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July 4, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Deport the Heads of Hamas - Avi Dichter (Israel Hayom)
    This past month has made it very clear what Hamas' strategy is: taking over the Palestinian Authority by entering into a unity government with PA President Abbas, while capturing Palestinian hearts that brim with joy the moment they hear about an attack by Hamas terrorists that left three Jewish youths dead.
    Attempts to describe an imaginary situation in which the political Hamas is separate from the military Hamas range from naive to pathetic.
    Israel must strike while the iron is still hot and implement the most effective leverage of deterrence: deportation. Deporting the Hamas terrorist infrastructure from the West Bank to Gaza is a move that will create truly significant deterrence.
    As someone who has seen this from up close for decades, I'm saying that a move like this will have tremendous efficacy against terrorists and potential terrorists.
    The writer is a former director of the Israel Security Agency and Minister of Internal Security.

Terrorists Working on "Creative" New Designs for Bombing Commercial Planes - Mike Levine and Pierre Thomas (AP-ABC News)
    A particularly extreme "subset" of terrorist groups in Syria are working alongside operatives from al-Qaeda's offshoot in Yemen to produce "creative" new designs for bombs that could be smuggled onto commercial planes, ABC News has learned.
    U.S. officials say that associates of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria - the Nusra Front - and radicals from other groups were teaming up with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which built such innovative devices as the "underwear bomb" that ultimately failed to detonate in a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
    U.S. analysts believe the terrorists in Syria could be looking to down a U.S.- or European-bound plane, with help from one of the thousands of Americans and other foreign fighters carrying U.S. and European passports who have joined the Nusra Front and other groups in the region.

    See also Al-Qaeda's Bomb-Maker in Chief - Ewen MacAskill (Guardian-UK)
    Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a Saudi chemist who became al-Qaeda's bomb-maker in chief, has for years been high on America's most-wanted list.
    Intelligence is now linking Asiri for the first time to the Nusra Front and ISIS.

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Hamas Leaders in Gaza Scramble to Avoid Israeli Attack - Adnan Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
    Hamas leaders in Gaza have virtually disappeared from sight, to thwart any Israeli attack against its leaders. Hamas also evacuated its security headquarters.

ISIS Takes Aim at India - (Hindustan Times-India)
    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State, has said that India was among many countries in the world where the rights of the Muslims were seized, and has urged all Muslims to fight for their rightful place and dignity.
    Baghdadi, in an audio recording released Tuesday, said that Muslims' rights were being violated in India, China, Palestine, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Sham (the Levant), the Philippines, Ahvaz, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.

PA: Australia Will Not Face Trade Sanctions over East Jerusalem Stance - Eliza Borrello (ABC-Australia)
    Palestinian diplomat Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia, said there will be no trade sanctions imposed on Australia, after Attorney-General George Brandis said the government did not recognize or accept the term "occupied" East Jerusalem.
    Prime Minister Tony Abbott also said: "The truth is they are disputed territories."

Arabs Tapping into Israeli Channels to Watch World Cup - Nasouh Nazzal (Gulf News-Dubai)
    Huge numbers of football fans from around the Arab world have installed the Amos Israeli satellite channel to watch the Fifa tournament matches on the Israeli free channel.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supplied a special Hebrew-Arabic sports dictionary for the Arab audience on his Facebook page so they can understand some of the sports expressions used by the Israeli commentators speaking in Hebrew.
    See also Hizbullah Watches Soccer Games Free on Israeli TV - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Crowned World's Top Cleantech Innovator - Niv Elis (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel is the country with the most potential to produce and commercialize entrepreneurial cleantech start-up companies, according to the 2014 Global Cleantech Innovation Index.
    The report, compiled by the Cleantech Group and World Wildlife Foundation, compiled data on 40 countries and found that Israel "generates the culture, education and 'chutzpah' necessary to breed innovation, plus it has the survival instinct."

Israel's Economic Impact on the U.S. - Sherwin Pomerantz (Baltimore Jewish Times)
    More than 200 Israeli-founded businesses located in Massachusetts booked over $6 billion of revenue and generated nearly $12 billion in economic benefit to the state, representing 2.9% of the state's GDP in 2012.
    These companies directly employed 6,600 people and supported more than 23,000 jobs.
    In Pennsylvania, one Israeli company, TEVA Pharmaceuticals, employs 2,400 people in 8 locations, generating 15,800 direct and indirect jobs, $1.2 billion in local income, $4.4 billion in economic output and $115 million in state and local taxes.
    Moreover, TEVA made $2.9 million in corporate charitable donations and in its advocacy and medical education programs in Pennsylvania in 2013 alone.

