Report: Syria Alawites Clash with Regime, Iran Troops (NOW-Lebanon)
Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported on June 29 that residents of two Alawite villages, Al-Bared and Al-Qahira - which are populated by members of the Alawi sect and the Alawi-offshoot Murshidi sect - had engaged in fighting with Syrian and Iranian troops.
The clashes followed the arrest of 40 young men, reportedly ordered by a local Iranian field commander.
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had stormed the villages with support from members of the regime's Military Intelligence and Air Force Intelligence. "This was done at the order of the Iranian commander "Iffari," the leader of military operations in Hama Air Base," a source said.
A local activist said young men from the area had refused to sign up for military service, and residents of the two villages were involved in smuggling fuel to rebel-held areas.
Suspected Cyberattack on Patriot Missile Battery in Turkey - Avi Lewis (Times of Israel)
A Patriot missile defense battery operated by Germany on the Syrian-Turkish border received "unexplained commands" from a "foreign source," sparking fears it has been hacked, the German monthly Behordenspiegel reported Tuesday.
ISIS Murders Two of Syria's Bravest Men - Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan (Daily Beast)
Bashir Abduladhim al-Saado and Faisal Hussain al-Habib, 20 and 21, are shown on an ISIS video in orange jumpsuits. They are forced to confess to spying on the jihadis' activities in northern Syria before being murdered on camera.
In recent days, dozens of young men accused of producing or disseminating material showing life under caliphate rule have been arrested by ISIS.
See also Video Shows Execution of Two Members of Anti-ISIS Media Collective (MEMRI)
IS Shock Troops Who Fight to the Death - Hamza Hendawi, Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bassem Mroue (AP)
IS calls them Inghemasiyoun, the Islamic State's fanatical and disciplined shock troops.
Foreigners who join IS often end up as suicide bombers. "People go to the Islamic State looking to die, and the Islamic State is happy to help them," said Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer.
40 Percent of Israeli Children in Gaza Border Town of Sderot Suffer from Anxiety, PTSD - Hayah Goldlist-Eichler (Jerusalem Post)
Some 40% of the children in Sderot suffer from anxiety, fear and PTSD, according to a recent study by Prof. Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, director of the child and adolescent clinical services unit at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma at Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem.
"The ongoing situation in Sderot causes PTSD at a rate three or four times greater than that of the rest of the country," she said.
Yet "resilience is the most common reaction. Even among those in the worst situations."
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- White House Considers Extending Interim Pact after Iran Talks Deadline Passes - Jay Solomon
International powers negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran failed to meet another deadline on Tuesday, raising the prospect of an open-ended diplomatic process over the issue. The White House on Tuesday laid the groundwork for continuing talks while keeping in place a November 2013 interim agreement that provided Iran with limited sanctions relief in exchange for rolling back parts of its nuclear program. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. "won't walk away from the table as long as the negotiations continue to be useful." (Wall Street Journal)
- Hamas Supporting Islamic State in Sinai in Order to Renew Arms Smuggling to Gaza - Dan Williams
An Israeli intelligence colonel responsible for monitoring the borders with Egypt and Gaza told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Hamas, short of weaponry after its war against Israel last year, supported the Islamic State in Sinai with the "objective of opening up a conduit" for renewed smuggling. "Why was it so very important for them (Hamas) to develop the connection with Sinai Province (IS in Sinai)? Because they need the raw materials that would enable the military build-up in Gaza."
On Friday, Egyptian military sources said there was evidence that individuals from Hamas had participated in the recent Sinai battles. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday: "Hamas is fighting ISIS (Islamic State) in the Strip, but on the other side there is cooperation between Hamas elements from Gaza and ISIS in Sinai." (Reuters)
See also Is Hamas Working with Islamic State in Sinai? - Shlomi Eldar
While Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk claimed that Hamas had no interest in cooperating with the terrorists in Sinai, in recent weeks a number of people who were hurt in altercations with Egyptian security forces in Sinai have been brought to al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in Gaza. Local residents saw how wounded people were brought in Hamas military vehicles and treated by a select medical staff.
A senior security figure in the Palestinian Authority told Al-Monitor that the cooperation of members of Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades with many armed groups in Sinai is well-known.
For years Hamas has carried out extensive smuggling operations with anyone who could help it in Sinai.
The al-Qassam Brigades received aid from IS affiliates such as Wilayat Sinai and Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis in smuggling arms, ammunition and raw materials such as fuel and building materials into Gaza. In exchange, Hamas provided them with a significant percentage of the arms smuggled from Sudan and Libya. Thus a reciprocal relationship was created that no one among the political leadership of Hamas will be able to uproot.
With the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt in July 2013 and the ascension of Gen. Sisi, the Egyptian military sealed the smuggling tunnels with Egypt and created a buffer zone. Since then, the Egyptian military has been perceived by the armed groups in Sinai and Gaza, including Hamas, as an enemy, and their goal has become to strike it and weaken its power in Sinai. (Al-Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Hamas Restoring Pre-War Rocket Capabilities - Yoav Zitun
A source in the IDF Southern Command said Tuesday: "Hamas is getting closer to finishing restoring its stock of mortar shells and short-range rockets. They don't yet have the amount of medium- and long-range rockets (that can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) that it had." The source said Hamas has also started digging tunnels inside Gaza, but "Hamas is not re-digging the tunnels we destroyed - digging such cross-border tunnels could take years. Hamas is nowhere near the border fence."
