New Intelligence Reveals Iranian Military Nuclear Program Advancing Faster than Previously Thought - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
New intelligence information obtained by Israel, the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing components for its nuclear weapons program than the West had previously realized, according to Western diplomats and Israeli officials.
Prime Minister's Defection Jolts Syrians - Damien Cave and Dalal Mawad (New York Times)
Syria's prime minister, Riyad Farid Hijab, began discussing the idea of fleeing, an aide said, as soon as President Bashar al-Assad strong-armed him into taking the job in June.
In recent days, he worked to get his extended family out. Then, early Monday, the prime minister slipped out of Damascus under cover of darkness with his wife and four children, scrambling through the desert into Jordan as a fugitive.
The scale of the Hijab defection - involving 10 prominent Sunni families who escaped in small groups over the past week - suggests that Assad is losing the loyalty of Sunni political and security officials crucial to his minority government's ability to hold power.
Israeli Official: U.S. Refuses to Declare Iran Talks Have Failed - Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)
Talks with the Iranians over their nuclear program have stalled, with no date set for the next round of discussions.
A senior official in the Israel Foreign Ministry said the senior Americans who had visited Israel in recent weeks had turned down Israel's request to announce that the talks have failed.
"As long as there is no such declaration, "the Iranians think that they are protected because of the talks," he said.
Israel Strikes Gaza Terrorists Behind Deadly June Border Attack - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
Israel carried out a pinpoint strike Sunday on Palestinian terrorists from a radical Islamist group, Magles Shoura al-Mujahddin, which is among the Salafi factions in Gaza.
One of those targeted, Ahmed Said Ismail, 22, was behind the June 18 attack along the Israel-Egypt border in which Saed Fashafshe, 36, an Israeli Arab Defense Ministry contractor from Haifa, was killed.
Palestinian hospital officials said Ismail was critically wounded and Id Nadi Okhal, 19, another member of the group, was killed.
Israel Thanks "Nazi Hunters" from British Paper - Rona Zinman (Ynet News)
After the capture of the world's most wanted Nazi war criminal - who helped send 15,700 Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz - Israeli ambassador to Britain Daniel Taub met Saturday with two Sun reporters - Brian Flynn and Ryan Parry - who were behind the journalistic investigation that enabled Laszlo Csatary's arrest in Hungary last month.
Csatary, 97, served as a police commander in charge of a Jewish ghetto in Kassa, Hungary, during WWII.
Parry and Flynn have been cooperating with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem since 2008 in their investigations regarding the whereabouts of Nazi criminals.
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- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Blames Israel's Mossad for Sinai Raid
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has accused the Israeli spy agency Mossad of being behind Sunday's attack on an Egyptian checkpoint on the border with Israel, according to a statement on the Brotherhood's website. Israel's foreign ministry has dismissed the allegation as "nonsense." The attack left 16 Egyptian security officers dead. Israeli forces say they later killed at least seven gunmen who broke through into Israel.
On Sunday evening, as the Egyptian guards had stopped work for the traditional meal which breaks the daily fast during Ramadan, 35 masked gunmen opened fire on the border post with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The gunmen then approached the Israeli border near the Kerem Shalom crossing with two vehicles, one of which exploded on the frontier.
The second - an armored personnel carrier - broke through and traveled about 2 km. into Israel before being disabled by the Israeli air force. (BBC News)
See also Egyptians Demonstrate Against Israel After Terrorist Attack
Dozens of Egyptians demonstrated in front of the Israeli ambassador's residence in Cairo on Monday and demanded that relations with Israel be severed following the terror attack Sunday.
According to a report in Al-Ahram, one of the demonstrators claimed that "there was no doubt that Israel is behind this (attack)."
- Sinai Attack Tests New Egyptian President's Relationship with Israel - Jodi Rudoren
Several high-ranking officials inside Israel's government and numerous independent experts said Monday that the terrorist attack on the Israel-Egypt border is the best evidence yet that the two countries are both threatened by lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula.
Hillel Frisch, a senior research fellow at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, noted that the attack "will strengthen [Egyptian President Mohamed] Morsi's commitment to be a status-quo actor, which is a big, big thing strategically. He runs a state, and there are greater enemies to the Egyptian state than Israel. In that sense, it's a game-changer."
The attack brought several early signs of cooperation and coordination. An Israeli brigadier general and his Egyptian counterpart met near the border to discuss the investigation. Israel handed over to Egypt the armored car and the bodies of those killed. The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement of condolence. (New York Times)
- British Bank Faces Suspension over Iran Transactions - Greg Farrel
The London-based bank Standard Chartered Plc conducted $250 billion worth of transactions with Iranian entities over more than seven years in violation of federal money laundering laws, a New York regulator said in an order warning that its U.S. unit may be suspended from doing business. The bank earned hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for handling transactions on behalf of Iranian institutions that are subject to U.S. economic sanctions.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF Report on Terror Attack from Sinai - Yoav Zitun
The IDF Southern Command said it had intelligence that Sinai terror groups were planning a combined attack against Israeli and Egyptian forces, and ordered its units on high alert. The Egyptian armored personnel carrier commandeered by the terrorists is one IDF forces are used to seeing as part of the Egyptians' regular border patrols. IDF tank fire set the vehicle ablaze. The IDF found that at least six of the terrorists were wearing explosive vests.
