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October 27, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

ISIS Hostages Endured Torture before Beheadings - Rukmini Callimachi (New York Times)
    Journalist James Foley, who was captured in Syria, and his fellow hostages were routinely beaten and subjected to waterboarding. For months, they were starved and threatened with execution.
    Their struggle for survival, which is being told for the first time, was pieced together through interviews with five former hostages and locals who witnessed their treatment.

German Intelligence: Islamic State Has Anti-Aircraft Weapons (AFP-Defense News)
    Germany's BND federal intelligence service believes Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq possess shoulder-mounted rocket launchers (MANPADS) of Russian design captured from Syrian army stocks that could take down passenger jets, Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.

Second Fatality from Jerusalem Terror Attack - Noam Dvir (Ynet News)
    Karen Mosquera, 22, from Ecuador, who was critically wounded in the Jerusalem light rail terrorist attack last week, died on Sunday.

Egypt Postpones Talks on Gaza in Wake of Sinai Attack - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Egypt has postponed the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas in the wake of Friday's attack in Sinai, Hamas official Khalil Al-Haya said Sunday.
    The postponement of the talks means a continued delay in the flow of construction materials into Gaza.

India Picks Israel's Spike Anti-Tank Missile over U.S. Javelin - Nigam Prusty (Reuters)
    India will buy at least 8,000 Spike missiles and more than 300 launchers from Israel in a deal worth $525 million, a defense ministry source said on Saturday after a meeting of India's Defense Acquisition Council.
    Spike is a man-portable "fire and forget" anti-tank missile that locks on to targets before shooting, produced by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It beat out the rival U.S. Javelin weapons system.

Turkish Opposition MHP Asks for Normalization in Relations with Israel (Sunday's Zaman-Turkey)
    Tugrul Turkes, deputy chairman of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), called on the Turkish government on Friday to normalize strained relations with Israel.

Israeli Cultural Display Removed in Islamabad (News Tribe-Pakistan)
    A stall for promotion of Israeli culture was set up in a hall in the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, as part of a "UN Debate Contest" arranged by the Faculty of Management Sciences' Women Department at International Islamic University.
    When the stall came into the notice of the administration, it was closed immediately.
    See also Islamic University Dean, Student Adviser Suspended over Model UN Fiasco (Pakistan Today)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 31 Egyptian Soldiers Are Killed as Militants Attack in Sinai - David D. Kirkpatrick
    Two attacks on Egyptian military positions in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday killed at least 31 soldiers. At least 28 others were wounded. The target of the first attack was a heavily guarded army checkpoint near the town of Sheikh Zuwaid. A car bomb initially killed as many as 18 soldiers. Then, when soldiers rushed to the scene, armed men opened fired, killing at least 10 more. The second attack occurred three hours later in El Arish, where militants opened fire and killed three more soldiers. (New York Times)
        See also Egypt: Palestinian Militants Involved in Sinai Attacks - Mohamed Hassan Shaban
    Friday's attacks on Egyptian army posts in northern Sinai were carried out by Palestinian militants, a senior Interior Ministry official said Saturday. Maj. Gen. Sameeh Beshadi said there was "no doubt that Palestinian elements had taken part in the attacks....All the big terrorist operations which have taken place in North Sinai in the last few years involved well-trained Palestinian elements."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Egypt to Set Up Buffer Zone with Gaza
    Egypt is preparing to set up a buffer zone of between 1.5 and 3 km. with Gaza, Egypt's Al-Youm al-Sabaa daily reported Saturday. According to a report in the Egyptian Al-Ahram cited by Israel Radio, the perpetrators of the attack in Sinai on Friday that left over 30 Egyptian soldiers dead had infiltrated from Gaza. (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Kills Palestinian Throwing Firebomb at Israeli Motorists in West Bank - Ben Hartman
    A Palestinian who was throwing firebombs at Israeli motorists in the West Bank was shot and killed by IDF troops outside the village of Silwad on Friday, the IDF Spokesperson said. The IDF said the soldiers opened fire "in order to neutralize the threat to the lives of civilians driving on the highway."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also U.S. Expresses Condolences to Family of Slain Palestinian Firebomber
    Washington confirmed that a Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli troops was a U.S. citizen. Orwa Hammad, 17, was killed as he was about to hurl a petrol bomb at Israeli motorists. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. "expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a U.S. citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces."  (AFP)
  • Nigerian President in Jerusalem on Private Pilgrimage, Meets Netanyahu - Herb Keinon
    Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, whose country is rocked by the Islamic terrorism of Boko Haram and is a member of the UN Security Council, met Sunday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a private, two-day Christian pilgrimage to the country. (Jerusalem Post)
  • How Islamists Support Conflict on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
    Funds from Qatar and Islamic foundations are transferred to the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which pays thousands of shekels per month to hundreds of men and women, allegedly members of an innocent study group dedicated to learning Islamic scripture on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Any Jew who has visited the mount has encountered them. They are bands of agitators who bombard Jewish groups that ascend the mount with chants of "Allahu Akhbar" (God is great), yelling and cursing them.
        Al-Aqsa Mosque has become a haven for rioters and a warehouse for rocks, wooden beams, firebombs, metal rods, and fireworks - purchased with subsidies provided by Hamas and Fatah. Muslims shoot fireworks directly at policemen and Jewish visitors. The fireworks are smuggled into the Temple Mount compound by Muslim women, who conceal them under their clothes and are not inspected. (Israel Hayom)
        See also The Role of Hamas and Fatah in the Jerusalem Disturbances - Pinhas Inbari
    The deterioration of the security situation in Jerusalem is connected to the struggle between the moderate Sunni regimes and the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to make the Jerusalem issue a rallying cry. The Brotherhood's strategy hopes to unite all of the region's Islamic movements around the idea of the Muslim Caliphate with the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as its hub.
        The head of Hamas' Political Bureau, Khaled Mashal, published a special announcement calling "on our people to hasten immediately to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and on the Muslim nation to send a painful message of rage to the world." In Hamas' view, it is the Jerusalem issue that can place the Palestinians at the forefront of the revolution unfolding in the Arab world. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Will Israeli Territorial Concessions Bring Peace? - Lally Weymouth interviews Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
    Q: Secretary Kerry recently said the lack of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is leading to street anger and recruitment for the Islamic State.
        Ya'alon: Unfortunately, we find the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dominated by too many misconceptions. We don't find any linkage between the uprising in Tunisia, the revolution in Egypt, the sectarian conflict in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mainly, these come from the Sunni-Shia conflict, without any connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The core of the conflict is their reluctance to recognize our right to exist as a nation state of the Jewish people - whether it is Abu Mazen [Abbas] or his predecessor Arafat. There are many who believe that just having some territorial concessions will conclude it. But I don't think this is right.
    Q: Will territorial concessions bring peace?
        Ya'alon: No, they would be another stage of the Palestinian conflict, as we experienced in the Gaza Strip. We disengaged from the Gaza Strip to address their territorial grievances. They went on attacking us. The conflict is about the existence of the Jewish state and not about the creation of the Palestinian one. Any territory that was delivered to them after Oslo became a safe haven for terrorists. Bearing that in mind, to conclude that after the [recent] military operation in Gaza this is a time for another withdrawal from Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] is irrational. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Officials Refused Some Requests by Israeli Defense Minister for Meetings
    Still miffed over negative comments that Israel's defense minister made about Secretary of State John Kerry's Mideast peace efforts and nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Obama administration last week refused his requests to meet several top national security aides, U.S. officials said Friday. While Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon did see Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, the officials said the White House and State Department rejected Israeli proposals for meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Susan Rice and Kerry. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Gaza Functions as Logistic Hub for Sinai Jihadis - Zvi Mazel
    Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is at the forefront of jihadi groups determined to throw Egypt into chaos. The army is making an all-out effort to eliminate all Islamist terrorist movements, but the terrorists are securely entrenched among the population in northern Sinai and they can depend on the extensive networks of Bedouin in the area. Furthermore, they are being reinforced by a steady stream of men and material coming through all of Egypt's borders.
        To a certain extent, Egypt is under siege, with Gaza functioning as the logistic hub. Gaza has the capacity to develop and produce weapons, to package explosives, and to train terrorists before infiltrating them into Sinai. At the same time, an ever-growing number of fighters and ammunition are coming in through the borders with Libya and Sudan.
        During the Mubarak era, extensive smuggling networks were left to grow in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, in the mistaken belief that it was a problem for Israel alone. It was a costly mistake, for which Egypt is paying dearly. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)

