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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
February 25, 2015


In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Using Turkey as Base for Recruitment and Training - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    Hamas set up its West Bank and Jerusalem Headquarters in Istanbul immediately following its expulsion from Damascus in 2011.
    The headquarters in Turkey is engaged in locating West Bank and Gaza residents, as well as Israeli Arabs, who are studying in Turkey, Jordan, Syria and other Arab countries.
    After initial screening, the recruits receive security clearances from the headquarters in Istanbul and are sent for military training just outside the city - under the watchful eye of Turkish intelligence officials.
    Hundreds of recruits every year are trained in the use of light weapons, bomb-making and covert operations, and are then sent for additional training in Syria.
    From there, they go to the West Bank to engage in terror activities and establish clandestine terror cells.
    The Istanbul command center has been behind several of the violent events that have occurred in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount in recent months.
    The killers of the three Israeli teenagers prior to the summer 2014 Gaza war were also deployed by the headquarters in Turkey. Moreover, a significant portion of the arms in the hands of Hamas in the West Bank were purchased and sent there by the headquarters in Istanbul.




Jordan Furious over Pentagon Leak on Secret Anti-Terror Training Camp - Maggie Ybarra (Washington Times)
    In a briefing to reporters last week, the Pentagon let slip that one of its training camps to help fight Islamic State terrorists is in Jordan - information the kingdom had specifically requested be kept private.




Poll: More than Half of Jewish Students Report Campus Anti-Semitism - Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar (Brandeis Center-Trinity College)
    In a survey of American Jewish college students presented in the 2015 "Anti-Semitism Report," more than half of 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide reported having experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the last academic year.




Israel Blamed for Opening Non-Existent Dams to Flood Gaza - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    France's AFP posted a video showing flooding in Gaza in the wake of last week's storm, entitled "Gaza Village Floods after Israel Opens Dam Gates."
    Britain's Daily Mail headlined: "Hundreds of Palestinians Left Homeless after Israel Opens River Dam and Floods Houses."
    However, "There are no dams in the southern part of Israel so we couldn't open any dams because there aren't any," said an IDF spokesman.




Israel Jobless Rate Dips to 5.6 Percent in January (Reuters)
    Israel's unemployment rate edged down to 5.6% in January from 5.7% in December, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.
    In the fourth quarter of 2014, Israel's jobless rate slipped to 5.7% from 6.2% in the third quarter.



