Hizbullah Drone Attacks Targets in Syria (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A Hizbullah drone struck military targets near Aleppo in northern Syria on Tuesday in the first known report of the group using aircraft to strike enemy targets.
A video posted by Hizbullah's War Media Center shows the drone bombing three targets.
State Department Criticizes Blasphemy Laws in Muslim Nations - Carol Morello (Washington Post)
Anti-blasphemy laws have led to the imprisonment and death of religious minorities and women, particularly in Muslim countries, the State Department said Wednesday.
In its annual religious freedom report, the State Department singled out Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and Mauritania as being among the countries where deviating from the religious norm carries harsh penalties.
"False accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon. Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common," the report said.
Iran executed 20 people last year for "enmity against God."
See also Text: International Religious Freedom Report for 2015 (U.S. State Department)
ISIS Bombmaker Killed by Canadian Police (CBC News-Canada)
Aaron Driver, 24, an ISIS sympathizer known as Harun Abdurahman, was killed Wednesday by police in Strathroy, Ontario.
A senior police official said Driver planned to use a bomb to carry out a suicide mission in a public area.
Driver first caught the attention of CSIS, Canada's spy agency, in October 2014 when he began tweeting support for ISIS.
Google Maps Did Not Delete Palestine - Caitlin Dewey (Washington Post)
While the Gaza-based Forum of Palestinian Journalists claimed that Palestine had been wiped from Google Maps, Google has not changed its labeling at all.
If you search "Palestine" in Google Maps today, you'll get the same result you would have gotten five months ago.
Study: Islamic State and Its Allies Have Killed 33,000 People - Ian Duncan (Baltimore Sun)
The Islamic State, its predecessors and allies have killed more than 33,000 people and wounded 41,000, with another 11,000 taken hostage since 2002, researchers at the University of Maryland say in a report released Tuesday.
Some 30 terrorist organizations have declared allegiance to the Islamic State's caliphate.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Gaza Construction Funding "Incorrectly" Handled, UN Audit Finds - George Russell
An internal UN audit report reveals that a UN Development Program office that funds and monitors spending on construction in Gaza allowed at least five non-staff contract employees to handle "core" procurement processes that only staffers are supposed to handle. Moreover, the report says the UNDP office "was not monitoring and recording actual work" performed by these individuals.
At the same time, the office's internal financial tracking system was improperly recording at least $8 million worth of civil construction spending at far less than its full value, a practice that kept the activity under the radar of UN officials who must approve purchases above defined cost threshold levels. Moreover, the Palestinian program office was not properly keeping track of expenditures or receipts in the financial system.
The report adds a new level of credibility to Israeli accusations that internationally-managed relief supplies to Gaza were diverted for use by Hamas in the construction of terror tunnels.
See also Text: Audit of UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People-July 3, 2014 (United Nations Development Program)
- World Vision Suspends Work in Gaza after Arrest
Kevin Jenkins, president and chief executive of World Vision International, said Tuesday, "World Vision condemns any diversion of funds from any humanitarian organization and strongly condemns any act of terrorism or support for those activities....Due to the seriousness of the allegations, World Vision has already suspended operations in Gaza. We are conducting a full review, including an externally conducted forensic audit, and will remain fully engaged with the investigation that is underway." (World Vision)
- U.S. Special Operations Troops Aiding Libyan Forces Against Islamic State - Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan
U.S. Special Operations forces are providing direct, on-the-ground support for the first time to fighters battling the Islamic State in Libya, U.S. and Libyan officials said, coordinating American airstrikes and providing intelligence information in an effort to oust the group from its militant stronghold in Sirte. U.S. personnel are operating alongside British troops.
See also Pentagon: Islamic State Down to 350 Fighters in Sirte, Libya - Tara Copp
Only about 350 Islamic State fighters remain in the Libyan city of Sirte as the U.S. finished its eighth day of airstrikes there, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday. ISIS militants there had totaled 1,000 fighters at one time. Since Aug. 1, unmanned aircraft launching from undisclosed locations and Marine AV-8B Harrier jets from the nearby USS Wasp have conducted 28 strikes against the terrorist group.
