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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
February 4, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Another Hamas Attack Tunnel Collapses in Gaza - Noam Amir (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
    Another Hamas attack tunnel collapsed in the Zeitoun area of Gaza on Wednesday evening, one day after another tunnel collapsed in the area.
    Hamas blocked off the area and made sure that radio stations did not report details of the incident.
    See also Photos: IDF Filmed Searching for Hamas Tunnels - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    See also Hamas Using Reconstruction Aid to Build Terror Tunnels (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas is using building materials sent to Gaza as part of aid packages for the construction and rehabilitation of civilian houses for use in underground terror tunnels, IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency on Thursday.

The Palestinians' Post-Attack Incitement Industry - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    In the current surge of attacks the terrorist trail may not be apparent before the attack, but the terror incitement trail after the attack certainly is.
    On Jan. 25, Ibrahim Osama Alan was one of two Palestinian terrorists who stabbed two Jewish women in the community of Beit Horon. After Alan's attack and death, someone of authority in Fatah ordered the production of a poster.
    A copywriter was assigned, photos were obtained from the terrorist's family, a graphic artist was employed, and a printing and internet production crew was activated. Then a crew was dispatched to plaster the printed posters everywhere.

U.S. Drone Strikes Kill 12 Yemen Militants including Top Leader (Reuters)
    Two suspected U.S. drone strikes killed 12 Islamist militants overnight in southern Yemen on Thursday, including Jalal Baleedi, a top al-Qaeda commander who may have been the new leader of Islamic State in Yemen.

Russian Military Adviser Killed in Syria (Reuters)
    A Russian military adviser was killed in Syria on Feb. 1 in a mortar attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

