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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
July 29, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Pollard to Be Paroled in November after 30 Years in Jail - Eric Tucker (AP)
    Attorneys for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard said Tuesday the U.S. has granted his parole after 30 years in prison for spying for Israel. He is due to be released in November.
    They said the decision followed a parole hearing earlier this month before the U.S. Parole Commission.
    Pollard, 60, has been imprisoned since November 1985 for selling classified information to Israel.
    Supporters argued that he was punished excessively given that he spied for a country that's a U.S. ally.
    See also Pollard Release Unrelated to Negotiations with Iran - Devlin Barrett (Wall Street Journal)
    U.S. officials have strongly denied any link between the Iran talks and Jonathan Pollard's parole decision.
    Pollard's lawyers will ask the White House to let him move to Israel, which granted him citizenship in 1995. However, a White House spokesman said the president "has no intention of altering the terms of Mr. Pollard's parole."
    The U.S. Justice Department said that Pollard has served his full term according to the sentencing law at the time he was convicted. Pollard, arrested in 1985, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
    See also Pollard Required to Remain in U.S. for Five Years after Release (Attorneys for Jonathan Pollard-IMRA)

American Hostage Held in Syria: Nusra Front Vows to Capture the Golan Heights - Danna Harman (Ha'aretz)
    Theo Padnos, 46, an American writer and reporter, was handed over to UN peacekeepers on the Golan Heights by the Nusra Front after nearly two years in captivity in Syria, charged with spying.
    Padnos found that while his captors proclaimed hatred for Israel and the Jews, that was nothing compared to their hatred for Assad and his supporters. They would tell Padnos: "Go back to America and tell them we have something worse than the Jews here."
    "They were always telling me, 'We could attack Israel. We could take care of them now. But Israel is for later. We need to concentrate on Bashar.'...One of the big Nusra chants is: 'Oh Bashar, oh you coward, we want to go to the Golan!'"
    Of course, Padnos notes, capturing the Golan is just a start. "As they see it, this whole country, all the way to the sea, belongs to the Palestinians - the Arabs."

