U.S. Marines Train in Israel with IDF Special Forces on Tactics for Combating ISIS (Jerusalem Post)
IDF special forces units teamed up with U.S. Marines last week for a joint military exercise in the Negev Desert to share their experience in combating regional terrorism, Israel's Channel 2 revealed Thursday.
The troops took part in drills simulating helicopter landings behind enemy lines and urban warfare above and below ground, as well as medical responses to injured troops in enemy territory.
Dermer: U.S. Bipartisan Support of Israel Is a Strategic Value - Eric Cortellessa (Times of Israel)
Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told an event hosted by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace on Thursday in Philadelphia, "Everyone should understand bipartisan support [of Israel] is a strategic value. You can't fly a plane with one wing."
Weapons Flowing from Europe to Middle East - Ivan Angelovski (Guardian-UK)
Eastern European countries have approved the discreet sale of more than one billion euros worth of weapons in the past four years to Middle Eastern countries that are known to ship arms to Syria, an investigation by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has found.
Thousands of assault rifles such as AK-47s, mortar shells, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and heavy machine guns are being routed through a new arms pipeline from the Balkans to the Arabian Peninsula and countries bordering Syria from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Slovakia, Serbia and Romania.
Eastern and central European weapons and ammunition, identified from videos and photos posted on social media, are now being used by Western-backed Free Syrian Army units, but are also in the hands of fighters from Islamist groups.
Since 2012, 806 million euros worth of weapons and ammunition went to Saudi Arabia, Jordan secured 155 million euros worth of weapons, while the UAE spent 135 million and Turkey 87 million.
Islamic State's Oil Revenue Dives as It Loses Iraqi Territory - Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters)
Islamic State, pushed off more than half the Iraqi territory it seized in 2014, has suffered a near collapse in revenue from oil smuggling, officials say.
The jihadist group is having to sell its remaining production at steep discounts to persuade truck drivers to collect it and run the gauntlet of U.S.-led air strikes.
Suspecting Fraud, U.S. Suspends Some Syrian Aid Programs - Louisa Loveluck (Washington Post)
The government agency charged with disbursing humanitarian aid in Syria has frozen more than $200 million in contracts, fearing significant fraud.
"Despite our goodwill, bad characters have taken advantage of the complex situation for personal gain, ultimately denying Syrian people the food, clothing, health care and other aid they urgently need," Ann Calvaresi Barr, inspector general of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told the House Foreign Affairs Committee this month.
Israel Navy to Deploy New Unmanned Surface Vessels - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
The Israel Navy is deploying a new generation of unmanned surface vessels (USVs) based on a U.S.-built combat craft and remote-control technologies developed by Rafael, a naval officer said Wednesday.
The new fleet of four USVs is funded with U.S. military assistance and will complement manned surface ships in missions including defense of Israel's economic waters and anti-mine and anti-submarine warfare.
"We have one that is currently in use in Ashdod, and we are contracted for three more. Once they arrive, my guys will upgrade them to make them more robust so that if they take a hit (from machine guns or anti-tank missiles) they'll be able to come home," said the officer.
Israel Leading a "Water Revolution" in Arid California - Michelle Malka Grossman (Jerusalem Post)
Having made the desert bloom and become a world leader in water management, Israel is now helping parched California solve its water problems.
At the Israel-California Water Conference this week, 24 Israeli companies offered water storage, management, treatment, recycling and leak detection solutions.
In December, Israel's IDE Technologies opened the Carlsbad desalination plant north of San Diego. The facility is the biggest in the Western Hemisphere and provides 7% of San Diego County's water needs.
Amid Uncertainty in the Middle East, Israel's Popularity Booms - Chloe Cann (Travel Trade Gazette-UK)
The number of UK tourists heading to Israel increased 10% in 2015, to 197,859.
Patrick Millar, marketing manager at Kirker Holidays, noted: "While our business to many destinations in North Africa and the Middle East has declined in recent years, demand for tailor-made holidays to Israel has grown steadily, with most Kirker clients appreciating that Israel has a security infrastructure that is among the world's most advanced."
"Tel Aviv makes a great city break because it combines European cafe culture, trendy bars and restaurants and a swathe of golden sandy beach with a proudly Middle Eastern flavor and a uniquely fascinating history."
Itzik Avni, chief concierge at the Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, explains its charms: "Israel offers the largest number of museums per-capita, the biggest vegan population ratio and is a cradle of innovation and creativity."
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- FBI Chief Warns "Terrorist Diaspora" Will Come to the West - Chris Strohm
"At some point there's going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we've never seen before," FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday in New York. "We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and Paris," adding that future attacks will be on "an order of magnitude greater."
