Palestinian Poll Shows Discontent with Hamas, Gaza War - Ian Deitch (AP)
In a Palestinian poll released Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 63% expressed dissatisfaction with "achievements compared to human and material losses" in the 2014 Gaza war.
At the same time, 63% supported launching rockets at Israel.
Only 30% said they can criticize Hamas without fear. In the West Bank, 32% said they could freely criticize Abbas.
Half of Gaza residents want to emigrate, and among young people that figure rises to 80%.
Turkey Tells Local Hamas Operatives to Cut Back on Anti-Israel Terror - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Turkish intelligence has asked Saleh Aruri, a senior Hamas military operative based in Turkey, to cut back on his anti-Israel terrorist activity, due to fears that the U.S. will accuse Turkey of abetting terror.
Israel deported Aruri five years ago after his release in the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit.
Today, from his base in Turkey, he commands Hamas' West Bank division.
Israeli defense officials recently said Hamas was running terrorist training camps in the country, while Turkish authorities turned a blind eye, spurring the U.S. to demand explanations from Turkey.
U.S. to Send More Advisors to Iraq - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
In a major shift of focus in the battle against the Islamic State, the Obama administration is planning to establish a new military base in Anbar Province and send 400 American military trainers to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi.
But the steps envisioned by the White House do not call for an expansion of the role of American troops, such as the use of spotters to call in airstrikes.
ISIS Is Using Tunnel Bombs -
Marcus Weisgerber (Defense One)
Several dozen tunnel bombs have been detonated in Syria, while ISIS used them to take the Iraqi city of Ramadi, according to Pentagon officials.
The concept is simple: dig a tunnel long enough to reach under your target, emplace explosives, and hit the detonator.
Most such bombs have been in Syria, but U.S. officials say ISIS is building "a network of bunkers, trenches and tunnels" in Iraq.
Hamas Militant Killed in Gaza Tunnel Collapse (AFP)
A member of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades died Friday when a Gaza tunnel built by militants collapsed near the Israeli border, Hamas said.
Hamas has created a network of tunnels, some of which extend into Israel and were used to carry out attacks during last summer's war.
Moderate Rebels Take Key Base in Southern Syria - Hugh Naylor (Washington Post)
A coalition of moderate rebel factions known as the Southern Front took control of the Brigade 52 base on Tuesday, the largest military installation in Daraa province, which is key to the defense of routes leading to Damascus.
The Southern Front, which is backed by the West and has received weapons and money from Arab countries, is supported by a military operations center in Amman, Jordan.
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- UN Report: Countries Don't Report Iran Sanctions Violations - Sangwon Yoon
UN monitors said governments reported no new incidents of Iran violating Security Council sanctions against its nuclear program, even though some have unfolded in plain sight. "The current situation with reporting could reflect...a political decision by some member states to refrain from reporting to avoid a possible negative impact on ongoing negotiations," said a panel of experts for the UN committee on Iran sanctions in its latest report, made public Tuesday.
No country reported that Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, violated a UN-mandated travel ban despite "media reports with photographs and videos" showing him in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, "organizing and training militia and regular forces in those countries."
One country reported that Iran tried to import a nuclear compressor illegally, the panel said, while two governments said Iran was carrying out nuclear procurement-related financial transactions through banks outside Iran that aren't under sanctions.
- Iran Spends Billions to Prop Up Assad - Eli Lake
On Monday, a spokeswoman for the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told me that the envoy estimates Iran spends $6 billion annually on Assad's government.
Nadim Shehadi, the director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, said his research shows that Iran spent between $14 and $15 billion in military and economic aid to the Damascus regime in 2012 and 2013.
Steven Heydemann, who was the vice president for applied research on conflict at the U.S. Institute of Peace until last month, told me he estimated the total support from Iran for Assad would be between $15 and $20 billion annually. If Iran ends up accepting a deal on its nuclear program, it will see an infusion of cash to pursue its regional agenda. (Bloomberg)
- Jordan Military Unveils Border Surveillance with Iraq, Syria - Karin Laub
Jordan's military on Monday unveiled a new phase of a border surveillance system that U.S. officials say provides an effective defense against infiltration attempts, including by Islamic State militants. The system, partially funded by the U.S., includes radar and surveillance towers that enable Jordanian forces to spot infiltrators several km. before they reach the border, said Col. Robert Paddock, defense attache at the U.S. Embassy in Amman. "They can see anywhere along the entire border, what is going on, and then they can take appropriate action."
With the completion of the second phase, the system now operates along all of the Jordanian-Syrian border. Work along Jordan's border with Iraq is underway and is to be completed by the end of the year. "What we are talking about is the ability of individuals to try to infiltrate the border and this is a highly effective defense against that," said Alice Wells, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Military Chief: Iran Will Increase Funds to Proxies after Nuclear Deal
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey visited Israel on Tuesday, and said that sanction relief in the wake of a nuclear deal with Iran will lead to increased funding for the Islamic Republic's proxies in the Middle East. "I think they will invest in their surrogates; I think they will invest in additional military capability....It's my expectation that it's not all going to flow into the economy to improve the lot of the average Iranian citizen."
