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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
April 29, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Paramedics in Nepal - Melanie Lidman (Times of Israel)
    Israeli Magen David Adom paramedics who arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday are dealing with a sea of serious injuries.
    "We treated children with abdominal and chest injuries, and lots of broken legs and arms," Ravit Martinez, 35, from Kibbutz Erez, said via satellite phone.
    "We did stitches everywhere, stitches in places like ears, eyes and faces. It's not very sanitary and clean, but this is the field, and this is what we have."
    See also Israel Sets Up Field Hospital in Kathmandu (Israel Defense Forces)
    See also Video: IDF Humanitarian Mission Arrives in Nepal (Israel Defense Forces)
    See also From the Rubble of Nepal - Yotam Polizer (Times of Israel)
    The writer is Asia Regional Director for IsraAID.

Syrian Rebels Fight IS-Linked Group near Israeli Border (AFP)
    Syrian rebel groups, as well as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, fought Islamic State-linked Jaish al-Jihad in the border town of Qahtaniya in Quneitra province on Tuesday, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
    He said 12 rebels, including Al-Nusra fighters, were killed and Jaish al-Jihad lost seven fighters. "Fifteen members of Jaish al-Jihad were also taken hostage."

Saudi King Salman Changes Line of Succession - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
    King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a series of surprise royal decrees on Wednesday, shaking up the line of princes slated to succeed him to the throne.
    Salman replaced Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and named the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as next in line.
    He also named his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as deputy crown prince.

Saudi Arabia Foils U.S. Embassy Attack, Arrests 93 with Ties to Islamic State - Aya Batrawy (AP-USA Today)
    Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the arrest of 93 suspects with ties to the Islamic State who were planning attacks on the U.S. Embassy, security forces and residential compounds where foreigners live.
    Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said there have been five IS-related attacks in the kingdom in recent months that have killed 15 civilians and security personnel.
    Authorities also disrupted a plot for a suicide car bomber to attack the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, arresting two Syrians and a Saudi.
    The timing of the plot coincides with a U.S. decision to halt all consular services for a week starting March 15 at the embassy and diplomatic missions in Jiddah and Dhahran over security fears.

