Russia Could Redeploy to Syria in Hours, Putin Says - Michael Birnbaum and Andrew Roth (Washington Post)
Russia could rebuild its military presence in Syria in a matter of hours and will maintain powerful air defenses in the country for the foreseeable future, President Putin said Thursday, as he boasted of a deployment that rescued Syrian President Assad from near defeat.
There Is No Russian Withdrawal from Syria - Dmitry Gorenburg and Michael Kofman (War on the Rocks)
There is no Russian withdrawal from Syria, but rather a drawdown of the air contingent present in Latakia. Putin simply moved pieces on the board, without altering the equation.
It constitutes a political reframing of Russia's intervention in order to normalize Moscow's military presence in Syria, and make it permanent, while convincing Russians at home that the campaign is over.
What is happening is a drawdown of forces that were surged to Syria in the aftermath of the shootdown of a Russian Su-24 by Turkey in November 2015 and the intensified fighting over the winter.
Dmitry Gorenburg is an associate at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Michael Kofman is a Fellow at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute.
Israeli Expert: Russia Is Not Leaving Syria - Ben Caspit (Al-Monitor)
One of Israel's top experts on Russia is Yaakov Kedmi, who once headed "Nativ," a covert Israeli organization tasked with connecting to Soviet Jews behind the Iron Curtain, before the fall of Soviet Russia.
Kedmi is not convinced that the Russians are really leaving.
"It seems to me that most of the commentators did not correctly understand Putin's announcement," Kedmi told Al-Monitor.
"The Russian navy is remaining in Tartus. More than half of the fighter planes are remaining in Latakia. The special units that defend these bases are also remaining. The Russian air force will continue to assist Assad in his attacks on the rebels. The S-400 missile batteries are remaining."
"The advisers to the Syrian army are remaining, from the battalion level to the General Staff, as are the electronic systems, logistics, the RPVs [unmanned aircraft] and assault helicopters. This is not an exit, but a certain thinning [of forces]."
"The Syrians are standing on their own two feet now, by themselves. And that's the whole story."
PA Columnist Praises Attacks in Israeli Cities (MEMRI)
On March 8, 2016, during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, American West Point graduate and combat veteran Taylor Force was killed and 14 Israelis and tourists were wounded in three terrorist attacks that took place in Jaffa, Jerusalem and Petah Tikva.
Rajab Abu Suraya, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, praised the attacks in his March 11 column:
"The importance of these attacks lies in the fact that they came after a long period in which there was no [event of] three attacks occurring on the same day. Even more importantly, all three occurred inside the Green Line: in Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Jaffa. This is very important."
"Shifting the battle zone into inside the Green Line means that the fire has reached Israel's fingers."
Palestinian Poll: 95 Percent See Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for
Policy and Survey Research)
35% of Palestinians have a favorable impression of Americans, while 62% have an unfavorable impression,
according to a poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza on Feb. 10-14, 2016.
11% have a favorable impression of Israelis, while 88% have an unfavorable impression.
Asked "How would you describe the U.S.-Israel relationship?,"
83% of Palestinians answered "very strong" and another 12% said "somewhat strong."
TIME Fails to Mention that Palestinian Killed by Israel Murdered Three - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
Israel's Government Press Office (GPO) decided on Thursday to name and shame TIME magazine, which published an article about a "Palestinian graphic designer" who was "killed by Israel" without mentioning that the Palestinian was a terrorist who murdered three Israelis - Alon Gobeberg, Haim Haviv and Richard Lakin - and wounded 17 others in an attack on a bus in Jerusalem.
"When the headlines are lies, journalistic reports are completely biased, and journalistic ethics cry out to the heavens - we decided we will no longer let it pass, and use all of the tools at our disposal in such extreme cases," GPO director Nitzan Chen said.
Poll: 89 Percent of Israeli Jews, 73 Percent of Israeli Arabs Satisfied with Life - Lidar Grave-Lazi (Jerusalem Post)
In 2013, 86% of Israelis aged 20 and above were "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with their lives - 89% of Jews and 73% of Arabs, according to a report by the Central Bureau of Statistics released Wednesday.
In 2014, 73% of adults said they felt safe to walk around at night in their neighborhoods.
Incitement to Terrorism by Palestinian Civil Society Organizations that Receive Foreign Funding - B. Shanee (MEMRI)
Some Palestinian civil society organizations operating in the West Bank that receive funding from Western countries, institutions, and foundations are openly expressing support for terrorism.
