Islamic State and Hamas on Israel's Southern Front - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
On Thursday the Egyptian army displayed some 60 dead bodies of Islamic State fighters brought in from the recent fighting and laid out in rows in al-Arish. Most were dressed in military uniforms, some with bullet-proof vests.
Israel has received a clear strategic warning: There is an armed force operating in Sinai, organized in levels we've seen in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
This is a group of Egyptian Bedouin with a jihadist ideology and foreigners who, over the past six months, have turned into an established military force.
The IDF has increased its observations and intelligence-gathering deep into Sinai.
Hamas has revived several tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza which bypass the 1.5 km. buffer zone the Egyptians have created with tunnels 2.5-3 km. long. So commercial amounts of rocket propellant continue to enter Gaza.
ISIS is not just in Sinai. You have to be really naive to believe ISIS did not already cross the border and that Israeli citizens are not influenced by this ideology. ISIS is a contagious disease, and it's already here.
See also ISIS Graffiti in East Jerusalem - Roi Yanovsky (Ynet News)
Why Gaza Reconstruction Is So Slow - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
According to the IDF, close to 90,000 owners of homes partially damaged in the 2014 Gaza war have already gotten building materials to renovate their homes.
But many sold their construction materials on the black market instead of using them for renovations.
ISIS Video Shows Mass Execution of Syrian Soldiers in Palmyra (AFP)
The Islamic State on Saturday released a video showing 25 Syrian government soldiers being executed by teenagers in the ancient amphitheater in the city of Palmyra.
UNESCO Declares Beit She'arim Necropolis a World Heritage Site (UNESCO)
The World Heritage Committee on Sunday approved the addition of the necropolis of Beit She’arim to its World Heritage List.
The catacombs developed from the 2nd century BCE as the primary Jewish burial place outside Jerusalem following the failure of the second Jewish revolt against Roman rule.
See also Beit She'arim Declared World Heritage Site - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
"Beit She'arim is a moving testimony to our ancestors which has almost no equal anywhere else in the world. When visiting Beit She'arim's necropolis, one feels the beating heart of the Jewish people," Dr. Zvika Zuk, chief archaeologist of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, said Sunday.
The site is the oldest and most densely populated cemetery in Israel, similar to the catacombs in Rome.
See also Israel's Ninth UNESCO World Heritage Site - Noa Shpigel (Ha'aretz)
Other UNESCO world heritage sites in Israel include Masada, the Old City of Acre, Tel Aviv’s White City, the Spice Route, the biblical sites (Megiddo, Hazor and Beersheba), the Bahai Gardens, Nahal Me’arot nature reserve and Beit Guvrin National Park.
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- Rockets from Sinai Strike Israel, Islamic State Affiliate Claims Responsibility - Maayan Lubell and Mostafa Hashem
Islamic State's Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, said it had launched three Grad rockets toward "occupied Palestine" on Friday. Israeli police said they had found remnants of the rockets in an open area.
- UN Human Rights Council Adopts 2014 Gaza War Report - Itamar Eichner
The UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted to adopt a report by a UN inquiry commission on the 2014 Gaza war last summer. 41 countries voted in favor, five abstained - India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay, Macedonia - and only one, the U.S., voted against, saying it was biased against Israel. All EU member states of the Council, including Britain, France and Germany, voted in favor.
Israel's Ambassador to Geneva, Eviatar Manor, slammed the decision to adopt the report, saying it "distorts the intention of the authors of the report by completely ignoring alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups."
"Allow me to tell the truth about what Israel did in Gaza," Manor continued. "One, Israel defended its population against aggression by a terrorist organization. A terrorist organization which serially rejected every cease-fire proposed. Two, Israel went to extraordinary lengths to minimize the impact of the violence on Gaza's civilian population. It went to great lengths to warn the civilian population on impending strikes. Three, Israel is fully committed to investigating all alleged violations of the Laws of Armed Conflict. Israel's investigative mechanism has already filtered close to 200 cases. Over 100 of these cases have been handed over to the Military Advocate General." (Ynet News)
See also Netanyahu: UN Human Rights Council Not Interested in Facts or Human Rights (Prime Minister's Office)
See also India's Abstention on Israel at Human Rights Council a Significant Shift
India's abstention in a vote at the UN Human Rights Council on a report critical of Israel's Gaza war last year is seen as a "significant shift" in New Delhi's policy and a "testament to strong ties," experts said.
