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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
August 31, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Sends Special Crisis Unit to Houston after Hurricane - Becky Brothman (Jerusalem Post)
    A team of Israeli mental health professionals organized by the Israel Rescue Coalition will arrive in Houston on Thursday to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
    "People need help on the ground. They need to be able to wrap their minds around what was lost and they need assistance figuring out how to cope and where to go from here," said Dov Maisel, Director of International Operations for the IRC and Vice President of United Hatzalah.
    See also The Jewish Heroes of Hurricane Harvey - Yaakov Schwartz (Times of Israel)

Israel and Private Donors Provide $32 Million in Aid to Syrian Civilians This Year - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and private donors will spend at least $32 million sending goods to Syrian civilians this year - $26 million from donations and $6 million from the IDF budget.
    These numbers do not include the cost of providing medical treatment for Syrian civilians inside Israel.
    From August 2016 to June 2017, transfers to Syria included 92 pallets of drugs, incubators, ventilation machinery, two ambulances, 600 meters of pipes, seven generators, 100 tons of warm clothing, 363 tons of food and 1,800 packets of diapers.

Saudi Arabia Funds Families of Palestinian "Martyrs" to Make Hajj Pilgrimage - Dima Abumaria (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz has for the ninth year in a row allocated funds to 500 families of Palestinian "martyrs" to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Israeli Hospital Is First to Implant Device to Treat Heart Failure - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Congestive heart failure has no medical solution. However, a new Israeli patent, implemented for the first time in a Canadian patient at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center, could be a "therapeutic breakthrough," said Dr. Yair Peled, the cardiologist who invented it.
    In a minimally invasive operation, while the heart is beating, the CoRolla device was implanted by catheter in the left ventricle of the heart.
    See also Video: New Hope for Heart Failure Patients (Rambam Medical Center)

