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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
June 24, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Missile that Killed Israeli on Golan Heights Was Fired from Syrian Army Position - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    A senior Israeli defense official said the IDF was certain the missile that killed one Israeli and wounded three on Sunday near the border fence on the Golan Heights was fired from a Syrian army position by soldiers of Syria's 90th brigade.
    An advanced Kornet anti-tank missile struck the security barrier along the border and shrapnel and metal fragments from the fence hit the Israelis.
    See also IDF Retaliatory Strike for Missile Attack Killed Three Syrian Soldiers - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)

At Palestinian University Graduation Ceremony, Students Celebrate Kidnapping of Israelis (Israel Defense Forces)
    During a graduation ceremony last Monday at An-Najah University in the West Bank, thousands of attendees waved green Hamas flags. Dozens posed for a picture, holding up three fingers to represent three Israeli teens kidnapped by Hamas.
    Massive banners at the ceremony paid tribute to terrorists including Ahmed Jabri, the former Hamas military chief who directed hundreds of terror attacks against Israel.
    In a second ceremony at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, engineering graduates marched with signs reading "the Engineering Brigade of Al-Qassam," a reference to the Hamas military wing.

Can ISIS Make Real Gains in Lebanon? - Ana Maria Luca (NOW-Lebanon)
    Fears are growing that the Sunni-Shiite sectarian struggle might catch fire in Lebanon too.
    A security source in the Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp said jihadist factions have been mobilizing in several areas of Lebanon, including Palestinian refugee camps.
    "The fanatic groups will try to take control over a big geographical area in [the] Akkar [district in northern Lebanon] and the Palestinian camps," he said.
    "I have information from Akkar about ISIS and [Jabhat al-]Nusra training camps. They're trying to move toward Tripoli and from there their plan is to get closer to Beirut. There are also sleeper cells in different Lebanese regions, such as Beirut, the Beqaa Valley, and north Lebanon."

