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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 15, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Islamic State in Sinai Claims Rocket Attack on Israel that Missed Target - Judah Ari Gross and Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The Islamic State claimed Wednesday that it was responsible for firing two missiles on Monday from Sinai aimed at an Israeli border crossing with Egypt but which landed in Egyptian territory.

Video and Photos: Tens of Thousands Rally for Hamas in Gaza (AP-Ynet News)
    Tens of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of gunmen and children dressed as terrorists and waving mock weapons, rallied in Gaza on Wednesday in support of Hamas on its 29th anniversary.
    Masked militants marched with rifles, rockets, and RPGs.
    Signs in Hebrew and Arabic threatened: "Coming from underground," a reference to underground tunnels.
    See also Hamas Parade Features Toddlers Armed to the Teeth - Jacob Steinblatt with Mor Turgeman (Vocativ)

German Defense Minister Refuses to Cover Up During Visit to Saudi Arabia - Dave Burke (Daily Mail-UK)
    German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen refused to wear the traditional Saudi full-body covering during a visit to Saudi Arabia, amid calls for her arrest.
    All women in Saudi Arabia - local and foreign - are legally required to wear an abaya.
    "The right to choose your own clothing is a right shared by men and women alike. It annoys me when women are pushed into wearing the abaya," she said.
    Last year U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama did not wear an abaya during a visit to Saudi Arabia with her husband.

Video: Anti-Israel Activists Manipulate U.S. Third-Graders into Hating Israel - William A. Jacobson (Legal Insurrection)
    The attempt to demonize Israel is moving down the educational chain from universities into elementary schools.
    On Sept. 18, 2015, third grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, NY, heard a presentation by Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi and local anti-Israel activists.
    After the presentation was over, video showed the third-grade students expressing strong hostility to Israel and being encouraged to do so.

