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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 19, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Expects Islamic State Will Use Chemical Weapons in Fight for Mosul - Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali (Reuters)
    The U.S. expects Islamic State to use crude chemical weapons to repel an Iraqi-led offensive on the city of Mosul, U.S. officials say.
    U.S. forces have begun to regularly collect shell fragments to test for possible chemical agents, given Islamic State's previous use of mustard agent.
    U.S. forces confirmed the presence of a sulfur mustard agent on Islamic State munition fragments on Oct. 5.

Mexico Fires Jewish Ambassador Who Protested UNESCO Vote, But Country Seeks to Change Vote (JTA)
    Mexico has fired its ambassador to UNESCO, Andre Roemer, who is Jewish, for protesting against his country's decision to vote for a resolution denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem.
    However, Mexico announced it will now change its vote from "in favor" to "abstain."
    "Sadly, the ambassador to UNESCO was sacrificed, but it meant a change to the perennial tradition of following the vote of the Latin American bloc, which passed an absurd and biased resolution," wrote the Jewish Mexican news portal Enlace Judio.

Russia Completes Integrated Air Defense System in Syria - Karen DeYoung (Washington Post)
    Russia completed this month the deployment of mobile and interchangeable S-400 and S-300 missile batteries for an integrated air defense system in Syria.
    It gives Russia the ability to shoot down planes and cruise missiles over at least 250 miles in all directions from western Syria, covering significant portions of Turkey, Israel, Jordan and the eastern Mediterranean as well.

Iran Sentences Two Iranian-Americans to 10 Years in Jail - Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Yeganeh Torbati (Reuters)
    An Iranian court has sentenced Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman in his mid-40s, and Baquer Namazi, his 80-year-old father, to 10 years in prison on charges of spying and cooperating with the U.S. government, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
    U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner called for their immediate release.

European Governments Play Disproportionate Role in Funding Israeli Political NGOs (NGO Monitor)
    At a UN Security Council special session on Friday, the director of the Israeli political NGO B'Tselem implored the UN to take "decisive international action" against Israel, and made no mention of Palestinian terror attacks or incitement.
    Over 64% of B'Tselem's annual budget originates with foreign governments.
    Donors include the EU, France, Norway, the Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (pooled funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands; Norway also recently joined this mechanism), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Diakonia (Sweden), Christian Aid Ireland, UNICEF, Bread For The World-EED (Germany), ICCO (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), and the UNDP.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Boasts of Its Interference in the Region
    Hassan Fariuzabadi, the military advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said in an interview published Saturday by Fars: "What is clear is our system is an Islamic revolution." The former chief of staff made reference to military action in Syria and Iraq, where Tehran has deployed advisers, in addition to supporting militants in Yemen, Bahrain and Lebanon, suggesting it is not interference as defined by the principles of the "Islamic revolution." "Imam Khomeini said we will defend Muslims and the oppressed around the world, and this is the core of the revolutionary, religious and humanitarian concepts."
        In an unprecedented statement, he revealed that his country has in past years sent military advisers to Gaza to train "Palestinian forces."  (Al Arabiya)
  • Iran: U.S. Root Cause of All Problems in Middle East
    "The root cause of all the problems in the West Asia region is the U.S. hegemony," Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. Massoud Jazayeri said on Sunday. "The U.S. presence in the region is [like] a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the U.S. out of the region." He urged the U.S. to shoulder responsibility for the thousands of criminal acts it has committed and leave the region to relieve the regional nations of the malevolence of the Great Satan. (Press TV-Iran)
        See also Iran to Continue to Fund Terrorists - Adam Kredo
    Iranian officials maintain that they will continue to fund global terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah and Hamas, despite U.S. objections. America says, "We have acted on our commitments [under the JCPOA]....However, Iranians must do certain things, such as ceasing their support for terrorists and halting their missile activities," Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran's Judiciary, said Monday. "However, what they mean by terrorists are resistance groups like Hizbullah of Lebanon and Hamas."  (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Security Expert Views Iranian Nuclear Threat - Gideon Allon
    MK Avi Dichter, who served as head of the Israel Security Agency and as public security and homefront defense minister, was asked in an interview: "Does Israel have the capacity to prevent the Iranian nuclear threat from becoming a reality?"
        Dichter: "It makes no sense for us to focus all our activity on defense, only to discover that our defense capabilities stand at 80%, so if 10 nuclear bombs are fired at Israel, eight will be intercepted and only two will fall. That's a totally unacceptable concept of defense....I'm happy to say that the people in Israel who are in charge of this matter are methodically building defensive and offensive capabilities, and there is no intention of allowing any Iranian platform - a missile, a plane or anything else - to reach us, and certainly not carrying nuclear weapons."
        Hizbullah has "suffered heavy battle casualties [in Syria]. Over 1,600 of their fighters have been killed, and 6,000 wounded. There are also some Hizbullah fighters being held captive by the rebels. That's a lot for an army of 30,000 people."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel May Assist on Infrastructure Projects in Egypt - Alex Fishman
    Israel is discussing a series of large-scale infrastructure projects in Egypt for desalinization of sea water, solar energy, electricity production, agriculture, irrigation and gas. (Ynet News)
        See also As Egypt's Economy Struggles, Calls for Protests Against Sisi Grow Louder - Sudarsan Raghavan and Heba Mahfouz (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Dawn of the New Iranian Empire - Michael Rubin
    That Iran has not started a war in the last 200 years has become a common refrain among those who want to downplay the threat posed by the Islamic Republic. Alas, it is a false claim. Despite then-Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammad Javad Zarif's pledge to American diplomats in 2003 that Iranian forces would stay out of Iraq, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps infiltrated thousands of militiamen and its own forces into Iraq almost immediately; they never left.
        Iran has also dispatched thousands of "volunteers" and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corpsmen to fight in Syria. Southern Lebanon has been under de facto Iranian suzerainty for decades, and after the Doha Agreement in 2008, Hizbullah now has effective veto power over the rest of Lebanese society. In Yemen, the Houthis seized power and, with Iranian backing, used brutal force to consolidate it over areas that were never traditionally Houthi.
        In recent years, Iran began talking about itself as a "pan-regional power," describing its strategic boundaries as the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Commentary)
  • Nasrallah: "As Long as Iran Has Money, Hizbullah Has Money" - Hanin Ghaddar
    On June 24, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah declared: "As long as Iran has money, Hizbullah has money....Our allocated money is coming to us in the same way we receive our rockets with which we threaten Israel."
        Today, Hizbullah has transformed itself into Iran's regional military arm and most of the money coming from Iran is funding the group's military operations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and wherever else Iran seeks to field proxy forces. Most of Hizbullah's service institutions, such as health centers, are still in place, but they are not well-enough funded to serve the whole community and therefore cater to fighters and their families.
        Earlier this year, one former member of parliament told the Financial Times that Hizbullah had a basic payroll of 80,000, and 400,000 when family members were included. This means that about a quarter of Lebanese Shiites are receiving Hizbullah salaries. When Hizbullah offers to fighters a two-year contract of $500-$1,200 in monthly salary plus benefits, impoverished young men with few prospects see a handsome opportunity, with the potential for advancement. However, many fighters return in body bags, and many more come back permanently incapacitated.
        The Lebanese Shiite community is paralyzed by fear: fear of the Sunni Islamists around them who, as Hizbullah continually asserts, are trying to kill them all, and fear of Hizbullah itself, which is acting more violently inside Shiite neighborhoods. The writer, a veteran Lebanese journalist, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Archaeology 101: Jews and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Zachi Dvira (Times of Israel)

