ISIS Gunman Kills Policeman in Paris Terror Attack (France 24)
A known terror suspect, Karim Cheurfi, 39, shot dead a French policeman and wounded two others Thursday on the Champs Elysees in Paris in an attack claimed by Islamic State.
The shooter opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van, prompting tourists and visitors to run for their lives.
The killer, a French man, was shot dead while trying to flee on foot, according to police sources.
He had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in February 2005 on three counts of attempted murder, including against police officers.
Iraqi Unit with U.S., Australian Advisers Hit by ISIS Mustard Gas - David Martin (AP-CBS News)
An Iraqi unit with U.S. and Australian advisers was hit by an Islamic State (ISIS) mustard agent on Sunday. 25 Iraqis required treatment but none of the advisers were injured.
The attack occurred one day after ISIS militants launched a gas attack in the al-Abar neighborhood in western Mosul.
An officer with the antiterrorism forces said ISIS fired a rocket loaded with chlorine.
Signs of Tension within Hamas in Gaza (Economist-UK)
These are tense times in Gaza, after the assassination on March 24 of Mazen Fuqaha, one of Hamas' military commanders.
Earlier this month three men were hanged in Gaza as collaborators with Israel. All three were arrested long before Fuqaha's death, but their hasty executions were a sign of how badly the hit had rattled Hamas.
After four ruinous wars against Israel, there are signs that Hamas wants a policy change.
The group is debating a major revision of its founding charter of 1988. Israeli officials think the changes are a sign that part of the political wing is open to a long-term truce that would avoid another conflict.
"What interests me is not what they're doing, but the fact that they feel the need to do it," says one intelligence official.
Israeli Bladder Cancer Monitor Gets EU Approval - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
Because bladder cancer has a high rate of recurrence, patients must be monitored invasively every few months after initial treatment.
Nucleix of Rehovot has developed an inexpensive, noninvasive urine test to help urologists better monitor bladder-cancer patients.
Next in the product pipeline for Nucleix is diagnostic screening to detect lung cancer in blood samples.
Israeli MRI Company Aspect Imaging Raises $30M (Globes)
Israeli compact MRI systems developer Aspect Imaging has announced the closing of a $30 million financing round to complete development of a neonatal MRI system and a stroke-dedicated MRI system.
The relatively small size of Aspect's MRI systems enables them to be placed in closer proximity to patients, who will not have to be sent to a remote location to receive an immediate MRI scan.
Israeli Firm Gets $9M U.S. Contract to Develop Medical Testing Device - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
MeMed Ltd. of Haifa said Wednesday it received a $9.2 million contract from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency to help complete the development of its bedside device to monitor the body's immune state and help distinguish bacterial from viral infections.
Israeli-U.S. Wastewater Filter Bars Contaminants from Municipal Water Supplies - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed new ultrafiltration membranes that significantly improve the process of removing viruses from treated municipal wastewater used for drinking.
A special hydrogel coating grafted onto a commercial ultrafiltration membrane repels viruses and does not allow them to approach or pass through the membrane.
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- U.S.: Iran and Hizbullah Want to Destabilize the Mideast - Edith M. Lederer
U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Iran and its ally Hizbullah on Thursday of conspiring to destabilize the Middle East, saying, "For decades, they have committed terrorist acts across the region....Iran is using Hizbullah to advance its regional aspirations. They are working together to expand extremist ideologies in the Middle East. This is a threat that should be dominating our discussion at this Security Council."
Haley got strong backing from Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon. "Where there is terror, where there is death, where there is complete disregard for human life, there is Iran," Danon told the council.
See also Text: Remarks of Ambassador Nikki Haley at UN Security Council Debate on the Middle East
"Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions....It's a formula that is absurdly biased against one country....These meetings do nothing to bring the parties closer together. They actually work to push the two sides apart....Peace will only come from direct negotiations, not from one-sided Security Council meetings and one-sided resolutions."
"The Council ignores the pressing threats that are right in front of us....If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia, Hizbullah....The incredibly destructive nature of Iranian and Hizbullah activities throughout the Middle East demands much more of our attention."
