Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 16, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Operative Planning Attacks on Israelis Arrested in Cyprus (JTA)
    Police in Cyprus have arrested a Lebanese man planning attacks on Israeli tourists who admitted he was connected to Hizbullah.
    The man was taken into custody on July 7 after Israeli intelligence provided information to Cypriot authorities.
    He was found with information on tour buses carrying Israeli passengers, a list of places in Cyprus favored by Israeli tourists, and flight information of Israeli airlines that land in Cyprus, the Greek newspaper Phileleftheros reported.
    See also Israel Blames Iran for Terror Plot Against Israelis in Cyprus - Michal Shmulovich (Times of Israel)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Iran Saturday with responsibility for a thwarted terror plot on Israeli targets in Cyprus.
    "There are no borders to Iranian terrorism. After Iran sent its people to assassinate - on U.S. soil - the Saudi Arabian ambassador and to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan, Bangkok, Tbilisi, New Delhi and Africa, its intention to perpetrate attacks in Cyprus has now been exposed."
    "The international community needs to fight the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world," he said.

Is Assad Threatening Israel? - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    After reports that Syria's regime is taking chemical weapons out of storehouses, it appears that they are being moved to safer bases and storage areas, far away from regions controlled by the rebels.
    The Syrian regime apparently fears that the chemical weapons will fall into the hands of al-Qaeda men, who are carrying out attacks on a daily basis.

Report: PA Official Commits Suicide over Collaboration Charge - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A senior Palestinian Authority official, Osama Hussein Mansour, 49, who was arrested three weeks ago for collaboration with Israel, fell to his death from the third floor of the PA's Military Intelligence headquarters in Ramallah on Sunday.
    A PA security source said Mansour had been in charge of a department created by the PA to prevent Palestinians from selling land to Israelis. "We discovered that the man who was responsible for thwarting such land deals was himself involved in such transactions."
    PA law bans Palestinians from conducting real estate deals with Israelis - a crime punishable by death.
    See also Palestinian Ex-Officer Dies after "Fall" in Custody (AFP)
    Mansour's brother Hassan said the family held the PA responsible for the death.
    "The family visited him on Friday and he was in good psychological condition with no indication that he was in any sort of state to commit suicide, so we demand an autopsy to find out who killed my brother."

