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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
September 20, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Sending Aid to Mexico after Earthquake (Prime Minister's Office)
    In response to a request for assistance following the severe earthquake in Mexico, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered that assistance and a search and rescue operation be organized and leave for Mexico as soon as possible.
    A fifty-member team of the IDF Search and Rescue Unit, together with a planeload of equipment, will depart on Wednesday afternoon.
    See also Israeli-Trained Volunteers Aid Rescue Efforts after Mexico Earthquake - Becky Brothman (Jerusalem Post)
    Since September 2016, Israel's ZAKA rescue and recovery organization has trained 70 Mexico City-based volunteers, who are now assisting in rescue efforts after Tuesday's earthquake.

U.S. Clarifies: Troops Deployed to Israel Get New Barracks - John Vandiver (Stars and Stripes)
    While various media accounts described a new U.S. military "base" in Israel, U.S. European Command said Tuesday this was a mischaracterization.
    A new barracks building on an Israeli base was officially opened for about 40 U.S. soldiers who have been operating an X-Band radar facility in the Negev Desert since 2009.

U.S. Military Cedes Territory in Syria to Iranian Proxies - Thomas Gibbons-Neff (Washington Post)
    The U.S. military said Tuesday it had vacated the Zakaf outpost in southern Syria near the Iraq border, effectively ceding the ground to Iranian-backed militias.
    Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in the region, said that coalition troops and their Syrian partners are still located at Tanf, a larger outpost 45 miles from Zakaf that acts as a gateway to the Syria-Iraq-Jordan tri-border crossing.

Egypt's Long, Bloody Fight Against the Islamic State in Sinai - Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post)
    Egyptian security forces are finding themselves increasingly bogged down in their four-year fight against an Islamic State affiliate in northern Sinai, despite billions of dollars in U.S. counterterrorism aid.
    Since July 2013, at least 1,000 Egyptian security forces have been killed in terrorist attacks, including more than 200 in 2017, according to the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.
    Although there have been fewer terrorist attacks this year than last, the number of fatalities has risen, said Nancy Okail, the Tahrir Institute's executive director.

Video: UN Ambassadors Wish Israel a Happy Jewish New Year - Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon (Jerusalem Post)

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Palestinian Poll: 3/4 Support Abbas' Decision to Suspend Security Coordination with Israel - Dr. Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    According to a poll conducted on Sep. 14-16 and published Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 60% of the Palestinian public in the West Bank and 80% in Gaza want President Abbas to resign.
    If new legislative elections were held, 29% say they would vote for Hamas and 36% for Fatah.
    Half of the public (50%) view the Palestinian Authority as a burden. Perception of corruption in PA institutions stands at 77%.
    73% support Abbas' decision to suspend security coordination with Israel, but 66% believe that the PA and its security services did not implement that decision.
    If negotiations with Israel are resumed under U.S. sponsorship, 83% think the Trump Administration will be biased in favor of Israel; 10% think it will be an honest broker and 2% think it will be biased in favor of the Palestinian side.
    70% think the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years are slim to non-existent.

First Druze Combat Navigator in Israel Air Force - Goel Beno (Ynet News)
    Maj. A., a resident of a Druze village in northern Israel, successfully finished the Air Force Flight Academy and has become the first Druze navigator in the IDF.
    "The Flight Academy left me with a lasting impression. It's an extraordinary experience, and the uniforms I wear are a source of great pride to me and for the Druze sector," he says.
    His message to the younger generation: "Have high aspirations and don't be afraid to go as far as possible, because there is full equal opportunity in the IDF."
    A's father was a senior officer in the Border Police, while his brother served in Military Intelligence.