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Opposition Unveils Secret Tehran Uranium Enrichment Site
    "Despite the Iranian regime's claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent...it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3," Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said Tuesday. The site was in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran and has underground labs connected by a tunnel.
        "Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced...centrifuge machines at this site," Jafarzadeh said. The NCRI has made several important revelations in the past of the existence of secret nuclear sites in Iran. (AFP)
  • Iran Practices Military Attacks on Mock U.S. Aircraft Carrier - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard launched large-scale naval and air defense drills near the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday in which dozens of speedboats swarmed a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier. State TV showed footage of missiles fired from the coast and the fast boats striking the mock U.S. aircraft carrier. Last month the Guard's navy chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi, said on state TV that his force is capable of sinking American aircraft carriers. (AP-ABC News)
  • Islamic State in Syria Abducts At Least 150 Assyrian Christians
    Islamic State militants have abducted at least 150 people from Assyrian Christian villages they had raided in northeastern Syria,  Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, said Tuesday. Those missing include women and the elderly. (Reuters )
  • With Palestinian Debt Rising, Israeli Utility Briefly Reduces Power to West Bank - Isabel Kershner
    The Israel Electric Corporation briefly reduced the power supply to two Palestinian districts in the northern West Bank on Monday because of a ballooning debt, according to company officials. The Israeli power company decided to limit the supply to the districts of Nablus and Jenin for less than an hour on Monday given the PA's debt, which is now at $490 million. Over the last year, the company said, it has issued warnings and tried to find an arrangement to reduce the debt through contacts with the Israeli government and international bodies, to no avail. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Leaked Document Shows No Wedge between Mossad and Netanyahu on Iran's Nuclear Program - Yossi Melman
    A leaked document that allegedly highlights differences on Iran between the Mossad and Prime Minister Netanyahu is a South African State Security Agency (SSA) document that describes a briefing given to them by the Mossad in 2013.
        The document contains no secrets. The Mossad provided details of the quantities of Iran's enriched uranium at its two levels - 3.5% and 20% - and stated that Iran is "not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons." That assessment was correct - it isn't possible to utilize fissile material for a bomb with only 20%-enriched uranium - an enrichment of 93% is required - and Iran did not have it at the time and doesn't have it now.
        Certainly that doesn't present any evidence of a wedge between the Mossad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to Iran's nuclear program. Israeli intelligence estimates are that Iran is working to be a nuclear power but is not able to build a bomb right now. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Forces Nab Hamas Terror Cell in Hebron - Stuart Winer
    Israeli security forces arrested 11 members of a Hamas cell in the Hebron area in January that was planning a series of terror attacks, including suicide bombings, the Israel Security Agency said Monday. Security forces seized two sub-machine guns and explosives. The cell included "operatives that have been arrested in the past and then returned to the terror pool," the Agency said in a statement.
        The suspects admitted that at the beginning of December 2014 they tried to carry out a bombing attack on Tel Rumeida in the West Bank city of Hebron. They planted a large bomb and then lured IDF forces to the area by throwing rocks at soldiers. However, a malfunction prevented the explosives from detonating. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Asks UN to Condemn Iran Holocaust Denial Cartoon Contest - Justin Jalil
    Israel called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN member countries to condemn an international cartoon contest on Holocaust denial to be hosted by Iran in two months. "The contest legitimizes Holocaust denial and encourages those who deny the Shoah to continue with their incitement," Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote in a letter released Saturday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • New Understandings Have Been Reached in U.S.-Iran Talks - Zvi Bar'el
    There's still no agreement between Iran and the U.S. on Tehran's nuclear program, but new understandings have been reached, and a deal could be signed next month. Iran talks about "honor" while the West seeks a significant reduction in the nuclear threat. "Honor" refers to Tehran's ability to market an accord as a success from its standpoint. The marketing issue also is a challenge for the U.S. administration, which will have to obtain approval of the agreement from Congress and assuage Israel's concerns. (Ha'aretz)
  • Saudis Fear "Bad Deal" with Iran - Oded Eran and Yoel Guzansky
    No less concerned about a "bad deal" with Iran is Saudi Arabia. In the last few years, some of the most senior Saudi princes have said that if Tehran is granted the "right" to enrich uranium, Riyadh should explore obtaining its own nuclear capability.
        The Saudis fear that no matter what terms are agreed upon, Iran will emerge victorious, and that any agreement will recognize the Islamic Republic as a nuclear threshold state. Even if no final agreement is signed, the Saudis fear the negotiations themselves have placed its regional rival on a par with the world's leading superpowers. Oded Eran, Israel's former ambassador to Jordan and the EU, is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Yoel Guzansky, a senior research fellow at INSS, is a former Iran Coordinator in Israel's National Security Council. (Ha'aretz)
  • Send the ICC to Argentina - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Like the UN and other global bodies that are founded with good intentions, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was quickly exploited to promote partisan agendas. If there is a clear justification for the ICC, however, it is the case of Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean prosecutor murdered on Jan. 18. Nisman became the central investigator of the horrific 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 and injured 300. He was killed the night before he was scheduled to testify and expose the top officials in Argentina who covered up the role of senior Iranians in the bombing.
        In 2006, Nisman brought indictments in absentia against seven Iranians and one Hizbullah member. He presented evidence that Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina, was responsible for coordinating the AMIA attack. The evidence also implicated Hassan Rouhani, now the president of Iran, as a member of the committee that ordered and planned the attack.
        For 20 years, Argentina's legal system demonstrated that it is incapable of bringing the perpetrators to justice. It is precisely for cases like this that the ICC was designed - in situations where national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute the perpetrators of "crimes against humanity." The writer is professor of international politics at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor. (National Post-Canada)
Observations:

Iran's Shi'ite Militias Are Running Amok in Iraq - Ali Khedery (Foreign Policy)

  • The Iraqi government is hopelessly sectarian, corrupt, and generally unfit to govern what could be one of the world's most prosperous nations. The U.S. is now acting as the air force, the armory, and the diplomatic cover for Iraqi militias that are committing some of the worst human rights abuses on the planet. These "allies" are actually beholden to our strategic foe, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and often resort to the same vile tactics as the Islamic State itself.
  • The staunchly pro-Iranian Badr Organization commander Hadi al-Ameri - who was welcomed in the Oval Office by Obama in 2011, and is known for favoring power drills to murder his victims - has been tasked with leading all Iraqi efforts to secure and pacify Diyala province.
  • Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the alleged mastermind behind the bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in the 1980s, was given command of the Kataib Hizbullah (KH) militia, an Iranian-sponsored group.
  • The former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, told Bloomberg's Eli Lake that the militias "represent enemies of a stable, secure, and inclusive Iraq," and that once the IS threat is defeated, "they will very likely turn on us."
  • Iraq's battle-hardened militias are the new, much larger, much wealthier Hizbullah. They will haunt the world for decades to come.

    The writer was a special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq and senior adviser to three chiefs of U.S. Central Command from 2003 through 2010.

        See also How Iran's Military Chiefs Operate in Iraq - Ned Parker, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Isabel Coles
    As Baghdad struggles to fight the Sunni extremist Islamic State, many Shi'ite Iraqis now look to Iran, a Shi'ite theocracy, as their main ally. Iraqi Shi'ites have grown to trust the powerful Iranian-backed militias that have taken charge since the Iraqi army deserted en masse last summer. (Reuters)

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