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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
February 18, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Girl Injured in Palestinian Rock Attack Dies - Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)
    Adele Biton, a 4-year-old Israeli girl who was critically injured in a car accident caused by Palestinian rock throwers two years ago, died on Tuesday after a severe bout of pneumonia that relatives said was complicated by her neurological trauma.
    Five Palestinian teenagers were charged in the attack.
    See also Arab Medic: "Adele Was Murdered in a Terror Attack" - Yaron Kelner (Ynet News)
    Muawiya Qabha, the Arab medic who saved Adele Biton on the night of the attack and had been in touch with the Biton family in the past two years, said:
    "There is no sadder moment than this.... Adele did not pass away, she was murdered in a terror attack by a criminal."

Islamic State Militants "Burn to Death 45 in Iraq" (BBC News)
    Jihadist militants from Islamic State (IS) have burned to death 45 people in the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, local police chief Col. Qasim al-Obeidi said. He believed some were members of the security forces.
    IS fighters captured much of the town, near Ain al-Asad air base, last week.

Report: Hamas Leader Met with Top Iran Commander - Justin Jalil (Times of Israel)
    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Iran's al-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani met in Turkey several days after the 2014 Gaza war ended in late August, the Saudi daily Al-Hayat reported.
    Soleimani has long trumpeted Hamas within Iranian political circles, encouraging Tehran to overlook its stance on the Syrian civil war.

UK Artists' Boycott of Israel Greeted with Derision - Jenni Frazer (Times of Israel)
    A letter published in the Guardian on Saturday headlined: "Our Cultural Boycott of Israel Starts Today," signed by 100 British writers, actors, artists and musicians, has been greeted with withering derision.
    On Monday, an editorial in The Times weighed in, saying, "The egregious campaigns for a cultural boycott of Israel are stoking ugly, atavistic movements in Europe. These need to be confronted by civilized opinion. Israeli governments are fallible but the Jewish state is a force for democracy in a region that is short of it."
    Dr. Stephen Malnick, a British-born resident of Ashkelon, responded in a letter in Tuesday's Guardian:
    "As a citizen of Ashkelon who was nearly killed when a missile missed my car by a few meters, I have a message for artists with a selective communal conscience. I do not want you to visit my city and insult 120,000 people who were daily attacked in violation of international law."

