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November 28, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Air Force Kills Four ISIS Terrorists in Syria - Yoav Zitun and Roi Kais (Ynet News-Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Air Force killed four ISIS terrorists on Sunday in a retaliatory strike after IDF soldiers came under fire by the terrorists using a heavy machine gun and mortars.
    Shuhada al-Yarmouk, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS, was responsible. The group had seized 21 UN troops from the Philippines as hostages in 2013.
    See also Israel Attacks ISIS Military Facility in Syrian Golan (Ynet News)
    The Israel Air Force attacked an abandoned ISIS military facility in the Syrian Golan Heights on Monday in what the IDF called a "follow-up attack...meant to prevent the terrorists from returning to the facility."
    See also Netanyahu: We Will Not Let ISIS Operate Near Our Borders - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)

Abbas Orders Palestinian Flags Flown at Half-Staff for Fidel Castro (WAFA-PA)
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday ordered flags to be flown at half mast to mourn the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died on Friday.
    "Castro broke off Cuba's diplomatic ties [with] Israel in 1973 and was one of the first countries to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) after its founding in 1964."

U.S.-French Operation Targeted Senior Al-Qaeda Operative - Gordon Lubold and Matthew Dalton (Wall Street Journal)
    French aircraft this month struck and likely killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of the most wanted senior al-Qaeda operatives in southern Libya, based on U.S. intelligence feeds, U.S. officials said.
    Belmokhtar has been on the U.S. wanted list for at least a decade.

India Signs $1.4 Billion Contracts with Israel Aerospace Industries (Israel Defense)
    India signed two contracts in New Delhi on Nov. 16 worth $1.4 billion with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the purchase of two additional Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and 10 weaponized Heron TP unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

