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June 16, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Video: U.S.-Iran Dialogue on Iraq "Extremely Dangerous" - Deborah Kan interviews Jonathan Schanzer (Wall Street Journal)
    As the U.S. and Iran prepare for talks on the declining situation in Iraq, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says:
    "We are involved with high stakes nuclear negotiations with the Iranians; our asking them for assistance will only give them leverage at the negotiating table."

ISIS Leader: "See You in New York" - Michael Daly (Daily Beast)
    When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi walked away from a U.S. detention camp in 2009, the future leader of ISIS said, "I'll see you guys in New York," recalls Army Col. Kenneth King, then the commanding officer of Camp Bucca.
    King had not imagined that in less than five years he would be seeing news reports that al-Baghdadi was the leader of ISIS, the extremist army that was sweeping through Iraq toward Baghdad.

The Mad Dream of a Dead Empire that Unites Islamic Rebels - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
    They call themselves the Army of God and believe they should revive the Islamic Caliphate, the theocratic empire developed after the death of Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD.
    To many Muslims, the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate by Ataturk in 1924 is a deep historic wound that shall heal only when a new caliphate is set up to resume the ghazavat (wars of conquest) against the Infidel.

Abbas' Wife Undergoes Surgery in Israel (Ha'aretz)
    Amina Abbas, wife of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was admitted to Assouta Medical Center in Tel Aviv on Thursday - the day of the kidnapping - then underwent surgery the following day.
    Two years ago, the sister of Ismail Haniyeh, then Hamas' prime minister of Gaza, accompanied her husband (Haniyeh's brother-in-law) for emergency treatment at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, and stayed with him for a week.