Cyprus Inaugurates Israeli-Built Water Desalination Plant (Cyprus Mail)
    Cyprus inaugurated its sixth desalination plant at Vassilikos on Monday, built by the Israeli company IDE Technologies.
    "The desalination plant inaugurated today, along with units already operating and those already upgraded, guarantee that Cyprus will not face the problem of drought again," said President Nicos Anastasiades.

British Pathe' Newsreel Archive on YouTube - Graham Lawson (Times of Israel)
    The British Pathe' newsreel company recently announced it is uploading its entire archive, some 85,000 short film clips and newsreels spanning 1896-1976, onto YouTube.
    Among the footage are several hundred film-clips and newsreels shot in British Mandate Palestine.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Wants Sharp Reduction of Iran's Enrichment Capacity
    Iran must drastically reduce its capacity to enrich uranium if it wants to reach a nuclear deal that would lead to a gradual lifting of international sanctions, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. Speaking about the number of centrifuges Iran operates to process uranium for use as nuclear fuel, an acceptable deal will require Tehran to maintain "a fraction of what they currently have," the official said. "We are putting down very reasonable positions," the official added. (Reuters)
        See also Background Briefing on the P5+1-Iran Discussions (U.S. State Department)
        See also Iran Eases Demands in Nuclear Talks - Louis Charbonneau and Parisa Hafezi
    Iran has reduced demands for the size of its future nuclear enrichment program in talks with world powers although Western governments are urging Tehran to compromise further, Western diplomats said on Thursday. "Iran has reduced the number of centrifuges it wants but the number is still unacceptably high," said a Western diplomat.
        On Wednesday, a senior Iranian official said Tehran demands to maintain 50,000 operational centrifuges. Western diplomats said that behind closed doors Iran had signaled it would settle for a lower figure, but declined to specify the number. Iran now has over 19,000 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are running. The powers want that number cut to the low thousands. (Reuters)
  • Iraqi Kurds Take Step toward Independence - Abigail Hauslohner and Loveday Morris
    Massoud Barzani, president of the largely autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, called Thursday for a referendum on the region's independence, telling the Kurdish parliament to prepare for such a vote. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Builds Trade Gateway to Arab World - Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen
    A Turkish freighter carries 37 trucks to the Israeli port of Haifa, bringing goods from Europe to customers in Jordan and beyond. According to numerous international businessmen, goods continue from Jordan into Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
        Until three years ago these trucks would have come through Syria, but the civil war has made that journey too perilous. The number of trucks crossing between Israel and Jordan has jumped some 300% since 2011, to 10,589 a year. Transit containers shipped to Israel from Turkey for passage on to other countries increased to 77,337 tons in 2013 from 17,882 tons in 2010.
        "Israel is returning to its historic role, as a transit country, as a bridge between continents, where historic trade routes passed through," said Yael Ravia-Zadok, head of the Middle Eastern Economic Affairs Bureau in Israel's Foreign Ministry. Israel has "not even begun to scratch at the potential."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire 45 Rockets at Israel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired 45 rockets at Israel in a 24-hour period, officials said Thursday. Israel sent messages to Hamas warning that if the attacks did not stop, the IDF will severely hit Hamas and launch a significant operation in Gaza. A government source said, "It's still unclear whether the messages passed on to Hamas have been received and understood."
        Since June 12, Palestinians in Gaza have fired 81 rockets at Israel, 13 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Hits Gaza Targets in Response to Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun and Matan Tzuri
    The Israel Air Force on Thursday attacked a number of targets in Gaza in response to the ongoing rocket fire at Israel. A security official said Israel believes Hamas is behind the rocket fire, and that Israel has begun to move forces closer to Gaza to prepare for a possible operation. (Ynet News)
  • Rocket Fire from Gaza Strikes Day Care Center - Yaakov Lappin
    Rocket fire on Thursday damaged vehicles and homes in Sderot, including a building used as a daycare center. The infants and their caretaker were in a fortified shelter-room at the time of the attack and escaped injury. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Sderot Family: It's a Miracle that We Were Saved - Tovah Lazaroff