(U.S. Mission to the UN)
- Trump: Iran "Not Living Up to the Spirit" of Nuclear Deal - Kelsey Sutton
President Donald Trump accused Iran Thursday of "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear deal during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Trump said again that it was "a terrible agreement" and that it "shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated....We're analyzing it very, very carefully, and we'll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future." (Politico)
- Ahmadinejad Disqualified from Iran's Presidential Election - Nasser Karimi and Adam Schreck
Iran's Guardian Council, the panel charged with vetting candidates for next month's presidential election, disqualified former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from running, state television reported Thursday. (AP-ABC News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu to Warn U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis against Iran Base in Syria - Herb Keinon and Anna Ahronheim
Israel's concern about Iran establishing a permanent base in Syria the day after the civil war there ends will feature prominently when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday, senior diplomatic officials said on Thursday. Mattis arrived in Israel on Thursday for his first visit as defense secretary. The officials said the talks will also deal with Iran's deploying proxies in the region, as well as the situation in Syria and Islamic State. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Mattis: Iran Continues to Threaten Israel with Ballistic Missiles - Gili Cohen
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Friday in Tel Aviv that Iran continues to threaten Israel and its neighbors with ballistic missiles. He also said, "There can be no doubt in the international community's mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt." (Ha'aretz)
- Survey: Most Israeli Arabs Wouldn't Live with Jews But Want Their Children to Study with Them
The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) released its second annual Pluralism Index on Thursday. The survey finds that more than 90% of Jewish Israelis and almost 80% of Arab Israelis feel "comfortable" or "very comfortable" to be "who they are" in Israel.
Asked "Should Jews and Arabs live in mixed neighborhoods in Israel?," 73% of Arabs and 68% of Jews said they should not.
More than 90% of Christian Arabs in Israel do not think it is wise for their respective groups to live together. At the same time, 76% of Arabs agreed with the statement, "I would like that in my children's school Jewish and non-Jewish students learn together." (Jewish People Policy Institute)
- The Palestinian Prisoners' Hunger Strike - Marc Schulman
On Monday, 1,000 Palestinian prisoners - most of whom had been convicted of acts of terrorism - began a hunger strike, demanding better conditions in Israeli prisons. The strike is being led by Marwan Barghouti, leader of the Tanzim terrorist groups during the second intifada, which was characterized by suicide bombings that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians throughout Israel.
(On a personal note, during this period, bombs went off killing dozens at a cafe across the street from where my daughter was living at the time and in a university cafeteria she had passed through a few minutes before.)
The one area that doesn't keep me up at night is how we treat our convicted terrorists. Compared with American supermax prisons, conditions at Israeli prisons are excellent. The list of demands that Barghouti's group has published centers on having access to a public phone, having a second monthly visit by relatives and bringing back academic studies that were once available.
Barghouti claimed in a New York Times op-ed that 90% of accused Palestinians are convicted by Israeli courts. But in the U.S., the conviction rate in federal court is 95%. He complains that "transporting the prisoners" to jails inside Israel creates special hardships on families. Yet the casual reader might not know that the maximum distance from Ramallah (the center of the West Bank) to any of Israel's prisons is less than 100 miles, a distance that relatives of those arrested in New York City would be pleased to travel, instead of the 340 miles to Attica prison, or to the supermax in Fremont, Colorado.
Considering the state of the Middle East at the moment, the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is barely on anyone's radar.
Embracing an individual directly responsible for the murder of numerous Israeli civilians is not the way out of the conflict.
- Barghouti Deserves the Same Conditions as Carlos the Jackal - Avi Dichter
As the person who headed the Israel Security Agency at the height of the second intifada, I am well aware of who Marwan Barghouti is.
Barghouti was tried and sentenced to five life terms plus 40 years for pre-meditated murder. He was the head of a murderous gang of terrorists who launched armed terror attacks shooting and killing unarmed civilians.
Barghouti and terrorists like him must be imprisoned under the same conditions as the arch-terrorist "Carlos the Jackal," the convicted murderer imprisoned in France for the last 20 years. The writer chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
- Iran's Centrifuge Activity Indicates Nuclear Weapons Ambitions - Jenna Lifhits
Top Iranian officials are boasting that the nuclear deal enabled the country to make progress in developing advanced centrifuges, and broad production of some advanced models has already begun. "The program from a civilian point of view is just a colossal waste of money," David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Weekly Standard. "Unless, of course, the ultimate goal is nuclear weapons."
The Iranians may be making progress on centrifuges beyond what's allowed under the nuclear deal, in part through a so-called "quality assurance" loophole that Iran is exploiting to test centrifuges, Albright said.
"There needs to be a really hard push back," he said. "I'm hoping that the Trump administration will do that, because the Obama administration just refused." (Weekly Standard)
- Iranian Militia Role in Syria, Iraq Prompts Alarm - Jamie Dettmer
As wars have raged in Syria and Iraq, and as Iran has deepened its military involvement, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), increasingly has taken on the role as Iran's viceroy in the region. Syrian rebel commanders credit him with being the principal architect last year of Assad's military strategy to retake the rebel-controlled eastern half of Aleppo, and of channeling rebel militias into the neighboring province of Idlib, shaping what military strategists term a "kill zone."
