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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 22, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

UN May Replace Golan Peacekeepers with Drones - Noam Amir (Maariv)
    The UN is considering replacing its peacekeepers who fled the Golan Heights in recent months with drones, Lebanon's Al-Manar reported Tuesday.
    Damascus reportedly accepted the request, and Israel will inform the UN of its decision in the coming days.

A Worrisome Amount of Support in Jordan for the Islamic State - David Schenker (New Republic)
    According to a poll published last month by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, only 62% of Jordanians consider Islamic State - and a mere 31% the Syria-based al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra - to be terrorist organizations.
    Just 44% of Jordanians surveyed say that al-Qaeda is a terrorist group.
    The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Yemen's Houthis: "Damn the Jews, Victory to Islam" - Nasim al Sanani (Defense One)
    In September, the Houthis, a Zaidi Shia revivalist group, took over Sana'a, Yemen's capital.
    Nearly all of the dozens of Houthi military checkpoints in the city display their slogan printed in green and red: "Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory to Islam."
    Yet the Houthis have never attacked Western interests. In fact, in all the areas of Yemen the Houthis control, al-Qaeda is nowhere to be found.
    When al-Qaeda supporters and Houthi militias have gone head to head in provinces like Jawf and Mareb, the Houthis have come out on top.

Islamic State's Sway Spreads to Lebanon - Yaroslav Trofimov (Wall Street Journal)
    In Tripoli's Bab-el-Tabbaneh neighborhood in Lebanon, where an Islamist militia already holds sway and where Lebanese army checkpoints come under gunfire or grenade attack almost nightly, support for the Sunni radicals of Islamic State is clear.
    Giant murals of the militant group's black-and-white flags are painted on the sides of buildings off the main thoroughfare.
    Among Lebanon's Sunni community - 27% of the population - the violent movement is finding fertile ground.

Israel: Hamas Lets Its People Have Medical Treatment in Israel, But Not Other Gazans - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, on Monday accused Hamas of a double standard for allowing the daughter of the group's leader Ismail Haniyeh to receive medical treatment in Israel.
    "When there is a personal interest, Hamas has no problem in allowing patients to come into Israel," Mordechai told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an.
    He recalled that during the recent conflict Hamas leaders prevented injured Gazans from reaching the field hospital set up by Israel on the Gaza border.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Cooperated Secretly with Syrian Kurds in Battle Against Islamic State at Kobane - Adam Entous, Joe Parkinson and Julian E. Barnes
    After Islamic State made the Syrian city of Kobane a test of its ability to defy U.S. air power, Washington intervened more forcefully than it had initially intended to try to stem the group's momentum. Top U.S. officials concluded that Kobane had become too symbolically important to lose and they raced to save it.
        As the U.S. role rapidly evolved, U.S. and Syrian Kurdish commanders began to coordinate air and ground operations far more closely. A Syrian Kurdish general in a joint operations center in northern Iraq delivered daily battlefield intelligence reports to U.S. military planners, and helped spot targets for airstrikes on Islamic State positions.
        The Syrian Kurds are avowedly secular and pro-Western. They field female fighters and are committed to combating Islamic State. Kurdish officials say several Americans, including two ex-marines, and dozens of European volunteers, have enlisted to fight alongside the Kurds in Kobane. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UN Chief Says Moving Ahead with Gaza War Inquiry
    After his visit to Gaza in the wake of the recent conflict, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Tuesday: "I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israeli Defense Forces of...incidents in which UN facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed. I am planning to move forward with an independent Board of Inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on UN premises."  (United Nations)
        See also below Observations: Did Israel Avert a Hamas Massacre? - Adam Ciralsky (Vanity Fair)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ya'alon: Israel Worried about Iran Deal - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israel is concerned about the shape of an international agreement with Iran over its nuclear aspirations, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday after talks with his American counterpart Chuck Hagel in Washington. "The Iranian issue indeed worries us," said Ya'alon. "We've said all along that better no agreement than a bad agreement, and the question is what are they discussing at the moment, are they talking about how many centrifuges there will be and, if so, why should they have centrifuges at all?...Are they talking about other elements of the Iranian military nuclear project such as missiles ready for nuclear warheads?"  (Ynet News)
        See also Defense Minister Ya'alon Blasts Turkey, Erdogan as "Leaders of Muslim Brotherhood Axis" - Chemi Shalev
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday described Turkey as the leader, along with Qatar, of the Middle East's "Muslim Brotherhood Axis" and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as a "known follower" of the Islamist group. Ya'alon also told journalist Charlie Rose on PBS that Hamas had moved its operations from Syria to Turkey and had set up a "terror headquarters" in Istanbul alongside the one operating in Gaza.
        During a visit to Washington, Ya'alon made a point of thanking the U.S. for its support, especially for the Iron Dome anti-missile system. "Even if there are disagreements between the U.S. and Israel, they should not be allowed to cloud the deep friendship and warm, intimate ties between the two countries," he said.
        Ya'alon said that he once endorsed an agreement based on an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, until he realized that the Palestinians would never make do with such an accord. (Ha'aretz)
  • EU Seeks Talks with Israel over "Red Lines" in West Bank - Barak Ravid
    Discussions have been taking place at EU headquarters in Brussels between the ambassadors of the 28 members states over the European response to Israeli moves which an internal EU document describes as creating a "threat to the possibility of the two-state solution." The document defines several of the EU's "red lines" regarding Israeli actions in the West Bank: construction in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in Jerusalem, construction in the E1 area between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, further construction in the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem, plans to relocate 12,000 Bedouin in a new town in the Jordan Valley, and changing the status-quo at the Temple Mount. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • U.S. Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS, Aid NGOs Employ ISIS People - Jamie Dettmer
    Truckloads of U.S. and Western aid have been flowing into territory controlled by Islamic State jihadists. The aid, meant for displaced Syrian civilians, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the UN. The aid convoys have to pay off ISIS leaders in order to enter eastern Syrian extremist strongholds.
        "The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs," says an aid coordinator. The kickbacks are paid by NGOs tasked with distributing the aid, or by Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it. Moreover, aid coordinators say ISIS insists that the NGOs employ people ISIS approves on their staffs inside Syria. "There is always at least one ISIS person on the payroll; they force people on us," says an aid coordinator.
        "A few months ago we delivered a mobile clinic for a USAID-funded NGO," says one aid worker. "The clinic was earmarked for the treatment of civilians, but we all know that wounded ISIS fighters could easily be treated as well. So what are we doing here helping their fighters, who we are bombing, to be treated so they can fight again?"  (Daily Beast)
  • Klinghoffer: A Night at the Opera - Walter Russell Mead
    "The Death of Klinghoffer" is a 1991 opera based, loosely, on the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro, a cruise ship, by a group of Palestinian terrorists. During the hijacking the Palestinians murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair bound, 69-year-old Jewish American passenger.
        The real problem, and it is a serious one, involves the decision to use a family's tragedy for art without the permission of the family's members. Nothing gave the composers a moral right to profit from his death. (American Interest)
        See also An Injustice to our Father's Memory - Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer (JTA)
        See also "Death of Klinghoffer": Violence Porn at the Met Opera - Seth Lipsky
    The Jewish leadership in New York has for months been protesting plans to mount this production. The protest Monday, across the street from Lincoln Center, included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Reps. Peter King and Carolyn Maloney, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and former New York Governor David Paterson.
        At the end of the day, "The Death of Klinghoffer" is about watching a Jew get shot to death in the back of the head. Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer's brave daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, were right to denounce the Met's staging of the murder. It's an orgy of violence pornography at the expense of their father and the Jews.
        It is bizarre to sit in an opera house in the middle of the city with the world's second largest Jewish population and hear its performance greeted with a long ovation while the conductor and cast take their bows. (New York Sun)