    Tami Jorno was busy cooking breakfast for her two small children at 8:30 on Thursday morning, when a siren rang out, warning of an incoming rocket attack from Gaza. It followed a night wracked by so many sirens that the Jorno family had slept in their safe room in the basement, rather than in their upstairs bedrooms.
        When the Code Red siren wailed once more, "we didn't waste a second," Tami said. Her son Uri, 4, and daughter Daniella, 5, raced to the safe room. They made it there just before a rocket tore into Tami's upstairs bedroom, two floors above.
        A short distance away Rachmiel Steinberg was busy cleaning up debris from the rocket that landed in his driveway. Almost all the windows in his house were damaged in the explosion. He was away from home at the time, but his wife, Ava, was in the kitchen when a warning siren rang out. She quickly entered a safe room. Her shock was so great when she emerged and understood how narrowly she escaped harm that hours later her body still trembled as she spoke. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Kidnappers of Three Israeli Teens Had Accomplices - Avi Issacharoff
    An entire terror infrastructure involving a not-insignificant group of Hamas members was needed for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha are the core of Hamas in the southern West Bank. But they did not act alone. They clearly had people to help them in preparing a hiding place, buying food, obtaining a car, and transporting from one place to another during the kidnapping operation.
        Someone maintained communications with the people who funded the attack. Someone helped them transfer the bodies to the Khirbat Arnab ruins area, and perhaps even helped to hide them. In short, there were at least 5-10 people involved, not including the outer circle of car thieves and weapons dealers, who aided them in carrying out the kidnapping. (Times of Israel)
  • After Murder of Palestinian Youth in Jerusalem, Israel Moves to Limit Expressions of Hatred
    Israel is treating the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir with the utmost seriousness. The possibility that this youth was killed as an act of revenge for the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, who were buried the day before (July 1), has placed Abu Khdeir's murder near the top of Israel's agenda.
        President Shimon Peres, President-elect Reuven Rivlin, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have condemned the murder and expressions of hatred. Israel has taken robust actions to solve the case as well as to ensure that any conditions which might have contributed to the crime are punished and not repeated. Israel rejects any expressions of hatred and is taking concrete steps to limit them. Seven IDF soldiers have been sentenced to military prison for posting hateful comments or calls for vengeance in social media. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Damage to Jerusalem's Light Rail by Arab Rioters Could Take Months to Repair - Nir Hasson
    Jerusalem's light rail is a symbol of the city's unification. The system serves all the city's residents and became a shared space for Jews and Palestinians. As a result of the heavy damage to the light rail system by Palestinian rioters on Wednesday - stations smashed and set on fire, long expanses of rubber along the tracks set alight, signal and lighting poles toppled, stones between the tracks pulled up, and electricity and communication boxes set on fire - it could take months of repairs before service is restored to the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, and to the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Behind the Rioting in Jerusalem - Pinhas Inbari
    The Arab rioting in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods on Wednesday indicates that the Palestinian Authority has little control over Palestinians in the city. The PA is not calling for riots but for calm. It seeks to recruit the Muslim world's tourist traffic to Jerusalem in order to emphasize the non-Jewish character of the city.
        Because Hamas wants to inflame the city, it opposes Muslim tourism, as does the global Muslim Brotherhood movement. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Save Arab Bank from Sanctions - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to save the Jordan-based Arab Bank from a lower-court decision to send to trial a terror finance case brought by the families of terror victims. The case involves allegations that Arab Bank facilitated massive transfers of funds to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of suicide bombers and imprisoned Hamas members between 1998-2004.
        The plaintiffs allege that the bank knew the funds were related to terror groups and thus is civilly liable for wrongful death damages resulting from terror attacks perpetrated using those funds. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Kidnapping and Murder of Three Israeli Teens