See also The Terror Attack: 15 Minutes from Start to Finish - Roi Kais
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz toured the scene of the attack with Southern Command Head Brig.-Gen. Tal Russo, who explained that the Egyptian armored vehicle stolen by the terrorists "met with an [IDF] force at every point it tried to infiltrate....There were quite a few clashes before it was destroyed. Armored forces, the Air Force and infantry forces closed in on it and eventually it was destroyed from the air and on the ground.
Those who attempted to escape and fire at the [IDF] forces after it was destroyed were also eliminated." According to Gantz, the entire episode was over within 15 minutes.
See also Jihadists' Goal: Israel-Egypt War - Ron Ben-Yishai
The terror attack at Kerem Shalom indicated that the jihadist terrorists, for whom Sinai serves as a safe haven, plan to ignite the region by creating a situation whereby the Egyptian army appears to be involved in an attack on Israel. The attack on an Egyptian army base showcased the terrorists' military experience, planning capabilities and audacity. Israel may ask Egypt to erect a barrier (a ditch or a wall) to prevent explosive-laden vehicles from advancing towards Israel. (Ynet News)
- Netanyahu: If Iran Goes Nuclear, It May Actually Use Bomb - Herb Keinon
If Iran gets a nuclear bomb it may actually use it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Monday.
Netanyahu spelled out what would likely happen were Iran allowed to go nuclear: There will be nuclear proliferation in the Middle East as various other actors will then want to have a bomb; Iran will have a firmer hand on the "chokepoint of the world's oil supply" - the Strait of Hormuz; there will be a magnification of global terrorism because the terrorists under Iran's sway will believe that they have immunity; and Israel's cities will be rocketed even more because those firing the rockets will feel that they enjoy a nuclear umbrella.
Netanyahu said there was an illusion that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, it would behave responsibly like the world's other nuclear states.
He said Iran is governed by a "fanatical regime" that sees itself on a sacred mission of global Islamic domination, and destroying Israel was just one step toward its larger vision.
"This is a regime that has broken every rule in the book," he added. "They very likely could use weapons of mass death." (Jerusalem Post)
- A Lawless Haven for Jihadists in Sinai - Editorial
After years of growing restlessness among its mostly Bedouin population, Egyptian state authority in the Sinai melted away after last year's revolution, during which police posts were burned and left empty. Sinai has been infiltrated by Islamic militants, including veterans of fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Egyptian army said Monday that Sunday's attack was backed up with mortar fire from Gaza.
Perhaps some of the U.S. military aid now being misdirected into Egyptian purchases of F-16s and other weapons systems should be repurposed to support what will be a difficult and prolonged campaign to restore order in Sinai. Egyptian forces could benefit from training in counterinsurgency and from better surveillance and intelligence equipment. A takeover of Sinai by Islamic extremists could quickly destabilize what for the last three decades has been a border vital to the preservation of Middle East peace.
- Time Is Short for Iran Diplomacy - Michael Oren
A combination of truly crippling sanctions and a credible military threat - a threat that the ayatollahs still do not believe today - may yet convince Iran to relinquish its nuclear dreams. But time is dwindling and, with each passing day, the lives of eight million Israelis grow increasingly imperiled. The window that opened 20 years ago is now almost shut. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S.
(Wall Street Journal)
Israel to UN: Assad Has No Moral Authority to Govern - Amb. Ron Prosor (Mission of Israel to the UN)
During a debate on Syria in the UN General Assembly on August 3, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said:
- In the month since we last gathered here to speak about Syria, the Assad regime has slaughtered thousands more innocents, indiscriminately murdering civilians - including women and children - using the firepower of its artillery, armor, and even its air force.
- Behind every rock and building in Syria, Assad sees not only Israelis, Brits, and Frenchmen - but also Saudis, Qataris, Kuwaitis, and Turks. He says that the slaughter in Syria is a Western and Arab Conspiracy - and has nothing to do with him personally.
- On the ground, Iranians are assisting Assad's henchmen. They have been deployed on Syrian soil to help sustain the Syrian regime and take part in its killing spree against the Syrian people.
The outside forces that have been instrumental in the slaughter in Syria speak in a Persian accent. Unfortunately, many in the international community do not yet acknowledge this fact, despite the overwhelming evidence that supports it.
- The experience and capabilities of Iran and Hizbullah in repression are on full display in Syria. They provide weapons, ammunition, training, intelligence, and logistical equipment to Assad. It is time for the international community to hold all three members of this "trio of terror" accountable for their crimes. This trio poses the most immediate threat to international peace and security.
- Bashar al-Assad has no moral authority to govern. He has no legitimacy to rule. And he never did.
It is time for all in this organization to speak clearly, decisively, and truthfully about the reality on the ground in Syria.
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