The official added that in a few weeks, a new system to detect tunnels and digging at the border with Gaza will become operational. This system will work alongside another new defensive system used against the tunnels. "We're on the verge of a breakthrough against the tunnels," he asserted.
The Southern Command has completed its strategic plans in the case of another war against Hamas and believes the next confrontation should be shorter than the 50-day war of 2014.
See also IDF Would Seek Destruction of Hamas Military Wing in Future Conflict - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
See also IDF Learns Lessons of Gaza War - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
- Israel Slams UNESCO for Ignoring Jewish and Christian Connection to Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
Israel slammed the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Tuesday for adopting a "completely one-sided resolution" on the Old City of Jerusalem that "deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital." The resolution, adopted by the World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, Germany, takes Israel to task for engaging in "illegal excavations" in the Old City, damaging the "visual integrity" of the Old City with the Jerusalem light rail, and deploring Israeli projects at the Western Wall Plaza, which it referred to as the "Buraq Plaza."
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said that not only does the resolution gloss over any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, it also fails to acknowledge Christianity's ties to Jerusalem and refers to the Temple Mount area only as a "Muslim holy site of worship."
Gold noted that "the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem has survived from ancient to modern times. The Jewish people restored their majority in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century. Their ancient synagogues were destroyed and desecrated by a coalition of invading armies in 1948, who ethnically cleansed the Old City of any Jewish presence."
It is Israel that defends religious freedom "against the tide of intolerance" sweeping the Middle East. (Jerusalem Post)
- Shelters, Sirens Part of Life for Israelis near Gaza - Mike Smith
At Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, nursery and kindergarten children scramble down a narrow corridor between giant concrete walls as if it were a real-life maze.
The concrete blast walls are designed to protect the children from rocket and mortar fire. Shelters and blast walls have become a part of life for Israelis living near Gaza. Several thousand mortars and rockets were fired into Israeli territory during last summer's war, leading to repeated sirens and terrified runs to shelters, sometimes with only seconds to spare. Tunnels dug by Palestinian militants with the aim of carrying out attacks also greatly added to local residents' fears. (AFP)
See also A Year after Gaza War, Southern Israel Slowly Recovers - Aron Heller
The Eshkol Regional Council opposite Gaza, which absorbed a fifth of all Hamas fire in last summer's war, is seeing a surprise surge in population with 500 new residents. (AP)
- For Some Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a Pragmatic "Israelification" - Joshua Mitnick
More Palestinians from east Jerusalem are becoming Israeli citizens. Suha, a young Palestinian lawyer who passed the Israeli bar, said, "A lot of people are applying for it. Even people you would never expect: like sheikhs with beards. The lawyers that I work with all have it....Eventually I'm going to do it."
Ever since Israel conquered and immediately annexed east Jerusalem in 1967,
the city's hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents resisted the Israeli system, even as their blue residency cards afforded them Israeli social benefits and freedom of movement.
That meant preferring the status of permanent resident to full Israeli citizenship.
In recent years, however, there have been hundreds of applicants for citizenship every year when once there were almost none.
Palestinians are also increasingly moving into Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Sari Saeed, a hairdresser, now lives in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev because it's cheaper than in neighboring Beit Haninah.
"Renting here solves a lot of problems," she says. "I am quite happy here and it's very close to work."
The neighborhood of French Hill, just next to Hebrew University, also has been popular with Arabs in recent years. "It's been uneventful," says Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born Israeli writer, referring to the influx of Arab families who have moved into his building. (Christian Science Monitor)
Disregarding Reality, Yet Again: The Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry Report - Pnina Sharvit Baruch and Keren Aviram (Institute for National Security Studies)
- The report by the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the 2014 Gaza war concludes that Israel's military operations violated the laws of armed conflict and expressed concern regarding the possible commission of war crimes. The report reflects a clear lack of consideration of the actual realities of warfare, drawing conclusions based on pronouncements that are factually and legally dubious.
- During the war, the IDF fought against armed groups that employed an intentional strategy of systematic violation of the laws of armed conflict. Yet the report examines Israel's actions in a detached and one-sided manner, without relating to the actions of its adversaries.
- Numerous civilian casualties resulting from attacks on targets located in populated areas do not necessarily mean that the attack was disproportionate and therefore illegal. The commission's analysis assumes the existence of some alternative course of action that was not followed. However, beyond the provision of warnings and the use of weapons that were as precise as possible, how could the extensive harm to civilians have been prevented, except by refraining from attack altogether?
- But how - without these attacks - could Hamas have been prevented from continuing to fire at Israeli citizens? In the absence of answers to these questions, the commission's assertions remain accusations with no basis in reality.
- Based on Israel's failure to issue significant indictments for acts of warfare, the commission concluded that "impunity prevails across the board" for violations of international law. This reflects a baseless assumption that the absence of indictments for war crimes is indicative of a cover-up, rather than indicative of the fact that war crimes were either not committed or could not be proven on a criminal level.
Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch, a senior research associate at INSS, is former head of the International Law Department of the Israel Defense Forces.
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