Report: Russia Freezes S-300 Anti-Aircraft Missile Transfer to Iran - Avi Nachmani (Ynet News)
Russia has decided to freeze shipment of its S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported on Saturday.
The paper said Russian President Putin ordered to suspend delivery of the advanced defense system because Iran failed to lived up to its promise not to deliver advanced weaponry to Hizbullah.
Putin received information from Israel proving that the Iranians had transferred the advanced, Russian-made, SA-22 surface-to-air missile system to Hizbullah more than once.
In addition, Russian pilots flying missions over Syria and Lebanon have frequently reported that their radar systems detected advanced surface-to-air missile systems in Hizbullah-controlled regions on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Israel's National Intelligence Estimate: Hizbullah Is Bleeding in Syria - Yossi Melman (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for 2016, drafted by the research department of IDF Military Intelligence with input from the Mossad and the Israel Security Agency, notes that Hizbullah is bleeding in the killing fields of Syria, with nearly 1,500 soldiers killed in action and more than 6,000 wounded.
The report also notes that Hamas in Gaza is continuing to dig tunnels. The IDF estimates that more than 10 are very close to the Israeli border and may penetrate inside Israel.
Under Egypt's Nose, Hamas Boosts Cooperation with IS in Sinai - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
Hamas bulldozers are digging tunnels in broad daylight to boost smuggling from and to Sinai.
These bulldozers approach the border, and then abruptly disappear underground; several minutes later they exit the tunnels, loaded with dirt.
The bulldozer drivers are seen taking "coffee breaks" at Hamas security positions, right in front of the Egyptian soldiers.
Palestinian Media Watchdog Gets Booted Off YouTube for Exposing Palestinian Incitement (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a media watchdog that monitors Palestinian incitement, said Sunday that YouTube has "terminated" their account after they released a Palestinian Authority broadcast featuring a little girl reciting a poem on PA TV which calls for a "war that will smash the oppressor and destroy the Zionist's soul."
PMW added that the account contained virtually all of their videos which were no longer accessible.
PMW noted, "On Friday, a 25-minute debate took place in the Swedish Parliament in which the PA's support for the current terror was discussed, and the proof was based entirely on PMW documentation - most of which is no longer accessible on PMW's YouTube account."
See also Palestinian Media Watch YouTube Account Reinstated (Palestinian Media Watch-Facebook)
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- Biden Mideast Trip to Focus on Islamic State and Syria, Not Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Saturday for a five-day trip to the UAE, Israel, West Bank and Jordan.
A senior White House official said Friday that Biden would not make any major recommendations on the Israeli-Palestinian issue but would focus on the fight against the Islamic State and the Syrian conflict.
See also Tehran's "Destabilizing Activities" on Agenda for Biden's Visit to Israel - Michael Wilner and Tovah Lazaroff
Speaking of the agenda for U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's two-day visit to Israel beginning Tuesday evening, a senior administration official told the Jerusalem Post on Saturday night, "In Israel, in particular, he wanted to discuss Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [the Iran deal] implementation and countering Iran's destabilizing activities in the region." U.S. officials say negotiations over defense funding from the U.S. will not be the primary point of discussion during Biden's visit. (Jerusalem Post)
- Egypt Says Muslim Brotherhood, Backed by Hamas, Killed Top Prosecutor - Nour Youssef
Egypt's interior minister, Maj. Gen. Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, said Sunday that members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, trained by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, carried out the bombing in Cairo that killed Egypt's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, on June 29, 2015.
(New York Times)
- Anti-Assad Syrian Protesters Take to Streets during Lull in Airstrikes - Anne Barnard
Street protests erupted across insurgent-held areas of Syria on Friday, as demonstrators took advantage of the relative lull in airstrikes during a partial truce, coming out in the largest numbers in years. Many protesters said they were determined to resume seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
The protests were all the more surprising in that the insurgency is struggling militarily.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Palestinian Oversaw Terror Group in Cairo - Yoav Zitun
Najib Mustafa Nizal, 33, a Palestinian who moved to Egypt in 2007 in order to found a terrorist cell, was arrested by Israel in January.
He had joined Kata'ib al-Mujahideen, a terror organization, and adopted radical Islamist features. The group, which receives funding and guidance from Hamas, has committed multiple attacks on Israeli targets in the past few years, especially firing rockets at Israel and attempting to support terrorist activity on Israeli soil.
Nizal confessed to the Israel Security Agency that he worked to recruit students from the West Bank who were studying in Egypt. He sent these recruits to Gaza for military training and then helped them infiltrate the West Bank.
- PA Official: Kerry Vowed to Veto UN Resolutions on Israeli Settlements, Palestinian Statehood - Maayan Groisman
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat revealed that at a Feb. 21 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, Kerry threatened to veto any UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements or Palestinian statehood.
