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November 18, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Equips Proxy's Rockets with Guidance Systems (World Tribune)
    Iran and its allies have converted their unguided rockets into guided weapons, transforming the rocket arsenals of Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria from a terror threat to a military threat.
    "We are facing a significant leap in the projectile capability," said Israeli Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish, chief of the Air Defense Command.
    Uzi Rubin, former head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, said, "The enemy has achieved aerial supremacy without even having aircraft."
    Rubin said Iran's Fateh-110 rocket, which has an enhanced range of 300 km. and has been exported to Hizbullah and Syria, has become fully-guided.
    This would enable Hizbullah and Syria to strike critical Israeli facilities with dozens rather than hundreds of rockets.
    Syria was also said to be enhancing the guidance system on its Scud-D ballistic missile, tipped with a chemical warhead.
    Rubin said Hizbullah and Syria have 1,500 warheads could strike the Tel Aviv area. "This is a revolution," he said.

Defecting Pilot: Iranian Officers Are Not Loyal to Ahmadinejad - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
    Iranian Air Force pilot Lt. Behzad Masoumi Legwan, 39, who arrived in Paris this month after he fled to Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2009, said Wednesday:
    "It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of the officer corps are in no way obedient followers of the regime. On the contrary, they are looking for the first opportunity whereby they can openly display their true sentiments by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Iran."

Israeli High Tech Adjusts to Asian Challenge (AP)
    The list of Israeli achievements is surprising for a country of just 7.6 million. The country helped give the world instant messaging, voicemail, and Internet telephony. Its nanotechnology has enabled great advances in medicine.
    It boasts more companies on the technology-focused Nasdaq exchange than any place outside North America, and houses research and development centers for multinational giants like Microsoft and Intel.
    Technology now accounts for an eighth of Israel's economy and has pushed the per capita output up to a respectable $30,000 - more than many countries in Europe.
    Israeli entrepreneurs seem confident that they will maintain an edge in the ability to innovate - a quality Israelis ascribe to a combination of circumstances, including the need to develop military technology and a societal bent to break the rules and challenge the established order.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Administration Drafting Letter on Settlement Freeze Extension - Glenn Kessler
    The Obama administration is drafting a letter detailing understandings reached between Secretary of State Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to a senior administration official. Clinton said Wednesday: "We're working intensively to create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations that can lead to a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace." A senior administration official said: "We are constructively working through the details, following up on Secretary Clinton's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It was always envisioned that there would be a letter detailing our understandings. We are nailing down the specifics."  (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Official: Israel Must Refrain from East Jerusalem Construction During Freeze - Barak Ravid
    The U.S. will demand that Israel refrain from construction in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of a 90-day settlement freeze Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has requested in exchange for a package of incentives, a U.S. official told Ha'aretz on Thursday. "If the moratorium deal goes through, we will continue to press for quiet throughout east Jerusalem during the 90 days," regardless of what Netanyahu is telling his coalition partners, the U.S. official said. "So whatever Bibi is telling [the] Shas [party] to reassure them about U.S. policy on east Jerusalem is not true."  (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Applauds Israel for Approving Lebanon Border Pullout
    The U.S. welcomed Wednesday's approval by Israel's security cabinet of plans to withdraw troops from Ghajar, a disputed village on the Lebanese border, and cede control to UN peacekeepers. The village, which has around 2,200 residents, was seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed by Israel in 1981. Most of the residents now hold dual Israeli and Syrian citizenship, and the vast majority are against partitioning the village, with angry villagers calling for protests against the move. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Targets Senior Salafist Terrorist in Gaza
    An IDF operation in Gaza targeted a senior operative from the Army of Islam terror organization on Wednesday, killing Islam Yasin, an assistant to the head of the terrorist group, Mamtaz Dur'mush. Yasin was personally involved in planning and directing a terror attack that sought to kidnap Israelis in Sinai. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Top Terrorist Killed in Gaza Strike - Ali Waked
    Yasin was also responsible for the abduction of British journalist Alan Johnston, who was held hostage by the organization for two months in 2007. (Ynet News)
  • Egyptian Media Criticize Hamas Invitation to Ahmadinejad to Visit Gaza
    In response to the invitation by Hamas deputy foreign minister Ahmed Yussuf to Iranian President Ahmadinejad to visit Gaza, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram on Nov. 10 strongly attacked both Hamas and Iran. Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Nafaa expressed doubt as to the possibility of Ahmadinejad arriving by sea, and called the invitation "media noise" whose intention was to embarrass the Egyptian government. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Times Editorial Reinforces PA Stalling Tactics - Jonathan Peled
    The New York Times editorial "Politics Over Peace" (Nov. 13) argues that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has placed domestic politics over a peace agreement and explicitly places the burden on Mr. Netanyahu to "get things moving again." In effect, this misdirected onus reinforces the Palestinian Authority's tactic of stalling and avoiding. Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly called for negotiating a peace agreement without preconditions, emphasizing comprehensive direct talks that place all issues on the table with the aim of reaching an end of the conflict.
        The prime minister is, in fact, placing peace over politics in hopes of bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Neglecting to place any burden on the Palestinian Authority only enables its leadership to remain on the sidelines and continue to waste valuable time. The writer is Spokesman of the Embassy of Israel in Washington. (New York Times)
  • Unilateral Declaration of Independence Would Be a Serious Palestinian Blunder - Yitzhak Klein
    A unilateral Palestinian application to the UN for recognition as a state could prove to be a serious Palestinian blunder. History is strewn with the wreckage of international declarations that did not correspond to actual power relations on the ground, and declarations that are not founded on substance fade into oblivion. This will happen to the Palestinians' attempt to claim territory without controlling it.
        Unilateralism is a two-way street. By abrogating the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians make it legitimate for Israel to create, unilaterally, a territorial arrangement that suits its interests. Having abrogated the Oslo Accords and embraced unilateralism, the Palestinians have no right to complain if Israel does so as well. The writer heads the Israel Policy Center. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel's UN Envoy Warns PA Against Unilateral State Declaration - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Israel's ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben said Tuesday that a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood could lead to the disintegration of all agreements previously made between Israel and the Palestinians "because in the agreements it's specifically stated that the sides cannot bring their case to international bodies."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Many Palestinians Don't Miss Yasser Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The number of Palestinians who show up at public rallies to commemorate Yasser Arafat has been declining year after year. As far as disillusioned Palestinians are concerned, Arafat should be remembered as a leader who led his people from one disaster to another. He died in November 2004, leaving behind scorched earth and tremendous suffering and pain.
        After the signing of the Oslo Accords, Arafat established in the West Bank and Gaza a corrupt regime that repressed Palestinians. Under his authority, dozens of armed militias and gangs emerged. Arafat's bad governance and financial corruption drove Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas. His incitement against Israel also drove Palestinians toward radicalism. In the Second Intifada, which erupted in September 2000 with Arafat's blessing, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians were killed and wounded. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Observations:

