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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 15, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Concerned of Possible Hizbullah Invasion of Northern Israel - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Hizbullah may implement its plan to invade northern Israel if a third Lebanon war breaks out, according to the IDF Northern Command.
    There is growing concern that in the first few days of a war on the north, Hizbullah will deploy several companies of special forces to raid Israeli communities near the border.
    See also Hizbullah's Plan for War with Israel: Conquest of the Galilee - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Al-Qaeda's Syrian Cell Bigger Threat to U.S. than ISIS? - Ken Dilanian and Eileen Sullivan (AP)
    While the Islamic State is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria - a mix of jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe - poses a more imminent threat to the U.S., working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
    At the center is the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaeda fighters who linked up with the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front.
    The Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny.

Report: Qatar Paid $20 Million Ransom for Release of Fijian Peacekeepers - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Qatar paid militants from the Nusra Front in Syria a ransom of $20 million in return for the release of the 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

Prominent Muslim Brotherhood Figures to Leave Qatar - Mahmoud Mourad (Reuters)
    Qatar has asked seven senior figures from Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to leave the country, the movement said on Saturday.
    Ibrahim Munir, a senior Brotherhood official, said the departures did not mean a rupture in ties between Qatar and the Brotherhood.

Islamic State Destroys Sufi Shrines in Syria - Alexander Dziadosz (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
    Islamic State militants have destroyed several Sufi Muslim shrines and tombs in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday.

