Explosion Around Military Site Jolts Tehran - Thomas Erdbrink (New York Times)
A mysterious explosion at or near an important military complex rocked Tehran on Sunday, lighting up the skies over the city.
Witnesses said the enormous orange flash came from the direction of the expansive Parchin military site east of the city.
Hamas: Ruling West Bank, We Could Destroy Israel - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
The Palestinian Al-Ayyam daily reported on Oct. 1 that Hamas Political Bureau member Mahmoud Al-Zahar said:
"[Some] have said Hamas wants to create an Islamic emirate in Gaza. We won't do that, but we will build an Islamic state in Palestine, all of Palestine."
Al-Zahar said that if his movement were to "transfer what it has or just a small part of it to the West Bank, we would be able to settle the battle of the final promise (an allusion to Sura 17:7 of the Quran) with a speed that no one can imagine."
He continued: "We know exactly how to liberate the land of Palestine, and we know how to hit every inch of Palestine with our hands, brains, and money."
New Group to Spotlight Secret Funding for Islamic State - Anne Gearan (Washington Post)
The sudden rise of the well-financed Islamic State militant group could not have come about unless unscrupulous companies and individuals slipped money to the group or did business with it, said Mark D. Wallace, a former Bush administration diplomat and lawyer who heads a new private research organization that will seek to expose such dealings and apply pressure to stop them.
Advisers of the group, called the Counter Extremism Project, include former senator Joseph I. Lieberman, former Bush administration Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend and former Obama administration diplomat Dennis Ross.
Feds Warn of Jury Tampering in Israel-Terrorism-Related Case - Josh Gerstein (Politico)
Federal prosecutors are publicly accusing Palestinian-American activist Hatem Abudayyeh of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network of an "almost certainly criminal" effort to derail the trial of a colleague accused of naturalization fraud for failing to disclose a terrorism conviction in Israel more than four decades ago.
In a motion filed Friday in connection with the upcoming trial of Rasmea Odeh, prosecutors wrote:
"Hatem Abudayyeh has orchestrated a concerted effort to influence the criminal proceedings against defendant, which has resulted, at each proceeding, in a large group outside the Courthouse protesting and parading, carrying signs demanding dismissal of charges and 'Justice for Rasmea' and displaying the Palestinian flag."
"Abudayyeh has publicly stated that a goal of filling the courtroom, rallying outside the courthouse, and chanting while holding posters is to influence the opinions of jurors....As is evident from Mr. Abudayyeh's own statements, it is his goal, and that of his supporters, to tamper with the prospective and seated jurors in order to sway the jury in defendant's favor."
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- Slaughter Is Feared as ISIS Nears Turkish Border - Karam Shoumali and Anne Barnard
Islamic State militants pushed on Monday into the eastern edge of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish border, raising fears of a massacre of civilians, Kurdish fighters and activists said.
Rooz Bahjat, a senior security official with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, said that as many as 9,000 Islamic State fighters were closing in on Kobani, which has given shelter to internally displaced Syrians from a wide range of ethnic groups.
Video from the front lines in recent days has shown fighters for the Islamic State advancing across fields in formation, well equipped in camouflage flak vests. Some militants have posted pictures of themselves holding the severed heads of what they say are female Kurdish fighters. Turkish forces have prevented Turkish and Syrian Kurds from joining the fight.
(New York Times)
- Shiite Rebels Are Yemen's New Masters - Hamza Hendawi
Anti-American Shiite rebels known as Houthis man checkpoints and roam the streets in pickups mounted with anti-aircraft guns after they overran Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, two weeks ago. Rebel fighters have plastered the city with fliers proclaiming their slogan - "Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam."
The Houthis, who are backed by Shiite-led Iran, are poised to become Yemen's version of the Shiite Hizbullah in Lebanon - top powerbrokers dominating the government. After the fall of Sanaa, Houthis staged a massive victory rally in the city, flying Hizbullah flags and portraits of Iran's late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. (AP-ABC News)
See also Yemen Changes Hands:
Will an Iranian Stronghold Emerge near the Entrance to the Red Sea? - Jacques Neriah
Zaydi Shiites from the Houthi clan have taken control of the capital of Yemen.
While the Zaydi Shiism practiced in Yemen differs from the Shiism practiced in Iran, in recent years Iran has sought to bring the Zaydis under its wings. Last year an Iranian weapons boat bound for Yemen was interdicted.
A Houthi-controlled Yemen could evolve into a full-scale Iranian stronghold in the future and threaten freedom of movement through the Bab al Mandab Strait, the gateway to the Red Sea and a vital sea route between Europe and the Far East. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hizbullah Assist Houthis in Yemen - Arafat Madabish
- Jordan Tackles Homegrown Islamists as It Joins Attacks on ISIS - John Reed
At least 60 people have been arrested in Jordan for suspected jihadi activities since the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS began last month. As a key Arab member of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, Jordan has put its airfields, training centers, and assets of its state security service at the coalition’s disposal. Jordanian jets have carried out at least two air strikes in Syria.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Work Begins on Final Tunnel for Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Rail Link - Gavriel Fiske
Prime Minister Netanyahu attended the inauguration Monday of the construction of an 11 km. railway tunnel, part of a planned Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed rail line. The new line will carry passengers between Israel's two largest cities in 28 minutes and is expected to be completed at the end of 2017. A new underground train terminal at the entrance to Jerusalem will also serve as an emergency, nuclear-proof bomb shelter for up to 2,000 people.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel Mulls Opening New Entrance to Temple Mount - Justin Jalil
Israel's Tourism Ministry is considering opening a second entrance to Jerusalem's Temple Mount for non-Muslims via the Cotton Merchant's Gate, in view of the heavy flow of traffic at the Mughrabi Gate, Army Radio reported Monday. While there are ten entrances for Muslims to visit the Temple Mount, non-Muslim visitors currently have only one access point.
