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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 7, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu: Israel to Increase Surveillance Cameras on West Bank Roads - Herb Keinon and Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel will place cameras both on the ground and in the air over West Bank roads that will be linked to IDF command centers to provide immediate response to violence on the roads, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the site where terrorists murdered Eitam and Naama Henkin last week.
    He said that the enhanced surveillance, along with the ability for quick response, can "significantly" improve Israel's ability to both thwart attacks and apprehend the perpetrators.

Israel Police: This Is Not an Intifada - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Tuesday, "This is not an intifada. On the scale of an intifada, we've dealt with much worse."
    "Let's put this into perspective: During the last intifada there were thousands of Palestinians on the streets carrying out attacks."

IDF Increasing Security for Israeli Communities near Gaza - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday the completion of sensor-based electronic security fences surrounding 12 Israeli communities near the border with Gaza.
    "The smart fence will form a physical obstacle if there is an attempted infiltration into a community. It will send a warning to a regional council control room and to the IDF every time the fence detects contact," the ministry said.
    Yitzhak Levi at the Defense Ministry said the fences form "one component in a basket of solutions that the defense establishment has formulated to strengthen the communities."
    The IDF has deployed a new hi-tech underground tunnel detection system in the south, while the army's Combat Intelligence Collection units look not only at enemy activities in Gaza, but also back into Israel, to ensure that they can detect and respond to cross-border infiltrations quickly. They rely on high-rise radar masts and electro-optical sensors.
    Mobile field intelligence units also quietly move around the region, scanning for infiltrators.

Report: Major Oil Reserve Found on Golan Heights (Times of Israel)
    "Significant amounts" of oil have been found by a company drilling on the Golan Heights, Yuval Bartov, chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the American company Genie Energy, told Channel 2. "We're talking about a layer 350 meters thick."

BBC Hints Palestinian Murderer Was Victim - Eli Leon and Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)
    After a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Jewish Israelis and opened fire at security forces before he was shot dead by police on Saturday, BBC News reported the incident with the headline: "Palestinian Shot Dead after Jerusalem Attack Kills Two."
    The headline sidelined the deadly attack, and ignored the fact that the Palestinian who was killed was its perpetrator.
    American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted, "To be fair, it takes a great deal of creativity to come up with headlines like this one."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian General Plotted Out Syrian Assault in Moscow - Laila Bassam and Tom Perry
    At a meeting in Moscow in July, Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his hosts how Russian military intervention could reshape the Syrian war and forge a new Iranian-Russian alliance in support of Assad. As Russian warplanes bomb rebels from above, the arrival of Iranian special forces for ground operations underscores several months of planning.
        Three senior officials in the region say Soleimani's July trip was preceded by high-level Russian-Iranian contacts that produced political agreement on the need to pump in new support for Assad as his losses accelerated. (Reuters)
  • Nuclear Smugglers Sought Middle East Terrorist Buyers - Desmond Butler and Vadim Ghirda
    In Eastern Europe, authorities working with the FBI have interrupted four attempts in the past five years by gangs with suspected Russian connections that sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists. In February this year, a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly cesium - enough to contaminate several city blocks - and sought a buyer from the Islamic State. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Signs in the West Bank Point to Cooling Off - Amos Harel
    Israel is following the policy that served it well since the Second Intifada ebbed a decade ago. A temporary increase of forces, expanded arrest sweeps and efforts to restore close coordination with the Palestinian security forces should achieve the goal, according to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. There is no talk of intifada because the army believes the term does not describe events in Jerusalem and the West Bank right now. On Tuesday the IDF identified a clear directive by the Palestinian Authority leadership to its security forces to rein in the violence. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Spirit of the Intifada, with Restraint on Both Sides - Seth J. Frantzman
    Young Palestinians arrived at the Kalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Tuesday to throw stones at Israeli soldiers and then go home. One unit of Israeli Border Police had as many troops holding cameras to photograph the perpetrators as forces wielding tear gas launchers. They seemed more interested in detaining the Palestinians later on rather than take the risk of chasing them through the alleyways of the neighboring refugee camp. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also PA Instability Adding to Unrest - Yaakov Lappin
    The Palestinian Authority's instability is one of the main factors contributing to the current wave of unrest, a senior Israeli security source said Tuesday. "When there is a lack of sovereign stability, this ultimately radiates to other places. It finds expression in the [PA] security forces, and how much they can control armed Tanzim operatives, how much they can control the Fatah organization." PA security forces are reluctant to enter some neighborhoods that are controlled by Tanzim operatives, the source said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Authority Paying Convicted Hamas Terrorists - Herb Keinon
    While the international community often hears complaints from the PA that it is running out of funds, newly revealed documents show that the PA pays tens of millions of shekels every month to terrorists in Israeli jails, Israel Radio reported Tuesday. Most of those receiving PA "salaries" are Hamas members who were behind some of the bloodiest terrorist attacks of the Second Intifada.
        An Israeli government source said these payments clearly show that the PA provides economic incentives for carrying out terrorist acts. Moreover, the PA payments help bolster the image of the terrorists as heroes. Those who sit in jail for longer periods get more money, meaning that "the more gruesome the terrorism, the more money will be paid," the source said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • What If Israel Had Given Up the Golan Heights? A Lesson for Syria's Crisis - Aaron David Miller
    As Syria continues to be ravaged, I wonder what would have happened had U.S. efforts succeeded in negotiating an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement in the 1990s. I was part of a U.S. negotiating team that tried to reach such a deal. But had we succeeded, the results might have been catastrophic for Israel and for the U.S.  Rarely did we focus on the prospect that an Israeli-Syrian accord might be at risk if instability in Syria led to a change in regime.
        With Hafez Assad there was an assumption that his brutality in suppressing dissent would guarantee stability. Rarely has a political judgment been more wrongheaded. What we failed to realize was that any deal to return the Golan Heights occupied by the Israelis in 1967 was likely to be the most fraught precisely because Assad was so cruel in his policies and that his regime consisted of an Alawite minority governing a Sunni majority. It was only a matter of time before Syria experienced real instability.
        Had Israel given up the Golan, today it would face a hot front confronting Hizbullah, Iran, and a range of Islamist jihadis. Given the Golan's strategic importance, Israel would have had to reoccupy it and would have found itself in the middle of Syria's civil war. It's a cautionary tale for well-intentioned U.S. and Israeli peacemakers alike. The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Civilian Casualties: Does U.S. Hold Itself to Same High Standards It Holds Israel? - Editorial
    In August 2014, the State Department called Israel's shelling of a UN school in Gaza "disgraceful," adding: "The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians." This week AP reporter Matt Lee asked Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner about U.S. policy in light of Saturday's U.S. bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that left 22 patients and staff dead.
        While Toner apologized for the loss of life and stressed that the U.S. avoids civilian casualties, he told Lee to "give me a pass [while] we wait for the investigation to run its course." His response flies in the face of last year's instantaneous criticism of Israel - made long before any investigation had even begun.
        Enemies like the Taliban, Hamas and Hizbullah quite intentionally hide among civilians, using them as human shields. Israel has known that for a long time - and now the Obama administration is painfully coming to learn it, too. (New York Post)
  • The Russian-Iranian Gambit in Syria - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
    Russia and Iran are taking advantage of the weakness displayed by world leaders and are trying to expand their global influence and dominance across as much as they can of the Fertile Crescent, which spans Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, and Egypt. Russia brings its considerable international political clout and advanced military capabilities into this equation, while Iran brings funds, knowledge about the lay of the land, and Hizbullah - a large, trained, and well-armed fighting force, dedicated to doing its patron's bidding.
        The war in Syria will escalate to a fight to the death because, contrary to the hope expressed by external elements, no compromise can be brokered between the rebel Sunni forces and Assad's Alawite regime. The hatred between the Sunnis and Alawites is so intense that the chance of launching a true negotiation that could breed an actual agreement is nonexistent. The writer is a former national security advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

