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December 21, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Shells South Lebanon after Rocket Fire on Western Galilee - Adiv Sterman and Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Israel Defense Forces artillery units shelled targets in South Lebanon Sunday evening after at least three rockets struck open areas near Nahariya in the Western Galilee.
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command took responsibility for the rocket fire, according to Lebanese media.
    UNIFIL Head of Mission Maj.-Gen. Luciano Portolano said, "This is a serious incident in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701....It is imperative to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack."

Iranian Hackers Infiltrated New York Dam in 2013 - Danny Yadron (Wall Street Journal)
    Iranian hackers infiltrated the control system of a small dam less than 20 miles from New York City two years ago, sparking concerns that reached to the White House.
    In an age of digital state-on-state conflict, America's power grid, factories, pipelines, bridges and dams - all prime targets for digital armies - are sitting largely unprotected on the Internet.
    A hacker could theoretically control the flow in pipelines, the movements of drawbridges and water releases from dams.
    At a hacker conference last year, Cesar Cerrudo, an Argentine researcher and chief technology officer at IOActive Labs, wowed the audience when he showed how he could manipulate traffic lights in major U.S. cities.
    Last winter, the German government reported that hackers broke into the control system at a domestic steel plant and caused "massive" damage to a blast furnace.

American Jewish Committee Seeks End to Security Ban for U.S. Jews with Family in Israel (Times of Israel)
    The American Jewish Committee has urged the U.S. government to end a decades-long policy of denying security clearance for U.S. Jews with family in Israel.
    Citing the case of a Jewish dentist in New York whose security clearance was denied after it emerged he had relatives in Israel, AJC general counsel Marc Stern slammed "the shopworn canard of dual loyalty" and demanded an end to the practice.

