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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
September 24, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Pentagon: Khorasan in Syria Was "Nearing the Execution Phase" of an Attack - Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News)
    Khorasan, the al-Qaeda-affiliated group the U.S. struck unilaterally in Syria, was "nearing the execution phase of an attack either in Europe or the homeland," Lt. Gen. William Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.
    "We know that the Khorasan group has attempted to recruit Westerners to serve as operatives or to infiltrate back into their homelands. The Khorasan group is clearly not focused on either the Assad regime or the Syrian people. They are establishing roots in Syria in order to advance attacks against the West and the homeland."

U.S. Briefed Israel before Attack on Jihadi Targets in Syria - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Senior officials in Washington called their counterparts in the Israeli prime minister's office, Defense Ministry and the IDF late Monday night to advise them of the planned attacks in Syria.
    Several Arab states that don't have diplomatic relations with Israel took part in the aerial attacks. The Americans wanted to avoid a situation in which Israel would mistakenly identify Arab military airplanes flying over Syria as enemy aircraft.
    Aircraft from Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain participated in the attacks. Qatar and Bahrain also provided logistic support via American bases in their territory.

Terrorist Shot Dead in Australia "Planned to Behead Police Officers" (Western Australian)
    An 18-year-old who was shot dead after he stabbed two police officers in Melbourne was planning to behead them, cover their bodies in an Islamic State flag, and post photos to social media, according to reports.
    Abdul Numan Haider, who was born in Afghanistan and recently had his passport cancelled on security grounds, stabbed the officers after greeting them with a handshake.
    He was found to be carrying a larger knife and an Islamic State flag in his pocket.

Glossary of Extremists in Mideast and Africa - Matthew Lee (AP)
    Here is a look at 14 radical Islamic groups presenting the most serious threats to the Middle East and Africa.

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PA Daily Lauds Israel's Treatment of Palestinian Workers - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    On Sep. 21, the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida lauded Israeli employers of Palestinians for their positive employment ethics.
    "Whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers - for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights."
    "The [Israeli] work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers."

China Firm to Build New Ashdod Port - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    A Beijing-based contracting firm, China Harbor, has been chosen to build a new port in Ashdod, about a kilometer north of the current port, it was announced Tuesday.
    Construction will take about seven years to complete.

France Leads Immigration to Israel - Sam Sokol (Jerusalem Post)
    24,800 new immigrants arrived in Israel in the Jewish year 5774, led by 6,000 French Jews, the Jewish Agency said Monday.
    New arrivals in the past year included 4,500 from Russia, 4,200 from Ukraine, 3,600 from North America, 1,100 from South America, 570 from the UK, 260 from Belgium, and 230 from Ethiopia.

Poll Finds Israelis Satisfied with Their Lives - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    75% of Israelis (Jews-75%, Arabs-73%) are satisfied with their personal situation going into the new Jewish year 5775, according to the Peace Index poll released Tuesday, co-sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University.
    See also The Peace Index: September 2014 (Israel Democracy Institute)

13 Signs that the Jewish New Year Is Approaching in Israel - Judy Lash Balint (Times of Israel)
    Shofar blasts are heard all over Jerusalem at all hours of the day and night as kids try out their fathers' ram's horn.
    Pomegranates are everywhere - real ones weighing down branches on trees and on sale in the markets; symbolic ones for sale as honey dishes, embossed on cards, and featured in ads.
    Tel Aviv parking authorities have special new year parking tickets. Anyone who parks without putting money into the meter will be ticketed, but the ticket will explain that in honor of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) the fine has been waived.

