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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 15, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Surgical Strikes in Gaza Are Worth the Risk of Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    IDF Gaza Division commander Col. Tal Hermoni is convinced that the benefits of the IDF's operations in Gaza outweigh the danger.
    "If we wouldn't be taking them out, the same terrorists would have infiltrated the border and killed 20 kids at a holiday party," he said Sunday.
    "Not a day goes by here without projectile fire, or anti-tank fire, or infiltration attempts."
    "There will be a [ground] operation [by Israel] in Gaza. The only question is when," he said.

IDF Ups Security Measures along Israel-Egypt Border - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF is gearing to deploy a new detection and alert "web" along the new Israel-Egypt border fence, Ynet learned Monday.
  The "web" is similar to the one used on the Gaza, Lebanon and Syria border fences, and supplies an immediate alert should anyone touch it.

Former Lebanese PM: Hizbullah Drone Sent over Israel at Iran's Behest (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that a Hizbullah-dispatched reconnaissance plane that flew over Israel was sent at Iran's behest, he said in a statement.
    "We are proud of any triumph against the Israeli enemy. However, Hizbullah Chief... Nasrallah hasn't asked the Lebanese if they are prepared to become engaged in such a battle or into a war against Israel."
    Siniora also said the drone was a clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 which calls on the Lebanese and Israeli sides to maintain calm on the border.

Expert: Hizbullah Drone Over Israel "Rinky-Dink" - Ashley Fantz (CNN)
    Hizbullah launched an Iranian-made drone into Israel last week. But Hizbullah has been flying drones over Israel for years, said Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.
    "That it happened again is absolutely insignificant," he said. "Israel usually tracks these drones as they come across the border and often doesn't bother to shoot them down," Zenko said.
    "To call them rinky-dink would be polite," he said. These drones don't have "hard points," or brackets, on which ammunition can be fixed, Zenko said, but they do have the ability to conduct surveillance.

Arab Lawyers Union Honors Palestinian Suicide Bomber - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Arab Lawyers Union on Friday awarded its highest decoration to the Palestinian woman who carried out the 2003 suicide bombing at Maxim's Restaurant in Haifa, which killed 21 and wounded 51.
    The Cairo-based union, which represents lawyers from 15 Arab countries, dispatched a delegation to the home of suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat in Jenin to present her family with the award.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Hackers Behind Electronic Assaults on U.S. Banks - Siobhan Gorman and Julian E. Barnes
    Iranian hackers with government ties have mounted cyberattacks against American targets in recent months, U.S. officials say. The attacks bore "signatures" that allowed U.S. investigators to trace them to the Iranian government. The hackers appear to be a network of Iranian computer-security specialists at universities and network security companies. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Netanyahu: Cyberattacks on Israel Increasing
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday: "There are increasing attempts to carry out cyberattacks on computer infrastructures in the State of Israel. Every day there are attempts, even many attempts, to infiltrate Israel's computer systems." Israel "is working to block these attempts by developing what I would call a 'digital Iron Dome' for Israel to defend against computer terrorism. Just as we have the Iron Dome system against missiles and a security fence against infiltrators and terrorism - we will have a similar defense against cyberattacks."  (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
  • Egypt's Islamists Play to Anti-Israel Sentiment - Aya Batrawy
    The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie called on Muslims worldwide last week to defend Jerusalem, saying that Jews were spreading "corruption," had slaughtered Muslims, and desecrated holy sites. Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said Saturday, "Every time there is domestic tension in the new Egypt, Israel and the Jews will be targeted and every time the Egyptian street is tense or protests, the Muslim Brotherhood will bring the anti-Semitic genie out of the bottle."
        Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said: "Improved relations were with the former regime...against the will of the people, the will of Arab people and the will of Palestinians. Now relations are different."  (AP)
        See also The First Hundred Days of Brother Morsi - Zvi Mazel (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Air Force Kills Top Gaza Al-Qaeda Leaders - Daniel Siryoti and Lilach Shoval
    Israel Air Force planes on Sunday targeted a terrorist cell in Gaza that was preparing to launch a rocket into Israel. One Palestinian was killed and another wounded in the airstrike. On Saturday, two Global Jihad operatives were killed when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the motorcycle they were riding on in Jabaliya in Gaza. The two were involved in planning an attack on Israel.
        Hisham al-Saedni and Ashraf al-Sabah, Salafi Islamists, were leaders, respectively, of the Tawhid wa-Jihad and Ansar Al-Sunna groups. The men had recently merged their groups to form the umbrella Majles Shoura Al-Mujahideen (Holy Warriors' Guidance Council), becoming the de facto heads of the diffuse Gaza jihadi network. The group took responsibility for a Grad rocket attack on Netivot on Friday night in which a home was damaged.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday: "The Global Jihad is stepping up its efforts to target us, and we will continue to interdict it with aggression and might, in terms of both response and pre-emption."
        On Friday night a siren sounded in Netivot. "We were at the end of the evening meal when we heard the siren," said Karin Amar, a resident of Netivot whose yard was hit by the rocket. "We went into the security room quickly. It was the only room that was not damaged in the home. This is the way we live in these times."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Targets Gaza Jihadis Before They Reach Sinai - Amos Harel
    Groups in Gaza and Sinai loosely-affiliated with al-Qaeda are busy forming a complex network of activists and weapons. This is being done with Hamas' encouragement - some have ties with Hamas or are even paid by it. At this point, the network is extensive enough to set the region ablaze, by constantly launching rockets at Israel, or by arranging terror attacks on Israel via Sinai.
        Since Israel's freedom to act in Egyptian Sinai is extremely limited, the IDF limits its actions to striking the various Jihad groups in Gaza before they go through the tunnels en route to Sinai. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria - David E. Sanger
    Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats. "The opposition groups that are receiving most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don't want to have it," said one American official. (New York Times)
        See also The Israeli Who Sneaked into Syria - Michael J. Totten
    Jonathan Spyer sneaked over the border with the Free Syrian Army to cover the war against Assad from the front lines. He did it twice. And he's an Israeli. I recently asked him: What should the U.S. do about Syria? Stay out of it? Arm the rebels?
        Spyer: My view remains that the U.S. and its allies should engage closely with the rebels, identify deserving clients and begin to arm and support them. This has not yet happened to a significant degree and the result is the current stalemate. It's understandable that many Westerners feel that given the rise of Sunni Islamism, the U.S. interest is to stay out. Understandable, but wrong.
        The U.S. can either engage in the Middle East or disengage from it. But disengagement doesn't leave a vacuum. Rather, it leaves a space which is rapidly filled by advancing hostile interests - in the Syrian case, Iran and Russia. These forces are currently backing the Assad dictatorship all the way.
        The Iranians, in particular, see the survival of the dictatorship as a cardinal interest. Should Assad or his regime survive in some form, this would represent a major strategic victory for the Iranians. It would also convince regional elites that the Iranians are the people to align with if you want to stay in power.
        The Syrian situation presents an opportunity to deal the Iran-led regional bloc and its backers a very telling defeat. I think this opportunity should be taken. (World Affairs)
  • When the Jews Fled from Arab Lands - Lucette Lagnado
    Shortly after the UN vote that laid the groundwork for the creation of Israel in 1947, mobs stormed the Jewish Quarter of the Syrian city of Aleppo where Jews and Muslims had lived together for centuries. Fortunee Abadie, now 88, remembers watching attackers burn prayer books, prayer shawls and other holy objects from the synagogue. She heard the screams of neighbors as their homes were invaded. "We thought we were going to be killed," she says.
        Israeli officials say the hardships faced by several hundred thousand Jews from Arab lands, many forced from their homes, deserve as much attention as the plight of displaced Palestinians.
        The Six-Day War of June 1967 brought some of the most violent anti-Jewish eruptions. In Egypt, Jewish men over 18 were rounded up and sent to prison. Some were kept for a few days. Others, like Philadelphia Rabbi Albert Gabbai, a Cairo native, remained imprisoned for three years. (Wall Street Journal)

