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Gas Flow from Egypt to Israel Resumes - Amiram Barkat and Mira Awwad (Globes)
The flow of natural gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan resumed Tuesday, after being cut off on Feb. 5 after an explosion near El-Arish in Egyptian Sinai.
Turkey Refused Israeli Request to Intercept Cargo Vessel Bound for Gaza (Kuwait News Agency)
Israel affirmed Wednesday that Turkey refused an Israeli request to intercept the Victoria which carried weapons for Gaza.
According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, Israel asked Ankara to intercept the cargo vessel, a request which Turkey flatly refused.
See also Iranian Cargo Plane Searched for Weapons in Turkey (Ha'aretz)
Turkey ordered a cargo plane carrying arms from Iran to Syria to land at a Turkish airport on Wednesday, the Istanbul-based Dogan News Agency reported.
The plane was allegedly carrying weapons connected to Iran's nuclear program
Hamas Disperses "Unity" Protests by Force; Dozens Hurt - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
Thousands of Palestinians thronged major squares in Gaza and the West Bank on Tuesday to appeal to their leaders to end the long-running feud between their two rival governments.
In Gaza's main square, Palestinian sources said Hamas officers, some of them plain-clothed, beat protestors with clubs and fired rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse them. Dozens were reportedly injured.
Reporters were arrested and cameras were confiscated.
The pro-reconciliation demonstration originally was organized by independent activists on Facebook influenced by the changes sweeping through the region.
But Fatah and Hamas quickly jumped on the bandwagon, and the two parties clearly dominated Tuesday's rallies.
See also In the West Bank, a Facebook Uprising Fizzles - Karl Vick (Time)
Only a couple of thousand people turned out in downtown Ramallah on Tuesday for a widely promoted rally aimed at ending the split between Fatah and Hamas.
The gathering was marred by the noisy arrival of hundreds of Hamas loyalists waving the party's green flag and chanting slogans.
Fatah loyalists arrived aboard a truck mounted with loudspeakers broadcasting "Down with veto Obama," to protest the U.S. veto of a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements a couple of weeks ago.
Fadi Quran, one of the young Palestinians trying to organize a nonviolent youth movement, said: "The Palestinian parties played it quite well. They told their supporters to come early, so when other people came and saw it was politicized, they went home."
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- Egypt Intercepts Weapons from Sudan for Gaza - Marwa Awad
Egypt's army shelled at least six vehicles trying to smuggle weapons into the country from Sudan last week, security sources told Reuters on Monday.
The vehicles, intercepted near the southern Egyptian city of Aswan, were carrying ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades.
- Security Forces Rout Protesters from Bahrain Square - Ethan Bronner
Two days after the king of Bahrain brought in 2,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and other neighboring allies, his security forces moved Wednesday into Pearl Square, the stronghold of the antigovernment protest movement, using tanks, helicopters and jeeps with machine guns mounted on their roofs to expel demonstrators clamoring for reform.
(New York Times)
See also Bahrain's Crisis: Saudi Forces Intervene - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Gaddafi’s Forces Likely to Push Rebels Back to Benghazi, Analysts Say - Craig Whitlock
Libya’s military has leveraged its overwhelming advantage in firepower to rout rebel forces in recent days, turning the tide of the conflict. Gaddafi leads the worst-trained, worst-maintained military in North Africa, but his decrepit armed forces have consolidated control around Tripoli and steadily reclaimed several cities and coastal territory that had temporarily fallen into the opposition’s hands. Absent foreign intervention, officials and analysts say, leaders of the uprising will be forced to retreat completely to their base in the eastern city of Benghazi. Gaddafi has survived a popular revolt because he has largely retained the loyalty of his armed forces.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF: 50 Tons of Weapons Found on Gaza-Bound Victoria - Boaz Fyler
IDF commandoes who seized the Victoria some 200 nautical miles off Israel's coast found 50 tons of weapons in containers that were meant to hold cotton and lentils, roughly the same amount that was found on the Karine A in 2002, the army said Tuesday. Deputy Navy Commander Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda said this was "a clear attempt to arm the terror organizations and change the situation in the entire region." (Ynet News)
See also C-704 Anti-Ship Missiles Found On-Board the Victoria
Strategic weapons found on-board the Victoria included C-704 anti-ship missiles. The C-704 shore-to-sea missile has a range of 35 km and its use in Gaza endangers Israeli cities in close proximity such as Ashkelon.
Iran is known to possess these type of missiles, which, along with identifying documents, gives substantial evidence of Iran’s involvement in the weapons smuggling attempt.
(Israel Defense Forces)
See also List of Weaponry Found on the Victoria (Israel Defense Forces)
Video: Boarding of the Victoria (Israel Defense Forces)
See also Iran Exploiting Upheaval in Egypt to Send Weapons - Ron Ben-Yishai
The Victoria docked in Ashdod on Wednesday.
