Hamas Unveils New Tunnel It Says Reaches into Israel (Times of Israel)
Hamas has built a new, 3.5-km. fortified tunnel that reaches into Israel,
masked Hamas operatives told Al-Alam, Iran's Arabic-language channel, on Sunday.
See also Hamas Trains for New Round of Fighting - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
More and more armed Hamas troops are visible just a short distance from the Gaza-Israel border fence, perhaps in an effort to accustom Israelis to their presence there prior to a surprise raid inside Israeli territory.
Hamas has been conducting infantry and urban warfare exercises at the levels of platoon, company and even division for a possible attempt to raid an Israeli community or army base in the next war.
In one training exercise, more than a hundred Hamas troops were seen practicing a forward charge.
To Israel's north, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has spoken quite a few times over the past two years about "conquering the Galilee" should there be another war with Israel.
Islamist Decapitates Man in France - Pauline Talagrand and Daniel Abelous (AFP)
An Islamist assailant, Yassin Salhi, 35, pinned the severed head of his boss to the gates of a U.S.-owned gas factory in France Friday and smashed his vehicle into the Air Products factory, causing an explosion, in what President Francois Hollande called a "terrorist" attack.
In Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, the head of the victim was "hung onto the fence surrounded by two Islamic flags bearing the Shahada, the profession of (Muslim) faith," said French prosecutor Francois Molins.
Salhi had been investigated for links to radical Salafists but had never been identified as planning an attack.
IS Executes over 3,000 in Syria in Past Year (AFP)
The Islamic State has executed 3,027 people in Syria since June 29, 2014, including 1,787 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday.
The toll also includes at least 223 recent executions by IS in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane.
Cyprus President Wants Netanyahu, Abbas to Speak to EU in Brussels - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Cypriot President Anastasiades is trying to get Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas invited to address the heads of the EU in Brussels.
The Cypriot president discussed the possibility with Netanyahu and Abbas in June.
Israel Wins 12 Medals at European Games - Allon Sinai (Jerusalem Post)
The 140-member Israeli delegation at the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, which ended on Sunday, claimed 12 medals - two gold, four silver and six bronze.
Judoka Sagi Muki won a gold medal, as did swimmer Ziv Kalontarov. Israel also won medals in shooting and rhythmic gymnastics.
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- Big Hurdles to Iran Nuclear Deal as Deadline Looms - John Irish and Louis Charbonneau
As a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear deal approaches, major differences remain between Iran and world powers on several key issues, a senior Western diplomat said on Friday. "The questions of access and transparency, PMD (possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear activity) and sanctions remain extremely problematic. We can find an agreement on some points, but on major issues there are still big differences....At this stage it's not clear that Iran is ready to make the choices." Diplomats said the talks would likely run into July.
- Israeli Official Visits Cairo to Discuss Palestinian Peace Talks
Dore Gold, director-general of Israel's foreign ministry, visited Cairo on Sunday to discuss "how to push the peace process forward," Egypt's state news agency MENA reported, citing Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty.
See also In Sign of Warmer Ties, Israeli Official Heads to Cairo for Talks - Herb Keinon
The meeting, and the fact that the Egyptians made it public, seems to indicate an interest by Cairo to play a more high-profile role in the diplomatic process. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday stressed that this was the highest level visit from an Israeli Foreign Ministry official "in years." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel, Egypt Said to See "Eye to Eye" on Regional Issues - Avi Lewis
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was "pleased" with the outcome of the talks and that the two countries see "eye to eye" on a number of issues, the NRG news site reported. Israeli diplomats were said to be satisfied with Cairo's plans to maintain its tough stance toward Hamas, despite recent media reports signaling an easing of Egyptian restrictions. Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold told his Egyptian hosts, "When discussing regional challenges, both countries speak the same language." (Times of Israel)
- Gunman Kills 39 at Tunisian Beach Resort - Emily Shapiro and Rym Momtaz
A gunman opened fire on beachgoers on Friday at a hotel in Sousse, a popular resort town in Tunisia, killing at least 39 people and injuring at least 39, officials said. Many victims were foreigners. In March, Islamist militant gunmen attacked a museum in Tunisia, killing 22 foreign tourists.
See also At Least 15 British Nationals Killed in Tunisia, ISIS Claims Responsibility - Jessica Elgot and Chris Johnston
"At least 15 British nationals were killed" in Friday's attack in Tunisia, and "the number may well rise as several more have been seriously injured, the British Foreign Office said Saturday. Three Irish citizens, a Belgian and a German also were among the victims.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid identified the gunman, who was killed by police, as Seifeddine Rezgui. The Site Intelligence Group reported that ISIS referred to the gunman by his jihadi pseudonym Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani. ISIS Twitter accounts published a photograph purporting to be Rezgui posing between two Kalashnikovs and smiling.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Intercepts Gaza-Bound Flotilla without Incident - Yoav Zitun
Israeli naval commandos seized control of the boat Marianne on Sunday as it made its way toward Gaza as part of a Swedish flotilla. The IDF said that the seizure was made after exhausting all diplomatic channels. "When it became clear that the passengers had no intention to cooperate...it was decided to seize the vessel and to transport it to Ashdod port," an IDF official said. Two other boats were seen turning back and a fourth is believed to have turned back. The activists will be questioned and then deported.
