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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 15, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Send Aid to Sierra Leone after Devastating Landslide (Times of Israel)
    Israel is to send medicines, clean water, blankets and other needed items to Sierra Leone, where hundreds of people were killed in a massive landslide in Freetown, the capital, Prime Minister Netanyahu's office said Monday.

Iran-Backed Cyber-Espionage Group Uncovered - Mohammed Alkhereiji (Arab Weekly-UPI)
    The Iran-backed cyber-espionage group CopyKittens has increased activities, launching attacks on governments, defense companies and academic institutions in support of Tehran's political agenda, a report by the Israeli firm ClearSky Cybersecurity said.
    CopyKittens' activities mostly centered on espionage of strategic targets, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Germany and the U.S.

Rome Reverses Decision to Honor Arafat as "Peace Activist" - Reuven Berko (Israel Hayom)
    This week the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, reversed a decision to memorialize Yasser Arafat by naming one of the city's public parks after him.
    The head of the Jewish community in Rome, Ruth Dureghello, had condemned the decision, noting Arafat's direct involvement in a terrorist attack that killed a young Jewish man in Rome in 1982.
    Dureghello wrote, "The municipality must decide whether it wants to memorialize the terrorists or their victims."

Israel to Take Part in U.S. Space Project - Ilan Gattegno (Israel Hayom)
    Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have been selected by NASA to develop a Transient Astrophysics Observer, which will measure blasts of electromagnetic energy from outer space on the International Space Station.
    Technion researchers Ehud Behar and Shlomit Tarem have already developed a gamma ray detector.

Rising Chinese Enrollment at Israeli Universities - Sarah Levi (Jerusalem Post)
    The University of Haifa currently has 200 Chinese students, compared to 20 in 2013.
    The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology had 117 full-time Chinese students during the 2016-2017 academic year, and 177 Chinese students enrolled in its summer school of engineering.
    A branch of the Technion in China's Guangdong Province will open in October with 240 students.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russia Foils ISIS Bomb Plot, Discovers Moscow Explosives Lab - Jack Moore
    Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has thwarted a double suicide bomb plot in Moscow directed by Islamic State, the agency said Monday. Four people were arrested for plotting the attacks: one targeting the city's metro system and another that would strike a shop.
        An explosives lab on the outskirts of Moscow was also uncovered. Two militants from the former Soviet Union fighting for ISIS in Syria directed the attacks. Russia estimates that 2,500 Russian nationals have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria since 2015. (Newsweek)
  • Russia Re-examines Relationship with Iran - Anton Mardasov
    As Islamic State has been in steady retreat in Syria, Iran and Russia are facing real difficulties sustaining their partnership. Russia is currently opting for agreements beyond the peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan - that is, behind Iran's back. Examples include the de-escalation zone in southwest Syria that Russia negotiated with the U.S., as well as de-escalation zones in eastern Ghouta and northern Homs, both of which were negotiated in Cairo.
        A Russian military intelligence source said that since eastern Aleppo was recaptured by Assad's troops, Russia and Iran have been fiercely vying for regional dominance. The writer heads the Department of Middle Eastern Conflicts at the Institute for Innovative Development in Moscow. (Al-Monitor)
  • India Deploying Israeli-Made Smart Fence on Border with Pakistan
    India is deploying a smart Israel-developed fence along its volatile border with Pakistan that sends a "quick response team" to the site of any detected infiltration attempt.  K.K. Sharma, the director general of India's Border Security Force (BSF), said, "There is going to be a paradigm shift in our operational preparedness. As of now, we patrol from point-A to point-B (along the border). What we are now planning is to shift to a QRT (quick reaction team)-based system."
        He said the system of smart fences and surveillance methods is from the state-of-the-art technologies being used in Israel. "We will have multi-layered security systems. If one fails, then the second system will detect it."  (Press Trust of India)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Top Islamic Cleric in Israel Arrested for Incitement to Terror
    Islamic cleric Raed Salah, who heads the banned Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was arrested Monday in Umm al-Fahm. Police said Tuesday he was "a central instigator" of incitement to violence and terror. Salah has spearheaded campaigns asserting that "Al-Aqsa [mosque] is in danger," an allegation that was at the heart of last month's violence at the site in Jerusalem.
        Salah was released from prison in January after serving a nine-month sentence for incitement to violence and racism, after being convicted over a 2007 sermon in which he praised martyrdom for the sake of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque. (Times of Israel)
  • UNRWA Closes Hamas Tunnel under Gaza Schools - Tovah Lazaroff
    UNRWA announced Monday that it had sealed a Hamas tunnel it found two months ago built under two of its schools in the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why the North Korea Crisis Has Serious Implications for the Middle East - David Rothkopf
    The crisis created by the rapid advancements in North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities has implications for future efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program. North Korea has reawakened America to the palpable threat of nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, as U.S. media focused on the possibility of a nuclear strike against America by a rogue state.
        The result is a much greater public awareness of the dangers of nuclear proliferation, as the American people receive a crash course in what happens if a hostile regime gains the ultimate destructive power of atomic weapons. They are now thinking as they have not in the past about the special challenges posed by states that may not be rational actors and may not be susceptible to the power of deterrence. The writer is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
        See also below Observations: Experts Concerned about North Korean Nuclear Precedent for Iran - Ariel Ben Solomon (
  • UNRWA Condemns the Palestinians to Refugee Status in Perpetuity - Alan Baker
    According to the mandate of the "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East" (UNRWA), refugee status extends to cover all future generations of Palestinians. With refugee status now applying to the fourth generation of Palestinians, this definition has exploded the number of registered refugees from 700,000 in 1949 to 5,000,000.
        Unlike UNRWA, the much more successful model for international refugee relief - the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - seeks to resettle refugees, not perpetuate their camp existence. The UNHRC operates on the basis of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which does not say a word about passing refugee status to descendants.
        Any attempt to reach a final Israeli-Palestinian peace must require a complete suspension of UNRWA funding and financing with a view to dissolving the agency and dismantling the refugee camps. New housing should replace them. Funding should be transformed into direct assistance to the appropriate agencies to carry out this task. If the goal is to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all, then UNRWA's current configuration makes a final peace impossible to achieve.
        Amb. Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center, served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Experts Concerned about North Korean Nuclear Precedent for Iran - Ariel Ben Solomon (

