Islamic State Confirms Death of Military Commander "Omar the Chechen" - Felicia Schwartz (Wall Street Journal)
Islamic State on Wednesday acknowledged the death of a top military commander known as "Omar the Chechen," a red-bearded militant the U.S. had targeted on March 4.
France's Mutating Terror Threat - Nicholas Vinocur (Politico)
Attacks in Paris and Brussels relied heavily on suicide missions that left most assailants dead.
Now terrorists will probably seek to use car bombs and remotely-detonated devices (IEDs) in order to save operatives and strike repeatedly, Patrick Calvar, the head of France's DGSI domestic security agency, told a closed-door parliamentary hearing on May 24, according to Le Figaro, which published a report on the testimony Tuesday.
U.S. Field Artillery Targets ISIS - Kyle Jahner (Army Times)
More than 600 of the Army's field artillery soldiers are back home after a nine-month deployment in which they fired precision missiles at Islamic State targets.
The unit fired GPS-guided rockets launched from Medium Tactical Vehicles, potentially from hundreds of miles away from the target.
While the deployment was based in Jordan, the unit was spread across five different countries to support attacks in northeastern Syria, currently an Islamic State support zone.
Gaza Mosque Served as Entrance to Terror Tunnel that Reached Israel - Capt. (res.) Itamar Segal (Israel Hayom)
I had the privilege of fighting shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers of a reserve combat battalion in the Paratroopers Brigade during the 2014 Gaza war.
For about 30 days, we pursued elusive tunnel openings, located enemy command centers, and fought Hamas terrorists.
In the middle of one neighborhood - a major Hamas stronghold - combat engineering soldiers were ordered to blow up
an enormous mosque and the water tower next to it.
A year ago in Tel Aviv, representatives of the group Breaking the Silence were handing out postcards depicting the "crimes" of the IDF. I immediately recognized the mosque and water tower.
"I was there," I told anyone who wanted to listen. The water tower had been used as a Hamas lookout point, and the mosque covered the entrance to a huge terror tunnel that started inside the mosque and ended inside one of the kibbutzim on the Israeli side of the border fence.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Iranian President Rouhani Threatens to Renew Nuclear Program
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran could quickly restart uranium enrichment if the P5+1 countries breached their commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) announced in Vienna last year.
- Obama's Syria Plan Teams Up American and Russian Forces - Josh Rogin
The U.S. is proposing joining with Russia in coordinated air attacks against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's Syria branch. While this would expand the U.S. counterterrorism mission in Syria, it would also be a boon for the Assad regime, which could see the forces it is fighting dramatically weakened.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Palestinian Preconditions for Cairo Talks a Non-Starter - Herb Keinon
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is willing to go anywhere to meet PA President Abbas to negotiate, but setting preconditions for such talks is a non-starter, an Israeli government source said Wednesday amid discussions of a summit in Cairo hosted by Egyptian President Sisi. When Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry visited Ramallah on June 29, he was presented with a list of demands as preconditions for such a summit. An Israeli government official said the preconditions were a way to avoid negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel to UN: Hizbullah Has Turned South Lebanon into a Terror Stronghold - Itamar Eichner
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that south Lebanon has been turned into a Hizbullah terror stronghold, during a discussion marking ten years since the Second Lebanon War and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended it. Danon presented
an aerial photograph of the Lebanese village of Chaqra marked to show Hizbullah infrastructure in the village. "One out of every three buildings has been appropriated by Hizbullah, and includes rocket launching positions, weapons storage facilities, and more."
Resolution 1701 called for having the UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) assist the Lebanese government in preventing the entry of weapons into south Lebanon except for those of the Lebanese army. Danon noted that Hizbullah has a larger missile stockpile than all of the European NATO countries combined, with more than 120,000 missiles pointed at Israel. "It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to get Hizbullah out of south Lebanon," he said. (Ynet News)
- Former Palestinian PM Fayyad Draws PA Fire for New Reconciliation Plan - Avi Issacharoff
On Tuesday, former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad presented a plan to end the split between Fatah and Hamas and open a path intended to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. On Wednesday, the official PA news agency described Fayyad's plan as an "attempt to destroy decades of Palestinian struggle." Fayyad's plan envisioned a prolonged ceasefire with Israel.
