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October 10, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Airstrikes in Syria Didn't End Threat from Khorasan Terror Cell - Ken Dilanian (AP-Denver Post)
    U.S. airstrikes on Sep. 22 aimed at a Syrian terrorist cell killed just one or two key militants, according to American intelligence officials who say the group of veteran al-Qaeda fighters is still plotting attacks against U.S. and European targets.
    The strikes on a compound near Aleppo did not deal a crippling blow to the Khorasan group, officials said, because many important members had scattered.

Satellite Images Show Damage at Iranian Military Research Complex after Blast - Ronen Solomon (Israel Defense)
    A day after a mysterious explosion at the Iranian military compound in Parchin, "before and after" images taken by the French satellite Pleiades indicate that a complete section of bunker-shaped structures was eliminated.

EU to Ban Israeli Dairy Products from over the Pre-1967 Lines as of January - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    On Tuesday, Israel's Agriculture Ministry informed dairies across the country that the EU will no longer accept dairy exports from Israeli communities in the West Bank beginning in January.
    The European Commission no longer recognizes the authority of inspection agencies over the pre-1967 lines, and without such an inspection, dairy products from those areas cannot be sold in the EU.
    Ministry spokesman Amnon Lieberman said the dairy market is primarily a local one, and the primary dairy export to Europe is powdered milk.
    As of June, a similar ban was applied to poultry from over the pre-1967 lines and, beginning in February, fish will be included in the ban.

Islamic State Jihadists Are Using Water as a Weapon in Iraq - Erin Cunningham (Washington Post)
    Islamic State militants who have rampaged across northern Iraq are increasingly using water as a weapon, cutting off supplies to villages resisting their rule.
    U.S. forces are bombing the militants close to both the Mosul and Haditha dams on a near-daily basis as radical Islamists continue to menace both facilities.

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What Boycott? UK-Israel Trade Up 28 Percent - Sandy Rashty (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    At a time when anti-Israel campaigning has been at a peak, figures released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics show that bilateral trade between the UK and Israel is at a record high, increasing by 28% in the period January-August, compared with the same period last year.
    Exports from Israel to the UK have risen by 38%, while the value of UK exports to Israel has risen 14%.

Video: Hizbullah's Exploitation of Southern Lebanon's Civilian Population (Israel Defense Forces)
    Hizbullah is deeply rooted within the population, exploiting its infrastructure for terror activity and using its civilians as human shields.
    Hiding weapons in private homes is just one of the many ways Hizbullah exploits the people of Lebanon.

Microsoft to Buy Israeli Text Analysis Startup - Orr Hirschauge (Wall Street Journal)
    Microsoft Corp. has signed a letter of intent to buy Israel-based text analysis startup Equivio Ltd. in a deal that could be worth $200 million.
    Equivio develops text analysis software that can group together relevant texts from large amounts of documents.

