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July 17, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu: Israel Opposes Cease-fire Deal Reached by U.S. and Russia in Southern Syria - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel opposes the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria that the U.S. and Russia reached because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country.
    A senior Israeli official said Israel is aware of Iranian intentions to substantially expand its presence in Syria.
    "The agreement as it is now is very bad," one senior Israeli official said. "It doesn't take almost any of Israel's security interests [into account] and it creates a disturbing reality in southern Syria."

    See also Iran Leases Air, Land and Sea Bases in Syria - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    Iran has leased a military airfield from the Syrian government in the center of the country in order to station fighter aircraft.
    Iran is also negotiating with the Syrians to establish a land base for Shiite militiamen and a port in the city of Tartus.
    These steps represent a move by Iran to establish a long-term presence in Syria and pose a threat to Israel.
    Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman said: "The establishment of an air and sea base and the attempt to permanently station 5,000 Shiite fighters on Syrian soil are not acceptable to us."
    "Iran is attempting to make all of Syria...a frontline base against Israel. We will not accept it. We insist that there be no trace of Iranian presence on Syrian soil."
    Lieberman also confirmed that Iran is pumping $800 million annually into Hizbullah and that Hizbullah was trying to establish a forward base in Syria that would threaten Israel.

    See also The Iranians Are at Israel's Border - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Iran is already treating Syria like its 15th province (the 14th being Bahrain). It keeps 15,000 Shi'ite troops from Afghanistan and Pakistan there. 8,000 Hizbullah soldiers and several hundred military advisors from Iran's Revolutionary Guards are also deployed in Syria.
    The Iranians are currently invested in real-estate projects in Syria as well as in the phosphates industry and communications networks, and are expected to make a great deal of money from Syria's reconstruction.

Former Palestinian Officer Opens Fire on Israeli Troops - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Ahmad Halil, 34, a former member of the Palestinian security forces, was killed by Israeli security forces after he attempted to fire at soldiers who came to arrest him for two shooting attacks on Saturday, the Israel Security Agency said Sunday.
    A Palestinian man was lightly injured Saturday after Halil shot at his vehicle north of Ramallah. Halil also opened fire on an IDF post near Nabi Saleh.

