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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 4, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Pro-Islamic State Rally Held on Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Times of Israel)
    Footage from a recent Islamic State rally on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 TV on Wednesday.
    The gathering, attended by thousands, was organized by the Tahrir party, described as the Palestine branch of the Islamic State. Several black IS flags were visible.
    The reporter, Zvi Yehezkeli, said the Islamic State, "now knocking on Jordan's door, has marked 'Palestine' as the next target on its list."

Islamic State Executed Up to 770 Iraqi Troops in June (Washington Post)
    The Islamic State group killed 560 to 770 Iraqi soldiers it had captured when it overran the Camp Speicher military base north of Baghdad in June, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

Israeli Group Files War Crimes Claim Against Hamas (AP-Washington Post)
    The Israel-based Shurat HaDin Law Center filed a war crimes complaint against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday over the execution of dozens of Palestinians without trial during the Gaza war.
    According to the complaint, Mashaal "had knowledge of the executions, oversees Hamas' governance of Gaza, and actively encourages and supports the executions."
    "Mashaal is a Jordanian citizen and Jordan is a member of the ICC," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin. "The ICC is empowered to exercise its jurisdiction over all acts committed by the citizen of a member, wherever those acts are committed."

    See also Israel: None of Alleged Gaza Collaborators Were Israeli Agents - Aaron J. Klein and Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
    None of the Palestinians executed in Gaza on charges of collaboration during the Gaza war were Israeli assets, an Israeli intelligence officer said Wednesday.
    The Israel Security Agency confirmed that those executed had all been held in prison in Gaza and that none would have had any information that might have played a role in Israel's locating rocket launch sites or conducting targeted killings.
    The agency said that none of the Hamas military leaders attacked during the final stage of the war were targeted on the basis of human intelligence.
    Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, a former security chief in the West Bank, said Wednesday that "some of those who were executed were former officers with the PA's security apparatus."
    The intelligence source said that rivals are often killed and family feuds settled under the guise of purging society of Israeli spies.

The Islamic State Makes Millions from Stolen Antiquities - Cem Erciyes (Al-Monitor)
    The Islamic State (IS) has been generating significant revenues from the plunder of historical artifacts in Syria and Iraq. IS encourages digs at archaeological sites and takes a share from the sales.
    Millennia-old historical sites have been systematically looted. All artifacts pass through Turkey on their way to buyers across the world.
    IS considers destroying Shiite tombs and mosques as well as Christian churches a duty, so it has no scruples about razing immovable cultural heritage and selling what is movable.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama: "Degrade and Destroy" the Islamic State
    President Obama said Wednesday: Steven Sotloff "traveled across the Middle East, risking his life to tell the story of Muslim men and women demanding justice and dignity....Americans are repulsed by their [Islamic State] barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists."
        "Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it's no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States."  (White House)
  • Hamas Emerges Buoyant Despite Bloodshed and Devastation in Gaza - Jodi Rudoren
    Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in Gaza, worked the crowd in what used to be the Boura neighborhood of Beit Hanoun in Gaza. Hamas has already handed out more than $40 million in $2,000 payments to each family whose home was hit, according to Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas official based in Cairo who accompanied Haniyeh.
        Polls show an unprecedented spike in popular support for Hamas because of the war. Haniyeh thanked Sadiya Nasser, whose son and two grandsons were among slain Qassam brigades fighters, for her sacrifice. Ms. Nasser thanked him, saying, "We hope the next victory will be in Jerusalem."  (New York Times)
  • Here's What Really Happened in the Gaza War - According to the Israelis - William Booth
    A top Israeli intelligence officer sat with foreign journalists on Wednesday to discuss the 50-day Gaza war. He said most of the Palestinian rocket launchers were buried underground, fired by remote control from concealed locations. To date, the Israeli military has determined with "100 percent certainty" that Israeli forces killed 616 combatants and "terrorist operatives," and the count continues.
        There were 32 offensive tunnels dug with the intention of putting Hamas militants under the border fence. Fourteen of the tunnels reached the Israeli side. The Palestinians started the war with more than 10,000 rockets. The general estimated that they have 2,500 or 3,000 rockets left, as well as thousands of mortars. Of the 4,500 rockets fired by Hamas and allies, 875 fell inside Gaza, meaning Hamas dropped explosives on its own people. Hamas fired rockets from, and sometimes within, the courtyards of mosques, hospitals, cemeteries and schools - and he had the videotape from drones to prove it. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Provides Evidence of Rocket Fire from Gaza Schools - Luke Baker
    The IDF on Wednesday presented photographs indicating that Hamas militants stored and fired rockets from schools and graveyards. One set of photographs showed a school by day, its central yard empty. By night, rockets looked to be stockpiled in the yard. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Col. Kemp: Palestinian Civilian Casualties in Gaza War One-Fourth of World Average - Lahav Harkov
    Col. (res.) Richard Kemp, the former British commander in Afghanistan, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Wednesday that the ratio of civilian to military casualties in the Gaza war was only one-fourth of the average in warfare around the world. Kemp said there was approximately one civilian casualty for ever terrorist killed by the IDF, whereas the average in the world is four civilians for every combatant. "No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage. The U.S. and the UK are careful, but not as much as Israel."
        "During the whole operation Israel was very careful under all the limitations of international law. Even if there were exceptions...there was no intention to hurt civilians."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Signs $15 Billion Gas Deal with Jordan - Marissa Newman
    Israel signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan Wednesday, under which it will supply the Hashemite Kingdom with $15 billion worth of natural gas from its Leviathan energy field in the Mediterranean over 15 years. The gas field is expected to become operational in 2016.
        In February, Israel signed a deal with Jordan to supply $500 million worth of gas from the Tamar field. The Jordanians turned to Israel because their supply of natural gas from Egypt had been halted by repeated terrorist attacks on the gas pipeline. Israel has also signed energy deals with Egypt and the Palestinians. (Times of Israel)
  • Fourth Advanced German Submarine En Route to Israel
    Israel will add a fourth advanced Dolphin-class submarine to its naval fleet within the next few days, the commander of the Israel Navy said Tuesday. "After leaving Germany, the INS Tanin, the Navy and the State of Israel's fourth submarine, is making its way to Israel," Vice Admiral Ram Rothberg said. "It can dive deeper, go farther for a longer time and can operate at a level we have not seen until today."
        Israeli submarines conducted 54 special operations in 2013, including deployments to the Lebanese coast and other deployments lasting several weeks that took the submarines thousands of kilometers from Israel. Israel is to receive a fifth submarine, the INS Rahav, later in 2014. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Approves Major Housing Plan for Arab Neighborhood in Jerusalem - Nir Hasson
    The Jerusalem Planning Committee on Wednesday approved a plan for an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem that extends over 375 acres and calls for building 2,200 homes. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • ISIS May Pose a Growing Threat to Jordan - Erin Banco
    Reports surfaced this week that the militant Islamic State may have infiltrated Jordan through its eastern border. David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said militant Islamists continue to "challenge the kingdom's stability." Over the past several months, the Jordan Armed Forces have prevented "several" cross-border infiltration attempts by armed groups from Syria. The latest infiltration occurred on Aug. 24 when the Jordanian Armed Forces killed two militants. "The popularity of ISIS appears to have grown as well in light of the group's gains in Syria and Iraq," he said. According to Saudi media, Jordan has given some NATO members intelligence that describes a growing ISIS threat in the country. (International Business Times)
        See also Lebanon in Danger of Becoming the Next ISIS Victim - David Daoud
    In early August ISIS attacked Arsal, a Sunni-populated town along the Lebanon-Syria border. The commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), Gen. Jean Kahwaji, said that had the army lost Arsal, ISIS would have continued to the coast and declared its state. The clashes in Arsal will surely not be ISIS' last attempt to enter Lebanon. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also ISIS Aims to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Saudi Arabia - Alastair Crooke (Huffington Post)
  • A Strategy for Beating the Islamic State - Dennis Ross
    To defeat ISIL, Sunnis must turn against it. The Sunni tribes, who revolted against its earlier incarnation in Iraq in 2007, must do so again. The region's leading Sunni powers - the Saudis, Emiratis, Jordanians and Turks - must all play a role here. As is often the case, however, if the U.S. does not mobilize and coordinate a multinational response, one is unlikely to emerge, much less be coherent. Moreover, the readiness of others in the region to act - overtly and covertly - will depend on seeing what the U.S. is prepared to do. The writer served as special assistant to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. (Politico)

