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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Weekly Radio Alert
  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
June 23, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Forces and U.S. Share a Base in Iraq - Josh Rogin and Eli Lake (Bloomberg)
    U.S. soldiers and Shiite militia groups are both using the Taqqadum military base in Anbar province in Iraq, where U.S. military personnel are helping to train the local forces fighting against the Islamic State, two senior U.S. officials have confirmed.
    Some of the militia members have been spying on U.S. operations at Taqqadum, a senior administration official said.

Israel and Turkey Renew Reconciliation Talks - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold met with his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Sinirlioglu, in Rome on Monday.
    See also Israeli President Sends Condolences to Erdogan (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    After the death of former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who received a state funeral on June 19, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which he conveyed to the Turkish people and the bereaved family "sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy on the passing of the ninth president of the Turkish Republic" on behalf of the people of Israel.
    "President Demirel will be remembered as a great statesman, a president who was the first to welcome an Israeli president to Turkey, a leader who contributed to the development of the relations between our two nations."

IDF Officer: "Our Morality Cost Us Our Lives" - Captain (res.) Dor Matot (Jerusalem Post)
    I served in Shujaiyeh during the 2014 Gaza war. We did not enter Shujaiyeh at the beginning of the ground incursion because of the large civilian population there.
    When we went in the following day, Hamas gunmen were awaiting our arrival. Five of our soldiers were killed and 20 others were injured.
    In this instance it is understood that our morality cost us our lives. We were sent into a carefully laid trap because of our considerations in harming the Palestinian population.
    The writer is a deputy company commander in the Golani Brigade.

Gaza Report Reveals UN's Cluelessness - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The UN report on the 2014 Gaza war didn't reveal any findings that weren't already known, or expose any startling discoveries.
    The bottom line, and most salient fact, is absent from this report: Israel did not initiate the war and was primarily focused on stopping Hamas rocket fire.
    From nearly day one, Israel agreed to stop the fighting, but Hamas insisted on continuing the rocket fire from within residential areas, knowing that it would carry a heavy price and lead to international condemnation of Israel.
    The report sounds at times like a bad joke, claiming that it "cannot conclusively determine the intent of Palestinian armed groups with regard to the construction and use" of cross-border tunnels.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel: UN Report on Gaza War Is Biased - Oren Dorell
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday rejected a UN report that accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes in the Gaza fighting last summer. "Israel does not commit war crimes," Netanyahu said. "Israel defends itself against a terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and carries out many war crimes." He added that the commission that issued the report is "notoriously biased" against Israel.
        Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UN, accused the investigators of serving "as the soldiers of the Palestinians and Hamas." "The UN has been taken hostage by terrorist organizations, and in this battle, the international community will lose."  (USA Today)
        See also Netanyahu: Israel's Military Acts According to the Highest International Standards; UN Report is Flawed and Biased (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also U.S. Backs Israeli Self-Defense after UN Gaza Report
    The U.S. supports Israel's right to defend itself and will wait for the results of ongoing internal Israeli investigations of the 2014 Gaza war, the White House said Monday in response to the UN Human Rights Council's report on the war. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Disputes UN Report Finding It May Have Committed Gaza War Crimes
    Israel disputed on Monday the findings of a UN report that it may have committed war crimes in the 2014 Gaza conflict. "It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel's moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. "In defending itself against attacks, Israel's military acted according to the highest international standards."  (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Jewish Organizations Deride UN Report on Gaza War - Stuart Winer
    U.S. Jewish organizations on Monday responded with sharp criticism to a UN report that found Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza during fighting last year against Hamas. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee noted: "Hamas indiscriminately waged a war of aggression against Israeli civilians while inhumanely exploiting Gaza residents as human shields. Any suggestion of moral symmetry between the actions of Israel and those of the terrorist organization Hamas is a malicious affront to the truth."
        The Anti-Defamation League's Abraham H. Foxman wrote: "The UN Human Rights Council continues to bring shame on itself," describing the report as "illegitimate in its conception, inadequate in its execution and immoral in its conclusions." World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer said: "The cause of the Gaza conflict last year was the behavior of Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza. Hamas was the aggressor, not Israel, but strangely, Hamas is barely mentioned in this report."  (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Gaza War Damage Claims in Israel Total $351 Million - Zeev Klein
    Israel has paid $351.3 million to Israeli civilians who filed damage claims following the Gaza war last summer. According to the Tax Authority, 4,579 claims were filed over direct damage to homes, businesses, property, vehicles and agricultural land. In addition, 25,249 claims were filed over indirect damage caused to businesses whose revenue suffered, and employers whose employees were absent from work. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Warns of New Gaza Flotilla
    The sole purpose of a new Gaza flotilla "is to create provocations that pose security risks, and constitute a breach of international law," Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday. Gold reminded Ban that a panel established by his office deemed Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza to prevent arms smuggling to be in accordance with international law.
        "My government has a fundamental duty to protect its citizens and prevent weapons from reaching the hands of terrorists in Gaza....Israeli authorities will take all the necessary measures to enforce the naval blockade and prevent all vessels from approaching this area, in accordance with international law." Furthermore, Gold asserted, there is no humanitarian need for the flotilla, since there are established mechanisms through which humanitarian aid can be delivered to Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • UN Gaza War Report Leaves No Room for Israeli Self-Defense - Jonathan S. Tobin
    While the UN Human Rights Council report acknowledged that Hamas' indiscriminate firing of rockets at Israeli cities were acts of terrorism, it concentrated most of its fire on Israel's attempts to defend its citizens. The report not only mischaracterized Israel's highly restrictive rules of engagement that often put Israel Defense Forces personnel in danger, but also seeming to grant Hamas impunity to wage a terror war against Israel's existence. In effect, the report claimed that those trying to stop terror are the real criminals.
        The legal process by which IDF strikes are approved is geared toward saving civilian lives and goes beyond any notion of what international law requires. Indeed, the Israeli rules, which often endanger Israeli soldiers and allow terrorists to escape simply because of the possibility that civilians might be harmed, go well beyond the practices of other Western nations, including the U.S. in its conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
        The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that Israel not only acted properly but also constituted a model for the conduct of armed forces in asymmetrical conflicts. We know that the UN would not dare label any military operation such as the one conducted by Israel as illegal were it carried out by any other nation. (Commentary)
  • UN Report on Gaza: Improvement over Goldstone, But NGO Reliance Hurts Credibility
    The report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the 2014 Gaza war, like the 2009 Goldstone Report, quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy NGOs. By repeating the unverified allegations of such groups, the UN investigation is irrevocably tarnished.
        These NGOs were referenced, cited, and quoted at a high volume: B'Tselem had 69 citations, followed by Amnesty International (53), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (50), and Al Mezan (29). These groups are not appropriate for professional fact-finding.
        Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor's legal advisor, noted, "The COI makes numerous assertions about feasible precautions, identification of military objectives, military necessity, and standards applied by reasonable commanders. In at least four independent studies by military experts...all concluded that not only did Israel exceed the requirements of international law in the Gaza conflict but that its precautionary efforts to protect civilians were unprecedented in the history of warfare."  (NGO Monitor)
        See also EU-Funded NGOs Central to UN Human Rights Council Lawfare Attack
    The report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war repeated the unverifiable claims and allegations by European-funded NGOs of Israeli "war crimes." Without this financial support, these fringe advocacy groups would not have a platform to disseminate their propaganda. (NGO Monitor)