The Nuclear Agreement Boosts Iran's Missile Threat - Uzi Rubin (Defense News)

  • One of the most significant criticisms of the Iran nuclear accord (JCPOA) is the apparent absence of any limitation on Iran's potential nuclear delivery systems, most notably its ballistic missiles. The deal's supporters say its provisions continue to restrict Iran from building "missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads" for the next eight years.
  • This is contested by Iran's foreign minister, who maintains that the JCPOA has nothing to do with Iran's missiles because they are not designed to carry nuclear weapons. So will the nuclear deal with Iran reduce its missile threat, or will it leave Iran free to build nuclear-capable missiles to its heart's content?
  • Some ballistic missiles were designed to carry nuclear weapons but, if needed, are capable of carrying conventional warheads. Similarly, many ballistic missiles built for conventional missions, such as the ex-Soviet Scud, are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Thus, for Iran, the JCPOA limitation on "missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads" is irrelevant because all of Iran's medium-range missiles are dual-purpose.
  • So it stands to reason that the nuclear deal is not going to block or even slow down any of Iran's missile programs. If anything, the money released by the JCPOA is bound to accelerate them.
  • Not to worry, claim the nuclear deal advocates: Iran's conventional missiles are inaccurate. The truth is that Iran is introducing high-precision capabilities to its entire gamut of ballistic weapons. Anthony Cordesman predicted that by 2016 Iran will deploy a 1,700-km.-range, precise, terminally guided variant of the Shahab 3. Right on cue, a flight test of a terminally guided version of the Shahab 3 appeared in a recent Iranian video clip from Sept. 27, 2015.
  • In the Gulf region, shorter-range precision missiles that can hit individual aircraft shelters in air force bases are already deployed by Iran. Such precision missiles are significant game changers: The same missiles can also hit and destroy critical national infrastructure such as power stations, desalination plants, and nuclear power stations - causing Chernobyl-scale disaster. This is an existential threat by any other name.
  • Iran's missile threat is fast growing in quantity and quality. With the end of the sanctions regime, Iran is bound to accelerate its ability to draw on the latest Western technology, facilitated by over-the-counter sales to the now-rehabilitated Islamic Republic of Iran.

    The writer is founder of Israel's Missile Defense Organization.

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