Report: Israel Establishes Underwater Defense Barrier to Avert Hizbullah Attacks (Naharnet-Lebanon)
Israel reportedly erected a defensive barrier and sonar array off the Ras al-Naqoura border area, in south Lebanon, to prevent Hizbullah divers from infiltrating northern Israel.
Media reports said Hizbullah is investing a large sum of money to acquire undersea weapons and delivery systems to carry out attacks.
A similar barrier has been deployed for Gaza.
Israel Makes Largest Per-Capita Contribution Against Ebola (Ha'aretz)
Israel has made the world's largest per-capita contribution to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa, according to UNICEF in New York.
In addition to a financial contribution of $8.75 million, Israel has sent fully equipped medical clinics to West Africa, along with medical specialists to operate them and train local health workers.
Jesus the Palestinian? - Ariel Cohen (Jerusalem Post)
Just as he does every December, PA President Mahmoud Abbas made the Christmastime claim that Jesus was a Palestinian.
PA security spokesperson Adnan Al-Damiri referred to Jesus as "the first Palestinian martyr."
Yet the New Testament defines Jesus as a Jewish resident of Judea. The Roman Empire changed the name of "Judea" to "Palestine" 100 years after Jesus' death.
Boycott Fears Dismissed as UK-Israel Trade Hits Record High - Sandy Rashty (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
The latest figures from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics - covering the first 10 months of 2014 - show bilateral trade at a record 3.16 billion pounds, with exports from Israel to the UK up 14% and Israeli imports from Britain up 13%. Previous figures for the period showed trade worth 2.5 billion pounds.
British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said: "The idea that there is some sort of effective boycott going on isn't borne out by the facts. Ditto on the academic side."
"There's a long list of British companies now in partnership with Israeli technology," he added.
Israel Mobilizes to Rescue Palestinian Baby - Itay Blumenthal (Ynet News)
A six-month-old Palestinian boy was crossing the Allenby Bridge with his family on Saturday to receive medical care in Jordan when he suffered what doctors think was a heart attack.
"We found an unconscious child with no heart rate," said Magen David Adom paramedics Hashan Aala and Nader Komz.
IDF medical forces that arrived at the scene decided that the boy needed urgent treatment and he was taken to Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center by IDF helicopter.
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- U.S. Does Not Back UN Palestinian Statehood Resolution - Pamela Dockins
The U.S. has voiced opposition to the Palestinians' UN draft resolution. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said, "We don't think this resolution is constructive. We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank."
Also, the U.S. says it does not back a draft UN resolution on Palestinian statehood, in part, because it would not guarantee Israel's security. Rathke said the resolution makes peace talks less likely to succeed and that the draft fails to take into account Israel's legitimate security needs, which he said are necessary for a sustainable settlement.
Neri Zilber, a visiting scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said even if Palestinians are successful at the Security Council, "They would still have to go back and meet with the Israelis face to face....My sense, from meetings with Palestinian officials, is that they view this more as a pressure tactic on Israel than as a real mechanism to bring about a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future." (VOA News)
See also U.S.: Palestinian UN Resolution "Is Not Something that We Would Support" (State Department)
- Obama: A Nuclear Deal Would Serve as a Basis for Improved Relations with Iran; Does Not Rule Out Embassy in Tehran
President Obama said in an interview published Monday:
"Tehran [Iran] is a large, sophisticated country that has a track record of state-sponsored terrorism, that we know was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon - or at least the component parts that would be required to develop a nuclear weapon - that has engaged in disruptions to our allies, whose rhetoric is not only explicitly anti-American but also has been incendiary when it comes to its attitude towards the state of Israel."
"Having said that, if we can get a deal on making sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon...if we can take that big first step, then my hope would be that that would serve as the basis for us trying to improve relations over time." (National Public Radio)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Hamas Drills Cross-Border Attacks on IDF Posts - Yaakov Lappin
Hamas is in the midst of an extensive training program simulating cross-border raids on IDF positions near the Gaza border, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said Monday. On Saturday, Hamas released a video of a Dec. 23 exercise showing dozens of masked terrorists simulating an attack on IDF positions. One of the scenes showed a mock kidnapping of an IDF soldier, and another showed multiple "killings" of soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
- Two East Jerusalem Arabs Indicted for Forming Hamas Terror Cell - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Shaaban bin Ahmad Hamed, 28, and Muhammed bin Ahmad Hamed, 23, were recruited and funded by a Hamas operative in Gaza to form a terror cell in Jerusalem and carry out an attack at a public venue.
The brothers received NIS 100,000 from Hamas and were in the preliminary stages of preparation.
- Secret Cooperation between Israel and Gulf States - Yoel Guzansky
Israeli companies are assisting states in the Gulf through security consulting, training of local military forces, and the sale of weapons and sophisticated systems and technologies. At the same time, senior officials from both sides are conducting ongoing meetings in and outside the region.
