1,000 Palestinians Are Digging Tunnels in Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas employs more than 1,000 operatives to excavate underground tunnels in Gaza, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
Hamas invests hundreds of thousands of dollars each month in the digging activities, paying each operative $300-400 a month.
Several members of Hamas' Nukhbah unit, trained for offensive incursions into Israel through the tunnels, have been killed in recent months in tunnel collapses.
Bahrain: Iran Presents Bigger Threat to Gulf States than Israel (Jerusalem Post)
Iran presents a greater danger to Gulf States and the stability of the Middle East than Israel, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya TV.
When asked by the interviewer: "Are you saying that Iran is more dangerous than Israel to the Gulf states?" Al Khalifa responded, "The Iranian danger is what we see before our eyes."
Senior Palestinian Economist Cites Protocols of the Elders of Zion (MEMRI)
In an interview aired on April 5, 2016, on Al-Quds TV (Lebanon), Palestinian economist Dr. Fouad Bseiso, who served as the first governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority in 1994-2001, said that global Judaism is responsible for the global financial crisis of 2008.
Bseiso added that "what was written in the 4th protocol of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion [a classic anti-Semitic forgery] is now being implemented."
"Global Judaism constitutes a virus and plague which strikes at the entire world."
How the Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936-39) Succeeded - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)
The major Arab effort to reverse the course of events in the Land of Israel was the Arab revolt of 1936-39, in which gangs of armed Arabs attacked Jewish and British targets.
The Arab Revolt was suppressed by the use of drastic measures taken by the British forces, but, nevertheless, succeeded in bringing about a change in British policy, resulting in the White Paper of May 1939 limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine and preventing the escape of many Jews from Europe to Palestine.
The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Israeli-Developed Drug May Be Prostate Cancer Cure - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
Scientists at the Weizmann Institute may have found the cure for prostate cancer if caught in its early stages - via a drug injected into cancerous cells treated with infrared laser illumination.
Using a therapy lasting 90 minutes, the drug, called Tookad Soluble, targets and destroys cancerous prostate cells, studies show.
The drug is being marketed by Steba Biotech, an Israeli biotech start-up, and was developed in the lab of Weizmann Institute professors Yoram Salomon and Avigdor Scherz.
In a Phase III clinical trial of 80 patients from Latin America, over 80% of the study's subjects remained cancer-free two years after treatment and a similar study in Europe showed similar results.
China's Fosun to Buy Israeli Skin-Care Company Ahava - Wei Gu and Orr Hirschauge (Wall Street Journal)
Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. is near a deal to buy Israeli cosmetics maker Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. that specializes in skin creams made with Dead Sea minerals in a $77 million deal.
Israel's Foreign Currency Reserves Surge to Record (Globes)
Israel's foreign exchange reserves stood at a record $94.8 billion at the end of March 2016, up $4.2 billion from the previous month, the Bank of Israel reports.
Why Tel Aviv Should Be Your Next Mediterranean Getaway - Celeste Moure (Vogue)
Tel Aviv is a fascinating bubble where history, culture, and what might be the wildest nightlife on earth come together.
Wander its meandering streets and you'll encounter beautifully restored Bauhaus architecture and century-old stone buildings, vibrant markets, and beautiful locals and expats sipping espressos at sidewalk cafes.
Did we mention the farm-to-table restaurants and tantalizing cocktail scene? It's all here and just steps from scenic sandy beaches and the sapphire blue Mediterranean.
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- Iran Working to Increase Destructive Power of Military Warheads
Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Hossein Dehqan said Wednesday: "Concurrently with its efforts to increase the precision-striking power of its weapons systems, the defense ministry has also paid attention to boosting the destructive and penetration power of different weapons' warheads and has put on its agenda the acquisition of the technical know-how to produce Octogen explosive materials and Octogen-based weapons."
On Monday the Iranian defense minister underscored the need for increasing the country's power and might to confront enemies' plots.
See also Iran Starts Producing Modern Octogen High Explosives
A factory was opened in Tehran on Wednesday for the mass-production of HMX (Octogen) explosives, which are used to increase the efficiency of missiles. Octogen is a powerful high explosive used almost exclusively in military applications, including as a solid rocket propellant.
