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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
May 29, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Forces on the Golan? - Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    On May 26, 2013, the Iranian regime officially began to recruit Basiji fighters to fight with Assad's troops in Syria.
    The Basij are the popular militia of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and serve as a reserve formation. They were used extensively for putting down anti-regime protests in Iranian cities during mid-2009.
    The name of the operation for which these troops are being recruited is "Defenders of the Holy Site 2," referring to the Shiite Zeynab Sanctuary on the periphery of Damascus, named for the eldest daughter of Ali, the first Shiite Imam. Her sanctuary is the object of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of Shiites from throughout the world.
    The deployment of these Basij forces in Syria would provide greater flexibility for Assad's army. For example, the Syrians could withdraw their front-line forces from the Golan Heights and replace them with Iranians, a regional "game-changer" that could place Iranian forces directly across from the Israel Defense Forces.

Hizbullah, a Product of Arab Media Propaganda - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (Al Arabiya)
    The crimes committed during battles in the Syrian town of Qusayr have increased Arab anger and hatred towards Hizbullah.
    Hizbullah was born in 1982. Arabs who are willing to kiss the forehead of anyone who raises Palestine's flag threw their support behind this Iranian organization.
    If we clear our heads and observe what Hizbullah has done in 30 years, we'd realize it has been operating as an Iranian battalion within Iran's struggle with the region's areas, including struggles against the Lebanese, the Arabs and the Israelis.

Israeli Jeep "Captured" in Syria Came from Hizbullah Museum - Julia Amalia Heyer and Christoph Reuter (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    There was an absurd moment in the battle for the Syrian city of Qusayr when an old Israeli military jeep was paraded before Syrian state television cameras. According to the state news agency SANA, the jeep, which the army had supposedly captured in Qusayr, was clear proof of Israeli involvement in the Syrian civil war.
    As it turned out, the jeep was from a Hizbullah museum. It had been used to transport prisoners in the Khiam military prison in southern Lebanon until the Israeli army withdrew from the area in May 2000.
    Hizbullah set up a memorial at the prison, where the jeep was displayed before being brought to Qusayr.
    The propagandistic act of desperation with the museum jeep shows how uncomfortable Hizbullah is over its image after its intervention in Syria.

