IDF Chief Hints at Efforts to Counter Gazan Tunnels - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
The IDF is working, mostly in secret, to locate and destroy the Hamas tunnel threat from Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said on Tuesday.
"We have advanced capabilities," Eisenkot said. "We are doing a lot, but many of [these efforts] are hidden from the public. We have dozens, if not a hundred, engineering vehicles on the Gaza border."
Hamas, ISIS Increasing Cooperation (Middle East Newsline-IMRA)
Israel's intelligence community has determined that Hamas and ISIS
intensified cooperation in 2015, sharing
intelligence, weapons shipments, logistics and medical services.
Sources said ISIS has facilitated numerous weapons shipments to
Hamas in Gaza, working with Bedouin smugglers.
"The arrangement is that ISIS takes 10 to 20% of the weapons
ordered by Hamas," a source said.
In response to the Egyptian
offensive against the smuggling tunnel network, ISIS has brought components and raw material to enable Hamas and
Islamic Jihad to manufacture their own weapons.
See also Hamas Giving Medical Care to ISIS Fighters from Sinai - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
Iranian-Backed Militia Seen with U.S. Tank in Iraq - Caleb Weiss (Long War Journal)
Kata'ib Sayyid al Shuhada (KSS), an Iranian-backed Shia militia which operates in Syria and Iraq, has been spotted using a U.S.-made M1 Abrams tank in a recently released video.
It is likely the tank is from the Iraqi Army, as the militia operates with and alongside Iraqi security forces.
Photos have also appeared showing an Abrams tank flying the Hizbullah Brigades flag, and an Abrams tank in the possession of the Badr Organization, another Iranian-backed Shiite militia.
Bahraini Princess Had Life-Saving Surgery in Israel - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
An Israeli hospital provided life-saving treatment to a Bahraini princess, Israel's Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara said Monday, apparently referring to a case at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center in 2010.
Israeli Firm Unveils "Seagull" Unmanned Naval Vessel - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's Elbit Systems on Monday unveiled the new "Seagull" unmanned naval vessel
capable of firing small torpedoes at enemy submarines, as well as detecting and blowing up submerged mines.
Seagull can also lay mines and undertake sea and port security or electronic warfare missions.
The vessel can be controlled via satellite link, can operate continuously for 96 hours, and has a remote-controlled machine gun attached to the bow.
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- North Korean Satellite
Launch Seen as Cover for Missile Test - Choe Sang-Hun
North Korea launched a rocket carrying a satellite on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear bomb.
(New York Times)
See also North Korea's Latest Missile Test: The Iran Connection - Thomas Karako
Iran is North Korea's frequent partner in missile development and, as in previous long-range missile tests, Iranian engineers were likely on hand to witness the launch, either as potential customers or as part of a more substantial coproduction arrangement. Only last month, the U.S. Treasury Department identified and sanctioned Iranian corporations for contributing to a North Korean 80-ton booster - probably about the size of the rocket launched on Feb. 7. Of particular concern is if North Korea's ICBM-related technologies could help develop a longer-range Iranian missile, including one called Simorgh.
Besides missiles, nuclear weapons development and even testing within North Korea could be a basis for a future Iranian nuclear breakout. The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Defense One)
- Wife of Senior ISIS Figure Charged in Death of American Hostage
The U.S. Justice Department on Monday announced that Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, 25,
the wife of former Islamic State leader Abu Sayyaf, has been charged in federal court with contributing to the death of American hostage Kayla Mueller. Abu Sayyaf was killed in a Delta Force raid on his Syrian compound in June, and his wife was turned over to Iraqi authorities. (AP-CBS News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Thwarts Two Palestinian Stabbing Attacks on Tuesday
On Tuesday a Palestinian woman attempted to stab Border Police officers near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. In a separate incident on Tuesday, a Palestinian girl with a knife was apprehended by a security guard as she approached the West Bank settlement of Carmei Tsur in Gush Etzion.
- Heroines in Green in Israel's Border Police - Itsik Saban
Female fighters have become an inextricable part of Israel's Border Police. They serve in the most sensitive areas: checkpoints, patrols, ambushes and arrests of terrorists. "We have a lot of motivation," says 1st Sgt. Chen Cohen. "There is fear, but it doesn't stop us. We know how to put aside our feelings, and when you're facing a threat, you operate the way you learned to operate." Currently some 700 women serve with the Border Police. Commanders argue that "the women's motivation is sky-high."
