Sinai Tribes Rise Against ISIS - Mohamed Abdu Hassanein (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
A number of tribesmen in Egypt's Sinai revolted on Thursday against ISIS and started collaborating with the Egyptian Army after ISIS militants killed 13 members of the Tarabin tribe on Wednesday near Rafah.
See also ISIS Attack Kills Four Egyptian Soldiers and Two Bedouin Tribesmen (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
An Islamic State car bomb attack on Egyptian forces in Sinai on Sunday has left at least four troops and two local Tarabin tribesmen accompanying the army convoy dead.
It was the first time fighters from the tribe had accompanied the Egyptian military on a patrol.
A number of other tribes have launched their own local wars on ISIS in the region.
See also Sinai Bedouin Aligning with Egypt Against ISIS - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Videos: Countdown to the Six-Day War (Six Day War Project-Jerusalem U)
Re-live the dramatic events of the Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967) between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries through the lens of 12 short videos released over four weeks.
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Iran Fakes Democracy - Avi Davidi and Hamidreza Zarifinia (Times of Israel)
Iran is keen on creating the impression that its presidential elections on May 19 will be the culmination of a democratic process, but it's all fake news.
The Guardian Council reviewed hundreds of applications and approved just a few candidates to run for president. Council members are selected by supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The ostensibly reformist President Hassan Rouhani has doubled the Revolutionary Guard Corps budget over the last three years, while Tehran has not changed its rejection of Israel's existence under his tenure.
Iran's aggressive rhetoric, support for terror groups sworn to Israel's destruction, and rallies held to demonize and threaten the "Zionist entity" have continued uninterrupted since the "extremist" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was succeeded by the "moderate" Rouhani.
Under Rouhani, Iran has also seen a spike in executions by the regime.
Arab TV Series Dramatizes Life under ISIS - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
"Black Crows," a 30-part dramatic series about life under the Islamic State, will air on the Arab world's most watched satellite channel, MBC 1, during Ramadan.
It paints a picture of the Islamic State as a brutal criminal organization run by corrupt and hypocritical leaders. But recruits are depicted as victims, and women who challenge the militants' control are heroes.
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- Israel Steps Up Intelligence Sharing with Gulf Countries - Jay Solomon
Israel and Gulf countries have secretly stepped-up intelligence sharing, particularly focused on Iranian arms shipments to proxy militias fighting in Yemen and Syria, according to U.S., European and Middle East officials. "Israel has developed cutting-edge technology that allows us to detect terrorist plots in advance," said Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a close aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu. "This enables us to help moderate Arab governments protect themselves."
Israel in recent months has shared intelligence with a Saudi-led coalition that is fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to former U.S. officials. Last year, alarm bells went off in Israel when an Iranian ship being tracked by Israeli security services began navigating toward Yemen's coast. Israeli intelligence indicated it was loaded with weapons for the Houthis. The Israelis "got us to act, successfully," said one former U.S. official.
Israel also shares intelligence derived from drones and human agents with Cairo
in its fight against Islamic State militias fighting in Sinai. Security and technology companies with ties to Israel are also helping Gulf states.
(Wall Street Journal)
- U.S. Says Syria Built Crematorium to Handle Mass Prisoner Killings - Karen DeYoung
The Syrian government is using a crematorium it constructed at the Sednaya military prison near Damascus to clandestinely dispose of the bodies of prisoners it continues to execute inside the facility, the State Department said Monday. Acting Assistant Secretary of State Stuart Jones said the Syrian regime is continuing to "systematically abduct and torture civilian detainees" and authorizing "the extrajudicial killings of thousands....These atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran."
Jones cited "multiple sources" in saying that "the regime is responsible for killing as many as 50 detainees per day at Sednaya." (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- White House Disavows U.S. Diplomat's Claim that Western Wall in Jerusalem Is Part of the West Bank - Barak Ravid
Diplomats stationed at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem refused to hold talks with Israeli officials about arrangements for President Trump's planned visit to the Western Wall during his trip to Israel next week. The diplomats claimed that the site is in the West Bank, and therefore the Israeli government has no authority over it.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was briefed on the matter and ordered Israel's ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, to demand an explanation from the White House.
"For American diplomats to say that the Western Wall is part of the West Bank astonished us," a senior official in the Prime Minister's Bureau said.
A White House spokesman said, "These comments...do not reflect the U.S. position, and certainly not the President's position." (Ha'aretz)
- Birthright Israel Launches Biggest Season Ever - Yori Yalon
The Taglit-Birthright Israel program is launching the largest season in its history, with 33,000 Jewish youngsters from 33 countries to visit Israel this summer on free 10-day trips. 131 groups are expected to land in Israel this week. "This summer we will celebrate 600,000 participants," said Birthright Israel International CEO Gidi Mark. (Israel Hayom)
- Israelis and Palestinians Can't Have Peace When Terror Is Profitable - David E. Weisberg
On June 30, 2016, a 13-year-old Jewish Israeli girl named Hallel Yaffa Ariel, who was also a U.S. citizen, was asleep in her bedroom when a Palestinian named Mohammad Tra'ayra, who lived in a nearby Arab village, made his way undetected to her bedroom and stabbed the sleeping girl numerous times.