(Times of Israel)
- 4 Arabs Arrested for Throwing Rocks at Jerusalem's Light Rail Train - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Four Arab youths were arrested in Jerusalem's Shuafat neighborhood by Border Patrol officers and undercover units Sunday night for throwing rocks at a light rail train. Shuafat's light rail station was destroyed during rioting in July. (Jerusalem Post)
- Strengthen Moderate Rebels in Southern Syria - Ehud Yaari
Rebels in southern Syria have gained control over most of the territory adjacent to the 1974 Israeli-Syrian truce line. The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has now practically ceased to function, as a result of rebel advances. UNDOF's fundamental purpose on the Syrian side of the border - monitoring the Syrian army's order of battle - has become largely moot because the Assad regime's frontline 61st and 90th Brigades have completely collapsed. Israel's new neighbors across the Golan border include Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) elements dedicated to al-Qaeda's vehemently anti-Israel doctrine.
For the time being, JN has avoided any attempt to engage in terrorist operations against Israel. Its southern units include very few foreign jihadists. Its cadres prefer loose, ad hoc cooperation with other rebel factions, including those with ties to Israel.
So far, most Israeli support for moderate, local, non-Islamist rebel battalions along the border has been limited to humanitarian aid, such as treating 1,400 sick and wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals.
Within the next few months, however, a wider scope of military aid may prove necessary.
In view of the U.S. decision to arm and train moderate rebels, Washington and Israel could seriously begin exploring the option of directing some of this effort to southern Syria.
The writer is an international fellow with The Washington Institute and a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel Two television.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Don't Let Iran Off the Hook on Nuclear Talks - Einat Wilf
Leaders of the P5+1 negotiating powers should not underestimate or underplay their hand. They are in an excellent negotiating position and should be able to secure an agreement that leaves Iran far from being able to pursue a military nuclear program.
If - from the Iranian perspective - the path to regime preservation is more likely to be secured by dismantling their nuclear program than by continuing it, then the program will be dismantled. Getting the Iranian regime to reach this conclusion has been the challenge.
Iran needs the West to ease sanctions and to fight the Islamic State. Western leaders are negotiating from a position of strength. They hold the key to what the Iranian regime requires for its preservation. The opportunity to reach a good deal should not go to waste.
Dr. Einat Wilf, a former member of Knesset, is an Adjunct Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Senior Fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute.
The Ethics of Israel's Gaza Operation - Asa Kasher (Jewish Review of Books)
See also Hamas' Code of Ethics - Alexander Yakobson and Yitzhak Benbaji (Ha'aretz)
- A state's right to defend itself when attacked is just as unquestionable as an individual's right to self-defense when attacked. This right is confirmed by Just War doctrine, international law, and the UN charter, not to speak of common-sense ethics. Israel has both the international right and the domestic duty to respond when Hamas attacks its citizens. Moreover, no state has as much responsibility for the safety of enemy civilians as it does for its own people.
- Does the presence of large numbers of non-combatants in the vicinity of a building that is directly involved in terrorist assaults on Israelis render that building immune to Israeli attack? The answer is, and must be, no. Israel cannot forfeit its ability to protect its citizens against attacks simply because terrorists hide behind non-combatants. If it did so, it would be giving up any right to self-defense.
- Most IDF combatants are conscripts. As citizens in military uniform, they are entitled to ask whether they are being placed in greater jeopardy to save the lives of enemy non-combatants who have been repeatedly warned to leave the scene of battle.
- In the IDF, the commander in charge of a particular military mission is assisted by a staff "population officer" in assessing the extent of probable collateral damage. Human shields may be attacked together with the terrorists, but attempts should be made to minimize collateral damage among them, even though those who act willingly are, in fact, accomplices of Hamas.
- In all such cases, as much compassion as possible under the circumstances must be shown without aborting the mission or raising the risk to Israeli soldiers.
The writer, Professor Emeritus of Professional Ethics and Philosophy of Practice at Tel Aviv University, co-authored the IDF's code of ethics.
- Attacking buses, open-air markets and pizzerias, with the goal of killing as many random passersby as possible, as Hamas does, is not legitimate and isn't even in the gray area. These are acts of terror - war crimes. These acts are the result of an explicit intent to kill.
- In Gaza, too, Hamas' methods of combat were criminal. It could have attacked Israeli military forces without firing rockets at Israel's civilian population, but chose to make firing rockets at Israeli communities its principal weapon.
- And even when firing from a populated area, Hamas operatives need not have placed the launch sites in the very locations that are most sensitive from a humanitarian standpoint. These methods of combat demonstrate utter contempt for human life, Israeli and Palestinian alike.
The writers are research fellows at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
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