Israel Sees Future Drone Threat from Lebanon, Gaza (Reuters)
Israel is concerned that hostile forces in Lebanon and Gaza would deploy exploding drones in a future war as well as their main rocket arsenals, the chief of Israeli air defense, Maj.-Gen. Shachar Shohat, told a Tel Aviv security conference on Monday.
"We will have to cope with dozens of pilotless aerial vehicles, in both the northern and southern fronts," he said.
Uzi Rubin, an Israeli aerospace expert, said Israel's Iron Dome and Patriot missile interceptors were capable of shooting down most drones.
Israel is also developing the Iron Beam laser system which will be able to destroy small drones.
Drones flew into Israeli airspace from Lebanon on at least two occasions in 2012 and 2013, and Israeli jets shot them down.
Bulgarian Police Find DNA of Hizbullah Terrorist - Dan Lavie (Israel Hayom)
Bulgarian police have found DNA evidence of a Hizbullah member involved in the July 2012 bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, which killed six people and wounded more than 30.
The DNA samples belong to Hassan al-Hadj Hassan, a Lebanese-born Canadian suspected of being in charge of the logistics of the terrorist attack.
Bulgarian police believe that Hassan detonated the explosive device remotely. He left items of clothing at a hotel in the Black Sea resort of Nesebar from which authorities were able to collect the DNA samples.
Lockerbie Bombing "Was Work of Iran, Not Libya," Says Former Iranian Spy - Gordon Rayner (Telegraph-UK)
The Lockerbie bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by a Syrian-based terrorist group, former Iranian intelligence officer and defector Abolghassem Mesbahi has admitted.
He claims that Ayatollah Khomeini, who was Iran's Supreme Leader, ordered the bombing of
Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 "to copy exactly what happened to the Iranian Airbus," referring to a U.S. Navy strike on an Iranian commercial jet six months earlier in which 290 people died.
UAE Blasts U.S. over State Department Human Rights Report - Eli Lake
The State Department's annual human rights report discussed the failed efforts of Islamists to form a political party inside the UAE, making it appear that the founder of the Ummah Party, Hassan al-Diqqi, is just a regular democratic organizer.
On Monday the emirates issued a rare public response asking why the report never acknowledged that al-Diqqi was the leader of a jihadist militia in Syria.
More recently, another senior member of the Ummah Party, Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a financier of al-Qaeda.
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- Israel Displays Weapons Seized in Red Sea Raid as Proof that Iran Is an "Exporter of Terror" - Ruth Eglash
Israel put on display in Eilat Monday a cache of long-range rockets and other artillery it seized last week from a shipment making its way up the Red Sea, destined for militant groups in Gaza.
Glistening in the sunshine were 40 M-302 surface-to-surface rockets with ranges of 50 to 100 miles, 181 mortar shells and about 400,000 rounds of ammunition. The weapons had been concealed in large shipping containers with Iranian seals and hidden beneath bags of cement stamped "Made in the Islamic Republic of Iran," proof that the Iranians had sent the cargo.
"We now have hard facts, and it's important that the world gets this information," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
See also Israel Displays Iran's Arms Shipment to Gaza - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Lappin
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, standing at the port in Eilat near rows of Syrian missiles and Iranian mortar shells, noted Monday that there is a flood of condemnation of Israel when it "builds a balcony in Jerusalem," but only a drizzle of censure when Iran tries to smuggle long-range missiles into Gaza.
"I heard only isolated and weak condemnation of Iran from the international community regarding this deadly shipment," he said. "By contrast, we were witness to smiles and handshakes of representatives of the West with the representatives of Iran in Tehran at the very time that these missiles were being unloaded in Eilat." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Netanyahu: Next Time the Ship Containers Could Conceal Iranian Nuclear Weapons
Speaking in Eilat on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The ship was organized by Iran, dispatched by Iran, financed by Iran. The missiles were loaded by Iran in Iran....Just as they concealed these weapons in containers on this ship, they could tomorrow conceal in other containers the ultimate weapon, nuclear weapons, which they could ship to any port in the world."
(Prime Minister's Office)
See also The Other Iranian Weapons Smuggling in the Middle East - Dore Gold
Israel's seizure of the Iranian weapons ship Klos-C is only one example of how the Iranian regime uses the supply of arms in order to intervene in a variety of local wars in the Middle East. A former chief of staff of Bahrain described Iran as "an octopus" whose tentacles were "rummaging around in Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Gaza and Bahrain." In January 2013, the Yemeni armed forces, with the assistance of the U.S. Navy, stopped an Iranian arms ship, while in December 2013, the Bahraini Navy interdicted another.