- A Year After Nuclear Deal, U.S. Confronts New Iran Challenges - David E. Sanger
A year after he struck the outlines of a nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry finds himself confronting a new challenge from Tehran: While it is observing the nuclear agreement to the letter, its missile launches, arms shipments to Yemen and involvement in Syria have, if anything, accelerated.
Kerry arrived in Bahrain for a meeting of the Arab states this week to reassure them with an array of plans for new missile and cyberdefenses. Instead, he found himself disputing the argument that Tehran today is "as dangerous as ever." His hosts at the Gulf Cooperation Council echoed the concern on Thursday that, even with the nuclear threat off the table, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps seemed to be active everywhere. "The missile program is moving forward with full support from the top of the leadership of the Islamic Republic, and we are seeing the hegemonic interventions" by Tehran "continuing unabated," said Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.
On Thursday, Kerry was briefed at the U.S. Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain on four interceptions in recent months of Iranian shipments of small arms headed to Yemen. (New York Times)
- Turkey Reports Progress in Reconciliation Talks with Israel
Turkish and Israeli teams made progress in talks in London Thursday on an agreement to mend ties, and agreed a deal will be finalized at their next meeting, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Palestinian Moves at UN Make Peace Less Likely - Barak Ravid
The Palestinian Authority distributed a draft resolution this week condemning construction in the settlements to a number of members of the UN Security Council, according to Western diplomats and senior Palestinian officials. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would like to bring the resolution to a vote in two weeks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the proposal Thursday, saying that it would make peace less, not more likely.
"The Palestinians teach their children every day that the settlements are Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre," said Netanyahu. "Abbas' actions will push peace talks further away. The only way to advance peace is through direct talks and Abbas is hiding from that."
The last time the Security Council voted on a resolution condemning the settlements was in 2011. The Palestinians garnered the support of 14 out of 15 Security Council members, but the U.S. opposed the resolution and after failing to get the Palestinians to withdraw it, cast a veto, the only time in the past seven years that President Obama used his veto.
- IDF: Terrorist Attacks Declining - Shlomo Cesana
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet received a security briefing on Wednesday from IDF Central Command head Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa showing a significant recent decrease in the number of Palestinian terrorist attacks.
- Israel Nabs Terror Cell Targeting Motorists on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway
Israeli security forces have arrested a number of Palestinian residents of Bit Or al-Tahta in the West Bank for throwing stones and firebombs at cars on Route 443 north of Jerusalem, the Israel Security Agency said Thursday.
- Palestinian Planned Attack near Jerusalem's Malha Mall
Abed Elmo'ati Abu Snina, 22, of Kafr Aqab, a Palestinian village in east Jerusalem, was charged Thursday for planning a shooting attack on security forces near Jerusalem's Malha Mall shopping center. He was arrested close to the mall, Israel's Channel 10 reported.
Charges were also brought Thursday against three Palestinians from the West Bank village of Dir Abu Mishal for using laser beams to try to blind drivers on Route 465 near the Jewish community of Halamish, north of Ramallah.
(Times of Israel)
- Bomb Detonates near IDF Vehicle on Gaza Border - Judah Ari Gross
A bomb was detonated near an IDF bulldozer on the northern Gaza border on Friday, causing no damage or injuries, the Israel Defense Forces said. (Times of Israel)
- Iran Flexing More, Not Less, Military Muscle in Syria - Paul Bucala
A month ago, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that Iran was moving its troops out of Syria. Unfortunately, it isn't so.
Instead, Iran is rotating forces in and out of Syria, bolstering pro-Assad militia units and likely beefing up Tehran's ability to project military force abroad. These developments deserve close scrutiny rather than optimistic misinterpretation.
In October 2015, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) plugged brigade-sized cadre formations into an amalgam of Iraqi Shia militias, Hizbullah, and other pro-regime militias in order to integrate and lead these proxy forces. The IRGC units rotate on tours of two or three months at a time. Iran also expanded its presence on the frontlines in Syria; during the first week of February over 40 IRGC members were reportedly killed during operations north of Aleppo. Five IRGC members were reported killed in March, and at least six were killed south of Aleppo on April 2.
