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August 3, 2010

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Report: Israeli and Lebanese Forces Exchange Fire on Northern Border (Ynet News)
    Loud explosions were reported on the northern border Tuesday as Israeli and Lebanese forces reportedly exchanged fire.
    Residents of northern Israel have been ordered to enter secured rooms and bomb shelters.
    See also IDF Force Fired Upon from Lebanon (Israel Defense Forces)
    IDF soldiers were fired upon Tuesday while on routine activity within Israeli territory along the northern border.

Hamas Details Weapons Manufactured in Gaza (MEMRI)
    Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashal has said that "outwardly [we in] Gaza speak of reconciliation and building, but the truth is that most of [our] money and effort is directed toward resistance and military preparations."
    The website of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, has a special section devoted to the weapons manufactured by the Brigades in Gaza, including rockets and mortars, anti-tank missiles and mines, and suicide belts.

Two Convicted in Kennedy Airport Plot - Chris Herring (Wall Street Journal)
    A federal jury in Brooklyn on Monday found Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir guilty of plotting to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.
    Defreitas, a former cargo handler at the airport, visited the airport at least four times to find "weak spots" in its surveillance.
    Prosecutors played videos and audio recordings showing Defreitas' eagerness to ignite fuel tanks and a pipeline underneath the airport to cause destruction.
    The government said the men also tried to get help from al-Qaeda operative Adnan Shukrijumah, who recently was indicted over a plot to attack the New York City subway system with suicide bombers.

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Supports ElBaradei - Kristen Chick (Washington Times)
    When Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, returned to Egypt in February talking of democratic reform and possibly running for president, he reinvigorated a stagnant political opposition.
    A loose coalition of opposition parties and reform movements sprang up with ElBaradei as the figurehead and began gathering signatures for a petition calling for democratic reform in Egypt.
    After the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, threw its weight behind that movement in early July, the numbers of petition signatures ballooned to more than 300,000, with more than two-thirds gathered by the Brotherhood.

