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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 31, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Arab Politics Slows Rebuilding in Gaza - Rory Jones and Abubakr Bashir (Wall Street Journal)
    Political differences among wealthy Arab Gulf states have played a large role in who gets to rebuild their lives in Gaza after last year's war between Hamas and Israel.
    Abdelraziq Harara was fortunate - he received aid from Qatar and has nearly rebuilt his home. His brother Jihad, who lived next door, is still waiting for relief funds promised by Kuwait.
    After the 2014 war, foreign donors met in Cairo and pledged $3.5 billion in reconstruction aid for Gaza. To date, $1.2 billion has been delivered, with Gulf states dispensing only about $170 million.
    Qatar supports Hamas, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have grown more aggressive in their opposition to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. But Qatar won't shell out more cash in Gaza until other donors step up efforts to fulfill their pledges.
    The UAE is funneling some of its assistance through Mohammed Dahlan, a Hamas political rival, while Kuwait is working with the Palestinian Authority.

Iranian Lawmakers Call for Compensation from U.S. (Press TV-Iran)
    Iranian lawmakers introduced an urgent bill on Monday demanding compensation from the U.S. for "the damages which it has inflicted" on the country since 1953.
    The draft bill listed 11 cases for which Iran sought damages from the American government, including the loss of lives and property damage resulting from the CIA-led 1953 coup.
    It also sought compensation for more than 223,000 Iranians killed and 600,000 injured "due to American intelligence, political and military cooperation" with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his 1980-1988 war with Iran.

Israel Seizes Armor Plating Being Smuggled into Gaza - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    An Israeli truck carrying bulletproof plates was discovered at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