The present negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 over Iran's nuclear program have not even begun to address this Iranian activism, undermining the internal stability of states across the region, which continues unabated even under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani. Israel's interception of the Klos C has put this dilemma front and center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Fatah Endorses Refusal to Recognize Israel as Jewish State
The Revolutionary Council of Fatah on Monday unanimously endorsed PA President Mahmoud Abbas' rejection of demands to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas said that at 79 years old, he wasn't going to back down, despite the "great pressure being exerted." (AFP)
See also Abbas: Any Agreement Must Be "Confirmed by Popular Referendum of All the Palestinians Worldwide" (MEMRI)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Palestinian Jurist Killed on Jordan Border Charged at Troops Yelling "Allahu Akhbar" - Yaakov Lappin
A Palestinian judge with Jordanian citizenship who was killed by IDF soldiers near the Allenby Bridge on Monday shouted "Allahu akhbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) while charging at the troops, an initial inquiry by Israeli security services revealed. Raed Alaa el-Deen Za'eiter attempted to snatch the rifle of one of the soldiers and then continued attacking the soldiers with a metal pole.
The shooting unleashed an outpouring of anger in Jordan, with protesters outside of the Israeli embassy in Amman demanding an abrogation of the 1994 peace treaty.
- Israel Air Force Strikes Islamic Jihad Cell in Gaza Minutes after Mortar Attack - Yaakov Lappin
Islamic Jihad said an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed three Palestinian militants on Tuesday.
The Israel Air Force struck the Islamic Jihad cell minutes after it conducted a mortar attack on an IDF patrol on the Gaza-Israel border. (Jerusalem Post)
- Egypt's Arms Deal with Russia: Potential Strategic Costs - David Schenker and Eric Trager
Egyptian military leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi reportedly inked deals to purchase $2 billion worth of weapons from Russia during his February visit. Those arms sales could erode Israel's qualitative military edge and become yet another irritant in the U.S.-Egyptian relationship. Cairo is reportedly seeking air-defense systems from Moscow - potentially including advanced S-300 missiles - as well as MiG fighter jets and Kornet antitank weapons.
If Egypt does in fact intend to procure game-changing systems such as the S-300 and the Kornet, Washington should warn Cairo of the risks such an acquisition would pose to U.S. security assistance and the broader bilateral relationship. To be sure, the strategic cooperation and level of trust between Israel and Egypt, particularly on Sinai, has never been better. But changing the status quo could undermine that trust and perhaps even the Camp David peace treaty.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Why Abbas Will (Again) Say No - Khaled Abu Toameh
On the eve of his meeting with President Barack Obama, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has won the backing of the Arab League for his demands.
Arab League support gives Abbas the power to resist any pressure from Obama to soften or change his positions, under the pretext that he is not authorized by the Arab countries to make any concessions. By requesting the backing of the Arab countries, Abbas is seeking to show that there is no point in exerting pressure on him because the Arab countries will not accept any concessions to Israel.
Abbas also believes he can say no to Obama because the U.S. administration will not take any retaliatory measures against the PA. The Palestinians do not take Obama seriously, especially in light of his failure in dealing with the crises in the Arab world and Ukraine. (Gatestone Institute)
- Exposing the Hypocrisy of Israel's Detractors - Amb. Ido Aharoni
From its very inception, the State of Israel has protected the rights and freedoms of all. Our founding fathers wrote in Israel's Declaration of Independence that the new country "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex." From the annual LGBT Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, to being the only nation outside the U.S. to recognize Martin Luther King Day, Israel is the only society in the Middle East that recognizes these freedoms and rights for all people.
Israel is a nation that promotes open debate, democracy, and discussion. Our people take to the streets, they take to the ballot box, and we have full freedom of the press. It contains a vibrant and diverse community, entrenched with both progressive and traditional attitudes where all enjoy the right of self-expression. The writer is the Consul General of Israel in New York.
Do Palestinians Really Want a State of Their Own? - Oren Kessler (Foreign Policy)
- The Palestinians have all the leverage, a former top State Department specialist on the Mideast peace process recently told me. "I'm not sure they'll ever sign on the dotted line."
The Palestinians are under little to no pressure to sign a final peace agreement with Israel.
- It's actually the Israelis, not the Palestinians, who are under pressure from all corners to reach a peace deal. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are watching from the sidelines with glee.
- Viewers of the Palestinian Authority's official television station are unceasingly reminded that the Arab-Israeli conflict is an existential, zero-sum dispute. The channel assures its audience that cities in Israel will ultimately return to Arab rule and that the murder of Israeli civilians is a heroic deed. And that's not to speak of the fire-eyed theocrats of Hamas, who run the show in Gaza.
- The U.S. does have ways to influence the Palestinians to negotiate seriously - if only it is willing to use them. Washington is the single biggest donor to the PA, and Congress could condition U.S. aid on stopping all the incitement.
- Washington, as well as the world, does the Palestinians no favors in forever excusing their failure to better their lot.
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