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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
April 12, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Retracts Claim It Received Russian S-300 Missile System - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Iran hurriedly retracted its claim Monday that the S-300 missile defense system it ordered from Russia had arrived in the country, saying instead only that an agreement for delivery had been reached, according to local media.
    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jaberi Ansari told the British Guardian that the equipment had not actually been delivered, but rather that the "initial agreement for delivery" had been reached.

Four Iran Army Special Forces Troops Killed in Syria (Reuters)
    "Four of the first military advisors of the Islamic Republic's army...were killed in Syria by takfiri groups," Iran's Tasnim news agency reported on Monday.
    The commander of the Iranian army ground forces, Brig.-Gen. Hamidreza Pourdastan, said Monday it was Iran's new strategy to send more advisers to the Syrian war.

Iran's Daily Oil Exports Surge by 600,000 Barrels in Three Months - Collin Eaton (Houston Chronicle)
    Iran's oil exports have surged by 600,000 barrels a day since December.
    Iran is selling three times more oil to India, with exports climbing from 190,000 barrels a day in January to 540,000 barrels a day in March, displacing Iraq's and Nigeria's sales to Indian refineries.
    See also Iran's Oil Revenue Jumps 90 Percent After Lifting of Sanctions (Sputnik-Russia)

The Assad Files - Ben Taub (New Yorker)
    The Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) is an independent investigative body founded in 2012 in response to the Syrian war.
    In the past four years, people working for the organization's regime-crimes unit have smuggled more than 600,000 government documents out of Syria, many of them from top-secret intelligence facilities.
    The commission's work recently culminated in a 400-page legal brief that links the systematic torture and murder of tens of thousands of Syrians to a written policy approved by President Bashar al-Assad, coordinated among his security-intelligence agencies, and implemented by regime operatives who reported the successes of their campaign to their superiors in Damascus.

