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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
December 13, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Stages Massive War Drills in Show of "Supremacy" - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    Iran began a series of massive war drills on Sunday that included ground and air forces as well as unmanned drones.
    Brig.-Gen. Massoud Jazzayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran's Armed Forces, said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran's military forces enjoy supremacy over the Persian Gulf region more than any other time."
    "The enemy's forces and equipment are fully within the range of the Iranian military."
    The war drills included the introduction of a new jamming system that Iran claims is capable of bringing down enemy drones.
    Iran also displayed several precision missiles and helicopters armed with heavy ammunition.

ISIS Assaults Syrian T4 Airbase (ARA News-Syria)
    Islamic State (ISIS) militants assaulted Syria's T4 Military Airport near Homs on Monday, breaching its defenses with mortar batteries and heavy machine guns.
    Amro al-Hussein, a media activist, reported that ISIS "destroyed at least three warplanes in the T4 Airport and captured some parts of the base."

Hamas Arrests Hundreds of Extremists in Gaza - Kifah Ziboun (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Hamas has arrested some 350 members of extremist movements in Gaza in the past few weeks.
    Palestinian sources said Saturday that Hamas had information that some movements were planning explosions against Hamas security positions.
    Cairo has again asked Hamas for information on wanted Egyptian nationals whom Egyptian intelligence says had escaped to Gaza after the collapse of the Morsi government.
    Egypt says the answers to its questions are a precondition to building new bridges between Cairo and Hamas.

UK Pair Linked to Brussels, Paris Attacks Jailed (AFP)
    A British court on Monday jailed Mohammed Ali Ahmed and Zakaria Boufassil for up to eight years for handing $3,770 to Brussels and Paris terror attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini when he visited Britain in July 2015, knowing it would be used for terrorism.

Video: Israeli Organization Provides Medical Care to Syrians (Facebook)
    This bus brings injured Syrians to Israel for free medical treatment because an Israeli civilian, Moti Kahana, convinced his government to give him permission to do it.
    After he used all his personal money to help his neighbors, he founded the nonprofit Amaliah to help innocent Syrians.
    Thousands of Syrians contact him daily through social media for help.
    He said some Syrians have asked, "Who is my friend? My government? Or my neighbor who is saving me?"

