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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
December 1, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Greece to Defy EU Order on Labeling Settlement Goods - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    A day after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Jerusalem, his foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informing him of the opposition by Athens to the EU guidelines on labeling settlement products.

Israeli Surveillance Balloon Guarding Paris Climate Summit - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli-made surveillance balloon is being used by the Paris municipal police to help guard the global climate change summit currently underway in Paris.
    RT LTA System Ltd.'s SkyStart 180 Aerostat is providing surveillance and public security services.

Egypt Discovers Iron Tunnel Network under Gaza Border - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Egyptian border guards discovered a network of 17 underground tunnels with walls of iron 40 cm. thick under the border with Gaza on Friday, according to Egyptian security officials.
    Building such a tunnel would be extremely expensive. The Egyptian news portal al-Masrawi reported that Egyptian officials believe Hamas used considerable funding from Qatar to construct the tunnels.

UK Bank Closes Accounts of Palestine Solidarity Campaign - Camilla Turner (Telegraph-UK)
    The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in the UK has had its accounts closed by the Co-operative Bank over fears that it may be inadvertently funding terrorism.
    The bank had requested that PSC carry out "advanced due diligence checks" on their accounts to ensure that funds do not "inadvertently fund illegal or other proscribed activities."
    It was "not possible to complete these checks to our satisfaction and the decision to close a number of accounts, including the PSC and some of its affiliates, is an inevitable result of this process."

U.S. Women's Studies Association Votes to Support BDS Against Israel (JTA)
    The National Women's Studies Association voted 653 to 86 last month to join the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

Israeli Army Trains for Anti-Tunnel Warfare - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Funded in part from U.S. military aid, a massive new IDF urban training base with underground facilities for anti-tunnel warfare is under construction in the Golan Heights.
    The Snir training base is "a city on top of a city, with all the sophisticated instrumentation and live-fire opportunities needed to train all echelons for all scenarios...on the ground and under the ground," said Ground Forces commander Maj.-Gen. Guy Zur.
    Units will begin training at the new facility next year, with the new base to be fully operational by the end of 2017.
    In recent months, Israeli contractors supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have dug out tunnels designed to replicate the underground labyrinth that Hamas used in the Gaza war in 2014.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Scores of Iranian Fighters Are Dying in Syria, Iranian Media Reveal - Hugh Naylor
    An increasing number of Iranian soldiers and militiamen appear to be dying in Syria's civil war, Iranian media are reporting. At least 67 Iranians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of October. "They are proud of this and they want to show it," said Ali Alfoneh, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
        Phillip Smyth, a researcher on Shiite militant groups at the University of Maryland, said 2,000 Iranians or more could be deployed in Syria. And they appear to be increasingly involved in "direct combat" operations since Russia, another Syrian ally, began launching airstrikes at rebels in September, which could explain the rising death toll, Smyth said. (Washington Post)
  • Islamic State Defections Mount as Death Toll Rises, U.S. Official Says - Tom Vanden Brook
    Defections of Islamic State fighters have begun to thin their ranks in Iraq in the last month, intelligence reports show. Military officials estimate that the campaign has killed 23,000 Islamic State fighters, raising their death toll by 3,000 since mid-October. Near Kirkuk in the last week, 90 Islamic State fighters laid down their arms and turned themselves over to Kurdish peshmerga forces, said Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition in Baghdad. (USA Today)
  • Islamic State Tightens Grip on Libyan Stronghold of Sirte - Tamer El-Ghobashy and Hassan Morajea
    The Islamic State has exploited the deep divisions in Libya, which has two rival governments, to establish a new base close to Europe where it can generate oil revenue and plot terror attacks. Its presence in Sirte, with a population of 700,000 on the Mediterranean coast, has grown over the past year from 200 fighters to 5,000, according to Libyan intelligence officials. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Sirte in Libya May Be Islamic State's Fallback Option - David D. Kirkpatrick
    As the Islamic State has come under growing military and economic pressure in Syria and Iraq, its leaders may be preparing to fall back to Sirte, Libya, today an ISIS colony. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabbing Attacks Continue Tuesday - Chaim Levinson
    A Palestinian man wounded an Israeli in a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank on Tuesday morning. The assailant, Mahmoud El-Khatib from the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, was shot dead.
        A Palestinian woman tried to stab an IDF officer on Tuesday morning at a checkpoint near Einav in the northern West Bank before being shot and killed by the officer.
        In addition, a Palestinian woman carrying a knife at the Efrat junction in Gush Etzion was arrested by soldiers at the scene. (Ha'aretz-Times of Israel)
  • Abbas Accuses Israel of Destroying Palestinian Environment
    In a speech at the UN Paris Climate Summit on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Israel is carrying out ecological attacks against the Palestinians. (i24 News)
        See also Netanyahu: If Abbas Is Committed to Peace, He Must Stop Inciting His People Against Israel
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Climate Conference in Paris on Monday: "We have to recognize that radical incitement and lies feed terrorism. Those who are committed to peace must fight incitement, must speak the truth. If President Abbas is committed to peace, he must stop inciting his people against Israel, and start condemning the murder of innocents in Israel."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Netanyahu Calls for Friendly Countries to Change UN Voting Pattern on Israel - Herb Keinon
    Israel will begin asking countries with whom it has friendly ties and who want Israeli cooperation to change their anti-Israel voting patterns at the UN, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday after speaking with numerous heads of state at the climate conference in Paris. Netanyahu said leaders from around the world - including Arab states - approached him at the conference to talk about counter-terrorism and technological issues.
        Netanyahu met in Paris with U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe, French President Francois Hollande, and even shook hands and greeted PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel's Gulf Breakthrough - Simon Henderson
    Last week, the United Arab Emirates gave Israel formal permission to establish a diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi under the auspices of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Although officials from both governments noted that the office is solely intended to facilitate Israel's membership in the agency, the announcement should be seen in the context of improving Israeli-Gulf relations. In fact, the new office is Israel's second diplomatic presence in a Persian Gulf country. This latest advance should also be seen as a consequence of the Obama administration's perceived embrace of Iran. The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Paris Attacks and Brussels Raids Prompt Belgium's Jews to Consider New Exodus - Matthew Holehouse
    Betty Dan owes her life to a Belgian Catholic family who heroically sheltered her parents during the Nazi occupation. A former president of Belgium's Zionist association, Mrs. Dan helps organize property fairs for some of the 200 Belgians a year who move to Israel. Reluctantly, she is thinking of following them, as are many others. Since the Paris attacks, she has received telephone calls from people seeking information on moving at a rate of five a day, compared to one a week previously. "It is young people with children who sell their houses and leave everything. They are scared," said Mrs. Dan. "We don't feel safe."
        Last weekend, as troops in armored vans patroled the streets, Brussels' Grand Synagogue closed its doors for Shabbat for the first time since the Second World War. Avraham Guigui, the chief rabbi, told Israel Radio, "People realize there is no future for Jews in Europe." Belgian government figures recorded 130 reported anti-Semitic incidents last year, a 10-year high and a 50% increase on the year before. Rabbi Avi Tawil, director of the European Jewish Community Center in Brussels, said, "We see people are targeted for being Jewish in the streets all the time....I do hear around me this idea coming over and over: that we should not think of Brussels or Europe as a long-term strategy for our children."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Important Things to Remember about the 1947 Partition Plan - Alan Baker
    The 1947 Partition Plan adopted on November 29, 1947, recognized the uniqueness of Jerusalem and the Jewish people's bond to the city, while establishing the principle of two states for two peoples. Had the Arabs agreed to live with the resolution as the Israelis did, despite its drawbacks, we would be in a different situation today with far fewer bereaved families on both sides.
        Because of the Arabs' rejection of the resolution and their decision to fight its implementation, all claims about Israel's rights are still valid and remain unchanged until agreement on a permanent settlement is reached, contravening any assertion by the UN and the Europeans about the territory belonging to the Palestinians. The writer served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's ambassador to Canada. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Paris Attacks: Not a Strategic Change, But a Natural Development - Yoram Schweitzer (Institute for National Security Studies)