Israeli "Drone Dome" Detects and Neutralizes Hostile Drones - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled the Drone Dome on Monday, designed to detect and neutralize hostile drones.
     The system uses radar and cameras to detect and track the movements of enemy drones and then disrupts their electronic systems, thereby ending their flight.
    "Drone Dome has a very fast response time, [and] it causes minimal collateral interruptions to the surrounding urban environment," the company said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Support for Islamic State Slides Among Young Arabs - Joby Warrick
    Overwhelming majorities of Arab teens and young adults now strongly oppose the Islamic State, a new poll shows, with nearly 80% ruling out any possibility of supporting ISIS, while a year ago about 60% expressed that view. The poll, sponsored by public relations firm ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, interviewed 3,500 respondents ages 18 to 24 in January and February.
        More than 60% saw Washington as an ally, with the strongest positive rankings coming from Persian Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. By contrast, more than 90% of Iraqis regarded the U.S. as an enemy. Dislike for Washington was nearly as high in Yemen and in the Palestinian territories. (Washington Post)
  • Weeks after "Pullout" from Syria, Russian Military Is as Busy as Ever - Michael Birnbaum
    Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's March 14 announcement that cut short Russia's Syrian deployment, the current level of activity would suggest that the pullout has been minor at best. Russian minesweepers are checking Palmyra's ancient ruins for explosives. Russian military advisers are whipping Syrian government forces into shape and planning attacks. Russian special forces are on the front lines, calling in targeting information for airstrikes. And Russian warships continue to deliver supplies to Assad.
        While Russia's combat sorties have dropped to 20-25 a day from 100 a day in February, its helicopters are taking a newly prominent role in the fighting. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • How the IDF Is Countering the Palestinian Terror Wave - Yoav Zitun
    Col. Roman Gofman, commander of the IDF's Gush Etzion Brigade, has succeeded in stopping tens of attacks at the Gush Etzion junction, as well as offering "carrots" to the Palestinians to lighten the atmosphere. Gofman has held many candid talks in recent weeks with village leaders and he acceded to a request of the head of the Al-Arroub refugee camp to open the rear entrances to the village to lower the number of rock throwing incidents on Route 60, where Israeli cars travel. In nearby Beit Ummar, another major stone throwing site, Gofman is helping build a soccer field for village youth.
        After a week-long siege on Beit Fajar because two of its residents carried out attacks near Ariel, local Palestinian leaders gathered their youth and called on them to stop the violence. Similar gatherings have taken place in Sair and Qabatiya. "The Palestinian security services are also doing much more to stop the terror wave," a senior security official admitted. They are searching the bags of students to find knives and are succeeding in stopping lone wolf terrorists.
        The IDF has also created new methods to fight against inciters. Just as the IDF arrests individuals calling for unrest or the murder of Jews on the radio, it now takes similar action when it comes to incitement on the internet, after collecting inciting videos, pictures, and posts uploaded to Facebook. "What causes attacks today is incitement on Facebook - not mosque leaflets. We arrested a Facebook inciter from Halhoul who has thousands of followers. Following such arrests, we feel a drop in the number of attacks from the same village," an IDF officer said. (Ynet News)
  • Roman-Era Glass Kilns Discovered at Foot of Mount Carmel in Israel
    During an excavation carried out as part of the Jezreel Valley Railway Project, remains of the oldest kilns in Israel were discovered where commercial quantities of raw glass were produced. These kilns (dating to the Late Roman period) indicate that the Land of Israel was one of the foremost centers for glass production in the ancient world.
        Yael Gorin-Rosen, head curator of the Israel Antiquities Authority Glass Department, said, "We know from historical sources dating to the Roman period that the Valley of Akko was renowned for the excellent quality sand located there, which was highly suitable for the manufacture of glass. Chemical analyses conducted on glass vessels from this period which were discovered until now at sites in Europe and in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean basin have shown that the source of the glass is from our region. Now, for the first time, the kilns have been found where the raw material was manufactured that was used to produce this glassware."
        Professor Ian Freestone of the University College London, who specializes in identifying the chemical composition of glass, added, "This is a sensational discovery and it is of great significance for understanding the entire system of the glass trade in antiquity. This is evidence that Israel constituted a production center on an international scale."
        The site was discovered last summer by archaeologist Abdel Al-Salam Sa'id, an inspector with the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Israel Antiquities Authority)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Even If U.S. Doesn't Cast Veto, Palestinian UN Initiative Unlikely to Have Impact - Amb. Alan Baker interviewed by Lenny Ben-David
    Q: There are reports of a new Palestinian initiative for a UN Security Council resolution to condemn Israeli policies. What would such a resolution mean practically?
    Baker: "If such a resolution actually isn't vetoed by the U.S., it won't be the first time. In 1979 the Americans abstained on a resolution also declaring Israel's settlements not to be valid. But the Security Council is not a legal body. It is not a body that makes law, and therefore, it's not even a binding body. Therefore, such a resolution will have no basic effect."
    Q: Will it lead to sanctions?
    Baker: "No, if the resolution isn't mandatory according to the seventh chapter of the UN Charter. No Middle Eastern resolutions have been adopted according to the seventh chapter, so it can't lead to sanctions." Alan Baker served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Saudi News Anchor Urges Muslims to Take Responsibility for Terrorism - Kara O'Neill
    In the middle of a TV broadcast on a Saudi Arabian news channel, newsreader Nadine Al-Budair said: "Whenever terrorism massacres peaceful civilians, the smart alecs and the hypocrites vie with one another in saying that these people do not represent Islam or the Muslims....It is we who blow ourselves up. It is we who blow up others....Don't these perpetrators emerge from our environment? Don't their families belong to our society?"
        "After the abominable Brussels bombings, it's time for us to feel shame and to stop acting as if the terrorists are a rarity. We must admit that they are present everywhere, that their nationality is Arab, and that they adhere to the religion of Islam. We must acknowledge that we are the ones who gave birth to them."  (Mirror-UK)
        View the Video (MEMRI-TV)
  • PA, Aided by EU, Working to Change Demographics of Jerusalem Area - Hillel Frisch
    The PA, with the help of the EU, has succeeded in housing 120,000 Palestinians in recent years in a 9-sq.-km. area mostly within the official boundaries of Jerusalem. Umm Ishak al-Kaluti told Palestinian media that ten years ago she owned one of the few homes on this once barren hill, now the site of hundreds of six-to-ten-storey apartment buildings. All of this construction is illegal, a senior officer in the Border Police in charge of security in the area confirmed.
        This officer and Jamil Sanduqa, head of the makeshift local council of Ras Khamis, would both agree Ěthat these neighborhoods are a human disaster. The only road that traverses this urban nightmare is two lanes wide. Fire trucks find it impossible to reach the scene in the event of emergencies. Garbage burns in the open. The writer is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. (BESA Center-Bar-Ilan University)

Palestinian Hostility to Israel Is Frequently Anti-Semitic - Gideon D. Sylvester (Ha'aretz)

  • Today's anti-Zionism is frequently merely anti-Semitism in a new guise. Zionism is an outstandingly successful human rights movement. It has restored the dignity of the world's most persecuted people by returning us to our historic homeland, building a sanctuary for our survival and a country where we can flourish in a liberal democracy.
  • In the decades leading up to Israel's establishment, Arabs convinced the world that this land could only support several hundred thousand people, so Jewish immigration had to be curtailed and our national rights crushed.
  • Currently, this land comfortably accommodates over eight million people and there's room for plenty more. But the Palestinian campaign led the British to blockade the shores of Palestine, preventing Jews fleeing the Holocaust from finding refuge here. As a result, millions of Jews who might otherwise have found respite were murdered in Nazi concentration camps.
  • Israel's leadership was willing to accept partition in 1947 and live side by side with a Palestinian state, meaning that no one had to die and no one had to leave. It was the Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel within any borders at all that led them to send in their armies to massacre Jews wherever they could. Israel courageously withstood the attacks and won. They have never forgiven us.
  • Roadblocks, the security fence, and travel restrictions, which are presented as human rights infringements, are undoubtedly inconvenient for Palestinians, but after years of suicide bombers, knifers, kidnappers and missile attacks from Hamas and Hizbullah, they are simply part of a reasonable effort Israel makes to prevent Palestinian terrorists from murdering Jews.

    Rabbi Gideon Sylvester is the British United Synagogue's rabbi in Israel.

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