Israel's Cyber Sector Blooms in the Desert (AFP-Security Week)
    Two ultra-modern complexes in Beersheba, a city of 200,000 in the Negev desert of southern Israel, house a dozen Israeli companies, start-ups, venture capital funds and foreign groups such as Lockheed Martin, Deutsche Telekom, Oracle and IBM.
    Already, 1,500 technicians, engineers and researchers work at its CyberSpark industrial park. Many have been trained at the local Ben-Gurion University.
    Two more complexes comprising 27 buildings are to be added, and the municipality expects the population to grow by 100,000 in the next 10 years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Sharing Military Intelligence with Allies Battling Islamic State - Aron Heller
    IDF Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, who heads the Operations Branch, said Wednesday that Israel is essentially part of the international coalition against the Islamic State and is sharing intelligence with allies battling the extremists. "From Israel's perspective, we definitely see Daesh [ISIS] as an enemy," he said. (AP-ABC News)
  • Iran Deploys New Forces in Syria - Ali Alfoneh
    The latest Iranian units deployed in Syria, to judge by a survey of Iranian nationals killed in combat there, are from the Saberin Brigade of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). According to Brig.-Gen. Morteza Mirian, a former commander of the brigade, Saberin was established in 2000 and modeled on Britain's Special Air Service. Maj.-Gen. Mohammad-Ali Jafari, the IRGC's current chief, served as the Saberin Brigade's first commander. The writer is a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Arab Weekly)
        See also Report: PA Arrests 5 Pro-Iran Operatives in West Bank
    Palestinian Authority security forces recently arrested five members of the pro-Iranian a-Sabrin group in Bethlehem in the West Bank - who had previously been operating in Gaza - who were planning to carry out attacks against Israel, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Congress Questions Justice Department's Commitment to Prosecuting Palestinian Terrorists Who Killed Americans - Adam Kredo
    Palestinian terrorists have murdered at least 64 Americans since 1993. Yet the U.S. government has failed to take legal action against a single Palestinian terrorist responsible for killing Americans abroad despite a congressional mandate ordering the Justice Department to take action against these individuals, lawmakers disclosed during a Tuesday hearing. Many of the terrorists continue to roam free across the Middle East, with one hosting a Hamas-affiliated television show in Jordan.
        "This is not what Congress intended" when it created the DOJ's Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism in 2005, said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), chair of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security. (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Border Policewoman Killed, Another Seriously Hurt, in Jerusalem Attack; 3 Palestinian Assailants Killed - Roi Yanovsky
    Israeli border policewoman Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed and another border policewoman was injured in an attack by three Palestinian terrorists at Jerusalem's Damascus gate on Wednesday. The three terrorists were killed by security forces. When the two border policewomen asked two Palestinians for their ID, one of them stabbed one of the officers, moderately wounding her. Cohen then shot the stabber, killing him. A third terrorist then came up behind Cohen and shot her in the back. Two explosive devices were found at the scene along with two guns. (Ynet News-Ha'aretz)
        See also Damascus Gate Killers Planned to Attack Israeli Civilians
    The three West Bank Palestinians who attacked Israeli forces at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem had planned to target a group of Israeli civilians, Israel's Channel 2 reported on Wednesday, citing police sources. "As far as we can tell from the armaments, [the terrorists] planned a larger, more sophisticated attack," Jerusalem Deputy Police Chief Avshalom Peled said. "The police officers prevented a...much larger attack."
        One of the terrorists had vowed in a Facebook post to carry out a shooting attack, Channel 2 reported. The report added that all three of the attackers were members of families associated with Fatah. (Times of Israel)
  • Abbas Meets Families of Terrorists after Deadly Jerusalem Attack
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday hosted the families of 11 Palestinian terrorists in Ramallah who had carried out attacks against Israelis, just hours after three Palestinians killed an Israeli Border Police officer and injured a second in Jerusalem. "Your sons are martyrs," Abbas told the families. (Times of Israel)
  • CBS News Headline on Jerusalem Terror Attack: "Three Palestinians Killed" - Itamar Eichner
    "Three Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on" was the headline on the CBS News website on Wednesday following a terror attack in Jerusalem in which Border Police officer Hadar Cohen was murdered. Israel Government Press Office head Nitzan Chen said Wednesday: "We are considering rescinding press passes from journalists and editors who are negligent in their work and present headlines that flip the reality." Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said: "The audacity of CBS' headline is unparalleled. The headline is biased and false."  (Ynet News)
  • Two Teenage Arab Girls Stab Security Guard in Ramle
    Two teenage Arab girls with knives stabbed a security guard at the entrance to the Ramle bus station in central Israel on Thursday. The two were arrested. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Does "Occupation" Justify Terrorism? - Michael Rubin
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assumes that occupation causes, let alone justifies, terrorism. It might be very convenient to believe that the root rejection of Israel is based on grievance, but the problem for Hamas, other Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, and more radical Sunni Islamist groups, as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hizbullah, is rooted in ideology and anti-Semitism. As Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanon's Daily Star in 2002, "If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."
        Putting aside that what Ban labels "occupation" is technically more of an unresolved land dispute, if occupation is intolerable and justifies terrorism, will Ban acquiesce to the independence of Corsica? Or New Caledonia? Would Ban endorse Kurdish terrorism in Turkey, where they suffer a far worse situation than Palestinians in Gaza? Will Ban stand up to Putin to allow freedom for Chechnya? Or to Saudi Arabia to restore independence to Hijaz? Or to Tibet, crushed by Chinese imperialism? The writer is a former Pentagon official and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Commentary)
  • Ex-Pentagon Official Rhode: Muslim World Must Undergo "Thought Revolution" - Ariel Ben Solomon
    There can be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians until there is a "thought revolution" in the Muslim world, former longtime Pentagon official Harold Rhode told the Jerusalem Post Monday. Rhode cited the doctrine in Islam in which land conquered by Muslims must remain under Muslim rule forever. This includes present-day Israel, which the Muslims conquered in 637 CE. "There can only be final peace when the Muslims recognize Israel as a Jewish state and declare an end to the conflict," he said.
        Rhode noted that independent and critical thinking were generally lacking in Sunni culture. "Could you imagine a lecture ends and the audience does not ask questions?" If someone from the audience asks a question, the speaker will often shame the questioner in front of everyone. That stifles future questions. "Personal honor is more important than truth," he explained.
        "Blame is avoided at all costs in Muslim culture," Rhode said. "Why is it no Palestinian leader ever admits making any mistakes? They can't. Sunni Arab leaders need to say: 'Our approach has failed and we must try another way.' But culturally, they cannot do this." No Sunni society has been able to undergo self-criticism because pride and honor are paramount values. (Jerusalem Post)

America's Awkward Iran Dance - Aaron David Miller (CNN)

  • A fundamental shift in the balance of power is taking place in the Middle East in Iran's favor. For a start, Iran gains access to frozen assets without having to end its support to the Assad regime in Syria, stop backing the Shiite rebels in Yemen who are fighting a proxy war with the Saudis or back off from its support to Lebanese Hizbullah.
  • More broadly, Iran is rising as Arab states face increasing challenges to state authority; restive populations and worsening economies; and, in some cases, fragmentation.
  • Moreover, America's dependence on Iran is actually increasing. Washington, having gone all-in on the nuclear deal, needs Iran to uphold its commitments. It also needs Iranian assistance in resolving the civil war in Syria and stabilizing Iraq - complex issues that may require formal U.S. recognition of growing Iranian influence.
  • Iran's leadership saw the nuclear agreement as a way to consolidate its power. Getting international sanctions lifted allow it to improve Iran's economic conditions and defuse public discontent.
  • The nuclear agreement is so advantageous to Iran that it just wouldn't be in Tehran's interest to violate the terms.

    The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

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