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June 10, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Test-Fires 30 Rockets on Friday - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Hamas on Friday test-fired at least 30 short-range rockets in Gaza, Israel Army Radio reported.

Egyptian Journalist Condemns Tel Aviv Shooting (MEMRI)
    Egyptian journalist Bothaina Kamel, who tried unsuccessfully to compete in Egypt's 2011 presidential elections, condemned Wednesday's terror attack in Tel Aviv in a series of tweets.
    Kamel called the action of the two Palestinian gunmen who killed four Israelis at a restaurant a crime and wrote: "What's heroic about entering a restaurant and shooting people who are dining there?"

French Government Launches "Terror Attack" App (AFP)
    A new smartphone app to alert users to possible terror attacks was launched by the French government on Wednesday, amid growing security concerns over the Euro 2016 soccer tournament which begins Friday in France.
    The application, available for free in French and English, will send users a warning in case of a suspected attack, the Interior Ministry said.
    The government said the app was developed after November's jihadist attacks in Paris - including on the main stadium - which killed 130 people.

Turkey Still Harbors Hamas - Jonathan Schanzer (Weekly Standard)
    As talks about normalizing ties with Israel near completion, the ejection from Turkey of senior Hamas officials appears to be at the heart of Israel's demands.
    While exiled military leader Saleh Arouri was deported in December 2015, many others remain.
    Bakri Hanifa, a major financial operative for Hamas, owns at least one company dealing in precious metals, diamonds, and gems in Istanbul.
    Maher Ubeid, a member of the Hamas politburo, reportedly is in charge of handling Hamas' international relations and is also a major financial operative.
    As long as Hamas operatives continues to operate there in the light of day, Israel sees Turkey as a state sponsor of terrorism.
    The writer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Hizbullah Moving Tons of Cocaine from Latin America to Europe to Finance Terror Operations - Guy Taylor (Washington Times)
    Former Drug Enforcement Administration operations chief Michael Braun told the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday that Hizbullah is "moving tons of cocaine" from South America to Europe and has developed "the most sophisticated money laundering scheme or schemes that we have ever witnessed."
    Hizbullah has "metastasized into a hydra with international connections that the likes of [the Islamic State] and groups like al-Qaeda could only hope to have."
    The agency announced in February that it had arrested several Hizbullah operatives working with a major Colombian drug cartel to traffic drugs to Europe and launder money through Lebanon.
    Immigration officials identified at least a dozen Middle Eastern men smuggled into the U.S. by a Brazilian-based network that connected them with Mexicans who guided them to the U.S. border.
    Those smuggled included Palestinians, Pakistanis and an Afghan man who Homeland Security officials said had family ties to the Taliban and was "involved in a plot to conduct an attack in the U.S. and/or Canada."

Italy's Chamber of Deputies Approves Criminalizing Holocaust Denial (JTA)
    Italy's Chamber of Deputies approved a bill Wednesday making spreading Holocaust denial illegal, in a 237-5 vote with 102 abstentions.

Palestinian Plane Bomber Seeks Release Pending Deportation - Carolyn Thompson (AP-Washington Post)
    The U.S. has a "concrete plan" to deport Mohammed Rashed, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who put a bomb on a passenger flight in 1982, a government lawyer said Tuesday.
    Rashed pleaded guilty in 2002 to setting off a bomb on Hawaii-bound Pan Am Flight 830, killing a Japanese teenager and injuring 15 other people.
    Rashed was a top lieutenant to Abu Ibrahim, a Palestinian bomb-maker who formed the 15 May terrorist faction that took responsibility for several attacks in the 1980s.
    Besides the Pan Am bombing, Rashed has admitted involvement in four other bombings or attempted bombings.

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Israeli Firm's New Helmet Lets Troops See Through Armored Vehicles - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Elbit Systems unveiled the helmet-mounted IronVision system on Wednesday designed to allow soldiers in armored personnel carriers and tanks to see their surroundings while in the vehicle.
    The system represent a significant leap in the ability of personnel in armored fighting vehicles to identify threats, as well as friendly forces.

Israeli Companies Generated $9 Billion Revenue and 9,000 Jobs in Massachusetts, Study Finds (The Tower)
    More than 200 companies in Massachusetts have ties to Israel, generating $9.3 billion in revenue and employing nearly 9,000 people in 2015, a study released Wednesday by the New England-Israel Business Council found.