Israeli Economy Rebounds after Gaza War - Niv Elis (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's economy rebounded dramatically in the fourth quarter of 2014, growing by an annualized 7.2% after last summer's Gaza war helped slow growth in the third quarter to 0.6%, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Rouhani: Iran Speeds Up Nuclear Progress
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday, "We have made highly important progress in the nuclear field, but the negotiations receive so much attraction and hue and cry that they overshadow these activities, otherwise, we are running at a higher speed." He underlined that the country doesn't ask permission from anyone to make progress in different scientific and technological fields.
        Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei underlined that the dispute over the country's nuclear program is being used as a pretext to slow down the Islamic Republic's scientific-technological progress and contain its influence across the region and beyond. (Fars News-Iran)
  • Nuclear Deal with Tehran Will Not Eliminate All Threats - Bill Sweetman
    Iran's linked development of nuclear energy and surface-to-surface missiles is motivating multiple missile-defense programs. Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, suggests that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is not interested in any agreement that does not leave the nation's nuclear capabilities intact.
        Even if there are successes in the nuclear negotiations, there is evidence that progress in missile development continues. Israeli missile-defense pioneer Uzi Rubin argued that indicators pointing to slowdowns in missile development may be misleading. Rubin cited ongoing space-launch attempts and the May 2013 unveiling of a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) for the 2,000-km.-range (1,245-mi.) Shahab-3 missile. The TEL was not a prototype: Iran showed a production line and modifications to the unit's design to disguise it as a civilian tractor-trailer.
        Other developments include Iran's announcement in February 2014 of a multiple reentry vehicle (MRV) payload for the Shahab-3. Rather than a slowdown, Rubin says tests are being concealed. He also warns of progress in adding GPS guidance to missiles. (Aviation Week)
        See also Iran to Speed Up Space Program (Fars News-Iran)
  • Egypt Embarks on Ambitious Anti-Terror Campaign - Hamza Hendawi
    Beyond fighting militants in its own Sinai Peninsula, Egypt is trying to organize an international coalition against the Islamic State in Libya and helping Saudi Arabia defend its borders. This nation of 90 million people seeks to restore the leadership role that has eluded it since its influence waned under former President Hosni Mubarak.
        Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have given Egypt an estimated $30 billion to rescue its damaged economy, in return for Egypt providing military manpower alongside its Gulf counterparts. A contingent of Egyptian troops is already deployed on Saudi Arabia's border with Iraq to help defend it against jihadi fighters. Egypt also has military advisers on the Saudi-Yemeni border. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are bankrolling multibillion dollar arms purchases by Egypt, including jet fighters and naval vessels from France and Russia.
        Egypt carried out two rounds of airstrikes in Libya on Monday, on top of secret strikes it conducted last year along with the UAE against Libyan Islamist militias. Egyptian troops briefly crossed the border into Libya Monday to conduct search-and-destroy missions targeting possible surface-to-air missiles that could threaten Egyptian planes headed back from Libya. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Moving Toward an "Extremely Dangerous" Deal with Iran - Herb Keinon
    The Obama administration is moving toward an "extremely dangerous" deal with Iran, former Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser told the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Responding to reports that the U.S. has agreed to allow the Iranians more than 6,000 centrifuges, he said the problem is not only that figure, "which is unbelievable." It is also about what will happen to the other 14,000 centrifuges the Iranians now have available. "If not totally dismantled, then within weeks they can reinstall them. What will happen with that?" Also, "what will happen" to the Iranian ballistic missiles or the enriched uranium Tehran has stockpiled, or its nuclear research and development. "There is a long list of issues about which we hear nothing."
        It is a mistake to personalize the matter and set it up as a disagreement between Netanyahu and Obama, Kuperwasser said. It is much deeper than that and represents a fundamental difference between how the "Israeli establishment and the American establishment" view the issues. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Trove of Gold Coins Found in Caesarea Harbor
    The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park by a group of divers from a diving club. Almost 2,000 gold coins were found "in an excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning... because not affected by air or water," said Robert Cole, an expert numismatist with the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Israel Antiquities Authority)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Builds Active Front with Direct Presence on Israel's Border - Y. Carmon and Y. Yehoshua
    Iran's deployment in Syria has been based on the establishment of a new Hizbullah Syria organization, as well as on the direct presence of Iranian forces, particularly in the Golan Heights. In May 2014, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) senior official Hossein Hamedani spoke of "130,000 trained Iranian Basij fighters waiting to enter Syria."
        Iran now commands a theater that stretches through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. Iran's deployment on Israel's border increases the possibility that any local eruption could quickly develop into a regional conflict. Iran's aim in deploying in the Golan Heights is not only to deter Israel from acting against its nuclear program, but also to establish an active front for anti-Israel terror attacks.
        Columnist Nahed Al-Hattar wrote in the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on Feb. 13: "As much as [Israel] feared the Iranian nuclear program, it never imagined that Iran would be standing on its border even before its nuclear agreement with the Americans was complete. The Iranian threat to Israel is no longer theoretical....The threat has become direct, practical and conventional." Y. Carmon is President and Founder of MEMRI; Y. Yehoshua is Vice President for Research and Director of MEMRI Israel. (MEMRI)
  • Why the UN Security Council Can't Solve the Arab-Israel Conflict by Itself - Einat Wilf and Shany Mor
    True peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved via direct negotiations. One should be very skeptical of internationally imposed settlements. The Palestinians don't need another UN Security Council resolution to achieve statehood. They could have it today by making peace with Israel. In fact, they could have had it in 2008 by accepting then-Prime Minister Olmert's peace offer.
        The recent draft Security Council resolution "reaffirms" the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, but said nothing of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its historic homeland. Furthermore, it makes no mention of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, nor mention of suicide bombings. While it is specific about Israeli concessions on territory, it was very vague about the "security arrangements" that will come after an Israeli withdrawal. Israel's concerns that the West Bank, which overlooks every major Israeli city and town, could become a base for Gaza-style rocket attacks were not even considered.
        International proposals that include balanced-sounding banalities mixed with entirely unbalanced specific demands are guaranteed to fail. Dr. Einat Wilf is a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute and an adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Shany Mor served as a director for foreign policy on the Israeli National Security Council. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)

U.S.-Israel Defense Relations Stay Solid - Dmitriy Shapiro (Washington Jewish Week-JTA)

  • During the confirmation hearing for defense secretary nominee Ashton Carter on Feb. 4 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked about the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran.
  • Carter replied, "If you take at face value what they say, they have the ambition to wipe off the map other states in the region, namely Israel....They have a long history of behaving in a disruptive way, of supporting terrorism, of trying to undermine other governments operating around the world. So I think they give abundant evidence that they're not the kind of people you want to have having nuclear weapons."
  • Longtime observers of the U.S.-Israel relationship say that whatever personal tensions plague interactions between Obama and Netanyahu, defense ties are as sound as ever, bolstered by the longstanding relationships between the militaries, partnerships on several weapons development projects and a shared interest in containing radical Islam.
  • "Along with the Saudis, the Israelis constitute the closest American ally in this entire region," said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official and now a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

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