However, Palestinian sources said the plan was interpreted by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas as a direct challenge to his rule, and sources close to Abbas were quick to attack the plan. (Times of Israel)
- International Funding for Salaries and Benefits to Terrorists - Amb. Alan Baker
Funding from foreign governments (including the U.S., the UK, Denmark and other EU countries) transferred to official Palestinian governing bodies has been used for salaries and other benefits to Palestinians serving prison sentences for acts of terror. The Guardian reported that about 6% of the Palestinian budget is diverted to prisoner salaries.
Clearly, the channeling of donor funding to compensate terrorists and thereby to encourage further terror raises serious legal and moral questions. Financial or other support for terrorists is a clear violation of PLO obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords. Channeling donor funds to terrorists is contrary to the national law in the donor countries as well as to international counter-terrorism law.
The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Iran's Airbridge to Syria - Paul Bucala and Ken Hawrey
Boeing and Airbus are set to sell nearly 200 aircraft to Iran's state airline, Iran Air, despite indicators that Tehran is already using the airline's aircraft to support its efforts in Syria. Since June 2015, 31 airplanes belonging to Iran Air and the private airline Mahan Air have departed from airports in Iran and landed in Syria, according to public flight-tracking data from Flightrader24.com.
Tehran appears to have developed an expansive network of repurposed commercial aircraft to supply its expanding war effort in Syria. Tehran would be unable to conduct this resupply effort without the use of commercial aircraft. If the U.S. is serious about pressing Iran to curtail its backing of Assad and other terrorist proxies in the region, then preventing Tehran from increasing its ability to maintain its airbridge should be a priority.
(American Enterprise Institute)
See also Why Boeing Shouldn't Do Business with Iran - Jonathan Schanzer and Amir Toumaj
A year ago, it would have been unthinkable for major U.S. corporations to do business with the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Yet aircraft juggernaut Boeing is now poised to sell planes to the Islamic Republic. American companies should know better.
The financial risks of dealing with Iran are well-established. Iran ranks 130 out of 168 on the corruption index at transparency.org. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps controls roughly 35% of the formal economy and wields significant influence over the black market, too. Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Amir Toumaj is a research associate.
- New UK Foreign Minister a Friend of Israel
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson was appointed Britain's foreign minister on Wednesday. Johnson visited Israel most recently in November, during which he dismissed those behind the anti-Israel boycott campaign. "I cannot think of anything more foolish" than to boycott "a country that when all is said and done is the only democracy in the region," he said.
(Times of Israel)
U.S. Military Aid to Israel Is an Investment in America's Own Self-Defense - John Golan (Jerusalem Post)
- The U.S. does not provide aid to Israel out of charity. Rather, it is a strategic investment, closely tied to U.S. interests in the region: safeguarding the only reliable ally that the U.S. has in that corner of the world; deterring Israel's neighbors from resorting to war; and doing so without requiring the direct intervention of U.S. troops, as has been necessary in virtually every other conflict zone in the world. The U.S. has received more than its money's worth.
- Of the $3.1 billion in annual military aid that Israel currently receives, 3/4 is spent in the U.S., while 1/4 is spent on procurement of goods and services in Israel, including the procurement of unique weaponry available nowhere else. Exercising this spending power locally is not only more cost-effective, due to lower Israeli labor rates, but also provides specialized weaponry that often goes on to benefit both Israel and the U.S.
- For decades, Israeli arms developers have pioneered technologies that have provided the Israeli armed forces with unique capabilities. Combining Israeli innovation with production capabilities in the U.S. has benefited the defense industries of both nations.
- Time and again, Israeli-developed weapons have stepped in to bridge gaps in the U.S. arsenal: from the "Popeye" air-to-ground missile, developed in Israel and manufactured in the U.S. by Lockheed-Martin for use by American armed services, to helmet-mounted sights and displays that were designed, developed and battle-tested in Israel before being transferred to the U.S. for production under a joint venture with the U.S. armed forces.
- Procurement of services and technologies in Israel needs to remain part of the next 10-year security assistance package because it advances the technological capabilities of both nations. Shutting down America's access to this innovation pipeline would be foolhardy.
- For example,
this summer the U.S. Army will be evaluating Israel's battle-tested Trophy active defense system to protect armored vehicles against anti-tank missiles, after repeated attempts to develop a similar capability in the U.S. have failed.
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