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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
March 17, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iran to Send Commandos, Snipers to Iraq, Syria (Fars-Iran)
    Deputy Chief Liaison of the Iranian Army's Ground Force Gen. Ali Arasteh said Wednesday that commandos and snipers are being trained as military advisers and may be sent to Iraq and Syria in the near future.

Islamic State Loses 22 Percent of Territory - Columb Strack (IHS Jane's-UK)
    In 2015, the Islamic State lost control of 14% of the territory it held at the end of 2014. In the last 3 months, the Islamic State has lost a further 8% of its territory.
    The Islamic State is increasingly isolated, and being perceived as in decline.

Pentagon: Russians Have Started to Focus Airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State - Corey Dickstein (Stars and Stripes)
    Russian airstrikes in Syria have focused largely on Islamic State militants since most rebel forces agreed to a cease-fire, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday.

The UN Sinks Further into the Anti-Israeli Muck - Elliott Abrams (National Review)
    For more than 20 years, the UN Human Rights Council has had a dedicated "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."
    The incumbent Israel-Hater-in-Chief was Richard Falk, who wanted U.S. officials prosecuted as war criminals for deposing Saddam Hussein. His replacement must now be chosen.
    One candidate is a Canadian named Michael Lynk, who plays a leadership role in numerous Arab lobby groups that call to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes.
    The top candidate is Penny Green, a British criminologist who has urged that the UK de-list Hamas as a terrorist group.
    The writer is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Israeli Hiker Finds Roman Gold Coin in Galilee - Oren Liebermann (CNN)
    Laurie Rimon, from a kibbutz in northern Israel, discovered a gold coin depicting Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BCE-14 CE) while hiking in eastern Galilee.