His comments reflect a consensus among U.S. intelligence officials that Islamic State inevitably will strike out abroad as it continues to lose ground militarily under attack from a U.S.-led coalition. Comey called violence directed or inspired by Islamic State "the greatest threat to the physical safety of Americans today." (Bloomberg)
- Another American Has Been Detained in Iran, the Fourth in Five Months - Melissa Etehad and Carol Morello
On July 11, San Diego resident Reza "Robin" Shahini, 46, in Iran to visit his ailing mother, was arrested on suspicion of crimes against the Islamic Republic, becoming the latest Westerner with dual citizenship to be detained. He joined two other U.S. citizens and at least four dual nationals from Britain, Canada and France.
In New York for the UN General Assembly last fall, President Hassan Rouhani vowed to make it easier for Iranian American travelers to visit. But Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, and the Revolutionary Guards have arrested dual nationals as if they were Iranian citizens.
The release of five Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, when the nuclear deal took effect in January raised hopes that Iranian American businessman Siamak Namazi, arrested in October, would soon be released. But Namazi is still behind bars. So is his father, Baquer Namazi, who was arrested in February when he tried to get his son out. And more arrests have followed.
- After Failed Coup, Turkey's Army Lies Broken - Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu
The Turkish military, the second largest in NATO, has a budget of $20 billion a year and an army of 500,000 soldiers. Authorities said this week that 1.5% of the army, or 8,600 soldiers, participated in the coup attempt, although it was not clear how many willingly took part. In its wake, nearly half of Turkey's top generals and admirals have been jailed or dismissed and thousands of soldiers charged. More than 1,500 officers were dishonorably discharged this week.
"With its main pillar, the military, broken, the Turkish state will no longer be able to check a divided society or effectively counter security threats," said Halil Karaveli, a senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program.
The Turkish military is a crucial ally in fighting terrorism, reining in the Islamic State, and in controlling the migrant tide that has overwhelmed Europe. Chaos within the military symbolizes not only its waning power in the country - and the rise of the police, which Erdogan built up as a bulwark to the military - but also its diminished reliability as a partner to the West. The commander of American forces in the Middle East, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the head of the U.S. Central Command, said on Thursday that many senior Turkish officers whom the U.S. deals with on counterterrorism were now in limbo, and some were in jail.
(New York Times)
- Israeli Experience Shows Challenge in Stopping Lone Wolf Attacks - Mike Smith
Israeli authorities who have faced a wave of lone-wolf attacks by Palestinians say they have made progress in identifying potential assailants in advance, a challenge now also confronting Western nations. An alert system incorporating social media monitoring, basic human intelligence and other means has helped prevent or limit bloodshed. "We understand that once we assembled three or four profiles, most of the attackers were inside those specific lines of those profiles," a senior Israeli military official said.
Among the first 80 to 90 attackers from October to January, suicide was among the motives for around 40%, a military official said.
See also How Israel Has Had Success Against "Lone Wolf" Terrorists - Andrew Tobin (JTA)
- Pope Visits Auschwitz Death Camp
Pope Francis visited the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau Friday, the third consecutive pontiff to make the pilgrimage to the place where Adolf Hitler's forces killed more than 1 million people, most of them Jews. Francis entered the camp on foot and prayed silently for more than 15 minutes before meeting with several survivors of the camp. He then placed a large white candle at the Death Wall where prisoners were executed.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu Welcomes Cairo Peace Push
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Egypt's regional role on Thursday and praised President el-Sissi for his efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians at an official reception at the Egyptian ambassador's home to mark Egypt's independence day. He said Israeli-Egyptian peace had
"made history by showing the world that peace between Arabs and Israelis is possible and sustainable." (Times of Israel)
See also Text: PM Netanyahu on Egypt's National Day (Prime Minister's Office)
- IDF to Post Security Cameras along Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway - Yoav Zitun
The IDF is to install 255 day and night vision cameras along Route 443. A 10-mile stretch of highway between Modi'in and Jerusalem has been the scene of dozens of terrorist attacks. Two additional surveillance balloons along the route will supplement the surveillance balloon already in use.
The camera feeds will be fed live to a central operations room to enable the IDF to monitor the area. Lt. Col. Chai Rokach of the IDF Homefront Command said there are always combat soldiers patrolling the highway to serve as a buffer between the Palestinian villages next to the highway and the thousands of Israeli cars that drive on it every day.
- Positive Elements in the Quartet Report on Threats to Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Pnina Sharvit Baruch, Oded Eran, and Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky
On July 1, 2016, the Middle East Quartet published a report on major threats to achievement of a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
The Quartet was formed in 2002 to instill new momentum by complementing American mediation with the support of the EU, the UN, and Russia.