Israeli Farming Techniques in India: "More Crop per Drop" (Mumbai Mirror-India)
    Israel's unique agriculture techniques which afford "more crop per drop" have impressed Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is in Israel to visit the 2015 International Agritech Exhibition, featuring around 100 Indian companies collaborating with Israeli companies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Seizes Cargo Ship in Strait of Hormuz - Missy Ryan and William Branigin
    The Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged container ship, was intercepted by patrol ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, fired upon and then boarded by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon said Tuesday. Iran's Fars news agency said Iran was taking the ship to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
        A State Department official said that under a bilateral compact the U.S. has responsibility for the security of the Marshall Islands, including the defense of ships flying the nation's flag. The U.S. military, after receiving a distress call from the Tigris, sent surveillance aircraft and ordered the destroyer USS Farragut to head toward the ship.
        On Friday, the U.S.-flagged container ship Maersk Kensington was approached by four Iranian patrol craft while on an internationally recognized shipping route in the southern Persian Gulf, off the coast of Oman. The Iranian ships circled the Kensington and followed it for a time before departing. The incidents are alarming, a U.S. Navy official said. (Washington Post)
        See also The Pirates of Tehran - Editorial
    Apologists for Iran will no doubt ascribe the seizure of the Tigris to "hardline factions" within the regime. That might be true, but it only underscores the futility of striking a nuclear deal with a regime in which the hardliners can operate with impunity. Iran's disdain for basic maritime conventions is a good indicator of how it will treat any agreement it signs. Pirates don't keep their word, and it's dangerous to bargain as if they will. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran Keeps Defying the United States in the Persian Gulf - So Far with Impunity - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Report: Iran Releases Impounded Cargo Ship (Middle East Monitor)
  • Rouhani: Sanctions Regime on Verge of Complete Collapse
    Iranian President Rouhani said Tuesday the sanctions regime against Iran was on the verge of complete collapse and no country could continue exerting pressure on Iran in the future. (Mehr News-Iran)
  • White House to UN: First Iran, Then Mideast Peace - Colum Lynch
    The U.S. has been privately leaning on France and other allies to hold off on pushing a measure at the UN Security Council designed to force movement on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process until negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have concluded, diplomats said. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has appealed to his French counterpart to put the decision off until at least after the deadline for Iran talks at the end of June, or possibly even later, after the administration has secured congressional support for the deal, according to diplomatic sources.
        "It seems pretty clear to me there is no interest in the United States in pushing this right now," said Ilan Goldenberg, a former member of the Obama administration's Middle East team. He noted that the White House has to balance its interest in mounting a new Middle East peace push at the UN with locking down support for the Iran deal in Congress. "The administration is not going to do anything to jeopardize that," he said. Israel, which thinks the UN is hopelessly biased, has fiercely opposed more directly involving it in peace talks. (Foreign Policy)
  • Senate Rejects Bid to Toughen Iran Nuclear Review Bill - Patricia Zengerle
    The U.S. Senate voted 57-39 on Tuesday to reject an effort to require any nuclear agreement with Iran to be considered an international treaty, which would have forced any deal to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate's 100 members. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Commander Mohammed Deif Survived Gaza War - Jack Khoury
    Mohammed Deif, the Hamas military commander targeted by Israel during last summer's war in Gaza, is alive and involved in Hamas' military decisions. Hamas military efforts are now focused on rebuilding forces and digging attack tunnels. The rebuilding of the tunnels is underway around the clock, with a workforce of 1,000 men.
        Construction materials come primarily from private individuals, who receive them to rebuild their homes, then sell them on the black market. Hamas is also working to rehabilitate its rocket capabilities, especially with long-range, 150-km. rockets. Deif is personally involved in advancing this project. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Planned Major Tunnel Attack on Kibbutz in 2014 Gaza War
    Citing Israeli intelligence sources, Israel Army Radio reported Wednesday that just after the outbreak of the Gaza war last summer, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif planned to deploy dozens of armed terrorists trained for the operation to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack on Kibbutz Kerem Shalom near the Gaza border. They were to infiltrate the kibbutz through an underground tunnel, slaughter a number of civilians, and take a number of others alive as hostages before returning through the tunnels to Gaza. Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal decided to postpone the attack. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Car Firebombed in West Bank
    An Israeli man was injured on Monday after a firebomb was thrown at his car south of the West Bank city of Nablus. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Arrests Terror Cell Responsible for Firebombings in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
    Israeli security forces announced on Monday the arrest of a Palestinian terror cell that carried out five firebombing and pipe bomb attacks in the West Bank in January and February. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • UN Admits Palestinians Fired Rockets from UNRWA Schools
    The UN Board of Inquiry report regarding the protection of UN facilities during the 2014 Gaza war found that in the Jabalia school, "it was highly likely that an unidentified Palestinian armed group could have used the school premises to launch attacks on or around 14 July."
        Similarly, concerning weaponry stored at the UNRWA Nuseirat Preparatory Co-educational "B" School, the UN inquiry found that "the premises could have been used for an unknown period of time by members of a Palestinian armed group" - and that "it was likely that such a group may have fired the mortar from within the premises of the school."  (UN Watch)
        See also Full Text: UN Board of Inquiry on Gaza (UN Watch)
  • Risk Assessment Shows Israeli Strike to Thwart Arms to Hizbullah Worth It - Eliezer Marom
    Israel is continuing to prevent the transfer of quality weapons to Hizbullah. Iran is currently mired in battle in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon - and its forces and resources are "stretched out" to near their limit. Additionally, the Iranian regime is currently in the midst of negotiations for an agreement with Western powers on its nuclear program, which will likely end in the sanctions being lifted. In this situation, it is difficult to see Iran open a new front against Israel and endanger the agreement.
        Hizbullah is busy with fighting in Syria and Iraq, and at this stage also is not interested in opening a front against Israel. Vice.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom served as commander of Israel's navy (2007-11). (Jerusalem Post)
  • No Talk of Intifada in Jenin - Avi Issacharoff
    The Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin used to be known as "the capital of the suicide bombers." But no one here talks about "the war with the Jews" anymore. Everybody talks about salaries and money. The armed men are gone and more and more shopping centers are being opened in an effort to attract Arab-Israeli shoppers who come to visit.
        Mazen Salameh, a taxi driver, says, "People here want to make a living. Do you think that we want blood or violence? We certainly don't. The Palestinian nation wants calm and stability and a livelihood, just like you do. And unlike the situation in 2000, the nation has sense today....An intifada will not serve us, and we don't want it." Ayman Mutahana, a falafel shop owner, says, "The Palestinian Authority provides security and stability, and the situation is definitely better than it was ten years ago. We don't want a third intifada. Period."  (Times of Israel)

The Ghosts that Haunt an Iran Accord - Kai Bird (New York Times)

  • Iran needs at least a hundred billion dollars of foreign investment to modernize its oil fields, and American oil companies are eager to bid for these contracts once sanctions are lifted.
  • But here's the rub: Largely forgotten are two judgments handed down in U.S. Federal District Courts.
  • Dammarell vs. the Islamic Republic of Iran (2003) and Peterson vs. the Islamic Republic of Iran (2007) held Iran responsible for truck bomb attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April 1983 and a similar attack on the U.S. Marines barracks in October of that year.
  • 17 Americans were killed in the embassy attack - including eight CIA officers - and 32 Lebanese employees died. 241 U.S. servicemen were killed in the Marine barracks bombing. Both civil suits resulted in multibillion dollar judgments against Iran.
  • The Iranian government, which did not defend itself at trial, has yet to pay a penny to any of the families of the victims or the survivors.
  • These outstanding judgments represent a major stumbling block to any diplomatic resolution of Washington's troubled relations with Tehran.

        See also Killing Americans and their Allies: Iran's Continuing War Against the U.S. and the West - Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp and Maj. (ret.) Chris Driver-Williams (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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