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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
July 28, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Video: Israel Aims to Send Robot to the Moon - Oren Liebermann (CNN)
    Space IL, alongside Moon Express from America, are the final two of 30 privately-funded teams from around the world remaining in Google's Lunar X Prize competition.
    Space IL was the first team to reserve its launch prior to the race's deadline of Dec. 31, 2017, and is focused not on the $20 million grand prize money (compared to the estimated $140 billion it costs to put a man on the moon), but rather putting "Israeli technology on the moon next to Russia, the Americans, and China," says Space IL CEO Eran Privman.
    Indeed, placing Israeli start-up technology on the lunar surface would be a phenomenal achievement for the young state and would possibly bring in outside investment in future technology used in space exploration.

Hamas Digging 10 Km. of Tunnels toward Israel Monthly (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas is digging 10 km. (6 miles) of tunnels toward Israel each month, a senior Israeli security official told Israel's Channel 2 on Wednesday.

Iranian General Tours Israeli-Syrian Border - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of Iran's Basij Paramilitary Force, toured the Syrian town of Quneitra on the Golan Heights, the Iranian Fars news agency reported Wednesday.

Israeli Biometric Startup Sees Surge in Demand as Security Woes Weigh - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    The rise in terror attacks in Europe and elsewhere has generated a surge in interest in products that can keep areas safe from intruders.
    Israeli startup FST Biometrics' identification technology uses a combination of facial recognition and behavioral and voice analytics to identify personnel of enterprises or government buildings from a distance and in motion, doing away with keys, codes or ID cards.
    The system enables access only to those who are authorized to enter certain areas.
    "Why ask everyone at airports to come three hours earlier, for example, when you could be asking that only of people who are not frequent fliers?" asks FST chief marketing officer Arie Melamed. "We can reduce the load on security people."