Analysts and Western intelligence are trying to work out whether Iran's longer-term goals are to turn both Syria and Iraq into provinces of Iran and platforms for Tehran's regional ambitions once Islamic State is ousted from Mosul and Raqqa. The power of Iran now in Syria and Iraq comes with the presence of tens of thousands of Shi'ite militiamen linked to Tehran and trained and commanded by Quds Force generals and Soleimani.
It is thanks to Shi'ite militias and Iranian combat troops as much as to Russian airpower that battlefield fortunes have shifted in Syria to favor Assad, military observers say.
Since January 2013, more than 1,000 members of the Quds Force or other IRGC units have been killed fighting in Syria - most of them Pakistani Shi'ites.
- The Legacy of the Taliban: Sunni Allies of Teheran - Dore Gold
Osama bin Laden planned and implemented the horrible 9/11 attack on the United States - against New York and against Washington, D.C. - from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The first lesson the West has learned from experience with the Taliban is that it must not allow terror sanctuaries to grow, to thrive, and to be used to plan attacks against the West.
Another lesson comes from the Taliban decision to destroy pre-Islamic sites - destroying the heritage of mankind, beginning with the 2,000-year-old Buddhist statues in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley. There was even a discussion about destroying pre-Islamic sites in Egypt like the pyramids and the Sphinx.
A third lesson is about the nature of relations between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Taliban are radical Sunnis. But Taliban today are equipped and trained by Iranian forces, although the Iranians are radical Shi'ites. So we see that an expanded Iran will also enhance Sunni radicalism as it has with the Taliban in Afghanistan. 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.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Why American Progressives Should Support Israel - Dani Dayan
I feel compelled to reaffirm to American progressives: support for Israel has a strong and natural place on your political agenda. Our values, our hopes and our dreams are in full harmony with your own. The Israel I know and love stands for equality, social justice, democracy, diversity and peace.
Yes, the critics of Israel's foreign policy, domestic politics and government are correct. Israel is indeed imperfect. I'm unsure which democracy is. Yet, as in America, free speech, free expression and equal opportunity are all values that run deep in Israeli society. The fact that it was an Arab justice who sentenced Israel's former president, Moshe Katsav to seven years in prison for the crimes he committed did not raise a single eyebrow in Israel.
The major issue that gives progressives pause about supporting Israel is the conflict we have with the Palestinians.
While Israel has successfully achieved peace with other neighbors such as Egypt and Jordan - peace that has lasted for decades - we have still been unable to achieve peace with the Palestinian leadership despite our best efforts. At least seven times, Israel either accepted or proposed far-reaching peace deals. Israel was prepared to give the Palestinian leadership almost 99% of what they asked for, and yet they still said no to peace.
Israel is not perfect, but every day we strive to make the world a better place, living by the principles that we share with progressives everywhere. Those who believe in trying to make our values a reality should stand with us.
The writer is the consul general of Israel in New York.
Stop Supporting Palestinian Terror - Elliott Abrams (National Review)
- Since the "Middle East Peace Process" began in 1993 with the Oslo Accords, the U.S. has permitted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to get away with fostering, celebrating, and honoring murder. It's time to end this scandalous American policy and insist that the Palestinians meet standards we would apply to any other aid recipients anywhere else in the world.
- Palestinian official bodies celebrate those who kill Israelis by naming streets, schools, and parks after them. The message to young Palestinians is clear: This is the behavior we honor and these are the models you should follow. Moreover, the PA and PLO pay money to those who commit crimes of violence against Israelis - and the greater the crime, the more you get paid.
- There is a sliding scale, and the longer your sentence, the higher the stipend.
Issa Abed Rabbo, who shot to death two Hebrew University students he found hiking, and Abu-Musa Atia, who used an axe to murder Isaac Rotenberg, an elderly Holocaust survivor, are getting $3,500 a month.
- There is growing support in Congress for the Taylor Force Act, named after an American student and U.S. Army veteran who was murdered last year by a Palestinian terrorist. It would restrict funds "available for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza" unless the president certified that the PA was "taking credible steps to end acts of violence against Israeli citizens" and that it had "terminated payments for acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens."
- There will never be peace if generation after generation of Palestinian youth are reared to honor terrorists. The greatest barrier to peace is a Palestinian political culture that elevates violence against Israelis above any positive achievements.
- Perhaps a majority of Palestinians would rather forgo the assistance than stop honoring terrorists like Taylor Force's killer as "martyrs." But we will have taken a stand; we will have made it clear that we find such conduct intolerable.
The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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