The first issue the report identifies as severely undermining prospects for peace is the continued violence, terror attacks against civilians, and ongoing incitement to violence, referring to 250 terrorist attacks and attempted attacks by Palestinians against Israelis in recent months. The report notes that Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks are often glorified publicly; that social media is used as a means to spread incitement to violence; and that members of Fatah have publicly supported attacks and their perpetrators.
From Israel's perspective the report includes three central positive elements. First, it frames the situation as a political conflict in which both sides carry a sizable share of the blame. In this respect the report is a refreshing change from international reports that frame the conflict as a human rights issue in which Israel is the occupying power purposefully violating basic human rights of Palestinian victims.
Second, the report clearly raises the issue of Palestinian incitement as a practice that must be seriously addressed, and specifically addresses all attacks carried out by Palestinians in recent months, referring to them as "terrorist attacks" and attributing responsibility to the PA for not condemning, and to a certain extent even supporting, these violent acts.
Third, the report specifically states that a permanent status agreement to end the conflict can only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations and not through unilateral actions. Thus, the report does not propose or imply that the international community supports the current Palestinian strategy of internationalizing the conflict, or that this approach is likely to bear fruit.
(Institute for National Security Studies)
- Palestinian Demographic Manipulation - Yoram Ettinger
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics often manipulates statistics to misrepresent reality and mislead observers in a way that is deliberate and systematic. There is a gap of 1.15 million people between the number of Arabs the Palestinians claim are living in the West Bank (2.9 million) and the well-documented number of 1.75 million.
In June 1997, in the first Palestinian census in the West Bank and Gaza, 648,000 people were artificially added by including 325,000 overseas residents; counting the 210,000 Jerusalem Arabs twice, as they were also included in the Israeli census; and documented inconsistencies (of 113,000 people) between the PCBS and the Palestinian Health and Education ministries and Central Election Commission.
There is also an inherent under-documentation of deaths (represented by the inclusion of Arabs born in 1847 in the June 2007 census).
- The Problem with Fighting Islamist Terrorism - George Friedman
The U.S. has been at war for nearly 15 years to end the threat of terrorism posed by jihadists.
Yet the war is not being won and a stalemate is equivalent to a loss for the U.S. The essential problem has been a persistent misunderstanding of radical Islamism. It is a movement, not an organization.
The operational focus for the U.S. has been the destruction of terrorist organizations. However, as one group is destroyed, another group arises in its name. For example, al-Qaeda is being replaced by the Islamic State. The real strength of Islamist terrorism is the movement that the organization draws itself from. So long as the movement is intact, any success at destroying an organization is, at best, temporary and, in reality, an illusion.
The only option is to bring pressure on Muslim states to make war on the jihadists and on other strands of Islam to do so as well. The only way to eliminate this movement is for Muslims to do it.
- Human Rights Watch's Child Detention Report Ignores Inconvenient Truths
On July 28, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report which claims to document the abuse of minors by security forces. Its section on "Israel/Palestine" claims, "The military courts do not provide for specialized juvenile justice, with specially trained judges, prosecutors, and attorneys." This is completely false. A special Juvenile Military Court was established in 2009, and according to the Israeli Ministry of Justice only "judges that have received relevant professional training, similar to the training offered to justices of the Youth Courts in Israel, are qualified to serve as juvenile judges."
As this and other examples demonstrate, the section on Israel in HRW's report is based on false claims and promotes an agenda that exploits human rights. (NGO Monitor)
- The Industry of Deceit - Ardie Geldman
A young woman from a Christian university in the U.S. looked at me and in a voice filled with pathos asked, "But why does Israel steal water from the Palestinians?" I answered: "Do you know factually that Israel 'steals' water from the Palestinians?" "Well," she said, "this is what they told us." "They" being any of a number of NGOs that draw from the Palestinian narrative. These organizations share one fundamental objective - to proselytize the message that the Palestinians are an oppressed people and Israel is the oppressor.
Myriad overseas visitors to Israel and the PA take part in organized programs of subtle political indoctrination. Their total number reaches into the tens of thousands each year. Ignorance or naivete combined with a good heart are the characteristics that allow these programs to mold these participants by exposing them to certain experiences while denying them others. In addition, these groups are repeatedly exposed to a politicized lexicon centered on words such as "occupation," "resistance," "injustice," "apartheid," and "genocide." Historical facts are either blurred, perverted or invented. (Jerusalem Post)
- Building Friendship between Iraqi Kurdistan and Israel - Bakir Lashkari
The friendship between the Kurds and the Jewish people dates back centuries, as Kurdistan was home to thousands of Kurdish Jews who were forced to migrate to Israel by the central government in Baghdad in the 1950s. With an independent Kurdish state, Israel might have a genuine friend in the region.
