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April 15, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Population: 8 Million - Yaron Druckman (Ynet News)
    Israel's population numbers 8,018,000, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Sunday.
    There are 6,042,000 Jews (75.3% of the total), 1,658,000 Arabs (20.7%), and 318,000 non-Arab Christians and others (4%).
    Since the last Independence Day, Israel's population has grown by 137,000, including 19,500 immigrants.

Poll: Most Palestinians Want Security Cooperation with Israel Stopped (JMCC-PA)
    55% of Palestinians said they think security cooperation with Israel should be terminated, while 34% favor its continuation, according to a poll of 1,179 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza conducted on March 27-31, 2013.

Hamas Damages Gaza Heritage Site - Abeer Ayyoub (Al Monitor)
    Last month Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades bulldozed a part of the ancient Anthedon Harbor in northern Gaza in order to expand its military training zone.
    The Anthedon seaport, which dates back over 3,000 years to the Mycenaean era, was designated an international heritage site by UNESCO in 2012.

Technion Named 6th in World for Entrepreneurship, Innovation - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was ranked in 6th place in the world for entrepreneurship and innovation, in the first comprehensive survey conducted by MIT.
    The Technion was one of only two of the top 10 universities worldwide outside the U.S. and Europe. (The other is the National University of Singapore.)
    The survey also cited the Technion among the "emerging giants whose reputation had grown considerably in recent years."
    See also The Technion: Israel's Hard Drive - Danna Harman (New York Times)
    A fourth of the Technion's 60,000 alumni who are of working age have, at one time or another, initiated a business, and a fourth are CEOs or vice presidents.
    The annual output of its graduates in high-tech industries is estimated to be at least $21 billion.
    Among inventions from Technion research labs: the memory stick, drip irrigation, the Parkinson's drug rasagiline, the Iron Dome air defense system, and instant messaging.
    Courses that combine business and innovation - like "Technological Entrepreneurship," taught by Dan Shechtman, a Nobel laureate in chemistry - are the most popular on campus.

Video: Hope - Israel Independence Day - Fountainheads (YouTube)

An Israel Independence Day Quiz (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Israel Independence Day - this year on April 16 (according to the Jewish calendar, the 5th of Iyar) - is one of the most important dates in contemporary Jewish history.
    Take the quiz to learn more about this momentous event.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 1,200 Hizbullah Fighters Arrive in Syria to Back Assad Forces
    Some 1,200 Hizbullah fighters arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus in the past few days to fight alongside Assad regime troops, the Saudi daily al-Watan reported on Sunday. These forces committed "a hideous crime" in the town of Talkalkh, the daily said, adding that tens of thousands of fighters entered from Iraq to aid the Syrian regime. It quoted sources as saying that the Damascus regime "is resorting to the aid of fighters from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which implies that the Syrian recruits' desire to fight alongside the regime is decreasing." The source added that reservists are also not complying with the army's repeated calls to join the regime in its fighting. On Saturday, it was reported that at least forty Hizbullah fighters and Syrian soldiers were killed in al-Qusayr in Homs province. (Al Arabiya)
        See also Hizbullah-Backed Lebanese Shiites Fight in Syria - Bassem Mroue
    Hizbullah-backed fighters from Lebanon are patrolling both sides of the border with Syria. (AP)
  • Erdogan: No Return of Turkish Envoy to Israel Unless Gaza Blockade Is Lifted
    Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said Saturday that Turkey will not send an envoy to Israel - as part of a recent move for normalization of ties after an Israeli apology - before the blockade on Gaza is lifted. (Zaman-Turkey)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad Resigns - Joel Greenberg
    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned on Saturday, exposing a rift in the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank at a time when the U.S. is pushing to revive dormant peace talks with Israel. (Washington Post)
        See also Fayyad's Resignation: The Beginning of the End of the PA? - Barak Ravid
    The resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday will affect Israel and the Obama administration's efforts to renew the peace process, as well as EU policy towards the Palestinians. Fayyad, a former IMF economist educated in the U.S., was a symbol of good governance and the war on corruption. But PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah party's old guard saw Fayyad as a political rival who needed to be eliminated.
        Fayyad's resignation will place a question mark on the prospect of continued international aid to the PA without Fayyad guarding the public coffers. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jordanian Parliament Demands Release of Shooter of Seven Israeli Schoolgirls - Roi Kais
    110 members of the Jordanian House of Representatives signed a petition demanding a pardon for a Jordanian soldier who shot and killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997. Ahmad Musa Mustafa Daqamseh shot the girls during a school fieldtrip in Naharayim, near the Israel-Jordan border. Hussein Mjali, Jordan's former justice minister, previously referred to the imprisoned soldier as a "hero." (Ynet News)
        See also Jordan: Schoolgirls' Killer Will Not Be Released - Noam Dvir
    Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Walid Khalid Obeidat said Sunday that the killer will serve his life sentence fully. (Ynet News)
  • Sharp Rise in Hamas Attempts to Abduct IDF Soldiers - Yossi Yehoshua
    The Israel Security Agency reported 33 unsuccessful attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers in the West Bank since the beginning of the year, compared with 24 thwarted attempts during all of 2012, Yediot Ahronot reported Friday. Senior officials said the prisoner exchange deal which secured the release of Gilad Shalit encouraged Hamas to attempt additional kidnappings. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Authority Budgets Nearly $1 Billion for Defense - Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
    The Palestinian Authority's new budget for 2013 allocates almost $1b., about 28% of the total, for defense, compared to 16% for education and 10% for medical services. This includes paying the salaries of 95% of "defense employees" in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
        Almost $60 million, or 4% of the Palestinian budget, is spent on payments to the families of Palestinian Arab terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons. The most murderous long-term terrorists pass on a salary to their relatives which is higher than what their prison guards are making. The writer is director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, which represents terror victims in lawsuits against terror groups, their leaders and state backers. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • PA Prime Minister Fayyad's Resignation Is Bad News for Palestinians and Israel - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad lays bare the collapse of the hope that Palestinian nationalism would be refocused on development and coexistence rather than violence. It dooms the Palestinians to a choice between the incompetent cadres of Fatah or the bloody Islamist tyranny of Hamas.
        Without Fayyad (or someone like him), there is no pretense of a state living in peace with Israel, rather than a kleptocracy run by terrorists. It is also a guarantee that the terms of any peace deal signed with the Palestinians will not be observed.
        Fayyad's tragedy was not just that both Fatah and Hamas wanted to be rid of him, but that he had virtually no support among ordinary Palestinians. (New York Post)
        See also Fayyad's Departure May Signal Comeback for Old-Style West Bank Politics - Hugh Naylor
    The resignation of Salam Fayyad may signal a resurgence of old-style politics in the West Bank, with a focus on backroom deal-making and patronage. Appointed by President Abbas to the premiership in 2007, Fayyad streamlined the PA's bloated budget while reining in corruption and dismantling the militant groups that had roamed the West Bank. The result was more stability and glimmers of economic prosperity. (The National-UAE)
  • Stalemate in the Syrian Civil War - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    On the second anniversary of the Syrian civil war, the Assad regime appears to be strong enough to endure a war of attrition with the rebels even with the loss of large portions of sovereign Syrian territory. Some analysts claim that the Syrian civil war began in 1980 when a group of Muslim Brothers stormed the military academy in Aleppo and, after separating the Alawite and Sunni cadets, cold-bloodedly killed the Alawites with knives and assault rifles. The regime retaliated in 1982 by brutally killing more than 20,000 Muslim Brothers in Homs and Hama.
        The coalition of minorities around Assad has not disintegrated. Moreover, two million Alawites also understand the implications of a Sunni Islamist regime in Syria, even one on the Egyptian model.
        Israel would like to see an end to the Iranian-led "axis of evil." However, the prospect of a militant Islamic regime, linked to al-Qaeda and possessing the Syrian military arsenal, is a nightmare Jerusalem cannot live with. The writer was formerly Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel Memorial Day - April 15, 2013

