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February 12, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Islamic State Video Shows British Boy Blowing Up Three Prisoners - Robert Tait (Telegraph-UK)
    A British boy believed to be aged four has been filmed blowing up three prisoners in a video released by the Islamic State.
    Isa Dare, whose mother Grace "Khadija" Dare is a convert to Islam who has sworn allegiance to ISIS, is seen pressing a button on a remote control device seconds before a car containing the prisoners goes up in a ball of flames.
    Wearing a black ISIS headband and military-style fatigues, the boy first announces that "we are going to kill the kuffars (non-believers) over there."
    He is later seen standing beside the car's burnt-out remains, triumphantly punching the air and shouting: "Allahu akbar."

CIA: Islamic State Has Chemical Weapons (VOA News)
    CIA Director John Brennan told CBS' "60 Minutes" that Islamic State fighters in Syria have used "chemical munitions on the battlefield."
    Brennan said the jihadist group has the capacity to make small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas.

Hizbullah Members Captured in Syria by Al-Nusra Tell of Mistakes in the Field - Alex Rowell (NOW-Lebanon)
    An exclusive 30-minute video interview with Hizbullah captives held by the Al-Nusra Front outside Aleppo that was due to be aired on MTV in Beirut on Feb. 3 was abbreviated after a senior Hizbullah official put pressure on the television station and the journalist who filmed the piece.
    After lengthy debates, it was agreed that seven minutes of the less "controversial" footage would be aired.
    Lebanese journalist Carol Malouf told NOW that the full content of her interview with the two Hizbullah members "scares" the party.
    "It hits the nerve of the host community, because it shows that there are a lot of screw-ups in the field, there were mistakes."
    "There is a lot of pressure to send people more than once to the field, even though they signed up to go only once for 15 days per year....It shows they're not taking care of their people enough."
    Nusra dealt Hizbullah's military efforts a further propaganda blow when it announced on Nov. 14 that it had kidnapped three Hizbullah fighters and released a video of them. Hizbullah is currently negotiating for their release, the pro-Hizbullah daily Al-Akhbar reported.
    See also Every Hizbullah Member Must Serve in Syria (NOW-Lebanon)
    Lebanese journalist Carol Malouf on Monday released the entire one-hour interview (in Arabic) with two Hizbullah technicians held captive by the Al-Nusra Front in Syria.
    One explained that every Hizbullah member is obliged to fulfill one 15-day military posting per year along one of the party's "front-lines." The mandatory posting is now in Syria.

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IMF Reports Limited Growth for West Bank Economy (AFP)
    The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that economic growth in the West Bank was 2.8% in 2015 and was likely to remain below 3% this year.
    See also Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

India's Biggest Publication Center for Jihadi and Anti-Semitic Literature - Tufail Ahmad (MEMRI)
    New Delhi's Abul Fazl Enclave area has emerged as the global clearinghouse of jihadi literature in Arabic, Urdu, English and Hindi.
    Abul Fazl Enclave is part of Jamia Nagar, a predominantly Muslim region of New Delhi that is the headquarters of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, South Asia's largest Islamist organization.
    Publishing houses based in Abul Fazl Enclave engage in fomenting hatred of Jews and Israel, without distinguishing between them.

