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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
January 27, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Heavy Rains Cause Terror Tunnel Collapse, Eight Hamas Militants Killed (Jerusalem Post)
    At least 8 Hamas militants were killed digging an underground tunnel in al-Tuffah, northeast of Gaza City, after heavy rains caused the tunnel to collapse, according to Israel Radio citing Palestinian sources.
    On Saturday, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that a Hamas militant was killed in a tunnel collapse in Khan Yunis.
    See also Israelis near Gaza Border Renew Complaints of Underground Tunnel Digging (Jerusalem Post)
    Residents of Israeli communities along the southern border with Gaza have renewed complaints of reverberating, underground drilling sounds possibly linked to the construction of infiltration tunnels by Palestinian terrorists, Israel Channel 10 TV reported Tuesday.
    Tzila Pitusi said it felt as if someone was breaking into her home. Esther Naim said, "We started hearing things like concrete cracking, we felt that the concrete was rising up. We heard booms and bangs from the kitchen."

FBI: Man Who Plotted Masonic Temple Attack Also Wanted to Kill Israelis - Greg Moore (AP-ABC News)
    Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, a Milwaukee man charged with trying to buy machine guns to carry out an attack on a Masonic temple, also wanted to travel to the Middle East and kill Israelis, Federal prosecutors charged Tuesday.
    Agents were tipped off in September that Hamzeh planned to travel to Israel in October to attack Israeli soldiers and citizens in the West Bank, but abandoned those plans due to "family, financial and logistic reasons."

Video: Saving the Forgotten Jews of Ethiopia (BBC News)
    30 years ago, two remarkable mass movements transported the Ethiopian Jewish community to the modern State of Israel.
    It is an incredible story of espionage, heroism and unyielding faith that led to tens of thousands of people to leave their homes and risk their lives.
    See also Why Is "Black Lives Matter" Hostile to Israel? - David Bernstein (Washington Post)
    Many "Black Lives Matter" groups, through infiltration by pro-Palestinian activists, have been persuaded to make hostility to Israel a part of their platform.
    The fact that Israel is the only nation, ever, to airlift tens of thousands of poor black Africans into its country from a war zone and give them immediate, full citizenship doesn't give these groups pause.
    The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.