(Stars and Stripes)
See also U.S.-Backed Militias in Libya Claim to Retake ISIS Stronghold of Sirte - Rod Nordland (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Intercepts Shipment of Commando Knives Bound for Gaza - Tamar Pileggi
Israeli security personnel at the Kerem Shalom border crossing foiled an attempt this week to smuggle dozens of commando knives into Gaza hidden in a shipment of tools, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday. Israel also recently intercepted a shipment containing concealed graphite strips which can be used to make rocket fuel.
(Times of Israel)
- Rare Fresco Fragments from Roman Era Discovered at Zippori National Park - Katherine Keenan
A team of archaeologists sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem uncovered hundreds of fresco fragments in Zippori National Park Wednesday that date back to the second century CE, shortly after the Roman destruction of the Second Temple. The fragments include the head of a lion, a horned animal, a bird, a tiger's hindquarters and more. Zippori, the Jewish capital of the Galilee, was home to many Jewish inhabitants throughout the Roman period.
- When Israelis Are the Victims of Apartheid - Gerald M. Steinberg
Apartheid in South Africa involved the enforced separation of whites and blacks. Since 1948, apartheid has also been a feature of the widespread Arab rejection of Israel as the nation state of the Jews. Last week the Lebanese Olympic team refused to share a bus with the Israeli team at the Rio Olympics. This is similar to the refusal to allow blacks in South Africa before 1994, or in the U.S. before the civil rights movement, to sit with whites on buses.
In cultural and sporting events, Arabs and Iranians have gone to great lengths to avoid being "contaminated" by Israelis, suddenly withdrawing from events. Contact with Israelis is treated as a form of impurity, and petty apartheid remains the norm. Yet the self-appointed guardians of human rights, including NGO superpowers such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are silent when Israelis are the victims.
The writer, professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, heads NGO Monitor.
- NGO List of Discriminatory Israeli Laws Is a Fraud - Joel H. Golovensky
The Movement for Black Lives has announced it would engage in BDS actions against Israel because "Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people." It credits a list of 57 such laws prepared by the NGO Adalah as this source of this information.
The Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS) recently completed a comprehensive analysis of every one of these laws.
Most of the laws listed relate to the ethnic identity of the predominant group, such as one defining the country's official days of rest, and another mandating the use of the Hebrew date, both of which explicitly exclude institutions and authorities that serve non-Jewish populations. Moreover, according to Adalah, the flag constitutes a discriminatory law, though this reasoning should also apply to any country whose flag includes a cross or crescent.
Another law cited as discriminatory prohibits trade with "enemy nationals," since those states hostile to Israel are all Arab or Muslim. Adalah even includes on its list the law granting citizenship and equal rights to all inhabitants of the Golan Heights, although no Palestinian Arabs live or work there.
Every single one of the laws listed by Adalah were found in the IZS study to be non-discriminatory.
The writer is the founding president of the IZS.
See also Adalah vs. the State of Israel - Lilach Danzig (Institute for Zionist Strategies)
Iran Seen as Top Mideast Threat to U.S. (Heritage Foundation)
- According to the Heritage Foundation's 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength,
Iran represents by far the most significant security challenge to the U.S., its allies, and its interests in the greater Middle East.
- Iran is an anti-Western revolutionary state that seeks to tilt the regional balance of power in its favor by driving out the Western presence, undermining and overthrowing opposing governments, and establishing its hegemony over the oil-rich Persian Gulf region. It also seeks to radicalize Shiite communities and advance their interests against Sunni rivals. Iran has a long record of sponsoring terrorist attacks against American allies.
- Iran is the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism. It has established a network of powerful Shia revolutionary groups in Lebanon and Iraq; has cultivated links with Afghan Shia and Taliban militants; and has stirred Shia unrest in Bahrain, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
- Iran possesses the largest number of deployed missiles in the Middle East. The backbone of the Iranian ballistic missile force is the Shahab series of road-mobile, surface-to-surface missiles, which are based on Soviet-designed Scud missiles. The Shahab missiles are potentially capable of carrying nuclear, chemical, or biological warheads in addition to conventional high-explosive warheads.
- For Iran's radical regime, hostility to Israel, which Iran calls the "little Satan," is second only to hostility to the U.S., which was dubbed the "great Satan." But Iran poses a greater immediate threat to Israel since Israel is a smaller country with fewer military capabilities and located much closer to Iran. It already is within range of Iran's Shahab-3 missiles.
- Moreover, all of Israel can be hit with the thousands of shorter-range rockets that Iran has provided to Hizbullah in Lebanon and to Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
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