Trax Image Recognition Raises $40 Million (Reuters)
    Trax Image Recognition, headquartered in Singapore with an R&D center in Israel, said on Wednesday it raised $40 million from existing shareholders to support new product development and innovation.
    Trax analyzes product placement on retailers' shelves and enables makers of consumer goods to determine how they can get better visibility.
    Coca-Cola, Heineken, Nestle and Henkel use Trax to increase revenues at the shelf.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Security Council Condemns Killing of Israeli Civilians in Tel Aviv Terror Attack
    The UN Security Council - in a statement approved Thursday by all 15 members - condemned the deadly shooting at a popular Israeli tourist spot in Tel Aviv where four civilians were killed and many injured in an attack by two West Bank Palestinians. The council statement called for those responsible for "these reprehensible acts of terrorism" to be brought to justice and "reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable." Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon said the council statement was the first official condemnation of "terrorism" in Israel since the current wave of attacks began eight months ago. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Text: Security Council Statement on Terrorist Attack in Tel Aviv (United Nations)
  • The Tel Aviv Attack Victims
    Michael Feige, 58, a sociologist and anthropologist who was head of the Israel Studies program at Ben-Gurion University, was among the four victims of Wednesday's terror attack in Tel Aviv. Ido Ben Ari, 42, was at the restaurant with his wife and two children; his wife was among the injured. He worked in a senior position with Coca-Cola and had served in the Israeli army's elite Sayeret Matkal unit. Mila Mishayev, 33, was waiting for her fiance to arrive when the attack occurred. She reportedly called her husband-to-be after she was shot and before she died. Ilana Navaa, 39, is survived by her husband and four daughters. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Celebrate, Saudis Denounce, Terror Attack in Tel Aviv - Maayan Groisman
    Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem took to the streets to celebrate the terrorist shooting in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night that left four Israelis dead. Dozens of Palestinians gathered at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, singing and cheering. In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, young men distributed candies to the local drivers, while in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem dozens of Palestinians participated in a march praising the attack. Palestinians also expressed their joy on social media networks.
        In contrast, the official Saudi media strongly denounced the Tel Aviv attack. The Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya referred to the people injured in the attack as "victims," and not as "settlers," as most Arab outlets usually refer to Israelis. Dahham al-Enazi, a member of the Saudi Journalists Association, tweeted: "The Tel Aviv attack is terror and thuggery. Our solidarity and support for the Palestinian people does not mean that we accept the killing of innocents and civilians. We would like to extend our condolences to the families of the victims."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • In Minutes after Tel Aviv Attack, Policeman Let Terrorist into His Apartment - Daniel Douek
    An off-duty policeman mistakenly offered shelter in his apartment and a glass of water to one of the Tel Aviv Sarona market shooters Wednesday night, leaving him alone for several minutes with his wife before realizing who he was and rushing back to his apartment to arrest him. The shooter, who was dressed in a suit, ditched his weapon and ran from the scene of the attack along with fleeing civilians, and was not immediately recognizable as one of the attackers.
        The police officer, who lives nearby, encountered the attacker, who appeared very shaken up, and offered him shelter. He left him drinking a glass of water in the kitchen of his apartment with his wife and other family members while he dashed out to the scene. The policeman realized his mistake when he saw that the second shooter, who had been shot and handcuffed, was wearing a suit identical to the one worn by the man in his kitchen. The officer dashed back to his apartment and captured the shooter. The officer's wife, who is the daughter of former Israel Police commissioner Assaf Hefetz, said the shooter remained silent to prevent her from realizing his identity. (Times of Israel)
        See also Security Guards Recount Tel Aviv Terror Attack - Eitan Glickman and Eli Senyor (Ynet News)
  • Tel Aviv Terrorists Influenced by Hamas Ideology, Say Relatives - Jack Khoury
    Khaled Mohammed Mahamra and Mohammed Ahmad Mahamra from the West Bank town of Yatta, who perpetrated the shooting attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, were not Hamas members but were influenced by its ideology, according to relatives of the two. Khaled studied law at Mutah University in Jordan, while Mohammed worked in construction in the Beersheba area.
        One of the members of the extended Mahamra family is Khaled Mahamra, a Hamas member who was released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and re-arrested after the kidnap of the three Jewish youths in 2014. Another relative is Taleb Mahamra, who was a commander in the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade of Hamas and is serving seven life sentences. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Seizes Gunmaking Machinery, Ammo in West Bank Sweeps - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli security forces on Thursday seized machinery used to make home-made guns in two Arab towns in the West Bank near Jerusalem - Eizariya and Abu Dis. The shooting in Tel Aviv this week was carried out with two homemade guns loosely based on the Swedish Carl Gustav submachine gun. The guns can be created out of water pipes and are wildly inaccurate. Israeli forces also discovered bullets and components of explosive devices at the two sites. (Times of Israel)
  • UN Ambassador Danon: Obama Aides Know UN Mideast Resolution Won't Work - Herb Keinon
    Most of those around President Barack Obama understand that a U.S.-initiated resolution at the UN Security Council to lock in parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement will not contribute to the diplomatic process, Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Despite media reports about a presidential policy speech on the Mideast or a U.S.-backed or initiated Security Council resolution, "We are not seeing any signs of this in New York....The Americans are asking themselves if this would contribute or not to the process. The majority of those around the president understand that a decision like this would not contribute to the process."
        Danon also said he felt that if the Palestinians went ahead with plans to bring an anti-settlement resolution to the Security Council, the U.S. would likely veto it. Paradoxically, Danon pointed out that because the French diplomatic initiative is still in play, additional states will not want to support an anti-settlement resolution "because there is another process."
        Danon added that Israel was doing "quiet work" promoting its candidacy for one of the 10 rotating seats on the UN Security Council in 2019-2020. "Even if we lose, it will not be horrible. Canada lost, and is running again in 2019....Our approach has to be that we are a state in the UN like all states."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Why Iran's Post-Deal Terror Matters - Jonathan S. Tobin
    In the months since the nuclear deal began to be implemented, we've seen more proof that Iran isn't changing. Tehran's decision to continue testing ballistic missiles and the strengthening of the most radical elements in key positions made it clear that it wasn't interested in a rapprochement with the West.
        The latest piece of evidence was in the annual State Department report on terrorism covering the year 2015 and released last week. The report concludes: "Iran remained the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015, providing a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to groups around the world - particularly Hizbullah. Iran continued to be deeply involved in the conflict in Syria...and also in Iraq....In addition, it was implicated for its support to violent Shia opposition group attacks in Bahrain."
        We were assured that the U.S. would continue to work against Iran's terrorist activities while trying to make it less dangerous via diplomacy. But Iran doesn't want to get right with the world. Iran is using its terrorist proxies to advance its goal of regional hegemony in the Middle East. (Commentary)
  • The Omani "Back Channel" to Iran and the Secrecy Surrounding the Nuclear Deal - David Ignatius
    A new book reveals some startling details about how the diplomacy with Tehran began in secret, long before reformers took power there. In Alter Egos, New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler discloses the full extent of the Omani "back channel" to Iran that opened in May 2009, just four months after President Obama had taken office, when Dennis Ross, a top adviser to then-Secretary of State Clinton, met an Omani fixer named Salem ben Nasser al-Ismaily at the State Department. "Ismaily assured Ross he could bring the Iranians to the table" and that Oman would be "an ideal venue for secret negotiations."  (Washington Post)