Recognizing a Palestinian State Now Will Thwart Hopes for Peace - Jose Maria Aznar (The Sunday Times-UK)

  • The Palestinian state doesn't exist yet and the only structures in place that may resemble a functioning state are controlled by the internationally designated terrorist group Hamas. Europe had been resisting the urge to recognize an entity that doesn't exist in real terms. Unfortunately some Europeans are today indulging in a "recognition now" policy.
  • No matter how well-intentioned these initiatives may be, recognizing Palestine as a state now is inappropriate, counterproductive and unwarranted. It will not promote peace, it will not boost a negotiated solution, and it will reward the Palestinian Authority's unilateral moves. Actually, moving the political and strategic focus away from the threat of jihadism to deal with a fantasy is a grave irresponsibility.
  • Feel-good statements, popular as they may be, will not change reality on the ground; they will rather encourage the Authority to continue a static strategy in the negotiations - thereby promoting a continued stalemate of the talks.
  • These initiatives unfairly put pressure only on Israel. The Jewish state is persistently offering painful concessions to achieve a lasting and fair agreement, only to see the Authority refuse any compromise for the advancement of peace. It was Mahmoud Abbas who failed to accept the recent U.S. framework document already accepted by Israel.
  • Israel is today a bulwark against the expansion of jihadism in the Middle East. Promoting initiatives to recognize an imagined Palestinian state represents a huge mistake, considering how much Western countries need the support of Israel against jihadism and nuclear proliferation.
  • The Friends of Israel Initiative has always claimed that peace can only be reached through negotiations. Recognizing Palestine as a state will reward Palestinian unwillingness to negotiate a true peace with Israel and will encourage unilateral moves and a break with the Oslo Accords. Recognizing now an entity that is far from democratic, free, peaceful and prosperous will only thwart any possibility that any such state will exist in the future.

    Jose Maria Aznar is a former prime minister of Spain and founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative. This article is also signed by: John R. Bolton, former U.S. representative to the UN; Giulio Terzi, former foreign minister of Italy; Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico; Alejandro Toledo, former president of Peru; Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan; George Weigel, senior fellow of the U.S. Ethics and Public Policy Center; Andrew Roberts, British historian; Roberto F. Agostinelli, founder of the Rhone Group; Lt.-Col. Allen B. West, former U.S. congressman; Carlos Alberto Montaner, exiled Cuban author and journalist; Carlos Bustelo, former industry minister of Spain; Fiamma Nirenstein, journalist, former member of the Italian parliament; Rafael L. Bardaji, executive director, Friends of Israel Initiative, former strategic adviser, Spain.

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