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September 4, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Faces ISIS in the Golan Heights - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Israel faces Islamic State in two sectors: the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.
    The security fence in the southern part of the Golan Heights does not overlap with the border. For operational and topographical reasons, there are small enclaves between the border and the security fence stretching up to 2 km. deep in some areas.
    The IDF engages in dozens of nightly operations in these areas, some on the fence and some beyond it, with the sole purpose of preventing ISIS operatives in Syria from striking Israel.
    ISIS now has 1,000 operatives in the Syrian Golan Heights, equipped with light artillery, mortars, explosive charges, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
    Since February, ISIS has doubled the area under its control and now lords over some 100,000 residents.
    The enclaves remain the only areas in the Golan Heights to still have land mines. Across the rest of the area, rebels collected thousands of mines the Syrian army had scattered there to use against President Assad's troops.

Israeli Wins Bronze at Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships - Adi Rubenstein (Israel Hayom)
    Linoy Ashram, 18, on Friday took home the bronze medal in the all-around competition at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Pesaro, Italy.
    See also Video: Linoy Ashram at the 2017 Rhythmic World Championships (YouTube)

Canadian Union Adopts Anti-Israel BDS Motion - Sheri Shefa (Canadian Jewish News)
    Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union with more than 310,000 members, adopted a motion in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement at its Aug. 18-20 convention in Winnipeg.