Even After Unity Deal, Hamas Still Runs Failing Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The police in Gaza shut the banks down for six days on Hamas' orders.
    On Wednesday, Hamas decided to allow the banks to open and the 50,000 PA employees who have been receiving salaries since June 2007 without actually going to work received their salaries. But 40,000 Hamas employees were still left without money.
    In less than a week, if the 40,000 salaries aren't paid, Hamas members are planning to embark on a general strike, including the security forces.
    For Israel, this means that the Hamas "Restraining Force" operating on the Israeli border to prevent rocket fire will leave their posts.
    Almost every week, Israeli radar detects rockets flying toward the Mediterranean Sea from Gaza. These are rocket tests.
    The estimate in Israel today is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have close to 500 rockets that can hit the Tel Aviv area.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Abducts Three Israeli Teenagers - Ralph Ellis and Michael Schwartz
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday blamed Hamas for abducting three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. He told the Cabinet: "Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas - the same Hamas that Abu Mazen made a unity government with; this has severe repercussions." Gilad Shaar, 16; Naftali Frenkel, 16; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, have been missing since late Thursday and were last seen in the Gush Etzion area. (CNN)
        See also One of the Abducted Teens Is an American - William Booth and Ruth Eglash
    16-year-old Naftali Frenkel, one of the teens abducted by Hamas, is a dual Israeli-American citizen. (Washington Post)
        See also The Kidnappers Came from the Palestinian Authority - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Sunday: Hamas terrorists carried out Thursday's kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. We know that for a fact. Hamas denials do not change this fact. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians - including children.
        President Abbas has chosen to make Hamas his partner. Israel holds the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas responsible for any attacks against Israel that emanate from Palestinian-controlled territory. When an attack takes place in Tel Aviv or in London or in New York, the question is not where the attack takes place. The question is where it originated. The kidnappers in this case set out from territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and the PA cannot absolve itself of its responsibility. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • U.S. Condemns Kidnapping of Three Israeli Teenagers
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following statement on Sunday: "The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home....Many indications point to Hamas' involvement. As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past."  (State Department)
  • Israel Searches for Kidnapped Teens - Barbara Opall-Rome
    Israel is beefing up forces in the West Bank in Operation "Return Our Sons," aimed at recovering three teens abducted while hitchhiking on June 12. IDF units were operating primarily in the area south of Hebron, where officials suspect Hamas operatives may be holding the captives. The operation marks the largest West Bank incursion since Israel's 2002 Defensive Shield campaign, Israeli sources say.
        An IDF officer noted that PA security forces were the first to locate and report a burned out vehicle near Hebron thought to transport the Israeli teens. "They're doing what they can for their own interests," a top Israeli officer said. (Defense News)
  • U.S., Iran Near Talks on Cooperation to Counter ISIS Insurgents in Iraq - Jay Solomon, Carol E. Lee and Ali A. Nabhan
    The Obama administration said it is preparing to open direct talks with Iran on how the two longtime foes can counter the radical Sunni ISIS insurgents in Iraq. U.S. officials said it is imperative for Washington to discuss the security situation in Iraq with Iran and other regional powers in a bid to better coordinate a response against ISIS. Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said on Saturday that his government was open to cooperating with the U.S. in Iraq.
        Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday, "Whatever dialogue may or may not be taking place [with Iran] would take place on the sideline or outside the mainstream of the nuclear talks" in Vienna. "We don't want that linked and mixed."   (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Islamic Terrorists Post Photos of Mass Execution of Captured Iraqi Soldiers - Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub
    Islamic militants from ISIS posted graphic photos showing their gunmen massacring scores of captured Iraqi soldiers. Iraqi military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed that 170 soldiers were shot to death by the militants after their capture. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Nearly All West Bank Hamas Leadership in Israeli Custody - Khaled Abu Toameh and Yaakov Lappin
    In response to the kidnapping of three Israeli teens, Israeli security forces have arrested nearly all Hamas leaders in the West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also PA Condemns Israel for Wide-Scale Arrest of Hamas and Islamic Jihad Members - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
  • Over 30,000 Pray for Kidnapped Teens at Western Wall in Jerusalem - Adiv Sterman and Marissa Newman
    Over 30,000 Israelis gathered at the Western Wall plaza on Sunday to pray for the safe release of three students who were kidnapped in the West Bank. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said, "We are proving to our enemies that the people of Israel live on, and we will never be broken. The entire nation came to the Western Wall tonight, as one person with one heart, united in prayer for the safety of the hostages."  (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas to Palestinians: Erase Your Security Camera Footage - Daniel Siryoti
    The Palestinian Authority security forces and Israel Defense Forces are coordinating their efforts in the search for the three kidnapped Israeli teens in Hebron, a senior Palestinian security official said. Conversely, Hamas has called on all Palestinians with security cameras to erase all their footage in order to make gathering evidence more difficult.
        Some residents in Gaza and Hebron celebrated the kidnapping, with vendors handing out sweets and coffee to passers-by and some dancing and singing in the streets. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF Comes Under Fire in Drive-By Shooting Attack in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
    A Palestinian gunman in a vehicle fired on an IDF position near the Tunnel Road checkpoint near Bethlehem on Sunday night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iron Dome Intercepts Rockets Launched toward Ashkelon - Matan Tzuri
    Palestinian terrorists launched four rockets toward the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Sunday night. An IDF Iron Dome missile defense battery intercepted two of the rockets; the other two hit open areas. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Air Force Attacks Targets in Gaza in Response to Rocket Fire - Jack Khoury
    The Israel Defense Forces bombed terrorist headquarters and weapons storehouses overnight Saturday in Gaza in response to rocket fire at Israel. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Getting Fooled by Iran in Iraq - Max Boot
    The State Department spokesman claims that the U.S. and Iran have a "shared interest" in pushing back against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Is it really necessary to point out that letting Iranian forces dominate Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq is a win for Iran - not for the U.S.? It's true that Iran doesn't want to see ISIS or the Nusra Front, another al-Qaeda-affiliated group, dominate Iraq or Syria. But that's because it would like to see those states dominated by its own proxies who are every bit as bad.
        The increasing Iranian prominence will only drive Sunnis, who constitute the region's vast majority, into greater militancy. Do you honestly think Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE will stand by and watch Iran and its stalking horses take control of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon? Not a chance. They will amp up their aid to ISIS and other Sunni extremist groups. The writer is a Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. (Commentary)
  • Don't Blame the Victim - Sherri Mandell
    Some blame the victim: the boys should not have been living there, they should not have been hitchhiking, they should not have been out at night. The truth is, we see that violence against Jews can happen anywhere: Kansas City, Brussels or Toulouse.
        These boys are not to blame. It is the obligation of all good people to stand up right now and say that these boys are innocent victims of Palestinian hatred. The writer is co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation, which supports bereaved families in Israel, established after the murder of her 13-year-old son, Koby. (Jerusalem Post)

Lessons of the Iraqi Chaos - Uzi Dayan (Israel Hayom)

  • The chaos unfolding in Iraq, highlighting the regional uncertainty in today's Middle East, calls for exercising two rules: first, be prepared to counter the enemy's capabilities, not his intentions; and second, vigilantly protect your strategic assets, especially your defensible borders.
  • Defensible borders must afford Israel basic strategic depth and protection against the threat of conventional warfare, as well as the ability to fight terror.
  • In the southern sector, largely thanks to the demilitarization of Sinai, and in the northern sector, thanks to Israel's adamant refusal to cede the Golan Heights, Israel has defensible borders.
  • The eastern sector, however, only has one border that meets Israel's security needs - the one along the Jordan Rift Valley.
  • The distance between the Jordan Rift Valley and the Mediterranean Sea is 64 km. (40 miles), making for only minimal strategic depth.
  • The valley between the Jordan River and the hills overlooking it from the west constitutes an irreplaceable defense theater against a potential eastern front. Only the valley can serve as a protective buffer against a potential terrorist entity in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan is a former IDF deputy chief of staff and former head of the National Security Council.

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