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Weekly Radio Alert
  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
June 24, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Opposes Bringing UN Gaza Report to Security Council (State Department)
    State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday discussed the UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza war, saying:
    "We don't believe that there's a call or a need for any further Security Council work on this."
    "We reject the basis under which this particular commission of inquiry was established because of the very clear bias against Israel in it."

Senior Israeli Druze Officer: The IDF Should Not Intervene in Syria's Civil War - Noam Amir (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Imad Fares, one of the most senior Druze figures in the IDF, said Tuesday that Israel will not, and should not, intervene in the fighting in Syria to help the country's embattled Druze community.
    "Intervention with an Israeli stamp of approval is unacceptable, will not happen, and there is no mutual interest, making it useless to think about."
    "The Druze in Syria also won't want Israel to intervene on their behalf. The Syrian Druze, let's be honest, identify with the Assad regime. Their continued survival is also dependent on other alliances which won't necessarily be helped by joining with Israel."

Palestinian Who Murdered Italian Activist Escapes Gaza Prison to Join ISIS - Ariel Barbieri-Aghib (Jerusalem Post)
    Mahmoud al-Salfiti, a Palestinian convicted for involvement in the abduction and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in 2011, escaped recently from Gaza to Syria in order to join Islamic State while on leave from prison to visit his family for Ramadan, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported.

Egypt Builds Trench along Gaza Border to Prevent Smuggling (Ma'an News-PA)
    The Egyptian military has constructed a trench 20 meters deep and 10 meters wide, located two km. from the border with Gaza, to prevent smuggling.
    The new infrastructure - part of a larger buffer zone being constructed in the area - is intended to prevent smugglers from driving vehicles to the opening of tunnels along the border.

Kurds Find ISIS Tunnel near Turkish Border (AP-Al-Arabiya)
    Kurdish forces last week discovered a 400-meter tunnel dug by ISIS militants in the town of Tal Abyad near the Turkish border with Syria, a spokesman for the YPG militia said Monday.