Islamic State Militants Accidentally Blow Themselves Up in Afghanistan - Phillip Walter Wellman (Stars and Stripes)
    At least a dozen Islamic State militants accidentally blew themselves up in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday.
    "They were attempting to move an IED (improvised explosive device) to a crowded area of Achin, but it went off before they reached the planned place," said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for Nangarhar province's provincial governor.
    Twenty-one other militants were wounded, Khogyani said. There were no civilian casualties.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel's Main Concern in Syria: Iran, Not ISIS - Yaroslav Trofimov
    The Israeli government's priority in Syria is clear: to stop the rise of Iran as a regional power following last year's nuclear deal and the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran. Dore Gold, the director-general of Israel's foreign ministry, said in an interview: "At the end of the day, when some kind of modus vivendi is reached inside of Syria, it is critical from the Israeli standpoint that Syria does not emerge as an Iranian satellite incorporated fully into the Iranian strategic system." Israel's immediate concerns are to prevent Hizbullah from opening a second front from Syrian soil opposite the Israeli-held Golan Heights, and to prevent transfers of sophisticated Iranian weapons to the Lebanese militia.
        Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, said: "If we have to choose between ISIS and Assad, we'll take ISIS. ISIS has flatbed trucks and machine guns. Assad represents the strategic arch from Tehran to Beirut, 130,000 rockets in the hands of Hizbullah, and the Iranian nuclear program."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas Financial Crisis Affects Its Soldiers' Salaries - Kifah Ziboun
    For nearly two months, the salaries of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades have been reduced and are being paid later than usual. This is in addition to cutbacks on salaries to the Hamas government's civilian employees in Gaza.
        Hamas is now seeking to restore its relationship with the countries that used to provide it with financial support, including Iran. Iran has offered to resume its financial support of Hamas in exchange for Hamas' support of Iran in its dispute with Saudi Arabia over Yemen and Syria, but Hamas rejected the offer. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Hamas Delegation Meets with Iranian General Suleimani - Maayan Groisman
    A Palestinian delegation headed by Musa Abu Marzouk, chairman of Hamas' political bureau, met secretly on Wednesday with senior Iranian figures including Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, the al-Mayadeen news site reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • EU Uses Aid Money to Build on Disputed West Bank Land - Jake Wallis Simons
    The EU is using taxpayers' money to build unauthorized settlements and roads for Palestinians on Israeli parts of the West Bank. The buildings, which are given to Palestinians, are intended to pave the way for more land to be brought under Palestinian control, according to official EU papers. Members of Parliament have expressed outrage that the EU is using aid money to "meddle" in a foreign territorial dispute.
        The Oslo Accords of the 1990s divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and C. Area C was placed under Israeli control, while Areas A and B were Palestinian. More than 1,000 EU-funded Palestinian homes have been erected in the Israeli Area C without permits in more than 40 locations around the West Bank. In recent months, Israel has demolished some of the unauthorized EU buildings. Tzipy Hotovely, Israel's deputy foreign minister, said, "The government of Israel has no intention of giving a green light to the building of illegal structures in a political effort to decide the borders of Israel."  (Daily Mail-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Soldier Stabbed in West Bank Terror Attack Thursday - Tovah Lazaroff
    An Israeli woman soldier was stabbed on Thursday at a bus stop at the Ariel junction in the West Bank. Soldiers guarding the bus stop shot and killed the two Palestinian assailants. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Take Advantage of Israel's Family Reunification Program for Terror Attacks - Judah Ari Gross
    Several Palestinians who carried out terror attacks had recently received - or were in the process of applying for - residency status in Israel, the Israel Security Agency said Wednesday. West Bank Palestinians who have family members in Israel can apply for residency status for purposes of "family reunification."  (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas Fails to Mend Relations with Egypt - Yaakov Lappin
    A delegation of senior Hamas members who traveled to Cairo in recent days has failed to mend relations with the government of President al-Sisi due to Hamas' "refusal to admit [its] mistake" regarding responsibility for Sinai terrorist incidents, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported Tuesday. Egyptian authorities presented to Hamas evidence of Hamas' involvement in Sinai incidents, "but the Hamas delegation did not show a will to cooperate."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Argentina, Don't Let the Terrorists Win - Ronald Lauder
    Argentina, under the leadership of President Mauricio Macri, has an opportunity to correct the historical injustice that occurred more than 20 years ago, when terrorists attacked the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Thanks to Alberto Nisman, the tenacious special prosecutor who took the lead in the AMIA case for more than a decade, the world knows who is to blame for that bombing: the Iranian regime and its henchmen, Hizbullah. As Nisman laid out in a report published in 2013, Iranian and Hizbullah operatives are active in many Latin American nations.
        Through Interpol, Argentina issued international warrants against key Iranian officials believed to be implicated in the AMIA bombing, including at the highest political echelon. Argentina must continue to press for the extradition of the terror suspects, no matter how senior or important they are. The attacks of Buenos Aires must not be forgotten. Argentina, and the world, must not let these terrorists win. The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress, which is meeting in Buenos Aires this week. (Ha'aretz)
  • Six Hours in Gaza - Joel S. Migdal
    My first impression of the old city of Gaza was, unexpectedly, that it looked nothing like India. I had expected the wrenching poverty that I had seen in some Indian cities or many other Third World countries - collapsing infrastructure, rickety shacks, a surfeit of beggars, children in rags, adults sleeping on the sidewalks. None of that was visible.
        Instead, I saw hordes of children going to school, university students walking in and out of two universities - both the children and the university students reasonably dressed. There were cranes and construction workers everywhere, with lots of uncompleted buildings being worked on. There was the occasional bombed out building from the 2014 War. But most buildings were in decent shape, and some apartment buildings were downright nice. Most of the cars looked like late-model varieties.
        In conversation after conversation, there was no obsessing about Israel, which I found interesting. Indeed, there might even be a general acceptance of Israel in terms of realizing that Israel will long be part of their future. Professor Migdal, founding chair of the University of Washington International Studies Program, visited Gaza in winter 2016. (Jackson School of International Studies-University of Washington)
  • The Israeli Prime Minister's Visit that Wasn't - Ron Dermer
    Re: the New York Times' editorial of March 14, "Mr. Netanyahu's Lost Opportunities," Prime Minister Netanyahu didn't "cancel" his meeting with President Obama, as your editorial suggested, because no meeting was set. Israel had checked into the possibility of a meeting as part of a potential visit to Washington to address the AIPAC policy conference, but I personally told a White House official that there was a good chance that the prime minister would not visit the U.S. The Prime Minister's Office officially notified the administration that Mr. Netanyahu would not be going to the U.S. before notifying the media.
        In addition, your editorial asserts that Mr. Netanyahu never showed any "serious willingness" to advance Middle East peace, yet his repeated requests for negotiations without preconditions have been consistently spurned by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Your editorial also supports a reckless Security Council resolution that would set out the terms of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Such a resolution would reward Palestinian terrorism, harden Palestinian negotiating positions for decades to come, and provide a tailwind to efforts to delegitimize Israel. The writer is Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (New York Times)

"Intersectionality" and the Bizarre World of Hating Israel - Ziva Dahl (New York Observer)

  • Proponents of "intersectionality" see a world of all-encompassing oppression, where racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and ableism constitute an intersecting system. All injustices are interconnected, even if occurring in unconnected geographic, cultural and political environments.
  • This is the rationalization for building alliances among unrelated causes like LGBTQ rights, fossil fuel divestment, prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration.
  • The anti-Israel BDS campaigns have successfully injected the Palestinians into this intersectional mix as victims of colonialist oppression by pro-Western Israel. The marriage of intersectionality with the Arab-Israeli conflict allows any victim group to make common cause with the Palestinians.
  • This explains why, in January, the National LGBTQ Task Force initially chose to ally itself with Palestinians who execute gays, rather than with Israel, the sole Middle Eastern country that protects the rights of the LGBTQ community.
  • And why women's rights groups champion Palestinian society, where honor killings and violence against women are commonplace.

    The writer is a fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.

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