  • The terrorist attacks in Paris were planned in Syria long in advance, with final preparations made in Belgium. The terrorist network involved in the multi-pronged strike consisted of at least nine members, seven of whom were suicide attackers. Another attack seems to have been planned for a financial district in the city.
  • Since the start of this year, Muslim citizens of Western countries who fought in the ranks of the Islamic State are known to have planned to attack targets in France, Germany, the UK, Turkey, and elsewhere, but these attacks were foiled. The terrorists' intentions indicate that the Paris attacks and the others that were planned do not represent a radical departure from the Islamic State's strategy against Western nations.
  • The thousands of foreign volunteers that have been absorbed into the ranks of the Islamic State over the last three years were trained as fighters and suicide attackers. Clearly, the governing idea was that when the time was right, it would be possible to have these operatives launch an international terrorism campaign.
  • The notion that the Islamic State would avoid international terrorism was clearly unfounded. Video clips disseminated by Islamic State members and sympathizers included declarations by foreign volunteers of their intention to undertake acts of terrorism in Western nations. These messages must be viewed as a strategic warning.
  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State and its self-appointed caliph, has directly challenged the leaders of Russia, Europe, and NATO by means of mass casualty terrorist attacks carried out recently by his proxies. The Islamic State's declared worldview is one of Armageddon, which promises that the war of Judgment Day will restore Islam to its proper supremacy.

    The writer is head of the research program on Terror and Low-Intensity Conflict at the INSS, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community.

        See also Connecting the Terror in Paris with the Terror Against Israel - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Ha'aretz-Hebrew-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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