Dempsey also said Israeli officials raised with him their concern about the scope of U.S. arms sales to Arab Gulf states as they build defenses against an expansionist Iran.
- Palestinian Terrorist on Facebook Day before Shooting: "I Have Decided to Meet God"
Israeli Border Police shot a man who approached them with an explosive device in Jenin in the West Bank, Israel Police reported Wednesday.
As a result of being shot, the explosive fell from his hand and detonated nearby. One day before the incident, the man, Al-deen Ezz, 23, wrote a Facebook post saying, "It is now possible to do what I want, to do everything, and I have decided to meet God." (Jerusalem Post)
- The Common Core of BDS and Campus Anti-Semitism - Abraham H. Miller
If you ask proponents of the BDS movement why they single out Israel, they will tell you that you have to start somewhere. But since its beginnings a decade ago, BDS has never been invoked against any other country.
Common sense and decency asks how a self-described "human rights" movement can single-out the only democracy in the region, while ignoring the brutal treatment of women, minorities and members of the GLBTQ community in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.
Like Israel Apartheid Week, BDS is simply another campus anti-Semitic hate fest. When it comes to outlawing hate on campus, Jews are visibly the exception. Jewish history demonstrates that where anti-Semitism becomes legitimate, anti-Semitic violence follows. As Jews become the one campus group that administrators have deemed safe to target for hate, anti-Jewish campus violence is not a matter of if - but of when.
The writer is emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought.
- The Division Delusion - Nadav Shragai
The possibility of dividing Jerusalem is removed from reality.
The division of Jerusalem and removing its Arab neighborhoods from Israel could place the city's residents in a much worse security situation, leaving the Jewish neighborhoods much more vulnerable. Division of the city would turn several neighborhoods into fringe border areas that would likely suffer from terrorist attacks and shelling attempts, similar to the experience of the Gilo neighborhood during 2000-2004, which came under fire from the Palestinian city of Beit Jala.
While it is true that in the past few years dozens of Arabs from east Jerusalem have carried out terrorist attacks in the city, many more - hundreds - have been prevented thanks to Israel's presence and intelligence operations in east Jerusalem. That work would not be feasible if the city were divided.
Some 18,000 Jews leave Jerusalem every year, and only 10,000 move in. The main reason is the serious lack of available apartments and the high cost of existing housing. The lack of construction is due to diplomatic pressure.
- The Islamization of World Soccer? - Pinhas Inbari
Efforts by the Palestinian Football Association to expel Israel from the World Soccer Association (FIFA) are only the tip of the iceberg of a much more dangerous endeavor initiated by Qatar. Qatar's huge investment in hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup may also be seen as aimed at advancing the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The new Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim, has drawn close to Azmi Bishara, a former Israeli Knesset member who fled Israel,
and Hamas' Khaled Mashal, enabling them to use the wealthy emirate for their anti-Israel activity. In addition to Qatari funding of Israeli Arab soccer teams, Qatar is involved in Palestinian soccer and backs Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub's candidacy for PA president once Mahmoud Abbas steps down.
Rajoub's counterpart in Gaza - and, according to Palestinian sources, his unofficial deputy - is Abd al-Salam Haniyeh, son of the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. Since
soccer activity in Gaza is under Hamas auspices, the demand that Israel grant freedom of movement to Gazan soccer players basically entails allowing Hamas personnel to enter the West Bank.
The writer, a veteran Arab affairs correspondent, is an analyst for the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Netanyahu: Belief that a Prosperous Iran Will Be Less Aggressive Is Wishful Thinking (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Herzliya Conference on Tuesday:
- There's a belief that if Iran is more prosperous at home, it'll be less aggressive abroad. But 150 billion dollars and more [in sanctions relief] is a lot of money. The idea that a wealthier Iran will stop funding its terrorism, I think, is wishful thinking because this is big money for Iran's worldwide campaigns of terror, regional aggression, its unprecedented conventional arms buildup, its cyber warfare program and its nuclear program. And according to this deal, Iran gets this big money regardless of its behavior.
- I know I'm often portrayed as the nuclear party pooper. But I speak with quite a few of our neighbors, more than you think, and nobody in this region believes this deal will block Iran's path to many bombs. And it's worth noting that no one from this region, except Iran, is at the negotiating table.
- Somebody once said: "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." The states with the most at stake are not even in the room.
- To those who say this deal will change Iran, I say - you've got it backwards. First, Iran should change. Then make the deal. Only then should you reward it with technology and money.
- I again call on President Abbas to return to negotiations without preconditions. But I also know he has very little reason to talk. Why should he talk? He can get by with an international community that blames Israel for not having talks. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate and then get international pressure, sanctions, boycotts on Israel for there not being negotiations.
- Bridge-building is a delicate process that has been quietly strengthened in the past few years and can be dramatically strengthened in the years ahead, especially if some of our Arab neighbors join us in influencing the Palestinians to get back to the table and negotiate a responsible deal.
See also Netanyahu Warns of Iran's Five-Layered Threat - Itay Blumenthal (Ynet News)
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