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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
September 10, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Military Searches for Hizbullah Tunnels along Border with Lebanon - Jack Moore (International Business Times-UK)
    The Israeli military is conducting a search for tunnels dug by Hizbullah into Israel, an Israeli military source told Israel's Channel 2 TV.
    An Israeli citizen in one of the border towns near Lebanon said he regularly spotted cement mixers operating "surreptitiously" on the Lebanese side of the border.
    The operation to find Hizbullah tunnels began before the recent conflict with Hamas which destroyed 32 tunnels into Israel from Gaza.

Blast Decimates Leadership of Syrian Rebel Group (AFP)
    "Twenty-eight heads of the Ahrar al-Sham group were killed in an explosion that targeted a Idlib province," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said Tuesday.
    Some 50 military and religious leaders were attending a meeting in a house in Ram Hamdan, northeast of Idlib city.
    Among those who died was Hassan Abbud, the leader of Ahrar al-Sham, the main group in the Islamic Front.
    In recent months the Islamic Front has been locked in fighting with the Islamic State.

U.S. Fears Islamic State Attack on Jordan - Ken Dilanian (AP)
    The CIA has approached Robert Richer, former chief of the agency's Near East division, who has close ties to Jordan's King Abdullah II, about setting up a special task force to help Jordan deal with the threat from the Islamic State.
    Jordan is among the countries directly threatened by the Islamic State's recent surge, White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco said last week.
    The U.S. is providing Jordan about a $1 billion this year in economic and military aid, a sum that does not include classified intelligence funding through the CIA.

Palestinian: Donors Wary of Funding Hamas-Run Gaza - Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP)
    Deputy Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Mustafa said Tuesday that international donors are hesitant to fund the reconstruction of Gaza so long as Hamas remains in control there and the specter of future wars looms.
    Egypt announced it would host a donor conference for Gaza on Oct. 12, co-sponsored by Norway.