S&P: We Expect Israel to Weather Global Volatility (Globes)
    International rating agency Standard & Poor's has reiterated its A+/A-1 rating for Israel, with a stable outlook.
    "We expect the Israeli economy to weather potential volatility in the global economy and international financial market, thanks to its diversified economy, strong external position, and flexible monetary framework," S&P said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Marks Revolution with "Death to America" Chants - Ali Arouzi
    If you thought anti-American sentiment in Iran had waned after the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions, you could be wrong. Tens of thousands of Iranians marched in Tehran's Azadi Square Thursday, chanting "Death to America and Israel" and waving anti-Western placards on the 37th anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.
        President Hassan Rouhani gave an address, saying that Iranians will "never yield" to outside pressure. "Our nuclear victory showed to the world that Iranians are capable of winning any battle, including diplomatic battles."  (NBC News)
  • Syrian Rebels Turn to Guerrilla Tactics as Regime Forces Gain Battlefield Advantage - Raja Abdulrahim
    Rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Assad say their survival depends on changing tactics and shifting to guerrilla warfare, as their territorial losses to the regime and its Russian and Iranian allies mount. The vastly outgunned rebels say they have turned to guerrilla tactics such as assassinations, ambushes and hit-and-run attacks in the battle for Aleppo.
        Forced to withdraw last week from the village of Ratyan in Aleppo province, 10 rebel fighters stayed behind, armed with AK-47s and PKC machine guns, according to Abdulfatah al-Hussein, a member of the rebel group Jaish al-Mujahideen. When Iranian, Afghan, Iraqi and Hizbullah fighters entered Ratyan, the rebels opened fire and killed dozens of them.
        Jennifer Cafarella, a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, noted, "The war is entering a new phase, thanks to the Russian air campaign and Iranian ground presence."  (Wall Street Journal)
        See also World Powers Agree to Cease-Fire in Syria - Anton Troianovski and Jay Solomon
    World powers agreed Friday to reach a cease-fire in Syria in one week, allowing aid in but giving Russia and the Assad regime time to press an offensive. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Death Toll from War in Syria Now 470,000 - Anne Barnard
    The Syrian Center for Policy Research said that at least 470,000 Syrians had died as a result of five years of war. (New York Times)
  • Fatah Spokesman: The Popular Uprising Is Growing with the Support of the Palestinian Leadership
    Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Aita told PA TV on Jan. 21: "The popular uprising is growing today. It has moral and material support from the Palestinian leadership and from the Fatah movement, so that it will be able to continue. The Israelis want this uprising to end, but they will not succeed in this."
        "We will intensify and develop this popular uprising - and this is the position of the Fatah that it will spread throughout all the Palestinian lands....Allah willing, this uprising will continue with these young heroes, who carry out these individual heroic acts."  (MEMRI)
  • Hamas Prevents Senior UN Staffer from Leaving Gaza - Fares Akram
    A UN official said Mahmoud Daher, the Palestinian head of the World Health Organization's Gaza office, was barred from leaving the Strip Thursday by Hamas. Hamas announced two weeks ago that international organizations would need a Hamas-issued exit permit when leaving Gaza to go to Israel. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Obama to Reluctantly Sign Trade Bill Opposing Boycott of Settlement Products - Eric Cortellessa
    The White House announced Thursday that President Barack Obama will sign a trade bill despite it containing a provision that lumps together Israel and "Israeli-controlled territories." The bill includes a clause that addresses politically motivated acts to limit or prohibit economic relations with Israel, which earned the commendation of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. "The provision puts the U.S. firmly on record opposing BDS and supporting enhanced commercial ties between the United States and Israel," AIPAC said Thursday.
        There are several references in the legislation to "Israeli-controlled territories" or "any territory controlled by Israel" as being applicable to the terms of the bill. The BDS provision also explicitly instructs U.S. trade representatives to discourage EU member countries from engaging in Israel boycott efforts. (Times of Israel)
  • Conference of Presidents Meets Egypt's Sisi in Cairo - Sam Sokol
    A delegation of American Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations held an "open and very productive discussion" with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for two hours in Cairo on Thursday. They discussed a "wide range of domestic and international issues, including U.S.-Egyptian and Israeli-Egyptian relations, regional threats, especially those posed by terrorist organizations and their supporters, and Iran," the group said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Police Names First Muslim Deputy Commissioner - Itzik Saban
    Assistant Police Commissioner Jamal Hakroush is set to head a new division within the force tasked with promoting law enforcement in Israel's Arab sector. He will become the first Muslim Arab in Israel with the rank of deputy commissioner. Hakroush has served as the Deputy Chief Officer of the Coastal Police District since 2010. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli-Arab Dentist Sentenced for Funneling Money to Hamas - Ben Hartman
    Malak Khatib, 32, an Israeli-Arab dentist from Kfar Kana in the Galilee, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Thursday for funneling money to Hamas. He was also convicted of multiple transports of Palestinians into Israel illegally. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Healthy Institutions Don't Boycott Israel - Alex Joffe
    In terms of convincing institutions to boycott, divest from, or legally sanction Israel, successes are meager. Global industries are uninterested in excluding Israel. Investment in Israel is rising, especially from Asia. Even trade with Europe is unimpeded. No university or corporation has sold its stock in companies like Intel or Caterpillar for doing business in Israel.
        Moreover, backlash against boycotts is growing, particularly at the state level. Legislators in Florida, California, Ohio, Illinois, and South Carolina have proposed laws to prohibit anti-Israel discrimination by state agencies, including pension funds. In Britain, the Conservative Party has proposed to restrict the ability of local councils and pension funds to discriminate against Israel on political grounds.
        Even at universities, where pro-boycott activists have occasionally managed to manipulate or coerce student governments into passing boycott and divestment resolutions, in no case have university administrations, much less boards of trustees or investment managers, followed suit. To the contrary: Israel boycott and divestment resolutions are regularly denounced. The writer is editor of BDS Monitor for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. (The Federalist)
  • An Arab Right to Back Terrorism? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Three Israeli Arab MKs recently met with the families of slain terrorists and observed a moment of silence in their honor. Doing so was not merely in bad taste. It was an open act of solidarity with those that had either slaughtered other Israelis or tried to. If Israeli Arabs want to join the war on Israel by supporting or engaging in terror, then it is they who are rupturing the compact with civil society.
        Israeli Arabs cannot wage war against the Israeli nation while also calling upon the world to help them advance the interests of their community in Israeli society. Those who sit and grieve for terrorists rather than their victims are a fifth column, not a loyal opposition. Those who truly support Israeli democracy should be scolding the Arab MKs for confirming the worst fears of their Jewish fellow citizens. (Commentary)
  • Most Israeli Arabs Do Not Support Terrorism - Lior Akerman
    The behavior of three Arab Knesset members of the Balad faction who met with the families of Palestinian terrorists and expressed support for their actions adds an entirely new layer to Israeli-Arab support of terrorism against the state. Above all of this looms the cloud of ISIS. In recent weeks, the Israel Security Agency has thwarted several terrorist attacks by ISIS cells in the Galilee and Triangle areas.
        Over the years, dozens of terrorist organizations in which Israeli Arabs are involved have been uncovered, and yet the number of individuals involved has never been more than a few hundred, which is an infinitesimally small percentage of the population. Statistically, Israeli Arabs have been involved in fewer than 5% of recent terrorist attacks.
        The reality of the situation is that more than 80% of Israeli Arabs do not support and are in no way involved in terrorist activity. Most Israeli Arabs consider themselves Israeli and are faithful, law abiding citizens. At the same time, the majority of Israeli Arabs identify culturally as Palestinians. The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Israel Security Agency. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Betraying Israel's Arabs - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In meeting with families of Palestinians who carried out attacks against Israelis, three Israeli Arab Knesset Members acted against the interests of 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel. Such actions have one clear result: colossal injury to Arab citizens' efforts for full equality. These parliamentarians work harder for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who are not citizens of Israel than for their own Israeli constituents. Their spare moments are spent vying for the distinction of being the most vitriolic provocateur against their country.
        Arab Knesset members could have used the meeting to issue a call for an end to the current wave of stabbing attacks. They could have demanded that Palestinian leaders, factions and media outlets cease brainwashing young men and women, and cease urging them to murder Jews - any Jews. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Weekend Features