  • Palestinians

  • International Community Ignores Unrest Inside Fatah - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas is once again facing insurrection in his ruling Fatah faction. Last week, more than half of the 80-member Fatah Revolutionary Council, including several Fatah officials who until recently were considered Abbas loyalists, signed a petition calling for major reforms in Fatah. The Fatah "rebels" called for holding long-overdue elections for the faction, and accused Abbas of marginalizing young leaders and refusing to share power.
        Never has Fatah, regarded as Israel's "peace partner," been so divided. Fatah's current weakness casts serious doubt on its ability to deliver peace with Israel and oversee the establishment of a Palestinian state. But the participants at the Middle East peace conference held in Paris last week seem not to be paying attention. (Gatestone Institute)
  • It's No Time for an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal - Andrew L. Peek
    The Middle East is beset by problems, but for the moment, they have literally nothing to do with Israel. EU foreign policy boss Federica Mogherini, justifying the French initiative, said: "The perspective that Oslo opened up is seriously at risk of fading away." Yes, I'd say so.
        I'd say it was at risk of fading away after a five-year intifada, complete with bombings of a teenage disco in Tel Aviv, a Passover Seder in Netanya and multiple buses. I'd say it was at risk of fading away after two major wars between Israel and Hamas, both initiated by Hamas, and a month-long war with Hizbullah initiated by Hizbullah. If that didn't put it to bed, the last 10 months of Palestinians randomly stabbing to death Israelis on the street probably has done it. The writer is a visiting assistant professor at Claremont McKenna College and a former adviser to Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan. (The Hill)