Did Israel Avert a Hamas Massacre? - Adam Ciralsky (Vanity Fair)

  • Israeli intelligence officials agreed to share the backstory of how earlier this year they may have narrowly averted their nation's own 9/11. The plan of attack (as pieced together by defense and security professionals through electronic intercepts, informants, interrogations of Hamas operatives, as well as computers and satellite imagery obtained from Hamas compounds during the war) was chilling: a surprise assault in which scores of heavily armed Hamas insurgents were set to emerge from more than a dozen cross-border tunnels and proceed to kill as many Israelis as possible.
  • Hamas created a secret commando unit, called Nukhba, and trained its men to fight and maneuver through the tunnels on foot and on small motorcycles. According to an official in the Israel Security Agency, which has been interrogating Hamas members who were captured during the fighting, the Nukhba fighters "were an elite force...[trained] to execute strategic terrorist attacks....[They would be] heavily armed: RPGs, Kalashnikovs, M-16s, hand grenades, and night-vision equipment." To maximize the element of surprise, they would wear IDF uniforms.
  • A year ago, workers at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, which sits on the border with Gaza, heard digging underground and called in the IDF, which discovered a massive tunnel located 50 feet below the surface. It ran a mile and a half from the village of Abbasan Al-Saghira, in Gaza. IDF Captain Daniel explained, "They had a specific plan: 20 to 30 terrorists would emerge from the opening of the tunnel and attack the residents of Ein Hashlosha." After the tunnel's discovery, Israel halted the transfer of construction materials into Gaza. Last March, another tunnel was uncovered, penetrating three times farther into Israel.
  • "Hamas had a plan," says Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner, summarizing on the record what six senior intelligence officials would describe on background. "A simultaneous, coordinated, surprise attack within Israel. They planned to send 200 terrorists armed to the teeth toward civilian populations. This was going to be a coordinated attack. The concept of operations involved 14 offensive tunnels into Israel. With at least 10 men in each tunnel, they would infiltrate and inflict mass casualties."
  • As a senior military intelligence official explained, the anticipated attack was designed with two purposes: "First, get in and massacre people in a village. Pull off something they could show on television. Second, the ability to kidnap soldiers and civilians using the tunnels would give them a great bargaining chip."
  • On July 7, Israeli jets bombed a tunnel that began in Rafah, in Gaza, and exited near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, killing seven members of Hamas. Highly placed government sources say they feared these operatives were the first wave. "We expected the mass attack in July," a senior military intelligence official explains. The next day, all hell broke loose, with Hamas firing some 150 rockets. Over the next 10 days, Hamas would send some 1,500 more.
  • All told, Israeli military and intelligence sources say that they found and destroyed 32 tunnels within Gaza, 14 of which crossed into Israel, and believe that they managed to stave off a mass terror attack. Still, Hamas fighters used the underground network to emerge inside Israel and pull off several attacks that claimed the lives of 11 IDF soldiers.

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