Tra'ayra was later killed by security guards. The Palestinian Martyr's Fund pays Tra'ayra's family $350 each month because, as his own mother said, he was a "hero" who had "died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Daoud Kuttab wrote an opinion piece claiming that the payments are a "social stipend" that "is given to Palestinian families whose breadwinner is killed or incarcerated." But his analysis is false. First, the very name "Martyr's Fund" makes perfectly clear that cold-blooded killers, like Tra'ayra, will be rewarded (or their families will be rewarded) no matter how heinous their crime.
Second, there is absolutely no "needs" test attached to payments from the "Martyr's Fund." Additionally, the "Martyr's Fund" pays more to captured terrorists who receive a longer sentence in Israeli prison, thus rewarding criminals who perform the most heinous acts. A prisoner's family doesn't need more generous monthly "social support" just because the prisoner has been sentenced to a longer prison term. That bigger payment is obviously a reward for more heinous crimes. (The Hill)
- The "Impending Humanitarian Disaster" Syndrome - Col. (res.) Dr. Moshe Elad
In the past 50 years, there has been no humanitarian crisis in the "territories." The Palestinians are receiving huge amounts of money as a gift, and the "donors" feel as if they allegedly "saved the Palestinians from starvation."
But when countries transfer their taxpayer money to the West Bank and Gaza, they are preventing both the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza from emerging from the vicious cycle of becoming enslaved and addicted to donations.
Until the Oslo Agreements in the 1990s, the Palestinians were diligent people who supported themselves with great difficulty but with dignity. The billions of dollars/euros infused by donors - so that the Palestinian government would be able to establish employment infrastructure in the territories so that Palestinians won't have to go to Israel to work - have been scattered in every direction except for the goals they were allotted for.
The funds were used to establish terrorist militias, to pay bribes to third-world countries in exchange for political support for the PLO, and to hand out gifts to cronies. Experts have calculated that the donated money could have been used to build a proper home for every Palestinian resident, and there would have been money left to buy a car.
All the Palestinians have to do is wrap themselves up in the miserable person's robe, cry out that "it's all the occupation's fault" - an occupation which ended, by the way, decades ago - and the money will start flowing in. The writer is a lecturer at Western Galilee College.
A Proposal for a Trump Initiative for the Economic Development of the West Bank and Gaza - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira and Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Billions of dollars contributed by the donor countries to the Palestinian Authority have evaporated because of lack of transparency, corruption, and inefficiency. Despite all the money that has poured into the West Bank and Gaza, the situation there has only worsened.
- The Trump administration should play a leading role in creating an atmosphere of cooperation to allow the Palestinians and Israelis to reach a future agreement. To defuse the hostile environment, it is of the utmost importance that the U.S. propose an improved economic recovery plan, one that is not another cash handout, but rather a program aimed at improving Palestinian infrastructures.
- Roads and Railways: Renovate the transportation infrastructure to allow for improved connection between the different parts of the PA and a link reaching Amman, Jordan.
- Electricity: Build power stations in the PA or at the border with Israel, powered by gas from wells in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Port and Airport: Due to security reasons, the U.S., in concert with Israel, would assure the security of those installations.
- Housing: Palestinian cities are a city planner's nightmare. In Gaza, the existing refugee camps should be dismantled and replaced with a modern complex of high-rise towers together with the required infrastructure. It is inconceivable that a Palestinian refugee living in his own state will still be considered a refugee.
- Water Supply: One-third of Palestinian cities' water is lost through leakage or mismanagement. Unauthorized water wells proliferate, leading to the salinization or crashing of aquifers. In addition to repairing infrastructure, new desalination plants can be constructed, financed by a joint U.S.-Gulf State fund.
- Sewage Treatment: Sewage has polluted most of the wells in the West Bank and Gaza and has also penetrated the Israeli aquifer. While the technology to change this situation currently exists, the failure to exploit the capacity emanates from Palestinian political considerations.
- Healthcare: Create a complete healthcare system from scratch.
- Tourism: Encourage the establishment of hotel networks around religious and other tourist sites in the West Bank, and along the seashore in Gaza.
- It is essential that Israel is a full partner in the planning of this initiative.
- The best long-term political and economic solution to the future status of the West Bank and Gaza is the establishment of a confederation linking the West Bank and Jordan. This will provide economic and geostrategic depth to Jordan and the Palestinians and a viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center, served as bureau chief to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the military secretary to the Prime Minister.
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and deputy head for assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
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