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August 5, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Australia Suspends World Vision's Palestine Aid - Paul Karp (Guardian-UK)
    Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has suspended funding of World Vision programs in Palestine, after the head of the charity in Gaza was charged by Israel with providing funds to Hamas.
    DFAT said, "Any diversion of the generous support of the Australian and international community for military or terrorist purposes by Hamas is to be deplored and can only harm the Palestinian people."

World Vision: Strategies for Fund-Raising and Support for Hamas - Dexter Van Zile (Jewish Political Studies Review, March 1, 2015)
    Throughout its history, World Vision (WV), a multi-billion dollar relief, development and advocacy agency that promotes child welfare in poor countries throughout the world, has used images and stories of suffering and dying children to solicit donations.
    World Vision contributes to the propaganda war against the Jewish state conducted by Hamas by directing almost all of its criticism against Israel and by protecting Hamas from condemnation.

Report: IDF Attacked Hizbullah Convoy in Syria (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF attacked a convoy of Hizbullah vehicles transferring weapons in the Damascus area in Syria, Arab media reported Thursday.

Egypt Increases Efforts toward Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Daily News-Egypt)
    Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Osama Al-Magdoub met with the EU Special Representative for the Middle East peace process, Fernando Gentilini, on Wednesday.
    Gentilini said there needs to be a push for executing the peace process, suggesting this could start from Cairo due to its balanced diplomatic relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

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Report: Pakistan to Fly Alongside Israel, UAE in U.S. Air Force Drill (Pakistan Today)
    Pakistani aircraft will fly alongside Israeli and United Arab Emirates planes in the U.S. Air Force's Red Flag exercise in the Nevada desert later this month, the Times of Israel has claimed in a report.
    Last year, Israeli pilots took part in the Red Flag exercise and reportedly refueled Jordanian fighter jets.
    While they are not considered "enemy nations," Israel does not have formal ties with Pakistan and the UAE.
    There have been reports of covert contacts between Israeli and Pakistani officials, including a WikiLeaks document that indicated that a high-ranking official in the Pakistani army met directly with the Israeli Mossad.

Number of Female IDF Combat Soldiers Highest Ever - Yossi Yehoshua (Ynet News)
    2015 saw the opening of the third mixed-gender IDF combat battalion and the number of female combat soldiers increased to 2,047 from 435 in 2005.
    The IDF is planning on opening up a fourth mixed-gender battalion in the near future.

Summer Travel Blues Will Undermine Trust in the Palestinian Leadership - Daoud Kuttab (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
    Nazmi Muhana, a Palestinian official at the border crossing between Israel and Jordan, said there has been a 48% increase in numbers of travelers this summer. In the first 17 days of July, 149,000 Palestinians sought to cross from the West Bank into Jordan, compared to 104,000 during the same period last year.
    While most face long waits, the Palestinian government approved a special VIP service that allows those who can afford to pay a $150 per-person fee to make it through the crossing in less than 30 minutes.
    When Palestinians, waiting in line for hours, see their own leaders and wealthy Palestinians skip the queue because they can afford to, they will get mad and express anger.

"In Hollywood, They Look at Israel as a Creative Community" - Itay Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli producer Sharon Tal Yguado, 40, executive vice president of scripted programming and original development at Fox International Channels, is busy working on two new projects, U.S. versions of Israeli shows "False Flag, a thriller series, and the comedy "Very Important Person." "False Flag" will be distributed in over 100 countries.
    "In Hollywood, they look at Israel as a creative community," she said in an interview. "Israel really interests them."

India's Wipro to Buy Israel's Precision Machining Company Givon (Globes)
    The Israeli private equity firm FIMI is selling Haifa-based precision machining and assembly company H. R. Givon to Indian company Wipro Infrastructure Engineering for $80 million. FIMI bought Givon in 2008 for $20 million.
    Givon develops, produces and sells precision components for the aviation industry, mainly titanium products.
    It has two production sites in Israel and one in Seattle in the U.S.

