Israel-Indian Barak 8 Missile System Successful in Indian Ocean Test - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
The Israeli-Indian-developed Barak 8 missile system carried out two successful interceptions from an Indian Navy ship that demonstrate its readiness.
The Barak 8 missile system is designed to protect naval ships and offshore gas rigs from hostile aircraft, missiles and rockets.
The system's advanced radar is produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, which also makes the system's fire control station, while the interceptor missile is produced by Rafael.
Belgians Arrest Two in New Year's Terror Plot - Jason Hanna (CNN)
Belgian authorities arrested two members of a Muslim biker gang called the Kamikaze Riders who are suspected to have discussed attacking Brussels' Grand Place square as well as police and military facilities during "the end of the year/New Year's celebrations," a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN.
He said the plot appears to have been inspired, but not directed, by the ISIS terror group.
Irwin Cotler: World Is Witnessing New, Virulent and Even Lethal Anti-Semitism - Judy Maltz (Ha'aretz)
Irwin Cotler, Canada's former justice minister and attorney general, warned the Knesset Committee on Diaspora Affairs on Tuesday that hatred of Israel was behind a "new, escalating, global, sophisticated, virulent and even lethal anti-Semitism."
Cotler described this new strain of anti-Semitism as "discrimination against, denial of, assault upon the right of Israel and the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations, in fact the right even to live, with Israel emerging as...the targeted collective Jew among the nations."
Hizbullah Fighters Are Fed Up with Fighting Syria's War - Jesse Rosenfeld (Daily Beast)
They joined to fight Israel in Lebanon, but after multiple combat tours in Syrian cities, three Hizbullah reservists tell the Daily Beast that they are no longer willing to die in Syria's unending civil war.
Fatah: Water the Palestinian Revolution "with Blood" - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
The Facebook page of the official spokesman of the PA Security Forces, Adnan al-Damiri, posted a message on Dec. 21 from the Fatah Shabiba youth movement to children that the way to succeed in "revolution" against Israel is to "water it with blood."
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- U.S. Spy Net on Israel Snares Congress - Adam Entous and Danny Yadron
President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state.
But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch, current and former U.S. officials said. Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The National Security Agency's targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.
This account, stretching over two terms of the Obama administration, is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former U.S. intelligence and administration officials and reveals for the first time the extent of American spying on the Israeli prime minister. One tool was a cyber implant in Israeli networks that gave the NSA access to communications within the Israeli prime minister's office. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Amidror: "The U.S. Listens In on Everyone"
Former Israeli national security adviser Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror told Army Radio the allegations of U.S. spying were unsurprising.
"The U.S. listens in on everyone; we don't need to get excited about it. Everyone knows - it's a fact," he said. "Israel is careful not to carry out any spying operations in the United States, not even a little bit."
(Times of Israel)
See also below Commentary: The Phone Call that Upended U.S.-Israel Relations - Patrick O'Connor and Adam Entous (Wall Street Journal)
- Iran's Khamenei: U.S. Seeking to Destroy Islamic Civilization
Ayatollah Khamenei told the 29th International Islamic Unity Conference on Tuesday: "The present U.S. officials are against the principles of Islam and, unlike their statements, they are after fomenting differences among Muslims; and its example is creating terrorist groups like Daesh (Islamic State) and other groups that have been created through the funding of the U.S. affiliates and their political aides; they (the Americans) have caused the recent tragedies in the Muslim world."
"When the Islamic awakening started, they grew worried and tried to contain it and they even succeeded in some countries, but the Islamic awakening cannot be destroyed and it will achieve its goals, God willing." Muslims "should stand against these plots insightfully and by maintaining their resistance." (Fars-Iran)
- Congress Braces for Round Two of Iran Fight - Jordain Carney
The U.S. Senate is heading toward round two in the fight over the Iran nuclear deal. Senators are considering extending a package of sanctions against Tehran set to expire next year. The timing could potentially put the administration in the awkward position of trying to lift sanctions against Iran just as lawmakers try to extend them.
Supporters of extending the sanctions law say it's needed so the administration, or future administrations, has the ability to "snap back" sanctions into place if Iran violates the nuclear deal. They argue that a pair of recent missile tests underscores the worry that Iran will try to cheat on the nuclear agreement.