  • After the Horror - Herb Keinon
    In the wake of the discovery of the bodies of the three teenagers, part of the world, in its obtuseness, has warned us against a "disproportionate" reaction, as if there is a proportionate reaction to three boys murdered for no other reason than they were Jews.
        This type of brutality leaves a mark on the national psyche - not only the brutality of the act itself, but also the glee in which so many on the other side greeted the news of the kidnappings, glee grotesquely paraded on Facebook in the form a three-finger salute.
        The support the kidnappers enjoyed among so many of their own people and the calls for more kidnappings of innocents reveal a hatred which serves as a reminder of where we live and what we have to deal with.
        Those abroad who fail to grasp why Israel is not more "forthcoming," not more willing to "make sacrifices for peace," or why it builds a security fence, or why it sets up roadblocks, do not understand the degree to which incidents like this leave their mark. To understand Israel, it is necessary to understand that incidents like this - kidnappings, rockets randomly fired into living rooms, bombs blowing up buses - sap any desire to "take risks for peace."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • There Is No "Cycle of Violence" - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood on their way home from school only because they were Israeli Jews. So it has been for some 100 years in this long war against Jewish national sovereignty and equality among the nations. Long before the 1967 war and the "occupation" provided an excuse for hate and murder, such acts of inhuman violence were common. In 1929, when the Jewish community of Hebron was massacred (ethnically cleansed in modern parlance), there was no cycle of violence - this was an entirely unilateral act.
        In November 1947, when all Arab leaders rejected the minimalist UN Partition Plan and launched a wave of mass terror against the Jewish community, there was no cycle. And the 1967 war was triggered by Nasser's renewed effort to destroy the Jewish state, and was not part of an action-reaction cycle.
        When diplomats repeat the "cycle" analogy, and issues calls "to both parties to exercise restraint," they are endorsing a dangerous fiction. When journalists invent an artificial balance and an equivalence between attacker and victim, this is fundamentally immoral. The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor. (Times of Israel)
  • The Civilian Volunteers Who Helped the IDF Find the Boys - Mitch Ginsburg
    By Saturday night, the trail of evidence, including the discovery of a sandal and eyeglasses that belonged to one of the boys, had narrowed the search. But in the end it was a group of civilians who found the three teens. The outdoorsmen included Hovav Landau, a former paratroop officer, who builds bike trails, and Yaron Rosenthal, director of the field school in Kfar Etzion where two of the boys went to high school. They drew up a search plan of their own, which was adopted by the Etzion brigade commander Col. Amit Yamin.
        On Monday morning, five civilians headed out, accompanied by 20 soldiers. In the afternoon, the group walked along the shoulder of a hill outside Halhul, looking for anything unnatural among the rocks and bushes. Two terraces down the slope, one of the outdoorsmen "saw some vegetation that did not look like it belonged," Landau said. "As soon as he started digging it was clear that there was something significant there."  (Times of Israel)
  • These Murders Reawaken Israel's Deepest Fears - Anshel Pfeffer
    Israel was founded and its military force built up so that no Jewish child should ever be captured and spirited away. That is Israel's core purpose. For 18 days, nearly every Israeli parent put him or herself in the place of those three mothers and three fathers. Nearly every Israeli child and teenager imagined being in that car racing away through the night.
        Israelis were deeply insulted by foreign media which downplayed the kidnapping, or described the teenagers as "three settlers." To Israelis, this was a national tragedy. (Guardian-UK)
  • Canada Mourns Loss of Three Israeli Teens, Calls for Justice
    Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement Monday: "Terror must never be allowed to stand in the face of any country or people that aspires to bring peace and prosperity to their citizens. Israel is a country that faces unimaginable threats from terrorist organizations, like Hamas, on a daily basis. Canada has, and will always condemn murderous terrorist attacks like we've seen today."
        "We stand with all Israelis on this painful day, and we offer Canada's unwavering support as they mourn the loss of three young men who were taken from their families and friends far too early."  (Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada)