Israel Denies Agreement with U.S. on Golan Withdrawal - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)

  • For several months in 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel engaged in secret, American-brokered discussions with Syria for a possible peace treaty, but the process was cut short by the Arab Spring uprisings in early 2011. IDF Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, who was involved in the talks, said Friday that "nothing was agreed between the parties." "There was a detailed list of Israeli demands meant to serve as a basis for a peace agreement," said Herzog. "The idea was to see if we could drive a wedge in the radical axis of Iran-Syria-Hizbullah" by taking Syria out of the equation.
  • Yediot Ahronot claimed that the Israeli prime minister was prepared to agree to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, but the prime minister's office denied on Friday that Israel had agreed to a withdrawal. "This is one initiative of many that was proposed to Israel in the past years," Netanyahu's office said. "At no stage did Israel accept this American initiative. The initiative is old and irrelevant, and its publication now stems from political needs," referring to Israel's upcoming elections.
  • Dore Gold, an adviser during Netanyahu's first term, rejected the assertion that Netanyahu had agreed to withdraw to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Gold, who is now president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said Netanyahu "has always viewed the Golan Heights as a strategic asset for the defense of Israel," and it was "completely unthinkable that Prime Minister Netanyahu would ever contemplate the kind of withdrawal" described by Yediot Ahronot.
    See also Israel and Syria Conducted Peace Negotiations in 2010-11 - Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)
  • In September 2010, after the peace process with the Palestinians collapsed, Obama and Netanyahu began working together on a breakthrough with the Syrians. In the final months of 2010 and the opening months of 2011, Netanyahu ran an impressive peace process: It was kept completely secret; it was designed as a joint Israeli-American initiative; and it was not based on an Israeli proposal or a Syrian offer, but on the gradual preparation of a joint peace treaty.
  • There was no prior commitment by Israel to withdraw to the June 4, 1967, lines. Obama and Netanyahu defined a peace process that was leading the Syrians to a strategic divorce from Iran and Hizbullah - even before they received an explicit Israeli commitment to withdraw completely from the Golan Heights.
  • The peace process of 2010-11 proves that the Israeli prime minister and American president worked together honestly and wisely to bring peace to the region. There will be no peace with Syria in the next decade because the Arab Spring has sentenced it to death.

        See also Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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