Israel's Foreign Ministry Head Visits Muslim Nation in Africa - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Israel's Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold on Monday visited a Muslim country in Africa with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, and held meetings with senior officials in the first visit to the country by Israeli diplomats.
Gold set out for Africa on Sunday, first visiting President Alfa Conde in Guinea.
His trip to Africa was kept confidential for security reasons.
Coalition Jets Scrambled to Defend U.S. Forces from Syrian Bombing - Idrees Ali (Reuters)
The U.S.-led coalition sent aircraft to the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka on Thursday to protect American special operation ground forces from attacks by Syrian government jets, a Pentagon official said on Friday.
Additional combat air patrols have been sent to the area to protect the Syrian Kurdish ground forces.
Faysal Itani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said, "If the [Syrian] regime continues bombing in close proximity to U.S. forces, then simply I think the United States will shoot down the regime aircraft."
See also Kurdish Militia Launches Assault to Evict Syrian Army from Key City - Rodi Said (Reuters)
The Kurdish YPG militia launched a major assault on Monday to seize the last government-controlled parts of the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka.
Women of War: IDF Special Operations Officers - Elisha Ben Kimon (Ynet News)
The position of IDF special operations officers in the Judea and Samaria Division is filled almost exclusively by young, female officers who are about 22 years old and hold the rank of lieutenant.
They are in charge of deploying the special forces, positioning them, and coordinating between them to prevent a situation of friendly fire.
Here are interviews with five special operations officers.
Israel Doubles Sales to UN - Danielle Ziri (Jerusalem Post)
The United Nations acquired goods and services from Israel totaling $91.8 million in 2015, double the $45 million spent on Israeli products in 2013.
Israeli goods purchased by the UN include medical equipment, fuel and lubricants, IT and communications equipment, laboratory and testing equipment, domestic appliances, and electronics.
Video: The Most Decorated Jewish Olympian Woman - Agnes Keleti (kvellercom)
After surviving the Holocaust, Agnes Keleti represented Hungary in the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games where she won 10 medals, 5 of them gold.
Her gymnastics training came to an abrupt halt once Germany invaded Hungary in 1944. She survived under a false identity.
Her mother and sister were saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Her father and the rest of her family died in Auschwitz.
At age 95, Agnes lives in Israel and can still do cartwheels and splits.
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- Iran Revokes Russia's Use of Air Base to Bomb Syria - Anne Barnard and Andrew E. Kramer
Iran on Monday annulled permission for Russian planes to fly bombing runs into Syria from an Iranian base, only a week after granting such access, saying that the Kremlin had been unacceptably public and arrogant about the privilege. (New York Times)
- State Department: U.S.-Iranian Nationals Travelling to Iran Risk Arrest
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Iran. Dual national Iranian-Americans
particularly risk arrest and detention. The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship. Foreigners continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran.
U.S. citizens should very carefully weigh the risks of travel to Iran and consider postponing their travel.
The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran.
- Islamists Crossing U.S. Border from South America - Bill Gertz
Sunni extremists are infiltrating the U.S. with the help of alien smugglers in South America and are crossing the U.S. border with ease, according to a U.S. South Command intelligence report. "Networks that specialize in smuggling individuals from regions of terrorist concern, mainly from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the Middle East, and East Africa, are indeed a concern for Southcom and other interagency security partners who support our country's national security," said Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman.
The infiltrators from terrorist states and unstable regions exploit vulnerabilities in commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies in some of the countries used for transit. "In 2015, we saw a total of 331,000 migrants enter the southwestern border between the U.S. and Mexico, of that we estimate more than 30,000 of those were from countries of terrorist concern," Col. Garcia said. The Southcom intelligence report revealed that the threat of Islamist terror infiltration is no longer theoretical. (Washington Free Beacon)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel to React More Forcefully to Gaza Rocket Fire - Yossi Melman
After a rocket fired from Gaza struck Sderot on Sunday, Israel responded by launching a few missiles and by tank fire - the expected response. Later, Israeli planes launched a second and more forceful attack, pounding Hamas targets with dozens of bombing sorties. On Monday, a senior Israeli military source confirmed that the retaliatory attack was rooted in a new Israeli policy. Every time a rocket is fired at Israel from Gaza, the IDF will increase its fire power against all Hamas targets, assets and infrastructure, and will not respond in a predictable, limited way.