Reports indicate that Israel has softened its policy on weapons exports to states in the Gulf as well as its attempts to restrict sales by the U.S. of advanced weapons to the Gulf countries, in part as a signal that it sees a potential for partnership more than it sees a possible threat. In addition, Israel is enjoying a certain amount of access to markets in the Gulf, as long as the products do not have Israeli labels. The writer is a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
- Mahmoud Abbas Is Again Insisting on Failure - Editorial
In a meeting with President Obama last March, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to accept a U.S.-brokered "framework" for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Instead, Abbas is now pushing yet another quixotic attempt to have the UN Security Council impose Palestinian terms for a settlement on Israel.
Over the weekend, the language of the Palestinian resolution was toughened so that Jerusalem is mentioned only as the Palestinian capital.
This text has no chance of being approved, yet Abbas appears to insist on failing.
Some diplomats suspect Abbas wants his maximalist resolution to be voted down to obtain a pretext to move on to his next pointless initiative - seeking Palestinian membership in the International Criminal Court.
Accession to the court wouldn't bring Palestinians any closer to statehood, and it might expose the Hamas movement to war crimes prosecution. It could also cause Congress to cut off the U.S. aid that now sustains the Palestinian Authority.
- Israel's Enemies Reload - Editorial
On Monday, Jordan submitted to the UN Security Council, on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas' PA, a draft resolution creating a strict timeline for Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.
Never mind legitimate Israeli fears about security - rubbed raw by an elaborate network of Gaza terror tunnels exposed during this year's hostilities with Hamas, followed by a fresh wave of PA-incited terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in recent weeks.
Never mind that Israel has been ready and willing to negotiate a deal in good faith - only to run head-first into a Palestinian leadership with no interest whatsoever in coexistence.
Fortunately, the U.S. sees through the ruse, with the State Department condemning the resolution for setting "arbitrary deadlines," which are "more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion." (New York Daily News)
- Child Soldiers Who Escaped Islamic State Tell of Lessons in Beheading - Maria Abi-Habib
Jomah, a 17-year-old Syrian who joined Islamic State last year, sat in a circle of trainees for a lesson in beheading, a course taught to boys as young as 8. Teachers brought in three frightened Syrian soldiers, who were jeered and forced to their knees. A teacher asked for volunteers and said, "Those who behead the infidels will receive gifts from God," recalled Jomah. Afterward, the teachers ordered the students to pass around the severed heads. The enrollment of hundreds of boys in such militant training camps could trouble the Middle East for years to come.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Israeli Journalist "Horrified" after Interviewing ISIS Fighters - Shiryn Ghermezian
Israeli journalist Itai Anghel told TLV1 Radio last week that it was "horrifying" to hear the graphic details of terrorist tactics from ISIS fighters captured by Kurdish forces that he interviewed while in Iraq and Syria. Anghel spent a week in each country.
"One of them said that he deliberately uses a knife which is not the sharpest knife because he wants the beheading process to take longer and to inflict more pain and more suffering on his victim." One ISIS militant said he felt joyous because "I was killing infidels." Anghel said, "Israel is one of their targets but it's not their main target." (Algemeiner)
See also An Israeli War Correspondent in ISIS Territory - Doron Halutz (Ha'aretz)
Military Intelligence Foresees Threats to Israel in 2015 - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
- Israeli Military Intelligence (MI) sees the Middle East as a region gripped by social decay, crumbling politically, and becoming increasingly poor. Many more young individuals will fail to find their place in the Muslim societies, resulting in the rise of many more radical movements around Israel and the spilling by Muslims of a lot more Muslim blood.
- The Middle East today has no international landlord. There's no single element that maintains the balance, that facilitates international collaboration to preserve peace in the region. Russia is making every effort to increase its influence in the Middle East. The U.S. doesn't make a move these days without coalitions.
- MI officials speak of four camps in the Middle East that are fighting one another. The first is the radical-Shia axis that includes Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and the Houthis in Yemen. The second axis is the moderate camp - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The third camp is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood - in Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Syria.
The fourth camp is the Jihadist-Sunni one - Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis and their offshoots.
- Both Hizbullah and Hamas have dropped their rocket-based attrition tactics in favor of offensive, close-quarter hostilities with forces operating inside Israeli territory. The goal is also to create the image of victory and undermine the resolve of Israel's citizens.
- This change was clearly evident during the course of the summer Gaza war, in terms of the tunnel tactics and the establishment of special units for carrying out operations inside Israel.
- One concern is the introduction of short-range missiles with large warheads that can destroy structures near the border. Hizbullah has acquired Borkan missiles, which have a range of just 4-5 km. but are armed with a huge warhead.
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