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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 22, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Ready to Restart Nuclear Program (Press TV-Iran)
    Referring to the nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday that Iran "is fully prepared to return to the pre-JCPOA situation or even [to conditions] more robust than that if the U.S. reneges on its promises to the extent that the JCPOA's continuation harms our national interests."
    He added that Iranian nuclear scientists have put into operation "the country's most advanced centrifuge" over the past two months.
    "At present, we possess the know-how to manufacture and use centrifuges with [an enrichment] capacity 20 times more than that of previous centrifuges."

Israel: Hizbullah Commander Killed by His Own Men - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Tuesday that Hizbullah's military chief Mustafa Amine Badreddine was killed in Syria in May 2016 by Hizbullah officers.
    Badreddine was the brother-in-law of Hizbullah commander Imad Moughniyeh, who died in a 2008 assassination in Damascus attributed to Israel.
    The U.S. Treasury Department said Badreddine was responsible for the group's military operations in Syria since 2011.

Family of CIA Consultant Sues Iran Over His Disappearance - Barry Meier (New York Times)
    The family of Robert A. Levinson, a consultant for the CIA who vanished a decade ago in Iran, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in a federal court in Washington against that country, claiming that it had used a campaign of deception and lies to conceal its role in his imprisonment.

Israel 9th Healthiest Country in the World (Bloomberg)
    The Bloomberg Global Health Index, published Monday, ranked Israel as the 9th healthiest country in the world, following Italy, Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Japan and Sweden.
    Canada ranked 17th, the UK 23rd, and the U.S. 34th.

U.S. and Israeli Anti-Terrorist Strategies - Gal Perl Finkel (Jerusalem Post)
    In an article he wrote in 2014, retired U.S. general Daniel Bolger, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, admitted (with uncommon integrity) that the U.S. "didn't understand our own forces, which are built for rapid, decisive conventional operations, not lingering, ill-defined counterinsurgencies. We're made for Desert Storm, not Vietnam."
    According to Bolger, the Surge strategy "in Iraq did not 'win' anything. It bought time. It allowed us to kill some more bad guys and feel better about ourselves."
    Retired colonel Douglas A. Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran, recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee that in order "to terminate future conflicts on terms that favor the United States and avoid long, destructive wars of attrition, the U.S. armed forces must combine the concentration of massive firepower across service lines with the near-simultaneous attack of ground maneuver forces in time and space to achieve decisive effects against opposing forces."
    That statement sounded like it was taken from the IDF strategy published by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot in 2015.
    The writer is coordinator of the Military and Strategic Affairs program at the Institute for National Security Studies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Strikes "Game-Changing Weapons" Destined for Hizbullah - David Daoud
    The Israel Air Force carried out two strikes against Assad regime and Hizbullah targets in Syria on Sunday and Monday. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed on Sunday that Israel was "neither for nor against [Syrian president Bashar] al-Assad," and had no desire for friction with the Russians in Syria. Israel's "main problem is the transfer of game-changing weapons from Syria to Lebanon," which would reach Hizbullah. "Therefore, every time we identify such a transfer, we will act to destroy these equilibrium-breaking weapons. There will be no compromise."
        Israel felt the need to forcefully redraw its red lines in Syria. The writer is an Arabic-language analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Long War Journal)
        See also Netanyahu: Russia's Policy on Israeli Strikes in Syria Hasn't Changed - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Tuesday that Russia's policy regarding Israeli airstrikes on Hizbullah weapon convoys in Syria hasn't changed. Netanyahu, who is in China, spoke in the wake of claims by Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari on Syrian television that Russia will no longer allow Israel to operate freely in Syria's airspace. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Fresh Israeli Airstrikes near Damascus Reported Wednesday (Times of Israel)
  • Israel: Russia Must Limit Iranian Power in Syria - Luke Baker
    Russia and other world powers must move to limit Iran's growing military strength in Syria because it poses a regional threat, Hagai Tzuriel, the director-general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry, told Reuters in an interview. Israel estimates that Iran commands at least 25,000 fighters in Syria. "There is a need for Russia and other powers to work to avoid the threat that Iran ends up with military, air and naval bases in Syria," he said.
        "When it comes to Iran, the United States, Russia and other powers need to understand that (growing Iranian influence in Syria) is going to be a constant source of friction," said Tzuriel, adding that it could reduce Moscow's own influence in the region and set back the gains it has made in Syria. "Russia has a vested interest in keeping that threat contained."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Hamas Stealing Turkish Aid Money to Fund Terror
    IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Tuesday: "The egotistical Hamas terror organization has robbed funds that are meant for the needy of Gaza from international organizations. Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror. How long will the world and the Gazan people ignore this?"
        Hamas routinely plants its operatives in key positions in international organizations, with the purpose of seizing resources and redirecting them for terror activities. Muhammad Faruq Sha'aban Murtaja, arrested by Israel one month ago, is a Gaza building engineer who was planted in the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and served as its branch manager. Murtaja exploited his position in the agency in order to aid Hamas terror activities at the expense of the Palestinian public in Gaza - without the knowledge of the agency's senior leadership and the Turkish government.
        Since 2012, Murtaja diverted to Hamas money and resources intended for civilian projects in Gaza, adding up to millions of dollars. Murtaja fabricated lists of "students" and "needy" that consisted exclusively of Hamas operatives. Murtaja had TIKA fund a $13 million construction project for 20 residential buildings intended for needy residents, but which were built exclusively for members of Hamas' military wing.
        In other projects entitled "Humanitarian Aid for the Gaza Strip," Murtaja transferred an additional $2 million to the families of Hamas terrorists. During the 2014 Gaza war, he redirected 84,000 packages of food intended for the needy to Hamas terrorists. Hamas is stealing from Gaza's residents and undermining the international community's aid efforts. (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories)
  • Hamas Asked Turkish IHH for Advanced Mapping Software to Improve Rocket Attacks on Israel - Yoav Zitun
    Hamas asked the Turkish IHH organization for advanced mapping programs to improve rocket attacks on Israel, especially on strategic sites, the investigation of Muhammad Murtaja, coordinator of the Gaza branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, revealed. Hamas used Google maps to fire more than 4,000 rockets to hit Israeli targets, but in most cases the rockets were either intercepted or missed their targets.
        Murtaja said he was supposed to fly to Turkey to receive detailed maps of various sites in Israel, based on Turkish technological data acquired following Turkey's involvement in a satellite launch project. Murtaja also said in his interrogation that he witnessed the transfer of suitcases laden with cash from the IHH (which was responsible for the 2010 Gaza flotilla) to senior Hamas officials, including Raed Salah, Ismail Radwan and Ismail Haniyeh. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestinians Reject Abbas and Peace - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On the eve of U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt's visit to Ramallah last week, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the city, calling on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to resign. At what has been described as the largest anti-Abbas demonstration in Ramallah in recent years, the protesters also condemned the PA's ongoing security cooperation with Israel and called for the abrogation of the Oslo Accords.
        The protest was also a cry for pursuing the armed struggle against Israel with further vigor. "No to peace and no to all the nonsense, we want bullets and rockets," some of the protesters chanted. In other words, Palestinians are trying extremely hard to get across their message: Israel is our enemy, not our peace partner.
        A large number of Palestinians see Abbas as a puppet in the hands of Israel and the U.S.  In the long run, he would never be able to deliver on any peace process with Israel without the backing of his people. And his people have made their message of rejection - of him and of peace - clear as a bell. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Palestinian Pay-for-Slay System - Douglas J. Feith and Sander Gerber
    "I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they're taught from a very young age," President Trump said on Feb. 15. "They're taught tremendous hate. I've seen what they're taught." Incitement, however, is only part of the picture. To spur knifings, car-rammings, and the like, they use an apparatus of cash incentives as financial rewards for perpetrators of anti-Israel attacks. Payment amounts correlate to the number of people the terrorists manage to victimize - a system that makes terrorism a lucrative career choice for young Palestinians.
        The PA pays monthly salaries to terrorists for life if they are men released from prison after five or more years or women after two or more years. Bonuses are paid if the terrorists are Israeli Arabs or Arab residents of Jerusalem. The pay-for-slay system is the work of the PA, generally described as nonviolent and committed to peace. But the theme of PA propaganda is that the only way ultimately for the Palestinian people to maintain their honor and achieve justice is to drive the Jews violently off the land. Hence, the laws promising large financial rewards for terrorism.
        Douglas J. Feith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as undersecretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration. Sander Gerber is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former vice chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. (Commentary)

