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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
March 17, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Memorial Service for the Victims of the Massacre in Itamar
March 17, 12 Noon
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun
125 E 85 St., NYC
Live Webcast

Uncovering the Iranian Missiles - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    The arms shipments on board the Victoria were camouflaged in a highly professional manner.
    The missiles would have threatened to disrupt Navy operations off Gaza and southern Israel, and could threaten strategic sites such as gas drilling sites and oil tankers.
    Had these missiles reached Gaza, the Navy would have had to fundamentally alter its operations in this theater. Thus, had these missiles reached Gaza, the IDF would be required to enter the Strip and destroy them.
    The missiles may have been connected to the appearance of two Iranian warships a month ago in the Mediterranean. It is possible that the Iranian vessels unloaded these missiles at a Syrian port.

Iran Sends Rocket, Capsule into Space (AFP)
    Iran launched a Kavoshgar-4 rocket into space on March 15 carrying a test capsule designed to house an animal, the official IRNA news agency said Thursday.
    Western powers fear that Tehran could develop a missile capability that could deliver nuclear warheads.

Turkey Frees Detained Iran Cargo Plane (Ha'aretz)
    An Iranian cargo plane, forced to land in southeast Turkey on suspicion it was carrying weapons to Syria, departed on Wednesday after a search found nothing illegal on the plane.

