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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
April 27, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israeli Strike Hits Iranian Arms Depot in Damascus (Reuters)
    An Israeli strike on Thursday hit an arms supply hub operated by Hizbullah near Damascus airport where regular supplies of weapons from Iran are sent by commercial and military cargo planes, a regional intelligence source said.

Trump in Discussions with Israel about Visit in May - Jonathan Ferziger and Alisa Odenheimer (Bloomberg)
    A U.S. advance team is scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday to prepare for a possible presidential visit toward the end of May, Israel's Channel 2 TV reported.

Houthi Attempt to Blow Up Aramco Fuel Terminal Foiled (Saudi Gazette)
    Saudi authorities said Wednesday they had intercepted an unmanned boat rigged with explosives that was sent by the Houthi militias in Yemen on Tuesday to target an oil distribution terminal run by Saudi Aramco.

Foreign Fighters Depart as ISIS Caliphate Crumbles - Martin Chulov (Guardian-UK)
    Dozens of foreign fighters and sympathizers are abandoning Islamic State and trying to enter Turkey, as ISIS' capacity to hold ground in Syria and Iraq collapses.
    Some are thought to be intent on traveling to Europe to seek vengeance for the crumbling caliphate.
    "Europe has to keep its guard up," said Shiraz Maher, deputy director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College.
    "The threat will likely become more acute in the coming months and years as the pressures on Islamic State intensify."

Report: Palestinian Terrorist Who Commanded 1987 Hang Glider Attack Killed in Syria - Barney Breen-Portnoy (Algemeiner)
    Abd al-Rahim Ahmed Atik, a Palestinian terrorist who commanded the 1987 PFLP hang glider attack in northern Israel that killed six IDF soldiers, was killed in Syria over the weekend in a military strike, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Monday.