Israeli Doctors Conduct Surgeries in Kyrgyzstan (AKIpress-Kyrgyzstan)
    In summer 2012, a team of doctors from Israel examined more than 200 patients and conducted 49 high-tech surgeries in Kyrgyzstan.
    During a current visit, Israeli doctors examined 150 ophthalmic patients and performed 33 surgeries at the Eye Microsurgery Department of Osh Interregional Hospital.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Islamic State Fighters Threatening to Overrun Iraq's Anbar Province - Erin Cunningham
    Islamic State militants are threatening to overrun Anbar province in western Iraq in what would be a major victory for the jihadists. A win for the Islamic State in Anbar would give the militants control of the Haditha Dam and several large army installations, potentially adding to their abundant stockpile of weapons. It would also allow them to establish a supply line from Syria almost to Baghdad and give them a valuable position from which to launch attacks on the Iraqi capital.
        "If the Islamic State controls Anbar, they would be able to threaten serious targets in Baghdad," said an Iraqi security expert, Saeed al-Jayashi. In the past four weeks, the Islamic State has come to control most of the territory from the Syrian border to Abu Ghraib in the western suburbs of Baghdad. Perhaps most alarming is the jihadists' advance on Ramadi, the provincial capital, 80 miles west of Baghdad. (Washington Post)
        See also ISIS on Verge of Seizing "Complete Control" in Anbar - Hamza Mustafa
    Iraq's Anbar province is on the verge of completely falling into the hands of the Islamic State unless urgent action is taken to address military failures, the Sunni Anbar Tribal Council warned on Wednesday. Anbar Tribal Council member Faris Ibrahim said, "The security situation in Anbar Province is going from bad to worse due to a lack of support, as well as the almost complete absence of security and military leadership."
        It was Anbar's police force that was protecting citizens from ISIS, he said, adding that, "Unfortunately, the [Iraqi] military has become a source of assistance for ISIS because for the most part ISIS is able to attack and defeat the military, taking control of their arms and equipment."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Islamic State Seizes 1/3 of Syrian Town Despite Air Strikes - Daren Butler and Oliver Holmes
    "ISIS controls more than a third of Kobani," Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Thursday as U.S.-led air strikes failed to halt their advance and Turkish forces looked on without intervening. Washington said U.S. forces launched nine air strikes on Thursday against Islamic State militants north and south of Kobani, striking some fighting units and destroying four buildings held by the group.
        Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Islamic State's advance on Kobani "is a tragedy because it represents the evil of ISIS, but it is not the definition either of the strategy or the full measure of what is happening with response to ISIS....We are only a few weeks into building the coalition. The primary goal of this effort has been to provide the space for Iraq to be able to get its government in place and to begin to push back and to begin to be able to deprive them (Islamic State militants) of their command and control, their supply centers and their training. That is taking place."  (Reuters)
  • Hagel: U.S. Wants Use of Turkey Base, Help Training
    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that the key military assistance the U.S. would like to get from Turkey would be access to the Turkish air base at Incirlik and an agreement to help train and equip moderate Syrian forces. Hagel said that while Ankara's persistent request for the U.S. to set up a safe zone along Turkey's border with Syria is not "actively being considered," American leaders are open to a discussion about it. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Turkey Wants to Oust Assad - Soner Cagaptay
    Turkey has signaled repeatedly that it is more strongly committed to ousting Assad than to defeating ISIS. Hence, before it will take concrete steps to roll back ISIS or help defend Kurdish-controlled areas, Ankara will expect a plan from Washington to weaken the Assad regime - namely, one that involves boosting support to the non-ISIS elements of the Syrian opposition. It will also expect the Syrian Kurds to commit to fighting the regime. The writer is director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Hamas Staged Gaza War Incident Involving Claim of Civilian Casualties - Amos Harel
    During the Gaza war, the Palestinians said 15 civilians had died during the IDF's shelling of a school. Brig. Gen. Nadav Padan, commander of the 162nd Division that fought in Gaza, says the building in fact was not hit, and that Hamas staged the incident with casualties from another area. "Hamas regularly used schools and UNRWA storage facilities. Squads of combatants emerged from these buildings, shot at our forces and went back inside," Padan says. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Unity Government Holds First Gaza Meeting in Seven Years - Elior Levy
    The ministers of the Palestinian unity government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, arrived in Gaza on Thursday to hold the government's first meeting in the Strip in seven years. Palestinian parties agreed last month that the unity government would assume immediate authority over Gaza before an international aid conference set for Oct. 12 in Cairo.
        By meeting in Gaza, the unity government hopes to reassure donors that it can lead reconstruction efforts and that funds pledged for Gaza will not reach Hamas, shunned by the West as a terror group. However, it remains unclear how much authority the unity government, which reports to Abbas, will have on the ground. (Ynet News)
  • Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians Advancing Trilateral Water Swapping - Sharon Udasin
    A major trilateral water understanding between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians is moving forward, Israeli sources said last week. A key component of the agreement is the development of an 80 million cubic meter desalination plant in Aqaba in Jordan, from which Israel would be able to buy 50-60% of the water. In return, Jordan would be able to buy an additional 50 million cu.m. of water from the Sea of Galilee annually, roughly double the current allocation, and Israel would allow the direct sale of an additional 20-30 million cu.m. of water from the Mekorot national water company to the Palestinian Authority.
        The understanding also calls for a 200-km. pipeline to carry residual salt brine from the desalination process to the Dead Sea, in order to boost its depleted water levels. Israel has already increased sales of water from the Sea of Galilee to Jordan by an additional 12 million cu.m. since December. Dr. Hakam Alami, water and sanitation adviser to Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal, said that while peace and water cooperation should ideally move forward simultaneously, he stressed how urgent the need to solve water scarcity issues in the region remains. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestinians Prepare for Showdown with Washington - Colum Lynch
    Palestinian officials are circulating a draft UN resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from all of the West Bank by November 2016 and proposing the establishment of an international protection force for the Palestinian people. Like many of the Palestinians' previous diplomatic bids, the latest initiative has virtually no chance of being adopted, according to UN diplomats. It's far from clear that the Palestinians can even garner the nine votes required for adoption of a resolution in the Security Council, where they face a near-certain U.S. veto.
        For the time being, the Palestinians have assured the U.S that they will hold off on circulating the resolution until after the U.S. elections, according to Western diplomats. The U.S. has long opposed Palestinian efforts to grant a role for the Security Council in managing the crisis. "We are aware of President Abbas' plan and we continue to believe, to strongly believe, that the only way to a negotiated solution is through negotiations between the two parties," said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. (Foreign Policy)
  • Widespread Skepticism over Gaza Reconstruction - Karin Laub
    More than five weeks after the Israel-Hamas war, tens of thousands of Gazans live in classrooms, storefronts and tents pitched next to the debris of their homes. Reconstruction efforts appear stymied by a continued Israeli-Egyptian border blockade of Gaza and an unresolved power struggle between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
        Abbas is to ask for $4 billion for Gaza at an international pledging conference in Cairo on Oct 12. Under a UN deal, Israel would gradually ease restrictions on building materials, while Abbas is to regain some control there and make sure cement and steel meant for reconstruction aren't diverted. However, Abbas told confidants as recently as last week that he doesn't trust Hamas and is nervous about returning to Gaza without full control over the territory.
        Skepticism about rebuilding efforts is widespread in Gaza. The recent 50-day war was the third in five years. Many homes destroyed in previous fighting still haven't been rebuilt. Israel is to speed up procedures and allow the private sector to import construction materials, but has linked such steps to strict monitoring by the UN and pro-Abbas forces. This would include spot checks on construction sites, with contractors losing contracts if they can't account for their material. (AP)
  • The Reason for Israel's Low Civilian Casualty Rate
    The reason that the number of Israeli civilian casualties was relatively low during the 50 days of the Gaza war is because the IDF is constantly investing in saving lives in every possible way. The IDF's most crucial life-saving systems include real-time alerts. "First of all people need to know that a rocket was fired at them, so they know to run for cover," explains Lt. Col. Itach Levi, commander of the Home Front's First Response Branch.
        Throughout the Gaza war, more than 750 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense System. The Iron Dome only intercepts rockets heading towards populated areas. Therefore, every intercepted rocket would have hit a civilian populated area, potentially causing severe damage and casualties. (Israel Defense Forces)