Alongside the weapons was a Persian-language manual with an Iranian Revolutionary Guards logo. It is estimated that the Iranian authorities are taking advantage of the weakening of Egypt's security apparatuses to send weapons and terrorists into Sinai unchecked.
Israel considers efforts to smuggle anti-ship missiles to Gaza a strategic threat. The weapons directly threaten any vessel docking in Ashkelon and the Yam Thetis oil rig, an important source of gas for Israel.
- Israel to Build Fence along Jordan Border - Ilana Curiel
During a tour of the fence being constructed along Israel's border with Egypt on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had instructed the IDF to begin planning the construction of another fence along the border with Jordan.
"We will have to build a fence in the east as well, because if we block one border they will come from the Arava [desert adjacent to Jordan]," he said. Since the construction of the fence along the border with Egypt began, there has been a significant drop in infiltrations. (Ynet News)
- Massacre of the Innocents - Jeff Jacoby
In Itamar, terrorists infiltrated the home of Udi and Ruth Fogel and perpetrated a massacre of the innocents. The civilized mind struggles to make sense of such savagery.
There are those who believe passionately that all human beings are inherently good and rational creatures, essentially the same once you get beyond surface disagreements. Such people cannot accept the reality of a culture that extols death over life, that inculcates a vitriolic hatred of Jews, that induces children to idolize terrorists. Their mindset sees a massacre of Jews and concludes that Jews must in some way have provoked it. (Boston Globe)
- The Importance of Blockading Gaza - J. E. Dyer
Israel's interdiction of arms shipments to terrorists is not just a boon to Israel. It's a boon to regional stability.
Israeli enforcement of the Gaza blockade, and Jerusalem's policy of interdicting arms shipments to Hizbullah, are some of the key measures preventing Iran from consolidating advantage in Gaza and Lebanon. They also serve to discourage the widening of the terrorists' operating theater and logistics range. (Commentary)
- High Stakes over Bahrain - David Ignatius
The Obama administration and its support for democratic change in the Middle East has been on a collision course with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other traditional monarchies of the Persian Gulf.
U.S. officials have been arguing that Bahrain's Sunni monarchy must make political compromises to give more power to the Shiite majority there.
The conservative regimes of the Gulf on Monday backed Bahrain's ruling Khalifa family with military force.
"We don't want Iran 14 miles off our coast, and that's not going to happen," said a Saudi official.
The Bahrain issue is the most important U.S.-Saudi disagreement in decades. The Obama administration, in effect, is altering America's long-standing commitment to the status quo in the Gulf, believing that change in Bahrain is inevitable and desirable.
- Iran Looms Large in Libya Decisions - Gerald F. Seib
The Iranian factor forms the backdrop to the argument about whether to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Those pushing for intervention worry that if Gaddafi survives, Iran will see that leaders who give ground to democracy protesters are swept away, while those who brutally crush protesters are the ones who hang on. For Iranian leaders already disposed to crushing their own pro-democracy dissidents, the message will be clear.
The narrative Tehran's leaders have been spinning is that the U.S. and its Zionist allies are waiting to take advantage of any Mideast unrest to seize control of the region and its oil assets.
This Iranian narrative holds that the protesters in Tehran's streets are either active or unwitting agents of this insidious American conspiracy.
(Wall Street Journal)
The Real "Deal Breaker" - Joel Fishman (Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs)
- Incitement to hatred and violence is a weapon of political warfare. It is not the
result of a misunderstanding, nor does it happen randomly. States and insurgent
movements that are waging war openly or engaging in low-intensity conflict use it to advance their ends.
- Persistent reports based primarily on information from Palestine Media Watch
describe the pervasiveness and intensity of Palestinian incitement against Israel. The public discourse and the media of popular culture convey a message of hatred.
The destructive effects
of incitement are not immediately apparent because they are cumulative.
- At present, the continuation of incitement indicates that fundamentally there
is no real prospect of reaching a stable, long-term arrangement through the
political process. The PA, which after the Oslo Accords many
hoped would be committed to democracy and become a good neighbor, has
turned into a corrupt, authoritarian Middle Eastern regime that plunged its own
population into war and has taken a high toll of innocent Israeli civilians.
- The Palestinians discovered that they could derive considerable advantage by
pursuing a policy of fomenting incitement, domestically and abroad, making
capital from a festering sore. Using this method, they have driven their maximalist
demands to the top of the world's agenda. At Durban, they hijacked the agenda
of a conference ostensibly devoted to human rights and prevented other groups
with grievances from being heard.
- Likewise, by going through the motions of negotiating, creating crises and impasses, and at the same time refusing to agree
to much, they have succeeded in pocketing valuable unreciprocated concessions.
- Those who foment incitement hope that the
Palestinian problem will assume larger proportions. What will happen, for
example, when Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Hizbullah decide to support such
grievances with military force while America and Europe choose to look the other
Dr. Joel Fishman is a historian and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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