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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 6, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Iran, Hizbullah Establish Training Base in Nicaragua - Philip Podolsky (Times of Israel)
    Iran has established a training base in northern Nicaragua near the border with Honduras that is used by Hizbullah, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
    Sources estimate that the trainees, supplied from Tehran, are preparing for retaliatory attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets in the event of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
    The base also serves as a meeting point with organized crime and drug cartels for money laundering and weapons smuggling.
    See also Hizbullah in Latin America - Implications for U.S. Homeland Security (U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security)

IAEA Shows Diplomats Images of Suspected Iran Nuclear Clean-up - Fredrik Dahl (Reuters-Chicago Tribune)
    The UN nuclear watchdog showed a series of satellite images on Wednesday that added to suspicions of clean-up activity at an Iranian military site it wants to inspect, Western diplomats said.
    The pictures, displayed during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna, indicated determined efforts in recent months to remove any incriminating evidence at the Parchin site.

Israel Fights Off 1,000 Cyber-Attacks a Minute - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    Israel experiences about 1,000 cyber-attacks per minute, every day, all day, said Prof. Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael, who heads Tel Aviv University's Yuval Ne'eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security.
    Ben-Yisrael said most are not from hacker groups, but from states, organized crime, and terrorist groups.
    A recent report by the Security & Defense Agenda (SDA), a Brussels think-tank, ranked Israel as one of the most prepared countries to deal with cyber-attacks.