New UK Foreign Office Chief Left Job over Love Affair with PLO Official - Richard Eden (Telegraph-UK)
    The new head of the Foreign Office, Simon Fraser, left his post working for a minister in the last Conservative government after he became romantically involved with an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was considered to be a terrorist organization at the time.
    Fraser, 52, left his position as private secretary to William Waldegrave, a Foreign Office minister in John Major's government. "Simon established a cohabiting relationship with a Palestinian woman who was an official of the PLO," confirms a colleague.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Gasoline Imports Declined 50 Percent Last Month After Sanctions - Alaric Nightingale
    Iran's gasoline imports fell 50% last month as sanctions over the nation's nuclear program spurred traders to halt supplies, according to Energy Market Consultants Ltd. Iran received about 60,000 barrels a day in July, compared with 120,000 in May. (Bloomberg)
        See also Gasoline Shortage in Iran Threatens Regime - Ryan Mauro
    The Iranian regime is facing a gasoline shortage. On July 23, there were clashes in Tehran when those waiting in a long line at Roosevelt gas station greeted the security forces by shouting "Death to dictatorship." On July 18, citizens booed security forces at a station on Mosadegh Street in Tehran, sparking clashes. Other gas stations are rationing their supply because of the shortage, resulting in very long lines that turn into public expressions of dissatisfaction. Some aren't even operating. Some workers at stations are complaining that they are receiving tainted gasoline. And this is all happening while there are intermittent electrical shortages in Tehran. (Pajamas Media)
  • Iran Sanctions Cripple Ageing Military - Nick Childs
    Iran has about the biggest armed forces in the Middle East, with more than half-a-million people in uniform, but decades of U.S.-led arms embargoes have had a huge impact on the strength of its conventional armed forces. "More and more, Iran is dependent on systems delivered at the time of the which are old in technology, where there are many countermeasures, which are wearing out," says Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
        Nominally, Iran has about 300 combat aircraft, but "only about 40% to 60% of the inventory Iran has can fly, for example, out of its combat aircraft, and much less of its helicopter fleet," says Cordesman.
        "One of the long-term effects of arms embargoes is for countries always to become more self-sufficient, to develop their own manufacturing capability," says Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute in London. However, Cordesman says in some cases the Iranians "simply have lied about the capability of weapons systems that can't perform at anything like the level that you sometimes see reported in the press."  (BBC News)
  • Ramallah Building Boom Symbolizes West Bank Growth - Mohammed Assadi
    Modern buildings are shooting up all over the West Bank city of Ramallah, which has seen its population double in the last ten years. Developers say property prices have risen by 30% in the last two years. The Palestinian Authority's Palestine Investment Fund last week began work on a $400 million commercial center comprising 13 towers. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Participate in UN Panel on Gaza Flotilla
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday that Israel would participate in the UN panel to investigate the Gaza flotilla incident. The panel will receive reports on the Israeli investigation by the Independent Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010 chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "Israel has nothing to hide. The opposite is true. It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also U.S.: Israel's Part in UN Flotilla Probe Eliminates Need for Other Inquires - Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
    Israel's participation in the UN Review Panel on the Gaza flotilla incident eliminates the need for other international inquiries, U.S. envoy to the UN Susan Rice said Monday. The panel will be led by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer and outgoing President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe, and will include representatives from Israel and Turkey. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Will UN Secretary-General's Panel Preclude Human Rights Council's Probe? - Anne Bayefsky
    The announcement of the UN panel does nothing to stop the concurrent UN Human Rights Council's investigation of exactly the same flotilla incident. In June the Council launched an allegedly "independent international fact-finding mission" with a mandate to report on what it had already decided was Israel's "outrageous attack." U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice claimed "that the Panel['s] will be the primary method for the international community to review the incident, obviating the need for any overlapping international inquiries." The secretary-general's announcement says nothing of the kind and the secretary has no power to stop the Council from proceeding. (Fox News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Turkish Government Drains Power from Its Generals - Susan Sachs
    In the name of protecting the country, Turkey's generals have been able to make, break and shape governments for the past 50 years. They have taken power in three coups against elected civilian governments. Only 13 years ago they intervened to force out a fourth one. Now a remarkable shift is underway. In the past three years, civilian prosecutors have succeeded in arresting and indicting numerous high-ranking officers. Just last week, 196 military officers were ordered by a court to stand trial in one of the cases.
        More than 100 active duty and retired generals, force commanders and senior navy and army officers have been charged with participating in four different murky plots to destabilize Prime Minister Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development party. Dozens more mid-level officers have been indicted or detained in connection with various investigations. "The army is at its weakest in the last 30 years," said Hakan Yilmaz, a political science professor at Bosphorus University in Istanbul. "Its coup-making power is gone."  (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also Turkish Prime Minister Locks Horns over Promotion of Alleged Coup Planners - Daren Butler
    Turkey's civilian and military leaders locked horns on Monday over senior army promotions, thrown into question by a court investigation into an alleged military plot to overthrow the government seven years ago. The controversy centers on 11 officers who have been issued with arrest warrants in connection with an alleged plan, codenamed "Sledgehammer," to bomb mosques and trigger conflict with Greece in order to destabilize Erdogan's government. The military says there was no anti-government plot, and "Sledgehammer" was a war game scenario presented at a seminar in 2003. (Reuters)
  • Demonizing Israel Is Bad for the Palestinians - Mudar Zahran
    The international media, particularly in the West, pay very little attention to the conditions of the Palestinians living in Arab countries, despite the oppression they have been enduring for decades in most Arab countries. The tendency to blame Israel for everything has provided an excuse to purposely ignore and compromise the human rights of Palestinians in many Arab countries, such as the conditions of the Palestinians living in camps in Lebanon.
        Lebanon has been holing up Palestinians inside camps for almost 30 years. Those camps do not have any foundations of livelihood or even sanitation and the Palestinians living there are not allowed access to basics such as buying cement to enlarge or repair homes for their growing families. Furthermore, it is difficult for them to work legally, and they are even restricted from going out of their camps at certain hours. The demonization of Israel by the global media has greatly harmed the Palestinians' interests for decades and covered up Arab atrocities against them. The writer, a Jordanian of Palestinian heritage, is a researcher at the University of Bedfordshire. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    We Owe the Jews - Andrew Roberts (National Post-Canada)

    • The 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only 8,000 square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and 60 times their population; yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution - the State of Israel - has somehow survived.
    • Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation-state legitimate - blood shed, soil tilled, international agreements - argues for Israel's right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League.
    • Although they make up less than half of 1% of the world's population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for literature and science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for medicine, 32% for physics, 39% for economics and 29% for science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, threatening her with academic boycotts.
    • After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognized that they must have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Since then, Israel has had to fight five major wars for her existence. Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli state, so the struggle is likely to continue for another 60 years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.

      From a speech by British historian Andrew Roberts to the Friends of Israel Initiative in the House of Commons on July 19.

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