  • ISIS

  • The Caliphate Fantasy - Khaled Diab
    The Islamic State has proclaimed the restoration of the caliphate. But the problem with this new caliphate is that it is ahistorical. The Abbasid caliphate, for example, which ruled from 750 to 1258, was centuries ahead of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's backward-looking cohorts. Abbasid society thrived on multiculturalism, science, innovation, learning and culture - in sharp contrast to ISIS' violent puritanism.
        Even the early caliphates of Muhammad and his first "successors" bear little resemblance to jihadist mythology. Muhammad composed a strikingly secular document in the Constitution of Medina. It stipulated that Muslims, Jews, Christians and even pagans had equal political and cultural rights - a far cry from ISIS' punitive attitude toward even fellow Sunnis who do not practice its brand of Islam. (New York Times)
  • ISIS Poses Threat Beyond Iraq - Dennis Ross
    In the Middle East today, the Arab Awakening is now a distant memory, and the hopes for democracy have been replaced by the black flags of al-Qaeda. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has now declared itself just the Islamic State, and proclaimed its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, "caliph" over all Muslims. If al-Qaeda, from its sanctuary in Afghanistan, could produce 9/11, imagine the threats ISIS can pose from the much larger area in Iraq and Syria.
        But while the Saudis, Turks, Emiratis and Jordanians are worried about ISIS, they will not be responsive to American pleas for help if they think it will lead to the dominance of Iran and its Shiite militias over Sunni populations. The writer is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and was a senior Middle East adviser to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. (USA Today)
  • Iraq and Iran: A Plague on Both Their Houses - Zalman Shoval
    ISIS, though similar in its Islamist ideology and outlook to other jihadist organizations around the Muslim world, is different in one important respect: its aim is not merely to supplant the regimes in various countries, but to erase national borders altogether and create a radical Sunni caliphate in their place, first in Syria and Iraq, then in the rest of the Middle East - and later in North Africa and parts of Europe.
        Israel cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the turmoil in Iraq and elsewhere - not only because of ISIS' ideological expansionist designs on itself, but, more concretely, because Israel's own optimal "strategic depth" is the eastern border of its Jordanian neighbor. It is in this context that one must also regard Prime Minister Netanyahu's announced plan for constructing a security fence all along the Jordan Valley.
        Astoundingly, there are those who favor cooperating with Iran in order to bolster the disintegrating military forces of Baghdad's Shi'ite rulers. Any warming of the U.S.-Iranian relationship will grant the Ayatollah regime greater scope for its nefarious activities in the region, as well as against its own people, just as it would strengthen its hand in the nuclear talks and open the door to a permanent Iranian military presence in Iraq. The threat posed by ISIS must, indeed, be stopped, but none of this justifies a counterproductive and immoral decision to join forces with Iran. The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • Do the Presbyterians Expect Jews to Be the World's Only Christians? - Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen
    On June 20, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to divest its financial holdings in three American companies which do business in Israel because they "profit from non-peaceful pursuits." But if profiting from non-peaceful pursuits is legitimate in some countries, but not in others, then we may conclude that the PCUSA maintains that some countries are justified in having security infrastructures and some are not.
        The church did not vote to divest from any other country. Therefore, we can conclude that the only country which is not justified in having a security and defense infrastructure is Israel. In other words, Jews are expected to be the world's only good Christians and to turn the other cheek. (Huffington Post)
  • How Dare Israel Defend Itself. We Only Like Them When They're Victims - Ian O'Doherty
    There is a world of difference between the only democracy in a region that is rapidly reverting to open savagery and a terrorist organization that has the complete destruction of a neighboring country as the central plank of their constitution.
        The uncomfortable truth is that Israel is the front line of a war that was declared on Western values years ago. Israel must be the only country in the world that is expected to accept the execution of three of its citizens without doing everything within its power to eradicate those responsible. People need to stop siding with the fascist theocrats who look on the destruction of Israel as merely the first step in establishing a global caliphate. (Independent-Ireland)

  • Weekend Features

  • An Underground Fortress of Healing - Qanta Ahmed
    Israel's Sammy Ofer Fortified Emergency Hospital at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa is the world's largest subterranean hospital. Rambam Medical Center is the largest and most experienced trauma receiving hospital in Israel. More victims of trauma survive when treated there than anywhere else in the nation. In peacetime the facility operates as a parking lot with a capacity of 1,340 cars. In wartime it becomes a 2,000-bed hospital. (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Clears Robotic Legs for Some Paralyzed People
    U.S. health regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind set of robotic leg braces that can help some disabled people walk again. The ReWalk system allows people paralyzed from the waist down to stand and walk with assistance from a caretaker. The device consists of leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints; a backpack holds the computer and rechargeable battery. The device was developed by the founder of Israel-based Argo Medical Technologies, who was paralyzed in a 1997 car crash. (AP)

Washington's Response to the West Bank Murders - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • It is a misconception that the murder of three Israeli teenagers is somehow unrelated to the new Fatah-Hamas "unity" government established in early June.
  • Part of the agreement was that Hamas would be allowed to operate in the West Bank - the kidnapping is an indirect consequence of that provision. The newfound license for Hamas enshrined in the deal is almost certainly what made this latest plot so tragically "successful."
  • Of course, the formal agreement did not explicitly condone kidnapping or murder, but Hamas officially interpreted it as an opening for militant activities of all kinds. The group's West Bank sympathizers were newly encouraged to provide local cover, and mid-level PA security officials suddenly became uncertain about where to draw the line in preempting or thwarting Hamas operations.
  • Similarly, Abbas has proclaimed that his new government would remain bound by the commitment to nonviolence against Israel. Yet rockets keep raining on Israel from Gaza, and the PA - which is now officially responsible for Gaza under the terms of the unity deal - has not done or even said anything to stop them.
  • Washington would be on very firm ground in insisting that, as a condition for continued U.S. aid and support, the PA must either act unambiguously to end Hamas violence or dissolve its partnership with that U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

    The writer is a Fellow at The Washington Institute.
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