1,580 Nepalese Students to Benefit from Israeli Agro Program (The Himalayan-Nepal)
    Altogether, 1,580 students will have received the opportunity to go to Israel to learn about agriculture practices there by this September under the "learn and earn" program of the Israeli government, which was started three years back.
    The Israel Embassy in Kathmandu has partnered with Sana Kisan Bikas Bank to select students from remote villages who are siblings or members of the Sana Kisan Cooperatives promoted by the bank.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Says Gaza World Vision Director Diverted Millions to Hamas' Military Wing - Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha
    The Gaza head of the U.S.-based humanitarian aid organization World Vision funneled as much as $7 million a year over the past 10 years to Hamas terror activities, Israel's domestic security agency said Thursday. World Vision is among the largest Christian charities in the world and receives considerable funding from the UN and Western governments. It has been working in Israel and the Palestinian territories for more than 40 years. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Charges Palestinian Employee of Aid Group with Funneling Funds to Hamas - Isabel Kershner and Diaa Hadid
    An Israel Security Agency official said that while the investigation did not implicate World Vision in the scheme to divert funds, it did reveal an abysmal lack of monitoring and supervision by the organization of its donations and projects. "Hamas stole tens of millions of dollars from disabled and poor Palestinian children to build a war machine," said David Keyes, a spokesman for the Israeli government. (New York Times)
        See also British Donations to Christian Charity World Vision Were "Used to Build a Hamas Military Base in Gaza" - Raf Sanchez (Telegraph-UK)
  • Fatah Makes Incendiary Facebook Claim of Killing 11,000 Israelis - Diaa Hadid
    In an effort to appeal to Palestinians ahead of hotly contested elections, the party of President Mahmoud Abbas listed one of its main achievements as having "killed 11,000 Israelis." Fatah made the incendiary claim on Tuesday in an Arabic-language post on one of its official Facebook pages.
        In Israeli eyes, Palestinian leaders starting with Yasir Arafat, who helped found Fatah in 1959, have had a habit of saying one thing in Arabic and another in English. In the early 2000s, at the height of the second Palestinian uprising, Arafat led crowds in the West Bank city of Ramallah in a chant of "To Jerusalem, we are going, martyrs in the millions!" days after writing an Op-Ed article in The New York Times about the Palestinian vision of peace.
        Fatah has historically championed armed resistance as a central tenet of its doctrine for the liberation of the Palestinian people. "President Abbas' party boasts about committing mass murder and yet it is called 'moderate' by many," said David Keyes, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. "Imagine if Palestinian leaders spent their time praising coexistence instead of terror."  (New York Times)
  • Obama: Islamic State Likely to Continue to Threaten U.S. - Lolita C. Baldor
    Islamic State will probably continue to be a threat to the U.S. even after it is ousted from key strongholds in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday, warning that lone-wolf believers will still be inspired to launch attacks that are harder to detect and prevent. "What ISIL has figured out is that if they can convince a handful of people or even one person to carry out an attack on a subway, or at a parade or some other public venue, and kill scores of people as opposed to thousands of people, it still creates the kinds of fear and concern that elevates their profile," Obama said. (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. Not Persuaded to Extradite Turkish Exile from U.S. over Failed Coup - Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous
    U.S. officials don't expect to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an imam Turkey blames for masterminding a failed coup, because they aren't convinced by the evidence Ankara has presented and are troubled by threatening public statements from Turkish officials. U.S. and Turkish officials have privately discussed extradition, but American authorities have yet to be persuaded there is a valid case for it. The more Turkish officials talk publicly about Gulen's alleged role in the coup and demand his immediate transfer, the less likely such a transfer becomes, people familiar with the discussions said. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • How Hamas Exploited World Vision Charity in Gaza to Support Terrorism
    More details have emerged about how Hamas infiltrated and stole millions from the international aid group World Vision. The director of World Vision's Gaza branch, Mohammed El-Halabi, 38, has been a Hamas member since his youth and underwent organizational and military training in the early 2000s. His father, Halil El-Halabi, who served as head of UNRWA's educational institutions in Gaza for years, is also a member of Hamas.
        Mohammed El-Halabi established fictitious humanitarian projects and agricultural associations that acted as cover for the transfer of monies to Hamas. For instance, he initiated a greenhouse project in order to use the greenhouses to hide the sites where terror tunnels were being dug. In addition, a project for the rehabilitation of [fictitious] fishermen was actually used to provide motor boats and diving suits for Hamas' military marine unit. Hamas warehouses were disguised as World Vision warehouses, where trucks bringing supplies from Israel would unload their goods.
