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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
February 2, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iran: We Took Extensive Info from American Sailors' Phones, Laptops (Tasnim-Iran)
    Iranian forces extracted "extensive information" from the confiscated cell phones and laptops of the recently captured U.S. sailors, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi told a parliamentary session in Tehran on Monday.
    Admiral Fadavi also noted that if U.S. officials say they are angry with the footage released of the captured sailors, they would be 100 times more embarrassed and humiliated if the IRGC releases other films it made of the capture.

Grand Mufti Condemns New Jewish Egalitarian Prayer Section at Western Wall - Maayan Groisman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, on Monday condemned Israel's decision to establish a new Jewish egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, claiming that the designated area is an inseparable part of Islamic waqf property.
    See also PA Minister Denounces New Prayer Section at Western Wall (Times of Israel)
    Israel's plan to build a mixed-gender prayer section at the Western Wall "is another Israeli attempt to change the status quo at the Temple Mount," Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs Youssef Ideiss said on Monday.
    Ideiss claimed the Western Wall was "a holy Islamic site expropriated by Israel in 1967."
    In October, the PA attempted to have the UN recognize the Western Wall as a Muslim holy site.

ISIS Wants to Build Naval Forces for Attacks on Cruise Ships - Ben Farmer (Telegraph-UK)
    Islamic State militants hope to build a maritime arm that could carry out attacks in the Mediterranean as their march along the Libyan coast has cast an "uncomfortable shadow" across shipping, said Vice-Adml. Clive Johnstone.
    The spread of sophisticated Russian and Chinese weapons to armed groups in the region also means there is now the "horrible opportunity" a cruise liner or container ship could be hit, the commander of NATO's maritime command warned.

