UK Special Forces in Iraq Seek to Capture British Jihadis - Mark Nicol (Mail on Sunday-UK)
Elite troops from Britain's SAS and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) are conducting operations inside Iraq, which could lead to the capture of the killer of U.S. journalist James Foley.
A "significant force" of SAS soldiers has deployed to northern Iraq, joining Iraqi and Kurdish units fighting IS, in an attempt to capture British jihadis.
Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes Against Islamists in Libya - David D. Kirkpatrick and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya - without informing Washington - senior American officials said.
Since last year, the new Egyptian government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a campaign across the region to roll back the threat posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
Arrayed against them and backing the Islamists are Turkey and Qatar.
Iran-Backed Group Implicated in Attack on Israel Embassy in Georgia - Bayram Kaya (Zaman-Turkey)
An investigation into the Tawhid-Salam cells working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force in Turkey has uncovered a connection to the failed bombing attack against an Israel Embassy staff member in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Feb. 13, 2012.
Naser Ghafari, one of the commanders assigned to Turkey by the IRGC, instructed Huseyin Yazicioglu, a Turkish citizen who has been working for Iranian intelligence, to conduct surveillance in Tbilisi.
Ghafari operates under the cover of a diplomatic passport attached to the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul.
How Israeli Teens' Kidnappers Evaded Army after Murders - Chaim Levinson (Ha'aretz)
Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh, the murderers of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June,
are still at large. Others involved in the kidnapping have been apprehended and are standing trial.
Following the arrest of Hussam Qawasmeh, who organized and funded the kidnapping, security officials learned that the kidnappers had intended to kill the teenagers all along.
Later, both murderers hid in an unused cesspool, which was covered in earth and furnished with a small breathing pipe. The two emerged after five days, then disappeared.
Security forces estimate that they are still in the area, armed and desperate.
Over 190 Hollywood Notables Sign Pro-Israel Statement Criticizing Hamas (Hollywood Reporter)
"Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities," reads a statement signed by more than 190 entertainment execs, actors, producers and showrunners including Sarah Silverman, Minnie Driver, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The statement was circulated on Saturday by Lana Melman, director of the Creative Community for Peace organization. A full list of names who signed the "Commitment to Justice and Peace" statement is here.
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- Gaza Attacks Trigger Israeli Exodus from Gaza Border - Ian Deitch
With Palestinian mortar fire raining down on their communities, hundreds of Israelis left their homes along the border with Gaza on Monday.
Officials estimate that 70% of the 40,000 inhabitants of the farming communities along the Gaza border have left over the course of the fighting. Fields that once yielded vegetables and flowers are barren and pockmarked by Palestinian mortar shells.
Israel's missile defenses have been largely ineffective against short-range mortar fire - a deficiency underscored when a 4-year-old boy was killed Friday by a Palestinian mortar shell. The military said Monday that the mortar that killed the boy was fired several meters away from a school in Gaza.
Elazar Ashtivkar, a 30-year-old father of four, left Nahal Oz, the scene of the deadly attack, several weeks ago with his family. He said nearly all of the residents have left. Only a few workers in charge of taking care of the cows along with some security personnel remain.
- U.S. Working at UN on Gaza Cease-Fire Draft - Louis Charbonneau
The U.S. has prepared its own draft outline for a UN resolution demanding a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza and is now working with European powers and Jordan on a joint text, diplomats said on Monday. "What's important is that the Americans are engaging and there's a new momentum in pushing for a cease-fire resolution in the Security Council," a UN diplomat said. Diplomats said Israel received the draft over the weekend. An Israeli official said, "this is still under negotiation." (Reuters)
- Syria Warns Against U.S. Airstrikes on Islamic State on Its Soil - Liz Sly
Syria warned the Obama administration Monday not to extend its air war against the Islamic State into Syria. President Obama last weekend authorized reconnaissance flights with manned and unmanned aircraft over potential Islamic State targets in Syria. On Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem signaled that Damascus would not tolerate unilateral U.S. strikes against the extremists even in areas of the country the government no longer controls. "Any breach of Syrian sovereignty by any side constitutes an act of aggression," he said.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinian Rocket Strikes Ashkelon Home, Six Wounded
Six people were lightly wounded from glass shards when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a home in Ashkelon on Tuesday morning. Among the wounded are three children aged 5 to 8.
See also Rockets Rain on Israel from Gaza - Ilana Curiel
Palestinians in Gaza fired more than 130 rockets at Israel on Monday. Four made direct hits on structures. Rockets were also fired into Israel from Lebanon. The IDF fired on positions in Lebanon in retaliation.
