Hamas Says It Captured Israeli Tunnel Monitoring Vehicle (AFP)
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' leader in Gaza, said Friday that on Feb. 9, Hamas
"discovered an underground vehicle on which were installed cameras and sensors to monitor tunnels and fighters."
Will Gaza Blow Up in Hamas' Face? - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
Residents of Gaza who have left the Strip believe another military confrontation with Israel is a certainty.
They also believe that it will be a lot more aggressive, that Israel is sick of playing these games with Hamas, and that Israel will do everything to eliminate the organization.
Gazan society has started to disintegrate.
The number of suicides is unprecedented. There is a phenomenon of women stabbing their unemployed husbands. Every third person is on anti-depressants.
There has been an increase in the phenomenon of teenagers marrying much older men who are able to support them as a second or third wife.
50% of Gaza youth said in different surveys that they want to leave Gaza forever.
On top of all of this, Gazans are mad that Hamas has built for themselves what amount to underground cities, while they are left without bomb shelters.
Islamic State Briefly Takes Center of Libyan City, Beheads 12 - Maggie Michael (AP-ABC News)
Islamic State affiliates in Libya briefly took over the security headquarters in the western city of Sabratha, killing and beheading 12 security officers before being driven out Wednesday.
Police Catch 2 Arab Vendors with Pipe Bombs in Jerusalem - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
Israel Police caught two east Jerusalem men with pipe bombs and ammunition hidden in their kiosk outside of Herod's Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Immigrants from Ukraine Arrive in Israel - Michelle Malka Grossman (Jerusalem Post)
116 new immigrants arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday from Ukraine as part of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews' Freedom Flight program, which has airlifted 2,365 Jews to Israel since December 2014.
Dmytro and Lyudmila Prokopochych and their four children, aged four to 18, were among the new arrivals.
As Jews who know Russian, the Prokopochych's oldest children were targeted with intense anti-Semitic and anti-Russian violence at school. "The kids beat them at school in front of the teacher. The teacher herself also called them 'separatists,'" Dmytro said.
Both parents and children said they are looking forward to starting fresh in Israel and having a chance to "live in dignity."
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- Ex-Commander: U.S. Losing Ground Against Islamic Extremism - Kristina Wong
The U.S. has lost ground in the fight against Islamic extremism, Gen. John P. Abizaid (ret.), former commander of U.S. Central Command, said in an interview in West Point's Combating Terrorism Center's magazine.
"The scope of the ideological movement, the geographic dispersion of Islamic extremism, the number of terror attacks, the number of people swearing allegiance, and the ground they hold have all increased," said Abizaid.
"Groups like the Islamic State have now taken on state-like forms and features that are unlike anything we've seen in the past. So on balance we are in a worse position strategically with regard to the growth of international terrorism, Islamic terrorism in particular, than we were after September 2001."
"I think the international community and the leaders in the region have got to decide how best to reshape the Middle East and redraw the boundaries to establish stability and a more peaceful structure," he said.
- The Next War Between Israel and Hamas May Be Fought Underground - Kate Shuttleworth
In 2014 the Israeli army discovered 32 tunnels in Gaza, half of which penetrated into Israel.
Recent winter rains caused five Gaza attack tunnels to collapse, killing Palestinian diggers. "The death of the tunnel workers during the last severe storm gave a very serious signal that Hamas is working around the clock, even in the worst weather circumstances," says Mkhaimer Abusada, a professor of political science at al-Azhar University in Gaza. Dr. Abusada believes that some of the much needed building materials entering Gaza through Israel were ending up in Hamas' hands, where they were redirected toward tunnel construction.
While Abusada estimates that two-thirds of the Gazan population do not support another war with Israel, there are many who do. "The Palestinian community in Gaza is divided - those affiliated with Hamas are very comfortable with the strategy of digging tunnels and developing missiles. Hamas create an illusion that Israel will be defeated and that people will be able to pray in al-Aqsa mosque - people buy this fantasy."