IDF Trains Soldiers to Defend Against Knife Attacks (Israel Defense Forces)
    In recent weeks, the IDF Central Command Training Center has launched a new crash course to teach soldiers how to fend off terrorists.
    Soldiers participate in Krav Maga workshops that provide them with advanced skills in self-defense.
    During the course, soldiers take part in simulations testing their ability to stop stabbings as well as attempted abductions.
    Computers measure how each soldier responds and record each delayed reaction. The soldiers are able to see their mistakes and learn how not to repeat them.
    In one session, soldiers have to decide how to respond when rioters block traffic and terrorists who fire at them are hiding inside the mob.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah: Terrorist Leader Samir Kuntar Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Syria - Mariam Karouny
    Lebanese militant leader Samir Kuntar was killed in an Israeli strike in Damascus early on Sunday, Hizbullah said. Kuntar had joined Hizbullah after being released from an Israeli jail in a prisoner swap in 2008. In 1979, Kuntar, then a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, participated in a brutal raid from Lebanon in which he helped kidnap an Israeli family from Nahariya, then smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with his rifle butt, killing her. Three other Israelis, including her father, Danny Haran, were killed in the attack.
        After 29 years in an Israeli prison, he was released and helped to organize terror cells on the Golan Heights and elsewhere charged with carrying out attacks against Israel. (Reuters-Times of Israel)
        See also Kuntar Was Planning Major Terror Attack on Israel - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Samir Kuntar was believed to be in the final stages of planning and carrying out a major terror attack against Israel from the Golan Heights, according to highly reliable Western sources. The sources said Kuntar had recently not been working on behalf of Hizbullah, but rather acting with increasing independence alongside pro-Assad militias in Syria.
        What is interesting is that the Syrian regime refuses to lay the responsibility for the incident on Israel and its media is barely covering Kuntar's killing. (Ynet News)
        See also Samir Kuntar: Iranian Proxy Leader Killed in Syria - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • French Prime Minister Condemns Campaigns to Boycott Israeli Products - Lahav Harkov
    In response to a question from French MP Meyer Habib on the anti-Israeli BDS campaigns, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the French parliament: "I tell you here clearly: we condemn all campaigns of boycott against Israeli products....There is no sense in these campaigns and therefore the French government from this point of view is very clear....Unfortunately, there are too many initiatives that intentionally mix legitimate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Zionism that turns into anti-Semitism."  (European Jewish Press-Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Terrorist Stabs Four Israelis in Central Israel on Saturday - Avi Cohen and Danielle Roth-Avneri
    On Saturday afternoon in a public playground in Raanana, north of Tel Aviv, "I saw a young man approach a park bench where a man and a woman were sitting and stab the man," said Moshe, an eyewitness. The Palestinian, Mahmoud Faisal Basharat, from the West Bank, then "ran toward the synagogue and tried to get in....He couldn't get in, so he started running forward. He stabbed a woman in the hand," said Shoshana, another eyewitness.
        The perpetrator was running in and out of yards and tried to break into homes. "I was in the kitchen and the terrorist came in through the sliding glass window and stood right next to me," Dikla Dvir, 46, recalled. "I thought he was a burglar, but...he started stabbing me. I pushed him out and quickly locked the window while my husband and youngest son ran all around the house locking doors. I called the police...and they caught him."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Palestinian Woman Tries to Stab Soldier at Hebron Checkpoint on Sunday - Roi Yanovsky and Yoav Zitun
    A Palestinian woman tried to stab an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron on Sunday and was shot and wounded by troops at the scene. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Provokes the World - Editorial
    Iran is following through on the nuclear deal in an utterly predictable way: It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100 billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas - and daring the West to respond.
        Now a UN panel has determined that Iran test-fired a nuclear-capable missile on Oct. 10, in violation of a UN resolution that prohibits such launches. Moreover, it appears likely that a second missile launch occurred on Nov. 21, also in violation of Security Council Resolution 1929.
        U.S. officials argue that Iran's nonnuclear violations make it all the more important that the nuclear deal be implemented. But that ignores the clear connections between the missile launches and Tehran's ambitions to become a nuclear power. The only practical military purpose of the missiles the regime is testing is to carry atomic warheads.
        Iran is clearly testing the will of the U.S. to enforce the overall regime limiting its nuclear ambitions. If there is no serious response, it will press the boundaries in other areas - such as the inspection regime. The administration would be wise to take firm action now in response to the missile tests rather than trying to sweep them under the carpet. (Washington Post)
  • When Truth Is Prohibited: Why Western Leaders Refuse to Call Jihadist Terror by Name - Gadi Taub
    The Women's Studies Association in the U.S. recently voted to join the academic boycott of Israel on grounds of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. It didn't occur to the association to boycott, say, Saudi Arabia, whose human-rights record is incomparably worse, not to mention its treatment of women.
        The last half century has seen a revolution in academia nothing short of astounding. Whole disciplines have replaced their original vocation, the quest for truth, with the diametric opposite: an explicit prohibition on telling the truth. Once, we are told, we believed in objective truth. But now that we have matured and learned that there is no objective truth, only points of view, we have become more modest and tolerant. We would simply extend equality from people to values, thus becoming sensitive not just to the political rights of Others and minorities but also to their cultures, self-esteem and moral views.
        Giving equal standing to the values of those who believe women are property does not promote equality. Moreover, this ostensibly pluralistic worldview has been built on the imperative to deny what our eyes see. We shouldn't ask "Is it true?" For fear of Islamophobia we should not criticize the self-segregation of Muslim communities in the West. For fear of being labeled racist we should not consider restrictions on immigration. For fear of being suspected of supporting the settlements we should not mention the flagrant anti-Semitism of Palestinian schoolbooks.
        Above all, we should never say that upholding Western values like universal human rights, even by force in some cases, is sometimes desperately needed by those many Others who suffer oppression, violence, terror and genocide. The writer is a senior lecturer in the School of Public Policy and the Department of Communications at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)

The Death Knell of the Non-Proliferation Regime? - Ephraim Asculai (Jerusalem Post)

  • On December 2, 2015, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano presented to the IAEA member states his long-awaited report on Iran's Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear program.
  • The report clearly indicted Iran for developing nuclear weapons, contrary to its persistent denials, claims and statements that it never did so, but the world was willing to forgive and forget these serious transgressions of Iran's obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • A state was accused of developing nuclear weapons, was found guilty, and not even a slap on the wrist took place.
  • Yet it would be imprudent not to assume that Iran already has a working nuclear explosive mechanism design, received from Pakistan, the same way Libya did, and its research and development activities were intended to improve this design, not to invent it.
  • The main implication of this event is that any state, even a member of the NPT, can probably develop nuclear weapons with impunity. It will not be punished in any way, especially if it is a threatening, terrorism-supporting state with hegemonic ambitions. The U.S., that was once considered the champion of non-proliferation, aided and abetted in this misdeed.
  • From now on, it will be a free-for-all in the area of proliferation, and it will not really matter whether a state is a party to the NPT or not. The shortsightedness in not daring to deal properly with Iran could be the undoing of the whole world order.

    The writer, who worked at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission for over 40 years and at the IAEA in Vienna, is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

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