- Palestinians Fire Rockets at Israel from Hospital, Schools - Yaakov Lappin
Hamas set a "classic humanitarian trap" and attempted to get Israel to kill Gazan civilians when it fired rockets from rooftops, the Shuhada medical center, and two schools used as evacuation centers for civilians in Gaza's Shati neighborhood, a senior Israel Air Force officer said Monday.
The air force is continuing to target Hamas operatives responsible for rocket fire.
- Can Israel Win a War of Attrition? - Ron Ben-Yishai
It is enough that Hamas keeps launching rockets and says it is winning to make the Arab world and Gazans believe that it has the upper hand. In Israel, on the other hand, we tell the truth and do not try to dress it up. Every Israeli knows that residents of the south have left until the storm has passed. Hamas has prepared for the current conflict for at least five years. It has thousands of short-range rockets and mortars, as well as hundreds of medium-range rockets, and could keep firing for at least another month.
- Time to Confront Qatar for Supporting ISIS - Jack Keane And Danielle Pletka
The time has come to confront the government of Qatar, which funds and arms ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas. The tiny Gulf potentate has never had to choose between membership in the civilized world or continuing its sponsorship of regional killers. The U.S. has the most leverage. We have alternatives to our Combined Air and Operations Center in Doha, the al Udeid air base, other bases and prepositioned materiel. We should tell Qatar to end its support for terrorism or we leave.
Gen. Keane, former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, is the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War. Ms. Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
(Wall Street Journal)
- The Skewed Coverage of Western Media in the Gaza War - Richard Behar
Journalists working for American news outlets have "become part of the Hamas war machine" in the ongoing war in Gaza, notes Gary Weiss, one of the world's top business investigative reporters.
On Aug. 11, the normally Israel-averse Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned the terrorist group for "the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month."
Since the war began on July 8, so much of the Western coverage has been predictably skewed against Israel - through those time-honored journalism tools of sloppy and lazy reporting, superficiality, nuance, omission, lack of historical knowledge, or flat-out agenda-driven lies and bias.
"We're talking about journalism that functions as a tool of a terrorist organization, Hamas: breathlessly pushing its narrative, whether cowed by its threats, sympathetic to its cause, or simply ignorant,"
This epidemic of journalistic malpractice is contributing to the pain and loss of life that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering - as it helps to empower Hamas. In turn, this no doubt helps spread oil on the rising and frightening anti-Semitism we're seeing in Europe and elsewhere.
The arithmetic of civilian casualties in Gaza is one of the principal media crimes in this war. Major Western journalists routinely swallowed the huge civilian-casualty figures dished out to them by Gaza's Ministry of Health, a bureaucratic arm of a terrorist group that was shown to have lied about such figures in past wars. In some cases, reporters cite numbers instead from the UN, which gets its numbers from - surprise - the Hamas ministry. (Forbes)
- Is the UN Responsible for War Crimes? - Nadav Shragai
The Gaza branch of UNRWA uses school textbooks that teach jihad against Israel and some of its institutions have been taken over de facto by Hamas. The teaching staff has been infiltrated by terrorists and operatives of terrorist groups, and its institutions served as launching sites for rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel. Hamas has been in control of UNRWA's workers' union for many years.
Dozens of activists in the Al-Qassam Brigades started out as activists in Hamas' Islamic Bloc in UNRWA schools, notes Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi. Dr. Arnon Groiss has studied 150 textbooks used in UNRWA schools, and found that these books encouraged violent struggle against Israel. These textbooks also contain expressions of hatred against Jews and Israel, false information that negates the Jewish and Israeli presence in Israel, portrays the Jewish holy sites as Islamic sacred sites that were stolen from Muslims, and ignores Israel's presence almost completely.
According to Halevi, Hamas' partial takeover of UNRWA's institutions should sound the alarm regarding the possibility that funds from donor countries, including the U.S. and Canada, are being used to pay the salaries of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives.
An Insider's Guide to the Gaza War - Matti Friedman (Tablet)
- The way the Gaza war has been described and responded to abroad has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought - namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. News organizations believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.
- If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are more complicated.
- Every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period (Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011), I counted 27 separate AP articles, an average of a story every two days, on the various moral failings of Israeli society - a tally higher than the total number of critical stories about Palestinian government and society that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.
- Any veteran of the press corps here knows that Hamas intimidation of reporters is real. As an editor on the AP news desk during the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting, I personally erased a key detail - that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll - because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. The policy remains not to inform readers that a story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli.
- The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians.
Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.
- The land that Israel controls consists of the 0.2% of the Arab world in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as "Jewish-Arab" - a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries (or, more broadly, 1 billion Muslims worldwide). Yet the "Israeli-Palestinian" framing of the story allows the Jews to be depicted as the stronger party.
- When journalists cover the Jews' war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews' actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, international press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain.
The writer was a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press (2006-2011).
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