Israeli Researchers Find Galilee Caves Used by Jewish Rebels to Hide from the Romans - Philippe Bohstrom (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli scientists in the Galilee have discovered hundreds of limestone caves in which Jews hid from Roman troops 2,000 years ago during the Great Jewish Revolt (66-70 CE).
    Embellishments such as baths, water cisterns, and candle niches carved into the rock show that the caves had been prepared for extensive habitation.
    Pitchers, pottery shards, coins, and other artifacts dating to the 1st century CE were found, as well as dozens of Roman arrow-heads that had been shot into the caves, said Dr. Yinon Shivtiel from the Safed Academic College and Vladimir Boslove of the Israeli Cave Research Center.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran May Seek Naval Bases in Yemen and Syria
    "We need distant bases, and it may become possible one day to have bases on the shores of Yemen or Syria," Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said in remarks published on Sunday. He added that having distant bases "is worth dozens of times more" than having nuclear technology. (Reuters)
        See also Iranian Navy to Escort Tankers Through Red Sea
    In response to a rising threat of piracy and terrorism, Iran's Navy will be escorting all Iranian tankers in the waters off Somalia, in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait and in the Red Sea, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Islamic Republic Navy, told state-owned media. (Maritime Executive)
  • Khamenei: Sanctions Renewal by U.S. a Breach of Commitments
    The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 15 approved a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). Referring to this, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Sunday in Tehran: "Now they raise the issue of extending the sanctions in the U.S. Congress and claim that these are not [new] sanctions but renewal [of old ones]....If these sanctions are extended, it will surely constitute a violation of the JCPOA [the nuclear agreement] and they [U.S. officials] must know that the Islamic Republic will definitely react to it."  (Press TV-Iran)
  • Iraq's Parliament Legalizes Shiite Militias as a Government Force - Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra
    Iraq's parliament on Saturday voted to legalize state-sanctioned Shiite militias long accused of abuses against minority Sunnis. The militias have now become an "independent" force that is part of the armed forces and will benefit from salaries and pensions identical to those of the military and police. The legislation was rejected by Sunni Arab politicians.
        Most of the Shiite militias are backed by Iran. Their ranks significantly swelled after Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for jihad against IS in June 2014. They now number over 100,000 men and fight with heavy weaponry, including tanks, artillery and rocket launchers. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Over Five Days, 630 Fires Burned 560 Homes - Shlomo Cesana
    Over five days, 2,500 firefighters worked tirelessly to put out 630 fires that burned 560 homes. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Palestinian, Israeli Arab Arsonists Arrested
    At least 35 people have been arrested since Thursday on suspicion of setting fires or inciting others to do so. Most are Palestinians, but Ha'aretz reported Sunday that at least 10 are Israeli Arabs. (Times of Israel)
  • Many Countries Sent Firefighting Aircraft to Israel - Itay Blumental
    The first planes that reached Israel from abroad were three from Greece. Maj. Stelios Kokoridis, a pilot who had previously fought the 2010 Carmel fire in Israel, said, "It's always good to help a friend in trouble; it's a shame that we meet each other in bad times like this."
        Turkey sent three planes, Italy two, Cyprus one, Russia two, and Croatia two. Planes also arrived from Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Spain, while Egypt sent two firefighting helicopters. The U.S. sent its Supertanker, a Boeing 747-400. On Saturday, 70 Cypriot firefighters arrived, as did three planes and a firefighting team from France.
        The Palestinian Authority sent eight firefighting teams. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to thank him for the assistance. (Ynet News)
        See also Rivlin Thanks Erdogan for Turkish Help in Quenching Fires - Greer Fay Cashman
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday telephoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to thank him for Turkey's assistance in helping to quench the fires that swept across the country. "I want to thank you from the depth of my heart for your decision to send this very valuable help to us in fighting the fires," Rivlin said. Erdogan replied that "Normal relations between Turkey and Israel are of great importance to the whole region."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Egypt Helped Extinguish Fire in Israel
    Egypt provided assistance to Israel in extinguishing a major fire that broke out Tuesday and spread in several parts of the country, an Egyptian government source told the official state news agency MENA on Sunday. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
        See also 325 Foreign Nationals Came to Israel to Fight Fires (Ynet News)
  • IDF Anticipates Power Struggle in PA over Abbas Successor
    Israel should prepare for a possible wave of terror attacks amid growing instability in the West Bank caused by a power struggle in the Palestinian Authority over who will succeed President Mahmoud Abbas, IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi warned on Sunday. Halevi said that the next year "would be a year of instability in the Palestinian Authority," and that there will be a number of "elements who will challenge Abbas' leadership [while] Hamas will try to make gains," Ha'aretz reported. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Stabbing Attack Thwarted on Friday
    A Palestinian man attempted to stab an Israeli security officer at the Shuafat Crossing in Jerusalem on Friday, an Israel Police spokesman stated. The attacker was killed in the incident. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • IDF-Islamic State Clash Sends Israeli Message: Don't Mess with Us - Judah Ari Gross
    A short exchange of gunfire between an Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group and Israeli troops on Sunday ended with an IDF airstrike that killed four militants. Experts do not see it heralding a major shift in the dynamics of the region. "It was a short exchange, but it was productive," IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner concluded. The incident ended relatively quickly and with no Israeli troops injured.
        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel said, "They paid the price immediately. I believe that the message was strong enough and simple enough: Don't mess with us. We do not cross the border. We take actions on the Israeli side, and therefore you cannot open fire against us. If you do, you'll pay the price." Nuriel added, "I believe that the decision to open fire against our soldiers was a local decision. It was not something that came from any upper echelon headquarters....The Daesh [ISIS]-style attack is normally a truck that is loaded with explosives or suicide bombers - this is not what we saw."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's Terror Fires - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The willingness of dozens of individuals to start fires they hope will injure Jews or destroy their property is the result of a Palestinian political culture in which hate and violence directed at Israelis is both encouraged and praised. It is appropriate for Israeli leaders to make it clear that Jews will not be burned out of their country anymore than they can be bombed out of it.
        This isn't the first instance of Palestinians using arson as a terror tactic and it probably won't be the last. But while no one should underestimate the determination of Israelis to stand fast in the face of terror, the lesson of the last week is that the conflict between two peoples over one land is still so bitter that many Arabs appear to be still willing to destroy it rather than let Jews live there in peace. (Commentary)

Refuting Balfour's Detractors - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

  • On Oct. 25, the Palestinian Return Center held a symposium in the House of Lords it trumpeted as the "launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign." On Tuesday an Israeli group will take to a room in the House of Commons to refute the Balfour Declaration's detractors.
  • Dore Gold, the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and up until a month ago the Foreign Ministry's director-general, will hold a meeting to provide a high-profile response to the Palestinian efforts to get a British apology for the November 1917 declaration that paved the way for the Jewish state.
  • Rather than take the affirmative step of recognizing the Jewish right to a nation-state in Israel, Gold said, the Palestinians are "doing the exact opposite by denying actively the very request for a Jewish homeland."
  • Gold said he will prove at Tuesday's meeting that the Palestinian Return Center is a Hamas entity. Both Hamas and the current Palestinian government are united "in this attack on the Balfour Declaration."
  • Gold said the return of the Jews to Israel began "well before General Allenby marched into Jerusalem" in December 1917. There was already a Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century, well before the Balfour Declaration.
  • Speakers at the meeting will include Yair Hirschfeld, one of the key architects of the Oslo Accords, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker, British historian Andrew Roberts, British Conservative MP and former justice minister Michael Gove, and Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev.

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