See also Netanyahu: "There Is No Siege on Gaza"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement Monday: "Preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General....There is no siege on Gaza. Israel assists in transferring goods and humanitarian equipment to Gaza - approximately 800 trucks a day....In the past year we enabled the entry of over 1.6 million tons of products, an average of one ton per person....These supplies are equivalent to 500,000 boats like the one" that came in Sunday. (Prime Minister's Office)
- Israeli Ambulance Hit by Gunfire in West Bank - Itay Blumenthal
Shots were fired Saturday night at a Magen David Adom ambulance near Beit El in the West Bank but no injuries were reported. Some 15 to 19 shots were fired at the Israeli ambulance and at least four hit it. The perpetrator fired from a new road recently paved and opened for the Palestinians that connects Beitin to Ramallah. MDA director-general Eli Bin said the incident "represents a crossing of the red line of trying to deliberately harm a vehicle which treats the wounded and sick....We hope the Palestinian side will act decisively and firmly in order to prevent similar incidents in the future." (Ynet News)
- IDF Soldier Stabbed at Checkpoint - Avi Lewis
A female Israel Defense Forces soldier was stabbed Monday by a female attacker at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Earlier Monday, an Israel Border Police officer stopped a Palestinian teenager armed with an assault rifle at an Israeli checkpoint north of Jerusalem. The IDF is on high alert due to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which usually ushers in a spike in violent incidents.
(Times of Israel)
See also Palestinian Woman Arrested with Rifle Says Sent by Hamas to Attack Inside Israel - Yaakov Lappin
A Palestinian woman with a rifle was caught trying to cross the West Bank security fence into Israel on Sunday. She told security forces she had been sent by Hamas to carry out a shooting terror attack. (Jerusalem Post)
- The Payoff for Iran - Ray Takeyh
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stands as one of the most successful Persian imperialists in the history of modern Iran. Today, Khamenei has essential control of much of the Iraqi state, he is the most important external actor in Syria, and Hizbullah provides him with not just a means of manipulating Lebanon's politics but also shock troops who can be deployed on various war fronts. Iran has embarked on a dramatic new mission and is seeking to project its power into corners of the Middle East in ways that were never possible before. But without an arms control agreement and the financial rewards it will bring, Iran would find it difficult to subsidize this imperial surge.
The massive financial gains from the prospective deal would enable the Islamic Republic's imperial surge while allowing a repressive regime that was on the brink of collapse in 2009 to consolidate power.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Nuclear Bargains and State Department Backlogs - Claudia Rosett
Should a final deal emerge from the Iran nuclear talks, Congress will expect reports from the President every six months on whether Iran is in compliance,
as required under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, signed into law last month by President Obama. The President would have to inform Congress if Iran cheats. But would it really work that way?
The President is already required under various laws to submit reports to Congress on human rights, terrorism and the proliferation traffic of Iran, North Korea and Syria. There are specific deadlines for all these reports, but the
administration has been missing these deadlines, in some cases by staggering margins. The State Department was more than three years out of date in the reports it submitted to Congress under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act. This bodes poorly for the enforcement of any nuclear deal with Iran. The writer is journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Flaw in U.S. Policy: Even PLO Recognizes Israel's Right to West Jerusalem - Avi Bell (New York Jewish Week)
- The truly interesting issue raised by the Supreme Court's ruling in the Zivotofsky case - a 13-year court battle by the family to have their son's birthplace recorded as "Jerusalem, Israel" - was never discussed: what explains Washington's 67-year battle to deny Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem?
- The State Department has insisted that no part of Jerusalem be recognized in any way as part of Israel. Not the part of Jerusalem that Jordan occupied illegally from 1948-1967 (generally called east Jerusalem). And not the part of Jerusalem that has been part of Israel since its independence in 1948.
- When Israel declared Jerusalem (west Jerusalem) its capital in 1949, the U.S. refused to recognize it, even though international law makes states the sole determinants of their own capital.
- The Obama administration has explained that refusing to recognize Israeli sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem is necessary to avoid interference with the "peace process." But this justification falls apart upon the slightest examination.
- No senior PLO figure has demanded in recent years that Israel also withdraw from "west Jerusalem." In demanding that Israel acquire PLO approval for its sovereignty over "west Jerusalem," the White House is taking a more hardline anti-Israel position than even the PLO.
- The U.S. position on Jerusalem also contradicts the Obama White House's own controversial stance on the peace process. The White House has endorsed a Palestinian demand that the 1948-1967 cease-fire line should serve as the presumptive border. But when it comes to Israel and Jerusalem, says the White House, the cease-fire line should be forgotten and presumptive Israeli sovereignty should be erased.
The writer is a professor of law at Bar-Ilan University.
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