"This is a huge development for India, one of the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, which as a movement always voted against Israel," a columnist wrote. (Press Trust of India)
See also Israel Thanks India for Abstaining on UN Vote (IANS-Statesman-India)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Hoenlein: France Is Reconsidering Security Council Resolution - Herb Keinon and Jason Shaltiel
France is having second thoughts about submitting a Mideast resolution to the UN Security Council that would lock in the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the Jerusalem Post editorial staff on Sunday. "We've met with French officials and they're telling us now that they're essentially hesitant or reconsidering and don't want to introduce it if it will face an American veto or if both parties don't want it," Hoenlein said.
"I think they [the French] were told by the Palestinians, and certainly by Israel, that they're not interested in it." The Palestinians, he said, were not enthusiastic because they want to focus on the International Criminal Court and are worried that the only way a resolution would not be vetoed by the U.S. would be if it were watered down. They don't want a "more modified and moderate approach," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
- Arson Shuts Down Jerusalem Train Station - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday that a fire was deliberately set in a wooded area adjacent to the Malha railway station, forcing its temporary closure. "Investigators at the scene determined that the fire was started deliberately and simultaneously at a number of different points, with evidence leading to a nearby Palestinian village." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Arson by Palestinians Suspected in Jerusalem-Area Blazes - Roi Yanovsky
Over 100 hectares (250 acres) of natural woodlands went up in flames in the Ma'ale HaHamisha kibbutz near Jerusalem within less than a week in three separate fires believed set by Palestinians from the adjacent village of Qattana. Fire Chief Reuven Yitzhak said: "On Thursday we found fragments of firebombs exactly at the spot where the fire started." (Ynet News)
- PA Crackdown on Hamas - Avi Issacharoff
Since Thursday, the Palestinian Authority has been conducting massive arrests of Hamas activists in the West Bank. According to Hamas, more than 120 of its members were rounded up.
A recent spate of terror attacks in the West Bank, as well as revelations by the Israel Security Agency concerning Hamas infrastructure in Nablus, prompted an awakening of sorts by the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas realizes full well that murdering Jews is only the secondary goal of Hamas. Its main aim is to weaken the PA, heighten tensions with Israel, and ultimately undermine the government in the West Bank. (Times of Israel)
- Jordan Foils Iran-Backed Terror Plot - Roi Kais
The Jordanian newspaper Al Rai reported Monday that Jordanian security forces had foiled a terror plot by a member of the Iranian-backed Bayt al-Maqdis group. The suspect holds Iraqi and Norwegian citizenship and was in possession of 45 kg. of explosives.
- Is Iran Violating the Spirit of the Interim Agreement? - Louis Charbonneau
The Obama administration says a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency last week found that Iran was in compliance with the November 2013 interim accord, by holding no more low-enriched uranium at the end of June than it had three months before.
But nuclear expert David Albright said Tehran had met the target only by converting some low-enriched uranium into a form that could be easily converted back, violating the spirit if not the letter of the agreement.
Albright said the case showed Washington was "prepared to legally reinterpret the deal" to explain away poor performance by Iran.
- We Cannot Appease the Islamists - Charles Moore
Islamism is unappeasable because it is a doctrine, not a set of demands. It purports to prove that a conspiracy of anti-Muslim capitalist forces runs the world: America, Britain, the Jews. In this crazy but coherent account, it becomes possible to believe, as millions of Muslims apparently do, that it was the Jews who bombed the World Trade Center.
According to the Islamist story, the only just form of rule is the restoration of the caliphate which the West destroyed. The role of devout Muslims is to be the vanguard. Islamism is declaredly determined to overthrow our way of life. It is not paranoid to say that there is a deadly enemy within, and not intolerant to want to defeat it. The writer has been editor of the Spectator (1984-90), the Sunday Telegraph (1992-5) and the Daily Telegraph (1995-2003).
The Worst Agreement in U.S. Diplomatic History - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)
See also The Toxic Iran Deal - Andrew Bowen (Al Arabiya)
- The Iran deal is animated by a belief in achieving detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.
- "Anywhere, anytime" inspections? Unfettered access has become "managed access." Nuclear inspectors will have to negotiate and receive Iranian approval for inspections.
- The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.
- Taking advantage of Washington's setting artificial negotiating deadlines, Tehran has repeatedly gone on the offense, drawing these negotiations into the final hours to see whether the P5+1 would blink first. In most cases, Washington blinks and the terms of the agreement are further watered down.
- At the same time, the U.S. has allowed Iran to pursue its regional goals without any real threat of sanction, diplomatic pressure, or credible military deterrence.
- Once an agreement is signed, this will effectively remove any economic ability to constrain Iran's behavior in the region.
The writer is Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest in Washington.
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