Moreover, Iran's leadership is now deploying its conventional troops, the Artesh, in Syria to serve in an "advisory" role for pro-regime forces, marking a significant shift in their role. The IRGC and the related Quds Force have historically been responsible for conducting Iran's military and paramilitary operations abroad.
The bigger picture is that the Iranian military, both the IRGC and the Artesh, are deploying and sustaining ground forces in major combat operations far from Iran's borders. They are also building up capacity to do more of the same. The writer is an Iran analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.
- Iran's Entrenchment in Syria Threatens Israel - Efraim Inbar
While Israel continues to be a spectator as the Syrian tragedy unfolds, the disappearance of the Syrian military threat to Israel is not inimical to its interests. But the entrenchment of Iran in Damascus, with substantial Russian help, constitutes a critical national security threat to Israel because it strengthens the radical axis led by Iran in a Middle East from which the U.S. has largely retreated. The possibility of a new front opening on the Golan Heights is an issue that needs the attention of the Israeli military.
Israel must work under the assumption that Syria cannot easily be fixed and that conflict is likely to continue. The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University.
- The Palestinians' Homemade Misery - Evelyn Gordon
This week Nickolay Mladenov, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, publicly called out Hamas for "stealing from their own people and adding to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza" over Hamas confiscating sizable portions of cement shipments to build tunnels with which to attack Israel. As Mladenov pointed out, this cement is critically needed to rebuild the houses damaged or destroyed in the 2014 war and "to enable much-needed infrastructure and development projects" in Gaza.
Gaza also faces an ongoing water crisis as 95% of tap water is undrinkable due to over-pumping. As Ha'aretz reporter Amira Hass correctly argues, the quickest and cheapest way to solve Gaza's water shortage would be to buy more water from Israel, but the PA rejects this solution. Yet, as Hass pointed out, the PA "has no problem buying more water from Israel for the West Bank."
At the same time, an Israeli-Palestinian business center to facilitate commerce between Israel and the West Bank was shut down because the PA forbade Palestinians to go there. Closing the center primarily hurt the Palestinians, who need the jobs joint Israeli-Palestinian ventures could provide.
These examples show that even if Israel left the West Bank tomorrow, it would solve very few of the Palestinians' problems. An Israeli withdrawal wouldn't make Hamas stop stealing cement from its people; it wouldn't end the PA-Hamas feud over who should pay Palestinian water bills; and it wouldn't stop the PA from impeding its people's business activity. (Commentary)
- UN Agency Regularly Manipulates Data to Make Israel Look Bad - Herb Keinon
NGO Monitor on Thursday released a report saying that the Jerusalem-based UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA oPt) "regularly presents data in a manipulative way that erases the context of terrorism and distorts law and morality."
OCHA fails to distinguish between Palestinian civilians and attackers, thereby amplifying Palestinian casualty claims, and drawing a false symmetry between legal Israeli self-defense and illegal attacks by terrorists, the report stated.
Moreover, "OCHA oversees and facilitates government funding to some of the most biased and politicized regional NGOs, including a number that are very active in promoting BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and 'lawfare' campaigns against Israel. Some even engage in blatantly anti-Semitic activities." OCHA then uses the data from these organizations in its reports, "parroting the false and distorted claims of these NGOs, thereby seeking to give credence and credibility to highly misleading accusations." Furthermore, "OCHA rarely, if ever, cites relevant Israeli government information." (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel's Reservist Commandos - Yaakov Lappin
Soldiers of the first reserve unit of the recently established IDF Commando Brigade were training for the storming of a Lebanese village rife with Hizbullah gunmen. According to the drill's scenario, a helicopter had just dropped off the soldiers in the heart of Lebanese territory, and now they were on their own. "We are hunting rocket launchers," said Maj. A., the battalion commander. Fighting deep in enemy territory to destroy targets, and to gather intelligence, are core missions with which this battalion is familiar. All the soldiers are former members of the elite Maglan unit which specializes in operations against targets far beyond the front lines.
