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September 15, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Explosion in London Subway Declared "Terrorist Incident" by Police - William Booth and Karla Adam (Washington Post)
    A small explosion went off in a London subway carriage Friday at Parsons Green station during morning rush hour, injuring a number of commuters and sending them scrambling for safety in what Metropolitan Police are calling a terrorist incident.
    See also 18 Injured after Explosion in London Subway - Francesca Gillett (Evening Standard-UK)

Israel Denies that Moscow Rebuffed Plea to Keep Iran Away from Israel-Syria Border - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    A senior official in Prime Minister Netanyahu's entourage said on Thursday that Israel never asked the Russians or Americans for the creation of a 60-km. buffer zone in Syria where Iran or Shia militias would not be allowed to operate, denying press reports.
    The official said that during Netanyahu's meeting with Russian President Putin last month, he did not ask anything.
    Rather, he made clear that Israel was opposed to a permanent Iranian presence in Syria and that Israel would act if necessary to back up that position.

U.S., Israel Deny Closed Door Shouting Match with McMaster - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    Multiple senior U.S. and Israeli officials say recent reports of a shouting match at an August meeting between an Israeli delegation and White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster are false.
    Contrary to press reports, McMaster fully supports Hizbullah's designation as a global terrorist organization.
    Moreover, National Security Council staffer Mustafa Javed Ali, whose views were reportedly a subject of Israeli concern, had not even attended the meeting.

Iranian Satellite Launch Malfunctioned in July (Strategy Page)
    In July 2017, Iran announced the successful second test launch of the Simorgh satellite launch vehicle.
    Within a week, American intelligence officials revealed that as the Simorgh approached the point outside the atmosphere where it would insert a satellite, it malfunctioned and fell back to earth.
    American, South Korean and UN ballistic missile experts agree that the Simorgh appears to be based on the North Korean Unha ballistic missile.
    Iran and North Korea have been trading weapons and weapons tech since the 1980s.

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Two Hamas Militants Die in Gaza Tunnels Collapse (AFP)
    Two Hamas militants, Khalil al-Dimyati, 32, and Yusef Abu Abed, 22, were killed overnight Thursday after two "resistance tunnels" collapsed in Gaza, Hamas said on Friday.
    Several dozen Hamas members have died in tunnel collapses in the past year.

Gaza Renews Clothing Exports to Israel (Xinhua-China)
    Clothing companies in Gaza have resumed shipments to the Israeli market for the first time since the Hamas takeover there in 2007.
    Bashir al-Bawab, chairman of Unipal 2000 in Gaza, said his company exported 6,000 pieces of clothing to Israel through the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing.
    Tayseer al-Oustaz, head of the Gaza Federation of the Clothing and Textile Industry, said 25 factories are ready to sell their products to the Israeli market.

China Signs Deal for Israeli Lab-Grown Vegan Meat - Chase Purdy (Quartz)
    China this week inked a deal with Israeli high-tech vegan meat companies.
    Eight companies in the world are working to produce high-tech, vegan meat and three of them are in Israel - SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies, and Meat the Future.

Israeli Travel Tech Startups Set to Take Off (Tnooz)
    Tripalista provides an easy way for users to explore trips from friends and real travelers, filtering and searching trips to find people who share the same interests.
    BookingDirection is an add-on for hotel websites that increases direct bookings using price comparison widgets, callout messages, and ecommerce tactics.
    Gooster offers a digital concierge service for hotel guests instantly via chat for boutique hotels, three-to-four star hotels, and even youth hostels that currently don't have a physical concierge service.

Tourist Entries to Israel Up 20 Percent in August - Michal Raz-Chaimovich (Globes)
    253,800 tourists visited Israel in August, a 20% increase.
    2.3 million tourists entered Israel in January-August 2017, 24% more than the 1.8 million who entered during the same period last year.

Israel's Bet Shemesh Engine Seals Supply Deal with Pratt and Whitney (Reuters)
    Israel's Bet Shemesh Engine said on Thursday it has expanded an agreement to supply parts to aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney by $530 million, bringing the total deal to $640 million.
    Chairman Gillon Beck said Bet Shemesh Engine is "among the few companies in the world able to produce rotating parts critical for jet engines."

Daimler Invests in Israeli Fast-Charging Electric Battery Firm StoreDot (Reuters)
    Israel's StoreDot, which is developing fast-charging battery technology, said on Thursday it raised $60 million in a third round of financing led by the truck division of Germany's Daimler.
    StoreDot said its batteries, which use nanomaterials and proprietary organic compounds, enable fully charging any electric vehicle in five minutes.