Hundreds of Smuggling Attempts to Gaza Intercepted in 2015 - Elior Levy and Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    As Hamas has intensified its attempts to smuggle material into Gaza, Israel last year foiled 107 smuggling attempts through the Erez border crossing and 740 attempts through Kerem Shalom.
    Among the confiscated items were chemical solutions used to make rockets, GoPro cameras which can be used to spy on IDF forces, laser markers for weaponry, electrodes that can be used to make rockets and explosive devices, pipes and tin boards used to manufacture rockets, industrial coal used in rocket production, liquids to produce rocket propellant fuel which was hidden inside dishwashing liquid, soldering coils for rocket production, and disassembled motorcycles and trucks.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Claims $100 Billion Now Freed as Sanctions Roll Back - Brian Murphy
    Iran announced Monday that more than $100 billion in previously frozen assets has been "fully released" and that it was reintegrating with the SWIFT international banking network. (Washington Post)
  • Kerry Stresses Ending Incitement in Call with Abbas
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this weekend, "stressed the importance of stopping incitement and inflammatory rhetoric," a State Department spokeswoman said. (JTA)
  • Hizbullah Money-Laundering Network Disrupted - Ryan Browne
    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced Monday that an international operation had netted a Hizbullah network using millions in drug money to fund terrorist activity in Syria and Lebanon. Seven countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Belgium, were involved in the operation, which apprehended four individuals. The terrorist network was working with South American drug cartels to facilitate the movement of millions of dollars in cocaine to the U.S. and Europe. The group used the proceeds of these drug sales to purchase weapons for Hizbullah for its activities in Syria. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Russia Assured Israel It Isn't Transferring Arms to Hizbullah in Syria - Barak Ravid
    Russia assured Israel that it has not transferred and will not transfer arms to Hizbullah in Syria, Zvi Heifetz, Israel's ambassador to Moscow, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. Heifetz said: "There's an open line between us and the Russians at every level....We made our red lines regarding Syria and the involvement by Iran and Hizbullah clear to the Russians, and when we have any concerns, we discuss them."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Foreign Ministry: "Israel Will Never Leave the Golan Heights" - Shlomo Cesana
    Israel will never leave the Golan Heights, no matter what diplomatic settlement is reached in Syria, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold told Israeli ambassadors from around the world on Sunday in Jerusalem. Gold reiterated that Israel has no desire to become involved in the ongoing civil war in Syria.
        On the Palestinian issue, Gold said, "Israel will not return to the 1967 lines. It won't happen. [Abbas] prefers a unilateral strategy over negotiations with Israel. John Kerry tried to achieve a breakthrough. In 2014, he even presented a framework agreement, but Abbas rejected it."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas Operatives Pose as Medical Patients to Infiltrate Israel - Zack Pyzer and Daniel J. Roth
    The Israel Police and Israel Security Agency arrested two Hamas operatives last month who had entered from Gaza on forged medical documents and then escaped from the hospital and traveled to northern Israel, it was announced Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Cop Turned Terrorist Buried as Hero
    Throngs of marching Palestinians called out "Death to Israel" at the funeral Monday of Amjad Sakari, the PA security officer who injured three IDF soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint on Sunday. "It is time for the machine gun, to shoot 500 people," the man leading Sakari's funeral procession shouted over a megaphone. "Muhammad's army will return." A number of high-ranking Fatah officials were among the thousands who attended the funeral and a number of PA officials delivered speeches at the cemetery. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The 2016 Election: Jews and Their Politics - Steven Windmueller
    Jews provide significant financial support to both political parties and to many candidates. Some analysts project that as much as 50% of all monies raised by Democratic presidential candidates are from Jewish funders, as are 25% of the Republican donor base.
        Jewish voters enter the political fray with a broad range of interests. An AJC study of the major concerns of American Jews conducted in August 2015 found the "U.S.-Israel relationship" scored fifth among the primary contending political and economic issues, noted by 7% of respondents.
        Every candidate seeking the presidential nomination has seen the need to reference his or her special connection to Israel, often invoking a reference to their personal relationships and/or political ties to the Jewish state. In each of the primary debates, candidates have taken the opportunity to refer to Israel as "America's ally" or to acknowledge some other particular identification.
        In the 2012 election, overall voter turnout was only 54%, yet it is estimated that 85% of America's Jews vote. Dr. Steven Windmueller, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center, is emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Hamas Is Behind Leader's Leaked Telephone Call - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
    Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas official, says in a leaked telephone call that Iran has not provided Hamas with financial support since 2009. If this claim is true, why did Hamas continue to support Iran for six years? We know that it is because of its alliances with the Iranian and the Assad regimes that Hamas has argued with the Palestinian Authority and most of the Gulf countries for years. Hamas has helped the Iranians in every issue.
        There is no doubt that the "secret leaked" telephone call is part of a campaign by Hamas directed at the capitals of Gulf countries to change their positions and fund them. Hamas is certainly in great financial distress, but that is not because Iran had stopped its funding. Rather, this is due to the Egyptian army destroying hundreds of tunnels that were a huge source of finance for many years. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Hamas Figure Appreciates Iran's Continued Support
    Hamas leader Khalil Abu Leila dismissed media reports on a cut in Iran's support for the movement, and stressed that Tehran is still assisting the resistance, for which Hamas is grateful. (Tasnim-Iran)
  • Are Palestinians Committing "Suicide by Soldier"? - Simona Weinglass
    Ariel Merari, a professor emeritus of psychology at Tel Aviv University, interviewed would-be Palestinian suicide bombers in previous waves of attacks. Regarding the motivations of the current wave of stabbers, he says the first question that has to be asked is not why there are so many attackers, but why there are so few. He notes that there are many good opinion polls of the Palestinian population, and there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian population hates Israel. "But when it comes down to it, very few are willing to carry out these attacks themselves."
        "It's pretty similar to what in the United States is called 'suicide by police'." The fact that Islam forbids suicide is key, said Merari. "If someone commits suicide, his family becomes outcasts. If he really wants to die, in the current political climate, it is very convenient to do it this way, to commit suicide by police. Because then the entire society will say, 'How wonderful, he is a shahid, he is a hero.' They will not say he committed a religiously forbidden act."  (Times of Israel)

Why Iran's Khamenei Resorts to Holocaust Denial - Meir Javedanfar (Middle East Eye)

  • Last Wednesday, as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a video was uploaded to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's website in which he questions the Holocaust.
  • Why now? Because Iran's supreme leader is worried that, having reached a nuclear deal with the U.S., the "Great Satan" will now want to use its improved relations with some Iranian politicians to "infiltrate" Iranian decision-making bodies.
  • These days you cannot open an Iranian newspaper or internet news website without some Iranian hardliner, including the supreme leader, warning about "nufuz," or infiltration, by the West.
  • The best way to halt an improvement in relations with the West is to bring up the Holocaust, to deny and question it. This also explains why a third "Holocaust Cartoon and Caricature" competition will be held in Iran in June.
  • Another reason for the continuation in Iran of Holocaust denial is that the public use of racist, anti-Semitic language and slogans by hardliners is becoming more acceptable. At the recent anti-Saudi demonstrations, pro-regime demonstrators were photographed holding signs which stated that the Saudi family name - Al Saud - is "Al Yahud" (Jews).

    The writer is an Iranian-Israeli lecturer, researcher and author.

        See also Cartoons as a Symbol of Defiance - Hillel Newman
    Iran knows very well how cartoons can be used for political messages. The Holocaust cartoon competition is an act of insolence that should awaken the negotiators of the P5+1 and the leaders of the tolerant world to the true character of the Iranian regime. The contest is just a symbol of deep-rooted Iranian disregard for our values. Amb. Hillel Newman currently serves in the Strategic Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Times of Israel)

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