View Photos: The Secret Iranian Site the UN Wants to Inspect - David Albright and Paul Brannan (Institute for Science and International Security)
ISIS has identified in commercial satellite imagery a building on the Parchin site in Iran that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wants to visit because it contains, or used to contain, a high-explosive test chamber.
In the Nov. 8, 2011, Safeguards Report , the IAEA described evidence, including satellite imagery, indicating that Iran used the test chamber to conduct hydrodynamic experiments in the early 2000s, possibly related to the development of nuclear weapons.
See also Iran May Not Open Parchin Site to Inspectors - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
Iran signaled on Tuesday that it was unwilling to grant a request by international nuclear inspectors for unfettered access to a restricted military complex called Parchin that they suspect may house a chamber designed to test explosives used in atomic weapons triggers.
Gaza Boy Dies from Militant Bullet During Funeral (AP-Washington Post)
A Palestinian boy accidentally struck by a bullet when militants fired in the air during a funeral died of his injuries Wednesday, family members and witnesses said.
Palestinian health official Adham Abu Salmia initially said that 8-year-old Barka al-Mugrahbi died of wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike.
The Islamic World's Quiet Revolution - Nicholas Eberstadt (Foreign Policy)
Throughout the Muslim world, the average number of children born to women is falling dramatically.
According to the UN's Population Division, all Muslim-majority countries and territories witnessed fertility declines over the past three decades. In the great majority, the declines have been jaw-dropping.
The quiet revolution in fertility now unfolding across the Islamic world portends a radical revision of population projections for many countries, with an unexpectedly rapid aging of many now youthful societies.
The writer holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
See also The Fertility Implosion - David Brooks (New York Times)
Israel and China Celebrate 20 Years of Friendship - Oren Kessler (Foreign Policy)
As China and Israel mark 20 years of diplomatic relations, bilateral trade stands at almost $10 billion, a 200-fold rise in two decades.
China is Israel's third-largest export market, buying everything from telecommunications and information technology to agricultural hardware, solar energy equipment, and pharmaceuticals.
At least 1,000 Israeli firms now operate in China, home to a massive $10 billion kosher food industry that sends much of its output to Israel.
Last September, the Israeli government announced Chinese participation in a rail project that would allow overland cargo transport through Israel's Negev desert, bypassing the Suez Canal.
Hebrew-language and Jewish studies centers have sprung up in Chinese universities nationwide.
Indeed, one of the more curious elements in the Israel-China alliance is the latter's widespread fascination with Jews.
Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud are iconic figures in the country, and in the 1950s the Chinese communist government issued a postage stamp bearing the visage of the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem.
However, Chinese trade with Iran is valued at over $30 billion and is projected to reach $50 billion by 2015.
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- Israel's Missile Shield Aces First Serious Test - Ibrahim Barzak
After four days of fighting between Israel's air force and Gaza rocket squads, Israel's Iron Dome rocket shield has aced its first serious test. Hamas rulers in Gaza have been careful to stay on the sidelines. And Islamic Jihad - now closer to Iran than Hamas - is taking the lead in this round against Israel.
24 Palestinians have been killed and a million Israelis in rocket range have seen their lives disrupted by the threat of rocket attacks, with frequent sirens warning them to run for cover.
Missile analysts praised the performance of Iron Dome, an Israeli-made system designed to shoot down short-range rockets like those fired from Gaza. Iron Dome tracks incoming rockets and intercepts only those that would pose a threat to people and property, ignoring those that are expected to fall in open areas. The military said it tried to intercept 63 rockets and succeeded in all but nine of those attempts. No Israelis have been killed in the fighting, and property damage has been relatively minor. Uzi Rubin, a missile analyst and former Defense Ministry official, said Iron Dome has exceeded expectations.
- Israelis See Iran "Mini-Drill" in Gaza Flare-Up - Dan Williams
Israel has emerged from the past few days of fighting with Palestinians in Gaza more confident that its advanced missile shield and civil defenses can perform well in any war with Iran.
One Israeli official said on Tuesday: "In a sense, this was a mini-drill," alluding to Iran's threat to respond to any "pre-emptive strike" on its nuclear facilities by firing missiles at Israel.
"The Israeli home front has shown once more that it can deal with the challenges," said the armed forces' commander, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dubs Iran a mortal threat and described the recent Gaza rockets as a harbinger.
"These terrorist attacks, by Islamic Jihad for example, demonstrate the scale of the danger that will be wrought if, God forbid, a nuclear Iran stands behind them," he said on Monday.
See also Iranian Hand Seen in Gaza Escalation - Victor Kotsev (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
- Report: Systemic and Widespread Torture in Syria
Those arrested in the wake of the Syrian uprising have been thrust into a nightmarish world of systemic torture, a new report by Amnesty International said Wednesday. "I Wanted to Die": Syria's Torture Survivors Speak Out documents 31 methods of torture by security forces, army and pro-government armed shabiha gangs, described by witnesses or victims to Amnesty International researchers in Jordan in February 2012.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel to UN: "It Is Time for the Security Council to Speak with One Voice Against Terrorism from Gaza" - Amb. Ron Prosor
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday:
"More than 75 rockets have been fired into Israeli communities from Gaza in the past day. More than 250 rockets have been fired since last Friday. That's one rocket every twenty minutes. Israeli civilians have less than 15 seconds to find shelter from these attacks.