  • New Israeli Bandage Stops "Uncontrollable" Bleeding
    A new Israeli-developed bandage aims to save lives in cases of severe bleeding, where conventional treatment procedures could fail to stop a deadly hemorrhage. Yuval Yaskil, owner and CEO of developers Core Scientific Creations (CSC), says the WoundClot bandage not only stops severe bleeding within minutes - without the need to apply pressure on the wound - but also enhances the blood's natural process of clotting.
        Just stopping the blood from leaving the patient's body is not enough, Yaskil explained, as it can sometimes take hours before a patient reaches a hospital. WoundClot was chemically crafted to stop bleeding. Dr. Shani Eliyahu Gross, CTO of CSC, explained that WoundClot looks like any other bandage, but can "absorb enormous amounts of blood and then it transforms into a gel state." In fact, the more blood absorbed in the bandage, the quicker the clotting process will proceed. (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
  • Sealant for Collapsed Lungs Wins Israeli Innovation Prize - David Shamah
    Vigor Medical Technologies, makers of a system that can seal internal and external wounds without suturing, bandages, or tape, was named Israel's most innovative company by Ofir Akunis, minister of science, technology and space. Vigor's wound repair system is designed for use in cases of thoracic trauma, a chest injury that can cause the lungs to collapse.
        As many as 20% of soldiers injured in battle die from collapsed lungs - but if treated within an hour, the injured person has an 80% chance of survival, according to Vigor. The company's sealant devices can be carried in the field by medical personnel and administered in case of an emergency. (Times of Israel)
  • Technion Israel Develops Small Portable Ultrasound System
    Prof. Yonina Eldar at Israel's Technion has developed an advanced ultrasound probe that eliminates the need for large ultrasound devices. With such a system, ultrasound scans can be performed in disaster areas or in developing countries with limited medical infrastructure. Uploading the scan results to a cloud enables a doctor to view the findings on a mobile device. Using a new algorithm, the data can be reduced at the initial scanning stage, so that it can be uploaded to a cloud without harming image quality and without loss of data. (Jewish Business News)

Israel Surveys New Reality of Tunnels and Terror - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)

  • As Israel's military commanders watch the terrorism, violence and chaos beyond the country's borders, it is clear that nonstate actors with sophisticated weapons have replaced the threat from Arab armies.
  • Given its lack of strategic depth, the Israeli military is investing in fences, surveillance and reconnaissance devices.
  • Most of the villages across the border in Syria are in the hands of jihadist rebels fighting the Assad government.
  • In neighboring Lebanon, Hizbullah has amassed tens of thousands of increasingly accurate rockets.
  • Across Israel's southern border, the Islamic State is battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
  • And Hamas in Gaza boasted recently that it was rebuilding the tunnels toward Israeli border communities.

        See also Video: Israeli Concerns over Gaza Attack Tunnels
    Hamas fighters entered Israel seven times through attack tunnels during the 2014 Gaza war. In 2006, they used a tunnel to capture an Israeli soldier. (CNN)
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