Video: Hamas Now Says Gaza Is Thriving - Ahmed Al-Maqadema (YouTube)
While the common image of Gaza is one of ruins and poverty, a new Hamas video - produced for the upcoming local elections - shows Gaza as a place of impressive buildings and new neighborhoods, wide parks, lakes, plazas, sun-drenched beaches, and smiling people holding up signs reading, "Thank you Hamas."
See also Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Summer Camps in Gaza Offer Training in Stabbing, Firearms, Tunnel Combat (MEMRI)
This year's Hamas summer camps in Gaza were attended by some 30,000 youths who underwent firearms and other military training.
According to 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam officials, "the goal of the camps is to stoke the embers of jihad among the generation of liberation, to inculcate Islamic values and to prepare the army for victory in liberating Palestine."
Iran Provides Weapons to ISIS in Sinai - Ami Rojkes Dombe (Israel Defense)
A video released by ISIS' Sinai branch shows militants holding the Iranian-made AM-50 Sayyad sniper rifle.
Two Years after Gaza War, IDF Learns the Lessons - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
The IDF has integrated the majority of the lessons drawn during the 2014 Gaza war into its military strategy for the next war, which security officials have determined is only a matter of time.
Tactical lessons include detecting Hamas terror tunnels, improved intelligence, and preventing amphibious infiltration.
All ground troops are now trained to face the tunnel threat, and the combat engineering unit responsible for blowing up tunnels has increased three-fold in size.
Sensor systems have been placed on the maritime border between Israel and Gaza in order to thwart attempts by Hamas amphibious commandos to cross into Israeli territory.
How to Prevent the Next "Lone Wolf" Terror Attack (Israel Defense Forces)
Lone wolf attackers can be anyone, but they're more likely to fit a certain profile. The Palestinian attackers are most likely to be below 24 years of age, 90% are male, and they usually come from the same six or seven villages.
While most people who fit the profile of an attacker will never become one, intelligence will flag individuals who are exhibiting warning signs, such as posts on social media that glorify terror, express suicidal thoughts, or express intent to attack.
Arresting the terrorists before they can carry out an attack can save dozens of lives. Sometimes, though, the situation calls for a discussion with a potential attacker's family to bring their social media posts to their attention.
Prices of Illegal Weapons in West Bank Rise after Crackdowns - Daoud Kuttab (Al-Monitor)
M16 rifles that used to be sold for $10,400 on the black market in the West Bank a year ago are currently sold for $17,000.
Reasons for the spike could be related to an Israeli crackdown, or a Palestinian crackdown following fatal shootings in local feuds.
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- Pentagon Seeks to Incorporate Israeli Iron Dome Interceptor to Defend U.S. Bases Overseas - Barbara Opall-Rome
Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon, its U.S. partner for the Iron Dome anti-missile interceptor, are working to transform the combat-proven interceptor into a fully American system in defense of forward-deployed U.S. forces. American versions of the Tamir interceptor are being offered under the SkyHunter brand to the U.S. Army for defense against cruise missiles, rockets, and UAVs.
The Israeli-designed Tamir has already been adapted for launch from the U.S. Army's Multi-Missile Launcher (MML). In April, an MML-launched Tamir scored an intercept on U.S. soil in a test against a target drone.
- Israel Consults Arab Powers in Diplomacy Push - John Reed and Heba Saleh
Amid mounting concerns among Sunni Muslim nations about Iran's influence, Israel is discreetly consulting on security with Arab powers, including those with whom it has no formal relations.
"The Sunni Arab states increasingly see the Middle East through the same prism as Israel," Dore Gold, director-general of Israel's foreign ministry, told the Financial Times. Israel is also offering European states its expertise in fighting terrorism following a string of ISIS attacks in Europe, while normalizing relations with some predominantly Muslim countries in Africa.
Gold noted that were Israel not working with Arab countries on security issues, including the threat from ISIS, terrorist groups would be better positioned to export the region's chaos into new areas.
In this respect, Israel is serving as a strategic asset for European countries. (Financial Times-UK)
See also below Observations: Why ISIS Fears Israel - Graham Allison (National Interest)
- Judge Reopens Complaint Against Argentine Ex-President in 1994 Bombing - Jonathan Gilbert
A federal judge in Argentina has ordered the reopening of a criminal complaint against former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, accused of conspiring to derail an investigation into the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 in which 85 people were killed. Judge Claudio Bonadio is reviving a complaint brought by Alberto Nisman, a federal prosecutor who died last year in mysterious circumstances. Nisman had accused Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, of ordering secret negotiations to shield former Iranian officials thought to be behind the attack.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Arrests UN Gaza Employee for Aiding Hamas
Wahid Abdullah Burash, 38, an employee of the UN Development Program in Gaza, has been arrested for using his position to aid Hamas military activities, the Israel Security Agency announced on Tuesday. In 2015, Burash helped build a naval marina for use by Hamas in northern Gaza. Burash also convinced his manager at UNDP to give preference in rehabilitation projects to areas inhabited by Hamas operatives. When weapons or tunnel openings were discovered in homes being worked on as part of UNDP projects, UN procedure to report such findings was not followed.
The interrogation of Burash uncovered additional Hamas operatives embedded in other aid organizations. Burash also provided information on Hamas tunnels and weapons warehouses.
