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March 11, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israel, U.S. Collaborating on Weapon to Counter Hamas Tunnel Threat - Yardena Schwartz (Foreign Policy)
    During the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas' labyrinth of tunnels emerged as the group's most powerful weapon - far more effective than its rocket arsenal. In a handful of tunnel attacks, Palestinian militants killed 11 Israeli soldiers and captured the bodies of several soldiers.
    Israel is developing a secret military weapon designed to eradicate the problem. According to intelligence sources, the system involves seismic sensors that can monitor underground vibrations.
    Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the new system is not yet operational, but it is "in a testing mode."

Egypt Discovers Enormous Tunnels Coming from Gaza - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    Hamas has been digging tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border - some stretching for over three km. - that are big enough for trucks, according to Egyptian security officials.
    Hamas has also become a weapons exporter. In the past several months, several types of weapons were found by Egyptian security forces which bear the markings of being manufactured by Hamas in Gaza.
    Among the weapons found were solar water heaters filled with explosives used as IEDs. A few years ago, Hamas used one of these to disable an Israeli tank.
    The Egyptian government also claims that ISIS in Sinai shoots Hamas-made rockets at Egyptian military bases.

Iran Executions at Highest Level Since '89 - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
    UN investigator Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, said in a report Thursday that at least 966 people were put to death in the country last year, roughly double the number executed in 2010.
    According to Amnesty International, the 2015 figure for Iran is the highest since 1989.

Palestinian Teacher Striker: "This Is Our Tahrir Square" - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    On Monday, Palestinian teachers and their supporters demonstrated again in pursuit of decent wages and their right to elect their representatives in their trade union.
    One teacher said, "This is our Tahrir Square," referring to the demonstrations which toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
    Some demonstrators mentioned the names of ministers who send their own children to private schools rather than to government ones.
    There were no slogans against Israel.
    See also Palestinian Teachers' Strike Is Challenging the PA - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)

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Islamic State's Money Problems - Patrick Johnston (USA Today)
    Once famous for being the richest terrorist group in the world, the Islamic State now faces considerable money problems.
    Coalition airstrikes, economic downturns, and low oil prices have combined to hit the group where it hurts. An air campaign against the group's oil revenue has reduced it by an estimated 30%. Airstrikes also have destroyed much of the money in the banks in Iraq where the group stores its cash.
    Moreover, the Iraqi government has discontinued salaries to thousands of government employees located in ISIS-controlled territory, which ISIS taxed at high rates.
    The writer is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation.

Expert: One in Four Life Science Innovations Has Israeli Roots - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    "Research in Israel is present in between 25% and 28% of the world's successful biotech-based solutions," according to Ruti Alon, a general partner at Pitango Venture Capital.
    "Many of the patents in pharmaceuticals that are now being used to treat cancer, heart problems, and much more were developed at Israeli institutions like Hebrew University or the Weizmann Institute."

Osteopetrosis Treatment in Israel - Barbara Sofer (Jerusalem Post)
    Dr. Polina Stepensky, an expert on bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, has successfully treated 15 children from Russia who suffer from osteopetrosis, a rare and fatal genetic bone disease.
    In the northern Russian Republic of Chuvash, one of every 4,000 newborns has this condition.
    Citizens of a country 1,000 times bigger than Israel come here for their cure.

Intel Buys Israeli 3D Video Tech Firm Replay Technologies (Reuters-Sports Business Daily)
    Intel Corp said on Wednesday it bought Israel's Replay Technologies, which developed a 3D video technology that has started to be used by U.S. professional sports broadcasters.
    Israeli media said the purchase price was $175 million.
    Replay helps sports broadcasters show a panoramic view of the action. The system can freeze action from any angle, then rotate all around it.

