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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 2, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt Fuming over Hamas' Continuing Ties to Islamic State - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    A few days ago, Cairo discovered that a group of IS fighters wounded during an attack on Egyptian Army soldiers at Al-Arish in Sinai were transferred to hospitals in Gaza for treatment.
    A few months ago, prominent Hamas members crossed into Sinai to help IS set up its military infrastructure and were involved in training IS activists in the art of planting IEDs and firing missiles at tanks. Several even joined the IS-affiliated Sinai Province group.
    One prominent Sinai Province commander, Suleiman Al-Sawarka, whom Israel and Egypt accuse of involvement in an attack in Taba in 2004 that killed 34, including 18 Egyptians, arrived in Gaza two months ago and has been holding talks with senior Hamas figures.

IDF Unveils New Armored Personnel Carrier - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF unveiled the new Eitan armored personnel carrier (APC) on Monday, which will be equipped with an active defense system capable of intercepting incoming anti-tank missiles.
    The new wheeled APC is able to reach speeds of 90 kph and will cost around half that of its predecessor.
    It will also be less reliant on trucks for traveling large distances.
    See also Video: IDF's First Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)

Egypt's Economy: The Agony Continues - Paul Rivlin (Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    Between 2010 and 2015, Egypt's population increased by 2.2 percent, adding 300,000 more people each year than in 2005-2010.
    The demographic clock speed-up is due to the collapse of population control policies alongside an increase in the number of women of childbearing age.
    A third factor was an increase in fertility. One reason for this is that the age of marriage has fallen. Changes in the housing market have made it possible for young couples to get married earlier.
    Another reason is the fall in the number of jobs available for women in the public sector.