New Jordanian Think Tank Focuses on Israel - Karin Laub (AP)
    The Center for Israel Studies has quietly began operations in Amman, Jordan, setting up a website this year that publishes Arabic translations of Israeli articles about Israel and its views of the Arab world, as well as producing its own studies about Israel.
    Director Abdullah Sawalha, a former employee in Jordan's government spokesman's office, said, "Israel exists in this region....Many, many people (in Jordan) have an interest in this subject, but they don't talk about it."
    Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan, said, "I really admire their courage because it is not easy in an Arab country to speak objectively about Israel."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Supreme Leader Seems to Pull Back on Nuclear Talks - Thomas Erdbrink and David E. Sanger
    In a speech Tuesday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appeared to undercut several of the central agreements his negotiators have already reached with the West to limit Iran's nuclear program. Khamenei demanded that most sanctions be lifted before Tehran has dismantled part of its nuclear infrastructure and before international inspectors verify that the country is beginning to meet its commitments.
        "All economic, financial and banking sanctions, implemented either by the United Nations Security Council, the United States Congress or the administration, must be lifted immediately when the deal is signed," he said. Only after that has happened will Iran start abiding by its commitments, and that "removing the sanctions must not be dependent on implementing Iran's commitments."
        He also ruled out any freeze on Iran's sensitive nuclear enrichment for as long as a decade, and he repeated his refusal to allow inspections of Iranian military sites. He also said that verification of Iran's actions by the International Atomic Energy Agency was out of the question. The ayatollah has the final word on nuclear matters. (New York Times)
  • I Have "No Differences" with Netanyahu over Iran, Says Israel's Opposition Leader - David Blair
    Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Israeli Labor party, has voiced "extreme worry" over a possible nuclear deal with Iran, declaring there is "no daylight" between himself and Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue. Herzog, who was visiting London for a conference, told the Telegraph: "There is no difference between me and Netanyahu in reading the threat of Iran....[In the negotiations] there are some issues that must be improved substantially and we are waiting to see."
        "One is inspections: it has to be clear that the inspection chapter includes the ability to have thorough, immediate inspections of all installations, 24/7. There are rumors of some vagueness. I'm extremely worried. I think that's the main tool to enable the agreement."
        In a striking echo of Netanyahu's language, Herzog added: "I'm pleading to the world leadership to make sure that this agreement is thorough and tough, that it's ironclad, because you are dealing with inherent issues of security, not only for Israel. Look what's going on: the Iranians are spreading military capabilities throughout the region."  (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Brigade Commander: Excessive Caution in Gaza Caused Harm to Soldiers - Amos Harel
    The Israel Defense Forces exercised excessive caution during the Gaza war last summer, a brigade commander who fought in Gaza told Ha'aretz. "I have no pangs of conscience. If anything, I think we were too humane. There were instances where the excessive caution caused harm to soldiers." His remarks reflect the position of most of the commanders who operated in Gaza.
        In one case, "We discovered a tunnel 200 meters from a house. There were large, three-story villas there and the battalion commander decided, after consulting with me, not to take down the house but to take other precautions....Later on a Palestinian sniper entered the house, fired from it and seriously wounded an [IDF] officer. Only then did we destroy the house." In another case, "We had five mortars fired at us from a school at a distance of 20 meters. We did not respond by firing at the school."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Soldiers Defend IDF's Morality - Lahav Harkov
    Knesset members on Tuesday read testimonies by soldiers about the lengths to which the IDF goes to avoid civilian casualties. MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), an air force pilot, recounted that, as a pilot, he made sure there were no civilians in every target before bombing it, and there were several times in which he turned around and did not drop a bomb because there was a suspicion that there were civilians at the target. Opposition MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), said: "I never received or heard an order meant to harm civilians. We often received orders that put our lives in danger, in order to prevent harming civilians." MK Dani Atar (Zionist Union), reading the testimony of a Golani soldier, said "[Palestinians] were killed by explosives they didn't know were there that Hamas planted."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Soldiers React to War Crime Accusations (Israel Hayom)
  • UN Gaza Report Won't Provide Ammunition Against IDF at International Criminal Court - Raphael Ahren
    The UN report on last summer's Gaza war will have limited impact on the International Criminal Court, legal experts say. On June 29, the Human Rights Council will debate the report in Geneva and likely send it to the UN General Assembly, which can also be expected to adopt the report and send it to the Security Council. And that's pretty much where the matter will end. "There will be no action on it. It's not an operational report," said Robbie Sabel, a professor of international law and former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry. The Security Council may decide to hold a meeting on the report, but that is unlikely.
        Sabel added that the report was written in general terms and doesn't name individuals suspected of war crimes; hence, it does not provide the ICC with much ammunition against Israeli soldiers.
        Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry, said, "The Arab countries will probably add a provision [to the General Assembly resolution] calling for the report to be forwarded to the ICC's prosecutor, but it means nothing. This report is not a legal document. It's a political document."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Former IDF Lawyer: UN Gaza Report Cannot Be Used as Evidence at ICC - Mazal Mualem
    Col. (res.) Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, former head of the IDF's Department of International Law, told Al-Monitor: "In terms of a criminal indictment, Israel has no reason to worry about the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The UNHRC report on Operation Protective Edge didn't investigate the events on a criminal level, so it cannot be used as evidence. Furthermore, Israel can provide its own explanations for any claims that it presents."  (Al-Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • What War Crimes Did Israel Commit in Gaza? - Nahum Barnea
    The talk about war crimes in regards to the fighting in Gaza is hollow and false. War crimes compared to whom? Compared to what Russia is doing in Ukraine? Compared to what the U.S. did in Iraq? In Afghanistan? Compared to what China is doing in Tibet? The international community's investigation procedures are selective. World powers are exempted from investigation, exempted from punishment. Tyrant regimes, which destroy nations in Africa and in the Middle East, are reprimanded from time to time, but don't give a damn.
        Ironically, what made Hamas accept a ceasefire in the end was not the casualties among its fighters but the extent of damage in the civilian neighborhoods. (Ynet News)
  • UN Report on Gaza Ignores Who Started the War - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The UN report on the 2014 Gaza war fails to mention that Hamas is the one which opened fire and initiated the fighting, and it gives no weight to the fact that Israel did everything in its power to reach a ceasefire before moving on to a full-scale counterattack.
        The report also does not emphasize sufficiently that Hamas intentionally opened fire on Israeli civilians, while the IDF did everything in its power to minimize civilian casualties. This fact makes all the difference between Hamas and Israel. If the report's wording indicates that there are two sides here with the same combat ethics and the same operational procedures, the report no longer reflects reality. Hamas - which began bombarding Beersheba and Tel Aviv - brought a disaster on itself.
        The report's conclusions serve as a warning against what might happen to Israel in the international arena if a war breaks out in the north with Hizbullah, which has placed a considerable part of its heavy rockets and missiles inside houses. (Ynet News)

Verifying a Final Nuclear Deal with Iran - Olli Heinonen (Iran Task Force)

  • Unfettered access to sites, facilities, material, equipment, people, and documents is imperative to the credible long-term verification of any nuclear agreement with Iran.
  • This "anywhere, anytime" access and short notice inspections must not be subject to a dispute resolution mechanism which would delay the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) access.
  • Procedures in a final deal which provide Iran with the ability to define or control access, undermine the verifiability of the agreement and affect the IAEA's ability to reach timely conclusions.
  • Additionally, the resolution of the IAEA's outstanding concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran's program must be resolved prior to the provision of substantial sanctions relief.

    The writer is former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    See also Necessary Safeguards for a Final Deal with Iran - Eric Edelman and Dennis Ross (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
  • The IAEA brief for Iran would require wide-ranging inspections and safeguard authorities to certify that its expansive nuclear-related infrastructure - declared and possibly undeclared - is rolled back and unable to progress toward nuclear weapons capability.
  • However, it is uncertain whether the potential monitoring and verification regime adumbrated in the White House factsheet would be remotely sufficient for this task.

    Amb. Eric Edelman is a former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. Amb. Dennis Ross is a former special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council Senior Director.

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