Video: Israeli Worm Robot Can Move Over Tough Surfaces - Luke Dormehl (Digital Trends)
    The new Single-Actuator Wave robot created by researchers at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev moves forward via a wave, like a worm.
    The robot can move over sand, gravel, mud, rubble, and can even swim.
    "The robot could be as small as just one centimeter," says Dr. David Zarouk, who led the project. "At that size we think it could be a very useful tool for medicine, since it would be possible for someone to swallow it, and...the doctor would then be able to control its movement."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senators Urge Full Missile Defense Funding for Israel - Kristina Wong
    A bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are urging their colleagues to support the funding levels for Israeli missile defense authorized by the House of Representatives, rather than the Senate's lower level of funding. The 36 senators include 19 Republicans and 17 Democrats, among them vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
        The House version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $600.7 million for research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) and procurement of three U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs and more purchases of Iron Dome systems, while the Senate bill authorizes $280.8 million. Senators and House members are working to mesh the two versions. (The Hill)
  • U.S. Secures Vast New Trove of Intelligence on ISIS - Eric Schmitt
    The U.S. is poring over a vast trove of new intelligence about Islamic State fighters who have flowed into Syria and Iraq and some who then returned to their home countries, after American-backed Syrian Kurdish and Arab militias seized more than 10,000 documents and 4.5 terabytes of digital data in recent weeks while fighting insurgents in Manbij in northern Syria. Officials said the information included the fighters' identities, countries of origin, routes into Syria and the illicit networks that recruited and ferried them to the region.
        While some estimates have cut in half the monthly flow of fighters into Syria and Iraq, American analysts say 500 to 1,000 fighters a month are still pouring in. Earlier this month, Jean-Paul Laborde, head of the UN's counterterrorism committee, said nearly 30,000 foreign fighters remained in Syria and Iraq - far more than Western intelligence agencies had estimated. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Palestinian Move to Sue Britain for Balfour Declaration Negates Reciprocal Recognition
    Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold responded on Wednesday to the Palestinian move to sue Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The initiative "demonstrates yet again the continuing refusal of the Palestinian side to recognize the legitimate and indigenous connection of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, alongside the recognition the Palestinians seek for their own rights." The Balfour Declaration was incorporated by the League of Nations into the 1922 Mandate for Palestine that recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to that area and provided the grounds for them to reconstitute their national home there.
        "The League of Nations Mandate had the effect of transforming the policy position expressed in the Balfour Declaration into an internationally recognized international legal obligation to give effect to the inherent right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancient homeland.... Significantly, neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate created the historical rights of the Jewish people to their homeland. Rather, these documents together recognized pre-existing rights that the Jewish people never conceded. Indeed thousands of Jews poured back into their ancient homeland well before the Balfour Declaration was issued."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Ya'alon: Palestinians See All of Israel as "Occupied"
    "When the Palestinians talk about the 'occupation,' they are referring to the entire territory of the Land of Israel, not just Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]," former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday at Bar-Ilan University. "For the Palestinians, the biggest settlement is Tel Aviv."
        "The desire to separate from the Palestinians is an illusion. They are dependent on us financially and security-wise. Without the IDF, the Fatah regime [the PA] would not survive. We disengaged from Gaza and we still provide them with electricity and water. They would die if we got out of the West Bank. Rockets would fall in Israel and the kingdom in Jordan would fall. Arab countries understand this. They pushed the Palestinian issue to the end of the line."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Ya'alon: If Israel Leaves West Bank, PA, Jordan Will Collapse - Yaakov Lappin
    Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday that there is no Palestinian leadership today prepared to offer recognition of the Jewish nation-state in "any borders." Both Hamas and the PLO seek a Palestinian entity "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea....When the Palestinians say 'occupation,' they mean from 1948, not 1967." He warned against "deluding ourselves, and saying that another agreement or withdrawal will improve our security-diplomatic situation."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Myth of Lone-Wolf Terrorism in Europe - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
    Analysts have been quick to label the recent terror attacks in Europe as perpetrated by lone wolves: individuals who lacked substantial connections to ISIS or other jihadist groups and who carried out their operations without the assistance of others. Yet the individuals labeled lone wolves are often later found to have been in communication with other militants.
        With the social media boom and the growth in encrypted communications, radicalization and operational planning can easily take place entirely online. The failure to identify common ties between supposed lone wolves and ISIS is part of a broader and long-standing pattern of underestimating the scope of jihadist networks in the West. Few of the jihadists labeled lone wolves truly fit that definition. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Why Iran Will Never Proceed with the Proposed Plane Purchases - Patrick Clawson
    Earlier this year, Iran Air signed three agreements to purchase about 260 planes: a firm contract with ATR for 20 turboprops, a preliminary agreement with Airbus for 118 planes, and a preliminary agreement with Boeing for about the same number. Yet these plans make no commercial sense. Iran Air will have grave difficulties financing those planes, and even if it succeeds, Iran Air would face tough competition from other foreign and domestic airlines. The new planes would more than double Iran's total passenger-carrying capacity, but the country's economy seems to be growing far too slowly to generate such a rapid spike in demand.
        Iran Air would have difficulty training the requisite new pilots and mechanics, while the government would have trouble providing the necessary airspace control. Iran has had a dreadful aviation safety record since the revolution, with multiple crashes. The writer is director of research at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel's Interests and Options in Syria - Larry Hanauer
    Israel's main objectives in the Syrian conflict are to minimize Iranian and Russian influence in Syria, block the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah, prevent Syria from posing a credible military threat to Israel or permitting Iran to do so, undermine the legitimacy of Syria's claims to the Golan Heights, and prevent Sunni militants from establishing infrastructure or operational bases along Israel's border.
        Israel can block Iranian assistance to Hizbullah by bombing weapon caches and shipments of materiel destined for the group. However, it has little ability to affect events on the ground. It has focused political, military, and clandestine efforts on keeping Iranian, Hizbullah, and Sunni extremist fighters away from areas close to the Israeli border. (RAND Corporation)

The Truth about "Settlement Growth" - Ahron Shapiro (Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council)

  • Once again major global political figures - who are presumably well briefed on the issue of Israeli housing construction in the West Bank and should know better - have been blowing the issue out of proportion and misrepresenting the reality on the ground. Israel has been exercising great restraint in regard to such construction for years.
  • The fact is, since Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu took office in 2009, on average, demand for housing in settlements for natural growth - i.e., births and marriages - has exceeded supply of new housing. Far from "massively expanding," settlements are barely treading water.
  • If the children of settler parents want to start a family close to their parents, they may not be able to do so because there simply aren't enough new houses being built.
  • These statistics are available to anyone. According to Israeli-Palestinian political process expert Col. (ret.) Shaul Arieli, "In 2015, as in the preceding five years, almost 90% of the 15,523 individuals who joined the population of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] were a result of natural population growth," almost entirely due to births and not migration.
  • Netanyahu has built fewer homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank than previous prime ministers going back to the 1990s, including Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak.
  • Moreover, the vast majority of homes that have been built are in settlement blocs that take up a tiny fraction of the West Bank and are expected to remain part of Israel in any future peace deal.

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