They express this support with ceremonies exalting terrorists, with public displays of support for attacks and their perpetrators, by lionizing terrorists, and by posting inciting content on social media.
For example, the Palestinian Bar Association, which receives regular funding from the EU, awarded an honorary attorney's certificate to Muhannad Al-Halabi, who was killed after stabbing two people to death in the Old City of Jerusalem on Oct. 3, 2015, and wounding a woman and a two-year-old baby.
Special People in the IDF (Jerusalem Post)
Special in Uniform is a groundbreaking initiative of the Israel Defense Forces that incorporates young people with disabilities into the military and helps them integrate long-term into society and the workforce.
The focus of the program is on ability, not disability, upon utilizing and emphasizing talents and capacities of people with disabilities in order to foster independence and integration into mainstream society despite physical challenges.
Special in Uniform presently has 230 participants and a long waiting list. The soldiers are integrated in a variety of functions including preparing protective kits, manning emergency depots, military store, printing shop, kitchen, shredding mill and more.
Jordan Valley Growers Conquer World's Medjool Date Market - Ora Coren (Ha'aretz)
Israel is the major exporter of the large, soft and relatively expensive medjool date, grown in the Jordan Valley and in the Arava desert.
According to the Israel Plants Production and Marketing Board, Israel produces 75% of the world production of medjool.
Israeli Economy Grows by 2.5 Percent in 2015 - Zeev Klein (Israel Hayom)
The Israeli economy grew by 2.5% in 2015, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.
The growth rate was the lowest in six years, but was still relatively higher than in other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states, which averaged 2%.
At the same time, the large number of exits in the high-tech industry and the acceleration in the development of the Tamar offshore gas field have created a record surplus of $13.8 billion in Israel's current balance of payments.
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- Iran Seen Escaping UN Sanctions over Missiles Due to Ambiguous Resolution - Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols
Iran will likely escape new UN sanctions for recent launches of what Western officials described as ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, UN Security Council diplomats said. The Security Council resolution adopted last July as part of the Iran nuclear deal "calls upon" Iran to refrain for up to eight years from activity, including launches, related to ballistic missiles designed with the capability of delivering nuclear weapons.
Key powers agree that request is not legally binding and cannot be enforced under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which deals with sanctions and authorization of military force. Western nations, which view the language as a ban, say there is a political obligation on Iran to comply. Russia, which has Security Council veto power, says Iran has not violated the resolution.
- Iran Sees Intervention in Conflicts as Gateway to Spread Islamic Revolution
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said Tuesday: "Military and security threats against the Islamic Republic's holy Establishment have turned into opportunities and led to the spread of discourse of the Islamic Revolution in the world." (Tasnim-Iran)
- U.S. to Cooperate with Investigations into Genocide by Islamic State
The U.S. will cooperate with independent efforts to investigate acts of genocide committed by Islamic State, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday. (Reuters)
See also Islamic State and Genocide - Secretary of State John Kerry
Daesh [Islamic State] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions - in what it says, what it believes, and what it does. Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.
Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia. This is the message it conveys to children under its control. Its entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology.
We must recognize what Daesh is doing to its victims. We must hold the perpetrators accountable. And we must find the resources to help those harmed by these atrocities be able to survive on their ancestral land.
- Anti-Israel BDS Movement Dealt Setbacks in State Legislatures - Valerie Richardson
The anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign has suffered a series of setbacks in state legislatures, where bills to penalize companies that target Israel are garnering bipartisan support. Last year saw the passage of bills in Illinois and South Carolina. This year, another 20 states are considering similar legislation.
- FBI: Islamic State Inspired California Student in Campus Stabbings
Faisal Mohammad, 18, stabbed four people at the University of California, Merced before being shot and killed by a campus police officer on Nov. 4, 2015. The FBI said Thursday that the California college student had become self-radicalized and was inspired by the Islamic State.
In Merced, Mohammad burst into a classroom, stabbing two students. He stabbed a construction worker who intervened, then ran from the building, where he knifed a school employee sitting on a bench.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Cancels Weekly Visit from Gaza to Pray at Al-Aqsa after Palestinians Fail to Return Home
Israeli authorities on Wednesday cancelled a weekly visit allowing Palestinians from Gaza to travel to east Jerusalem for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The agreement allowed 200 Gazans above the age of 60 to worship at the holy site. Sources said Israel canceled the agreement because Palestinians traveling for worship were not returning to Gaza.
A spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said: "Any claims regarding the freezing of permits for prayers in the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa] should be directed to those who choose to illegally exploit the permits at the expense of the rest of the public."
The spokesperson added that over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza are permitted to cross into Israel each day for business affairs or medical treatment.
- 25,000 Runners Converge on Jerusalem for Sixth Annual Marathon
An estimated 25,000 runners from Israel, as well as from 61 other countries, will be competing in the sixth annual international Jerusalem Marathon on Friday. This year's marathon includes seven distinct tracks: the 42-km. full marathon, a 21-km. half-marathon, races of 10 and 5 km., a "families' race" of 1.7 km., and a special-needs race of 800 meters.
(Times of Israel)
See also Jerusalem Marathon: A Runner's Tour of Israel's Capital
Runners in the Jerusalem Marathon traverse historical sites, including the Knesset, the Old City, Sultan's Pool, Mount Zion, the German Colony, Ammunition Hill, Sacher Park, Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives.
- On Golan Heights, IDF Fights to Keep Israel Safe - Judah Ari Gross
The relative quiet on Israel's border with Syria can be shattered by Hizbullah, the Islamic State or another jihadist group seeking to make a statement about its dedication to the fight against Israel, a senior IDF official warned on Monday. The larger groups - the al-Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade - which control the areas surrounding the Syrian border, have little incentive to attack Israel at this stage, the officer from the IDF Northern Command said. The more immediate threat comes from jihadi groups that are less interested in capturing territory, and more interested in either anti-Israel ideology or a desire to please Iran by carrying out attacks against Israel.
Israel must strike a balance between keeping its cool in the face of accidental spillover, while maintaining its vigilance against deliberate attacks, the senior IDF official said. There have already been some deliberate attacks against Israeli forces and civilians, mostly in the form of light gunfire at IDF jeeps, in addition to the occasional errant mortar or missile fire on the Golan Heights. "If someone gets hurt or they hit an Israeli village and we see the tank that did it, we'll destroy it. We've done it in the past." (Times of Israel)
- IAEA Report on Iran's Nuclear Activities Insufficient for Verification and Monitoring - Olli Heinonen
The U.S. has stressed that the Iran nuclear deal depends on robust verification and transparency, making detailed reporting on Iran's implementation of its commitments all the more important.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's most recent report on Iran's nuclear activities provides insufficient details on important verification and monitoring issues.
The report does not list inventories of nuclear materials and equipment or the status of key sites and facilities. Without detailed reporting, the international community cannot be sure that Iran is upholding its commitments under the nuclear deal. Over the longer term, this will hamper efforts to reach a broader conclusion that all nuclear material and activities are accounted for and for peaceful use. The writer is the former deputy director general of the IAEA and head of its Department of Safeguards.
(Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
- Do Palestinians Support Two States for Two Peoples? - Gilead Ini
A recent poll of Palestinians was described as showing overwhelming Palestinian support for a two-state solution, but a closer look at the question reveals otherwise.
The actual question posed to Palestinians was this: "Do you support a change in Palestinian policy, from demanding an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to demanding equal rights for Arabs and Jews in one state in historical Palestine, from the river to the sea?"
The question does not explicitly refer to a two-state solution. An expressed willingness to accept or demand a smaller Palestinian state does not necessarily indicate support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
A JMCC poll of Palestinians conducted in Sept. 2015 spoke more explicitly about a two-state formula as one of a number of solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was supported by 44%. Unless a poll question explicitly asks about support for two states, or better yet, two states for two peoples, we should be extremely hesitant to assume it sheds light on that subject.
- Dennis Ross: Mistaken Assumptions of U.S. Policy toward Israel - Herb Keinon
Dennis Ross, who dealt with Middle East issues under George H.W. Bush, as well as under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, told the Jewish People Policy Institute on Wednesday in Jerusalem that American policy-makers from presidents Truman to Obama have held three basic assumptions regarding Israel. The first assumption is that if the U.S. would distance itself from Israel, it would gain from the Arabs. "Five administrations have done it: Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, [George H.W.] Bush and Obama," he said. "Every single administration that engaged in distancing never produced what they expected from the Arabs; rather than gaining from the Arabs they typically produced more Arab demands."
The second assumption is that "if you cooperate with Israel, you lose with the Arabs." This, too, has proven false. "They were never going to make our relationship with Israel something that would undercut their relationship to us, because that would undercut their security and survival."