The lives of 1,000,000 Israeli civilians are paralyzed. 200,000 Israeli children are out of school."
"The Security Council has uttered zero words of condemnation of these attacks.
There is something wrong with this equation. It is time for the Security Council to speak with one voice against the terrorism that continues to flow from Gaza.
The situation is grave. If one rocket lands in the wrong place at the wrong time, Israel will be forced to respond in a completely different manner." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- After Cease-Fire, Palestinian Rocket Lands in Netivot - Yaakov Lappin
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a Grad rocket into a parking lot in the heart of the town of Netivot on Tuesday night, injuring one man and causing 11 other local residents to suffer shock.
The attacks came despite reports that an informal cease-fire had been reached on Monday night.
Earlier on Tuesday, two rockets landed in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council. (Jerusalem Post)
- Erdogan: Israel Must Stop "Massacre" of Palestinians in Gaza;
Israel Warns Against Travel to Turkey - Jack Khoury
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on Tuesday urged Israel to "stop the brutal attack against Palestinians and stop the massacre and bloodshed."
He referred to Israeli airstrikes in response to Palestinian rocket fire as "state terror."
Earlier Tuesday, Israel's Counter Terrorism Bureau warned Israelis against traveling to Turkey after receiving information regarding the intent of terror groups to perpetrate an attack against Israeli or Jewish targets in the coming days. (Ha'aretz)
See also Turkey Rejects Israeli Request for Extra Security for Flights to Antalya
Turkey has rejected a request by Arkia Israel Airlines to provide a security area for Israeli flights at Antalya Airport. Arkia also requested the right to oversee security provisions themselves and the right to use devices of their own in order to ensure the safety of their passengers. Turkish diplomatic sources responded: "Why does Israel need to have a specific security area at Turkish airports?"
See also Turkey Calls on Israeli Tourists to Return - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
- The U.S. and Britain: Allied Against the Iranian and Syrian Regimes - President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron
We have been united in imposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime for failing to meet its international obligations. We believe there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic solution. Meanwhile, as the U.S. imposes its strongest sanctions to date and the EU prepares to impose an embargo on Iranian oil, the choice for Tehran will be sharpened - meet your international obligations or face the consequences.
We condemn the Syrian regime's horrific violence against innocent civilians. With our international partners, we'll continue to tighten the noose around Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts.
- Iron Dome vs. The Terrorists - Editorial
In this month's clash, Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system performed far better than even optimists had expected. It's also good news for the entire Western world: As in so many other areas of military hardware and tactics, the implementation of Israel's Iron Dome missile system (which incorporates American technology and Israeli upgrades) in the Gazan theater is a pilot for technology that someday will protect all of us.
Iron Dome is more than just a life-saving weapon system. It is a technological metaphor for the Middle East conflict as a whole. While Palestinian militants in Gaza waste what few resources they have on smuggled weaponry that kill citizens indiscriminately, the Israelis produce life-saving high-tech refinements that one day will be protecting American military bases in the Gulf - and who knows what else besides - from attacks by Iran and its proxies. The Western world will profit from the technological fruits of Israel's struggle for survival.
- Egypt Uneasy in Dealings with Israel - Zvi Mazel
Egyptian Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi approved last week the appointment of a new ambassador to Israel, while the lower house of the newly elected parliament adopted a declaration stating that Israel was the No. 1 enemy of Egypt. At the same time, it is due to Egypt's strenuous efforts that the present round of hostilities between Israel and Gaza was brought to an end. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces did not want a major problem on its borders at a time when it is trying to deal with a volatile internal situation. Equally important, Cairo's handling of the crisis was a means to show the Arab world that Egypt was still the major player on the Palestinian front.
As usual the Egyptian media lashed at Israel for its alleged atrocities against civilians in Gaza, and even recycled pictures taken during the Cast Lead Operation in January 2009 - but did not mention the hundreds of missiles fired at Israeli towns and villages for days on end.
The explosions on the pipeline - 13 so far - bringing Egyptian gas to Jordan and Israel have already cost Egypt more than a billion dollars in lost revenues. The writer, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
Hamas No Longer the Major Player in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
See also Islamic Jihad Gains Growing Popularity in Gaza for Missile Attacks - Roni Shaked (Ynet News)
Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, the two groups who were behind the rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, have proven that Hamas is no longer the major player in Gaza. Hamas will now have to live with the fact that these two groups pose a challenge to its control over Gaza.
- On a number of occasions in the past, Hamas security forces did not hesitate to detain members of Islamic Jihad and the PRC who violated previous truces with Israel.
Now, for the first time, Hamas refrained from taking action against the armed groups.
See also Islamic Jihad Holds Victory Rally in Gaza - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
Gaza residents believe that Islamic Jihad won the latest round of fighting with Israel, amidst growing criticism of Hamas for failing to join in. In recent months, Islamic Jihad has gained much strength as Iran provides it with money and arms, while problems in the supply of electricity and water in Gaza are prompting criticism against the Hamas government.
- The ceasefire is merely a time-out between rounds of violence. It's clear that Israel won't be able to show restraint in the face of new terror plots in Gaza. Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees will use the time-out in order to restore their missile arsenal and prepare for the next round.
- Thousands of Islamic Jihad sympathizers participated in a victory rally celebrating the end of the current round of violence against Israel on Tuesday.
- The group's secretary-general, Ramadan Shallah, in a video message from Damascus, threatened that Islamic Jihad will extend its rocket fire deeper into Israel.
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