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June 9, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Minister of Defense Liberman: Senior Hamas Commander Moved to Lebanon - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas commander who was recently deported from Qatar, has moved to Lebanon and intends to launch terror attacks against Israel from there, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told the visiting U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Friday.
    "Action must be taken to deport him from there," he told Haley. He said Arouri was joined by two other Hamas members. "The three, led by Saleh al-Arouri, will continue trying to perpetrate terror attacks against Israel from Lebanon, while at the same time strengthen the ties between Hamas and Hizbullah. All of this will be done under Iranian auspices and with aid from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Commander Qassem Soleimani," Liberman said.

Video: June 9, Day Five of the 1967 War (Six Day War Project - Jerusalem U)
    Throughout the war the Egyptian media under President Gamal Abdel Nasser had been falsely reporting military victories against Israel. But on June 9th, Nasser could no longer hide the truth. He appeared on national television, and while primarily blaming the U.S. and Britain for providing Israel with massive military support - which was a false accusation - he admitted the defeat of the Egyptian army, and resigned his office. But, after receiving an outpouring of Egyptian public sympathy the next day, Nasser promptly withdrew his resignation.

Revealed: Trump's $110 Billion Weapons List for the Saudis - Aaron Mehta (Defense News)
    The administration's much touted $110 billion arms proposal to Saudi Arabia, previously slim on specifics, includes seven THAAD missile defense batteries, over 100,000 air-to-ground munitions and billions of dollars' worth of new aircraft, according to a White House document obtained by Defense News.
    The document also shows a focus on space capabilities for the Kingdom, with two "Remote Sensing Satellites" estimated at $800 million and two satellite communications & Space Based Early Warning Systems estimated at $4 billion.

Israeli Firm "Cracks the Code" on Making Meat Salty and Healthy - Oscar Rousseau (Global Meat News)
    The Israel-based ingredients company, Salt of the Earth, claims its popular product, Mediterranean Umami, can cut sodium in processed meat by up to a third. The company has collaborated with the top Israeli meat processors to meet tough salt reduction regulations as governments around the world crack down on salt.