Israel's Elbit Upgrading F-5 Fighters of Asian-Pacific Country - Richard Tomkins (UPI)
    Elbit Systems of Israel is to upgrade F-5 fighter jets from an Asia-Pacific country under a $93 million, three-year contract, the company announced on Tuesday.
    Elbit will supply the aircraft with the latest systems, including Head-Up Displays, advanced cockpit, radars, weapon delivery and navigation systems, and DASH IV Head Mounted Systems.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Get Stronger Inspection Powers for Hizbullah Arms - Rick Gladstone
    The UN Security Council on Wednesday voted to renew the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for another year after addressing American and Israeli complaints that the force was ignoring a Hizbullah arms buildup near Israel's border. The U.S. had insisted that UNIFIL must be more muscular in policing Hizbullah weaponry, and had suggested it would not agree to renewing the mandate without significant changes. The resolution requests that Secretary General Antonio Guterres examine ways to "increase UNIFIL's visible presence, including through patrols and inspections."  (New York Times)
  • With Win Over Islamic State, Hizbullah Gains New Sway in Lebanon - Yaroslav Trofimov
    On Saturday, parallel operations by Lebanon's army from inside Lebanon and by Hizbullah fighters advancing from Syria cleared out Islamic State's redoubt in the mountainous Qalamoun region straddling the border. A deal struck by Hizbullah allowed hundreds of Islamic State militants to move to the group's remaining territory in eastern Syria. The U.S. launched two airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday aimed at stopping the convoy carrying the fighters and their families.
        Many Lebanese were upset with how Hizbullah negotiated with Islamic State - an approach that seemed to undermine the authority of the Lebanese army and the Lebanese state. Nevertheless, nobody in Lebanon today appears in a position to resist Hizbullah's strategic choices. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. and Iran on a Collision Course in Syria - Ahmad Majidyar
    Iran and its allies are sending reinforcements near a de-confliction zone in southeastern Syria to pressure the U.S. military to withdraw from a strategic garrison near the al-Tanf border crossing. Both Tehran and Damascus see the presence of U.S. troops training rebel forces in al-Tanf, as well as in northeastern Syria, as a serious threat.
        Iran also views the expulsion of the U.S. military from the strategic border crossing between Syria, Iraq and Jordan as a prerequisite to securing a sustainable supply line to Syria and Lebanon, as well as to establishing a new battlefront against Israel in southern Syria. If the U.S. maintains control over these strategic border crossings, it will be able to prevent the ground lines of communications for Iranian-backed forces between Iraq and Syria. The writer is director of Iran Observed Project at the Middle East Institute. (Middle East Institute)
        See also U.S. Troops in Syria Fired On by Turkish-Backed Rebels - Ryan Browne
    U.S. troops in northern Syria came under direct attack last week by Turkish-backed opposition forces, a military official said Tuesday. There were no casualties on either side. "We are engaged with Ankara and other parties to address this danger," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Ambassador: America, Israel of "Same Mind" on Stopping Iran in Syria - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    The U.S. and Israel are "of the same mind" when it comes to opposition to any Iranian military presence in Syria, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview this week. Friedman said the U.S. was "extraordinarily receptive" to Israel's concerns about Iranian penetration into Syria. "The vacuum created by the defeat of ISIS cannot result in the presence of Iranian military bases," Friedman said, adding that the issue of how to get "the right result" was still a work in progress.
        Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, Friedman said that the Trump administration was "trying very hard not to repeat the mistakes of the past....We're trying to find ways to make sure that each side looks at the opportunity versus the present and concludes that the opportunity is better than the present."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Mideast Peace Envoy: PA Must Rule Gaza, Hamas Must Return Israeli Captives - Amir Tibon
    Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said on Wednesday, "It is clear that the Palestinian Authority needs to resume its role in the administration of Gaza, as Hamas has substantially harmed the people of Gaza and has failed to meet their most basic needs." Greenblatt toured the Israel-Gaza border area with IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Greenblatt also called on Hamas "to return the IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul," and to release three Israeli civilians they are holding. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Arab Summer Campers March in West Bank to Honor Palestinian Martyrs - Yishai Porat
    A summer camp for Israeli Arab youth organized by the Balad party held its concluding ceremony this week in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem in the West Bank, with campers marching in a procession honoring Palestinian "martyrs." Draped in Palestinian flags, the children chanted, "With spirit and blood we will redeem you, Palestine." Afterwards, they visited families of terrorists who were killed or wounded during terror attacks against Israelis. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's New Defense Minister Is Committed to Missile Program and Export of Revolution - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    The new Iranian defense minister, Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami, reemphasized on Aug. 20 the Defense Ministry's strong support for the "resistance front" and the need to promote the Iranian regime's missile program. In addition, the new commander of the Iranian army, Maj.-Gen. Abd al-Rahim Mousavi, vowed that he is committed to the goal that Israel would cease to exist within 25 years, thanks to the bravery of the Iranian martyrs.
        Iran is exploiting its contribution to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in order to entrench its status as a power broker, without which no new order will be established in either of those countries. Iran seeks to create a "Shiite crescent" to include Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to create a platform for the "resistance front" in its ongoing struggle against Israel and the Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia. The writer is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • A Successful Strategy Against BDS - Benjamin Weinthal and Asaf Romirowsky
    Dallas-based banking giant Comerica in May closed the account of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) that wages legal and economic warfare against America and Israel, after Texas passed an anti-BDS law.
        The Comerica example is very positive and should be expanded in North America. Nearly half of America's states have taken measures against BDS. Europe has made a significant effort to shut down bank accounts and freeze the assets of BDS perpetrators. Banks across Germany, Austria, Ireland and France have pulled the plug on BDS accounts. Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Asaf Romirowsky is executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. (National Interest)

West Point and Naval Academy Cadets Share Impressions of Visiting Israel (Ynet News)

  • Our Soldiers Speak, a U.S.-based NGO, recently brought 28 West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen on a 12-day tour of "Israel through the Defense & Policy Lens."
  • Lauren Larar, a senior at the Naval Academy, said that while it was a somewhat peculiar site for her to witness IDF soldiers carrying guns when she first walked Israel's streets, any anxiety was swiftly replaced by a heightened sense of security.
  • Austin Neal, from West Point, said, "I expected it to be a lot more intense, especially around the borders we went to, but I felt safe even around the hot areas. It didn't seem nearly as violent as it has been portrayed to me....We were in Jerusalem when an attack occurred a few days ago and there wasn't a time when I didn't feel safe. I felt safe the entire time. In terms of security, Israel's got a hold on what they're doing pretty well."
  • Hannah Fairfield, a West Point senior, pointed to the proximity of Israel's air defense sites to the civilian population. "It was crazy to me just how close we were to the city. Everything is just really compact and they really don't have much operational depth. The IDF is really impressive in that sense how they still get everything done that they have to get done."
  • Drew Bennet, a junior at the Naval Academy, said, "I am taking away a much greater appreciation for the Jewish people in general over the last 2,000 years and how much of a miracle it is that Israel has become what it is today." He lauded the "one gem of a country that is able to stick out against all the odds."
  • Lauren Larar was most profoundly struck by Israel's sense of patriotism, which she said constituted the most inspirational takeaway of the tour. "To us, we think, 'oh my goodness, they have to deal with this,' but no matter how difficult the situation was that they told us about, the reoccurring theme at the end of every conversation with every person was just how much they love their country."

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