Israel and the Arab World: Alliances of Convenience in a Long War - Elliott Abrams (Mosaic)

  • 66 years after the founding of the state of Israel, and 47 years after Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza, the status quo has once again confirmed its (relative) merits. Israelis who spent this past summer dodging Hamas rockets and sending their sons to fight in Gaza must wonder why it is "critical" to implement Obama's solution to their problems rather than to defeat terrorism and more broadly the ceaseless Arab and Muslim assaults on the Jewish state. Why are these not the status quo that the whole world agrees is unsustainable?
  • Today Israel has both peace treaties and close and cooperative security arrangements with Egypt and Jordan. Several of the most important Arab regimes (Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia), as well as the PA in the West Bank, share with Israel a common view of the major dangers facing them. For each, as Jonathan Rynhold of the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University describes it, "the key threats come from Iran and from radical Sunni Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. They seek to maintain and promote a balance of power against these forces."
  • In the latest Israel-Hamas conflict, all of these states and the PA were clearly hoping for an Israeli victory and a real setback for Hamas. They are all fighting the same enemies - enemies who wish to overturn the regional order and establish either an Iranian hegemony or an Islamist caliphate. All this leaves Israel and many Arab heads of state eyeing each other as potential allies rather than as perpetual foes.
  • Netanyahu might not have a magical solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, but the "solutions" on offer are dead in the water. After this summer's war, there is little taste for taking chances with national security.
  • In 2005, when the PA still ruled all of Gaza, we drafted an "Agreement on Movement and Access," which provided detailed rules for how people and goods could pass into and out of Gaza. The lack of trust between the sides, combined with deliberate Hamas efforts to render implementation impossible, destroyed the agreement before the ink was dry. It's easy to say that, for instance, the cement now needed for reconstruction would be closely monitored for proper use and not diverted to building more Hamas tunnels. But who exactly would be the monitors, working inside Gaza and in the face of Hamas intimidation?
  • Netanyahu may actually have a strategy for the Palestinian conflict, as Jonathan Spyer argues in explaining why he resisted conquering Gaza. Netanyahu's caution derives from "his perception that what Israel calls 'wars' or 'operations' are really only episodes in a long war in which the country is engaged against those who seek its destruction....In such a conflict, what matters is...the ability to endure, conserve one's forces - military and societal - and to work away on wearing down the enemy's will."
  • "This view" is sensitive to "the essentially implacable nature of the core Arab and Muslim hostility to Israel. So it includes an inbuilt skepticism toward the possibility of historic reconciliation and final-status peace accords. At the same time, [it] does not rule out alliances of convenience with regional powers."

    The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration.

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