Despite Heavy Losses, ISIS Structures Remain Resilient - Hassan Hassan (The National-Abu Dhabi)
After more than 1,000 days of relentless American-led operations against ISIS, the once well-equipped and 35,000-strong organization has lost the bulk of its fighters and a large number of its commanders.
Its territory has shrunk by over 80% in Iraq and 60% in Syria, and significantly fewer foreign fighters are now willing to join it.
Yet national forces still lack the ability to protect themselves without precision air support from the U.S., even after these forces have expelled ISIS.
"Taking territory away from them is such a temporary activity," said Craig Whiteside, professor at the Naval War College Monterey. ISIS "will be strong until they are dismantled in a more thorough way."
The group's continued ability to run a full-fledged urban insurgency means that its organizational structures remain resilient.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.
Police Carry Out Anti-ISIS Raids across Germany (Reuters)
Police carried out anti-terrorism raids in four German states on Wednesday, targeting Islamic State sympathizers, prosecutors said.
Hamas Wins Student Council Elections at Birzeit University in West Bank (Ma'an News-PA)
The Islamic Bloc affiliated with Hamas won 25 of 51 seats in student council elections at Birzeit University in the West Bank on Wednesday, marking the third year in a row that the Islamist faction beat the Fatah-affiliated Martyr Yasser Arafat faction, which won 22 seats.
The list affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) won four seats.
Some believe the popularity of Hamas-affiliated groups among university students is not as much due to growing support for Islamist ideologies as it is a rejection of the Fatah-led PA.
Palestinian Detained at Military Court in West Bank with Two Pipe Bombs (Ynet News)
A Palestinian minor tried to enter a military court in the West Bank on Wednesday with two pipe bombs and was stopped by Border Police.
Bomb disposal experts neutralized the explosives.
Meet the New Miss Israel - Amy Spiro (Jerusalem Post)
Rotem Rabi, 21, of Jerusalem was crowned Miss Israel on Tuesday.
Rabi served as a medic in the Israel Air Force and had begun the process of joining the Israel Police investigative division.
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- Trump Urges Russia to Rein in Syria, Iran
President Donald Trump urged Russia to "rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies" during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the White House said on Wednesday.
- Putin, Netanyahu Discuss Middle East
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Syria and the Middle East in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Kremlin said Wednesday. The conversation occurred one day before Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Russia. "Issues of bilateral cooperation, as well as the situation in the Middle East peace process and the...Syrian crisis, were discussed," the Kremlin said. (Sputnik)
See also Netanyahu to Putin: Syrian "Safe Zones" Must Not Serve as Bases for Iran, Hizbullah - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his concerns to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday about Russia's arrangement with Iran and Turkey to create "safe zones" in Syria.
A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu did not oppose the "safe zones," but stressed that they cannot serve to allow Iran or Hizbullah to set up near the border with Israel. Netanyahu wants any future deal to end the war in Syria to include "buffer zones" on the Syrian side of the border on the Golan Heights, as well as the border between Syria and Jordan, to prevent Iran and Hizbullah for setting up bases there.
Al-Arabiya reported Wednesday, citing Israeli security sources, that Israel stressed to the Russians that it does not see itself as obliged to desist from carrying out attacks on "safe zones" in cases of "ticking time bombs." In other words, Israel will attack if it identifies attempts to deliver arms to Hizbullah through those areas. (Ha'aretz)
- Hamas Official Denies Softened Stance toward Israel
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said Wednesday that a document published by the Islamist Palestinian group last week was not a substitute for its founding charter, which advocates Israel's destruction. "The pledge Hamas made before God was to liberate all of Palestine," Zahar said. "The charter is the core of [Hamas'] position."
"When people say that Hamas has accepted the 1967 borders, like others, it is an offense to us," he said. "We have reaffirmed the unchanging, constant principles that we do not recognize Israel; we do not recognize the land occupied in 1948 as belonging to Israel; and we do not recognize that the people who came here [Jews] own this land." (Reuters-VOA News)
See also below Commentary - Hamas: Fooling Many of the People, Much of the Time - Clifford D. May (Washington Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- We Saved Hamas Leader's Life, Says Israel Ex-Prison Chief, Dismissing Strike Complaints - Dov Lieber
Former Israel Prison Service Commissioner Lt.-Gen. (res.) Orit Adato said in an interview that it was simply not true that Palestinian security prisoners suffer inhumane conditions. "The conditions are very humane. They are being supplied with all their needs - food, clothing, medical treatment....They are getting better conditions than any other terrorists in the world."