  • Weekend Features

  • U.S. Firm Raytheon Awarded $149 Million Contract for Iron Dome Interceptor Components
    Raytheon Company has received a contract from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. valued at $149.3 million to provide components for the Tamir interceptor used in Israel's anti-missile Iron Dome Weapon System. Raytheon will provide a second source of supply for essential Iron Dome components. Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, said, "The sourcing of Tamir interceptor components in the U.S. will go a long way to ensuring sufficient volumes of available Tamir missiles for Israel's defense."
        With more than 1,000 successful intercepts, Tamir is the only combat-proven counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar interceptor available for U.S. and coalition partners today. "We're very appreciative of the U.S.'s support for this life-saving system," said Didi Yaari, chief executive officer of Rafael. "Maintaining Iron Dome's supply gives Israelis great peace of mind."  (PRNewswire)
  • Israel Aims to Become a Cybersecurity Superpower - William Booth and Ruth Eglash
    At a conference earlier this month devoted to cybersecurity, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu described the Israeli military's cyber-units as locked in constant battle with "hacktivists" and state-sponsored actors, such as Iran, in daily duels. Israel has become the No. 2 exporter of cyber-products and services in the world, after the U.S. There are now 200 homegrown cybersecurity companies in Israel, alongside dozens of joint research-and-development ventures, producing $3 billion in exports last year. (Washington Post)
  • World's Biggest Thermal Imaging Firm to Build Development Center in Israel - David Shamah
    FLIR Systems, the world's largest maker and producer of thermal imaging cameras, components and imaging sensors, is opening an R&D facility in Israel. The facility will be set up and managed by Zemingo, an Israeli company that is a major player in the app industry, having created thousands of apps for hundreds of customers. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Library's Manuscripts Tell Unique Stories
    Many nations maintain official libraries of their countries' most prized historical manuscripts. Israel's is unique: It seeks manuscripts from every country in the world where Jews have ever lived. They include Kafka's Hebrew vocabulary notebook, the first written evidence of the Yiddish language, and the Crowns of Damascus - Bibles smuggled out of Syria 20 years ago in a Mossad spy operation. Now the National Library of Israel is pioneering a worldwide initiative to digitize every Hebrew manuscript in existence. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Photos: The Surprising Calm of Israel's Many Bomb Shelters - Jordan G. Teicher
    In Israel, bomb shelters are generally left unlocked, photographer Daniel Terna found. (Slate)

Remove Israel from the Map - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)

  • The Saudi MBC TV network was recently forced to apologize after viewers strongly condemned the network for using a map with the name Israel instead of Palestine. Israel appeared on MBC's map because of the participation of two Arab citizens of Israel in its popular Arab Idol contest, the most widely viewed show in the Arab world. It was the first time Arab Israelis participated in the show.
  • The uproar over the map is yet another reminder that many Arabs still have not come to terms with Israel's existence. This refusal is related to the narrative that has been prevalent in the Arab world since 1948 - a narrative that considers Israel an alien entity that was violently planted in the Middle East and needs to be removed.
  • Given the sentiments on the Arab street, how can anyone seriously expect that Arab leaders will be able to win the backing of their people for any initiative that talks about "establishing normal relations" with Israel? And how can anyone seriously expect that if Israel pulled back to the pre-1967 lines, the Arab world will consider the Israeli-Arab conflict over?
  • The protesters who forced MBC to remove Israel from its map were not demanding a two-state solution and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. They were protesting against Israel's existence; that is what really bothers them.
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