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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 23, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Civil War Boosts Israeli-U.S. Defense Ties - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli-U.S. intelligence and defense ties have reached new heights due to the uprising in Syria and fears the country's chemical weapons will fall into terrorist hands, defense officials said on Sunday.

Did Syria Use Chemical Weapons? - Ruth Sherlock (Telegraph-UK)
    Gen. Adnan Silou, the most senior ranking member of Bashar al-Assad's regime to defect, trained thousands of troops in how to secure what analysts believe are the largest chemical weapons stores in the world.
    "There were two main stores - warehouse 417 in east Damascus, and another, number 419 in the Homs area. We had 1,500 soldiers and two or three generals stationed at each base," he said.
    Gen. Silou is convinced that the regime sprayed pesticides from planes on populated areas in Rastan, a hub for the rebel Free Syrian Army close to Homs.
    In February and March patients who had fled Rastan and Homs for Lebanon showed signs of hair loss, skin irritation, chronic muscle pain and sickness. Doctors in Lebanon reported seeing unusual symptoms.

Syrian Regime Loyalists Losing Confidence - Rami G. Khouri (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Bashar Assad's regime is fatally injured. It is losing credibility and confidence with those who have supported and served it for decades, especially security agency personnel.
    The fighting in Damascus and the bombing of the national security council meeting indicate that if the regime cannot protect its top military officers, whom can it protect? Such questioning by regime loyalists will determine the pace of the regime's collapse.
    Everything going on at the UN Security Council is now irrelevant, and has been for a month, for the center of gravity of this political struggle shifted some time ago to military developments inside Syria.

Syrian National Security Chief Dies from Bombing Wounds (AP-Los Angeles Times)
    Syrian TV said Friday that Gen. Hisham Ikhtiyar, the country's national security chief, died of wounds suffered in Wednesday's bombing at national security headquarters in Damascus.

Islamic Jihad Leadership Abandons Syria for Iran - Yoel Goldman (Times of Israel)
    Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday that the leadership of Palestinian Islamic Jihad has moved from Damascus to Tehran due to the ongoing fighting in Syria.
    Palestinian sources said the group's leader, Ramadan Shallah, was working mainly from Iran, and that his deputy had been there for weeks.