Iran Suspected in Azerbaijan Unrest (UPI)
    Iran is suspected of instigating trouble in neighboring Azerbaijan, a key source of oil for the West.
    Following a growing number of protest demonstrations in Baku, the government of President Ilham Aliyev has openly accused Tehran of interfering in its domestic affairs. Azerbaijan's population is 85% Shiite Muslim.
    Baku is concerned about Tehran's political and financial support for the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, a pro-Iranian Shiite opposition party that is banned by Aliyev's regime.
    The Israelis say Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah are active in Azerbaijan and in 2008 plotted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Baku.
    See also Israel Markets UAVs to Azerbaijan (Strategy Page)
    Azerbaijan and Israeli firms have formed a joint venture to build Israeli-designed UAVs in Azerbaijan.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Says Seized Arms Justify Gaza Blockade - Ran Tzabar
    Israel displayed on Wednesday advanced arms that it found aboard a cargo ship seized in the Mediterranean Sea, and pointed to the haul as proof of the need to blockade Gaza. "To all those who questioned and attacked and criticized Israel for stopping Gaza-bound ships in order to check them, here is the answer," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Ashdod port, where the guided missiles, artillery rounds and assault-rifle ammunition were laid out. "Their origin is in Iran, they passed through Syria and were en route to terror elements in Gaza. But their ultimate target was Israeli civilians," Netanyahu said. "It is our duty, not just our right, to stop these ships and remove their weaponry."  (Reuters)
        See also Photos: Weaponry Found on the Victoria (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Diplomats: New Iran Weapons Materials Seized - Tim Witcher
    South Korea and Singapore have intercepted suspected nuclear and weapons materials bound for Iran that breach UN sanctions, diplomats said on Thursday. "South Korea authorities found more than 400 suspicious tubes in a jet cargo at Seoul airport in December," one diplomat said, giving details from a report to the UN Iran sanctions committee. The tubes could be used for nuclear facilities. "In September, aluminum powder that can be used for rockets was found on a ship in Singapore harbor," the diplomat added. In each case the product was destined for Iran. (AFP)
  • Specter of Rebel Rout Helps Shift U.S. Policy on Libya - Mark Landler and Dan Bilefsky
    The prospect of a deadly siege of the rebel stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, by forces loyal to Col. Gaddafi has produced a striking shift in tone from the Obama administration, which is now backing a UN Security Council resolution that would give countries a broad range of options for aiding the Libyan rebels, including military steps that go well beyond a no-flight zone. The U.S. is insisting that any military action would have to be carried out by an international coalition, including Libya's Arab neighbors. (New York Times)
  • Clinton Announces $2 Billion in New Aid to Egypt - Nicole Gaouette
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday announced a $2 billion aid package for Egypt to bolster its economy. (Bloomberg)
  • Syrian Security Forces Break Up Protest in Damascus
    Syrian security forces dispersed about 150 people who had been demanding the release of political prisoners in front of the Interior Ministry in Damascus on Wednesday. Scores of security forces charged the gathering with black batons and detained protesters, a witness said. (Reuters)
        See also In Syria, Demonstrations Are Few and Brief (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Urges Syria to Show Restraint after Protests (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to File UN Complaint on Iran Arms Smuggling - Anshel Pfeffer and Barak Ravid
    The Israel Foreign Ministry plans to file a complaint to the UN Security Council's sanctions committee over Iran's efforts to smuggle arms to Gaza. It will argue that Iran's involvement in the Victoria weapons ship was a gross violation of Security Council Resolution 1747, which forbids Iran to export arms. Over the last half year, at least five Iranian arms shipments have been seized: in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Italy, the Mediterranean Sea and Southeast Asia. (Ha'aretz)
  • Quartet "Giving Up Hope" of Renewing Israeli-Palestinian Talks - Barak Ravid
    Representatives of the Middle East Quartet who attended talks in Tel Aviv and Ramallah last week emerged without much hope for the resumption of peace negotiations in the near future, according to senior Israeli officials and European diplomats. They said that the differences between the two sides were far too wide to get negotiations back on track. As a result, it was decided to defer a meeting of Quartet foreign ministers to mid-April. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF, Settlers Save Arab Baby - Yair Altman
    IDF forces and paramedics helped save the life of a Palestinian woman and her newly born infant Wednesday at the Jewish town of Neve Tzuf in the West Bank. Corporal Haim Levin, 19, an IDF paramedic, said, "The umbilical cord was around the baby's neck; the baby was grey and didn't move." "I first removed the cord from the [baby's] neck...and she started to cry." he said. Gadi Amitun, who heads the Magen David Adom team at Neve Tzuf, said the Palestinians "know we have a skilled medical team here, and in any case of accident or injury they arrive and we help them."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Arab Revolutions: An Israeli Perspective - Ehud Yaari
    While Israelis hope to see a happy, democratic end to the popular eruptions of protest and discontent against dictatorial regimes in the Arab world, they are bracing themselves for less optimistic outcomes. To be sure, Israel was hardly mentioned during the huge, early demonstrations in Egypt and elsewhere. Over time, however, some anti-Israeli slogans began creeping into the protest movement's inventory. In Libya, insurgents have often described Gaddafi as a Jew. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Libyan Oil Buys Allies for Gaddafi - Jeffrey Gettleman
    Elhadj Maiga is a Gaddafi recruiter, scrambling to assemble a pipeline of young men from Mali to go and fight for The Great Leader. "We're all ready to die for him," Maiga said. "He's done so much for us, after all." Maiga prays at a mosque that Gaddafi built; he watches television on the Malian national network that Gaddafi set up in the 1980s; and he admires the gleaming new $100 million Mali government complex that Gaddafi is helping pay for.
        Gaddafi has bought allegiance in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa through investments in governments, rebel groups, luxury hotels, Islamic organizations, rubber factories, rice paddies, diamond mines, supermarkets and countless OiLibya gas stations.
        Many members of the nomadic Touaregs, who roam across the deserts of Mali, Niger, Algeria and Libya, see Gaddafi as their champion. When thousands of Touaregs fled into Libya in the 1970s and 1980s, Gaddafi welcomed them with open arms and trained them as soldiers. Touareg elders say that many of the so-called African mercenaries Gaddafi is now relying on to suppress the revolts are actually Touaregs who have been serving in the Libyan Army for years. (New York Times)
  • What about American Hearts and Minds? - Michael J. Totten
    As forces loyal to Libya's cruel and deranged tyrant Moammar Gaddafi reconquer one rebel-held city after another, the Arab League and the Arabic press are calling for a no-fly zone over the country to even the odds. Yet the American public's appetite is low for intervening on behalf of the rebels - and it's largely the Arab world's fault.
        Last time Americans led a coalition to topple a mass-murdering dictatorship in the Middle East, the Arab League and the Arabic press hysterically denounced us as imperialist crusaders fighting a war for oil and Israel. Egged on by al-Jazeera, they cheerleaded the "resistance" that killed thousands of our soldiers with roadside bombs in the years that followed. Many are hardly willing to risk American treasure and lives for people who aren't necessarily our friends, who may well take shots at us after they're liberated, and who might build a new aggressive regime of their own.
        The U.S. is damned in the Arab Middle East if it acts and damned if it doesn't. This was true before Obama was president, and it will remain true after he is gone, no matter what he decides to do or not do. (New York Post)

Taking Responsibility for the Murder of Children - Larry Derfner (Jerusalem Post)

  • Palestinians know that stabbing children to death, any children, is the worst abomination. Israeli children have been methodically stabbed, shot or stoned to death by Palestinians before. It happened in Itamar in 2002, at Kibbutz Metzer the same year, in Tekoa the year before.
  • The cold-blooded murder of children is outside of politics, outside of anything the "other side" does. When children are murdered, the blame belongs to the murderer, not to any enemy he might have had.
  • And when it happens more than once, more than twice, when it's something that "crops up" over the course of time, then it means there is something very wrong in the society that that murderer comes from. It means there is some streak of savagery in it.
  • What's depressing about the Palestinian reaction to the atrocity in Itamar is their refusal to take any responsibility for it - to say this was an act plainly committed in their name, in the name of their cause. When looking at Palestinian behavior, there has to be some point where Israel's responsibility ends and Palestinian responsibility begins.

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