Beit Guvrin National Park Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site (AP-Washington Post)
    UNESCO added the caves of Beit Guvrin-Maresha to its list of World Heritage sites during its annual meeting in Qatar on Sunday.
    The network of over 2,000-year-old, man-made caves is the eighth such site in Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Prevents UN Condemnation of Israel over West Bank Deaths - Edith M. Lederer
    The UN Security Council failed Friday to agree on a statement that would have deplored the deaths of Palestinians in Israeli operations following the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the stronger language Jordan proposed went beyond the U.S. "strict red lines."  (AP)
        See also Hamas Chief Lauds Abductors of Israeli Teens - Jack Khoury
    Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal told Al-Jazeera on Monday that he cannot confirm or deny the kidnapping of the three Israelis, but "in any case, I congratulate the abductors." Earlier Monday, a senior officer in the Judea and Samaria Division said that Israel's security apparatus is absolutely certain Hamas carried out the kidnapping. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Bedouin Trackers Hunting for Clues to Kidnapped Boys - Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)
  • Last of Syria's Known Chemical Arms Are Shipped Abroad for Destruction - Nick Cumming-Bruce and Rick Gladstone
    Syria exported the last of its known supplies of chemical weapons components on Monday for destruction overseas, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced. But the organization said that verification work was not complete and reminded the Syrian authorities that they have not yet destroyed - as required - a dozen facilities used for making and mixing the munitions. A separate inquiry into the use of chlorine gas bombs is also pending. (New York Times)
  • Iraqi Military Facing "Psychological Collapse" after Losses, Desertions - Loveday Morris and Karen DeYoung
    The Iraqi army is lacking in equipment, shaken by tens of thousands of desertions, and reeling from what one U.S. official described as "psychological collapse." The crisis in the armed forces is a result of corruption, poor leadership and intelligence, and severe inattention to training, said a former U.S. adviser to the Iraqi armed forces. Those problems have turned what was a functioning military when U.S. troops withdrew in 2011 into an "empty shell that is resorting to a call to arms of men and boys off the street," he said. (Washington Post)
        See also Iraq's House of Cards - Robin Wright
    The momentum, both in Iraq and abroad, is increasingly against Prime Minister Maliki remaining in office. Iraqis tell me that even among Shiite politicians and clerics the new political cry is "A.B.M." - "Anybody but Maliki." Maliki, for his part, is digging in. (New Yorker)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Released in Shalit Swap Charged in Murder of Israeli Police Officer - Gili Cohen and Barak Ravid
    Two Palestinian Hamas operatives arrested last month were charged Monday with the murder of Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi, who was killed on April 14 when a gunman fired on his car. The gunman, Ziad Awadh, 42, was one of the prisoners released in October 2011 as part of the deal that secured the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity. His son, Az Adin Awadh, 18, was the getaway driver. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Indicts Hamas Terrorist for Passover Murder (Israel Defense Forces)
  • IDF: Palestinians Understand We're Against Hamas, Not Them - Yoav Zitun
    A senior IDF officer said Monday, "The Palestinian public understands that the kidnapping was an aberration and our response was predictable. They know that we are not working against them but rather against Hamas. The Palestinian public understands that a red line has been crossed" and that "we are well within the boundaries of legitimate action."  (Ynet News)
  • Armed Gazan Terrorist Caught after Infiltrating into Israel - Yoav Zitun and Ilana Curiel
    A Palestinian terrorist armed with a hand grenade was arrested on Sunday after infiltrating into Israel from Gaza. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • ISIS: A Risk Assessment - Yoram Schweitzer
    The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is indeed part of the global jihad movement, which seeks to establish a Taliban-style caliphate under Islamic law in the Levant region. However, ISIS victories in Iraq result more from Prime Minister al-Maliki's lack of public legitimacy and the weakness of the Iraqi army, than from its military power and talent. ISIS has succeeded in hanging its flags primarily in areas that evinced a lack of interest and resistance by the local populace, which sometimes even assisted the group because of their repudiation of al-Maliki.
        The arrogance displayed by ISIS and the media circus surrounding it far exceed what is warranted by its size. In practice, ISIS lacks the ability to fully control and manage the regions it has conquered in Iraq, and even more to force the residents of these areas to accept fundamentalist Islamic law.
        The main danger comes from the enormous economic capital ISIS accumulated in Iraq when it took over the banks in areas abandoned by the Iraqi army. The group will likely exploit these resources to expand its operations in other arenas, including Israel. The writer, a veteran of the Israeli intelligence community, is head of the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Israel Cannot Ignore the Iranian Threat - Michael J. Totten interviews Lee Smith
    I think we have to take Iranian threats against Israel seriously and we have to take the concerns of America's Gulf Arab allies seriously. The Arab and Israeli concerns are both to an extent existential. When Iran threatens to blow up Israel, it's a threat that Israeli officials cannot afford to ignore.
        And we can't ignore that the Saudis might want to counter an Iranian nuclear weapon with their own nuclear weapon, perhaps purchased from Pakistan. What's the Persian Gulf going to look like if it's bristling with nuclear weapons? The real problem is that an Iranian nuclear weapon would give Iran the ability to destabilize the Middle East whenever it wants. Look at what Iran is doing around the region.
        If you're Israeli your concern is that these guys could put a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile and fire it at Tel Aviv, but there's more. The Iranians are not only on Israel's border through Hizbullah in Lebanon. They're on Israel's border in Syria as well. Further, the Israeli Hizbullah specialist Shimon Shapira has a new paper out explaining how Iran is building a replica of Hizbullah on the Syrian border, on the Golan Heights. Lee Smith is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (World Affairs)
  • Divest from Palestinians Instead - Nolan Finley
    Last week at its convention in Detroit, a committee of the Presbyterian church voted to request a boycott of three American companies who supply material and technology to the Israeli Army. What is it they want Americans to divest from? A rare, functioning Middle East democracy that operates under the rule of law and treats all its citizens - men, women, Arab, Jew - with justice and respect. A nation enduring an average of nearly one rocket attack a day launched by Palestinian militants and their supporters; many of those rockets are targeted at schools and residential neighborhoods. A nation surrounded by neighbors who are pledged to its extermination.
        The Palestinians pioneered and perfected terrorism as a means of gaining political leverage. They've strapped bombs to their own young people and sent them forward to murder other young people. And for this they've been given a seat at the table. The Palestinians have taken the money the world has given them and used it to fund hate and violence. Maybe we should divest from them. (Detroit News)

Is Israel's Operation to Find Kidnapped Teens a War Crime? - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)

  • The Palestinian Authority and several human rights groups are claiming that the IDF operation in the West Bank to find the kidnapped Israeli teens amounts to collective punishment.
  • But according to Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and a professor of international law at Hebrew University, in searching for kidnapped civilians, apprehending members affiliated with the organization responsible for the kidnapping is legitimate, and the term "collective punishment" does not apply.
  • International law professor Eugene Kontorovich, who teaches at Northwestern and Hebrew University, said: "Rounding up suspects, or potential witnesses, is not punishment, but rather rudimentary investigative process....There is no evidence whatsoever that the Palestinians are being rounded up just to get back at Palestinians, without any regard to their having potentially useful information."
    See also What Israel Is Allowed to Do - Gerald M. Steinberg (Times of Israel)
  • It seems as if no matter what Israel does, no matter how justified and consistent with international legal norms, human rights groups will accuse Israel of acting illegally. Israel is in the midst of an extensive military operation in the West Bank to locate three kidnapped Israeli teenagers and to root out the terror infrastructure that facilitated this and other attacks against civilians.
  • These goals are entirely legal under international human rights conventions and UN Security Council Resolution 1373 that requires states to "prevent and suppress terrorist acts."
  • This week, 11 Israeli NGOs which receive massive amounts of funding from European government bodies accused Israel of "violation of basic rights and collective punishment." Unsurprisingly, many of these NGOs did not release statements condemning Hamas for kidnapping the Israeli teens, nor the blatant assault on decency and human rights inherent in such a depraved act.
  • By the NGOs' logic, Boston police committed collective punishment when they locked down surrounding areas in their search for the Marathon bombers.

    The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.

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