The third assumption is that "you can't transform the region, or America's position in the region, unless you solve the Palestinian issue." If the Palestinian issue would be solved tomorrow, he said, all the other issues plaguing the region would still remain. (Jerusalem Post)
- The Civil War in Syria: A View from Israel - Asher Susser
The war in Syria is a ruthless representation of regional changes that have taken place in the Middle East in recent years.
The fact that Russia and Iran have become key players is indicative of both Arab state weakness and American retreat. Israel's major population centers are a short drive from the conflict.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 removed the Sunni gatekeeper of the Arab East, empowered the Shi'ite majority in Iraq and transformed the country into a link in Iranian regional hegemonic design.
Beyond Iraq, Syria provides the logistical lifeline between Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon. This has allowed Iran to maintain Hizbullah and its military might, poised on Israel's northern border as an essential component of Iranian deterrence. The writer is Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University and the Stein Professor for Modern Israel Studies at the University of Arizona.
- Video: Israel Cannot Withdraw from West Bank and Golan Heights - Col. Richard Kemp
At a Jerusalem Center briefing on Feb. 17, Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, slammed the international community for advising Israel to do things they would never suggest to their own governments.
Kemp said, "Israel has to have strategic depth with which to defend itself. Israel cannot possibly, at any stage, withdraw from the West Bank or the Golan Heights."
"Gen. Allan, America's military envoy in relation to the recent negotiations on peace with the Palestinians, came up with a solution as to how Israel could withdraw from the West Bank and perhaps replace its presence with international forces including American forces and technology. But I know for sure that if he had been asked to advise America, his own country, on how to deal with a similar problem on their borders, he would never have advocated what he is advocating here. Never. And if he had, he would have been fired by the President. So I think it was completely unrealistic."
"So many members of the international community, including the U.S. and the EU, are desperately keen to tell Israel what it must do, but they certainly would not consider taking the same action with respect to themselves.
When you look at rocket fire from Gaza, for example, and how Israel mustn't retaliate in the way it does to defend itself, no country in the world would restrain itself when faced with that situation. Britain was faced with that situation back in 1943-44. We didn't just sit back and watch it. We pummeled the hell out of the Nazis who were developing rockets." (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal: Mr. Obama, We Are Not "Free Riders"
No, Mr. Obama. We are not "free riders." We shared with you our intelligence that prevented deadly terrorist attacks on America. We initiated the meetings that led to the coalition that is fighting ISIS, and we train and fund the Syrian freedom fighters who fight the biggest terrorist, Bashar Assad.
We initiated the support that is helping the Yemeni people reclaim their country from the murderous militia, the Houthis, who, with the support of the Iranian leadership, tried to occupy Yemen, without calling for American forces. We are the biggest contributors to the humanitarian relief efforts to help refugees from Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
We are the sole funders of the UN Counter-terrorism Center.
Now, you throw us a curve ball. You accuse us of fomenting sectarian strife in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. You add insult to injury by telling us to share our world with Iran, a country that you describe as a supporter of terrorism and which you promised our king to counter its "destabilizing activities."
Have you pivoted to Iran so much that you equate the Kingdom's 80 years of constant friendship with America to an Iranian leadership that continues to describe America as the biggest enemy, that continues to arm, fund and support sectarian militias in the Arab and Muslim world, that continues to harbor and host al-Qaeda leaders, and that continues to prevent the election of a Lebanese president through Hizbullah?
Prince Turki Al-Faisal served as director general of Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, and as ambassador to Britain and the U.S. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
- A Legislature Where Palestinian Lawmakers Go to Hide - Diaa Hadid
Palestinian lawmaker Najat Abu Baker from Fatah hid in the parliament building for 17 days to avoid arrest by her own government. The legislature has not convened for nearly a decade in the all-but-abandoned legislative building in Ramallah. Ms. Abu Baker was accused of insulting President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. "Where else in the world would a parliamentarian, doing her job, calling out corruption, become a prisoner, while the corrupt walk free?" she asked in an interview.
She left the building last week after making a deal with prosecutors to avoid arrest and was the fourth Palestinian legislator in trouble to hide out in what is viewed as a protected space. She set up shop on Feb. 23, after her speech to striking Palestinian teachers, in which she said Mr. Abbas should resign and suggested that there would be money to pay educators if ministers were not so corrupt.