We Kurds tend to see Israel as a role model for an independent Kurdistan - a small nation surrounded by enemies and bolstered by a strategic partnership with the U.S. It is my dream to see an independent Kurdistan with strong diplomatic relations with Israel. We are the only nation in the region with no hatred toward Israel or America.
The writer is president of the Kurdish Diaspora & Intellectual Society.
- Israel Fortifies 10,000 Homes in Gaza-Vicinity Communities - Eliyahu Kamisher
Israel's Construction and Housing Ministry recently concluded a NIS 1.3 billion fortification project in Sderot and 43 other communities within 7 km. of Gaza. "The project to fortify homes in Gaza-vicinity communities provided 9-sq.m. bomb shelters for 10,140 housing units that previously had no shelters," the ministry said.
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi spoke Thursday of the train station - fortified against rocket attacks - and a construction boom that includes six new neighborhoods. Children play in fortified playgrounds, with bomb shelters a few meters away. On July 1, a rocket hit an empty kindergarten.
See also A Picture of Victory - Uri Heitner
Two years after the 2014 Gaza war, Israel's Gaza border communities are enjoying demographic growth the likes of which has not been seen in many years. The image of trucks unloading the belongings of families who have moved to the kibbutzim and villages near the Gaza border reflects the depth of Israel's victory in that war.
In the year 2000 - only a few years after the agreement to partially withdraw from Gaza that followed the Oslo Accords - the ongoing war crime of Palestinian rocket fire at Israeli civilian populations began. The 2005 disengagement from Gaza resulted in the escalation of this rocket fire and the expansion of its target range. For 14 years, the Gaza border communities were within daily firing range. The tough and painful blow that the IDF dealt to Hamas in 2014 served as a deterrent that has changed the reality on the ground. (Israel Hayom)
- How a Muslim Became a Zionist - Nadiya Al-Noor
Like many Muslims, I started out being very anti-Israel. I saw Israel as evil.
Everyone I knew hated Israel. It is by accident that I started to learn about Israel. I decided to gain access to the kosher kitchen at my university's Hillel because most kosher food is halal [food permitted for Muslims under Islamic law].
As time went on, I realized that most of what I had learned about Israel was anti-Semitic propaganda. Israel was a country just struggling to keep her people safe. It was not an evil oppressor. I learned that Israel had tried many times to make peace agreements. I learned how the Arab states banded together to try and destroy Israel in 1948. I learned how accommodating and welcoming Israel is to all peoples, including Muslims.
I learned that Jews really do need the State of Israel, and that it has been their land for over 3,000 years. Even the Koran speaks about how the Children of Israel would return to their eternal homeland from all corners of the world.
The writer is a graduate student at Binghamton University in New York.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel Emerges as a Player on the World Stage - Jonathan Adelman
With eight million people Israel can only play on the fringes of a new global order, but it has a flourishing economy of $300 billion. Its military was rated by the Institute for the Study of War as "pilot to pilot and airframe to airframe" having "the best air force in the world" and the best army in the Middle East.
With over 250 foreign companies creating research facilities in Israel, its strong high-tech capability has been rated by the University of Lausanne as one of the top five world powers in this key area.
For the tiny and poor 1948 Israel to be able less than 70 years later to play a role among the great powers of the world seems amazing.
The writer is a professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
Video: The Nature of Radical Islamic Warfare - Dr. Harold Rhode (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- We in the West are in a war at the moment with Islam. It's not a religion. It's a civilization, it's a culture. The religion is part of the civilization. Islamic warfare, from the time of the Koran (the Muslim holy book which is from the 630s), is anything that works to advance Islam is okay. You can lie, you can cheat, you can say whatever you want as long as it helps advance the cause of Islam.
- We're not talking about the religion. We don't care how other people relate to God. It's their business. But when it comes to politics and when it comes to survival, we need to care.
- The goal here is that the entire world will eventually become Muslim, and after we all convert to Islam there will be one people living in one state ruled by a caliph under sharia (the Muslim holy law).
- There's only one problem with this. Muslims don't agree on who should rule or what the sharia is. Many Muslims have different views of the sharia, some of which we in the West could frankly get along with.
- It's not about big armies fighting each other. It's raiding parties, based on the culture in pre-Islamic Arabia which was small groups raiding other small groups. We in the West call that "terrorism."
- When small groups come and they wreak havoc on others, there is a simple goal to terrorize the other side, that they become afraid and they run away. Then you take the property and land that is left behind. That is what Islamic warfare is.
Dr. Harold Rhode served in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense as an advisor on Turkey, Iraq, and Iran for nearly 30 years.
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