But any effort to renew the legislation would likely get pushback from the Obama administration - and some of its staunchest allies in Congress - over concerns that any new sanctions could be considered by Iran to be a violation of the agreement.
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- Israeli Stabbing Victim Dies of Wounds from Hebron Attack - Yaakov Lappin
Gennady Kaufman, 41, the victim of a Palestinian stabbing attack on Dec. 7 in Hebron, died of his wounds at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Kaufman was critically injured with multiple stab wounds to his upper body in the attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs. The attacker was shot dead in the act by Border Police officers on the scene.
See also Netanyahu: Jews Have Been at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron for Four Millennia
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the family of Gennady Kaufman, the Israeli who was stabbed near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and died on Wednesday. "Gennady was the gardener at the Cave of the Patriarchs," Netanyahu said. "I say to all those who wish to uproot us from the Cave of the Patriarchs: with the exception of a few years in the previous century, we have been there close to 4,000 years. And there we will stay forever. You cannot defeat us." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israeli Trauma Doctor: Terrorists Know Where to Stab to Maximize Damage - Maytal Yasur Beit Or
The Palestinian terrorists who are committing the recent stabbing attacks are aiming their weapons deliberately, intending to kill, Dr. Ofer Merin, head of the Trauma Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem told a Magen David Adom conference on emergency medicine Monday.
"The attackers know where they need to hit; it's not something random," he said. "Three weeks ago, we received a wounded [man]...with four [stab] wounds: one to the lungs, one to the right atrium, one to the right ventricle, and one to the neck," Merin said. "It's as if someone read the manual, and a wounded person comes in with two wounds to the heart. You learn that they [the attackers] know where to strike." (Israel Hayom)
- The Phone Call that Upended U.S.-Israel Relations - Patrick O'Connor and Adam Entous
Administration officials thought the idea of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressing a joint session of Congress opposing the emerging Iran deal was cooked up by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Netanyahu, and then proposed to the Republicans in Congress. In fact, it was the other way around, congressional officials said.
It started off as a phone call between then-House Speaker John Boehner and the incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, about ways Republicans in Congress could put the brakes on the nuclear pact President Obama was negotiating with Iran. They were not sure whether Netanyahu would agree to accept the invitation when Boehner called Dermer on Jan. 9.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Experts: "Iran Has Achieved a Major Victory" - Ariel Ben Solomon
Iran's shipment of low-enriched uranium to Russia on Monday is not very significant in the big picture, experts say.
"Iran has achieved a major victory by trading away easily-reversible nuclear concessions like enriched uranium and first-generation centrifuges that all can be easily reconstituted," Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told the Jerusalem Post.
"Rather than permanently blocking Iran's nuclear weapons pathways, the deal opens a patient path to a nuclear weapon. Tehran simply has to follow the deal to emerge in 10 to 15 years as a much more dangerous adversary with a massive nuclear program, an advanced centrifuge-powered rapid path to a bomb, intercontinental ballistic missiles, regional dominance and its economy immunized against future sanctions."
Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the Post that
"the deal allows Iran to continue research and development of advanced centrifuges, which down the road could enable the country to replenish its enriched uranium at a faster pace." (Jerusalem Post)
The Syrian Civil War and Its Consequences for Hizbullah - Benedetta Berti (Foreign Policy Research Institute)
- After all the political capital, money and blood Hizbullah has spilled to keep Bashar al-Assad in power, a collapse of the regime or a political transition that sidelined Assad would represent a significant loss for Hizbullah, rocking its status and power in Lebanon, empowering the domestic opposition to the group, and perhaps even impacting on its relationship with the Lebanese Shiite community.
- To leave Syria without losing face or political capital, Hizbullah needs either an (admittedly unlikely) Assad victory, a political deal that leaves key parts of the regime in power, or a de facto partition that allows the Syrian regime to keep control over a strategic pocket of the country.
- Hizbullah's involvement in Syria has also created new enemies. Because of its military support for Assad, Hizbullah is seen as a key enemy by anti-Assad opposition forces.
- In particular, Hizbullah is despised and targeted by groups operating within the "Salafi-jihadist" camp such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.
The writer is a Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
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