Israeli Appointed to World Health Organization Executive Committee - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Prof. Itamar Grotto, associate director-general of Israel's Health Ministry, has been named to the executive committee of the World Health Organization.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Egypt's President Sisi Urges Palestinians to Co-Exist with Israelis
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday: "I tell the Palestinian people it's extremely overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security."
        Addressing the Israelis, Sisi said: "We have an excellent experience in Egypt in peace with you for longer than 40 years. We can repeat this experience and this excellent step once again - the peace and security of the Israeli citizens together with the peace and security of the Palestinian citizens."  (Reuters-U.S. News)
        See also below Observations: Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump Address the UN
  • Secretary of State Tillerson Says Iran Nuclear Deal "Really Has to Be Revisited" - Samuel Chamberlain
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran "really has to be revisited." He said a key sticking point is the "sunset clause" which automatically lifts most key restrictions on Iran's nuclear program by 2030. "Unfortunately, this is what [U.S.] governments in the past did with North Korea," Tillerson said. (Fox News)
        See also Tillerson: Iran Is Stepping Up Its Destabilizing Activities
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told "Face the Nation" on Sunday: "My view on the nuclear deal is they [the Iranians] are in technical compliance of the nuclear arrangement. But if you go back and read the preamble to the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement, there clearly was an expectation between the parties...that by dealing with this nuclear threat we would lower the tension between Iran and the rest of the world and we would create conditions for Iran to rejoin the community of nations as a productive country that wants stability, and wants peace, and wants prosperity in the region."
        "That's why all these sanctions were lifted. But since the nuclear deal has been concluded, what we have witnessed is Iran has stepped up its destabilizing activities in Yemen. It's stepped up its destabilizing activities in Syria. It exports arms to Hizbullah and other terrorist groups. And it continues to conduct a very active ballistic missile program. None of that, I would believe, is consistent with that preamble commitment that was made by everyone."  (CBS News)
  • International Community Should Help the Palestinian People and Isolate Hamas - U.S. Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt
    Speaking at a conference of donor nations to the PA on Monday, Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said, "The United States is deeply committed to achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement....After years of well-meaning attempts to negotiate an end to this conflict, we have all learned some valuable lessons. Instead of working to impose a solution from the outside, we are giving the parties space to make their own decisions about their future. Instead of laying blame for the conflict at the feet of one party or the other, we are focused on implementing existing agreements and unlocking new areas of cooperation which benefit both Palestinians and Israelis."
        "The time has come to stop monitoring the situation in Gaza and start changing the situation in Gaza. For too long, Hamas has exploited the people of Gaza as hostages and shields, bullying them into submission. Hamas rules by the fist, instead of by improving the lives of the people it purports to govern. Hamas continues to divert money belonging to the Palestinians of Gaza - including funds provided by international donors - and uses these funds to build terror tunnels, missiles and for other nefarious uses....It's time for the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza - and for the international community to take steps to help this happen. Relief from the suffering in Gaza can only be found when all interested parties gather together to help the Palestinian people and isolate Hamas."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Uncovers East Jerusalem Terror Cell - Anna Ahronheim
    The Israel Security Agency said Tuesday it had uncovered an eight-man terrorist cell in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan that was planning to carry out shooting attacks on Israeli targets. The head of the cell, Muhammad Farouk, 19, was in contact with sources in Lebanon and Gaza who were financing the cell. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Seizes Weapons in West Bank Raids - Judah Ari Gross
    The IDF seized "six M-16 assault rifles, three pistols, 12 pipe bombs and ammunition" in raids in the West Bank city of Nablus early Wednesday, the army said. (Times of Israel)
  • Jerusalem Imam Issues Fatwa Against Muslims Studying Israeli Curriculum - Nasouh Nazzal
    Jerusalem's top imam, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, has issued a fatwa (religious edict) against studying the Israeli curriculum in east Jerusalem, stating that Muslim families who send their children to schools that teach the Jewish syllabus are sinners. (Gulf News-Dubai)
        See also Half of Jerusalem Arab Parents Want Israeli School Curriculum - Yori Yalon (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • With Its Superior Airpower, America Can Contain Iran and Its Proxies - James F. Jeffrey and Dennis Ross
    If Iran is the main threat facing the U.S. in the Middle East, the administration cannot subordinate its strategy toward the Iranians to the fight against IS. Iran is a state that poses a far larger danger, especially given its successful use of Shia militias.
        Unless the U.S. is willing to raise the price to the Russians, they will continue to treat the Iranians and the Shia militias in Syria as their foot soldiers. Making clear that America will use its far superior airpower to prevent the Iranians and their proxies in Syria from expanding further is the only policy that would force Putin to try to constrain Iranian moves. The last thing he wants is an international perception that U.S. power is determining the outcome in Syria. James F. Jeffrey served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq. Dennis Ross served in five presidential administrations. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Hubris of Hizbullah - Andrew Exum
    The next big war in the Middle East between Hizbullah and Israel will begin because Hizbullah has vastly increased the size and sophistication of its arms in Lebanon despite clear and consistent warnings from Israel not to do so. Washington often gives Iran, Hizbullah's sponsor, more credit for being master strategists than they deserve. But its slow, steady strategy to arm, train, and equip sectarian Shia militias across the Middle East is a recipe for sowing instability.
        Israel knows it cannot intercept each and every shipment of advanced weaponry to Hizbullah. So, for two years now, Israeli military and intelligence officials have been warning every American official who visits that the next war is coming. The war in 2006 leveled entire neighborhoods in Beirut, and led to the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians in both Lebanon and Israel. Now, especially since Hizbullah has dispersed its arsenal across Lebanon, the entire country will burn and Israel will almost certainly treat the Lebanese army as hostile.
        Hizbullah has grossly underestimated Israel in the past, but Israel isn't going anywhere. This is existential for them. It will be the Lebanese who suffer immeasurably more. If only Hizbullah could realize that, rather than pursue its present course, so much pain could be avoided. The writer was the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy (2015-16). (Defense One)
  • The Next Hizbullah-Israel Conflict - Michael Eisenstadt and Jeffrey White