Two German Tourists Stabbed to Death at Egyptian Red Sea Resort - Mohamed Abdellah and Ahmed Tolba (Reuters)
    An Egyptian man stabbed two German women to death and wounded four others on Friday in Hurghada on the Red Sea.
    "He had a knife with him and stabbed each of them three times in the chest," said Saud Abdelaziz, the security manager at the El Palacio hotel.
    See also Egypt Knife Attacker "Sat and Spoke with Two Victims in Fluent German" - Ahmed Hatem and Hamza Hendawi (Independent-UK)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Condemns "Brutal" Attack near Holy Site in Jerusalem - Jesse Byrnes
    The White House on Saturday condemned an attack in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday. "The people of the United States are heartbroken that terrorists brutally gunned down two Israeli police officers, and we extend our prayers and sympathies to the families of the victims," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement. "There must be zero tolerance for terrorism. It is incompatible with achieving peace and we must condemn it in the strongest terms, defeat it, and eradicate it."  (The Hill)
        See also Video: Security Footage Shows Arab Gunmen on Temple Mount Shooting Israeli Policeman in the Back
    Israel Police on Friday released security footage from the shooting attack at the Temple Mount that day. Two Israeli police officers, one of them standing, the other sitting, are in an alleyway just outside the Temple Mount compound when two armed men, weapons drawn, run up behind the standing officer and shoot him in the back. The terrorists then ran back to the Temple Mount compound. (Times of Israel)
        See also Failing to Mention Attack, Arab League Scolds Israel for Temple Mount Closure (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Reopens Jerusalem Holy Site after Deadly Assault - Aron Heller (AP)
  • U.S. Says UAE Orchestrated Hacking of Qatari Government Sites - Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima
    U.S. intelligence officials say that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the implementation of a plan to hack Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. The false reports said that the emir had called Iran an "Islamic power" and praised Hamas.
        Citing the emir's reported comments, the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt immediately banned all Qatari media, broke relations with Qatar, and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott. UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba said, "The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking."
        More than 10,000 U.S. troops are based at Qatar's al-Udeid Air Base, the U.S. Central Command's regional headquarters. Asked about the U.S. military base in Qatar, President Trump said, "If we ever have to leave" the base, "we would have 10 countries willing to build us another one, believe me. And they'll pay for it."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Gunmen Hid Weapons on Temple Mount before Attack, May Have Been Helped by Muslim Waqf Officials
    Israel's Channel 2 reported on Saturday night that three Waqf officials were under arrest on suspicion of assisting or encouraging the Temple Mount attackers. It said the three gunmen had stored their weapons inside the compound several days before Friday's attack. One of the three Waqf officials arrested was reported to have been seen acting suspiciously on security cameras. (Times of Israel)
        See also Abbas Condemns Temple Mount Shooters, Netanyahu Reaffirms Status Quo - Amos Harel
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke by phone on Friday - a rare occurrence. The Israeli side reported that Abbas condemned the attack and Netanyahu informed him there was no intention of changing the status quo with regard to worship on the Temple Mount.
        The three assailants, as was obvious from the video footage released by the police, opened fire from within the Al-Aqsa mosque complex outward, on the Border Police stationed at the entrance. Not only was the taboo broken of gunfire at a site sacred to both religions, but someone on the Palestinian side may have aided the assailants to smuggle the weapons in. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Police Uncover Weapons in Temple Mount Searches - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli police uncovered dozens of weapons in the Temple Mount compound during searches on Friday and Saturday, Jerusalem Police Chief Yoram Halevi told Army Radio on Sunday. "We found dozens of knives, slingshots, cudgels, spikes, inciting material, unexploded munitions, [and] stun grenades," Halevi said. "The search was coordinated with Waqf officials, including even having one or two Waqf people accompany us."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Mourns Officers Killed in Temple Mount Attack - Judah Ari Gross
    The two Israeli Druze police officers were laid to rest in their northern Israel villages on Friday evening. Haiel Sitawe, 30, joined the Israel Police in 2012 and had served in the unit responsible for securing the Temple Mount ever since. He leaves behind a wife, Irin, and a three-week-old son. Kamil Shnaan, 22, had signed on as a career officer seven months ago. He was the son of former Labor Party Knesset member Shachiv Shnaan. His engagement party was to be held next week.
        Police Chief Roni Alsheich said to the families of the officers, "We embrace you and promise you that you will never walk alone," adding that the two "died defending Jerusalem."  (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu, Macron Pay Tribute to Jewish WWII Deportees in Paris
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron participated in a commemoration ceremony on Sunday in Paris honoring the memory of French Jews who were deported from the French capital during World War II, 75 years ago. The July 1942 Vel' d'Hiv roundup is named after the stadium in which Nazi-led forces held the majority of those arrested ahead of their deportation to Auschwitz. Over 13,000 Paris Jews were arrested and deported to their deaths. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu's Remarks at Ceremony Commemorating Deportation of French Jews (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also At Holocaust Memorial, Macron Says Anti-Zionism Is the New Anti-Semitism - Raphael Ahren
    French President Emmanuel Macron condemned anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism, at an event in Paris marking the mass roundup of French Jews in July 1942. "We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism," he said. Macron forcefully denounced Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, and accepted France's responsibility for the deportations organized by the Vichy French regime. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Who Is Behind the Killers on the Temple Mount? - Moshe Arens
    Who is behind the killers on the Temple Mount from Umm al-Fahm? Fanatical Islamists who believe that killing Jews is a commandment from Allah. Umm al-Fahm is known as a hotbed of the now outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement led by Sheik Ra'ad Salah. They are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Hamas and is outlawed in Egypt as a terrorist organization. It is they who for years propagated the lie that the Al-Aqsa mosque was in danger of being destroyed by Israel, attempting to fan hatred for Israel among all Muslims. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Terror from the Temple Mount Mosques - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • To Islamists, No Religious Site Is Sacred - Reuven Berko
    Since before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs have treated the Temple Mount as a "religious trigger" to be used to whip the masses into a fury of violence against the Jewish community. Every time the Palestinians are in trouble, they turn up the flames at the Temple Mount with the lie that Israel is planning to topple the Al-Aqsa mosque. While Israel is using the best methods at its disposal to secure Al-Aqsa, the Palestinians treat the mosque in a contemptuous manner, using it as a nexus for religious incitement to terrorism.
        The terrorist attack on the Temple Mount shows the Palestinians' destructive attitude toward Islamic holy sites, as well as how they thumb their noses at Jordan's role as supervisor of the Temple Mount mosques. Dr. Col. (ret.) Reuven Berko was an adviser on Arab Affairs to the Jerusalem district police. (Israel Hayom)

Despite Protests Against Metal Detectors, Hundreds of Muslims Pray on Temple Mount - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)

  • Hundreds of Muslims prayed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday as the site was reopened, despite disagreements among Islamic clerics over new security measures including metal detectors and cameras introduced by Israel after the terror attack on Friday that killed two Israeli policemen. Jerusalem police said Waqf officials were not required to go through the metal detectors. Despite protests, many worshipers did enter, including Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf.
  • Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Channel 2 TV that additional security checks for the public were now non-negotiable. "Live fire from inside the Temple Mount crosses every red line," he said. Erdan denied that the security checks constituted a violation of the status quo.
  • Erdan told Army Radio on Sunday: "We hope to place metal detection gates at all the entrances to the Mount and reach a point where everyone who enters gets checked." Yoram Halevi, head of Jerusalem District Police, said the current metal detectors are temporary and that full, final security arrangements are still being worked out.
  • Jews and others who wish to pray at the Western Wall, which is adjacent to the Temple Mount, are subject to security checks and must pass through metal detectors. The Mughrabi Gate entrance to the Temple Mount, used by Jews and foreign visitors, has a metal detector.
  • Erdan acknowledged the practical challenges. "On Fridays, and during Ramadan, tens of thousands of people, and sometimes over 100,000, enter in just a few hours," he said. "There is a concern that [metal detectors] will create long lines, and that those operating the detectors will become targets for terror attacks. There is also an issue with checking women entering the Mount."

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