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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
April 18, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

126 Killed as Blast Strikes Convoy Carrying Evacuated Syrians - Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad (New York Times-CNN)
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 126 people were killed in Aleppo on Saturday when a car bomb struck buses carrying residents evacuated from two Shiite villages in Idlib province that had been under siege by Islamist Sunni rebels for two years.
    A car bomb struck as the busses were waiting to enter government-held territory.

Turkey's Ties to the West Are in Deep Trouble - Soner Cagaptay (Cipher Brief)
    After the botched coup attempt to oust Erdogan on July 15, 2016, the successful counter-coup placed Islamism, a virulently anti-Western ideology, at the heart of Turkish politics.
    By allowing the forces of political Islam to become hegemonic in Turkish politics, July 15 became Turkey's Iran 1979 moment.
    In one sign that political Islam has started to dominate domestic policy-making, a draft educational curriculum circulated by the Ministry of Education for public review in early 2017 described jihad as a "national and spiritual value."
    The writer is director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
    See also Erdogan Claims Vast Powers in Turkey after Narrow Victory in Referendum - Patrick Kingsley (New York Times)

How Egypt Deals with Hamas Tunnels (MEMRI)
    Al-Masri Al-Yawm editor Salah Al-Diab wrote on March 17 that to combat smuggling tunnels from Gaza, Egypt has constructed "an iron barrier, 10 km. long and 20-30 meters deep."
    "The barrier is 50 cm thick...[and] contains a 10-km. pipe that carries sea-water and has openings every 30-40 meters, to create cracks in any tunnel that might be dug."

