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June 26, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Constructing Underground Barrier to Thwart Attack Tunnels from Gaza - Yossi Melman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Defense Ministry is constructing a concrete barrier to run the length of the Gaza border and prevent Hamas from tunneling into Israel.
    The 65-km. Gaza fence is to be completed by late 2018 or early 2019. The barrier will include heavy concrete slabs strengthened with iron rods and equipped with sensors that will be inserted dozens of meters underground.
    Above ground, a 6 to 8 meter wire fence armed with sensors and cameras will be erected. The work will be accelerated this summer.
    Israel believes there are currently 15 Hamas attack tunnels leading to Israel. When it has the intelligence and the opportunity it has bombed them, such as during retaliatory strikes after renegade groups in Gaza fire rockets into Israel.

Palestinian Authority Prevents Gazans from Receiving Urgent Medical Treatment in Israel - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    For the past two months, the Palestinian Authority has been blocking Gaza patients from leaving the Strip for medical treatment.
    The PA has delayed issuing payment vouchers for 1,600 patients from Gaza, including patients with cancer and heart disease, and children who need treatment unavailable in Gaza.

Israel Renovates Public Shelters near Northern Border - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    Israel plans to renovate hundreds of public shelters in northern Israel, especially in communities located up to 40 km. (25 miles) from the Israeli-Lebanese border.
    Given Hizbullah's missile arsenal, a future war with Lebanon would mean that the area's residents could spend days - perhaps even weeks - in shelters.

Russian Warships Fire Missiles at ISIS in Syria - Alla Eshchenko (CNN)
    Two Russian frigates and a submarine fired six cruise missiles on ISIS targets in Syria from the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
    The ministry said Turkey and Israel were informed about the missile launches.