She pointed to Yahya Sinwar, the hard-line Hamas leader in Gaza, who, she said, is alive today only because of brain surgery he received, reportedly for a tumor, while in Israeli prison.
"When they say they are not being treated well, I would ask you and others to give a phone call to one specific person, Yahya Sinwar, who is alive nowadays just because of life-saving surgery he was given."
Adato noted that Palestinian inmates in Israel can sue for better conditions and appeal decisions all the way to the Supreme Court. "Is there any other country in the world - except in Scandinavia - that would allow each inmate to apply to the courts on any issue they want to?"
Adato also argued that the fear some of the current hunger strikers might die is overblown. "For 40 years there have been hunger strikes....When it's kept inside, you know how to manage it." (Times of Israel)
- Report: ISIS Kills 10 Bedouin Tribesmen in Sinai - Roi Kais
ISIS fighters in northern Sinai recently killed 10 members of the Tarabin tribe, according to Al-Jazeera.
See also Sinai Bedouin Aligning with Egypt Against ISIS - Yoni Ben Menachem (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Hamas: Fooling Many of the People, Much of the Time - Clifford D. May
"Hamas Drops Call for Israel's Destruction," headlined the Wall Street Journal last week. The New York Times told its readers: "Hamas Moderates Talk on Israel." And the UK's Guardian concluded that Hamas had produced a document likely to "ease peace process." All this is big news - or would be if it were true. But it's not. Not even close.
In its new "Document of General Principles and Policies," Hamas says it is willing to accept a provisional Palestinian state within the 1967 lines. It doesn't say it's willing to accept Israel beyond those lines. The new Hamas document continues to rule out peaceful coexistence with the "enemy" and envisions "the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea" - in other words, every inch of Israel. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
See also The Goals and Significance of Hamas' New Political Document
There has been no change in Hamas' basic ideology and principles, which are based on an uncompromising effort to destroy Israel through violence and terrorism, even if this is carried out in stages. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
- Go with Trump's Vision to Promote Peace - Zalman Shoval
President Trump has declared his intent to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
No president was more involved in attempts to promote peace than Bill Clinton, until the conduct of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas at Camp David convinced him, as he has admitted, that Israel does not have a partner for peace.
Trump must understand that it is Palestinian recalcitrance that is writing the real script: Peace between Jews and Arabs in the Land of Israel is not a function of finding diplomatic formulas, but first and foremost breaking through the wall of Palestinian hostility. They are unwilling to accept the Jewish people's right to a state and are not willing to compromise on any of the main issues of the conflict.
However, Israel should not throw cold water on Trump's chances of success, because then it will be blamed for any failure. Indeed, we must be partners in his optimism and allow the facts to speak for themselves. We can assume that time will work its magic, and sooner or later, Trump will conclude that instead of aiming at a full and final deal, it would be better to concentrate on trying to promote temporary, partial arrangements. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Ties with Ancient Greeks Prove Historical Legitimacy of Jewish State - Maria Polizoidou (Gatestone Institute)
- UNESCO's latest resolution about Jerusalem, which denies the Jews' and Israel's legacy over its historical capital, Jerusalem, not only offends the historical truth and archeology of the Jewish people. It also offends the Greek people, and all Christians, who for thousands of years have also had ties with the area and the nation of Jews. As it also offends the foundations of Greek Orthodox Christianity, the Greek government - to its honor - voted against this hallucinatory resolution.
- The King of Sparta, Arius I, who lived in 309-267 BCE, wrote to Onias the First, the High Priest of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem:
"It is written about the relations between the Jews and the Spartans that they are brotherly nations and that they originate from Abraham." It shows that for millennia, the cultural and historical depth of the Jewish people is undeniable.
- During the Hellenic years of Alexander the Great's descendants, many events were documented to prove the Jews' sovereignty in the city of Jerusalem.
Judaism was also a living religion for the Greek Queen, Helen of Adiavinis, who embraced it in the middle of the first century.
- In historical terms, the modern Jewish state has greater historical legitimacy than most modern European states - and far more than the Middle Eastern states artificially created out of the 1916 British-French Sykes-Picot agreement: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. In Europe, Germany and France only appeared in the Western world in the 3rd century CE.
- If the UN honestly wants peace, it must accept that the modern Jewish state is the tugboat that will pull the whole Middle East into the 21st century. Rejecting the historic Jewish legitimacy in Jerusalem is rejecting the essence of peace, which is friendly coexistence and interaction between different people. With insults and fake history, you cannot build peace, only the next conflict.
The writer is a journalist based in Greece.
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