Ancient Tablet with Menorah Found in Caesarea - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
    A mother-of-pearl tablet inscribed with a six-branched menorah dating from the fourth or fifth centuries CE, which was likely part of a box housing a Torah scroll, was recently found at the ancient Roman city of Caesarea, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
    Archaeologist Peter Gendelman said the find "points to clear Jewish presence at Caesarea during this period."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Seeks U.S. Backing to Avert Permanent Iran Foothold in Syria - Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball
    Israel is seeking an "understanding" with the Trump administration that Iran must not be allowed to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria, Israel's Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Wednesday in Washington. Katz insisted that Israel was not asking Washington to commit more forces to Syria, but to "achieve this by talking to the Russians, by threatening Iran, by sanctions and other things."  (Reuters)
        See also Israel "Won't Allow" New Iranian Front on Golan Heights - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday that Israel "won't allow concentrations of Iranian and Hizbullah forces on the Golan Heights."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Rasmieh Odeh Pleads Guilty to U.S. Immigration Fraud - Niraj Warikoo
    Rasmieh Odeh, 69, of Chicago appeared in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Tuesday and entered a plea of guilty to procuring citizenship contrary to law. Odeh will not serve any time in prison, be stripped of her U.S. citizenship and will be deported back to Jordan. She will not be allowed ever to reenter the U.S.
        Odeh was convicted and imprisoned in Israel, accused of playing a role in the bombing of an Israeli supermarket that killed two civilians and an attempted attack on the British Consulate by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She was later released as part of a prison swap. Odeh is associate director of the Arab American Action Network. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Turkey Kills 20 U.S.-Backed Kurdish Fighters in Syria - Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim
    Turkey stepped up its bombing campaign Tuesday against Kurdish militants, killing as many as 20 U.S.-backed fighters in Syria and expanding its strikes in Iraq, an escalation that could complicate efforts to combat the Islamic State. The government of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan said five of its peshmerga fighters were killed.
        "These airstrikes were not approved by the coalition and led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces in the fight against ISIS that includes members of the Kurdish peshmerga," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Believes Iran Directed Thwarted Cyberattack - Anshel Pfeffer
    Israel's Cyber Defense Authority thwarted a cyberattack Wednesday that targeted 120 academic institutions, ministries, companies and private individuals engaged in research and development and advanced technologies. The attacks were carried out by the OilRig hacker group, believed to be financed and directed by Iran.
        Boaz Dolev, CEO of ClearSky, an Israeli cybersecurity company, says the latest attacks were "relatively well planned and took considerable resources. It is obvious that there was intelligence gathering prior to the attack and a careful selection of targets - in this case Israeli computing companies."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Troops Come Under Fire from Gaza, Respond with Tank Fire on Hamas Position - Judah Ari Gross
    After shots were fired at Israeli troops operating on the Israeli side of the Gaza security fence on Thursday, an IDF tank destroyed a Hamas position in central Gaza, the army said. Israel holds Hamas as ultimately responsible for any attack from Gaza. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Soldiers Thwart Second Stabbing Attack Outside West Bank Army Base - Elisha Ben-Kimon
    IDF soldiers thwarted a second stabbing attack in two days on Wednesday carried out by two cousins outside the Samaria Brigade's base in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Labour Friends of Israel Want Mahmoud Abbas to Confirm Murderer of British Student Will Not Be Paid a Terrorist Salary - Lee Harpin
    In a letter sent to Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan MP urged the government to seek assurances from PA leader Mahmoud Abbas that Jamil Tamimi, the man who murdered British student Hannah Bladon in Jerusalem last week, will not now be paid a salary by the PA for his act of terrorism. The letter also called on the British government to request that the PA publically condemn the murder.
        The letter said that if President Abbas failed to fulfill both demands, Britain's Department for International Development should "sanction the PA financially....British taxpayers will rightly not understand if our aid money goes to a body which pays obscene 'salaries' to those who murder British citizens....The Palestinian Authority needs to be told in no uncertain terms that unless it stops paying salaries to terrorists who murder innocent people - British, Israeli or any other nationality - our aid to them will stop until they get the message."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
        See also Video: Incentivizing Terrorism? Palestinian Authority Pays Jihadists and Families - Eric Shawn (Fox News)
  • Thousands of Palestinians Rally in Ramallah for Islamic Caliphate - Bassam Tawil
    Thousands of supporters of Hizb ut Tahrir, a radical pan-Islamic political organization, rallied in Ramallah on April 22, 2017, to call for the elimination of Israel. The rally was held with the permission of the Palestinian Authority leadership.
        Dr. Maher Ja'bari told the rally: "The Islamic Caliphate will be restored only when Palestine is fully liberated. Palestine was occupied because of the collapse of the Islamic Caliphate. The issue of the caliphate has united the [Islamic] nation and it is the basic case for the liberation of Palestine and the implementation of Sharia for all Muslims under one ruler." Speakers also appealed for the "mobilization of Arab and Islamic armies to liberate Palestine and the Aqsa Mosque."  (Gatestone Institute)
  • ISIS' Relations with the Local Population in Sinai - R. Green
    Islamic State (ISIS) has managed to deal significant blows to the largest and best-equipped Arab army and disrupt the Egyptian economy. Establishing itself in Sinai is now more important to ISIS than ever, in light of its defeats and loss of territory in its major strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
        ISIS leaders in Sinai make an effort to handle tribesmen with respect and to paint themselves as a force protecting Sinai residents from the Egyptian government's injustice. Tensions exist between ISIS and locals, in part due to the fact that many ISIS members come from outside Sinai, and also because the organization wishes to impose a different worldview than that of the locals. Relations are also strained by the many executions of locals whom ISIS suspects of aiding security forces. (MEMRI)

President Trump's Speech on Holocaust Memorial Day - Dana Milbank (Washington Post)

  • President Trump's speech in the Capitol Rotunda on April 25 for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Yom Hashoah remembrance ceremony was spot-on. Some highlights:
  • "The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget and engrave into the world's memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people."
  • "For the dead and the living we must bear witness. That is why we are here today, to remember and to bear witness, to make sure that humanity never, ever forgets."
  • "The Nazis massacred 6 million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide....Yet even today, there are those who want to forget the past. Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history. Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil."
  • "We've seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square and in threats against Jewish citizens. Even worse, it's been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities, or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction. This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism."
  • "Today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth....We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity and freedom....Today we mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again."

        See also Text: President Trump at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum National Days of Remembrance (White House)

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