  • Muslim authorities on the Temple Mount have no concern for preserving even their own archaeological heritage.
  • In 1999, the Muslim authorities excavated a gigantic pit in the south-eastern area of the Temple Mount using bulldozers and removing 400 truckloads of dirt. This was done without any archaeological control or supervision.
  • Consequently, we established the Temple Mount Sifting Project in order to save, preserve, and study the vast amount of archaeological artifacts that were buried in this soil. We retrieved hundreds of thousands of artifacts dating to the First and Second Jewish Temple periods and onwards, including Christian- and Muslim-era artifacts.
  • The existence of the Jewish Temples is beyond any doubt. Numerous historical sources witnessed them, including pagan historians who were not influenced by the Jewish or Christian tradition, such as Berossus (3rd century BCE), Menander of Ephesus (2nd century BCE), Hecataeus of Abdera (c. 300 BCE), Mmaseas of Patara (c. 200 BCE), Diodorus of Sicily (1st century BCE), Strabo (1st century BCE), Tacitus (1st century CE) and many others.
  • Artifacts found at the Temple Mount include:
    • A Greek inscription warning gentiles not to enter further into the temple compound;
    • A stone carved with an inscription referring to blowing the trumpets from the Temple Mount;
    • A clay seal used by the Temple priests to keep track of commerce related to sacrificial offerings;
    • A golden bell believed sewn to the garment worn by the high priest, as described in the Bible;
    • Numerous Jewish ritual purification baths in the areas surrounding the Temple Mount.
    • Moreover, the Sifting Project has recovered over 800 Jewish coins from the Second Temple period.

    The writer is an archaeologist and co-directs the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

        See also The Jewish Connection to Jerusalem and Its Holy Sites - Nadav Shragai
    The long list of archaeological finds from the Temple Mount area drives the Muslims crazy for one central reason: They prove the ancient Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and its retaining walls. Especially the Western Wall. Jews have prayed at the foot of the Western Wall for more than 1,000 years. The Jews even received Turkish decrees confirming their rights to the Western Wall. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Rachel's Tomb, a Jewish Holy Place, Was Never a Mosque - Nadav Shragai
    On August 10, 1830, the Ottoman Turkish Sultan issued the firman that gave legal force to Rachel's Tomb being recognized as a Jewish holy site. The governor of Damascus sent a written order to the Mufti of Jerusalem to fulfill the Sultan's order: "the tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Josephthey (the Jews) are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them (from doing) this."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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