Israeli Firm Uses In-Field Cameras and Climatic Sensors to Address Farm Problems - Lulu Chang (Digital Trends)
    By applying techniques in deep learning, computer vision, and data science, the Tel Aviv-based machine learning company Prospera hopes to transform farming "from an intuition-based practice to an optimized data-based practice."
    Prospera uses in-field cameras and climatic sensors to create what the company claims is "uniquely accurate remote agronomy and management solutions" for farmers across the globe.
    Prospera promises to help farmers analyze crops "from a leaf by leaf basis to a multi-field multi-crop basis," which ought to help address issues like pests, disease, irrigation, and nutrient deficiencies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Launches Airstrikes on Islamic State in Libya - Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan
    The U.S. has launched airstrikes on the Islamic State in Sirte, Libya, the Pentagon said on Monday, in a significant expansion of the American campaign against the group. The attacks come in support of an effort by Libya's unity government to retake Sirte, which militants seized in early 2015. For months, small teams of U.S., French and British forces have been on the ground in Libya to gather information about militants and identify which militia forces are potential partners. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Supreme Leader: America "Cannot Be Trusted on Any Issue"
    The leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, said Monday that Iran's experience in striking a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 group of countries, including the U.S., was a clear example of the enemies' untrustworthiness. "The U.S. is breaching its promises, and while speaking softly and sweetly, is busy obstructing and damaging Iran's economic relations with other countries."
        "The JCPOA, as an experience, once again proved the futility of negotiations with the Americans, their lack of commitment to their promises and the necessity of distrust of U.S. pledges....They say come and negotiate on regional issues as well, but the JCPOA experience tells us that taking this step would be a deadly poison and that the Americans' remarks cannot be trusted on any issue."
        Elsewhere, Ayatollah Khamenei said the disclosure of relations between the Saudi government and Israel is akin to stabbing the Muslim world in the back. He added that despite all U.S. efforts, its plots and agendas have been exposed and Washington is growing weaker by the day in the region. (Press TV-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jerusalem Intelligence Center Provides Rapid Response to Terrorist Attacks - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday that the Mabat 2000 observation and intelligence center continues to be instrumental in preventing crime and rapidly responding to terrorist attacks throughout the Old City of Jerusalem. "There are 36 hi-tech touch screens there that constantly receive images from 320 CCTV cameras at the nine entrances to the Old City and in and around the Jewish Quarter, Christian Quarter, Armenian Quarter and Muslim Quarter." The station is manned by 12 highly trained officers over three shifts, 24/7.
        "Our officers stationed inside the Old City will receive information online in real time as an incident occurs....They receive pictures of suspects to help them track them as the situation unfolds....We can jump from camera to camera to track and follow someone who looks suspicious....That's how we have prevented a tremendous number of incidents from taking place." Police and homeland-security delegations from around the world regularly visit the facility to learn how the Israel Police use the technology to fight terrorism and crime. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Saudi Visitor: Israeli Society Wants Peace - Adam Rasgon
    Abd al-Mujid al-Hakim, a member of the Saudi Arabian delegation that recently visited Israel, told BBC Arabic on Friday, "In Arab societies, the picture of Israeli society is that it embraces a culture of death, wants to spill blood, and does not believe in peace. That is not correct. The Israeli society that I encountered embraces a culture of peace, has accomplishments it wants to (protect), wants coexistence, and wants peace." Hakim serves as director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Policy in Jedda. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Asks Saudis to Prevent Normalization Visits to Israel - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Curious State Department Announcement on Israeli Settlements - Alan Baker
    In its July 27, 2016, report on "Recent Israeli Settlement Announcements," the U.S. State Department's description is a sad, disproportionate, political exaggeration, out of all proportion to settlements' actual size or significance. This massive frontal attack, as if nothing but settlements is preventing peace, belies reality.
        The State Department should be aware that nothing in the Oslo Accords prevents planning, zoning and construction activity by either side in the West Bank areas under their respective control. The State Department's repeated questioning of the legality of Israel's settlement activity and Israel's claims regarding Jerusalem, in fact, prejudge these central negotiating issues and play into the Palestinian and European denials of Israel's rights. As such, the State Department statements are the very antithesis of any peace negotiation process.
        Above all, in fixating on settlements, the State Department is deliberately turning a blind eye to the mortal danger of Islamic terror and hatred of Jews that permeate Palestinian society. By the same token, the State Department is giving sanction to the EU and the UN to exacerbate their hostile policies against Israel. Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Syria's New Map: Challenges and Opportunities for Israel - Udi Dekel, Nir Boms, and Ofir Winter
    Southern Syria contains some "positive" actors, including a number of Sunni groups and the Druze and Kurdish minorities, which are currently emerging as candidates with the potential for cooperation with Israel. Israel should strive to translate its policy of non-intervention in the war in Syria into one of active promotion of relations and engagement with these more "positive" Syrian actors, as well as with regional and international actors with whom it shares similar interests. These actors wield influence in the current reality in Syria, and can be expected to play a significant role in the shaping and stabilizing of the country in any post-war reality.
        Israel should seek to establish a degree of influence in southern Syria and promote its own tactical and strategic interests in order to maintain calm in the Golan Heights and prevent "negative" actors from establishing themselves in the region. (Institute for National Security Studies)
  • It Does No Good to Expect the Best from Iran - Bob Blackman MP
    Through its repeated test-firings of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, its provision of weapons to foreign conflict zones, and its general antagonism toward Western powers and the world community, the Islamic Republic has clearly been violating the "spirit" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement concluded by Iran and six world powers last July.
        Various indicators have included a rising tide of executions and politically motivated arrests, as well as Tehran's undiminished sponsorship of terrorism and its escalating involvement in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon. According to the well-reasoned conclusion in a July 18 UN report, Tehran's activities are still at odds with the interests of most democratic nations.
        Whereas the Western powers had hoped to provide concessions in order to promote the evolution of a kinder, gentler and friendlier Islamic Republic, what they got instead was a regime that is taking advantage of a financial windfall to go on doing whatever it wants, while also crying foul any time anyone dares to criticize and oppose it. The writer is a Conservative member of the UK House of Commons. (The Hill)

Abbas and the Strategy of Falsehood - Zalman Shoval (Israel Hayom)

  • The announcement by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians intend to sue Britain for the 1917 Balfour Declaration might cause some chuckles, but there is a method to the madness. Since neither history nor the law is on the Palestinians' side in their struggle against Israel, their preferred method is to fabricate history in an attempt to undermine the legality of international agreements that contradict their objectives.
  • The Balfour Declaration is dangerous for them, not just because it spoke of a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel, but because it relates to the Arab population in the land in the context of its religious and civil rights, without any mention of national rights. It was clear to the British statesmen that Arabs in that part of the Ottoman Empire called Palestine did not have the history of a nation.
  • The Balfour Declaration corrected a historical debt toward the Jewish nation, as stated by Winston Churchill in 1949 when he said, "The coming into being of a Jewish state in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of 1000, 2000, or even 3000 years."
  • The State of Israel would have been established with or without the Balfour Declaration. As David Ben-Gurion, then-chairman of the Jewish Agency, testified before a royal British committee in 1937, "Our right to Eretz Israel does not derive from the [British] mandate and the Balfour Declaration. It predates those....The Bible, which was written by us, in our own Hebrew language and in this very country, is our mandate."

    The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

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