Israel Donates Water Purification System to Papua New Guinea - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is donating a GalMobile water purification vehicle to drought-stricken Papua New Guinea.
    The GalMobile connects to any possible water source and produces drinking water in 30 minutes, yielding 8,000 cups of water per hour.
    Hundreds of children in Papua New Guinea die every year from diseases caused by drinking poor quality water.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Abbas Turned Down New U.S. Peace Initiative Presented by Biden
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas turned down a U.S. peace initiative presented to him during a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday in Ramallah, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported, citing a "source familiar with the details." The new American initiative to restart peace talks included designating eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, halting settlement construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and giving up the demand for a Palestinian "right of return."  (JTA)
  • Biden Gives Nod to Israeli Concerns in Talks on U.S. Defense Aid
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday in a nod to Israeli requests in defense aid negotiations, "We're committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats, maintain its qualitative edge with a quantity sufficient to maintain that." Israel's "very, very tough neighborhood, a tough and changing neighborhood," necessitated such assistance, Biden said.
        Israel says it needs to expand its military, rather than just upgrade technologies, given spiraling arms procurement it anticipates by Iran and Arab states. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Plans to Publicly Blame Iran for Cyberattack at New York Dam - Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz
    The Obama administration is preparing to publicly attribute a 2013 cyber attack against a New York dam to Iranian hackers, and the U.S. Justice Department has prepared an indictment against people thought to be behind the attack, according to officials familiar with the investigation.
        U.S. investigators determined the attack at the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook, New York, was carried out by hackers working for the Iranian government. U.S. officials say Iranian hackers also were conducting similar probing attacks on U.S. financial institutions. The U.S. and Iran were conducting talks over the Iranian nuclear program at the time. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Arab Jogger Wounded in Jaffa Terror Attack - Rotem Elizera
    Mohammed Wari, 26, from east Jerusalem, who works at a hi-tech company in the Tel Aviv area, was a victim of the Jaffa terror attack Tuesday. As he was jogging through Jaffa, Wari encountered the Palestinian terrorist, Bashar Masalha, who stabbed him in the shoulder near his neck, as well as another person nearby.
        Wari condemned the terror attack. "This is unrelated to the fact that I am an Arab, but the terrorists and their supporters don't discriminate between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, or Americans and Russians. They only want to kill. Terror has no color, race, or religion. Terror is an illness that needs to be stopped. Terror has a clear goal: to kill and destroy the world and the coexistence in which we live."  (Ynet News)
  • Russian Terror Victim Moved by Care Received in Israel - Yael Branovsky
    Yevgeny and Irina Tsiplin, a Russian couple, were wounded in Tuesday's terrorist attack in Jaffa. Yevgeny said, "The attack was a terrible tragedy, but the way we were cared for and the treatment we received were amazing. We received outstanding medical care, and people came to talk to us and to offer help, including social workers and even the mayor of Tel Aviv." There are seven victims from Tuesday's attack still in hospital. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Moscow Condemns Attacks on Civilians in Israel
    Moscow has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Israel that claimed the lives of civilians, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. "Among the victims are four Russian citizens."  (TASS-Russia)
  • Stabbing Attack Thwarted in West Bank Community - Efrat Forsher
    A knife-wielding, female Palestinian terrorist was apprehended on Wednesday after having snuck into the community of Kedumim in the West Bank with the intention of carrying out a stabbing attack. The terrorist, who was arrested in the yard of a home, was spotted by security cameras and IDF troops and local security officers rushed to the scene. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israelis Wounded in Terror Attacks Face Long Rehabilitation - Rotem Elizera
    321 Israelis have been wounded over the past five months in Palestinian terror attacks, many of them still recovering from their injuries. Here are some of their stories. (Ynet News)
        See also Shaare Zedek Medical Center Trauma Teams Reunite with Terror Victims They Saved - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Obama Doctrine - President Barack Obama interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg
    According to former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, President Obama has questioned why the U.S. should maintain Israel's so-called qualitative military edge, which grants it access to more sophisticated weapons systems than America's Arab allies receive. And he decided early on that he wanted to reach out to America's most ardent Middle Eastern foe, Iran. He has bet global security and his own legacy that one of the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism will adhere to an agreement to curtail its nuclear program.
        In 2009, President Obama gave a speech in Cairo meant to reset U.S. relations with the world's Muslims. When I asked Obama recently what he had hoped to accomplish with his Cairo reset speech, he said that he had been trying - unsuccessfully, he acknowledged - to persuade Muslims to more closely examine the roots of their unhappiness.
        "My argument was this: Let's all stop pretending that the cause of the Middle East's problems is Israel," Obama told me. "We want to work to help achieve statehood and dignity for the Palestinians, but I was hoping that my speech could trigger a discussion, could create space for Muslims to address the real problems they are confronting - problems of governance, and the fact that some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity." In private encounters with other world leaders, Obama has argued that there will be no comprehensive solution to Islamist terrorism until Islam reconciles itself to modernity.
        Obama has come to a number of dovetailing conclusions about the world, and about America's role in it. The first is that the Middle East is no longer terribly important to American interests. The second is that even if the Middle East were surpassingly important, there would still be little an American president could do to make it a better place. The third is that the innate American desire to fix the sorts of problems that manifest themselves most drastically in the Middle East inevitably leads to warfare, to the deaths of U.S. soldiers, and to the eventual hemorrhaging of U.S. credibility and power. His critics believe, however, that problems like those presented by the Middle East don't solve themselves - that, without American intervention, they metastasize. (Atlantic)
  • Dangerous Illusions about Iran - Elliott Abrams
    The Iran nuclear agreement was sold with the argument that it would strengthen Iranian "moderates," and that it would allow us unparalleled insight into Iran's nuclear program. Both are now proving to be untrue. If Iran remains the bellicose and repressive theocracy of today when the agreement ends and Iran is free to build nukes without limits, we have entered a dangerous bargain.
        Iran's conduct certainly suggests radicalization rather than moderation, and the past weeks have seen repeated ballistic missile tests. Ballistic missiles are not built and perfected in order to carry 500-pound "dumb" bombs; they are used to carry nuclear weapons. So Iran's continued work on them suggests that it has never given up its nuclear ambitions, not even briefly for the sake of appearances.
        The head of CENTCOM, Gen. Lloyd Austin, put it this way: "The fact remains that Iran today is a significant destabilizing force in the region.... Some of the behavior that we've seen from Iran of late is certainly not the behavior that you would expect to see from a nation that wants to be taken seriously as a respected member of the international community."