Report: Germany Was Warned a Month before '72 Olympics Attack (JTA)
    Germany was warned about a possible terror attack against Israeli athletes one month before the Munich Olympics in 1972, Der Spiegel reported Sunday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: More Suspects Sought in Bulgaria Bombing Attack
    Sources told the Bulgarian Standard daily that the man who detonated the bomb that killed five Israeli tourists in Burgas last week was helped by two other men, who were also at the airport during the terror attack. The first is believed to have served as a back-up for the bomber and was ready to replace him if the plot went wrong. The second was assigned to shoot dead the other two if they were arrested by the police or gave up, according to the report. (Sofia News Agency-Bulgaria)
        See also Mossad, CIA Join Bulgaria's Hunt for Burgas Attack Accomplice - Avi Cohen
    Bulgarian security forces, Israeli intelligence officers and CIA agents are on the hunt for an accomplice suspected of helping the terrorist in Burgas. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Bus Driver Killed in Bulgaria Bombing Was Muslim - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
  • Violence Continues in Syria - Neil MacFarquhar
    Intense street battles in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo have entered a third day. The clashes that started on Friday were the first sustained fighting in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria and the country's main commercial center. Skirmishes in Damascus petered out on Sunday as large numbers of government troops were deployed to shut down the rebels in one neighborhood after another where they had gained footholds last week. (New York Times)
        See also Syrian Troops Enter Golan Demilitarized Zone, Israel Complains to UN - Philip Podolsky
    Syrian troops entered the demilitarized buffer zone with Israel last Thursday, during fighting with rebel groups near the Golan Heights. Following the incident, Israel issued a complaint to the UN. (Times of Israel)
  • Man Sentenced in U.S. for Spying for Syrian Government
    Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, 48, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced on July 20 to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for collecting video and audio recordings and other information about individuals in the U.S. and Syria who were protesting the government of Syria and providing these materials to Syrian intelligence agencies in order to silence, intimidate and potentially harm the protestors. "Mr. Soueid betrayed this country to work on behalf of a state sponsor of terror," said U.S. District Attorney Neil MacBride. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • U.S. Gives Jordan $100M to Help Host Syrian Refugees
    U.S. ambassador to Jordan Stuart E. Jones said on Sunday that Washington has given $100 million in aid to Jordan to help host tens of thousands of Syrians who have taken refuge in the kingdom. He said the aid will address "the strains on the national budget as a result of the repeated disruption of the Egyptian natural gas, and especially the added cost of providing services and basic commodities to those fleeing the appalling violence in Syria."  (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Iran, Hizbullah Plotted Attacks in More than 20 Countries
    Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and Israel Security Agency Director Yoram Cohen on Sunday briefed the Cabinet on the intelligence agencies' actions against Iranian and Hizbullah terrorism around the world. They noted that Iran and Hizbullah have sought to perpetrate terrorist attacks in over 20 countries around the world over the past two years.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Mossad and ISA for the hidden actions they take throughout the world in order to defend the citizens of the state. "The wave of Iranian terrorism that is also perpetrated through Hizbullah has met with, and will yet meet with, determined actions," he said. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Gunmen Fire at Bus of IDF Soldiers near Israel-Egypt Border - Gili Cohen
    Gunmen opened fire on Sunday at a bus of Israeli soldiers traveling near the Israel-Egypt border, damaging the bus. (Ha'aretz)
  • Morsi Meeting with Hamas Opens a Door on Gaza Blockade - Editorial
    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi met on Friday with the political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal. The crossing at Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, now allows more Palestinians through each day, and may soon be open 24 hours a day. If Egypt opens the border, it is likely that Gaza will continue to draw closer to Egypt, with more business and personal links created. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
        See also Gaza to Get Electricity and Gas from Egypt, Hamas Official Says - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Advances PA NIS 180M to Ease Financial Crisis - Herb Keinon
    As a "goodwill gesture" to the Palestinian Authority, Israel gave the PA a NIS 180 million advance on tax money it transfers on a monthly basis. The money was transferred before Ramadan to help the PA pay the monthly salaries of public sector employees. One senior official said this move was taken in the hope that it will "improve the atmosphere."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's War on Israel - Editorial
    The suicide bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a local Bulgarian bus driver on Wednesday was all too familiar. The Jewish state has been in a virtual state of war since its birth in 1948, and in recent years the chief threat has emanated from Iran and its terror proxies.
        American officials confirm that the bomber belonged to a Hizbullah cell. A Hizbullah man was arrested in Cyprus last week, suspected of plotting to attack Israeli tourists at a beach resort. Kenyan officials last month arrested two Iranians who were shipping high explosives into the country and scoping out U.S. and Israeli targets. In February, Israeli officials were targeted in bombing attacks in India, Georgia and Thailand.
        The atrocity in Bulgaria is another reminder about the nature of the Iranian regime. The Islamic Republic has become the world's leading terror sponsor. No wonder Israel is so worried about Iran's plans to build nuclear weapons. The wonder is that the U.S. and its allies continue to look for ways to reach a diplomatic understanding with the perpetrators of these unending attacks, rather than calling the regime what it is and working to overthrow it. Iran's killing of innocents will continue until the world decides to stop it. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Holding Iran Accountable for Terrorist Attacks - Editorial
    The Bulgaria bombing, in which five Israelis were killed, was the ninth plot pinned on Iran this year and the third this month. The string of attacks offers a stark answer to the question of whether the regime of Ayatollah Khamenei is prepared to compromise with the West.
        The international response to Iran's terrorism should be far more vigorous than it has been so far. If Iran suffers no consequences from its acts of terrorism, they will continue. The Security Council should review the abundant evidence of involvement by the Revolutionary Guard and Hizbullah in this year's attacks and punish both those groups as well as the Iranian government with sanctions. (Washington Post)
  • According to the BBC, Israel Has No Capital City
    Perusing the BBC Sport website prior to the London Olympics, Israel is the only country listed that has no capital. The BBC bestows the honor of having East Jerusalem as a capital on the country of "Palestine." This is a delegitimization tactic and nothing more - though we're sure they'll claim it was an "oversight."  (Commentator-UK)
        See also Prime Minister's Office to BBC: We Insist You Call Jerusalem Israel's Capital - Raphael Ahren
    On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister's Office spokesman Mark Regev wrote to BBC Middle East Bureau chief Paul Danahar, expressing his dismay over the fact that "every country (and non-country) participating" at the Olympic Games has a capital except Israel. On the following day, the BBC changed its entries for both Israel and Palestine: Israel still has no capital, but the site lists Jerusalem as the seat of government - "though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv." The site's entry for Palestine reads now: "Intended seat of government: East Jerusalem."
        In response, Regev again wrote to Danahar: "I am afraid that despite your efforts, Israel is still discriminated against on the BBC's London 2012 Olympics website. Unlike all the other countries listed, in Israel's case, our capital Jerusalem is not classified by the BBC as such but rather as a 'Seat of government.' I kindly request that Israel's capital be identified accurately on your website."  (Times of Israel)

Netanyahu: Hizbullah and Iran Behind Bulgaria Bombing - Interview with Chris Wallace (Fox News)

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Fox News Sunday" that his "principal concern" in Syria is "what could happen to those stocks of chemical weapons and those deadly rockets and missiles when there is no government."
  • "Can you imagine Hizbullah, the people who are conducting with Iran all these terror attacks around the world - can you imagine that they would have chemical weapons? It's like al-Qaeda having chemical weapons. It's something that is not acceptable to us and not acceptable to the United States and to any peaceable country in the world."
  • Regarding the identity of the bomber in Bulgaria, he said, "We do know that it's Hizbullah....Exactly the same modus operandi...was exposed in Cyprus [last week]. Fortunately, there, the terrorist was caught and he admitted he worked in behalf of Hizbullah, Iran's long terror arm." "Here, I'm not surmising. I am giving you something that I know as the prime minister of Israel, because I know, based on absolutely rock solid intelligence, this is Hizbullah and this is something that Iran knows about very, very well."
  • "It's time for all countries to point the finger at the country behind these attacks and the group that helps them and that's Iran, with Iran's proxy Hizbullah....Terrorism continues as long as terrorism pays. So, you have to make sure terrorism doesn't pay. Exposing it is the first step to make it not pay."
  • "These attacks on a busload of tourists, including a pregnant mother, tells you what kind of people we are dealing with. Now, imagine these people who are capable of doing anything, imagine them possessing nuclear weapons. People who gun down innocent people, who will send suicide bombers, who could block the Straits of Iran, who threaten to annihilate Israel, who murdered diplomats, who have taken over your embassy, you want these people to have atomic bombs?"
  • "I think this is a reminder - this wave of terror attacks - that the world's most dangerous regime must not be allowed to have the world's most dangerous weapons."

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