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October 6, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Rocket Attack in Israel Declared Part of Islamic State's "Jihad Against Jews" - Franki Cookney (Daily Mail-UK)
Silafi jihadists in Gaza released an online statement saying that a rocket attack on the Israeli town of Sderot on Wednesday was part of the "jihad against Jews."
The rocket left a scorched crater in the road while the blast shattered windows of homes and shrapnel damaged cars in the street nearby.
See also After Israel Retaliates for Rocket Attack, Hamas Appeals for Calm - Raoul Wootliff (Times of Israel)
Hamas has reportedly sent a message to Israel saying it was not interested in a further escalation of tensions, following IDF airstrikes on its installations in Gaza Wednesday in response to a rocket attack from Gaza on Sderot.
A Hamas official said it would not allow other terrorist groups within Gaza to further inflame the situation, Israel Radio reported.
The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for Wednesday's rocket launch.

Iran: We Can Mobilize 9 Million Fighters within 10 Days (MEMRI)
Mohsen Rafighdoost, who was minister of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, said on Sept. 15 that today the IRGC ground forces are "five times better" than the U.S. Army, and that the Iranian regime is capable of deploying nine million troops against it in less than 10 days.
He added: "We have warehouses full [of missiles] in Tehran, Zanjan [in northwest Iran] and Oshnavieh [in northwest Iran] that can strike Tel Aviv."

Israel Elects Two Female Judges from Ethiopian Community - Tova Tzimuki (Ynet News)
The Israel Bar Association announced on Thursday that, for the first time, two women from the Ethiopian community have been selected by the Israeli Judicial Committee to serve as judges.
Adenko Sabhat Haimovich will be a magistrate court judge, while Esther Tapeta Gradi will be a traffic court judge.

Israel's Lebanese Christian Minority - Eliana Rudee (
Jonathan Elkhoury spoke recently in Jerusalem about how his family fled from Hizbullah's rule in Lebanon when his father, a former South Lebanon Army (SLA) officer, had to leave his homeland along with 1,200 other SLA families during Israel's withdrawal in May 2000.
"The Christian society is one of the successful minorities in Israel," he said. "There are people in high positions in education, in hospitals, courts - everywhere you look you will find a Christian in a high position. They are a quiet yet successful community."
"We got a lot of help from the Israeli society," Elkoury said. "We were welcomed because of the SLA's contribution to Israel."
"They tutored us, and did everything to make us feel comfortable and feel at home....At my school, more than 50% of the students are Arabs and they have an extra half an hour on every test. The education system is doing everything so minorities can succeed and have good grades."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iraqi Militias Complicate Aleppo Battle - Tamer El-Ghobashy and Maria Abi-Habib
    Iraqi militia fighters are pouring into Syria to reinforce the Assad regime's siege of rebels in Aleppo. The Shiite militias, who have fought alongside U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces against Islamic State in Iraq, are now fighting Syrian Sunni rebels, some of them armed and trained by the U.S. More than 1,000 Iraqi Shiite militants have traveled from Iraq since early September, joining 4,000 others already on the ground near Aleppo. They make up about half of the regime's estimated ground force of 10,000. (Wall Street Journal)
    See also Aleppo Will Eventually Fall, But Syrian War Will Go On - Samia Nakhoul
    It may take weeks or months, but Aleppo is likely to fall to Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power. It would be a crippling setback for Western-backed Syrian rebels who look set to be bombed out of their stronghold. But the fall of Aleppo will not mean an end to the war, military and political analysts say.
    "The Russians are doing in Aleppo and Syria what they did in Grozny," said Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria in 2011-14, referring to the fierce bombardment that all but destroyed the capital of Chechnya in 1999-2000. The opposition to Assad, he said, will "go from holding being an insurgency, a guerrilla war, and that will continue a long time." (Reuters)
  • Iranian Parliament Speaker Snubs German Minister on Visit - Gernot Heller
    The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, canceled talks with German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Tehran on Tuesday after the visitor had urged Iran to pursue reforms at home and act responsibly in Syria. The snub to Gabriel highlighted the challenge facing Western governments as they try to cultivate ties with Iran's political leadership.
    Gabriel was quoted as telling German news magazine Der Spiegel last week that Iran could have normal, friendly relations with Germany only when it accepted Israel's right to exist. Iran's government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said on Tuesday: "No country can set preconditions for Iran. We live with our beliefs. Tehran will never recognize Israel." (Reuters)
  • World Bank: Poverty Does Not Drive ISIS Radicalization
    According to a new World Bank study, "poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism." Moreover, the study, titled "Economic and Social Inclusion to Prevent Violent Extremism," found that recruits to Islamic State are better educated than their average countrymen. Out of 331 recruits described in a leaked Islamic State database, only 17% did not finish high school, while a quarter had university-level educations. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Pilot Returning from Gaza Dies after Ejecting from Burning Plane - Yoav Zitun
    An Israeli Air Force F-16 pilot, Capt. Ohad Cohen Nov, 34, was killed Wednesday after his plane caught fire before landing. The aircraft's navigator successfully ejected from the plane. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Rejects U.S. Criticism: Planned West Bank Construction Is Not a New Settlement - Barak Ravid
    The Israel Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected American criticism of construction plans to house Israeli families to be resettled by court order from the community of Amona. "The 98 housing units approved in Shilo do not constitute a 'new settlement.' This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shilo and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint. The units are intended to provide a housing solution for the residents of Amona who must leave their homes in accordance with the demolition order issued by Israel's High Court of Justice."
    "Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish State of Israel. The real obstacle to peace is not the settlements - a final status issue that can and must be resolved in negotiations between the parties - but the persistent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state in any boundaries." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Intercepts Women Activists Sailing to Gaza - Roi Kais
    The Israel Navy took control of a boat Wednesday with 13 women activists which set sail from Barcelona in an attempt to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. The boat, which was not carrying any aid, was brought to Israel's Ashdod port without incident. (Ynet News)
    See also Israel Sent Female Naval Cadets to Stop Women's Boat Headed to Gaza - William Booth and Ruth Eglash (Washington Post)
    See also Who Are the Women Activists Sailing to Gaza? - Liel Leibovitz
    The women activists on board the boat to Gaza include Ola Abed, one of the people behind Gaza Man, a video game that encourages kids to shoot as many Israelis as they can, with extra points given for headshots. Norsham Abu Bakr, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, has shared posts on her Facebook page accusing Israel of orchestrating the recent terrorist attacks in Munich and Nice.
    Wendy Goldsmith, a London, Ontario, social worker, was a chatty guest on Kevin Barrett's "Truth Jihad" radio show, dedicated in large part to promoting the idea that Israel is behind every major bloody attack in recent memory, starting with 9/11. Fauzia Hasan, a Malaysian doctor, has openly advocated banning Sisters in Islam, a Muslim women's movement working for gender equality within the religion. (Tablet)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Does Assad Really Have Time on His Side? - Ari Heistein
    President Bashar al-Assad sees time as working in his favor in the Syrian civil war. And it is true that his situation appears to be steadily improving, as discussion of a viable moderate rebel fighting force has all but died out. However, the Assad regime's ability to function is being steadily degraded by the grinding civil war and the growing cracks in its bases of support. While Russian and Iranian military intervention had stabilized the Assad regime, it has not facilitated its conquest of significant swaths of territory. The writer is Special Assistant to the Director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Israel. (National Interest)
  • The Islamic Apocalypse - Mustafa Akyol
    The cover of the most recent issue of Dabiq, the slick magazine that the Islamic State distributes online, shows an image of a jihadist fighter on the roof of a church, knocking over a cross. Below him, a headline reads "Break the Cross," which refers to a Muslim hadith regarding a prophecy to be realized in the final era before the apocalypse.
    According to certain hadiths, in the first stage the Muslims will be oppressed. Then two saviors will arise: the Mahdi, a divinely guided caliph who will unite and empower Muslims, followed by Jesus, who will come back to earth to support the Mahdi and defeat evil.
    But Islamic literature seems to suggest that Jesus will return to abolish Christianity and confirm the truth of Islam. A much-quoted hadith says, "The Son of Mary will soon descend among you as a just ruler; he will break the cross and kill the swine." The usual interpretation of the prophecy is that when Jesus comes back, he will put an end to his own worship, symbolized by the cross, and re-establish the dietary laws that Christianity abandoned but Jews and Muslims still observe.
    According to a 2012 poll by the Pew Research Center, half of Muslims or more in nine Muslim-majority countries believe that the coming of the Mahdi is "imminent," and could happen in their lifetime. The Islamic State just goes further by claiming that it is bringing the prophecies to life. (New York Times)