World Silent as Hamas Demolishes Houses - Tom Gross (Mideast Dispatch)
    Palestinian news agencies report that the Hamas government in Gaza has renewed its policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian families in order to seize land for government use.
    120 families are to lose their homes in the latest round of demolitions - a far greater number than the number of illegally built Palestinian homes Israel has demolished in recent years.
    Yet Western media and human rights groups have been virtually silent about these destructions of Palestinian homes by Hamas.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egyptian Foreign Minister Links Peace Treaty to Israel's Retreat to '67 Borders
    Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said Saturday at a meeting in Cairo with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "Egypt continues to respect all treaties signed as long as the other party to the treaty respects the treaty itself. And today, [the President of Egypt] once again reiterated this issue and also reiterated that Egypt's understanding of peace is that it should be comprehensive, exactly as stipulated in the treaty itself. And this also includes the Palestinians, of course, and their right to have their own state on the land that was the pre-June 4, 1967, borders, with Jerusalem as its capital."  (State Department)
        See also Egyptians Pelt Clinton Motorcade with Tomatoes - Arshad Mohammed (Reuters)
  • Damascus Rocked by Intense Fighting
    Syria's army blasted rebel strongholds in Damascus with mortars Sunday. "The regular army fired mortar rounds into several suburbs" where FSA rebels are entrenched, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The fighting was heaviest in the Tadamon, Kfar Sousa, Nahr Aisha and Sidi Qadad neighborhoods. "(It has) never been this intense," he said. The Observatory said violence across Syria on Sunday had killed 105 people - 48 civilians, 16 rebels and 41 soldiers. (AFP)
  • WikiLeaks: Thousands of IRGC and Lebanese Hizbullah Fighting in Syria in Support of Assad
    WikiLeaks revealed in new documents that during last June thousands of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Lebanese Hizbullah members were fighting in Syria in support of Assad's regime. In a letter leaked from the "Four Stars for Strategic Information and Analysis" center, Iranian armed individuals and Hizbullah militants are said to have implemented prompt execution warrants against Syrian soldiers who had refused to shoot at demonstrators.
        A source inside Hizbullah is quoted as saying that there are 3,000 members of IRGC, 2,000 Hizbullah men and 300 from the Shiite Amal Movement in Syria. The source adds that 42 members of IRGC and 27 from Hizbullah were killed in Syria. Syrian airplanes transfer Iran's casualties to Tehran and lots of vehicles transfer Hizbullah casualties to Lebanon. (CNN)
        See also The Role of Iranian Security Forces in the Syrian Bloodshed - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Secretary of State Clinton Arrives in Israel - Herb Keinon
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived for talks in Jerusalem Sunday, landing just as White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was leaving. Clinton arrived from Cairo, and Israeli officials said her talks in Egypt will be high on the agenda. Iran is also expected to play a dominant role in the talks.
        An official said the Israel-Palestinian diplomatic track would also be discussed. Israel is working on a package of incentives to get the Palestinians back to the negotiation table. Israel is also expected to tell Clinton that continued Palestinian talks about unilateral steps at the UN, or forming a government with an unrepentant Hamas, would have a "negative ripple effect" on the diplomatic process and "force Israel to respond."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also As U.S. Officials Descend on Israel, Iran Is on Everyone's Mind - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Dominates Gaza Summer Camp Scene - Elhanan Miller
    Gaza summer camps organized by Hamas provide activities to 70,000 children. Startling photos of the camps' activities display children walking on nails and on knife blades, and reenacting "the daily suffering of Palestinian prisoners." UNRWA, which has been running Gaza summer camps since 2007, is not providing camps in 2012, leaving Hamas as the sole provider. (Times of Israel)
        See also Hamas Summer Camps Are Child Abuse - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Hamas camps are not just training the terrorists of the future. They are also helping to create a natural Islamist constituency to perpetuate their rule as well as to prevent any hope of peace or coexistence with Israel. This is an ongoing tragedy that should alarm the world. (Commentary)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Sanctions Impede Long-Range Ballistic-Missile Development
    There is mounting evidence to suggest that, whereas the sanctions regime has not prevented Tehran from operating an increased number of centrifuges for uranium-enrichment activities or adding to its stockpile of fissile material, it has stymied efforts to develop and produce long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking potential targets in Western Europe and beyond.
        If sanctions continue to disrupt Tehran's access to the key propellant ingredients and components needed to produce large solid-propellant rocket motors, Iranian attempts to develop and field long-range ballistic missiles could be significantly impeded, if not halted altogether. (International Institute for Strategic Studies)
  • Syria's Ambassador to Iraq: Why I Defected from Bashar al-Assad's Regime - Ruth Sherlock
    In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph on Friday, Nawaf Fares, a former regime hardliner and security chief who was Syria's ambassador to Iraq, said the string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Syria were carried out on the direct orders of the Assad regime, in the hope that it could blame them on the rebel movement. He cited the twin blasts outside a military intelligence building in Damascus in May, which killed 55 people and injured another 370.
        "I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand," he said. "All the victims were passers-by instead. All these major explosions have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces."
        A month ago he visited his home city of Deir al-Zour, near the Iraqi-Syrian border. "There was tremendous destruction there and thousands of people had been killed, many of them from my tribe," he said. "Life in the city was almost non-existent. What I saw there broke my heart, it was tragic and unbelievable, and if people there have not joined the uprising already, they will now. The majority of the tribe, I think, are already on the side of revolution."  (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
        See also A Damascus Loyalist Defects as Violence Affects the Tribes - Hassan Hassan
    Nawaf Fares is the leader of the powerful Al Jarraha clan, a branch of the Egaidat tribal confederation, the largest in eastern Syria. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Pilot's Escape from Syria Illustrates Difficulty of Defecting - Liz Sly
    When helicopter pilot Ahmad Trad decided he wanted to defect from the Syrian air force earlier this year, the biggest deterrent was the safety of his family. Slipping away from his base was one thing, but Trad, 30, had to make sure his relatives would not be targeted for revenge attacks once he was gone.
        Air force pilots are mostly Sunni. Trad said he learned of the defections of eight other helicopter pilots from his base within a week of his own. His misgivings hardened into resolve in February, when his deputy commander, a Sunni, was suddenly and publicly detained on base by officers who were Alawites.
        "They humiliated him in front of everybody. They beat him and threw a hood on his head. They accused him of spying for Israel and al-Qaeda," Trad said. "It was then that I realized that all Sunnis in the military have this accusation hanging over their heads and that this will happen to all of us at some point."  (Washington Post)
  • The Unspoken Secret at the Heart of U.S.-Israel Coordination on Iran - David Horovitz
    The warm public words expressed by both sides about U.S.-Israeli coordination are heartfelt. Behind the scenes, the exchanges of information and assessment are truly open, serious and constructive. But there is one great unspoken secret at the heart of this relationship between two true allies facing what, for one of them - the weaker and more immediately threatened one - is a potentially existential danger: There is absolutely no circumstance whatsoever in which the U.S. will empathize with an Israeli decision to strike alone at Iran's nuclear facilities.
        If the U.S. concludes that only military action can thwart Iran, then the president will order such action, officials insist, after having made clear to the international community that diplomacy and sanctions had failed, and that there really was no alternative. And that were Iran to restart the program after a U.S.-led military strike, the U.S. would have no compunction about striking again if necessary, as often as was deemed necessary. Therefore, any resort to force before an American resort to force would be "premature."  (Times of Israel)

"Iron Dome" vs. Grad Rockets: A Dress Rehearsal for an All-Out War? - Uzi Rubin (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • In March 2012, the Palestinians in Gaza challenged Israel with a barrage of more than 160 rockets, hitting targets further within Israel than ever before. As a result of the Iron Dome missile defense deployment, the number of Israeli casualties was negligible and the material damages were significantly less than anticipated.
  • No discernible tendency on the Palestinian side to slacken the rocket firing was noticed, in spite of its meager results. Since the Palestinians already possess rockets that can reach the outskirts of Tel Aviv, it stands to reason that they will try to leapfrog above Israel's missile shield to exact significant losses by zeroing in on Israel's central region.
  • While the achievements of Iron Dome demonstrate the technical viability and strategic value of an effective missile defense system for population centers and national infrastructure, it is far from certain that Israel could presently protect its civilian population against an all-out missile offensive from members of the Iranian coalition.

    The writer served as head of Israel's Missile Defense Organization and oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system.

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