Israel's Foreign Currency Reserves Rise to Record High (Globes)
    Israel's foreign currency reserves have risen from $97.626 billion twelve months ago to $111.020 billion at the end of August 2017.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump Administration Backs Taylor Force Act to End PA Payments to Terrorists - Richard Lardner
    The State Department announced Thursday its firm support for legislation that would suspend U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends a long-standing practice of rewarding Palestinians who kill Americans and Israelis. "The Trump administration strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, which is a consequence of Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization policy of paying terrorists and their families," the State Department said. It added that President Trump "raised the need to end any part of this program that incentivizes violence against Israeli and American citizens with President Mahmoud Abbas last May in both Washington and Bethlehem."  (AP-ABC News)
  • Trump Pursues New Path with Iran - David E. Sanger
    President Trump kept the Iran nuclear deal alive on Thursday as a congressionally imposed deadline to renew an exemption to sanctions on Iran lapsed. Had the president reimposed economic punishments on Iran, he would have effectively violated the accord, allowing Tehran to walk away and ending the agreement. The move was more consequential than the decision the president faces in October about recertifying to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the deal, which has no effect on the nuclear agreement itself.
        On Thursday, Trump again criticized the Iran agreement. "They have violated so many different elements, but they've also violated the spirit of that deal," he said. U.S. National Security Adviser Lt.-Gen. H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have pressed for a quiet escalation of economic and military pushback against Tehran's activities. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has argued that it is possible to both retain the existing deal and get allies on board for extending the duration of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities, while negotiating over Iran's development and testing of ballistic missiles. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Sanctions Iranian Nationals for Anti-U.S. Cyberattacks - Morgan Chalfant
    The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions on 11 entities and individuals for supporting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and networks responsible for cyberattacks targeting the U.S. financial system. The seven Iranian nationals listed are the same ones indicted by the Justice Department in March 2016 for their role in coordinated cyberattacks against the U.S. between 2011 and 2013. (The Hill)
  • Mexico Accepts Israeli Offer to Help Develop Central America
    Speaking at a news conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Thursday that his country had accepted Israel's offer to help it and the U.S. develop Central America, particularly Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He noted that Israel brings experience from development projects in Africa. Netanyahu's trip marked the first visit to Mexico by a sitting Israeli prime minister. (Reuters)
  • Russian Submarines Fire Cruise Missiles at Islamic State in Syria
    The Russian Navy on Thursday fired seven cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria's Deir al-Zor province, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday. The missiles were fired from two submarines in the eastern Mediterranean from a distance of 500-670 km. (727 miles). (Reuters)
        See also Islamists Maintain Stronghold in Syria's Idlib Province - Ruwan Rujouleh
    Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the al-Qaeda-linked successor to Jabhat al-Nusra and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, has established a stronghold in Syria's Idlib province, benefitting from relocations of fighters from southern and central Syria. Today, Idlib hosts more than 20,000 Islamist fighters along with their families. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel Protests International Marathon Body's Injection of Politics into Sports
    The Israel Marathon Association on Thursday said the Association of International Marathons and Distances Races was injecting politics into sports by excluding an Israeli race because it passes through the West Bank. Next month's Bible Marathon stretches from central Israel to Shilo, tracing a path described in the Book of Samuel.
        The Israeli association said the decision was "prompted by a campaign organized by political activists" and rested on false legal premises. It also noted that the international association has long recognized the Laayoune Marathon in the disputed Western Sahara region controlled by Morocco. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast: Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Trends in IAEA Inspections in Iran under the JCPOA - Olli Heinonen
    In 2015, IAEA inspectors spent 2,170 work days conducting inspections in Iran. During the first year of JCPOA implementation in 2016, the IAEA spent 1,042 work days conducting inspections. The writer is former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and head of its Department of Safeguards. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Former Israeli Defense Minister: The International Community Is Failing to Deal with Iran - Anna Ahronheim
    Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC in Herzliya on Tuesday that "the world has become accustomed to the fact that Lebanon was kidnapped by a terrorist organization [Hizbullah] operated by another country. But the reality is that the international community has become used to the world order and does not deal with it."
        "The Iranian regime continues to violate United Nations Security Council resolutions and distributes weapons and terrorism," he said. "It transfers arms to Lebanon and Yemen, for example, and does not pay a price. There are enough reasons to impose sanctions on Iran and even worsen the existing ones." He noted that Turkey helped finance Islamic State by buying oil from it and allowing people to pass freely through its territory to join the group in Syria and Iraq and then go back to their home countries as trained terrorists. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran's Regional Position Is Strengthening