Survey: Israel Ranks as Fourth Most-Educated Country (Ha'aretz)
    Israel ranks behind Russia, Canada and Japan and ahead of the U.S., South Korea and the UK, according to the percentage of its adult population holding college degrees, a survey based on recent OECD data reported.
    The college-educated population in Russia was 53.5%, Canada 52.6%, Japan 46.6%, Israel 46.4%, U.S. 43.1%, South Korea 41.7%, Australia 41.3%, and the UK 41%.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • ISIS Beheads British Hostage David Haines - Phil Helsel
    The terrorist group ISIS released a video Saturday showing the execution of British aid worker David Haines, 44, the third such beheading. After the murder, another captive was shown and the executioner warns British Prime Minister David Cameron: "you...will have the blood of your people on your hands" if the UK continues to ally with the U.S. in its campaign against the group. (MSNBC)
        See also Cameron Vows to "Destroy ISIL and What It Stands For" - Christopher Werth
    British Prime Minister David Cameron responded Sunday to the killing of British aid worker David Haines, pledging to continue working within an international coalition to "hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice no matter how long it takes." "Step by step we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for," Cameron said. "They are not Muslims, they are monsters."  (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S.-Led Coalition Seeks to Exclude Iran from Fight Against Islamic State - Anne Gearan
    The question of Iran's participation has become a distraction for the Obama administration as it seeks to build a diverse international support base for a military and diplomatic campaign against Islamic State militants. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Iran should not attend a conference about the militant threat on Monday in Paris. "It would not be appropriate given the many other issues...with respect to their engagement in Syria and elsewhere," Kerry said.
        The U.S. is trying to exclude Iran for a simple reason: If Shiite Iran were present, Sunni Saudi Arabia would bolt, as would other Sunni states that provide crucial backing for U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. (Washington Post)
  • Struggling to Starve ISIS of Oil Revenue, U.S. Seeks Assistance from Turkey - Unsuccessfully - David E. Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis
    The Obama administration is struggling to cut off the millions of dollars in oil revenue that has made the Islamic State one of the wealthiest terror groups in history, but so far has been unable to persuade Turkey, where much of the oil is traded on the black market, to crack down on an extensive sales network. Western intelligence officials say they can track the ISIS oil shipments as they move across Iraq and into Turkey.
        Turkey's failure thus far to help choke off the oil trade symbolizes the magnitude of the challenges facing the U.S.  Administration officials say they believe Turkey could substantially disrupt the cash flow to ISIS if it tried. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Iran Behind Cyber Attacks on Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
    Iran is behind cyber attacks against Israel, including during this summer's Gaza conflict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. During the war Hamas, a terror group backed by Iran, fought Israel in cyber space by attempting to attack the country's Internet infrastructure, Netanyahu said. "There is an Iron Dome of cyber security that parallels the Iron Dome against the rockets. This allows us the operating space to continue fighting, to continue with daily life in Israel."
        He also noted: "ISIS [Islam State] and Hamas and al-Qaeda and al-Nusra and Boko Haram and Hizbullah, supported by Iran - they're branches of the same poisonous tree."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Leader of Islamic Movement in Israel: U.S.-Led Coalition Against Islamic State Is Evil - Jack Khoury
    Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, attacked the ten Arab countries that expressed support for the operation the U.S. is planning against the Islamic State, saying, "It is a coalition of evil."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Several Islamic Nations Quietly Trade with Israel - Jacob Atkins
    Malaysia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, is importing more and more Israeli products - but not talking about it much. Israeli exports to Malaysia reached $1.457 billion in 2013. Between January and July this year, Israeli exports to Malaysia soared to $884.7 million, a 27% jump over the same period last year. A significant chunk of the trade can be traced to Kiryat Gat in Israel, where global giant Intel has a plant churning out computer chips which it exports to an assembly plant in Malaysia. In addition, there is a heavy current of trade flowing beneath the surface.
        A raft of Israeli exporters and buyers in Malaysia and also neighboring Indonesia are braving the political headwinds in order to do business - largely through third countries such as Singapore. The estimated value of trade between Israel and Indonesia runs as high as $250 million. Indeed, hush-hush trade between Israel and hostile states has been going on for decades, through conduits such as Cyprus, Turkey and Jordan. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The United States Returns to Iraq - Oded Eran
    What happened in August 2014 that caused a change in American policy, beginning with airstrikes and followed by the mobilization of a broad coalition against ISIS? The two major events apparently responsible for this change are first, ISIS' conquest of territory close to Baghdad and to Mosul, the capital of a region rich in deposits of energy sources, and second, the removal of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from office, which now enables the U.S. to help Iraq build the National Guard. The writer served as Israel's ambassador to Jordan and the EU. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Former CIA Head Explains U.S.-Israel Differences on Iran - Ronen Bergman interviews Gen. Michael Hayden
    Hayden: "Israel and the United States absolutely have shared concerns, such as Iran, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. In my discussions with Israeli counterparts, we don't usually have any disagreement about the basic facts. Now, Israeli estimates and American estimates are sometimes different, especially when it comes to Iran."
        Bergman: You're talking about the time scale for their ability to produce a nuclear weapon?
        Hayden: "Yes. There may be eight data points between the beginning and the conclusion, and each data point has a range that allows us to estimate in various ways exactly where the Iranians are. We Americans might take the middle road on each data point, and at the end of it we'll say, 'they can have a weapon in 18 months.' The Israelis will look at the same information, and come up with a far shorter timeframe. You are a lot closer to the danger. I understand perfectly. If I were an Israeli intelligence officer, I wouldn't split the difference."  (Ynet News)
  • Questions for Hamas Leaders in Wake of Gaza War - Amira Hass
    Are you still insisting that the past war ended in a victory? You managed to confuse the strongest army in the region. Is that the victory? Israeli tourism suffered losses. The defense budget will increase. If that is the victory, was the price paid by Gaza and its inhabitants worthwhile?
        You preserve the right to choose the path of war (the armed struggle) for the Palestinians. But for every civic task that must be carried out you reply: That's the job of the reconciliation government [the PA]. Isn't that hypocritical? You said that the cease-fire agreement with Israel is a great achievement. What exactly does it include that makes it such an achievement?
        You claim that the path of negotiations has proven its futility. What do you propose to do instead of negotiations? The military path and the militarization that you have chosen since the 1990s is older than the years of negotiations. What has it accomplished? During the first decade of the millennium you greatly increased your militarization and began to improve your rockets. And still everything is worse than it was. So perhaps the conclusion is that your armed resistance has also proven its failure and futility? (Ha'aretz)

Israel Has to Be Prepared for the Next Gaza Confrontation - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Israel Hayom)

  • After Israel decided not to pay the price required to prevent Hamas from resuming manufacturing rockets and rebuilding terror tunnels, there was no way to break Hamas' will to fight or to prevent it from remaining in power. Therefore, having no illusions about the future, we must prepare for the next operation while simultaneously making every effort to push it as far into the future as possible.
  • The rules of the game will be decided by our response to the first instances of rocket fire. We must have a very clear policy under which Israel responds to every cease-fire violation with force and immediacy.
  • In the negotiations that will soon begin in Cairo, Israel will be pressured to allow the reconstruction of Gaza. Israel must develop a mechanism that will minimize, as much as possible, the use of materials for building terror tunnels and military command centers.
  • The true test is not whether Hamas will continue to rebuild its military might - in the absence of Israeli occupation that is the only possible scenario - the true test is the test of preserved calm. The longer the calm persists, the more of a success the operation will have been.

    The writer is a former national security adviser to the prime minister of Israel.

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