        $1.5 million a year from World Vision's budget was given in cash to Hamas combat units. $4 million a year was diverted from the needy in Gaza for the construction of terror tunnels and the purchase of weapons. Money raised to support injured children in Gaza was diverted to the families of Hamas terrorists by fraudulently listing their children as wounded. $2 million a year designated for psychological support, education and health in Gaza was used to pay the families of Hamas terrorists. Monies were paid out as salaries to Hamas terrorists and activists who were registered as employees of the aid organization when in fact they never worked for World Vision.
        The funds El-Halabi diverted to Hamas originated in aid money from Western states such as the U.S., England and Australia. The investigation revealed much information concerning additional figures in Gaza who exploited their work in humanitarian aid organizations and UN institutions on behalf of Hamas. His statements portray a troubling picture in which UN institutions in Gaza are in fact controlled by Hamas. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Public Security Minister: Aid Group's Links to Hamas "Part of a Wider and Very Serious Phenomenon" - Stuart Winer and Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday warned that the links between terrorist organizations and aid groups in Gaza are substantial. Erdan told Army Radio, "The connections that were uncovered today are part of a much wider and very serious phenomenon....We expect donor countries and international organizations to carefully check the destination of the money."  (Times of Israel)
  • Security Guards Prevent Knife Attack on Jerusalem Light Rail - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    Israeli security guards thwarted another attack on the Jerusalem light rail on Thursday morning. "A 17-year-old illegal Palestinian worker made his way into Jerusalem and was spotted acting suspiciously by security guards near the light rail stop at Mount Herzl," said Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. "He was immediately approached by security personnel guarding the area, who questioned him. [He] was found to be in possession of a knife, and indicated that he intended to board the tram to carry out an attack."
        "We've heightened patrols at the Central Bus Station and all public areas, including the Old City, and the entire light-rail route, as part of consistent security measures taking place." Rosenfeld cited newly installed concrete barriers at several bus stops in the capital to prevent car-ramming attacks by terrorists. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Breaks Up Hamas Prisoner Plot - Ra'anan Ben Tzur and Elior Levy
    Israel Prison Service officers raided prison cells holding Hamas prisoners in Nafha prison on Thursday and found messages and orders for Hamas attacks outside the prison, along with other intelligence information. Several Hamas members were sent to other prisons. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Chairman of the Palestine Olympic Committee Violates Olympic Rules - Jeff Jacoby
    PLO chieftain Jibril Rajoub is chairman of the Palestine Olympic Committee. He declares, "Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity." When the Peres Center for Peace hosted a soccer match between Palestinian and Israeli kids in 2014, Rajoub was furious. It was "a disgrace to use sports for this purpose," he thundered, and issued a "demand that all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities."
        Such behavior isn't only hateful and immoral. It's also an egregious violation of International Olympic Committee rules. The IOC's detailed Code of Ethics requires Olympic personnel to respect at all times the movement's principle of "universality and political neutrality" and to affirm "the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play." Palestinian athletes deserve a better leader than Rajoub, a man so toxic with hatred that he applauds terror attacks and denounces games that bring Arab and Jewish kids together. (Boston Globe)
  • A Guide to the Palestinian Lexicon - Khaled Abu Toameh
    More than two decades after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction and the Palestinian Authority (PA) still find it difficult to mention the name Israel. Since its creation in 1994, the PA's official policy (in Arabic) has been to refer to Israel as "the Other Side." Palestinian officials who maintain daily contact with their Israeli counterparts regularly refrain from uttering the names Israel or IDF, while the Palestinian media and representatives of the PA, in their statements (in Arabic), refer to Israel as the "Government of Occupation."
        The prime minister of Israel, regardless of his identity or political affiliation, is often called the "Prime Minister of Occupation," while the Israeli defense minister is often referred to as the "Minister of War" and the IDF is the "Occupation Forces." Palestinian officials and media outlets regularly refer to the Arab citizens of Israel as "the Arabs of the Inside" - implying that the "inside" is actually an internal part of "Palestine."
        Palestinian leaders have failed to prepare their people for peace with Israel. The terminology adopted by these leaders and a growing number of Palestinians is a clear sign that they continue to delegitimize Israel, depict it as an evil state, and deny its right to exist. What non-Arabic speakers hear and read from Palestinian representatives in English does not reflect the messages being relayed to Palestinians in Arabic. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Erdogan's Purge Is a Sectarian War - Edward Luttwak
    An alliance between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen came apart because it's impossible to reconcile their rival interpretations of Islam. Gulen's Islam is genuinely moderate - his creed truly accepts coexistence with other monotheists, including non-Sunni Muslims, and totally prohibits any form of violence in the name of religion against polytheists as well. For Erdogan and colleagues, Sunni Islam is the only religion entitled to exist at all and its conquest of the planet must be advanced by all means possible. The writer is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Foreign Policy)