Nazareth's Muslim Mayor Supports Coexistence - Asaf Gabor (Makor Rishon-30Sep16-Hebrew)

  • Nazareth Mayor Ali Salem, 64, is a Muslim citizen of Israel. He began work as a welder and at the same time earned a degree in mechanical engineering at the Technion, then opened a business that today employs 300.
  • In 1993 he was recruited to the Nazareth City Council by its communist (Hadash) mayor Tawfiq Ziad to help curb the rising strength of the Islamist movement. After 15 years, Salem set up his own list, My Nazareth, ran against communist mayor Ramiz Jaraisy, and won.
  • In the city of 90,000, he says, "I just finished building 1,000 apartments and I'm building another 2,000. In one neighborhood we're now building 3 schools and in the adjacent neighborhood there will be a seniors center and a day care center for babies. I've paved all the roads in Nazareth with asphalt. And next week I'm starting to build a new city hall to replace the building we've been renting for the last forty years. I'm also building a $20 million cultural center.
  • "All we want is to live together in peace. We want quiet that will enable us to work and develop our city....More and more local and city council heads are speaking about peace and coexistence."
  • "We live much better than the Palestinians [in the West Bank and Gaza]. We have horizons, possibilities, and almost full equalitiy. Our youth have much more to lose, so except for a few extreme cases, we don't see Israeli Arabs participating in the wave of terror."
  • "Since 1948 we've paid a heavy price for this conflict and we need to bring an end to the bloodshed....The Palestinians who are now stabbing - what is this? It is forbidden to stab anyone. It doesn't matter if he's a Jew, Muslim, or Christian....This area can become the best and most peaceful one if we increase focus on our similarities and reduce the hatred."
  • "I think that in [Israeli] Arab society, whoever wants to can succeed. There are all the possibilities to learn, to work, and to develop in positive directions. Look how many doctors, technicians, and lawyers there are today in the Israeli Arab sector. You just need the will, and to respect the place where we live. I see myself as Palestinian, but I respect the state I live in."

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