Oberlin College Alums: Anti-Israel Fanaticism Creating Hostile Environment for Jews - William A. Jacobson (Legal Insurrection)
    Over 200 Oberlin College alumni are claiming that anti-Israel activism has created a hostile environment on campus for Jews, and are demanding the college take action to address the problem.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Election Gatekeepers Keep Tight Control on Candidates for Key Panel - Brian Murphy
    Iran's election overseers have cleared only one-fifth of the potential candidates seeking a spot on the 88-member Assembly of Experts - the panel with powers to select the country's next supreme leader, an official said Tuesday. Of 801 candidates, just 166 were approved for the Feb. 26 ballot. Such widespread vetting of candidates is a fixture of Iranian politics, culling those perceived as potential threats to the ruling system and the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
        Last week, the election gatekeepers, known as the Guardian Council, disqualified more than 7,000 of the 12,000 people seeking seats in parliament. (Washington Post)
        See also A Moderate Iranian Purge - Editorial
    The disqualifications of candidates for Iran's Assembly of Experts and Parliament were the work of the Guardian Council, an unelected body that vets candidates for ideological purity. The system allows the mullahs to hold popular "elections" while ensuring no one who might challenge Islamist rule could ever be in a position to win a seat. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel: Turkey Buying IS Oil
    Speaking in Athens, Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, "It's up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism. This is not the case so far. As you know, Daesh [Islamic State] enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended." Yaalon also said that Turkey had "permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back."
        U.S. State Department officials last month rejected Russian allegations of Turkish government involvement, but a State Department spokesman said IS oil was being smuggled into Turkey via middlemen. (BBC News)
  • Israel Forges Mediterranean Alliance - Joshua Mitnick
    In the last five years, Israel has begun to see the Mediterranean as a strategic arena. As a result, a navy that was once mainly a coast guard has been bulked up with new vessels to protect Israel's gas fields and defend the mainland from rocket attacks. And Israel is cultivating a military, economic, and diplomatic axis with Greece and Cyprus to cooperate on exploiting gas fields.
        "With America being less assertive and less involved, Israel has to come out with its own strategy" in the eastern Mediterranean, said Jonathan Rynhold, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University. Eran Lerman, a former international affairs deputy on Israel's National Security Council, noted, "There is a vital need for all of us who are like minded in the eastern Mediterranean to work together."  (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Ex-Libyan Intelligence Official: ISIS Has Gaddafi-Era Chemical Weapons
    A former Libyan intelligence official, Ahmad Qadhaf al-Dam, told Egyptian Dream2 TV on Jan. 18 that ISIS and other terrorist groups had gotten hold of the chemical weapons that had remained in Libya, "hidden in bases with which nobody was familiar, deep in the desert....These weapons were smuggled out of Libya, as the world knows. I believe that the weapons that reached Syria originated in Libya."  (MEMRI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Hamas Exploits Israel Entry Permits for Gaza Residents - Yaakov Lappin
    Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds that Hamas will force Israel to close the crossing to Gaza if attempts to recruit Gazans for terrorist missions do not cease. Gazans requiring medical care or seeking business opportunities cross daily into Israel and the West Bank via the Erez crossing.
        He cited a cancer patient from Khan Yunis who traveled to Nablus for medical care and was asked by Hamas to gather intelligence. A resident of Shati who trades in Israel was apprehended by security forces while trying to smuggle goods for Hamas. In 2015 Israel issued more than 100,000 entry permits for Gazans to enter Israel for medical care, trade and Muslim prayers in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's Electrical Grid Under Massive Cyber Attack
    The Israel Electric Corporation on Monday experienced one of the largest cyber assaults that Israel has ever faced, Minister of Infrastructure, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz told the CyberTech 2016 conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Steinitz said the attack was dealt with by his ministry and the National Cyber Bureau and that it was under control. "This is a fresh example of what we need to be prepared to face at any time," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Big Questions on Iran Are Still Unanswered - James F. Jeffrey
    Iran did us no favors with the nuclear agreement. It ends sanctions on Iran and will return up to $100 billion of past oil sales revenue in exchange for limits on (but no end to) Iranian enrichment and no admission of wrongdoing despite abundant evidence. Iran's quest for regional hegemony through asymmetrical warfare, terror and intimidation remains a major accelerant to the region's problems.
        There is little evidence that the hardcore leadership around Supreme Leader Khamenei is interested in a rapprochement - rather the opposite, as Iran's recent ballistic missile tests, humiliation of seized American sailors and behavior in Syria all demonstrate.
        If the administration opts not to counter Iran, either to encourage an unlikely transformation allegedly flowing from the agreement or to "save" the agreement and its legacy, then it will diminish, rather than enhance, stability in a vital but dangerous region. The writer served as U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor and as Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. (U.S. News)
  • Acknowledge the Iranian Threat - Zalman Shoval
    "It's not that Arab-Israelis aren't interested in the Palestinian issue," an Arab friend, with dozens of years of political and public service behind him, told me, "it's that more than anything, we, like the Sunnis in the Arab states, are troubled by the trend of Iran's regional expansion, which threatens us all."
        Washington claims that although the deal pertains exclusively to the nuclear aspect, it has achieved its main objective of stunting Iran's race toward a bomb. But the leadership in Tehran interprets things differently. It says: While we have accepted certain temporary restrictions in regards to the nuclear matter, no one can tie our hands on anything else.
        Indeed, Tehran is increasing its presence in Syria and Lebanon without any obstacles whatsoever. The threat posed by the Islamic State group certainly should not be taken lightly, but the No. 1 threat to regional peace and stability comes from Iran. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
  • Shift in Tone: New Canadian Government Warns Israel against Settlements, Palestinians against Unilateral Statehood Bids - Lee Berthiaume
    Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion on Sunday put out a statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which included calling Israel a "steadfast friend and ally," while also warning it against building more settlements on disputed land. (National Post-Canada)
        See also Sorry Israel, Canada Is Climbing Back on the Fence - Kelly McParland
    Canada is climbing back on the fence of moral relativity in relations with Israel and the Palestinians. For 10 years we acknowledged the reality of Israel's right to exist without being attacked, bombed, threatened or invaded by neighbors who want to wipe it off the earth, but now we're back to pretending Israel could somehow end the violence if only it was nicer to the people who hate it. Sorry, Israel. (National Post-Canada)

It's Not Just the Settlements, the Palestinians Reject All of Israel - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)

  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken to giving press conferences where he tries to wriggle out of his own personal role in fostering the vicious incitement against Israel that lies at the root of the ongoing Palestinian terror wave.
  • His successor may indeed well be worse, but Abbas is impossible. The Fatah hierarchy he heads has been openly encouraging attacks on Israelis, and the Hamas terror group with which he seeks to partner is again plotting suicide bombings, developing more sophisticated rockets, and digging tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border ahead of its next planned war.
  • Abbas may well be deploying his forces to keep a lid on clashes in the West Bank, but he's presiding over an ongoing, strategic demonizing of Israel and Israelis - via his education system, political and spiritual leadership and mainstream and social media - that positively guarantees Palestinian violence and terrorism.
  • So effective is this process that, nowadays, when a young Palestinian has a row at home, feels depressed, or wants to make a name for him or herself, the default response is to grab a knife and go kill the nearest vulnerable Jew. And so, last week, we buried Dafna Meir. And today, we buried Shlomit Krigman.
  • While the U.S. and much of the international community refuse to internalize this, the simple, bleak fact is that everything Arafat, Abbas and Hamas have done since the collapse of the Bill Clinton-hosted Camp David 2000 attempt at forging a deal has persuaded Israelis that they dare not relinquish territory to the Palestinians.
  • Attacks throughout Israel murderously demonstrated that it was not merely the territories that the Palestinians sought. That it's not just the settlements, it's all of Israel that is rejected. Palestinian words and deeds have persuaded mainstream Israelis - including the leader of the Israeli opposition, Isaac Herzog - that no partnership is viable at present.

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