    Iran has expanded its regional strategic position significantly since the July 2015 nuclear deal - not because Tehran has more financial resources to apply, but because conflicts in the region have offered Iran ample opportunities to intervene. Thanks to Russia's intervention in Syria, Iran and its main proxy, Hizbullah, have achieved a strategic victory there. As a result, Hizbullah and, by extension, Iran now threaten Israel's security from the Lebanon border and the Syria border as well.
        Pro-Assad forces backed by Hizbullah and Iran have advanced eastward, where they could link up with Iraqi Shi'a militias supported by Tehran and establish a secure land route through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. (Soufan Group)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel Has a Friend in Argentina, Its Neighbors Should Follow Suit - Jack Rosen
    It is encouraging to see a number of countries, led by President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, seek to build better relationships with Israel. The Israeli prime minister's visit highlights a shift in policy by countries including Argentina, Columbia, Paraguay and Mexico, paving the way for a greater allegiance with Israel.
        Common interests between South America and both Israel and the U.S. on the rise of international terrorism and the danger posed by Iran and Hizbullah are a uniting force. Israel's intelligence and expertise will be beneficial to countries across the Americas.
        Netanyahu's trip coincides with the 70th anniversary of the UN partition plan vote, when 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries were among 33 states that cast ballots in its favor, paving the way for Israel's independence. Israel owes a debt of gratitude to those countries. The writer is president of the American Jewish Congress. (The Hill)
  • Prime Minister Theresa May: "I'm a Proud Supporter of Israel"
    British Prime Minister Theresa May told a Jewish audience attending a Rosh Hashanah reception at 10 Downing Street that she is a "proud supporter of Israel." Ahead of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, she said, "It is absolutely right that we should mark the vital role that Britain played a century ago in helping to create a homeland for the Jewish people."
        May also said she would "actively encourage" use of the newly-adopted working definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance by the "police, legal profession, universities and other public bodies." The IHRA definition expands the actions and comments that can be considered anti-Semitic to include criticism of Israel. (Jewish News-UK)
  • Video: Radical Islam 16 Years after the 9/11 Attacks - Interview with Israel Shrenzel, former chief analyst in the Arabic section of the research division of the Israel Security Agency
    Q: In retrospect, 16 years after the 9/11 attacks, do you think that radical Muslims are more convinced that they are going to win eventually, or are they less convinced of that?
    A: I believe that their expectations from the attack and the attacks that followed it were larger than what really evolved later. They, themselves, understand that they didn't achieve the goals that they saw in front of them 16 years ago.
    Q: Do you think that radical Muslims are going to lose faith and are we going to see a decline in the extent of terrorist activities, or are they going to learn the lessons from their lack of success and try to do more?
    A: On the one hand, there are those who understand that this is not the way, and their understanding of this is based also on the failure of ISIS losing its main strongholds on the ground. On the other hand, within the radical ideology there are apparatuses that help the believers to stick to their beliefs, to get over what we call the "cognitive dissonance" and to explain to themselves the failures of ISIS and al-Qaeda as only obstacles in the way, and if they stick to the way of terrorism, finally they are going to emerge victorious.
        It depends also on the resilience of the Western regimes because, first and foremost, there is a need to fight against them, to arrest them, to judge them, and then to try to encourage pragmatic Muslims, non-violent Muslims, to raise their voices much louder and instill in the Muslim community a non-violent spirit. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Fixing the United Nations - Clifford D. May
    It's high time to end the obsessive campaign to de-legitimize Israel, the only nation in the Middle East that guarantees basic rights to all its citizens including its substantial Arab and Muslim minorities. In the 20th century, genocidal anti-Semites wiped Jewish communities off the map of Europe. In the 21st century, genocidal anti-Semites vow to wipe the Jewish state off the map of the Middle East.
        The UN has become their accomplice, a fact both President Trump and Ambassador Haley rightly regard as shameful. At the very least, money from American taxpayers should no longer go to UN agencies participating in this campaign. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • Counter-Terrorism: India, Israel and Border Security
    India has long been using Israeli security technology and border security advice along its more dangerous borders, like those in Kashmir. The Israeli equipment and experience helped stop illegal border crossings of armed Islamic terrorists from Pakistan through the use of ground radar, thermal imaging and other electronic gear. The key to these systems was new video and sensor analysis software, which the Israelis have pioneered.
        For a long time, it was conventional wisdom that you could not prevent irregulars (terrorists, guerillas, bandits, smugglers) from getting across a long frontier. But both Israel and India have been able to build security fences that have succeeded in keeping terrorists out.
        India has borders more than ten times longer than Israel and cannot afford to intensively use troop patrols to cover it all. The Israelis have proposed a security fence that comes in many different levels of complexity (and cost) and advised India to buy as much as they need for every part of the border. (Strategy Page)
  • Facebook's Anti-Extremism Methods - Shoshana Kranish