Israeli Firm Extracts Water from Air - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli company Water-Gen Ltd. has developed technology that captures humidity in the air in order to make drinking water.
    It can produce one gallon of water using one kilowatt of energy, compared with other atmospheric water generating devices that consume three to four times more energy.
    In March, Water-Gen signed an accord with India to produce purified water for remote villages.
    An accord was also signed with Vietnam to set up water generators in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Assad Still Has "Hundreds of Tons" of Chemicals Stockpiled - Josie Ensor
    President Assad continues to retain hundreds of tons of chemicals after deceiving UN inspectors sent in to dismantle them, according to Syria's former chemical weapons research chief and other experts. Brig.-Gen. Zaher al-Sakat, who served as head of chemical warfare in the army's 5th Division until he defected in 2013, told the Telegraph that the regime failed to declare large amounts of sarin and its precursor chemicals.
        "They [the regime] admitted only to 1,300 tons, but we knew in reality they had nearly double that," said Sakat. He believes the undisclosed stockpile includes several hundred tons of sarin and its precursor chemicals, as well as aerial bombs that could be filled with chemical agents and chemical warheads for Scud missiles.
        Sakat said that in the months before the international inspectors arrived, tons of chemicals were transported to the mountains outside Homs and to the coastal city of Jableh, near Tartus. He understands that the regime has not been manufacturing more nerve agents since 2014. "They don't need any more, they have all they need already."  (Telegraph-UK)
        See also How Iran Enables Syria's Chemical Warfare Against Civilians - Benjamin Weinthal
    Jane's Defense Weekly reported in 2005 that Iran was working with Syria to build an "innovative chemical warfare program." Iran's role was to build equipment to produce "hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin and mustard."
        According to a 2007 Jane's report, Iran's regime and its Syrian partner accidentally caused an explosion while attempting to load a chemical warhead onto a Scud-C missile that killed dozens of Syrian military personnel and Iranian engineers. The writer is a fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Jerusalem Post)
  • As Atrocities Mount in Syria, Justice Seems Out of Reach - Anne Barnard, Ben Hubbard and Ian Fisher
    Three tons of captured Syrian government documents provide a chilling and extensive catalog of the state's war crimes. A Syrian police photographer fled with pictures of more than 6,000 dead at the hands of the state, many of them tortured. Yet this mountain of documentation has brought little justice. The people behind the violence remain free, and there is no clear path to bring the bulk of the evidence before any court, anywhere.
        No cases have gone to the International Criminal Court. The UN Security Council could refer a case to the court, but Russia has repeatedly used its veto power to shield Syria.
        The Commission for International Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit group funded by Western governments, has prepared eight detailed case briefs against ranking Syrian security and intelligence officials. Seven of them directly implicate Assad. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • With Palestinian Prisoner Strike, Barghouti Challenges Abbas' Leadership - Amos Harel
    A hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners in Israel that began on Monday has as much to do with intra-Palestinian power struggles as it has with the struggle against Israel. The Palestinian Authority leadership, which is officially supporting the strike, in actuality is concerned about any outcome that could advance the standing of Marwan Barghouti, who initiated the strike and who is not especially liked by President Abbas. The strikers' demands include more family visitation hours, more access to pay phones, and more television channels.
        With hundreds of people being slaughtered in Syria, it will be hard for the Palestinian prisoners to enlist the Arab world's empathy and even its attention for their struggle. Moreover, in recent years there have been cases of Palestinians from Gaza crossing into Israel because they believe that conditions in Israeli prison are preferable to life in the Strip. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Militant Killed, Three Injured in Gaza Tunnel Collapse - Jack Khoury
    Anas Abu Shawish, 20, a militant with Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, was killed Monday in a tunnel collapse near Gaza City. Three others were injured in the collapse. Over the past three years, more than 20 militants have died under similar circumstances. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • New York Times Slammed for Whitewashing Fatah Leader's Terrorist Past - Yair Lapid
    A New York Times opinion piece identifies its writer, Marwan Barghouti, as "a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian." That isn't an error, that is an intentional deception. Marwan Barghouti is a murderer. He was convicted in a civilian court on five separate counts of murder of innocent civilians. He was involved in dozens of attempted terror attacks. He caused people to lose their families and led to people being maimed. He destroyed lives.
        Barghouti is in prison not for his views, nor for his desire for a Palestinian state. He chose the path of terror, murder and violence. The writer, a former Treasury minister, heads the opposition Yesh Atid party. (Times of Israel)
  • Iran Is a Bigger Threat than Syria and North Korea Combined - Michael Oren
    The U.S. signed agreements with three rogue regimes strictly limiting their unconventional military capacities. Two of those regimes - Syria and North Korea - brazenly violated the agreements. But the third agreement - with Iran - is so inherently flawed that Tehran doesn't even have to break it. Honoring it will be enough to endanger millions of lives.
        The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015 granted Iran - the regime most committed to Israel's destruction - a free pass to develop military nuclear capabilities in the late 2020s, once the JCPOA expires. The writer, Israel's deputy minister for diplomacy, is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Will Egypt Adopt New Tactics to Fight Radical Islamists? - Zvi Mazel
    The Egyptian president is desperately seeking a strategy to defeat radical Islamic terrorist organizations in the Sinai Peninsula, which are also perpetrating deadly attacks in the heart of the country, as was seen in the Palm Sunday attacks that killed and maimed dozens of worshipers in two Coptic churches.
        His army is still relying on outmoded tactics from the Soviet era: massive troop deployment and heavy guns ill-suited to guerrilla warfare against small terrorist groups. A new concept is needed, but will Sisi and his generals let U.S. Army Special Forces train and remodel the traditionally conservative Egyptian Army? The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)

Why Is Marwan Barghouti in Prison? (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Palestinian terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti was head of the Fatah supreme committee in the West Bank and leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, which between September 2000 and April 2002 carried out thousands of terror attacks against Israel.

The following are some of the more heinous terror attacks for which he is responsible:

  • Jun 12, 2001 - The murder of a Greek Orthodox monk on the road to Ma'ale Adumim.
  • Jan 17, 2002 - The shooting attack during a bat mitzva celebration at a banquet hall in Hadera. Six Israelis were killed in this attack, 26 were injured.
  • Jan 22, 2002 - The shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. Two Israelis were killed, 37 wounded.
  • Feb 25, 2002 - The shooting attack in the Jerusalem residential neighborhood of Neve Ya'acov. One Israeli policewoman was killed, 9 Israelis were wounded.
  • Feb 27, 2002 - The murder of an Israeli at a coffee factory in the Atarot industrial zone of Jerusalem.
  • Feb 27, 2002 - The suicide attack perpetrated by Daryan Abu Aysha at the Maccabim checkpoint in which two policeman were injured.
  • Mar 5, 2002 - The shooting spree at the Tel Aviv Seafood restaurant. Three Israelis were killed, 31 wounded.

        See also Statement of Indictment - Marwan Barghouti - Aug 14, 2002 (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also 37 Terror Attacks Listed in Indictment of Marwan Barghouti (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also State of Israel vs. Marwan Barghouti - Judge's Ruling (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.
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