Video: Rex Tillerson's Warnings to North Korea Reached the Middle East - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent remarks that two decades of international diplomacy had failed to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its missile testing not only made a splash in the Sea of Japan and in the Far East, they were very carefully noted in the Middle East as well.
  • For at least two decades now, North Korea has been acting behind the scenes to accelerate the Iranian ballistic missile program and perhaps many other parts of Iran's military industrial base. The first major Iranian ballistic missile - the Shahab-3 - was widely viewed when it was first tested in 1998 to be a knockoff of the North Korean Nodong missile. The missile became operational in the Iranian armed forces in 2003 and Iran today fields one of the largest missile forces in the Middle East, largely because of the help it received from North Korean engineers.
  • Iran also received a missile known as the BM-25 from North Korea. This was originally a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile and it came in two models: one was 2,500 km. in range and the second one was 3,500 km. in range.
  • This missile, which was reconfigured to be used on land, gave Iran the capability of striking far outside of the Middle East. Indeed, those ranges give Iran the ability to hit as far as the English Channel.
  • What Secretary Tillerson did in his visit to Seoul, South Korea, was reassure American allies and warn American adversaries, something that has not been done for a very long time. And by doing so, he helped rebuild security in Northeast Asia. This is exactly the kind of steps the administration should take here in the Middle East and specifically in the Persian Gulf.  
  • The failure of past international diplomacy over North Korea became apparent when its Agreed Framework with the U.S. collapsed and North Korea went ahead with atomic tests. On October 14, 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1718 condemning North Korean nuclear tests and calling for a moratorium on missile launches. Both the tests and the missile launches continued.
  • North Korea has been one of the critical sources for missile technology for the Iranian missile program. The firmer U.S. position on North Korea could thus also contribute to Middle Eastern security.

    The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former Israeli UN ambassador and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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