Israel's Population: 8,252,500 - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz)
    On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Israel's population numbers 8,252,500, of whom 6,186,100 (75%) are Jews, 1,709,900 (21%) are Arabs, and 356,500 are "others," the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Monday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • At Least 120 Jihadists Dead in U.S.-Led Syria Strikes
    U.S.-led airstrikes killed at least 120 jihadists in Syria on Tuesday, including more than 70 members of the Islamic State, as well as 50 al-Qaeda militants, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 300 people were injured in the strikes, about 100 seriously. (AFP)
        See also U.S: Strikes in Syria Are Just the Start of a Prolonged Campaign - Craig Whitlock
    U.S. military leaders said Tuesday their aerial bombardment of Syria was only the beginning of a prolonged campaign that will continue intermittently for months and will become more difficult as targeted militants seek refuge in populated areas. The attacks in Syria marked the start of a new phase, coming six weeks after the U.S. military began a similar campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • Obama: "We Will Not Tolerate Safe Havens for Terrorists" - Rebecca Kaplan
    President Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. had begun striking the Islamic State (known as ISIS, or ISIL) inside Syria's borders as well as an al-Qaeda affiliate that was plotting against the U.S. "It must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people," he said.
        The U.S. carried out eight unilateral airstrikes against the Khorasan group, which was deemed a more imminent threat to the U.S. than even ISIS. Khorasan is a group of operatives U.S. officials say were dispatched by al-Qaeda's central command in Pakistan to link up their bomb-making experts with Western jihadists who have joined the fight in Syria. The president referred to them as "seasoned al-Qaeda operatives."  (CBS News)
  • Syria's Assad Backs International Efforts to Fight Terrorism, Iran and Russia Condemn Airstrikes
    Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday he supports any international effort against terrorism, after the U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria. Damascus said the U.S. informed it of the strikes beforehand.
        Syria's two key allies, Iran and Russia, condemned the strikes. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in New York that the U.S.-led coalition's airstrikes are illegal. Russia warned that the "unilateral" U.S. airstrikes are destabilizing. (AP-Boston Herald)
        See also U.S. Told Iran of Intent to Strike Islamic State in Syria - Parisa Hafezi, Louis Charbonneau and Arshad Mohammed
    The U.S. informed Iran in advance of its intention to strike Islamic State militants in Syria and assured Tehran that it would not target the forces of Syrian President Assad, a senior Iranian official told Reuters. The communication was confirmed in part by a senior U.S. State Department official. (Reuters)
  • Egypt's President Backs Global Campaign Against Islamic State Extremists - Gerard Baker and Jay Solomon
    Egyptian President Al Sisi pledged his support for the U.S. war against Islamic State militants, but called on President Obama to widen his campaign against extremism, citing terrorist threats in Libya, Sudan, Yemen and the Sinai Peninsula. He also said he is pursuing economic development, education and the promotion of religious tolerance as tools that were just as important for neutralizing the Islamic State and other radical groups as military strikes.
        The U.S. is preparing to deliver 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt that were placed on hold after Sisi and his military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013. U.S. officials believe that UAE warplanes, using Egyptian air bases, conducted at least three airstrikes on Islamist militias in Libya last month. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Gaza Cease-Fire Talks Adjourned until Late October - Raphael Ahren
    An Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for indirect cease-fire talks with Hamas, as the resumption of hostilities appeared unlikely. Hours later, the talks adjourned until late October due to upcoming Jewish and Muslim holidays.
        "It is quite clear that Hamas has no interest in resuming fire," Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog said Monday. "Not only were they severely beaten during the war, but also they feel that the population does not like them to go down that road again. There are high expectations about reconstruction, so it's quite clear that Hamas is not interested" in escalating tensions. "On the ground, the situation is stable. The ceasefire is holding."  (Times of Israel)
        See also A Month After the War, Nothing Has Changed in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Almost a month has passed since Israel's military operation in Gaza and nearly nothing has changed in the Strip. Gazans see their destroyed houses and realize they are unlikely to be rebuilt anytime soon. Fundamental political issues are inhibiting rehabilitation for Gaza, as the PA demands Hamas forfeit control of the Strip, a proposition the Islamist group rejects outright.
        Hamas' political leadership is signaling that it is not interested in entering another round of violence, yet within Hamas' military leadership there are more than a few people who support the idea of resuming rocket fire at Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • New Submarine Arrives in Israel
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Israel's fourth submarine, the INS Tanin, built in Germany, when it docked at the Haifa Naval Base on Tuesday. The Tanin uses air-independent propulsion technology to stay submerged for longer than the three older Dolphin-class vessels. A fifth submarine, the INS Rahav, is expected to arrive in 6-7 months, and a sixth submarine will join the fleet by the end of the decade. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syrian Jet Made a Mistake Israel Cannot Afford to Tolerate - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The interception of the Syrian fighter jet that crossed into Israel on Tuesday came in accordance with the Israel Defense Forces' standard response policy in such instances. Israel will not tolerate any infiltration of its territory. If Syrian aircraft cross the cease-fire line, the IDF's standing order is to intercept them. A Patriot missile was fired at the jet the moment it was seen to breach Israeli airspace. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Arab Priest Tells UN Human Rights Council to "End Witch Hunt" of Israel - Marissa Newman
    Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Israel, defended the Jewish state before the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, arguing that it is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted, and implored the body to "end your witch hunt of the only free country in the region." "In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is...affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security," Father Naddaf said. "It is Israel, the Jewish state. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe."
        According to Naddaf, some 120,000 Christians have been killed each year in the Middle East for the last decade. "That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • U.S. War Strategy Takes Shape - David Ignatius
    The U.S. has gone into battle again, in yet another Muslim country, to attack the menace of violent extremism. This time, at least, the president could announce that U.S. military action was joined by a coalition of leading Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar.
        The president insists that there won't be American combat "boots on the ground," but the role of American military advisers assisting Iraqi and perhaps rebel Syrian forces will be crucial. Obama and his advisers, led by Gen. John Allen, have focused on five main lines of operation against the Islamic State: direct military action, counterterrorism operations against foreign fighters, disruption of financing, humanitarian assistance, and media activities to delegitimize the extremists.
        The U.S. will lead the training of about 10,000 Sunni "national guard" troops in Iraq, drawn from tribal fighters. These Sunni forces will act as a local gendarmerie, to keep order in their home regions once Islamic State fighters have been cleared. Training camps are already under construction in Jordan and northern Iraq, and are expected to be ready in three to six months. (Washington Post)
        See also Sunni Tribes in Iraq Remain on the Sidelines - David D. Kirkpatrick and Omar Al-Jawoshy
    After six weeks of American airstrikes, Iraqi government forces have scarcely budged the Islamic State from its hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines. An American official acknowledged that many of the Sunni sheikhs were slow to trust the new Iraqi government. "They have been disenfranchised, and they have been lied to" under the previous one, the official said. "They want to be part of the solution, they want to be included, but it is going to take some time."  (New York Times)
  • U.S. Attack in Syria Parallels Israel's in Gaza - Alan Dershowitz
    The air attack by American and Arab forces against ISIS and other terrorist targets parallels Israel's air attacks against Hamas terrorist targets in Gaza. Yet the U.S. and its Arab partners have the right to take preemptive action against terrorist groups without fear of UN condemnation, a Goldstone report, or threats to bring its leaders before the International Criminal Court.
        American and Arab rockets will kill some civilians. It will be interesting to compare the world's reaction to those civilian deaths with its reaction to deaths caused by Israeli rockets hitting human shields deliberately employed by Hamas. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Why Iran's Ballistic Missiles Matter - Olli Heinonen
    The P5+1 negotiations with Iran should include talks on Iran's ballistic missile capability. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 requested, inter alia, that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The IAEA report from November 2011 describes Iranian work - known as Project 111 - on engineering studies to examine how to integrate a new spherical payload into the existing payload chamber, which would be mounted in the re-entry vehicle of the Shahab-3 missile. The IAEA has assessed that the payload in question is likely a nuclear device.
        In light of these findings, addressing verifiable limits to Iran's ballistic missile capabilities should form part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement. The agreement should seek to suspend Iran's ballistic missile-related work and/or impose a moratorium on the testing of all ballistic missiles, with verifiable ends. Ignoring the strategic linkage between Iran's nuclear program and its missile program weakens any monitoring and verification system, undermines regional stability and security, and disregards both UN Security Council Resolution 1929 and the sanctions termination criteria as stipulated in U.S. law. The writer was Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. (Belfer Center-Harvard University)
  • The UN Convicted Israel Before Its Show Trial Even Began - Editorial
    Hamas started the conflict by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into the Jewish state from heavily populated areas of Gaza, and prolonged the suffering by violating cease-fire after cease-fire that Israel honored. While each Hamas rocket was a war crime, too much of the world attacked Israel for retaliating in self-defense. Among those is the UN Human Rights Council, a body dominated by Israel's foes that has focused incessantly on Israel while turning a blind eye to abuses by the world's worst regimes.
        The Council empaneled a commission "to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law" during the war with an authorizing resolution condemning the Jewish state 18 times, while never once mentioning Hamas. (New York Daily News)
  • What Hizbullah May Learn from the Gaza War - Omer Einav
    Given the weakening of regular armies in the region in recent years, Hizbullah and Hamas now represent the two main immediate threats to Israel. Prior to the Gaza war, Hamas adopted Hizbullah's operational concept regarding rocket fire, based on multiple launchings from launchers concealed underground in built-up areas.
        Hizbullah is likely to reinforce its operational concept of operating from within built-up areas, in view of the IDF's efforts to avoid a massive entry into populated areas, due to concern about its own losses and heavy collateral damage to the civilian population. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Holiday Features

