Hamas Said to Acquire High-Explosive, Short-Range Rockets - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
Hamas has acquired dozens of large, high-explosive rockets that could be used to devastating effect on the area adjacent to Gaza, Israel Army Radio reported Tuesday.
Each rocket contains hundreds of kilograms of explosive material, far beyond other missiles and mortar shells in Hamas' arsenal.
The new rockets have a range of a few kilometers, comparable to a mortar, but pack a much greater explosive punch.
Bundeswehr Orders 1,000 Israeli Anti-Tank Missiles - Sebastian Schulte (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly)
The German parliament gave the green light on March 22 for the Bundeswehr to procure 1,000 Israeli-designed Spike LR anti-tank guided missiles and 97 launcher units worth EUR158.3 million ($172 million).
See also India to Buy Spike Anti-Tank Missiles from Israel - Vivek Raghuvanshi (Defense News)
India is moving forward with a $1 billion purchase of Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel.
Under the deal, the Indian Army will procure 321 Spike ATGM launchers, 8,356 missiles, and 15 training simulators.
"The other option, American Javelin, was found to be too expensive," said Rahul Bhonsle, a defense analyst and retired Indian Army brigadier.
The deal also includes an option to build launcher systems and additional missiles under technology transfer to state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd.
See also Philippine Navy Helicopters to Deploy Israeli Spike Missiles - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
Israel and Nicaragua Re-establish Diplomatic Ties - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Israel and Nicaragua announced Wednesday the re-establishment of diplomatic ties, some seven years after Managua broke off relations because of the Gaza flotilla incident.
11 Soldiers with Disabilities Join IDF - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
11 soldiers with developmental disabilities ranging from Down Syndrome to autism to cognitive delays were sworn into the IDF on Monday.
The 10 young men and one woman were all graduates of the Yuvalim special needs school in Ramle.
Mendi Belinitzky, CEO of Special in Uniform, an initiative to incorporate young people with disabilities into the IDF, said there are 320 soldiers with special needs currently serving at 22 bases.
While the 11 soldiers will live at home, Belinitzky said they will arrive at a base in Ramle each morning to help prepare food and assist with basic tasks.
"They happily do everything that the soldiers don't like to do, and we don't even have to ask them," he said. "They have more motivation than other soldiers and don't want to go home."
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- UK Foreign Secretary: UN Criticism of Israel's Bombing of Hizbullah Is Absurd - Patrick Wintour
Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, has condemned the UN Human Rights Council criticism of Israeli bombing of Hizbullah positions in the Golan Heights as "a profound absurdity." Johnson told MPs on Tuesday that it was "absolutely preposterous" that there should be a motion condemning Israel's policy in the Golan Heights "when after all in that region of Syria we have seen the most appalling barbarity by the Assad regime."
Johnson also said he opposed boycotts of goods produced in the territories, saying the choice should be left to consumers.
The overall tone of the UK government approach to Israel has shifted since Donald Trump's election, leaving behind the previous enthusiastic support for harsh criticisms of Israel's conduct in the territories. (Guardian-UK)
- Terrorist Cell in Bahrain Planned U.S. Base Attack - Obaid Al-Suhaymi
On Sunday, Bahrain said it had dismantled an Iranian-linked terrorist cell suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus on Feb. 26.
"The terrorist cell was trained to target important figures and high-ranking officials, bomb a security convoy and attack the U.S. base in Bahrain," Bahraini Interior Ministry Undersecretary Maj.-Gen. Tariq Al-Hassan said Monday. He said the cell had started to monitor the U.S. base and closely document the movements of soldiers and vehicles.
Al-Hassan said, "Members of the terrorist cell made 66 visits to Iran." The cell works under the supervision and leadership of Bahraini terrorist members currently present in Iran, who have strong ties with Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Fourteen individuals had been arrested, 11 of whom are suspected of receiving overseas military training under the supervision of the Revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah in Iraq. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
- In Raqqa, Syria, Signs of Faltering Islamic State Rule - Maria Abi-Habib, Raja Abdulrahim and Nour Alakraa
Hundreds of Islamic State loyalists in recent days have fled the group's de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, where a lack of water and electricity point to the extremists' crumbling control. Residents said Islamic State's feared religious police is gone, fewer fighters patrol the streets, and there are fewer military checkpoints. Many Islamic State fighters had already fled Raqqa in recent months to a remote outpost to the south in Syria's Deir Ezzour province.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Weighing Israeli-Palestinian-Gulf Peace Summit - Michael Wilner
U.S. officials are quietly gauging interest in holding a conference over the summer that would bring Gulf Arab leaders, the Palestinian Authority president and Israel's prime minister onto the same stage, Israeli sources told the Jerusalem Post. "The president wants to bring them over - a public event with them," a senior Israeli source said Tuesday. "I think it's feasible, but the question is what happens after." As a precondition to the conference set by Arab participants, Israel would have to agree to an informal, unspoken freeze on future housing construction outside of established settlement blocs, said the official.