Dr. Avi Yitzhaki Becomes First IDF Colonel of Ethiopian Origin - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Dr. Avi Yitzhaki, the chief medical officer of the IDF Southern Command, on Thursday became the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to be promoted to the rank of colonel.
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said, "Col. Avi Yitzhaki is a trailblazer. I congratulate you. To me, this promotion expresses the great appreciation of all you've done so far."
    Yitzhaki said, "I have no doubt my children, teenagers in general, and teenagers from the Ethiopian community, in particular, will see this as a realization of the phrase 'If you will it, it is no dream.'"
    Yitzhaki made aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia in 1994 at the age of 19. He completed medical studies at Ben-Gurion University.
    He served as a doctor with the Paratroopers Brigade and the Maglan special forces unit, and was wounded in the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian Defense Minister: Priority Is to Boost Missile Program
    Iran's new defense minister, Gen. Amir Hatami, said Saturday the priority was to boost the country's missile program and export weapons to shore up neighboring allies, in a speech carried by the ISNA news agency. "God willing, the combat capabilities of Iran's ballistic and cruise missiles will increase in this term," he added.
        Hatami is the first defense minister to be selected from the regular army, rather than the Revolutionary Guards, in more than two decades. Analysts say this reflects an increasing convergence between the army and the Guards as Iran increases its involvement in regional conflicts such as in Syria and Iraq, which have been the Guard's exclusive purview since the 1979 Islamic revolution. (AFP-Al-Arabiya)
        See also Report: Iran Warned Away U.S. Spy Plane, Drone
    Iran's air defenses forced an approaching U.S. U2 spy plane to change course near its air space in March and intercepted an unmanned RQ-4 drone last week, Brig.-Gen. Farzad Esmaili, commander of Iran's air defense force, said Sunday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. (Reuters)
  • Iran: Only Some External Pipelines of Arak Reactor Were Filled with Cement, Its Core Was Not - A. Savyon and U. Kafash
    Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told IRINN TV on Aug. 22: "Certain people said that our nuclear industry has been paralyzed, and that it has been shut down....[They] claimed that we had poured cement into the core of the Arak reactor....We [actually] poured cement only into some of the reactor's pipelines, several centimeters in diameter and two to three meters long, not into the reactor itself but into the external pipes. If we are instructed to restore the former reactor...we will remove the front and back parts of these pipes and put in new pipes, which will take only several months."  (MEMRI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Video - Netanyahu: "Why Do the Palestinians Consistently Choose to Honor Mass Murderers?"
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a new video on Sunday: "Imagine a seven-year-old Palestinian girl named Fatima. Fatima is walking with her mother to school. They pass a statue erected in June and young Fatima asks, 'Who is that?' Her mother answers: 'That's Khaled Nazzal. He planned the murder of 22 Israeli school children and four grown ups.'"
        "On their walk back, Fatima and her mother pass another statue, also erected by the Palestinian Authority last year. 'What's his name?' Fatima asks with a child's curiosity. The mother answers: 'That's Abu Sukkar. He murdered 15 Israelis.' As they approach their house, Fatima peers up at one last statue erected by the Palestinian Authority. 'Mommy, which one is that?' And the mother answers: 'That is Dalal Mughrabi. She murdered 37 Israelis on a bus.'"
        "Fatmia doesn't deserve to be brainwashed with this kind of hatred. No child does. Children should be taught to love and respect, not to hate and kill. There are so many great champions of peace to dedicate statues to. Why do the Palestinians consistently choose to honor mass murderers?"  (YouTube)
  • Iranians at the Gates - Avi Issacharoff
    The disappearance of the Islamic State from wide swaths of Syria, together with the superpowers' lack of interest in removing Syrian President Assad from power, are paving the way for an Iranian takeover of these territories. At the same time, massive numbers of Hizbullah troops loyal to Iran have entrenched themselves in southern Lebanon.
        Israel won't abide the presence of Shi'ite forces on the border, be they Hizbullah or other Iran-backed militias. Jerusalem has warned against Iranian efforts to set up missile production facilities in Lebanon. Tehran is investing enormous resources in order to transform Syria into an Iranian province, with thousands of Shiites in Tehran's pay who are deployed throughout Syria.
        The Russians are really the only ones who can make a difference. But they have no intention of doing so. For them, the presence of thousands of Shi'ites will shore up Assad's regime.
        Iran's massive investments are likely an outgrowth of increased financial stability thanks to the Iran nuclear deal. Iran's Revolutionary Guards have seen a 40% bump in their budget compared to last year. Without sanctions relief, could Tehran have even dreamed of building a new Persian Empire stretching from Yemen to Lebanon? (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Challenge of Iran in Russia-Dominated Syria - Zvi Magen, Udi Dekel, and Sima Shine
    The central issue discussed at the Aug. 23 meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Putin in Sochi was growing Iranian involvement in Syria and the role that Russia is assigning to Iran in shaping the future political arrangement there. At the same time, there was an Israeli effort to persuade the U.S. to refrain from completely abandoning the Syrian arena to Russia, as most areas controlled by the Islamic State that were freed by the U.S. have been seized by Iran and its proxies.
        Moscow estimates that Iranian conduct in Syria and the resulting Israeli concerns may ultimately lead to Israeli military action, which could undermine the shaky foundations of the Assad regime. Yet in the Syrian arena there is currently no element, including Iran, that wants escalation that could lead to war with Israel, something that could severely damage the Iranian project in Syria.
        Israel must not allow the consolidation of Iranian influence in Syria for the long term, expanding the area of friction between Israel and Iran and its proxies. Consequently, Israel's struggle against Iran's growing influence in Syria will be determined by the ability of both Iran and Israel to exercise effective levers of influence on Russia. Israel should treat Russia's promises with caution, and improve its readiness to use force wisely and with a low signature against Iran's establishing itself in Syria.
        Zvi Magen is a former Israeli ambassador to Russia. Udi Dekel, managing director of INSS, was head of the Strategic Planning Division in the IDF General Staff. Sima Shine was head of the Mossad's research division. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Egypt Wonders If It Can Trust America - Zvi Mazel
    The recent U.S. cancellation and suspension of part of its aid to Egypt has left Cairo stunned and angry. Former President Obama had frozen part of the aid package, which had the effect of pushing Egypt into the embrace of Russia. The amount withheld was partly related to a recent decision by the Egyptian parliament to limit the activities of civil society NGOs.
        Egypt does have a troubling record on human rights, but one must remember that it has been a Muslim country for 1,400 years and the clear majority of the population wants to live according to Shari'a. A similar situation is to be found in all Arab countries, and there is no great likelihood that they will become Western democracies anytime soon.
        Egypt is the most populous and most influential Arab state, with the largest Arab army. It has been at peace with Israel for nearly four decades and is the leader of the Sunni coalition against Iran and Islamic terrorism. It was also a staunch ally of America. There is a feeling in Egypt that despite the protests of goodwill by the new president, America cannot be trusted - and that closer links with Russia are needed. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)

Hijacking the Laws of Occupation - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • There are 40 or more ongoing conflict and occupation situations throughout the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, East Timor, East Congo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, and the Crimea.
  • Curiously, these situations, which involve extensive transfer of people in order to settle in the occupied territory, are rarely seen by the international community as "occupations." Nor are the respective parties involved described as "belligerent occupants," "occupying powers," or "settlers."
  • From the extent and volume of international attention directed toward Israel and the excessive number of UN resolutions, one might be led to assume that Israel is considered within the international community to be the only "occupying power."
  • The accepted rules of occupation are overly general and do not take into consideration the often unique political, legal, and historical status of the territory in dispute, as is the case regarding Israel.
  • The language of occupation law has been politicized, and partisan political expressions such as "Occupied Palestinian Territories" have become common language by the UN and by such humanitarian organizations as the International Red Cross.
  • This terminology has no legal basis and prejudges ongoing, agreed-upon, and internationally-endorsed negotiation issues between Israel and the Palestinians. Their use by humanitarian organizations such as the International Red Cross is incompatible with its own constitutional principles of neutrality and impartiality.

    Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.

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