- Former Israel Security Agency Head: World Naive about Widespread Diversion of Aid to Hamas - Stuart Winer
Avi Dichter, a former Israel Security Agency head who now chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Monday that the funneling of tens of millions of World Vision charity dollars to Hamas is only a tiny example of the massive abuse of international aid to fund violent Islamist groups.
"World Vision is only a small example," Dichter said, declaring that other, similar organizations "know very well that they are funding Hamas." He told Israel Radio that almost all of the UN aid workers in Gaza are members of Hamas.
(Times of Israel)
- Hamas Facing Internal Strife - Amos Harel
The Hamas leadership in Gaza appears to be split. The military wing's most dominant figure is now Yahya Sinwar, who was released in the 2011 prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit. This wing disagrees with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, who is based in Qatar.
Sinwar and his colleagues want to renew ties with Iran and allocate more money to Gaza at the West Bank's expense.
Meshal fears that a thaw with Iran would strain Hamas' relations with the Sunni countries. And Meshal wants to funnel more money to the West Bank, hoping to launch terror attacks against Israel and weaken the PA.
- Iran's Plan to Expand Its Nuclear Program and Steps the U.S. Can Take to Deter It - Michael Singh
Last month the Associated Press reported on a document describing how Iran plans to expand its nuclear program beginning in January 2027 by installing thousands of centrifuges capable of enriching uranium faster than its current models. It's well known that the Iran nuclear agreement is a temporary accommodation; Iran will be free of its restrictions beginning in less than a decade.
The next U.S. administration can make clear that we reserve the right to oppose Iran's nuclear expansion. In parallel, the U.S. can also lead an effort to restrict the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology generally. This would provide a firm policy foundation to rally international opposition to the expansion of Iran's nuclear capabilities.
The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, worked on Middle East issues at the U.S. National Security Council from 2005 to 2008.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Learning from the World Vision Case
On August 4, the Israel Security Agency revealed that Mohammed El-Halabi, manager of the Gaza operations of the international humanitarian NGO World Vision, funneled 60% of the funds to the terrorist group Hamas. NGO Monitor identified World Vision as susceptible to aid diversion in 2015, concluding that there is "little doubt as to World Vision's willingness to negotiate and coordinate with armed groups. This raises questions as to whether the group would prevent components of its aid from being misappropriated by terrorist organizations."
Prof. Gerald Steinberg noted that, "World Vision's failures in Gaza highlight the problems of a multi-billion-dollar NGO industry that remains largely unregulated and unexamined....This should be a cautionary moment for many other international aid organizations that have similar operations in Gaza, such as Oxfam, Care, Christian Aid, and UNRWA." (NGO Monitor)
- Arab Youth
Look Forward in Anger
Amazingly, in some Arab countries, the more time you spend in school, the less chance you have of finding a job. In Egypt, 34% of university graduates were unemployed in 2014, compared with 2% of those with less than a primary education. The inequality between the sexes also stands out: 68% of women aged 15-24 were jobless in Egypt compared with 33% of men. Yet for all their traditional subordination, women now make up the majority of university graduates in the Arab world.
Young Arabs are unhappier than their elders and than their peers in countries at similar stages of development, according to Ishac Diwan of Harvard University. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that only 35% of those polled in the Middle East thought their children would be better off financially than them, compared with 51% in Africa and 58% in Asia.
Diwan notes that, on the whole, young Arabs are markedly more patriarchal and less tolerant towards people of different cultures or religions than young people in other middle-income countries.
Why ISIS Fears Israel - Graham Allison (National Interest)
- Israelis live much closer to ISIS than do Americans. ISIS has pledged to conquer the Jewish state and incorporate it into its core caliphate. The Israel Defense Forces has embraced a strategy of preventing ISIS attacks through patient, vigilant deterrence, seeking to persuade ISIS not to attack it by credibly threatening to retaliate.
- For the IDF, ISIS is just one more terrorist group - one that does not even make the top half of Israel's threat matrix. As former chief of military intelligence Amos Yadlin put it, "At the end of the day, we are talking about several thousand unrestrained terrorists riding pickup trucks and firing with Kalashnikovs and machine guns."
- The IDF constantly worries about whether its deterrent is sufficiently strong. Red lines are clearly, publicly and repeatedly announced by top Israeli officials not only in Hebrew, but also in Arabic. Credibility is enhanced by taking "limited offensive actions to signal that the 'rules of the game' have been broken."
- Of course, deterrence is not the only strand in Israel's strategy to counter its enemies. Full-spectrum prevention of terrorist attacks includes detection (deep penetration to identify threats), defense (such as the Iron Dome missile-defense system and secure walls or fences on all borders), and decisive defeat (when, despite best efforts, attackers succeed).
- Israel has conveyed three "red lines" for Iran, Assad, and terrorist groups in Syria: no attacks on Israel; no transfer of advanced conventional weapons to terrorist groups that threaten Israel; and no transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups. The "dozens" of Israeli airstrikes in Syria that Prime Minister Netanyahu has acknowledged are meant to remind all adversaries of the cost of violations of its rules.
- On its immediate border, Israel faces two ISIS affiliates: Sinai Province in Egypt and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Despite their capability to attack at a moment's notice, both have exercised restraint.
As a German journalist who was embedded with ISIS in 2014 explained, "The only country ISIS fears is Israel. They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them."
The writer is director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for policy and plans.
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