The Iran Deal's Fatal Flaw - Alan J. Kuperman (New York Times)

  • President Obama's main pitch for the pending nuclear deal with Iran is that it would extend the "breakout time" necessary for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. He also claimed the pending deal would shrink Iran's nuclear program, so that if Iran later "decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we'd have over a year to respond."
  • Unfortunately, that claim is false, as can be demonstrated with basic science and math. By my calculations, Iran's actual breakout time under the deal would be approximately three months - not over a year. Thus, the deal would be unlikely to improve the world's ability to react to a sudden effort by Iran to build a bomb.
    1. In the event of an overt attempt by Iran to build a bomb, Mr. Obama's argument assumes that Iran would employ only the 5,060 centrifuges that the deal would allow for uranium enrichment, not the roughly 14,000 additional centrifuges that Iran would be permitted to keep. Such an assumption is laughable. Once these additional centrifuges are connected, Iran's enrichment capacity could exceed three times what Mr. Obama assumes.
    2. The deal would appear to permit Iran to keep large amounts of enriched uranium in solid form (as opposed to gas), which could be reconverted to gas within weeks, thus providing a substantial head-start to producing weapons-grade uranium.
    3. Mr. Obama's argument assumes that Iran would require 59 pounds of weapons-grade uranium to make an atomic bomb. In reality, nuclear weapons can be made from much smaller amounts of uranium. A 1995 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that a nuclear weapon could produce an explosion with a force approaching that of the Hiroshima bomb using just 29 pounds of weapons-grade uranium.
  • Based on such realistic assumptions, Iran's breakout time under the pending deal actually would be around three months, while its current breakout time is a little under two months.
  • Showering Iran with rewards for making illusory concessions poses grave risks. Worst of all, lifting sanctions would facilitate a huge expansion of Iran's nuclear program. Nothing in the pending deal is worth such risks.

    The writer is an associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

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