  • "The aspect of the North Korean case that needs to be taken into account with regard to Iran is the fact that despite all the differences between the two states, they share a determination to acquire nuclear weapons in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitment they took upon themselves to remain non-nuclear," said Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
  • "In 1994, there were celebrations of the deal with North Korea that were viewed as ending the nuclear crisis, but it continued to move forward." The Obama administration had celebrated the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran with even greater fanfare, but "there is no indication of an Iranian strategic U-turn in the nuclear realm, and the deal itself is severely flawed."
  • "If a short-term delay causes the international community to be lulled into a false sense that the deal 'is working,' as we are hearing lately from deal supporters, it is likely to wake up with a nuclear Iran that will be as firmly entrenched as North Korea."
  • Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, said the current dilemmas with Iran and North Korea relate to how both nuclear deals were negotiated. "American diplomats in both cases were so afraid talks would fail that they would agree to a bad deal, and ignore backsliding and cheating just to keep hope alive....Those negotiating with Iran fooled themselves into thinking reformists mattered."
  • Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, director of research for the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Israel's IDC Herzliya college, said Middle Eastern states such as Iran are watching how America deals with North Korea. Failure to thwart North Korea "may be a prelude to a more challenging threat from Tehran.... The campaign against North Korea may define the American position against Iran."

        See also The North Korean Case of Failed Negotiations Must Be Heeded When Thinking about Iran - Emily B. Landau
    Strong international actors cannot afford to be complacent about a negotiated deal when it does not reflect a strategic reversal on the part of the proliferator. If the Iran deal has achieved a delay, the challenge is to use this time to reverse negative trends and prepare better for the future, not to rest on one's laurels while celebrating a deal that has not stopped Iran in the nuclear realm, and could render that goal even more elusive in eight to nine years. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

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