Female Israeli Soldiers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque Complex (Saudi Gazette)
    Dozens of female Israeli soldiers on Monday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem's Old City, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said.
    The foundation said the group was divided into two or more smaller groups that toured the compound and "started provoking the Muslim worshipers."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • By Inserting Itself into Syrian War, Hizbullah Makes Dramatic Gamble - Anne Barnard
    With its plunge into the Syrian civil war, Hizbullah is taking its followers in an unaccustomed direction, fighting a pre-emptive war against foreign jihadists. Hizbullah is betting its prestige and security on the effort to crush a Syrian rebellion that is detested by Hizbullah's Shiite Muslim base, but popular with the group's Lebanese rivals and with much of the Sunni majority in the wider Arab world. But if it fails, the fallout could leave the group weakened, with bridges burned at home and abroad.
        In Dahiya, the group's stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut, one resident, Umm Hassan, fretted about where she would go if Hizbullah again came under attack from Israel. The last time that happened, in 2006, thousands of Hizbullah supporters took refuge in Syria, staying in the homes of Syrians, including the Sunnis who dominate the uprising the group is now helping to crush. "Where will we go this time?" Umm Hassan said. "I don't see Syria as a safe place for me as a Shiite. We will be killed, if not by the Israelis, by angry Syrians."  (New York Times)
  • Livni: Abbas Not Ideal Peace Partner - Robert Tait
    Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief peace negotiator, has expressed doubts over the ability of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to deliver an agreement. Addressing foreign diplomats and journalists, Livni - who also serves as justice minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet - likened any agreement with Abbas to a signed check on an empty bank account because he does not control Gaza, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement. She also acknowledged doubts over Abbas' legitimacy in the West Bank - which his Fatah movement controls - because he has not held elections for several years.
        "A legitimate question is with whom we are going to sign an agreement," Livni said in Jerusalem. "The Gaza Strip is being controlled by Hamas. They are not part of the peace. They are not accept Israel's right to exist, to renounce terrorism and to accept all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. And on the other side, we have Abu Mazen [Abbas], for many years without elections on the Palestinian side, without any possibility to change anything in Gaza, even if he wants to. So what's the use of signing an agreement?"
        The only solution was a "dual strategy" of reaching an agreement combined with an international effort to isolate and delegitimize Hamas, Livni said. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Russia Has Not Yet Delivered S-300 Missile to Syria - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday that Russia's S-300 missile shipment to Syria "is a threat, and I can testify that the deal is not making headway. The shipments have not left yet. Let's hope they won't, and if they do, we'll know how to act." Syria signed a contract to buy four S-300 systems in 2010 in a $800 million deal. At the request of Israel, Russia postponed delivery of the first batch last year. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel: No Chemical Attack Seen from Syria - Yaakov Lappin and Lahav Harkov
    Israeli intelligence does not foresee a Syrian chemical attack on Israel as a threat on the horizon, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday. "The Syrian regime treats us differently from how it apparently treats its citizens. It is not deterred by its citizens. It is deterred by us....We do not believe that someone will try to challenge us in the unconventional field in the foreseeable future." A representative of IDF intelligence added that Assad has full control of Syria's chemical weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syrian Rebels near Israel Border Steal UN Armored Trucks - Ilan Ben Zion
    A Syrian rebel group that twice abducted UN peacekeepers near the Israeli border in the past three months stole several UN vehicles, including two RG-31 Nyala armored personnel carriers, a UN spokesperson acknowledged. The Nyala is a South African-made, mine- and IED-resistant behemoth capable of carrying up to 10 men, and is considered "virtually indestructible." An Israeli expert warned that the UN-marked vehicles could be used in surprise attacks on IDF targets. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas: Abducting Soldiers Is at the Heart of Our Culture - Elhanan Miller
    The kidnapping of IDF soldiers is at the heart of Palestinian culture, Hamas spokesman Abu-Ubaida said Tuesday, responding to PA President Mahmoud Abbas who called such abductions alien to Palestinian norms. The Hamas spokesman criticized "those who refuse to abduct Zionist soldiers."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How Israel Could Gain from Syria's Civil War - Amos Harel
    Recent developments in Syria actually point to the continuation of the civil war more than its end. The EU announcement that it was lifting the embargo on supplying arms to the rebels was met by an immediate Russian response that it was committed to its arms deals with the Assad regime.
        According to an organization monitoring the conflict, some 141 Hizbullah fighters were killed in the last month alone, 79 in the last 10 days, during the battle for Qusayr. In other words, Hizbullah lost more than 1% of its operational combat power within a month due to its support of Assad - quite a significant number of casualties for a relatively small guerrilla movement.
        To the obvious weakening of the Syrian army, exhausted by the constant killing, one must now add the erosion of Hizbullah's forces. Nasrallah is facing unprecedented inner criticism in Lebanon due to his intervention in Syria. This week Britain and France promoted an initiative to have the EU declare Hizbullah a terrorist organization - a move that might limit Hizbullah's operations abroad. (Ha'aretz)
  • Terror Overwhelming Western Intelligence - Ely Karmon
    The gruesome murder of a British soldier in London by two British Muslims, the first Islamist killing in Britain since suicide bombers killed 52 people in London in 2005, has revived the fear of the "lone wolf" jihadist threat in the Western world. The Boston Marathon bombing a month ago also comes to mind.
        Western democratic governments have not yet realized that the complete freedom of speech, propaganda and organization offered to radical Islamist religious and political leaders who actively support violence is the single greatest danger to their security. The security and law enforcement agencies seem to be overwhelmed by the large numbers of potential suspect terrorists they have to monitor and too cautious in their preventive operations.
        There is a salient pattern of plots or attacks against Jewish targets acting as the precursor for major terrorist plots against Western, Christian, and moderate Muslim targets. The writer is Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC Herzliya. (Ha'aretz)
  • Will International Peacekeepers in the Sinai Be the Next Casualty? - David Schenker
    Last week, seven Egyptian security officers were released after being held hostage for a week by Bedouin tribesmen in Egyptian Sinai. The abductions are the latest in a series of hostage events and armed attacks that highlight the deterioration of security in the area. While most of these incidents have been aimed at Egyptians, Sinai peacekeepers - the Multinational Force Observers (MFO) - are high on the target list.
        For the past two years, the contingent has come under frequent attack from local Bedouin and Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda. Just last month, a Hungarian peacekeeper was kidnapped by tribesmen. MFO patrols these days are escorted by Egyptian armor columns. If the 12 nations that contribute troops to the MFO start to take casualties, the force could face attrition. The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Weekly Standard)

Anti-Semitism Is Becoming Fashionable Again - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Addressing the Israel Foreign Ministry's "Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism" in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

  • Three arguments are put forward by the anti-Semites all the time, and they are false all the time.
  • The first is that Israel is guilty of war crimes. We, who fight war criminals with measured means, whose cities are attacked by terrorists who fire from built-up areas and try to pinpoint the rocketeers - we are accused of war crimes by the war criminals.
  • The second is that we are expansionists, we don't want peace, we never agree to compromise. That's patently false. The State of Israel repeatedly has made concessions for peace that no other people or state has made in history. I don't know of any other case in which the victor made concessions in order to achieve peace, but we've done it again and again.
  • The third argument is that we are violators of human rights. Israel is the one country in the region that recognizes the rights of everyone - women, minorities, every individual - who have access to the best court system in the world. Israel has a free press and a vibrant democracy, and Israel is accused of violating human rights. This is when in our neighborhood hundreds of people are massacred daily in neighboring regimes.

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