        Are we now gaining unparalleled insight into the Iranian nuclear program? Earlier this week State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "We now know more than we've ever known, thanks to this deal, about Iran's program." Reporter Matt Lee of AP asked, "How much near-20%-enriched uranium does Iran now have?" Kirby replied, "I don't know."  The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a U.S. deputy national security advisor. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Why No Consequences for Abbas? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    After the terrorist attack in Jaffa that took the life of an American tourist not far from where a visiting Vice President Biden was having dinner, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas responded that "occupation authorities" have killed 200 Palestinians in recent months, without mentioning the fact that almost all of those fatalities were individuals who were engaging in terror attacks.
        Official Palestinian Authority television - an entity that is directly controlled by Abbas' government - called the Jaffa terrorist a "martyr" who earned praise for a "complex operation." The report also referred to the slain American and the ten people injured as "settlers."
        This language is significant because it indicates once again that the government of Abbas, who has been lauded as a moderate and a champion for peace, thinks of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa beachfront as "occupied territory" inhabited by "settlers." It shows that he and the PA think of all of Israel as "occupied" and not just the West Bank or Jerusalem. (Commentary)
  • Dispelling Myths on Terrorism - Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash
    We are told that Palestinian terrorism stems from despair. The waves of Palestinian terrorism in the 1990s after the signing of the Oslo Accords took place when there was a diplomatic process. Back then, our dead were called "victims of peace." It would be just as wrong to call the Israelis killed in recent terrorist attacks "victims of despair." Instead, they are victims of the Palestinians' sanctification of death and refusal to recognize Israel's existence.
        Let us also dispel the notion of "lone wolf attackers," as if the attackers are acting in a spontaneous, unorganized and uncontrolled manner. The main onus for stopping terrorism lies with the Palestinian Authority. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his ilk continue to incite against Israel and provide funds to terrorists and their families. Palestinian terrorists draw from years of hatred they learned in PA-run schools. It is the PA that could bring the wave of terrorism to an end, if only it so chose.
        A look at history reveals that all international bids to intervene and resolve the conflict have resulted in waves of Palestinian terrorism. International pressure is applied asymmetrically on Israel, freeing the Palestinians of any responsibility for their fate and increasing their appetite for a state that replaces Israel. The writer is a lecturer (assistant professor) at the Federman School of Public Policy and Government at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas Hopes for a Seaport - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Egypt is under pressure from Saudi Arabia to agree to a Turkish foothold in Gaza, linked to the easing of the blockade and the building of a floating seaport that would enable Turkish ships to reach Gaza. Hamas pins great hopes on Turkey's efforts to get Israel to ease the blockade on Gaza and build the seaport in return for normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations.
        The Egyptians strongly oppose Turkey's demand because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed by Egypt, and because of Hamas' involvement in terror within Egypt. Highlighting Turkish and Hamas connections with the Muslim Brotherhood terror gang that assassinated Egypt's prosecutor general in Cairo on June 29, 2015, helps Egypt rebuff the Saudi pressures. The writer is former director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israelis Are Bad at Apartheid - Nancy Chayn Fogelman
    Despite all the credit people around the world give Israel for being an apartheid state, we are really bad at it. When my family took a vacation in Eilat just after Hannuka and spent a week in a popular resort on an Israeli kibbutz, the majority of the guests in the hotel were Arab. We even shared a jeep with an Arab couple on our desert jeep tour.
        After our vacation, I went back to work at Hadassah hospital, taking care of Muslim and Christian Arabs side-by-side with the Jewish patients. Some of my fellow nurses are also Arabs, some of whom live in the dorms with Jewish nurses. And we have both Arab and Jewish doctors, all working together and even smiling and laughing and getting along. The rest of the world insists on calling us an apartheid state, but when it comes to doing apartheid, we fail miserably. (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Women Connect African Villages to Water, Electricity
    Innovation Africa, an Israeli charity led by women and employing Israeli technologies, has connected 104 villages across Africa to water and electricity in Malawi, Uganda, and Tanzania, Israel's Channel 2 reported Saturday. Israeli solar panels allow power for refrigerating medicine and food, or for turning on the lights in schools. They allow villagers to recharge cellular phones and expand their access to communications and the Internet.
        At the same time, Israeli drip irrigation systems are dramatically leading to cheaper and larger crop yields. And a manual pump that can purify water to make it drinkable without the use of electricity is making water safer. These projects have reached nearly a million people since 2008. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Remote Health Technology Sought for China's Healthcare System - David Shamah
    As China's population ages, its healthcare needs are growing - and to keep costs down, the country is looking at ways to keep patients out of the doctor's office, via Israeli communication technology. "With mobile and video technology, patients will be able to connect with many specialists at a minimum cost," said Renming Zhu, president of a Chinese healthcare technology company.
        One Israeli medical technology company is Aerotel, which specializes in telemedicine - transferring essential medical and lifestyle data over the Internet. The company's apps hook up with medical equipment or sensors and transmits information on a patient's electrocardiogram (ECG), blood pressure, or blood glucose level to doctors or hospitals. If anything is amiss - blood pressure too high, ECG too unstable - an alarm goes off, alerting patients and doctors. (Times of Israel)
  • In Israel, an Adrenaline-Charged Life - Laura Ben-David
    Truth be told, in Israel we go about our business and live our lives. Our kids go to school. We go to the grocery store. People work. And exercise. We go out to eat. Friends go to movies. People hike. They go to the beaches. But we are wary. And we are alert. And we take precautions. Lots of precautions. Because we are living among hostile neighbors who actively encourage our murder.
        We can want peace so badly we can taste it. But how can we make peace with a people we cannot turn our backs on for fear of being stabbed? The way Palestinian society celebrates the "martyrdom" of those who murder Jews, it seems that peace is more elusive than ever. (Times of Israel)
        See also Where Is It More Dangerous? - Gil Troy
    A synagogue in Manhattan shifted its annual social service trip for teens from Israel to Peru because some parents feared Palestinian terrorism. The move was illogical. Peru's murder rate is 9.6 per 100,000 people; America's is 3.8; Israel's is 1.8. These parents chose to raise their children in New York, with a murder rate of 4.0. The writer is Professor of History at McGill University and a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution. (Gil Troy)
  • European Regions that Expelled Jews Have Lower GDP than Those that Didn't - Richard Gray
    Jewish communities were instrumental in the establishment of some of the early banks during the Renaissance and the effects are still noticeable in modern economies. "Cities in which the local Jewish community in 1500 caused an early development of the banking sector, have more banks today and, because of this, are more developed today," said Professor Luigi Pascali, an economist at the University of Warwick and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
        In a paper in The Review of Economics and Statistics, Pascali examined the presence of Jewish communities in Italian cities during the Renaissance. He estimates that if the Jews had not been expelled from southern Italy by its Spanish rulers after 1503, the GDP there would have been 7% higher and that the expulsion of the Jews may explain at least 10% of the income gap currently seen between northern and southern Italy. He added that similar trends likely happened in other countries in Europe when Jewish communities were expelled in the Middle Ages. (Daily Mail-UK)

