Hamas Planned Massive Attack on Sderot during 2014 Gaza War (Israel Hayom)
The Israel Defense Forces thwarted a major Hamas terrorist attack in Sderot last summer during the 2014 Gaza war, Southern Brigade commander Col. Dado Bar-Kalifa revealed Monday.
Four soldiers, including battalion commander Lt. Col. Dolev Kedar, were killed on July 22, 2014, in a clash with Hamas terrorists emerging out of a tunnel dug near Kibbutz Nir Am.
"The Nir Am tunnel attack was mistakenly named, before we learned of the enemy's plans to reach Sderot," Bar-Kalifa said.
The terrorists killed in the clash "planned to lead 60 terrorists to the heart of an Israeli community, where they planned to embark on a killing spree and abduct soldiers and civilians," he said.
See also Hamas' Tunnel Network: A Massacre in the Making - Daniel Rubenstein (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
From The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted - Hirsh Goodman and Dore Gold, eds.
Iraqi Troops Close In on Ramadi, Retake Army Headquarters - Mustafa Salim and Hugh Naylor (Washington Post)
Iraqi forces announced Tuesday that they had driven the Islamic State out of large parts of Ramadi including a military command center for Anbar province, seven months after the city's fall to the extremist group.
But areas still under Islamic State control have been rigged with explosives and booby traps, potentially exposing civilians and Iraqi forces to lethal threats, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.
U.S. Citizen Charged with Smuggling to Islamic Militants in Syria - Ben Nuckols (AP-Military Times)
Amin al-Baroudi, 50, a Syrian-born U.S. citizen, has been charged with smuggling rifle scopes, night-vision goggles and other military-style gear from the U.S. to Islamic militants in his home country between 2011 and 2013, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.
The goods went to the insurgent group Ahrar el-Sham, which aims to establish an Islamic state in Syria and fights alongside al-Qaeda's official branch there.
In one personal document, al-Baroudi boasted of having sent hundreds of rifle scopes to Syria, prosecutors said.
Israeli Customs Seize 4,000 Palestinian Dolls Brandishing Rocks - Julian Robinson (Daily Mail-UK)
Israeli customs have seized 4,000 keffiyeh-wearing Palestinian dolls dressed in the style of Palestinian militants with their faces hidden by scarves leaving just their eyes visible. In their right hands, the dolls hold up rocks.
"Toys that show the throwing of stones at other people make this activity seem normal - they make an aggressive, violent behavior normal," said Shelley Elkayam, an advisor to the education committee in Israel's parliament.
Ofir Gendelman, an Israeli government spokesman, said: "When indoctrination and incitement of Palestinian children to hate and kill Israelis begin at pre-school ages, it's no wonder they go and murder Israelis when they are teenagers or older."
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- Iran, U.S. Seek Deal to Send Enriched Uranium to Kazakhstan - Laurence Norman and Jay Solomon
The U.S. is helping Iran with an arrangement to send part of its nuclear fuel stockpile to Kazakhstan, a step that would ease swift sanctions relief for Tehran. However, U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday that Iran last month conducted its second ballistic missile launch since the nuclear agreement in an apparent violation of a UN Security Council resolution.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Americans Attracted to ISIS Find an "Echo Chamber" on Social Media - Scott Shane, Matt Apuzzo and Eric Schmitt
The online community of Islamic State sympathizers in the U.S. numbers in the hundreds, experts say. They have spent months marinating in the rhetoric and symbolism of the Islamic State, courtesy of Twitter and other Internet platforms. In this electronic hothouse of mutual support, a sort of round-the-clock pep rally for a cause most Muslims shun, Americans join other English speakers to try to outdo one another in pious zeal.
Anat Agron, who tracks English-speaking Islamic State supporters for the Middle East Media Research Institute, described the initial reaction to the San Bernardino attack: "People were rejoicing, celebrating. They were talking about how beautiful it was for a married couple to do this together." (New York Times)
See also Lawmakers Propose to Have Social Media Companies Report "Terrorist Activity" - Tami Abdollah
Responding to the San Bernardino shootings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced legislation Tuesday to require social media companies to report any online terrorist activity they become aware of to law enforcement, such as attack planning, recruiting or distribution of terrorist material. Social media increasingly has become a tool of recruitment and radicalization used by Islamic State, and tech companies are dedicating more resources to tracking reports of terrorist or other violent threats. The bill models a law that requires reporting of online child pornography.
But it's also unclear if the bill is necessary. FBI Director James Comey, discussing the tech industry, told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in July: "I do find in practice that they are pretty good about telling us what they see." (AP-U.S. News)
- Arab Bank Wins U.S. Appeal over Terror-Finance Claims - Nate Raymond
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Tuesday upheld a 2013 ruling that non-U.S. citizens could not pursue claims against the Jordan-based Arab Bank Plc, which a jury last year found liable for providing material support for Hamas in a trial pursued by Americans.