  • Netanyahu: We Are Here Thanks to Israel's Fighters
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "Today, the State of Israel honors the memory of its fallen, our soldiers and our people who fell in Israel's wars and in the terrorist attacks. From the moment the state was established, it has not ceased to wish for peace with its neighbors, and to the same degree, its enemies have not ceased from their aspiration to wipe it off the face of the earth. We are here thanks to Israel's fighters who joined the struggle for our existence, thanks to those who survived the wars and thanks to those who fell. We do not forget, even for a second, that we are here thanks to the fallen.
        Today, while the accumulated threats against the State of Israel are greater than in the past, both the IDF and our security services are stronger than ever. We will continue to strengthen our security, we will continue to aspire for peace with our neighbors, and we will continue to ensure the future of our country."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Remembrance Day and Independence Day in Israel - Judy Lash Balint
    Before Israel Independence Day celebrations of the nation's 65th birthday take place on April 16, Israel has to pay tribute to those who fell in battles and terror attacks. Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day takes place the day before Independence Day, and the piercing siren brings the country to a complete standstill at 8 p.m. Sunday evening, then again at 11 a.m. Monday morning for two minutes of silent remembrance. On Remembrance Day, all Israeli places of entertainment, cafes and restaurants are closed, while more than 1 million Israelis visit Israel's military cemeteries. (
  • 23,085 Soldiers Have Fallen Protecting Israel
    The Israel Defense Ministry said a total of 23,085 have fallen in Israel's wars since 1860. Of those killed in the past year, 37 were IDF soldiers, 12 belonged to other security forces such as the police, and 43 were IDF veterans who died as a result of disabilities they suffered while soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Chief of Staff: We Have No Choice But to Keep Winning - Yoav Zitun
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz wrote Sunday in a Memorial Day missive to IDF soldiers: "Beyond the tales of battlefield heroism, we remember with nostalgia and a twinge of regret the young lives cut short; each and every one of them a whole world in his or her own right." "Just like us they donned uniforms and bore arms. They sought to protect their parents, children, sisters and brothers, their friends."
        "Against all enemies working to wreak harm on our citizens and our country, enemies that do not accept our existence in the Land of Israel, we have no other option but to fight and win."  (Ynet News)

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