An employee at the building said 400 people still collected salaries for jobs connected to the legislature across the West Bank and Gaza, 120 of them deployed in Ramallah.
(New York Times)
- A Genocide of Christians in Muslim Lands - Clifford D. May
In the Yemeni port city of Aden earlier this month, Islamists attacked a Catholic home for the indigent elderly; they gunned down 16 old people and their care-givers, including four nuns.
Christianity was born in the Middle East. Christians are now being wiped out by jihadis in the Middle East. That's genocide.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed, by a vote of 393-0, a resolution condemning the Islamic State's "genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity" targeting Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and other religious and ethnic minorities.
A second House resolution passed on Monday calls for an international tribunal to hold the Assad regime in Syria accountable for its numerous war crimes.
The "cleansing" of ancient Christian communities from the Muslim world follows the expulsion of even more ancient Jewish communities from the same lands.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Israel's Global Influence Unprecedented - Shlomo Ben-Ami
Israel currently enjoys a degree of global influence unprecedented in its history. The leaders of China, now Israel's third-largest trading partner, don't bother to link their economic ties with Israel to the success of peace talks with the Palestinians. Israel is India's second-largest supplier of military technology.
With Russia now setting the geostrategic tone in the Middle East, Israel has pursued an understanding with the Kremlin concerning the lines that must not be crossed in Syria. Last month Israel's ambassador to Moscow, Zvi Heifetz, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
that the bilateral relationship was "flourishing in an unprecedented manner."
Saudi Arabia maintains discreet security links with Israel, while other Sunni Gulf monarchies and Egypt are also cooperating with Israel to contain Islamist terrorism and Iran's regional rise.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was fiercely hostile to Israel while in opposition, has become a close ally. Hungary has come out against the EU's new labeling guidelines targeting Israeli goods produced in the territories. The writer is a former Israeli foreign minister. (Project Syndicate)
- Kuwait Airways' Ban on Israelis - The Cost of Doing Bigotry - Amanda Berman
Since 1980, Kuwait Airways has been granted permit authority by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to fly to and from JFK International Airport.
But the privilege to do so comes with an obligation to abide by federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws, as well as state human rights and contract laws. Astonishingly, the airline refuses to sell tickets to Israeli nationals. The airline has operated daily flights at JFK for 36 years, while flagrantly violating the civil rights of Israeli nationals - and U.S. law.
Blane Workie, Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at USDOT, wrote to Kuwait Airways' legal counsel that the department "do[es] not find the interest of Kuwait in the enforcement of its laws in this case to be greater than the interest of the United States in the enforcement of its laws."
Government agencies, individuals and corporations in Arab states that have stopped boycotting Israel did so because the legal and financial risks of refusing to deal with Israelis outweighed the ideological benefits. When the Arab states decided they wanted their international corporations to operate globally, they opted out of the government-mandated boycott of Israel. The writer is director of legal affairs at The Lawfare Project.
- A Syrian Refugee Says Thank You - Aboud Dandachi
Syrians as a people are starting to learn who their true friends are.
It is absolutely astonishing that there have been so many instances of Jewish and Israeli organizations and individuals who have gone out of their way to assist and help Syrians in need. From the earliest days of the conflict, Israeli medical teams have been offering lifesaving medical assistance to wounded Syrians.
Israelis have gone into Jordan to provide aid to Syrian refugees. Tireless IsraAID volunteers are on the ground in the Balkans, ready to receive and assist the massive numbers of refugees fleeing the wars in the Middle East. And despite some understandable ambivalence on the part of many in the Jewish diaspora, many Canadian Jewish congregations have gone through an enormous amount of effort to sponsor Syrian refugees for resettlement.
I have spoken by phone to Syrians in Israeli hospitals and marveled at the world-class cancer treatment and limb-replacement operations given to them unstintingly and at great cost to the Israeli medical system. (Tablet)
- What I Learned as an Egyptian Studying with the "Enemy" in Tel Aviv - Haisam Hassanein
In Egyptian newspapers, articles often argued that grand Zionist conspiracies implemented by Israelis and Americans intended to create chaos and division in the Arab world. And so, upon my arrival in Israel, I was shocked not to find a single Israeli who mentioned any desires to take the Sinai back from Egypt, or a grand strategy to occupy the area between the Nile and the Euphrates. Instead, some Israelis were frustrated with the fact that although the two countries had officially been at peace for almost 37 years, it remained a cold peace.