"Iran Is Still Our Most Substantial Defense Challenge" - Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad interviewed by Amir Rapaport (Israel Defense)

  • "The first challenge [for Israel] is monitoring the Iranian threat. The potential for the realization of a nuclear threat still exists in Iran, while at the same time the agreement provides the Iranians with more resources for building up threatening military strength in Lebanon. If it were up to them, they would have built a layout opposite Israel that is similar to the layout of Hizbullah, on the Golan Heights as well."
  • "Iran's military industry manufactures an extensive range of missiles, and today they are a nuclear threshold country which, in their view, has been granted legitimacy. They want to implement the vision of a Persian-Shi'ite empire, while threatening the Arab countries, particularly Sunni Saudi Arabia. As far as they are concerned, the nuclear agreement is tactical, and the strategic path is what really matters: to consolidate the empire and disseminate its principles."
  • "Along the northern border, the entity facing us is stronger than the State of Lebanon, which I call 'Hizbullastan'. This entity has more than 100,000 rockets and continues to build up its potential even at sea, including the Russian-made shore-to-sea missile 'Yakhont' which is capable of engaging various marine and ground targets including our offshore gas drilling rigs."
  • "Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah himself is connected by his umbilical cord to the Iranians, so 'Hizbullastan' is actually an affiliate of Tehran. The nuclear agreement between Iran and the superpowers does not include any reference to the terrorism and missile threats, so these threats will intensify....The primary threat facing us: Iran in combination with 'Hizbullastan'."
  • "Iran's record proves that it always strives to violate agreements. International sanctions have not changed their ideology. It is a very violent regime that deals with terrorism. This is what we face and prepare for."

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad is Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense.
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