  • Islamic State's Innovation in Militant Islam - John Lloyd
    Islamic State's monstrous innovation is that its message - "to target Crusader coalition states" in any way possible, with whatever comes to hand - is capable of rapid absorption. The Nice truck-killer, Mohammed Lahouaiej Bouhlel; Omar Mateen, the Afghan-American who killed 49 in Orlando, Florida; and Ali David Sonboly, the German-Iranian who killed nine in Munich last week, all had probably radicalized themselves over a short period of time, inspired by Islamic State propaganda on the Internet.
        Islamic State is succeeding beyond its hopes in Europe because there are people, usually young men of Muslim background, who fall in love with violence, death and Islamic State. It has plugged into a hellishly rich vein of youths who feel that life has nothing better to offer them than glorious murder, and a martyr's death. The writer co-founded the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. (Reuters)
  • Counter-Radicalization Must Involve Telling Muslims the Truth - Melanie Phillips
    The crucial point about the grievances felt by so many Muslims against Israel, the Jews and the West is that they are all based on lies. Millions of Muslims believe the lie that the Palestinians are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel. So of course they are enraged that "their" land has been "stolen" by the Jews. It would be amazing if this did not incite violent feelings of hatred and vengeance. They also believe the lie that the West intends to destroy the Islamic world. So of course they think Muslim attacks on the West are justified as self-defense.
        These are the "grievances" which drive so many young Muslims into the arms of the jihadis. Any effective counter-radicalization strategy must therefore tell Muslims facts to force open their eyes.
        Western leaders should be telling them, for example, the historic truth that the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their national homeland. They should be telling them that those setting out to murder Muslims are other Muslims, and that the lies told about Israel and the West are designed to protect tyrants by diverting the rage of the people they have enslaved. The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Most Dangerous Anti-American Force Isn't ISIS, It's Iran - Robert Spencer
    The greatest threat to U.S. national security today isn't ISIS, or China, or Russia or even climate change. The greatest threat is the Islamic Republic of Iran, a regime that has been on a war footing toward the U.S. since 1979 and mandates chants of "Death to America" in every mosque in the country at Friday prayers. Iran is not as flashy as ISIS but is actively working now on numerous anti-American initiatives that could turn out to be even more lethal than anything ISIS has yet perpetrated.
        Iran is a breeding ground for terrorist activity: funding and controlling a global network of jihad terror organizations with a truly global reach, ready to do Iran's bidding up to and including the killing of its perceived enemies. In the months leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks, at least eight of the hijackers traveled repeatedly to Iran and met with Iranian agents there, who facilitated their travel to Afghanistan for training. The author, founder and director of Jihad Watch, has published twelve books including two New York Times best-sellers. (New York Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • New Gaza Sewage Plant Will Receive Electricity from Israel - Sharon Udasin
    The Northern Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment (NGEST) Project, a World Bank plant in the Beit Lahiya area, has been largely inoperative due to electricity shortages. Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said Wednesday that Israel is committed to meeting the facility's increasing needs and that the government has approved three different solutions that could fulfill the electricity needs of the treatment plant. Last week, a group of U.S. congressmen demanded that Israel provide a solution to the electricity supply problem for the plant.
        As renovations of the NGEST plant continue, Ben-Dahan stressed that Israel will be prepared to meet the facility's electricity needs, and that the approved solutions are currently being examined by the Palestinian Authority and the international community. Completion of the facility will occur in 2019, but the first stage enabling the plant's operation should conclude in 2017 - necessitating 3-5 MW of added power. (Jerusalem Post)
  • "I Was the Campus Anti-Semite," Says Muslim Zionist - Tamara Zieve
    Kasim Hafeez, 32, a British Muslim of Pakistani origin now living in Canada, is the Outreach Coordinator for Christians United for Israel. Ten years ago at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, he says he was "the campus anti-Semite." "I was generally obnoxious, loud and threatening," he admits.
        "Anti-Israel activism has been a huge gateway for wider Muslim extremism," he says. He has seen firsthand how corrosive this has been on the Muslim community. "If I can do anything to stem that - if even one kid doesn't have to deal with the rubbish and hatred that I had to, then I see that as a win."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Arabs Must Turn a New Page with Israel - Fred Maroun
    The Arab world has an abysmal record on human rights, is mired in internal wars, and continues pointless hostility towards Israel, a neighbor that is far ahead of us scientifically and economically, and from which we could benefit greatly. We must take ownership of our past actions towards Israel, and we must make the changes needed to turn the page. (Gatestone Institute)

