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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 25, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Halt Gas-Mask Production Due to Decline in Chemical Weapon Threat - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Gas mask production in Israel is to cease almost completely, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has decided.
    The decision is based on the significant decline in the threat of a chemical weapon attack by Syria as a result of the eradication of its chemical arms.

Intel to Produce Next-Generation Computer Chips in Israel (Times of Israel)
    Intel has promised to spend at least $550 million in Israel in the next five years, part of a commitment by the company to spend $6 billion to upgrade its Kiryat Gat plant for the manufacture of new advanced chips for its next generation devices, Intel and the Economy Ministry announced Sunday.
    While Israel is providing the company with grants of $600 million over the next five years as well as a major tax break through 2023, Intel committed to hiring at least 1,000 new employees.
    "This arrangement will have a very positive effect on hundreds of small businesses and suppliers," said Ziva Eiger, director of investments at the ministry's Industrial Cooperation Authority. "As a result of this agreement, Israelis can look forward to thousands of more jobs being available."
    Intel Israel CEO Mooly Eden said, "Last year, Intel Israel was responsible for more than 9% of Israel's tech exports."
    Intel already employs 10,000 workers in Israel, with over 30,000 Israelis working at companies that provide products and services to Intel.

Iranian Conspiracy Theory: Israeli Settlements in Iraq? (Jerusalem Post)
    In a conspiracy theory fit for the Ayatollah, Iran's Fars News Agency reported Tuesday that Israeli businessmen are buying properties in Islamic State-held areas of northern Iraq for eventual Jewish settlement.
    Fars claimed that more than 2,000 Jews have already settled in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Israeli Photographer "Horrified" at Use of Bloody Shoe Photo (BBC News)
    A photo of a small child's bloody shoe has been widely shared on Twitter and Facebook in the wake of a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan.
    But the photo is not recent. Israeli photographer Edi Israel took the photo in Ashkelon in May 2008 after a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza struck a shopping mall, injuring dozens.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Army Stages Massive Military Drills
    The Iranian Army began a massive, six-day military drill on Thursday, code-named "Mohammad, the Messenger of God," to display the country's military prowess. The exercises will cover an area of 2.2 million square km., stretching from east of the Strait of Hormuz to north of the Indian Ocean.
        Participating in the drill, the largest of its kind, are different ground units, fighter jets and air defense systems, as well as surface and submarine vessels deployed in the Sea of Oman. Brig.-Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi said the army wants to convey a message of peace and friendship to neighboring states through this military drill. (Press TV-Iran)
  • Islamic State Recruits Entire Families - Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam
    Siddhartha Dhar's first four children were born in London. Now he, his wife, and their children have arrived in Syria to live in an Islamic caliphate. Islamic State's leaders have encouraged doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and accountants to join them in building the institutions of a new nation ruled by Islamic sharia law. Entire families have answered that call in numbers that have surprised and alarmed analysts.
        "These families believe they are doing the right thing for their children," said Melanie Smith, a research associate at the King's College International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London. "They think they are taking them to a kind of utopia." Analysts estimate that at least 15,000 people have moved to the Islamic State, including several thousand from Western countries.
        Islamic State uses family imagery in its highly polished online recruiting, including videos showing fighters pushing children on swings and passing out toys. However, recent reports from Syria and Iraq suggest that in Islamic State areas, people are enduring painful shortages of electricity, food, medicine and clean water. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Operation in the Field Saved Wounded Soldier's Life - Yoav Zitun
    IDF doctors and medics saved the life of a Bedouin reconnaissance battalion soldier who was seriously wounded by Palestinian sniper fire on Wednesday at the Gaza border. The bullet penetrated the soldier's upper body from the side and caused severe bleeding in his chest cavity. When the brigade doctor realized that only immediate treatment in the field could help regularize the soldier's pulse, he decided to perform surgery on the spot and drain the blood that accumulated in his chest.
        The surgery was done while IDF tanks and Air Force aircraft were returning fire at the source of the sniper fire. An IAF rescue helicopter landed at the scene of the shooting and the soldier was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Officers in the Medical Corps said the doctor "made the right decisions on the spot that unequivocally saved the soldier's life."  (Ynet News)