  • Other Issues

  • The Maturing of Israeli-Russian Relations - Anna Borshchevskaya
    Putin has pursued improved ties with Israel since he came into office in March 2000. Russian and Israeli officials hold meetings and telephone conversations on a regular basis and maintain multiple open channels of communication. The two countries have an agreement on visa-free tourist travel for their citizens. Israel is home to over a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and Russian is the third most popular language in Israel after Hebrew and English. Economic relations between the two countries have especially improved, exceeding $3 billion in 2014. In late 2015, according to press reports, Israel sold ten search drones to Russia.
        Yet significant differences between Israel and Russia remain. In March 2006, Hamas leaders came to Moscow at Putin's invitation. Putin denied that Hamas was a terrorist organization. Other major difficulties for Israel have included Moscow's support for Iran's nuclear program and arms trade with Syria - arms that could fall into the possession of Hizbullah. Moreover, Russia's preservation of Syrian President Assad's regime strengthens Iran's influence in the region, which is problematic for Israel. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Jewish Nakba Was Even Bigger than the Palestinian One - Dr. Edy Cohen
    No one can deny the Palestinian refugee problem, but it is equally blind to deny the plight of the Jewish refugees. With the creation of the State of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived peacefully in the Arab nations for centuries were expelled from their home countries. These Jews, faced with official persecution, mob violence, pogroms, and the confiscation of their property, fled mostly to Israel. To this day, they remain mostly unrecognized and have never been compensated for their suffering or their stolen property.
        The Jews of the Arab nations were small, peaceful communities, loyal to the ruling governments, and concerned with their own well-being and prosperity, much like the Jews of America today. They were not expelled because of anything they had done. They were expelled because they were Jews.
        Approximately 900,000 Jews fled Arab countries, their property confiscated or stolen. In 2008, the U.S. Congress unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and saying that, if aid is given to Palestinian refugees, there should be similar aid and compensation for the Jewish refugees. The Canadian parliament had done the same in 2004. The writer is a senior researcher at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar-Ilan University. (The Tower)
  • Why the Islamic State Is in Retreat - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    The American-led and the Russian-led coalitions are containing the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq due to several factors.
        Attrition: Since August 2014, the coalitions have succeeded in eliminating thousands of Islamic fighters and have struck the command and control structures of IS.
        Manpower: Countries from where IS volunteers have been recruited have adopted new rules that have restricted the flow of volunteers. These countries now closely monitor Salafist organizations.
        Firepower inferiority: The U.S. and Russians have chosen to crush IS forces from the air, targeting their equipment, logistics, leaders, and military formations.
        Diminishing financial support: In the last year, U.S. aircraft unleashed a new and effective financial measure: blowing up the coffers of the Islamic State. The writer is a former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Video: U.S. and Russia Succeeding in Decapitating ISIS Leadership - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Through airstrikes, the Americans and Russians have been very successful in decapitating the leadership of ISIS. Most of those officers who were part of Saddam Hussein's army and had joined ISIS have been killed or injured in battle. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The War-Crimes Lawyer Hunting Syrian War Criminals - Susanne Koelbl
    Prof. David Crane of Syracuse University's College of Law was once a chief prosecutor for the UN. Crane in 2003 indicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor, responsible for the death of over 100,000 people in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002). Today, together with his students, Crane is gathering evidence for the Syrian Accountability Project, which has created the most complete matrix of war crimes in Syria.
        The database now consists of 17,000 pages of documentation, covering 12,252 incidents, almost two-thirds of which were clearly carried out by Assad's troops. The commander of Islamic State, members of the Free Syrian Army, and other perpetrators are also listed. The authors dedicate a chapter to the at least 130,000 missing people, and the torture methods used by Assad's secret service. (Der Spiegel-Germany)