Russia in Syria and the Implications for Israel - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin (Strategic Assessment-INSS)

  • Russia's direct military involvement in Syria in the latter months of 2015 and initial months of 2016 was a demonstration that military force can "make all the difference." The Russian military campaign saved the Assad regime from downfall, changed the balance of power in Syria, and leveraged the dynamics in order to pursue a ceasefire and diplomatic talks.
  • Under Putin's leadership, Russia, taking calculated risks, took advantage of the global weakness of the U.S. over the last decade and acted to promote its vital interests in Europe and the Middle East and to reposition itself as a world power.
  • Notwithstanding Putin's announcement that the purpose of Russia's military intervention was to fight extremist Islamic terrorist groups, upon examining the map of the Russian attacks, it appears that battling the Islamic State was a low priority, particularly during the initial stages of the campaign.
  • For Moscow, Russia's involvement in the Middle East arena served first and foremost to restore Russia to its proper standing in the world. Through its focused and determined intervention in Syria, Russia demonstrated that it is a key player whose involvement is essential to the resolution of international issues. Russia's second objective was to leverage the Syrian issue in order to resolve problems in other arenas important to it, mainly Europe in general and Ukraine in particular.
  • Upon the increase in Russian involvement and its shift to direct air sorties, Israel conducted itself with extreme caution, was careful to avoid any Russian fighter planes, and took into account the Russians' firepower and their sophisticated air defense systems. The Russians have stated openly that they have a deep understanding of Israeli interests in Syria and that Russia's future actions in Syria will not jeopardize Israel's security.
  • On the other hand, the Russian intervention led to the strengthening of the radical Shiite axis, with its problematic positioning close to Israel's borders. The strengthening of the Iran-Hizbullah-Syria axis, its return to being a dominant force in Syria, its acquisition of sophisticated, high-quality equipment, high-quality intelligence about Israel at the disposal of the axis, and the improvement in Hizbullah's fighting capabilities could jeopardize Israel's security in the future.

    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli military intelligence, is executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
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