Canadian Terrorists Wanted to Kill Jewish Children - Geordon Omand (Canadian Press)
    A woman found guilty of helping to mastermind a terrorist bomb plot wanted to infiltrate a synagogue and kill "small Jews."
    Police notes presented in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday recounted Amanda Korody's husband, John Nuttall, telling an undercover officer that his wife believed she would be doing Jewish children a favor by sending them to paradise, since she believed "grown-up Jews" go to "eternal hell" when they die.
    Muslim converts Nuttall and Korody were found guilty of plotting to detonate homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the B.C. legislature during Canada Day celebrations two years ago.
    The court had heard that Nuttall and Korody both saw themselves as jihadist warriors behind enemy lines, waging holy war against the Western world for its treatment of Muslims.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Assad Pulls Back, Redeploys Syrian Forces - Nicholas Blanford
    The Syrian army has been decimated by four years of fighting, with the number of soldiers dropping due to casualties and desertions from a pre-civil war strength of 300,000 to 80,000-100,000, according to diplomatic sources in Beirut. Even the emergence of loyalist Shia militia fighters from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is proving insufficient to defeat the rebel forces. in recent days Assad has issued an amnesty for army deserters and draft dodgers in a desperate attempt to boost recruitment.
        Iran's strategic interests in Syria are mainly focused on territory in the coastal areas and the area contiguous to the border with Lebanon, through which weapons are smuggled to Hizbullah. Since March, Iranian and Hizbullah forces have directed their attention to parts of the country that could be included in the enclave. They have pulled out of most of southern Syria and are now deployed along a line at Kisweh, nine miles south of Damascus. In the coastal areas, they are helping establish a new militia called the Coastal Shield Brigade, formed mainly of Alawites who wish to fight closer to their homes. (Al Jazeera)
        See also Syrian Rebels Make Fresh Gains - Sam Dagher
    Syrian President Assad lost more territory on Tuesday to Islamist insurgents and Kurdish militias. In northwest Syria along Turkey's frontier, a coalition of Islamist rebel groups captured more than a dozen villages, checkpoints and installations in a strategic area straddling Hama, Idlib and Latakia provinces. The area constitutes the first line of defense of the Alawite heartland in western Syria and its center, Latakia city. (Wall Street Journal)
  • More than 20,000 French Jews Have Moved to Israel in Past Five Years
    More than 20,000 French Jews have moved to Israel over the past five years, according to the Jewish Agency, with a record of over 7,200 French Jews making aliyah in 2014. More than 200 French Jews, half of them children, arrived in Israel as new immigrants on Tuesday. Some 4,260 immigrants from France have arrived in Israel this year, an 11% increase over the same period in 2014.
       "We are seeing an unprecedented wave of Aliyah from European countries, which indicates not only how Europe is becoming an uncomfortable place for Jews, but - even more importantly - the extent to which Israel is becoming a magnet for Jews interested in a meaningful Jewish life, in freedom, personal security, and a sense of belonging to a country that is integral to the future of the Jewish people," said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Assad and Nasrallah Are Celebrating Iran Nuclear Deal - Yoni Hersch
    "In recent days, [Syrian President] Assad and [Hizbullah leader] Nasrallah have been celebrating the billions of dollars that they know Iran will give to their terror machine thanks to the Vienna agreement," Prime Minister Netanyahu said Monday, referring to the nuclear deal with Iran. "The agreement legitimizes both Iran's effort to arm itself with nuclear weapons and the continuation of its aggression....It would be better for there to be no deal at all instead of a bad deal."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Slams "Fundamentally Flawed" Amnesty Report Accusing IDF of Gaza War Crimes - Herb Keinon
    The Israel Foreign Ministry on Wednesday slammed a new Amnesty International report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in last year's Gaza conflict, calling it "fundamentally flawed" in its methodologies, facts, legal analysis and conclusions. The ministry said that despite abundant evidence, Amnesty does not describe the "heinous strategy" of the terrorist organizations that Israel was fighting to "embed their military operations within the civilian environment, and to fire at the IDF and Israel's civilian population from behind the civilian population."
        Amnesty also built a false narrative, claiming that four days of IDF military operations were in response to the killing and kidnapping of one IDF soldier, ignoring the fact that there was an ongoing conflict during which the IDF was trying to stop rocket fire and neutralize assault tunnels. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also "The 'Hannibal Procedure' in Rafah, August 1, 2014" in "The Legal War: Hamas' Crimes against Humanity and Israel's Right to Self-Defense" by Amb. Alan Baker in The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted - Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • What the Syrian Weapons Charade Says about the Iran Deal - Max Boot
    The Wall Street Journal exposed how Syria failed to comply with its obligations under the agreement with the U.S. to get rid of all its chemical weapons. "One year after the West celebrated the removal of Syria's arsenal as a foreign-policy success, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the regime didn't give up all of the chemical weapons it was supposed to."
        In reality, inspectors are at the mercy of their hosts who, after all, control the country and can prevent the inspectors from going where they are not wanted. In the real world, both the inspectors and the U.S. government are far more likely to overlook supposedly minor Iranian violations, while telling themselves that it's for the greater good because being overly confrontational will destroy the entire agreement. And even if it's caught, as Syria has been caught, what will happen? The Syrian example suggests the answer is: Nothing. The writer is a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Commentary)
        See also World Inspection Didn't Stop Syria's Chemical Weapons Use; Why Would Iran Be Different? - Ely Karmon
    Two years after Syria signed an agreement with the U.S. and Russia to dismantle its chemical weapons, U.S. intelligence agencies and chemical weapons inspectors have concluded that Syria has failed to fully and transparently account for its arsenal, developed new capabilities, and still uses chemical attacks on the battle front, without significant reaction from the international community. As the world signs a deal to rein in Iran's nuclear project, we should take note of how ineffective international oversight has been in Syria. The writer is senior research scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. (Ha'aretz)
  • Understanding the Polls on the Iran Deal - Mark Mellman
    How can Americans favor the Iran deal by 18 or 19 percentage points and oppose it by 8 or 10? The differences, I believe, come down mostly to the questions asked by the pollsters. If poll questions argue, in effect, that it's a good deal, Americans tend to support it. When people are asked their opinion in an unbiased way that reflects their own understanding of the agreement, they oppose it.
        When Pew asked simply, "From what you know, do you approve or disapprove of this agreement?," unaffected by a positive description of the deal, just 33% approve, while 45% disapprove. In short, every poll that finds support for the Iran agreement includes a question that explains why people should support it while casting no doubts. Every poll that offers a neutral description, or none at all, finds Americans opposed to the agreement. Moreover, every poll indicates Americans don't believe this deal will work. The writer has worked for Democratic candidates and causes since 1982. (The Hill)
        See also Survey of Jewish Americans: The More They Know about Iran Deal the More They Oppose It - Dovid Efune (Algemeiner)

What Israeli Intelligence Learned about the Iran Talks - Ronen Bergman (Tablet)

  • On Nov. 26, 2013, three days after the signing of the interim agreement between the powers and Iran, the Iranian delegation returned home to report to their government. According to information obtained by Israeli intelligence, there was a sense of great satisfaction in Tehran then over the agreement and confidence that ultimately Iran would be able to persuade the West to accede to a final deal favorable to Iran.
  • The Iranian delegates told their superiors that "our most significant achievement" was America's consent to the continued enrichment of uranium on Iranian territory - a complete about-face from America's declared position prior to and during the talks.
  • In early 2013, Israel learned from intelligence sources in Iran that the U.S. held a secret dialogue with senior Iranian representatives in Muscat, Oman. Only toward the end of these talks did Israel receive an official report about them from the U.S. government. Shortly afterward, the CIA and NSA drastically curtailed cooperation with Israel on operations aimed at disrupting the Iranian nuclear project, operations that had racked up significant successes over the past decade.
  • Perusal of the intelligence material makes two conclusions fairly clear: The Western delegates gave up on almost every one of the critical issues they had themselves resolved not to give in on, and also that they had distinctly promised Israel they would not do so.
  • Israeli intelligence points to the Teba and Tesa plants in Iran's military industry that are currently engaged in the development of new centrifuges: the IR6 and IR8. The new centrifuges will allow the Iranians to set up smaller enrichment facilities that are much more difficult to detect and that shorten the break-out time to a bomb.
  • President Obama said at the Saban Forum that Iran has no need for advanced centrifuges and his representatives promised Israel several times that further R&D on them would not be permitted. In the final agreement Iran is permitted to continue developing the advanced centrifuges.

    The writer is a senior political and military analyst for Yediot Ahronot.

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