas include supporting multilateral diplomatic maneuvers like the French initiative, or a new UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, or proclaiming a new set of unilateral American ideas or "parameters" about a two-state solution.
Multilateral diplomatic maneuvers, whether in Paris or at the UN, by definition encourage one or both parties to imagine that they can somehow avoid making compromises and ultimately peace with each other.
It is also a matter of avoiding responsibility for the indispensable compromises that would make real peace possible. That is why the Palestinian Authority has become so enamored of this path.
Multilateral initiatives of this kind are not "better than nothing" because they actually help prevent rather than promote peace.
Until there is a clear demonstration by the parties that they are ready for real bargaining, the multilateral route risks hardening positions, raising false expectations, and repeating failure.
The writer, a Fellow at The Washington Institute, testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 6.
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