The soldier-civilians serve 90 days of reserve duty annually and arrive for reserve duty without objections or questions. Col. Avi Bluth, commander of Brigade 551, said these soldiers "have been accepted for a special force. Their motivation is high. They feel a sense of mission....This is the force that the army will call up."
Once injected into hostile areas, the battalion can split up into battle crews. "You can put them anywhere where they are needed, and they will be fine. The soldiers take all of the equipment they need with them, and can stay in the field for a long time," said Maj. A. (Jerusalem Post)
- Ravensbruck, Where Up to 90,000 Women Perished During the Holocaust - J.P. O'Malley
50 miles north of Berlin, Ravensbruck was the only concentration camp the Nazis built to house female prisoners. It operated for six years beginning in May 1939 and over 130,000 women passed through its gates, says British author Sarah Helm in If This Is a Woman - Inside Ravensbruck: Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women.
"In the beginning Ravensbruck was very small. It consisted largely of German women, who were either asocials or political prisoners. Basically anyone who openly opposed Hitler," and many women in that particular group were Jewish, says Helm. By autumn 1944, Ravensbruck had become overcrowded, the result of the enormous evacuation process in the East, where the Russians had begun liberating numerous camps, such as Auschwitz.
Hitler took the rather bizarre decision to take all the survivors out of these camps and march them back to Germany. Transportation of people across Eastern Europe had become a major problem. Still, Hitler insisted that every last Jew be removed from Hungary before the Red Army arrived.
In the view of warped Nazi ideology, gassing became a practical way of controlling population numbers in horrifically overcrowded work camps. "The killing had to go up by 2,000 a month at Ravensbruck during this time," says Helm. So a gas chamber was set up. "Parts of that gas chamber were said to have been brought directly from Auschwitz, which at that time had been dismantled." (Times of Israel)
- The Secret of Israel's Success
Often lost in public perceptions of Israel is what this tiny country of 8 million people - founded only 67 years ago, possessing few natural resources, and facing constant security threats from its neighbors - has achieved from an economic and business standpoint. Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. and a Wharton graduate, recently spoke at Wharton on this subject.
Dermer asserted that in addition to Israel's embracing of capitalism and having a genius for innovation, the natural chutzpah (a Yiddish word meaning insolence, boldness, audacity) of the Jewish people was another secret of Israel's success.
Chutzpah was reflected in the country's very name, he said. In the Old Testament, Israel was the name given to Jacob after he wrestled with an angel. "Israel means to struggle with God. Why is that the secret of our success? Because if Israel's going to do battle with God, we're going to do battle with Apple and Microsoft [too]." We've been a questioning, skeptical people for a long time, Dermer said, and "it takes gall and daring to challenge conventional wisdom." (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)
Iran's Bid for Hegemony and Its Consequences - Yoel Guzansky and Ron Tira (National Interest)
- In recent times, not only have the threats on Iran diminished, but a power vacuum has emerged around it: the USSR collapsed and new, mostly Muslim, states now buffer between Iran and Russia; European powers significantly reduced their regional footprint; contemporary Turkey is not as threatening as the Ottoman Empire; Sunni rule in Iraq was toppled; and the U.S. withdrew from Iraq and is withdrawing from Afghanistan, Iran's eastern and western neighbors, and thereafter seems reluctant to engage in additional armed conflicts.
- Iran is drawn into the resulting power vacuum. Iranian bids for hegemony are now active in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Its footprint can also be found in Eritrea, Gaza, Bahrain and Shiite regions of eastern Saudi Arabia, as well as in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Indeed, Iran is in hegemony competition with major regional powers over footholds and clients.
- Furthermore, in the JCPOA, the West has essentially recognized Iran's previously unacceptable nuclear program as legitimate.
- At the same time, with its growing footprint in multiple theaters, Iran has managed to alienate and antagonize most regional powers, and with its exploitation of substate actors within the Arab world, Iran is unearthing deep primal Arab fears.
- Consequently, the unexpected outcome of Iran's current policies is a new coalition of its own making of many regional players opposed to Iran.
Yoel Guzansky is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Ron Tira is a businessman and a reservist in the Israeli Air Force's Campaign Planning Department.
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