Audio Documentary: Inside the Israeli Hospital Treating Syrians - Tim Samuels (BBC Radio)
    Tim Samuels spends 24 hours immersed in an extraordinary medical scene - Israeli doctors tending to Syrians who have been smuggled over the border for life-saving treatment into a country Syria is technically still at war with.
    In the Ziv hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed, Tim follows two doctors on their rounds as they treat Syrians - both civilians and fighters - who have been seriously wounded in their country's civil war.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • Justice Dept: Two Men Arrested in the United States for Terrorist Activities on Behalf of Hizbullah
    Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx, New York, and Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn, Michigan, were arrested on Thursday, June 1, on charges related to their alleged activities on behalf of Hizbullah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
        Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of New York said: "Today, we announce serious terrorism charges against two men who allegedly trained with and supported the Islamic Jihad Organization, a component of the foreign terrorist organization Hizbullah. Recruited as Hizbullah operatives, Samer El Debek and Ali Kourani allegedly received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in support of the group's terrorist mission."
        "At the direction of his Hizbullah handlers, El Debek allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal. Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City. Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the allegedly destructive designs of these two Hizbullah operatives have been thwarted, and they will now face justice in a Manhattan federal court." (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • U.S. Shoots Down Drone in Tense Battle for No Man's Land in Syria - Nabih Bulos and W.J. Hennigan
    An armed drone fired on U.S.-backed coalition forces on patrol Thursday outside a small military garrison in southern Syria where American special operations forces train Syrian rebels. The drone, believed to be an Iranian-made Shahed-129, missed the ground forces, and the bomb itself failed to explode, according to U.S. officials.
        A U.S. F-15 fighter jet, scrambled from a nearby airfield, shot down the drone - the first time an American fighter destroyed an enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat since February 2009. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Iranian Drone Shadows U.S. Forces in Syria Day Before Attack - Adam Kredo
    Iran released video footage showing a drone shadowing U.S. military forces operating in Syria just a day before an unmanned aerial vehicle launched a strike on American forces in the war-torn country, a move that has raised concerns among U.S. officials about the Islamic Republic's increasing willingness to use military force in the region.
        Iran's release of the video-which shows it using a drone to monitor U.S. operations as a Farsi-language narrator threatens to strike American forces-comes as the American military on Thursday was forced to shoot down a drone in Syria that was firing on coalition forces. (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • IDF Chief: Hizbullah Remains Top Priority - Yoav Zitun
    Hizbullah remains one of the IDF's top priorities, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Wednesday at an event in memory of soldiers killed in the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
        "Hizbullah may be in a complex place, because it is fighting in Syria and suffering losses, but we can't ignore the fact the organization is also gaining combat experience," Eisenkot said. He said Hizbullah has also been involved in the conflicts in Yemen and Iraq and has lost 1,700 of its men over the past three years.
        "Hizbullah has close to 7,000 wounded and is facing quite a few problems in fighting as an organization trying to deploy battalions and bigger formations," Eisenkot explained. The Lebanese terror group is also dealing with "serious financial issues, low morale, and the fact it lost two of its senior commanders in the last seven or eight years." (Ynet News)
  • India PM Narendra Modi's Trip to Israel Next Month, and 80,000 Indian Jews Start Preps - Nidhi Razdan
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will next month become the first Indian premier to visit Israel - news agency Press Trust of India reported that his three-day visit will begin on July 4 and he will meet his counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, the same evening.
        India is now the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment, while Israel is India's largest customer after Russia.
        PM Modi's approach to Israel has been described as a marked change in foreign policy. His government has shed his predecessors' reservations on talking about India's ties with Israel. The roots of PM Modi's Israel relationship go back to 2006, when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat and visited the region to explore new ideas in irrigation, an area of Israeli expertise. (NDTV - India)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How Israel Spots Lone-Wolf Attackers
    Since the outbreak of the "stabbing intifada" in late 2015, there have been hundreds of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis. If the violence has ebbed, it may be in part because the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have become better at forestalling attacks. Israeli spooks reckon they have lessons to offer Western countries struggling to stop lone wolves.
        One is that conventional intelligence organizations, even Israel's well-honed system, are designed to penetrate organized terrorist groups, so they struggle to spot imminent attacks by self-radicalized individuals or small groups. After reviewing the profiles of scores of attackers, IDF intelligence officers found they often acted on the spur of the moment. They were rarely linked to militant factions, and were not especially religious or poor. Many had a grievance: a son who felt unjustly treated, a brother who was disinherited, a bride who was beaten by her husband, and so on.
        These days IDF algorithms monitor the social-media accounts of young Palestinians to look for early-warning signs. These include "tripwire" terms such as the "sword of Allah" or "day of the sword", associated with the writings of past attackers. The IDF also monitors the activity of relatives, friends, classmates and co-workers of recent "martyrs."
        The parents of those deemed suspicious might receive a telephone call or a visit from the Shin Bet security service, and their names could be passed on to the Palestinian Authority. (Economist)
        See also Lessons from Israel's Response to Terrorism - Fiamma Nirenstein, editor (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Will the Saudi-Qatar Clash Push Hamas into a Dangerous Corner - Avi Issacharoff
    Saudi Arabia's loathing for Qatar is well known and longstanding. Despite their geographic proximity, or perhaps because of it, the two countries' enmity is enormous.
        Qatar's flirting with Iran, Saudi Arabia's greatest nemesis, its closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood, and of course, its founding of the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel in 1996, all turned Qatar into one of the most hated of Arab states among its fellow Sunni Arab regimes, especially in Riyadh and Cairo. Al-Jazeera transformed in the 2000s into a key tool for advancing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas at the expense of the Egyptian, Saudi and Palestinian governments.
        This protracted antagonism marks a bid to permanently change Qatar's policies.The Saudi regime's conditions for reconciliation with Doha, presented on Tuesday by Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, are not trivial; they include ending Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
        Hamas' politicians and top echelon of leaders, remains safely ensconced in Doha and continue to enjoy all the creature comforts the peninsula kingdom has to offer. The same goes for men of faith affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the Egyptian-born cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. (Times of Israel)
        See also Qatar Vows No Surrender in Gulf Crisis as U.S., Kuwait Seek Solution - Tom Finn
    Qatar vowed on Thursday to ride out the isolation imposed on it by fellow Arab states over its alleged support for terrorism and said it would not compromise its sovereignty over foreign policy to resolve the region's biggest diplomatic crisis in years. (Reuters)
  • What Makes U.S.-Israel Defense Ties so "Rock Solid?" - Anna Ahronheim, Michael Wilner
    Three years into his tenure as chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has a "rock solid" relationship with his American counterpart, General Joseph Dunford, sources around the general say. The two men have maintained a consistent and professional relationship throughout a period of diplomatic turbulence under the Obama administration and at the outset of a delicate, uncertain start to the Trump presidency.
        Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, who was in Washington in April to meet Secretary for Veterans Affairs Dr. David Schulkin, said that he feels that "warm and friendly ties" between Jerusalem and Washington have grown since Trump entered the White House. According to Ben-Dahan, even Schulkin - who served as VA undersecretary of health under Barack Obama - "feels a different atmosphere under Trump."
        Defense Minister Avigdor and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have gotten off to a strong start, as well, according to their associates.
        Mattis and Liberman form another critical nexus in the defense relationship.
        "Mattis-Liberman seems to be a key axis - they've already met a few times," says David Makovsky, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Project on the Middle East peace process and a former senior State Department official.
        According to Chagai Tzuriel, the director-general of the Intelligence Ministry, several important things have changed since President Donald Trump took office in January. Senior Trump administration appointees in intelligence and defense seem to be on the same page with their Israeli counterparts on Iran- for the first time in years. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's in Love with its Homegrown Wonder Woman Gal Gadot - Aron Heller
    For a country that takes pride in even the smallest successes of its international celebrities, the debut of Wonder Woman has sparked an Israeli lovefest for homegrown hero Gal Gadot.
        Israelis often rejoice when one of their own breaks through on the international stage. But Gadot's ascendance to stardom has entered a whole new stratosphere as she has assumed the identity of Wonder Woman in a box-office smash that raked in more than $100 million in its first weekend in theaters.
        Writer Michal Kleinberg argued in a column that Gadot represented far more than mere national pride.
        "This is not one of ours who managed to squeeze into a fashion show or an important competition, it's one of ours in the most leading role a woman can get in a Hollywood film," she wrote. "Gadot is objectively (really!) perfectly cast for the role. It's not that Hollywood has a shortage of beautiful, fit, athletic brunettes, but an Israeli actress has something a Hollywood one doesn't. As much as it sounds cliche, she offers a sort of chutzpah, spice and relatability." (Associated Press)