  • Weekend Features

  • Eyewitness to Tel Aviv Terror - Linda Dayan
    I wanted a night out and we went to Sarona. We were seated by a wall, glass from ceiling to floor. Then the screaming started, and the people running past our window. I saw a man with a gun. There was fire coming from the barrel. He was on the other side of the window, four feet away, separated by glass. Very quickly, everyone at the restaurant either ran or fell to the ground.
        We're home now. I'm thinking about the "they [the Palestinians] have no other venues for protest" camp, the "it's justifiable in a conflict like this" camp. I don't care what "side" you're on. Call out terror for what it is. Call men shooting at screaming civilians who are running for their lives terrorists. Tell the people you know that it's never okay to target innocent men, women, and children, even if you don't like where they live. Stand up for the four people who will never come home again. (Ha'aretz)
  • Elbit Unveils Next-Generation Defense Products for Europe - Shoshanna Solomon
    As Europe contends with its huge influx of refugees and terror incidents, Elbit Systems, Israel's largest non-government-owned defense company, is proposing new technologies to meet the continent's growing and changing security needs. "There is reawakening" of defense spending in Europe, said Ran Kril, executive VP of international marketing and business development at Elbit, ahead of the Eurosatory defense and security exhibition in Paris next week.
        Elbit's SupervisIR system, to be unveiled for the first time at the exhibition, is a new infrared monitoring system - a box with a camera - that uses digital imaging and processing technologies to monitor borders or aerial spaces above cities up to a distance of 5 km. (3.1 miles). "Our system allows you to monitor a wider range of space at one glance," said Oded Ben David, VP of thermal systems at Elbit's ISTAR division. With advanced automatic detection, the system also alerts you to suspicious movement.
        Another new Elbit product is a radar system that detects movement through foliage - today a blind spot for radar. (Times of Israel)

Israel and the Post-American Middle East: Why the Status Quo Is Sustainable - Martin Kramer (Foreign Affairs)

  • Some say Israel's adherence to an "unsustainable" status quo in the West Bank has made it a liability in a region. But there is no near solution to the enduring conflict with the Palestinians. Israel maintains an over-the-horizon security footprint in most of the West Bank; Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation fills in most of the gaps. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is prosecuted mostly through maneuvering in international bodies and campaigns for and against BDS. These are high-decibel, low-impact confrontations.
  • The notion that Israelis live in a perpetual state of paralyzing fear misleads both Israel's allies and its adversaries. Israel's leaders are cautious but confident, and practiced in the very long game that everyone plays in the Middle East. Israel's survival has always depended on its willingness to sustain the status quo that it has created, driving its adversaries to resignation - and compromise. Such resolve has served Israel well over time.
  • Still, there is a looming cloud on Israel's horizon. The U.S., after a wildly erratic spree of misadventures, is backing out of the region. The leaders of the Zionist movement always sought to ally their project with the dominant power of the day, but they had lived through too much European history to think that great power is ever abiding.
  • In the 20th century, the emerging U.S. superpower didn't rush to embrace the Jews. They were alone during the 1930s, when the gates of the U.S. were closed to them. They were alone during the Holocaust, when the U.S. awoke too late. They were alone in 1948, when the U.S. placed Israel under an arms embargo, and in 1967, when a U.S. president explicitly told the Israelis that if they went to war, they would be alone.
  • The Obama administration has given Israelis a preview of just how the unshakable bond is likely to be shaken. The inevitable turn of the wheel was precisely the reason Zionist Jews sought sovereign independence in the first place. An independent Israel is a guarantee against the day when the Jews will again find themselves alone, and it is an operating premise of Israeli strategic thought that such a day will come.
  • This conviction, far from paralyzing Israel, propels it to expand its options, diversify its relationships, and build its independent capabilities. Israel is planning to outlast the U.S. in the Middle East. Israelis roll their eyes when the U.S. insinuates that it best understands Israel's genuine long-term interests.
  • It is time for the U.S. to abandon or at least modify the mantra that "the status quo is unsustainable." Only if Israel's adversaries conclude that Israel can sustain the status quo indefinitely is there any hope that they will reconcile themselves to Israel's existence as a Jewish state. The status quo may not be optimal, but it is sustainable, for as long as it takes.
  • As the U.S. steps back from the Middle East, this is the message Washington should send if it wants to assist Israel in filling the vacuum it will leave behind.

    The writer is President of Shalem College in Jerusalem.
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