Looters Arrested Plundering Ancient Tomb in Galilee - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
    Three thieves from the Israeli Arab village of Tur'an in the Galilee were caught in the act of plundering an ancient tomb in northern Israel over the weekend, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
    Human remains buried in the cave, believed dating to the Roman period, were disturbed, an IAA spokeswoman said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Ayatollah Khamenei: Israel Won't Exist in 25 Years
    The Zionist regime will not exist in 25 years provided that Palestinians and other Muslims continue their struggle against the Zionists, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei told a delegation from Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Tehran on Wednesday. "The only way to save the Holy Quds [Jerusalem] is to fight and resist and other ways are doomed to (failure)," he added. "The holy land will be liberated thanks to the resistance and striving of Palestinian groups."  (Tasnim-Iran)
  • Coalition Drone Strike Kills IS Figures in Syria with Paris Attack Ties
    A coalition drone strike on Dec. 4 in Raqqa, Syria, killed three Islamic State leaders, including two men who helped facilitate last year's attacks in Paris. "The three were working together to plot and facilitate attacks against Western targets at the time of the strike," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Tuesday. (AFP)
  • Islamic State Manufactured Arms with Raw Materials from Turkey
    The Islamic State was manufacturing weapons in Mosul on an industrial scale with products largely purchased in bulk from Turkey, according to a report published Wednesday by London-based Conflict Armaments Research. The findings show that IS maintained a "robust and reliable" supply chain between Turkey and Iraq that allowed its fighters to produce tens of thousands of weapons. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Praises Israeli-Kazakh Cooperation during Historic Visit
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday during the first-ever visit to Kazakhstan by a sitting Israeli prime minister. "What you see today are the leaders of a Muslim state and the leader of a Jewish state shaking hands, working to cooperate to create a better future for the citizens of our countries," Netanyahu said. "This example of Muslim-Jewish cooperation is something that reverberates around the world."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets with Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli Policeman in Jerusalem's Old City - Nir Hasson
    Khamad Khadr Ashikh, 21, from Beit Surik, stabbed an Israeli police officer in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday before being shot and killed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Car Hit by Gunfire in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross
    A gunman shot up a car driven by an Israeli woman with two children in the back seat near Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday, causing damage to the vehicle, but no injuries, the army said. Photos from the scene showed multiple bullet holes on the side of the vehicle. (Times of Israel)
  • Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Only Requires New Sign on Consulate Building, City Officials Say - Nir Hasson
    Jerusalem city officials say there's no need to build a new American embassy in Jerusalem. The Americans built a big new consulate in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona, which had been planned in advance to be converted into an embassy one day. All the Americans need to do is change the sign on the door, they say. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Dershowitz: Support for Israel Must Remain Bipartisan - Greer Fay Cashman
    Internationally renowned lawyer Alan Dershowitz warned against any disruption in bipartisan support of Israel, speaking Wednesday at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "We can never allow our election to become a referendum over Israel," he said.
        Dershowitz, who twice voted for President Barack Obama, blamed him for bringing down world order. "His legacy will be close to that of Neville Chamberlain," he said, adding that Obama had alienated every country in the Middle East except Iran.
        Amb. Dore Gold, who recently returned to head the Jerusalem Center after serving as director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, voiced concern over world indifference to what is now happening in Aleppo. "What is occurring now in Aleppo is not just mass murder," said Gold. The Sunnis are being moved out and the Shi'ites are being brought in from all over the Middle East. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Dershowitz: "When the Palestinians Want a State More than They Want Israel to Cease to Exist, They Will Get a State" - Yonatan Kitain
    Prof. Alan Dershowitz told the Globes Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv, "I don't agree with John Kerry that the settlements annihilate the prospect of peace. If you look at the map - 99% of the settlements are so close to the borders of Israel that it only requires a few bypass roads, a few superhighways, to solve this. In my opinion, when the Palestinians want a state more than they want Israel to cease to exist, they will get a state."
        Asked about a UN Security Council resolution giving Israel an ultimatum on negotiations with the Palestinians, Dershowitz said, "What most concerns me about UN resolutions is that they encourage the Palestinians to think that they can attain a reality of two states without making painful decisions around the negotiating table."  (Globes)
  • The Syrian War Won't End in Aleppo - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    Syrian President Assad has turned Aleppo, an industrial and commercial hub with a population of nearly three million, into a terrible example of what could happen to any city that dared rebel against him. Bustling markets, schools and hospitals were annihilated, along with everyone inside. The job was finished on the ground by thousands of Iranian, Hizbullah, and volunteer Shiite fighters recruited by Iran from across the Middle East.
        The taking of Aleppo does not necessarily indicate an impending end to the war. Assad's army is exhausted, its ranks depleted. Between 100,000 and 150,000 rebels, forming hundreds of armed groups supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, are still active across Syria. The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Beyond - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross et al.
    The West failed to predict the emergence of al-Qaeda in new forms across the Middle East and North Africa. It was blindsided by the ISIS sweep across Syria and Iraq. Twenty experts from think tanks and universities across the U.S. explore the world's deadliest movements, their strategies, the future scenarios, and policy considerations. (U.S. Institute of Peace-Wilson Center)

Policy Recommendations on the Middle East for the Trump Administration - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)

  • The U.S. administration's decision to play a reactive rather than a proactive role in the Middle East created a vacuum in the region that was filled by elements that worked against the interests of the U.S. and its regional allies. U.S. policy, which was perceived in the region as an abandonment of allies (Egypt and the Gulf states), coupled with its closer ties with Iran, created a crisis of trust with the Sunni regimes.
  • There is no doubt that President Obama's decision to refrain from striking the chemical weapons stockpiles and manufacturing plants in Syria, despite the fact that the Assad regime had crossed the declared American red line, substantially eroded U.S. deterrence, as did its nuclear agreement with Iran.
  • Furthermore, the American response to Iranian provocations, as well as to the missile tests, the seizure of U.S. Navy ships, the harassment of American ships in the Strait of Hormuz, and the firing by Houthis in Yemen of Iranian-supplied missiles at a U.S. naval ship exacerbated the erosion of U.S. deterrence.
  • Russia took advantage of the American weakness to seize a leading stance. Most of the region's leaders visited Moscow more times last year than they did Washington and began purchasing weapons from Russia.
  • I believe the U.S. will have no other choice but to take a grand proactive strategy in the region - both in order to regain its standing as a world power and in order to distance the Middle East threats from America, Europe, and elsewhere.
  • Such a strategy will require a change in policy toward Iran. The Iranian regime is the most significant destabilizing factor in the Middle East, and therefore should not be seen as if it were a key element in stabilizing the region, since it is not part of the solution, but rather is the essence of the problem.

    The writer is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff.

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