The senior military source emphasized that the new policy was designed by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon. (Jerusalem Post)
- Turkey Criticizes Israeli Response to Gaza Rocket Fire - Barak Ravid
Turkey on Monday condemned Israel's response to rocket fire from Gaza on the Israeli town of Sderot.
In response to Turkey's statements, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, "the normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations. Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience." (Ha'aretz)
- Poll: Just Over Half of Israelis, Palestinians Support Two-State Solution
Just over half of Israelis and Palestinians are in favor of a two-state peace agreement with a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a new poll released Monday found. The Israel Democracy Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 51% of Palestinians and 59% of Israelis support a two-state solution.
According to the poll, 89% of Palestinians feel Jews are untrustworthy while 65% of Israelis harbored feelings of distrust towards Palestinians. 65% of Israelis say they fear Palestinians, while 54% of Palestinians say they do not fear Israeli Jews.
See also Text: Palestinian-Israeli Poll Results
73% of Israelis compared to 58% of Palestinians expect violence to
continue, while 39% of Israelis compared to 56% of Palestinians expect the two sides to
return to negotiations. (Israel Democracy Institute)
- Israel Seeks to Boost the Palestinian Economic Sector in the West Bank - David Makovsky
Last week Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced eleven economic projects for Palestinians in the West Bank including an industrial area west of Nablus, an economic corridor between Jericho and Jordan backed by Japanese funding, a hospital in Beit Sahour (near Bethlehem), and expanded residential construction in approved Palestinian master plans for Kalkilya and other towns and villages.
The defense minister further argued that he saw the projects as a sign that Israel will find ways to reach the Palestinian people directly. And he announced that the Ministry of Defense will open a new Arabic website, designed to inform Palestinians of steps Israel is taking to improve their lives.
The writer is director of the project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- A Road to Bypass Mahmoud Abbas? - Yoni Ben Menachem
Near the end of his tenure, the main consideration guiding 81-year-old Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is to remain in power while seeking an appropriate successor, one who will allow him to retire honorably and will ensure the well-being of his family and his two sons' economic interests. Abbas is not looking for diplomatic adventures. He is sticking with his strategy of internationalizing the conflict.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's new plan to open a dialogue with Palestinian academics and businesspeople gravely concerns Abbas, who sees this as going over his head to find a new Palestinian address. Abbas fears that Israel will expand its ties with the heads of the independent lists and with heads of large West Bank clans who will run in the upcoming West Bank municipal elections, thereby helping these figures create a route that bypasses the PA. The writer is former director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Our Responsibility as Third Generation Holocaust Survivors - Jennie Shulkin
Israel remains the most prominent symbol of hope after the Holocaust. It represents the failure to destroy an entire people and the resilience of the Jews to continue to flourish after unthinkable atrocities. As long as Israel continues to exist, Jews will never again have nowhere to turn when the countries they call home turn against them. Israel is a haven and a home for any and all Jews around the world facing anti-Semitism. In the past few years, for example, French Jews have immigrated to Israel in large numbers as a result of rampant anti-Semitism in France, and they have been welcomed with open arms.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place on the anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau's liberation by the Soviets, while Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) is set on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The former presents Jews as weak - as passive prisoners only able to gain freedom because of outside intervention - while the latter underscores the strength and active resistance of a people who refused to let the Nazis decide their fate for them. The writer is a student at Harvard Law School.
New York Mayor De Blasio Denounces Israel-Boycott Movement as Not "Consistent with Progressive Values" - Laura Nahmias (Politico-Jewish Insider)
- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday, "There are plenty of people who support BDS who have advanced degrees and who call themselves progressives. I look forward to challenging them."
- "Defending Israel - from my point of view as a progressive - is a matter of being consistent with progressive values," de Blasio said.
- He described the BDS movement as one that "seeks to undermine the economy of the State of Israel and makes it harder for Israel to exist, therefore renouncing the very notion that the Jewish people need a homeland in a still dangerous and unsettled world."
- "We in the United States, or in any nation, you can disagree with a particular government's policy at that moment in time, but that doesn't mean that you don't believe in that nation, or its right to exist, or its founding ideals," de Blasio said.
- "Israel, in good times and bad, tough times and easier times, has been a beacon....Where there are disasters around the world, Israel is one of the first to be there in defense of those in need, regardless of their background, regardless of [faith]."
See also Mayor de Blasio Exposes BDS as an Anti-Semitic Fraud - Editorial
What many BDS supporters fail to understand is that the movement's architects see Israel's very existence as illegitimate. Ultimately, they aim to end Israel's character as a Jewish state and homeland. (New York Daily News)
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