Jordanian Shop Owner Arrested for Defacing Israel's Flag - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Abdel Fattah Ja'aron, 60, a perfume shop owner in Irbid, Jordan, who painted an Israeli flag at his shop's entrance so that clients entering would step on it, was arrested by Jordanian authorities for insulting a nation considered a "friend," Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported.
    The deputy governor told him he had no right to act as he did because Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Preparing Fresh Iran Sanctions over Ballistic Missile Program - Jay Solomon
    The U.S. Treasury Department is preparing to impose financial sanctions on nearly a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the UAE for their role in developing Iran's ballistic missile program. Iranian officials have warned the White House that any such financial penalties would be viewed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a violation of the nuclear accord.
        Senior U.S. officials have said the Treasury retained a right under the agreement to blacklist Iranian entities involved in missile development, as well as those that support international terrorism and human-rights abuses. Officials view those activities as separate from the nuclear deal. "We've been looking for some time at options for additional actions related to Iran's ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th [missile] launch," a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran's Missile Tests Remind the U.S. that Hostilities Have Not Ended - Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger
    After two recent Iranian ballistic missile tests made clear that Tehran had no intention of obeying a UN prohibition on such launches, Obama administration officials on Wednesday handed Congress a draft list of fresh sanctions they are preparing against Tehran. The new sanctions are designed, administration officials say, to make clear that the U.S. remains committed to containing Iran's regional ambitions.
        The past few days have been full of sobering reminders that the grander objective of the nuclear accord - at least a cessation of hostilities between Washington and Tehran - remains a long way away. On Saturday, the Iranian Navy harassed the American aircraft carrier Harry S Truman and a French frigate in the Strait of Hormuz, launching rockets nearby in an act somewhere between recklessness and outright aggression. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Eyes Islamic State Ally in Syrian Golan Heights - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF has been following the rebel organizations fighting one another in the Syrian Golan Heights, who for a year have controlled 90% of the border with Israel. The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, comprising 600 militants, represents the Islamic State and controls a 15-km. stretch of the border with Israel in the southern Syrian Golan. It has conquered posts abandoned by the UN Observer Force and has been using them as bases. In the northern and central Golan Heights, the Syrian military holds only a corridor between Quneitra and Damascus, as well as a few of the Druze areas at the foot of Mount Hermon. Further north, the IDF has identified Hizbullah forces deployed in Syria at the foot of Mount Hermon. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Preparing for ISIS Approach to Syrian Border - Yaakov Lappin and Ben Hartman
    IDF intelligence-gathering has increased dramatically to track the capabilities and intentions of every armed group in southern Syria. According to intelligence assessments, 15% of the members of the Nusra Front are foreign elements who are more keen to attack Israel, while the majority of local Syrian members have resisted the idea. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Security Forces Suppress Palestinian March toward West Bank Checkpoint
    Palestinian Authority security forces on Wednesday stopped hundreds of Palestinian marchers in Ramallah's al-Bireh neighborhood from reaching a checkpoint outside the nearby Israeli town of Beit El in the West Bank. Dozens of youth left the march and headed toward the Israeli town of Psagot where they clashed with Israeli forces.
        PA security forces also blocked protesters from reaching Beit El last week. The forces reportedly assaulted several journalists and prevented them from covering clashes that broke out between the forces and protesters at the time. (Ma'an News-PA)
        See also Fatah Officials Slam PA for Preventing Palestinians from Clashing with IDF - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Rebuffs Israel's Requests for Threatened Jewish Artifacts - Ariel Ben Solomon
    Zvi Mazel, Israel's sixth ambassador to Egypt, told the Jerusalem Post that the presence of Jews in Egypt has come to almost a total end. From a population of 80,000 Jews in the 1950s, less than 20 remain today. They left behind an immense cultural heritage, including Torah scrolls and a huge amount of books and manuscripts.
        The artifacts "belong to the Jews. Israel has asked the authorities many times to allow for their transfer to synagogues in Israel, or at least the Torah scrolls, which are rotting there," Mazel said, but these requests were rebuffed. "There is no logic in that rebuff but this is still the situation and it's very sad."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Of Thousands of Muslim Deaths, Why Are Only Palestinians "Martyrs"? - Abdullah al-Hadlaq
    The Arab media has become afflicted with stupidity and delusion and has lost its ability to make true distinctions. It considers the victims of battles in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, etc. "casualties," whereas the Palestinian terrorists killed in Gaza or the West Bank are dubbed "shahids" (martyrs). Thousands of Muslims are killed worldwide every day in wars and internal conflicts, but the defective Arab media does not refer to any one of the casualties by name or the title "shahid."
        Only when a Palestinian is killed, be it in battle or in a car accident or in a fight or when celebratory gunshots are fired at a wedding, does the Arab media applaud him with the name "shahid." The writer is a Kuwaiti journalist who writes for Al-Watan. (Israel Hayom)
  • Polls Show Low Support for Islamic State, But Stronger Support for Violence "in Defense of Islam" - John Hannah
    Polling expert David Pollock reports that the overwhelming majority of Arabs, consistently upwards of 95%, express a negative view of the Islamic State, a number that has been increasing over time. Interestingly, expressions of support for the Islamic State are somewhat higher in non-Arab Muslim societies - 8% in Turkey, 11% in Malaysia and Senegal, and 20% in Nigeria.
        However, between 20% and 60% of Muslims are at least "somewhat supportive" of violence, suicide bombings, and terrorism so long as it is perpetrated "in defense of Islam." Similarly, in several key countries, support for other hardcore Islamist movements - the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular - regularly draws support from as many as one-third of respondents. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Foreign Policy)
        See also The Islamic State: New Inside Views - Munqith Dagher, Aaron Y. Zelin, and David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

A Reason for Israelis to Celebrate - Judith Bergman (Israel Hayom)

  • Israel was ranked 18th out of 188 countries and territories in the world on the UN 2015 Human Development Index.
  • Between 1980 and 2014, Israel's life expectancy at birth increased by 8.3 years (from 74.1 years to 82.4 years), mean years of schooling increased from 9.8 years to 12.5 years, and expected years of schooling increased from 12.6 years to 16 years. Israel's GNI per capita increased by about 111.6% between 1980 and 2014 (from $14,498 to $30,676).
  • There are several areas where Israel outdoes both the very high human development group as well as the OECD. Israel has the highest labor force participation rate (63.4% versus 60.3% in the very high human development group and 59.7% in the OECD). Israel also has a lower total unemployment rate (6.9% versus 8.3% and 8.2%). It has the lowest long-term total unemployment rate (0.8% versus 3% and 2.8%) and the lowest youth unemployment rate (10.5% vs. 18% and 16.5%).
  • Israel also has a higher number of mobile phone subscribers per 100 people vs. the very high human development group and the OECD - 121 vs. 119.8 and 110.4.
  • The truth is that building a modern and prosperous country takes time and Israel's development has been nothing less than miraculous in the 67 years since it was re-established as the modern State of Israel.
  • We compare extremely well to other First World democracies, especially considering that the founding fathers and mothers of modern Israel had to pull themselves up from complete devastation and near annihilation a mere 70 years ago.

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