  • IDF Seizes Guns, Pipe Bombs in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
    IDF soldiers launched a security operation in Nablus in the West Bank on Wednesday night, capturing automatic weapons, handguns, and eight pipe bombs. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Carrying Pipe Bombs Arrested - Omri Efraim
    Israeli security forces stopped four Palestinians carrying pipe bombs on Wednesday at a checkpoint near Jenin. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Rebuilding Military Positions - Matan Tzuri
    Since the end of the Gaza war, Hamas has constructed new military positions and forward command posts in northern Gaza. Israelis in Netiv HaAsara have spotted newly-built dirt hills, fortifications, and ramps adorned with green Hamas flags several hundred meters from their homes in the area of the former Israeli settlement of Nisanit, which was dismantled in 2005. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestinian Christmas Lies - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Middle East Christians have been largely portrayed as caught in the middle of a bitter war between Jews and Arabs over the Holy Land. But this is a profound misunderstanding of the reality of the conflict. Though many Christians have been prominent Arab nationalists, their effort to identify with the struggle against Zionism has not led to greater acceptance for Christians within Palestinian society or the Arab and Muslim world in general. To the contrary, over the decades, the Palestinian national movement has taken an increasingly Islamist tone. Today, an Islamist tide that has swept through the region has made Christians an endangered minority.
        The same dynamic has led to a massive exodus of Palestinian Christians from the territories. Life in many traditionally Christian towns like Bethlehem has been made increasingly untenable for non-Muslims. By contrast, Israel remains the one nation in the region where Christian rights and those of all religions are respected. (Commentary)
        See also Do Middle Eastern Christians Have Any Chance of Survival? - Justus Reid Weiner (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • "The PA Has Money. Look at the Fancy Cars They Drive to the Villas They Build" - Zalman Shoval
    Mariam Barghouti, 20, is a Palestinian American studying at Bir-Zeit University. Last April she spent a day in jail after throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during a violent demonstration at the village of Nebi Saleh. Last week, the New York Times published an op-ed by Barghouti, who tells us that "the West Bank has seen a steep rise in economic growth since 2010....There is prosperity - for some....[B]ut for most, the struggle to make ends meet has become more and more arduous." She quotes a Ramallah cab-driver who tells her: "The PA has money. Look around you, it's everywhere: the fancy cars they drive to the villas they build."
        Lest we forget, it was Mahmoud Abbas who fired the one man who might have put things right in the economic sphere, former Palestinian prime minister and U.S.-trained economist Salam Fayyad. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Knows that Gazans Do Not Want Another War - Amira Hass
    Despite occasional statements to the media that war is preferable to the current stalemate, the residents of Gaza cannot bear the thought of another round of warfare. Hamas authorities are well aware of this, so they have no current political or tactical interest in war. Contrary to the statements of high-ranking Hamas officials, they do not have enough weaponry to face off against Israel's army. Moreover, they cannot afford to act in complete opposition to the will of the vast majority in Gaza.
        After their dismal failure to make any political gains at all via the last war (or during the talks for its conclusion), they will have difficulty promising that another war will lead to political and economic improvement and lifting the embargo - things that the previous war did not accomplish. (Ha'aretz)

The Caliphate in the Eyes of Islam - Zvi Mazel (Jerusalem Post)

  • The Islamic State is implementing sharia (Islamic law) to the letter - the same sharia which is taught in schools and academic institutions throughout the Muslim world.
  • The harsh penalties inflicted on sinners, from stoning women to crucifying and beheading infidels, are part of that teaching.
  • For example, sharia-based textbooks tell of the revered military commander Khaled Ben Walid, who killed the leader of a tribe which had renounced Islam, cut off his head, threw it in a boiling cauldron and ate it.
  • Surveys in Saudi Arabia showed that 92% of Saudis approved the way of IS. This is what they were taught at school and this is what they hear in the Friday sermons from the mosques.
  • In Egypt, President Sisi has declared that the more extreme expressions of the sharia should be amended. Acting upon his instructions, in June the Egyptian Education Ministry canceled the course of Islamic education being taught in schools; moral values were added to a new textbook. This important step did not receive the recognition it deserved in the West.

    The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.

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