Israeli officials believe that public engagement with Saudi Arabia and its regional partners would be a major diplomatic achievement. But some officials are nervous that a conference teasing the promise of peace talks would raise Palestinian expectations - that would quickly be dashed when direct negotiations invariably fail to take off.
"It can lead to an intifada if we don't have a plan for afterwards," a second official suggested.
- Trump's Peace Envoy Back in the Region, Meets Abbas - Dov Lieber
President Trump's peace envoy Jason Greenblatt met Tuesday with PA President Mahmoud Abbas at a resort on the Dead Sea in Jordan, which is hosting this week's Arab League summit. Greenblatt also met with a series of Arab leaders and will hold further talks on Wednesday as the summit starts. Israel's Channel 2 TV said that Trump's decision to "court" Abbas was a clear signal that Trump intended to push forward with the peace process.
(Times of Israel)
- Israeli-Palestinian Coordination Against Hamas - Yoni Ben Menachem
All the branches of the Israeli defense establishment are working to thwart Hamas' expected response to the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mazen Fuqha in Gaza on March 24.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to arrive at the White House next month for a meeting with President Trump and if Hamas succeeds in launching a terrorist attack from the West Bank against Israel before the meeting, it will be a great disaster for him and a blow to his prestige and status. Thus, intelligence cooperation with Israel is critical for Abbas because he feels he is being tested by President Trump.
Abbas and senior PA officials did not condemn the killing of Fuqha and did not even send condolences to his family who live in Tubas in the West Bank. If the Palestinian security services can make an important contribution to thwart Hamas' revenge attacks, Abbas will gain much credit that he will try to leverage in his meeting with President Trump, building on his ability to present himself as a fighter against radical Islamic terror, just like Trump. The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The UN's Palestinian-Women Shakedown Racket - Claudia Rosett
The UN Commission on the Status of Women passed an anti-Israel resolution by a wide margin last week under the title: "Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Women." This 45-member commission advertises itself on its web site as "the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women."
But this commission is not really about women; for this gang, women are merely a vehicle for more traditional UN pursuits, such as anti-Semitism. The resolution blames all ills, woes and troubles of Palestinian women on Israel.
There is no reference to the lack of democratic rule among Palestinians; no expression of concern that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a Palestinian group that happens to be not only terrorist but misogynist.
Casting the democratic state of Israel as the villain is truly twisted, not least because Israel in reality stands out - especially in the Middle East - as a model of freedom and equality for women.
There are at least 15 UN offices, agencies and/or special programs all involved for decades in assisting Palestinian women.
This entire setup is a shakedown. Effectively it is an extortion racket that targets not only Israel (and its legitimacy as a state) but the U.S. (and its great rolling river of tax dollars). Any real remedy needs to start with cutting off the American money that helps bankroll this monstrous sham.
Palestinians and the Balfour Declaration: Resisting the Past - Dr. Alex Joffe (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- A striking aspect of Palestinian culture is its resistance to the realities of the past. On Sep. 22, 2016, PA President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN and demanded an apology from Britain for the Balfour Declaration. Abbas had previously threatened to sue London for damages resulting from the declaration and the creation of Israel.
- The irony, however, is that Balfour's wholly legal commitment, ratified by the League of Nations in 1920, is assailed much the same way the 1947 UN Palestine partition recommendation was condemned by the Arabs.
Moreover, it is difficult to see what direct value an apology would have in helping to establish a Palestinian state.
- The Balfour apology campaign is thus another element in the Palestinian wars against inconvenient historical facts that must be denied, attacked, rewritten, or otherwise assailed, rather than debated, conceded, or shared.
- This approach accounts for such extraordinary Palestinian claims as Arafat's denial that there was ever a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; Saeb Erekat's statement that the Palestinians are descendants of Epipaleolithic inhabitants, and thus the "real" indigenous population of the land; and the more consequential insistence that Jews are only adherents to a religion and not members of a nation.
- The concepts of redeeming fallen honor, perpetual victimhood, international responsibility, and achieving through guilt what politics and force of arms cannot are cultural ideas, transmitted endlessly by Palestinian leaders and through their educational system and media.
- But they are also reflected in Palestinian politics. At every turn, negotiations get to a stage and then stop because compromise would preclude full "restoration" of what never was. Fighting century-old events is unlikely to build either a stable Palestinian society or peace with Israel.
The writer is a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
See also 100 Years Since the Balfour Declaration - Resources (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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