    Brian Fishman, Facebook's lead policymaker for counterterrorism, spoke to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC in Herzliya this week about the challenges Facebook faces in quickly scanning and removing terror-related content from its site, and what the company is doing to improve this process.
        Facebook employs 150 people - including lawyers and policy experts - whose primary responsibility is to address and remove terror-related content on the site. Facebook's computers have been programmed to scan content for buzzwords associated with terrorism. Moreover, in recent years, social media companies have learned to share information on troublesome users or content. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Aid Teams Deploy to Florida's Hardest-Hit Areas in Wake of Hurricane Irma
    Israeli rescue and humanitarian aid groups have deployed to the hardest-hit areas in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. In the Florida Keys, teams from the Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC) and United Hatzalah brought aid and medical assistance as well as much needed water and food to residents Tuesday. They also conducted house-to-house searches for people who chose not to evacuate and were stranded by the hurricane. (
  • Cornell and Israel's Technion Open High-Tech Campus in NYC - Josefin Dolsten
    A high-tech teaching and research center born of a collaboration between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology inaugurated its newly built campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Cornell Tech will offer master's and doctoral programs in fields related to technology, computer science and engineering. (New York Jewish Week)
  • How Israel Went Nuclear - Shimon Peres
    In the 1950s, the Arab world had made commitments to Israel's annihilation a litmus test for leadership; indeed, every Middle Eastern politician or general who hoped to ascend had to prove he was more intent on destroying us than his rival was. I believed that sowing doubt in their ability to actually do so was our highest security imperative.
        On Oct. 24, 1956, when the French and Israeli leadership were meeting to finalize the plans for Operation Suez, I approached French foreign minister Christian Pineau and defense minister Maurice Bourges-Maunoury with an explicit request: to sell Israel a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes. To my utter surprise, they agreed.
        The purpose of Israel's nuclear program was not to fight a war, but to prevent one. It was not the reactor that mattered but the echo it generated. This was a different kind of security altogether. This was the security of knowing the state would never be destroyed - a first step toward peace that started with peace of mind. This is an excerpt from No Room for Small Dreams, Shimon Peres' posthumous autobiography. (Tablet)
  • Israeli Doctors Treat 723 in Kenya, Set Up New Eye Clinic - Abigail Klein Leichman
    During August 15-23, 2017, medical volunteers with Israel's Eye from Zion held an "eye camp" at three locations in Kenya. They received 723 patients, performing free treatments and surgeries - 85% to remove cataracts and 10% to correct astigmatism.
        Participants also laid the groundwork for an advanced eye clinic at Chuka Regional Hospital. Eye from Zion and Israeli medical equipment supplier Alpha Net donated surgical and lab equipment and medications for the mission and for the clinic. Two Kenyan medical officers were trained to use the equipment and the hospital's technical staff learned how to maintain it. (Israel21c)
  • Israeli Tech to Prevent Pipe-Clogging at Hoover Dam
    Water purification technology developed by the Israeli firm Atlantium has been chosen for use at Hoover Dam in Arizona to prevent an invasive species of mussel from clogging the water cooling system and interfering with the dam's electricity production. Atlantium's non-chemical UV water purification technology will kill off the organisms.
        Atlantium is headed by Benjamin Kahn, an Israeli marine biologist who in 2007 was named by Time as one of its "Heroes of the Environment" for working towards preserving the coral reefs in the Red Sea next to Eilat. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Has Answer to India's Oriental Fruit Fly Menace
    Biofeed, an Israeli company, says it has developed a no-spray, environment-friendly solution that can protect Indian farmers from the deadly oriental fruit fly, the most destructive, invasive and widespread of all fruit flies that is found in 66 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
        Biofeed "lures" hung on trees contain an organic, customized mix of food and control agents. Attracted by the odor, the fruit fly takes a sip and soon dies, without any chemicals reaching the fruit, air or soil. Mango farmers on four Indian orchards saw an overall decrease of fruit fly infestation from 95% to less than 5%, one report said. (Press Trust of India)

Israel's Strike in Syria Should Be a Wake-Up Call - Editorial (Washington Post)

  • Israel's leaders are deeply disturbed these days by what they see as a mounting threat from Iran and its proxies in Syria.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken out in recent weeks against Iran's "turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment," including the construction of sites to build sophisticated guided missiles for possible use against Israel and its attempt to consolidate control over a land corridor stretching across Syria to Lebanon.
  • Throughout the Syrian civil war, Israel has quietly carried out strikes to stop Iran's principal proxy in the region, Hizbullah, from acquiring advanced weapons and to prevent Iran's forces from advancing too far south. According to Israel's Air Force chief, there have been close to 100 such missions.
  • A Sept. 7 attack targeted a Syrian missile production facility on a base that also was reportedly used for the manufacture of chemical weapons and the barrel bombs used by the Assad regime against civilians. If it slows the production of those deadly weapons, Israel's attack will have done a service for humanity as well as itself.
  • The U.S. should be taking its own steps to block the Iranian "entrenchment" in Syria. Diplomacy might achieve some of that, but military steps should not be ruled out.
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