Hajj Pilgrims from Israel Now Able to Fly via Amman (Ma'an News-PA)
    For the first time, Muslims in Israel will be able to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage by air from Ben-Gurion Airport - via Amman, Jordan.
    In the past, pilgrims would have to travel to Amman for hours by bus via the Allenby Bridge, but that journey has now been reduced to a 20-minute plane ride.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama to Authorize Airstrikes on ISIS in Syria - Mark Landler and Jonathan Weisman
    President Obama is prepared to authorize airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. In a prime-time address on Wednesday evening, Mr. Obama is to explain to Americans his strategy for "degrading and ultimately destroying the terrorist group," the White House said in a statement. The White House has been galvanized by the beheadings of two American journalists by ISIS, which turned American public opinion in favor of military action against the militants, recent polls show. (New York Times)
        See also 61 Percent of Americans Support Military Action Against ISIS - Mark Murray
    61% of American voters believe that the U.S. taking military action against ISIS is in the national interest, versus 13% who don't, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. When asked last year about the U.S. taking action against Syria after its reported use of chemical weapons, only 21% said action was in the nation's interest, while 33% said it wasn't. (MSNBC)
  • U.S., Allies Step Up Efforts to Choke Off Islamic State's Funding - Jay Solomon
    The U.S. Treasury Department and Washington's allies are ramping up efforts to hit the Islamic State's finances, particularly focusing on steps to choke off its oil sales, its donations from the Persian Gulf and its extortion rackets. Officials said their strategy is highly dependent on the cooperation of Middle East allies, such as Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait, in preventing the flow of finances and fighters into the Islamic State's war machine.
        The primary source for the Islamic State's funds comes from its sale of oil and refined petroleum. The Islamic State sells oil and diesel fuel through a smuggling and sales network that included the Syrian government, local businessmen, and Turkish traders. (Wall Street Journal)
  • British Leader Says Boycott of Israeli Goods a Sign of Anti-Semitism - Rowena Mason
    British Conservative chief whip and former education secretary Michael Gove said Tuesday that protesters who are boycotting Israeli goods over Gaza need to be reminded that the Nazi campaign against Jewish goods ended with a campaign against Jewish lives. There has been a five-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the wake of Israel's latest conflict with Hamas.
        Arguing that the UK and Israel have a common cause, Gove said: "We know that the jihadist terrorists responsible for horrific violence across the Middle East are targeting not just Jews and Israelis but all of us in the West. They hate Israel, and they wish to wipe out the Jewish people's home, not because of what Israel does but because of what Israel is - free, democratic, liberal and Western. We need to remind ourselves that defending Israel's right to exist is defending our common humanity."  (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • House Panel Urged to Probe Turkish, Qatari Support of Hamas - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil
    Congress was urged on Tuesday to increase oversight into aid channeled to the Gaza's Hamas rulers. During a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing, Turkey and Qatar were among those singled out for their strong support for the Islamist Hamas. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) criticized Turkey for providing "financial, material and political support" for Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, noting that it "has been doing so for years, without repercussions." She also critiqued Qatar as also having "been known to be perhaps Hamas' largest financial patron."
        The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy's Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer warned: "Qatar appears to have filled much of the void left by Iran." He recommended that the U.S. pressure Qatar to cease funding Hamas, expel the Doha-based Hamas leadership including Khaled Mashaal, and freeze Hamas funds in Qatari banks, adding that if they fail to do so, the U.S. should designate Qatari institutions as channels for terror funding, and could even gesture toward removing the al-Udaid airbase from Qatari territory, as well as putting a hold on pending arms deals. Similar pressure, he suggested, could be applied to Turkey, including calling into question some $800 million in U.S.-based arms deals. (Times of Israel)
  • As Gaza Rebuilding Lags, Risk of Renewed War Grows - Amos Harel
    The task of rebuilding Gaza is going nowhere. The PA is claiming fantastic sums of money will be needed (cynics will say this is so it can steal half the amount). Building new houses for the thousands left homeless will take a long time, and at the current pace, many will be living in tents well into the winter. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Nothing Is Moving in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Two weeks have passed since the Israel-Hamas cease-fire took effect, and the reconstruction of Gaza has not even begun. Hamas salaries have not been paid. There are new restrictions on supplies of iron entering Gaza. The crossing points are functioning in the same limited fashion as they were before the conflict. The victory celebrations organized by Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza are proving to have been a bad joke. According to Palestinian sources in Gaza, the Hamas military wing has made clear to the political leadership that if nothing has changed by Sep. 25, its men will renew rocket fire at Israel. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Yale Chaplain Who Blamed Jews for Anti-Semitism Resigns - Yair Rosenberg
    Rev. Bruce Shipman, the Episcopal chaplain at Yale, has resigned in the wake of a New York Times letter he wrote suggesting Jews were collectively culpable for Israel's actions and for subsequent rises in global anti-Semitism. In his letter, written in response to Deborah Lipstadt's op-ed about rising European anti-Semitism, Shipman claimed that "the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel's patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
        Bard College's Walter Russell Mead responded: "No, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be a realization among cretins that 'the Jews' are a group of people with very different opinions and desires, that they do not act in concert, and that individual Yale students, for example, of Jewish descent who are American citizens have zero responsibility for any policies of the government of Israel."
        Tablet editor Mark Oppenheimer also questioned Shipman's moral calculus: "By your reasoning, why wouldn't one write - perhaps after a Muslim was beaten up by white-supremacist thugs - 'The best antidote to Islamophobia would be for radical Islam's patrons abroad to press ISIS and al-Qaeda to just cut it out?'" Hopefully, this episode will serve as a reminder that the "best antidote" to bigotry is always to fight the bigotry, not call on its victims to somehow attempt to appease their despisers. (Tablet)
  • Abbas Returns to the Rejectionist Bunker - Zalman Shoval
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas' demand that the future border between Israel and Palestine be the first issue on the agenda willfully ignores the fact that this matter, according to UN Resolution 242, must be derived from security arrangements put in place and not vice versa. This demand is a clear signal that Abbas wants to throw a wrench into any direct negotiations with Israel in favor of again turning to the UN and International Criminal Court at The Hague, which are already skewed against Israel. Any such movement toward these international institutions will allow Abbas to bypass seriously discussing the "core" issues which would require the Palestinians to compromise and make concessions.
        The U.S. is adhering to its clear and customary position on this matter: support of direct negotiations between the sides without preconditions, and opposition to unilateral diplomatic initiatives. (Israel Hayom)

Report: U.S.-Israeli Misunderstanding Led to Breakdown of Gaza Truce (Jerusalem Post)

  • A diplomatic miscommunication between Israel and the U.S. may have led to the breakdown of an Aug. 1 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas during the Gaza war, Israel Army Radio reported Tuesday. According to the report, the Americans mistakenly led Israel to believe that Hamas accepted an unconditional 72-hour cease-fire when in fact the Palestinian Islamist group never gave its consent to refrain from attacking Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza.
  • Ninety minutes into the cease-fire, two IDF infantrymen were killed by Hamas operatives in an ambush near Rafah as they were searching for underground tunnels. In the attack, Hamas terrorists ran off with the body of 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was later declared killed in action. In the subsequent chain of events, heavy artillery fire was reported in the Rafah area, resulting in dozens of Palestinian casualties.
  • Israeli officials confirmed that in retrospect Hamas never committed not to act against IDF troops in Gaza, even though Washington led the Israeli government to believe that Hamas did in fact promise to do just that.
  • "We demanded two things from the Americans," said a diplomatic source in Jerusalem. "We wanted a cease-fire, and we wanted complete freedom of operation against the tunnels, without the threat of coming under fire from Hamas....We demanded it in writing, that Hamas accepts these conditions."
  • Secretary of State Kerry broke the news of the three-day, unconditional truce. A UN spokesperson also confirmed that as part of the cease-fire, IDF troops would be permitted to remain in place, where they would have a free hand to ferret out more tunnels.

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