The Astonishing Israeli Concession of 1967 - Yossi Klein Halevi (Atlantic)

  • The astonishing, untold story of the battle for Jerusalem was how ill-prepared Israel was for the most mythic battle of its history: The paratroopers' conquest of east Jerusalem and the Old City, including the two sites holiest to Judaism, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Few battles with such fateful consequences were as haphazard and unplanned.
  • Even more astonishing was the Israeli decision, at the moment of victory, to concede sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.
  • Colonel Motta Gur's half-track led the attack into the Old City, crashing through the massive bronze doors onto the Via Delarosa, then turning left and onto the Temple Mount. Gur rushed up a flight of stairs leading to a large plaza - the golden Dome of the Rock and the silver-domed al-Aqsa. Gur radioed headquarters: "The Temple Mount is in our hands." He wasn't just making a military report, but staking a historic claim. The focus of centuries of Jewish longing, the place toward which Jews prayed no matter where they lived, was now in Israeli hands.
  • The brigade's chief communications officer retrieved an Israeli flag from his pouch and asked Gur whether he should hang it over the Dome of the Rock. "Yalla," said Gur, go up. Two officers climbed to the top of the building and victoriously fastened the Israeli flag onto a pole topped with an Islamic crescent.
  • Except then the flag was quickly and unceremoniously lowered. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, watching the scene through binoculars from Mount Scopus, urgently radioed Gur and demanded: Do you want to set the Middle East on fire?
  • It is, in retrospect, an astonishing moment of religious restraint. The Jewish people had just returned to its holiest site, from which it had been denied access for centuries, only to effectively yield sovereignty at its moment of triumph.
  • For all the pain many Israelis feel in being denied the right to pray at what is, after all, Judaism's holiest site, every Israeli government, including on the political right, has upheld the status quo.

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