    The IDF in the Second Intifada - Giora Eiland (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

    • Four main lessons can be learned from the IDF's conduct during the Second Intifada:
    • The first is the need for flexibility. The IDF was required to make fast adjustments from a situation in which the main challenge was civil demonstrations, to a situation in which the chief threat was terrorism. The chief of staff from 2002-2005, Moshe Ya'alon, was in the habit of holding a brainstorming session every two weeks which greatly helped to identify changes over the course of that period.
    • The second lesson underscores the importance of intelligence. In fact, the intelligence was excellent. It was based on an established infrastructure of human intelligence and on a real improvement in eavesdropping technologies (SIGINT) and visual intelligence (VISINT), especially from unmanned aerial vehicles. Brigade commanders on the ground were exposed to sensitive intelligence material, and the results were not long in coming.
    • Third is control of the territory. When weighing how to act against terrorism that is well entrenched in a built-up area, if there is good intelligence, then there are many operational advantages to operating in the area. If the intelligence is not good, then the presence of forces in the built-up area only makes easy targets for the terrorist elements.
    • The fourth lesson concerns the relationship with the political echelon. In this type of fighting, every large military action has diplomatic significance, and every diplomatic action has a direct influence on the military's room to maneuver and its freedom of action. When the generals order an action, they must pay attention to the diplomatic significance as well.

      Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland is a senior research associate at INSS.

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