More than 6,000 plaintiffs accused Arab Bank of financing terrorism by providing services to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and others behind attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza from 1995 to 2005. Arab Bank agreed in August to settle lawsuits by about 500 U.S. citizens who sued it under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which permits U.S. citizens to pursue claims arising from international terrorism.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- 5 Arab Israelis Arrested for IS Support, Planning Terror Attacks - Judah Ari Gross
Israel has arrested five Israeli Arabs from Nazareth for supporting the Islamic State and preparing to carry out terror attacks, the Israel Security Agency announced Tuesday. The cell's members, all from the same family, trained in the use of weapons ahead of planned attacks in Israel. Over the past year, they became more religious and expressed support of the Islamic State and jihad. Two rifles were confiscated in the arrests.
All told, at least 40 Israeli Arabs are believed to have joined the Islamic State in recent years.
(Times of Israel)
- IDF Uses Power of Persuasion to Dissuade Next Lone Attacker - Ron Ben-Yishai
Col. Roman Gofman, the Etzion Brigade Commander, says, "It is possible to locate the lone terrorist before he has taken the final decision to stab or run over someone and stop it. This requires two things: locating the potential attacker and then putting pressure on him or persuading him not to carry out the attack."
At 4 a.m. in the Palestinian town of Beit Ummar in the West Bank, fighters from the Kfir Brigade make their way to the addresses of fewer than 20 potential lone attackers that have been identified. The soldiers go from one address to another and knock on the door - if possible without shouting and drawing their guns - and go inside to talk. Experience shows that these talks, before a potential terrorist carries out his plan, are very influential.
The women and young children are sent into another room and then comes direct conversation between men. A soldier says in fluent Arabic: "Be careful. We see your children. They are engaged in activities that endanger you and endanger themselves. Make sure they don't get into trouble." Gofman tells me: "Palestinian families...do not want their sons to commit suicide....So they are therefore a powerful influence through whom we try to act."
"In earlier periods terrorists wanted to kill Jews and some were willing to become martyrs for it. Now they want to become martyrs and if they can kill a couple of Jews while accomplishing that then all the better. One way or another they are lauded and gain status in Palestinian society. They are the target of incitement from all directions. Lone attacks are a result of a vicious cycle whose essence is imitation and inspiration." (Ynet News)
- Fatah, with Mahmoud Abbas at the Helm, Confirms the Confrontation Strategy toward Israel - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
The Fatah Central Committee gave its backing to a strategy that combines the terror intifada with diplomatic and legal moves in the international arena aimed at achieving recognition of the state of Palestine, as well as an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with no political quid pro quo from the Palestinians.
The Committee convened on Dec. 6 at Mahmoud Abbas' presidential headquarters in Ramallah. As described in the Palestinian media, "The meeting began with readings of Surat Al-Fatihah in remembrance of the souls of the heroic martyrs, and it [the Committee] conveyed its condolences and appreciation to the families of the martyrs."
The Committee did not condemn the acts of violence. It characterized the foiling of terror attacks as "executions," chose to call the perpetrators "heroes," and promised to assist their families. The Palestinian leadership thereby gave full backing to the continuation of the terror wave against Israel.
Moreover, "The Central Committee condemned the decision of the occupation municipality to establish new facts in the Al-Buraq [Western Wall] area, and views this as a continuation of the change of the existing situation in the city of Al-Quds and particularly in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings." The wording indicates that the Palestinian leadership, with Abbas at the helm, denies the Jewish right to the area of the Western Wall and regards it as a sacred Islamic site that is an inseparable part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- How to Defeat ISIS - Giora Eiland
From a purely military point of view, ISIS is very weak. They do not have an air force, long-range missiles, or sophisticated weapons. However, their totalitarian ideology speaks to the hearts and the minds of many Muslims. And if they were to acquire unconventional weapons, especially chemical or biological weapons, they would be happy to use them.
The steps needed to defeat ISIS include cooperating with Russia; persuading Turkey to play a constructive role; supporting the Kurdish forces on the ground; ensuring a flow of actionable intelligence that can be translated into timely and effective strikes to destroy ISIS; passing a UN resolution making it clear that any state, company or individual that trades with ISIS will face very painful sanctions; and waging a real battle of ideas.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli National Security Council, is now a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
What Israel Should Do to Lay the Groundwork for Peace - Reuven Rivlin (Washington Post)
- There is no currently viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no diplomatic process underway, and no indication of imminent negotiations. Yet we are duty bound to recognize where and how we can take effective action to improve the prospect that we will be able to live together, Jews and Arabs, in our region as we are destined rather than doomed to do.
- Independent of the geopolitical territorial debate, it is clear that cultivating channels of communication and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen, educators and cultural figures improves our situation.
- Confidence, however, cannot be built unilaterally. It is clear that the Palestinians must end the incitement and violence against Israel. They must end the rejection of the very existence of Israel.
- To Palestinian youths I say: Lives matter. Our lives matter. Your lives matter. I urge Palestinian parents and teachers to foster in their young dreams of life, not aspirations of death. The struggle between our peoples has already seen so much death and bloodshed - more is not going to solve it.
- The international community, led by the United States, has a crucial role to play. Nurturing mutual values and encouraging dialogue and cooperation can help lay the groundwork for a future settlement - whenever it may come - and make its success ever more likely.
The writer is President of Israel.
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