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pro-Assad Forces Execute Dozens of Civilians in Sweep through Rebel-Held Aleppo, Says UN - Louisa Loveluck and Liz Sly
    The UN warned Tuesday that dozens of people may have been executed in the Syrian city of Aleppo as pro-government troops seized what remained of the rebel stronghold. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Human Rights Council, said his office received reports that pro-government forces had killed at least 82 civilians, entering homes and killing people "on the spot." Others were reportedly shot as they fled. Under the weight of heavy airstrikes and a massive ground assault, rebel defenses in eastern Aleppo have crumbled over the last week. (Washington Post)
        See also Last Rebels in Aleppo Say Assad Forces Are Burning People Alive - Michael Weiss (Daily Beast)
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May Urges Closer UK Ties with Israel - Marcus Dysch
    British Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking to Conservative Friends of Israel on Monday, urged greater cooperation with Israel on healthcare, cyber security and counter-terrorism efforts. She added that the Balfour Declaration had been "one of the most important letters in history" and pledged the government would celebrate next year's centenary anniversary "with pride."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
        See also Theresa May Lauds Israel's "Thriving Democracy" - Yaniv Halily
    British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday declared her government's unwavering support for Israel, proclaimed her unequivocal opposition to boycotts, and reiterated her commitment to expunging anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial from British society. She said direct negotiations, "without preconditions," offered the only plausible blueprint for a peaceful resolution to Israel's ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. May lauded Israel as "a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages."  (Ynet News)
  • UK Adopts Anti-Semitism Definition to Combat Hate Crimes Against Jews - Peter Walker
    The British government is to formally adopt a definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism, which includes over-sweeping condemnation of Israel, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying the measure will help efforts to combat hate crimes against Jews. The definition of anti-Semitism, as agreed last May at a conference of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), said this could include criticisms which target Israel, if this was "conceived as a Jewish collectivity."
        IHRA guidance added: "However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic." The guidance says it could be considered anti-Semitic to accuse Jews of being more loyal to Israel or their religion than to their own nations, or to say the existence of Israel is intrinsically racist. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu on Visit to Muslim Allies Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan - Herb Keinon
    Not only is Israel not isolated, but it is being courted by many countries around the world, including Muslim states in Central Asia, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday before flying to visit Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. On Tuesday Netanyahu will meet with President Ilham Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan, a majority Shi'a Muslim state, before flying to Kazakhstan, a majority Sunni Muslim country, for a meeting on Wednesday with President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Israel purchases more than half of its oil from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu's Trip to Azerbaijan Draws Iranian Ire - Herb Keinon
    An Armenian website, Panorama, reported on Monday that Iran considers Netanyahu's visit to Azerbaijan objectionable. Azerbaijan is located on the doorstep of Iran. The Iranian Mehr news agency reported that a march in the Iranian city of Tabriz was held on Friday denouncing Netanyahu's trip and demanding that Baku cancel it. Hossein Amir Abdollhaian, senior adviser to Iran's speaker of the parliament, said that Netanyahu was trying to "hatch new plots" by his visit. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lapid: Hostile International Media Delay Mideast Conflict Solution - Gil Hoffman
    International media outlets like Britain's Guardian are responsible for discouraging the PA leadership from making concessions necessary to end their conflict with Israel, Israeli opposition party leader Yair Lapid said Monday in a meeting with the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem.
        Responding to a hostile question from a reporter who writes for the Guardian, Lapid said, "It's a declared policy of Israel that we need to go to a two-state solution and the ones who refused it were the Palestinians. The ones who call Jews 'pigs' and 'monkeys' in their schoolbooks are the Palestinians. The problem is that the Palestinians are encouraged by the Guardian and others saying we don't need to do anything in order to work for our future because the international community will call Israel an 'apartheid country.'"
        Lapid asked the reporter, "Why don't you go to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza and ask them about women's rights, gay rights, Christian rights?"  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Trump's Big Decision on Iran - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    President-elect Donald Trump has three options for dealing with the Iran nuclear agreement.
        1) Not to touch the agreement, but to intensify efforts to verify that Iran is upholding it. Supporters of this approach include those who maintain that enhanced supervision would probably expose Iranian breaches of the agreement.
        2) Not to touch the agreement, but to add sanctions on non-nuclear issues such as Iran's efforts to develop long-range missiles, its support for terror, and human rights violations. The chances would increase that the Iranians would react angrily and indeed violate the nuclear agreement, enabling the U.S., in turn, to renounce it without bearing the responsibility for its collapse.
        3) To demand of Iran that the agreement be reopened for discussion. Legally there is no problem here because the U.S. commitment to the JCPOA was based on a presidential decree. From the U.S. standpoint, the plan did not become an international treaty (indeed, none of the sides signed it).
        The writer, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Half of the Residents of Shuafat Refugee Camp Aren't Refugees
    On Dec. 1, the New York Times Magazine published a report on Shuafat refugee camp in eastern Jerusalem. While UNRWA said that 12,500 Palestinian refugees are registered as living in Shuafat, it estimates that the actual number of residents there is around 24,000. It has become a popular place of residence for non-refugee Palestinians who might not otherwise be able to afford the high cost of living in Jerusalem.
        The official Shuafat website notes that since the mid-1970s, Israeli authorities have tried to get camp residents to move to other, less crowded areas of Jerusalem, "but the residents of the camp have categorically refused the Israeli offer." The real reason is that they would have to pay rent instead of getting free housing from UNRWA. (Elder of Ziyon)

Chemical Weapons in Syria, Iraq and Beyond - Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • The partial dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons (CW) arsenal has had little effect on the regularity with which such weapons have been deployed in Syria and Iraq. They have been used by the Assad regime, the rebels, and Islamic State (IS) alike. Weaponized industrial toxic chemicals, mainly chlorine, became a routine weapon for all warring factions.
  • Islamic State is very much inclined to pursue an act of "mega-sabotage," meaning a high-impact operation involving CW or another weapon of mass destruction, either in the Middle East, Europe, or the U.S. Its weakened condition suggests that it is unlikely to pull off such an attack, but its motivation to attempt one is undoubtedly growing.
  • Islamic State converted a pharmaceutical factory near Mosul, Iraq, into a production center for the manufacture of mustard gas. All the precursors were at hand, as were the necessary experts. However, in February 2016, U.S. special forces captured the purported head of IS' CW program, Sleiman Daoud al-Afari.
  • In September, the U.S. bombarded the CW production facility. However, it is estimated that IS had evacuated most of its CW-related equipment and experts to Syria.
  • According to an independent analysis by the IHS Conflict Monitor in London, as of November 2016, IS had used CW at least 52 times across Syria and Iraq since 2014. The wide distribution of these attacks indicates appreciable CW deployability and conveyability.

    The writer, a former senior intelligence analyst in the IDF and an expert on chemical and biological warfare, is a senior research associate at the BESA Center.

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