Erekat's summary of the meeting was published on Sunday by Asharq al-Awsat.
- Hamas Has Replenished Its Rocket Arsenals, Israeli Officials Say - Avi Issacharoff
Roughly a year and a half after the end of the 2014 Gaza War, Israeli officials believe that Hamas has replenished its rocket supply, reaching the number of rockets that it had before the conflict. At the start of the war, Hamas had 12,000 rockets, including long-range rockets. It fired 4,600 rockets during the 50-day war, and 4,000 more were hit from the air by Israel. That left it with one-third of its original arsenal.
Since that time Hamas has worked intensively to replenish its rocket arsenal. While Israeli officials now assess that Hamas has the number of rockets that it had in June 2014, they believe most of the rockets are of relatively short range and of lower quality. The new rockets contain smaller quantities of explosives due to the tunnel closures by Egypt which limited the import of raw materials.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel and Jordan Agree on Surveillance Cameras for Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Shlomo Cesana
Israel and Jordan agreed over the weekend to install surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount, which would enable both parties to monitor security incidents at the Jerusalem holy site. The closed-circuit TV grid is expected to become operational before the Passover holiday, in mid-April.
A senior Israeli source said the move would enable Israel to monitor and document Muslim rioters. Jordanian officials stressed that surveillance cameras will not be installed inside the mosque itself, where rioters have barricaded themselves in the past.
- Iran's Long Road to Reintegrating with the World Financial System - Katherine Bauer
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), whose 37 members include Russia and China, in February urged member states to warn their banks about the risks of doing business with Iran. Established in 1989 by the G-7, the FATF is the international standard-setting body for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.
For foreign financial institutions considering renewed ties with Iranian banks, the FATF's continuing designation of Iran as a high-risk jurisdiction and repeated call for countermeasures have real implications. Sanctions relief and SWIFT readmission notwithstanding, significant impediments remain for those banks looking to reestablish financial ties with Iran. The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute and a former official at the U.S. Treasury Department.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also Fear of U.S. Punishment Prevents Foreign Banks from Establishing Ties with Iran (Tasnim-Iran)
- There's No Will in Washington to Own Syria - Aaron David Miller
We need to be honest about what the U.S. is willing to risk in Syria. The shadow of Iraq and Afghanistan still looms large, and there's no will in Washington to own Syria, or to engage in nation-building. Iran and even Russia are willing to sacrifice quite a lot to protect what they believe are their vital interests. The U.S. is not. It is not going to pay the estimated $100 billion required to rebuild the country, nor to provide the peacekeepers needed to oversee the process. The writer, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center, served as a Middle East negotiator.
- Improved Israeli-Egyptian Relations Have Not Yet Reached the Street - Prof. Eyal Zisser
Both Israel and Egypt are tackling the spread of Islamist extremism, spearheaded by the Islamic State's Sinai branch. Both believe the fight against ISIS in Sinai necessitates confronting Hamas in Gaza. However, the improved diplomatic and security relationship between the countries still has not trickled down to the street. A large portion of the Egyptian public still exhibits open hostility toward Israel in an almost Pavlovian manner.
At the same time, even among customarily hostile circles in Egypt, calls for war against Israel or the severing of diplomatic ties are absent from the current discourse. Preserving the peace accord with Israel is viewed as a clear national interest, and a widespread consensus on this matter transverses all layers of Egyptian society. The argument is over expanding the relationship to the economic and cultural spheres, and in this regard many Egyptians remain hostile toward Israel.
Incidentally, replace the name Egypt with Jordan in this article and it would perfectly describe the relationship between Jerusalem and Amman. The writer is former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
The Pillars of Palestinian National Identity - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The pillars of Palestinian national identity reflect the concept that the essence of being a Palestinian is to deny Zionism.
- The first pillar claims that Judaism is only a religion and not a nationality or peoplehood, and hence the Jews are not eligible to a right of self-determination.
- The second pillar denies any sovereign history of the Jews in Palestine (Eretz Israel). Based on those two pillars, the Palestinians believe that there is no place for a state for the Jews in Palestine and that its disappearance is inevitable.
- The third pillar is that the Jews are the vilest creatures ever created, which explains why stabbing them is an acceptable course of action for Palestinians, including youth.
- The fourth pillar states that the struggle against Zionism is on-going and diverse, and all its various means, including violence and terror, are legitimate.
- The fifth emphasizes the unbreakable bond between the Palestinians and the land of Palestine in its entirety and is reflected in the commitment to the eventual return of the Palestinians to their homes and the establishment of the Palestinian state over the entire territory.
- The sixth is the identification of the Palestinians as victims, which spares them any accountability or responsibility.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research and Analysis Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
See also The Knife and the Message:
The Roots of the New Palestinian Uprising - Hirsh Goodman and Yossi Kuperwasser, eds. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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