    The potential for miscalculation and escalation is inherent in Hizbullah's doctrine of "resistance," which shapes its approach to Israel. The purported success of the "Islamic resistance" in pushing Israeli forces out of Lebanon (2000) and Gaza (2005) and U.S. forces out of Iraq (2011), and in thwarting the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria (since 2011), has convinced its adherents that they have hit on a formula for defeating their enemies.
        Hizballah has gained invaluable experience from its involvement in Syria's civil war. But it is engaged in combat in Syria against lightly armed irregular ground forces, which is not the kind of fighting it would engage in with Israel - an advanced military power. Michael Eisenstadt is director of the Military and Security Studies Program, and Jeffrey White is a defense fellow, at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (American Interest)
  • IDF Prepares for Next War with Hizbullah - Adam Abrams
    In the next war with Hizbullah, IDF operations would be based on "very accurate intelligence" collected "relentlessly" and "would minimize, to the greatest extent possible, harm to using the most precise guided munitions," said Col. Jonathan Conricus of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. Hizbullah is deliberately "deployed in order to maximize collateral damage" to civilians, he added. One-third of the homes in southern Lebanon's 130 villages are known to house military components belonging to Hizbullah.
        Using its "networked intelligence," the IDF is prepared to implement "a massive precision strike...on a scale which far exceeds the assessed growth in Hizbullah's military [capability]," said Brig.-Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion, a senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies.
        Israel is "far better prepared for the next war with Hizbullah" than it was in the 2006 war, said Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "We see now the appearance of stealth tank technology, the preparation for ground warfare and the possibility of tunnels into well as the preparation for mass volleys of rockets launched by Hizbullah into Israel."  (
  • Israel Sees Benefits in an Independent Kurdistan - Jonah Mandel
    Israel has become the only country to openly support an independent Kurdish state. Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold a non-binding referendum on statehood on Sept. 25.
        "The Kurds have been and will continue to be reliable and long-term allies of Israel since they are, like us, a minority group in the region," said former Israeli minister Gideon Saar. "We need to encourage independence of minorities that were wronged by regional arrangements since [the] Sykes-Picot [agreement] over the past 100 years and have been repressed under authoritarian regimes, like Saddam Hussein's in Iraq and the Assads in Syria."
        "Looking at the Kurds' location on a map you realize they can be a dam blocking the spread of radical Islam in the region, and in practice we've seen them exclusively fighting IS. Throughout the years the Kurds were never drawn to anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist perceptions and maintained good ties with the Jewish people and Israel."
        Ofra Bengio, who heads a Kurdish studies program at Tel Aviv University, noted that Israel supplied covert military, intelligence and humanitarian aid to Kurdistan in 1965-1975. When Jews living in Iraqi cities were subject to harassment under Baath rule in the early 1970s, Kurds smuggled them out of the country to safety, she said. Former Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani visited Israel, as did his son, the current president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani. (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Dreams of Cooperation between Israelis and Kurds - Ceng Sagnic
    The writer is coordinator of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Connection between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism - Zoe Strimpel
    A friend of mine, a (non-Jewish) supporter of Israel, performed an experiment once. Cloaking herself in a giant Israeli flag, she set out from her home in Oxford to see how far she could get before trouble started. Within five minutes, a man of Middle Eastern appearance had started following her, shouting anti-Semitic abuse. Within six minutes, he was verbally threatening to kill her, and she'd started running. At the 10-minute mark, the police had to intervene. My brave friend repeated the experiment the next day, and the next, just to be sure. More or less the same thing happened.
        An in-depth survey of British attitudes towards Jews, published earlier this month by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, found that more than a quarter of British people hold at least one anti-Semitic view. We're talking ideas that come straight out of Goebbels's playbook, such as "Jews think they are better than other people," and "The interests of Jews in Britain are very different from the interests of the rest." More than 55% of Muslims surveyed admitted to holding "at least one anti-Semitic attitude." Dr. Jonathan Boyd, director of the JPR, noted that: "The higher the level of anti-Israel attitudes measured, the more likely they are to hold anti-Semitic views as well."
        Still, Britain still comes out as one of the least bad places for Jews on the planet. What this says about the rest of the world is truly chilling. (Telegraph-UK)
Observations: Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump Address the UN

Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN: Iran Vows to Destroy My Country Every Day (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday:

  • In recent years, Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. You may not know this, but your governments do, and they are working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.
  • Iran vows to destroy my country every day, including by its chief of staff the other day. Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.
  • In the last few months, we've all seen how dangerous even a few nuclear weapons can be in the hands of a small rogue regime. Now imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian Islamist empire, with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth. I know there are those who still defend the dangerous deal with Iran, arguing that it will block Iran's path to the bomb. That's exactly what they said about the nuclear deal with North Korea, and we all know how that turned out.
  • Fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause. And beyond fixing this bad deal, we must also stop Iran's development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region. I warned that when the sanctions on Iran would be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations, but devouring nations, one after the other. And that's precisely what Iran is doing today.
  • We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us. And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border.
President Trump at the UN: It Is Far Past Time for the Nations of the World to Confront Iran (White House)

President Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday:
  • Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.
  • It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront a reckless regime that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.
  • The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people.
  • Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hizbullah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran's people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship, fuel Yemen's civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.
  • We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.
  • It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran's government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.
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