Yousra al-Shobaki, mother of a tunnel digger who fought for Hamas, said: "We will win in the end. I ask all the mothers in Gaza to support the jihad and...to teach their sons what jihad means....There is no such thing as Israel." (TIME)
- Kenyan President Pushes for Stronger Trade, Security Ties with Israel - Aggrey Mutambo
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told a gathering of Kenyan and Israeli government officials during a three-day state visit to Jerusalem this week, "It is my desire to see the volume of trade between our two countries grow even larger." President Kenyatta's visit is also targeting security cooperation. "Kenya, like Israel, is faced by numerous security challenges which require attention and resources to confront. It is therefore my wish that the cooperation on security matters and sharing of intelligence between our states is enhanced to meet the new and increased threats," he said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said, "In Israel today we face an ongoing threat of terror and hatred. Israel stands together with Kenya against those who pretend to speak in the name of Islam as they murder innocent men, women and children." (Daily Nation-Kenya)
See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Defense Minister: Palestinian Society "Wishes for Death and Seeks Destruction" - Gili Cohen
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday, "Mourning in a society that seeks life, a society that educates its sons to live, to be human, to act like humans, to strive for peace, that's our society. Facing us is a society that seeks death, like we see around us, their joy when the son becomes a martyr, a society that respects nothing."
"We're sending our soldiers to fight to protect our civilians, and we don't hide behind our civilians to fight against someone else," Ya'alon added. (Ha'aretz)
See also Police Chief: "Israel Sanctifies Life, Our Enemies Sanctify Death" - Noa Shpigel
Referring to a difference between bereaved Israelis and Palestinians,
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said Monday: "While we have chosen to sanctify life, to give it importance, to elevate the contribution the victims left to Israeli society, the legacy they left you for eternity - our enemies chose to sanctify death. Their hidden message: There is no importance whatsoever to life and at the push of a button or drawing of a knife, it is possible to move on to a better world....That is, in fact, in my view, the antithesis of the values of Israeli society." (Ha'aretz)
- PA Finance Minister Confirms Talks Held with Israel to Boost Economy
Palestinian Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara confirmed Monday that he has met with his Israeli counterpart Moshe Kahlon in Jerusalem in recent weeks to discuss an economic agreement to boost the Palestinian economy. Israel's Channel 10 reported Sunday that the two finance ministers have been meeting to discuss an "economic package" Israel is planning to offer to the Palestinian Authority.
However, Bishara denied that he had discussed the possibility of greater integration between Palestinians and Israelis in the construction, medical, and high-tech sectors, including the possibility of a range of study and internship opportunities for young Palestinians. Israel is reportedly hoping to boost the Palestinian economy, hoping it may reduce tensions after months of violence.
- Hizbullah Fatalities in the Syrian War - Ali Alfoneh
Lebanese Hizbullah's entire raison d'etre is founded on the doctrine of resistance against Israel. Since at least 2012, however, the Shiite militia has fought fellow Arabs in neighboring Syria on Iran's behalf, in an attempt to secure the survival of Bashar al-Assad's regime and thereby maintain its own overland lifeline to Tehran.
Hizbullah's funeral announcements provide useful insight into the actual nature and extent of the group's participation in combat.
According to these sources, at least 865 Hizbullah fighters were killed in combat in Syria between Sep. 30, 2012, and Feb. 16, 2016, though the actual toll is likely higher. The data shows an average of 36 fatalities per month from May 2015 to January 2016. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- The Iran-Russia-Syria Alliance Is the Middle East's "Number One Problem" - Russ Read
James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, "We have an Iran, Syria, Russia problem right now in the Middle East, that is the number one problem in the whole region. Considering we also have ISIS, that's saying a lot."
The Iranian goal is to "unite all of the Shia with a combination of... diplomatic relations as a state and a political ideological movement as a party," Jeffrey noted. "Things have been shifting not in our direction," he added.
In an op-ed for Ha'aretz, Ely Karmon of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC Herzliya wrote: "The longer the Russian military campaign in the region, the stronger the alliance with Iran and Hizbullah will become, and possibly with the Baghdad Shia regime." (Daily Caller)
Israel's Security Concerns Take Precedence for Possible Gaza Seaport - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
- Renewed discussion of a possible seaport in Gaza comes from a desire to seek long-term solutions that would help improve economic conditions there.
- At least five proposals are on the table, including building a port in Egyptian territory in Sinai in the Al Arish area, construction of an artificial port opposite the Gaza shoreline, building it on the Gaza coast itself, and earmarking quays in Cyprus or Ashdod for Gaza-bound shipments.
- Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon is against any solution in which Israel does not have security control over merchandise coming into Gaza.
- Any outsourcing of security checks could cost Israel dearly. When efforts were made in the past to have security checks performed by a third party, they failed miserably. One prime example was seen after Israel's disengagement from Gaza in 2005, when European observers were stationed at the crossing and their supervision was superficial.
- Ya'alon is willing to examine two alternatives, which the Palestinians are unlikely to accept: opening a special quay for Gazan shipments in Ashdod, under Israeli supervision, or establishing a port in Al Arish where Egyptian security officials would check merchandize first, after which it would go through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing for examination.
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