The professionalism and heroism of the border policewomen were manifest during the terrorist attack at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate last Wednesday. Cpl. Hadar Cohen, 19, managed to shoot one terrorist who stabbed one of her fellow policewomen before she was shot to death by another terrorist. (Israel Hayom)
- Israel's Policy on Returning the Bodies of Terrorists - Gilad Erdan
According to an editorial in Ha'aretz, delaying the burials of the bodies of Palestinian terrorists is "unnecessary abuse" and "collective punishment." Yet the reason for the delay is to prevent the funerals from turning into mass demonstrations of incitement, provoking young people who take part and hear the songs of praise for the martyr to join the circle of terrorism themselves. Moreover, many funerals have descended into riots and clashes with the security forces, ending in deaths.
Families that agreed to hold small-scale funerals, adhering to all the rules of ritual and religion without turning the burials into inflammatory demonstrations, received the bodies of their sons without delay. The writer is Israel's minister of public security.
- The Nuclear
Agreement with Iran: Insights and Implications - Zaki Shalom
The nuclear agreement with Iran expresses profound, far-reaching worldviews on the U.S.' current manner of functioning.
At its core is the recognition that the U.S. military will be asked to fight for extended periods only if there is a definitive and present threat to
the United States or its most critical interests. The Obama administration does not seem to view Iranian nuclearization as such a threat.
Israel will have to take this reality into account. It means that even if there is evidence that Iran is violating the nuclear agreement and is taking action to attain nuclear capabilities, there is no certainty that the U.S. will be prepared to take military action against Iran to obstruct this trend. Under these circumstances, Israel must internalize that the heavy burden of preventing Iranian nuclearization falls on its shoulders alone. Prof. Zaki Shalom is a senior research fellow at INSS and a senior researcher at
the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at Ben-Gurion University.
(Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies)
- Azerbaijan, Israel's Top Strategic Partner in the Muslim World - Giacomo Fracassi
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev at last month's World Economic Forum in Davos. "The Azerbaijani-Israeli strategic partnership...encompasses many different areas, like energy, security, defense, agriculture, trade, but it is also mostly characterized by the human factor, with a vibrant Jewish community in Azerbaijan," said Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesperson of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Jewish community of Azerbaijan, with around 30,000 people, is an example of how in a secular country with a majority Muslim Shia population that borders Iran, all faith communities are able to live in harmony and mutual respect.
Israel buys oil from Azerbaijan through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (Turkey) pipeline, while Azerbaijan is interested in Israel's technology, science, and medical know-how and is importing defense-related equipment.
When asked about his country's position on labeling Israeli settlement products, Hajyev replied, "This is not an issue for us. Our view is not different from the mainstream view of Israel's society and Israel's government. We have no problem with importing such products in Azerbaijan." (EU Reporter)
Many Journalists Write to Fit the Narrative that Israelis Are Bad and Palestinians Are Good - Zenobia Ravji (The Tower)
The concept of a Jewish state has always made sense to me. Perhaps because I myself come from an ancient ethnic and religious minority, the Zoroastrians, who continue to live in a diaspora outside of what was once our homeland, Iran. So I came to Israel with a predisposed understanding of the need for a state, a safe haven for a people that has been a global minority for millennia and continuously persecuted.
- I first came to Israel in January 2014 as a graduate student in journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a two-week holiday that turned into two years. When I accidentally ventured into the West Bank during my travels, I had no idea I was even there. I was surrounded by tranquil scenes, modern infrastructure, and economic cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis.
- I thought people should see the entire truth - not just soldiers, bombs, and riots, but also what's happening when none of the drama is taking place. And it wasn't just the normalcy of life in the West Bank that went unreported. Many of the human rights violations by the Palestinian Authority were never mentioned, such as the lack of freedom of speech and the press, and a complete neglect of the Palestinian people by their own politicians, who continue to exploit the peace process while pocketing European and American funding for a "free Palestine."
- I decided to stay in Israel to complete my last semester of journalism school, which consisted of one major project. Mine was a feature story on economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. It was a documentary that takes place on Sde Bar farm in the Israeli settlement of Nokdim, following the lives of an Israeli farmer and a Palestinian man who works with him.
- During my time in Israel, I landed an internship with an Israeli non-profit that provided support services for foreign reporters based in Israel. My job was to accompany members of the press on field tours, getting perspectives on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. I found to my surprise that much of the foreign press was ignorant in their reporting. They tended to write stories that fit the preconceptions of their editors. For the most part, this narrative consisted of the idea that Israelis are bad and Palestinians are good.
- Israel is the only country in the region that respects freedom of the press. Members of the foreign press are free to say whatever they want about Israel, without fear of censorship or retaliation. This is not the case on the other side of the conflict. During the 2014 Gaza war, there were several incidents in which Hamas deleted photos and video footage from journalists' memory cards before they crossed back into Israel. Hamas wouldn't let them report the entire story.
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