  • Prime Minister Netanyahu's Rosh Hashanah Greeting to Jewish Communities Around the World
    "The Jewish people always unite when faced with great challenges, and the past year was no exception. Over the past few months, three of our teenagers were kidnapped and brutally murdered, thousands of rockets were fired at our country, and too many of our bravest young men and their families made the most painful of sacrifices in Operation Protective Edge. Throughout all that, we witnessed tremendous support for Israel from Jewish communities everywhere. And at the same time, we in Israel know that it has been a difficult period for many of your Jewish communities. You face increasingly virulent and even violent anti-Semitism."
        "So on behalf of the people of Israel, I thank you for supporting our just campaign to defend ourselves; to provide the sustained peace and security that all Israelis deserve. And I assure you that we in Israel will continue to stand by your side as you confront hatred and intolerance. Jews everywhere must be able to live proudly and without fear."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Video: President Obama's Greeting for Rosh Hashanah (White House)
  • Israel Turns Self-Defense into Industry Boom for Cyber Techs - Tova Cohen
    Israeli firms have attracted growing foreign investment over the past two years to develop cutting-edge tools for detecting and preventing cyberattacks. Gadi Tirosh, of Jerusalem Venture Partners, noted a move away from perimeter defenses such as firewalls to focus on detecting and preventing attacks before they can reach inside organizations.
        IBM, Cisco Systems and EMC have all snapped up Israeli firms and set up research and development centers there. Many firms focus on emerging threats to mobile phone users and the need to secure the dizzying array of interconnected devices.
        Isaac Ben-Israel, the country's former top military scientist and now head of Tel Aviv University's cyber research center, said Israel's goal is to become one of the five leading cyber powers and already ranks among the top three in terms of cyber readiness, along with Finland and Sweden. "In a normal day we have 100,000 to 200,000 attacks per day. In times of emergency...this goes up to 2 million a day. This drives us to develop protection technology," he said. (Reuters)
  • China's Search for Technology Leads to Growing VC Investment in Israel - Russell Flannery
    Chinese companies are looking carefully at Israel, an influential tech power. Hong Kong-based consultant Michael Feldman said, "Over the past couple of years we've witnessed a huge increase in action between China and Israel....Li Ka Shing (the world's richest Chinese), through his personal fund Horizons Ventures based in Hong Kong, has invested in over 25 Israeli companies and has had some big successes like with Waze, which was sold to Google for $1b. Other Chinese investors, particularly in tech, have started to pay attention and wonder what Mr. Li is seeing that they're not."
        "We're seeing everyone from conglomerates like Fosun and China Everbright who are investing in tech and medical, technology companies like Qihoo 360 (which is a limited partner in two Israeli venture capital funds and invested in four companies including cyber security and image search), Lenovo, Xiaomi and Huawei, as well as Chinese VC firms which don't have a big profile in the U.S. such as Ceyuan Ventures."
        "I'm seeing founders from China's biggest Internet companies, family offices, and even mainland coal bosses who are putting a small part of the their personal fortunes into Israel. And it's not just China; Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten has a keen eye on Israel after having acquired another Israeli company, Viber, earlier this year."  (Forbes)
  • Israeli Firm Looks to Keep Solar Power Generators Running at Night - Ari Rabinovitch
    An Israeli solar power company, Brenmiller Energy, says it has developed a new, more efficient way to store heat from the sun that could give a boost to the thermal solar power industry by enabling plants to run at full capacity night and day. By next year company founder Avi Brenmiller said he will have a 1.5 megawatt (MW), 15-acre site in the Negev desert connected to Israel's national grid, and a number of 10 to 20-MW pilots abroad are expected to follow, which will produce electricity at a price which competes with power from fossil-fuelled plants.
        A row of parabolic mirrors now tracks the sun, concentrating the rays to generate the steam needed to drive a turbine for producing electricity. Some of the solar heat is also conducted by a fluid into a novel storage system beneath the mirrors which operates at 550 degrees Celsius. This store can then be tapped at night or on cloudy days to keep the steam supply to the turbines flowing. The innovation is in the medium that stores the heat. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Scholars Sign Letter Against Academic Boycott of Israel - Eugene Kontorovich (Washington Post)

  • Over 800 academics thus far have signed a new letter opposing an academic boycott of Israel. The letter states:
  • We, the undersigned...oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel's academic institutions, scholars and students. Our opposition is rooted in the following core principles:
    1. Academic freedom: The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement discriminates against Israeli institutions, professors, and students for no other reason than their nationality and the policies of their government. Thus BDS violates the very principle of academic freedom.
          Academic boycotts such as those promoted by BDS activists "are antithetical to the fundamental principles of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment," according to a statement signed by 300 university presidents in 2007.
    2. Truth: The factual record does not support the accusations and narratives of the BDS movement. Many are based on overstatements, cherry-picked evidence, outright falsehood, or on disputed or highly biased data.
    3. Peace: The two-state solution - which guarantees to both parties mutual recognition - enjoys the endorsement of the UN, U.S., EU, and the Arab League. By demonizing and seeking to isolate one of the two parties to the peace process, the anti-Israel BDS movement sets itself apart from the global consensus for peace.
  • Sign the Academics' Petition Opposing the Academic Boycott of Israel (Faculty for Academic Freedom)
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