Gaza Becoming Destination for Egyptian Jobseekers - Amjad Yaghi (Al-Monitor)
    After the value of the Egyptian pound fell by half in November, some Egyptian construction workers have found jobs in Gaza.
    Egyptians have to be first- or second-degree relatives of Gazans to get a tourist visa.
    Moamen Hosni, 34, said, "I have been getting a monthly salary of about 1,300 shekels ($368) since I started working in Gaza. I transfer half of this amount to my wife [in Egypt]."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Ayatollah Khamenei: Muslims Obliged to Fight Against Israel
    Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Muslim ambassadors in Tehran Monday on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, "According to Islamic jurisprudence, when an enemy takes over Muslim lands, Jihad in any possible form becomes everyone's duty. Today the fight against the Zionist regime is obligatory and necessary for Muslims. Why do some evade this duty?" He added that "Palestine is the number one issue of the Islamic world, but some Islamic countries are acting in such a way as to have the Palestinian case ignored and forgotten."  (Press TV-Iran)
  • Saudis Foil Attack on Grand Mosque in Mecca - Salma Abdelaziz and Laura Smith-Spark
    Saudi security forces on Friday prevented an imminent attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the country's Interior Ministry said. A suspect in the planned attack blew himself up in a nearby neighborhood when security forces surrounded a home where he was hiding. (CNN)
  • After 50 Years, Mood Seems to Be Shifting for Jerusalem Arabs - Isabel Kershner
    As Israelis mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the June 1967 war, east Jerusalem's 320,000 Palestinians now make up 37% of the city's population. By now, half of Jerusalem Palestinians work in west Jerusalem, and below the surface, the mood of outright defiance seems to be shifting. More than 5,000 students in east Jerusalem high schools are now studying for the Israeli matriculation examination that eases enrollment in Israeli universities, up from about 1,000 in 2014. Palestinian families applying for Israeli citizenship rose to a record 1,081 in 2016, up from a few dozen in 2003.
        East Jerusalem Palestinians were granted permanent residency status, making them free to move and work anywhere in Israel and eligible for Israeli social benefits. Palestinian and Jewish residents frequent some of the same city parks and shopping malls in west Jerusalem. While the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank demands a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, some of the city's Palestinians describe the Palestinian Authority as a corrupt and lawless "mafia," and want no part of it. "We have our rights here, where we live," said Ola Hedra, 35, an English teacher. "Not everything - but it's better than life under the Palestinian Authority."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA to Use NGOs to Bypass U.S. Pressure Against Paying Terrorists - Daniel Siryoti
    In a meeting in Ramallah last week, U.S. envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt asked PA President Abbas to cease paying stipends to the families of terrorists who are either jailed in Israel or were killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis. Kushner and Greenblatt entered the meeting with specific salary charts that had been prepared by Israel in advance.
        Senior Palestinian officials told Israel Hayom that Abbas has no intention of suspending the payments. Instead, said one senior PA official, Abbas will dismantle the Palestinian Prisoners Society which makes the payments, while dozens of other NGOs will be established to replace it. (Israel Hayom)
        See also No Peace Possible While Palestinian Authority "Sanctifies" Terror, Israeli Victim Families Caution Top Trump Aides - Ben Cohen (Algemeiner)
  • Israel Strikes Syrian Targets in Response to Cross-Border Fire
    The IDF struck targets belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on Sunday in response to the errant fire that hit northern Israel earlier in the day, the IDF confirmed. Sunday was the second day in a row that the Israeli-Syrian border has been affected by a spillover from the ongoing conflict in Syria.
        On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will not tolerate any violation of its security on any front. "We will not accept any kind of 'drizzle,' not of mortars, rockets, or spillover fire. We respond with force to every attack on our territory and against our citizens."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Syrian Army Faces Rebel Offensive near Israeli Border - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Syrian Islamist rebels near the Israeli-Syrian border on Saturday launched an offensive on the city of Baath, a town controlled by the Syrian army. The Syrian army, firing at the rebel forces, fired 10 mortar and tank shells that landed in open areas in Israel.
        There were thousands of Israeli travelers in the Golan Heights when the Syrian mortars were fired, and they could have gotten hurt, which is why the Israeli response was unusually severe. The Syrian opposition says the Israeli attack was carried out by a helicopter and destroyed two tanks and a heavy machine gun post in the Quneitra area. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Two U.S. Cases Provide Window into Iran's Global Terror Network - Thomas Joscelyn
    On June 8, the U.S. Department of Justice announced two Hizbullah operatives had been arrested after carrying out various missions on behalf of the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization including surveillance on prospective targets. Ali Kourani, 32 and living in the Bronx, gathered "information regarding operations and security at airports in the U.S. and elsewhere," while also "surveilling U.S. military and law enforcement facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn." Hizbullah asked Kourani to identify "individuals affiliated with the Israeli Defense Forces" inside the U.S.
        Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn, is charged with "casing security procedures at the Panama Canal and the Israeli Embassy" in Panama, identifying "areas of weakness and construction at the Panama Canal," and determining for Hizbullah "how close someone could get to a ship passing through the Canal." One is left to wonder who else Hizbullah may have stationed inside the U.S. as part of its patient plotting. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Long War Journal)
  • When Famous Novelists "Confront the Occupation" in the West Bank - Matti Friedman
    Last year, a group of American writers came to "bear witness" to the crisis in the West Bank and Gaza, where thousands of reporters, NGO staffers, activists and diplomats hover around a conflict with a death toll last year that was about a third of the homicide number in Baltimore. The visitors were shown around by anti-occupation activists and wrote up their experiences. The resulting anthology, Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation, constitutes a chorus of condemnation of Israel.
        We aren't told who paid for this project. But we learn that it was organized by a group called Breaking the Silence, one of many NGOs funded by Europeans and Americans to critique Israeli policy. These particular activists say they're "Israeli veterans," which Israelis know not to take seriously - we have a compulsory draft, and most Israelis are veterans. The writers avoid Palestinian extremists and average Israelis, so it looks like all Palestinians are reasonable and all Israelis aren't. The writer is a former journalist for AP in Jerusalem (2006-11). (Washington Post)

Gaza, a Failed Palestinian State - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)

  • Gaza is a Palestinian state. Its entire population is Palestinian. Not a single Jew resides there, something that most Palestinians consider a requirement for a Palestinian state. It has a government, an army, a police force and courts.
  • It is not occupied by anyone. For the last 10 years, Palestinians had a chance to show the world how a Palestinian government works for the benefit of the Palestinian population under its control. It is incontestably a failed state.
  • They are living under a blockade, you say. Well, it is hardly a blockade when almost daily, hundreds of trucks bring in produce and material, and electricity is provided from Israel.
  • And this "blockade" is of their own making. Were it not for the rockets that are periodically launched into towns and villages in Israel, whatever restrictions that are imposed by Israel would have been lifted long ago. And had Gaza's rulers bothered to develop a good relationship with their Egyptian neighbors, they could have arranged for free access through the Egyptian border.
  • A lot of money has poured into Gaza over the years. Much of it has been spent on rockets and digging tunnels into Israel. It's been doled out to corrupt officials rather than invested in housing, education and the welfare of the population there.
  • Those advocating the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] should take a close look at the Palestinian state that already exists in Gaza. The Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria should give it some thought as well.

    The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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