Nepal, Israel Issue Joint Stamps (Nepal News)
    Nepal and Israel issued joint stamps to mark the long-standing friendship between the two countries on Tuesday.
    The stamp is themed "Mount Everest and the Dead Sea" - the highest peak and the lowest point on Earth.
    Since diplomatic relations were established in the 1960s, Israel has been sharing technology and knowledge with Nepal, especially in the fields of medicine, agriculture, early childhood development and technology.
    View Mt. Everest-Dead Sea Postage Stamp (Telegraph Nepal)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Senators Warn Iraq over Iran Shipments to Syria - Lara Jakes and Qassim Abdul-Zahra
    American senators visiting Iraq warned the Baghdad government Wednesday that it risked damaging relations with the U.S. if it is allowing Iran to fly over its airspace to deliver weapons to Syria. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Iraq's failure to stop the flights could threaten the long-term relationship with the U.S. as well as aid to Iraq. (AP)
  • Iran Hosts Islamic Resistance Festival - Najmeh Bozorgmehr
    Representatives from Lebanon's Hizbullah and Amal movements, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Palestinian territories, gathered Wednesday in Isfahan, Iran, for the third International Conference and Festival of Islamic Resistance. Their Iranian hosts made clear they believe it is Syria's turn to resist the global threat they see now facing Damascus. (Washington Post-Financial Times-UK)
  • Democrats Restore Language Declaring Jerusalem Israel's Capital - Mark Landler
    President Obama, seeking to quell a storm of criticism from pro-Israel groups, directed the Democratic Party to amend its platform to restore language declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. The change, approved in a voice vote Wednesday that had to be taken three times because of a chorus of "noes" in the arena, reinstates the line, "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."
        That sentence had been in the 2008 platform, but the Democrats had removed it this time. After a day of protests, however, the change was made to "maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the president and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008," the chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said in a statement. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Air Force Strikes Gaza Rocket Crew
    Four Palestinians engaged in firing a rocket into Israel were hit by an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday evening, killing three and wounding one. The IDF said the cell had been implicated in previous rocket launches at Israeli towns. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Hits Gaza Terrorists Attempting to Place Bomb at Border
    The IDF struck a terror cell attempting to place an explosive device near the Gaza border fence on Thursday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Deputy U.S. Army Chief in Israel
    The Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., is visiting Israel to discuss Israel-U.S. military cooperation, it was revealed Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: Israelis Optimistic Despite Iranian Threat - Gil Hoffman
    79% of Israeli Jews are optimistic about Israel's future and only 18% are pessimistic, according to the Israel Democracy Institute's annual Democracy Index published on Thursday. Among Israeli Arabs, 60% are optimistic and 39% pessimistic.
        85% of Jewish respondents said Israel would be capable of defending itself militarily. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Study: Gap Grows between Israeli Arabs, Palestinians - Ilene Prusher
    Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli Arabs show increasing signs of wanting to keep their distance from each other, and maintain different narratives about the history of the conflict, according to a new study conducted by Ben-Gurion University researchers. Some 60% of Israeli Arabs said they would not want their daughter to marry someone from the West Bank.
        Prof. Shifra Sagy, director of the Conflict Management and Resolution Program at Ben-Gurion University, who conducted the study in cooperation with Palestinians and with funding from the German research foundation DFG, noted that those who stayed in their villages during Israel's 1948 War of Independence and became citizens of Israel referred to themselves as '48 Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards Assisting Assad's Henchmen - Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor
    Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday: "The daily slaughter in Syria represents the dying breath of a tyranny that goes back four decades....Bashar al-Assad has no moral authority to govern. He never did. His hourglass is running out."
        "Iran is the problem in Syria - not the solution. Every day it provides Assad with the tools of mass murder. Iranian Revolutionary Guards are on the ground today assisting Assad's henchmen. They have been deployed on Syrian soil to help sustain the Syrian regime and take part in the slaughter of the Syrian people. The outside forces that have been instrumental in Assad's killing spree speak in a Persian accent."
        "Israel will continue to raise its voice for the people of Syria. We extend our hand to them, offering humanitarian aid, food, and medicine."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Egypt's Economic Struggle - Editorial
    Eighteen months after Egypt's revolution, President Mohamed Morsi, the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund finally seem to be pulling in the same general direction on the question of how best to revive the country's devastated economy.
        Some in Congress worry whether Mr. Morsi will abide by the peace treaty with Israel, and there are legitimate concerns about his harsh treatment of critics of the news media and whether he means to represent fairly all Egyptians, including Christians. But he has, so far, upheld the peace treaty, handled a militant attack in the Sinai Peninsula reasonably well and, on a trip to Tehran last week, publicly lambasted the Iranian leaders for supporting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
        It would be hard to overstate the importance of helping put Egypt, the most important nation in the Arab world and the key to Middle East stability, on a firm economic footing. (New York Times)
  • The PA's Electricity Tab - Editorial
    The Palestinian Authority has racked up a steadily mounting debt to the Israel Electric Corporation that already exceeds NIS 700 million and it appears that the authorities in Ramallah are quite content to have average Israelis pick up the PA's tab. The PA's uncontrolled fiscal delinquency cannot be subsidized by Israeli citizens, even if the upshot will be bad press and the usual distortions that Israel faces abroad.
        It cannot be that Israeli consumers need suffer power shortages, while underwriting the PA's residents. Israel needs to show the PA that it will not inflict pain on its own citizens just to avoid yet another demonization drive overseas. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Confronts a Dramatic Decision on Iran - Zaki Shalom (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • In the wake of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, a sense may develop in public opinion, both in Israel and abroad, that the operation was a failure. It can be assumed that the Iranian regime and others who support it will make every effort to establish such an awareness
  • On the other hand, a sense that the attack was successful would have tremendous importance in establishing deterrence in Israel-Iran relations and Israel's relations with other hostile states. This is likely to have positive consequences for Israel's relationship with the U.S. administration and vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority, while a sense of limited success, or a lack of success, is likely to have negative consequences.
  • At the same time, a partial strike against Iranian nuclear facilities that leads to a delay in its nuclear program, even if it is only for a year or two, is liable to have far-reaching consequences. The Iranian leadership must ask itself whether it is worthwhile for Iran to pay the heavy price of the nuclear project, and ultimately to suffer physical destruction of at least some of its nuclear facilities, with the knowledge that in another year or two years, a further attack is possible.
  • Moreover, an Israeli attack on Iran, even if it ends with partial destruction of the nuclear facilities, will perhaps bring about the collapse of the psychological barrier that exists today in regard to an attack on Iran. If it becomes clear to the entire world that Iran's ability to respond is very limited, then the probability of an attack by Israel or the U.S. in the future will grow.

    The writer is a senior research fellow at INSS.

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