Once they discovered that I was Egyptian, Israelis were immediately enthusiastic and wanted to engage in conversation. I was often invited to Shabbat dinners, political gatherings, plays, and a variety of social events. The writer is an Egyptian-American master's degree student at Tel Aviv University.
- Israeli Rocket Technology Will Help European Spacecraft Touch Down on Mars - David Shamah
When the newly-launched European-Russian ExoMars spacecraft touches down on Mars in 2018,
the propulsion system that will enable its gentle landing was developed by Rafael, the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome missile defense system. According to Zvi Zuckerman, a Rafael engineer who helped develop the system, the European Space Agency, which is sponsoring the mission along with Russian space agency Roscosmos, chose Rafael's propulsion system "because our propulsion tanks are lighter, and use cleaner fuel," which ensures a smoother landing. Rafael's propulsion modules have been used in dozens of satellites. (Times of Israel)
- IDF Develops Fast, Accurate Early Warning App - David Shamah
The Israeli army's early warning app, iOref, is faster and smarter than other apps, according to Shlomo Maman, director of the IDF Homefront Command's Alerts Division. "There are other apps that...warn Israelis if a missile is coming in...but none are as fast and accurate as iOref....Our notifications come in about four seconds faster than the other leading app, and...we are able to much more accurately pinpoint where an impact is about to take place. When you have fifteen seconds to get to a shelter in advance of an incoming rocket, as the residents of the Gaza border area have, then every second counts."
"And just as important, we aim to offer even more precise geo-targeting of attacks, so that warnings are sent only to those truly in danger. This way we will avoid sending half the country to bomb shelters, interrupting commerce, education, and the daily lives of Israelis."
"During the Gulf War , we had no technology to determine exactly where a missile would hit, so when the sirens went off, the entire country took cover....We now have 256 specific warning areas...and send out warnings only to those most likely to be affected." (Times of Israel)
- Israel Is the Unsung Hero in Water Management - Jennifer Schwab
Israel is the world's leader in water conservation.
Indeed, Israel is one of the only countries in the world that has created such an efficient infrastructure of water supply and conservation that it can now function without rain.
Desalinization plants are a key piece of the puzzle, embellished by rather extreme rationing, low flow everything, and high public awareness of the value of every drop. Not to mention, a sophisticated network of over 250 storage tanks and large reservoirs that provide water during the dry, hot summer months.
Many of these infrastructure projects were built with private U.S. funds coming mainly from the Jewish National Fund (JNF). "Israel has become the world's leader in water reuse - recycling approximately 80% of its water," JNF President Jeff Levine explained.
Iran Has Never Started a War? - Michael Rubin (Commentary)
- Iran is said to have not invaded anyone or, indeed, started a war in more than two centuries. But is it true? Not quite.
Between 1804 and 1813, Iran and Russia fought a bloody conflict in the Caucasus. Iran's Qajar dynasty leader, Fath Ali Shah, broke the treaty and re-invaded the territory 13 years later. Then there was the Anglo-Persian War of 1856-1857 when Persian forces invaded western Afghanistan. In addition, border skirmishes with Iraq at the southern tip of the Shatt al-Arab were common in the first decade of the twentieth century as Iranian forces, at times, pushed into the Iraqi city of Basra.
- As the British Navy pulled back from the Persian Gulf in 1970, Iranian forces seized Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tonbs, islands that legally belonged to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and transformed them into Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) bases. More recently, Iran sought to use a proxy group it trained - the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain (IFLB) - to overthrow the monarchy and return Bahrain to Iran.
- Then there's Hizbullah, an Iranian proxy through and through. In its initial years, Hizbullah focused just as much on attacking other Lebanese groups as it did Israel. Hizbullah precipitated a war in 2006 by staging a cross-border raid into Israel. More recently, it has carried out aggressive ethnic and sectarian cleansing inside Syria on behalf of the Assad regime.
- I've been to Hizbullah bunkers in southern Lebanon. That they are decorated with posters of Khomeini and Khamenei, rather than any Lebanese figures, should put to rest the notion that Hizbullah is a Lebanese nationalist organization.
- Then, of course, there's the fact that Iran has become the largest state-sponsor of terrorism. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has been perhaps the most aggressive state in the Middle East, launching more attacks against neighbors and deploying its military far more widely and aggressively than any other country.
- It's one thing to pursue deals with Iran. It's quite another to whitewash, if not outright falsify, Iran's historical record in order to justify trust where none is deserved.
The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
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