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October 20, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Kills Pakistani Taliban Leader in Afghanistan - Bill Roggio (Long War Journal)
    Omar Khalid al Khurasani, the leader of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar who was closely tied to al-Qaeda, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan earlier this week, a spokesman for the group confirmed. Nine other JuA members were also killed in the strike.
    The group has claimed credit for multiple attacks inside Pakistan.
    A suicide bomber at a park in Lahore on Easter in 2016 killed 72, mostly women and children, and wounded 300. The group's spokesman said "the target was Christians."
    The group has also targeted the U.S. consulate in Peshawar and polio vaccination teams in Karachi.
    In Aug. 2016, the U.S. State Department designated JuA a global terrorist organization.

Kirkuk's Kurdish Governor Is Forced to Flee - Eli Lake (Bloomberg)
    Najmaldin Karim, the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk Province who was elected in 2011 and 2014, fled his home on Tuesday.
    He told me, "Shiite militias raided Kurdish neighborhoods, and today thousands are leaving. They beat up people. This was all from the Shiite militias - the ones the U.S.-led coalition said were not there."
    Iraqi Prime Minister "Abadi claims there were no casualties. We have seen trucks full of dead bodies."

Video: This Is What Victory Over ISIS Looks Like - Megan Specia (New York Times)
    Raqqa, Syria, was once home to 300,000 people, but in the dwindling days of ISIS rule only 25,000 residents remained.
    In Mosul, Iraq, home to 1.1 million people, 80-90% of the population in the eastern portion of the city who had fled during initial fighting have already returned to their homes. But nine months of fighting in the west of Mosul, where militants holed up during their final stand, left the area virtually uninhabitable.

UK Jewish Board of Deputies Condemns Pro-Palestinian March on Balfour Anniversary - Lee Harpin (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    A pro-Palestinian march in central London backed by trade unions on the same weekend as the Balfour Centenary commemorations has been condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
    It will coincide with Balfour Shabbat on Nov. 4, when synagogues of all denominations will host celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
    Board president Jonathan Arkush said: "While they mope out in the cold, we'll be celebrating the Balfour Centenary in upbeat events right across the country. They should reflect on this as they continue their doomed campaign of rejectionism and negativity."

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Lessons for the U.S. Army from Israel's Wars in Gaza - Raphael S. Cohen et al. (RAND Corporation)
    Israel has been a source of vicarious learning for the U.S. military for decades.
    In Gaza, precision firepower alone, particularly in dense urban terrain, could not achieve tactical results the IDF needed.
    The Iron Dome missile defense system saved lives and limited property damage.
    Active Protective Systems (APS) protected vehicles from rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided munitions.

IDF Tests New Technology in Fight Against Hizbullah - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF's Technological and Logistics Directorate tested new equipment at the large Northern Command exercise last month.
    These included unmanned ammunition and equipment trucks, a hovercraft used to carry wounded, and a parachute with a GPS device that can land equipment in enemy territory with almost laser precision.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping the IDF - Yaakov Lappin (
    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the ways in which Israel defends itself, said Lt.-Col. Nurit Cohen Inger, a senior IDF officer overseeing the introduction of this technology.
    AI provides the IDF the ability to accurately predict what enemies will do, based on an analysis of what they've done and are currently doing.
    AI systems analyze real-time video feeds, and then assist the IDF in making decisions accordingly.
    The same kind of technology is helping the IDF deal with the avalanche of audio and text-based intelligence they receive.
    In the IDF, soldiers and platforms are broadcasting vast amounts of data on their own activities to the military's shared data network.
    The IDF is using artificial intelligence to take stock of what its units are doing, enabling officials to make significantly more effective battlefield decisions.

Israel Aerospace Industries Unveils System to Neutralize Mines and IEDs (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries has unveiled a new system that safely neutralizes land-based mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
    The AMMAD MK II system, which can be easily adapted to any kind of armored vehicle, generates a magnetic field that activates the charge at stand-off range.

DowDuPont Launches Expanded Israel Operations - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    "Israel promises to be one of the world's most important sources of innovation in the coming years," said Dow Chemical Co. EVP Heinz Haller on Wednesday in Tel Aviv at the launch of DowDuPont's representative office and expanded operations in Israel.

Israeli Model Is a Former Combat Soldier - Andrew Tobin (JTA)
    Orin Julie, 23, is a former Israeli combat soldier who is trained to discharge the weapons she poses with.
    "I don't stand around in swimwear," she said in an interview at her Tel Aviv modeling agency. "I know how to hold guns, how to shoot, how to do combat stuff - and Americans appreciate that."
    Two years into her career, Julie has modeled for a half dozen Israeli and American companies that sell firearms and related products.
    In high school, as she began thinking ahead to her mandatory military service, Julie resolved to become a combat solider.
    "No one thought I could do it," she said. "But I really love Israel, and I wanted to show I could do more and be more."
    She served in the IDF's new mixed-gender search and rescue brigade.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards Vow to Step Up Fight Against Israel, Advance Missile Power
    The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps "will continue its relentless fight against the hegemonic system and Zionism more resolutely and powerfully than before and it will not hesitate a moment in defending the Islamic Revolution and the country's national interests," the IRGC said in a statement on Thursday. "The regional influence and might and development of the Islamic Republic's missile power...will continue and advance without a stop and more rapidly."  (Fars-Iran)
        See also Iran Urges Regional Alliance with Turkey Against "U.S., Israeli Plots"
    "If our region is powerful, America and Israel will not be able to hatch plots in it," Iran's First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri said at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara on Thursday. Yildirim underlined the importance of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). (Press TV-Iran)
  • CIA Chief: "Enormous Consensus" among U.S. Allies to Tackle Iran's Destabilizing Activities - Tom DiChristopher
    Tehran supports the U.S.-designated terror group Hizbullah, threatens Israel and Lebanon, and supports Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Thursday. "It has been far too inexpensive for the Iranians to conduct this adventurism. We should raise the cost of that....To push back against these non-nuclear activities I think is something the president is intent on doing." Pompeo said there is "enormous consensus" among U.S. allies that they should tackle Iran's destabilizing activities.
        National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told the group that the U.S. needs to expose the Revolutionary Guards' business and financial network. The message to the international business community is "don't do business with the IRGC. Don't enrich the IRGC. Don't enable their murderous campaign. Don't enable their threat to our friends in the region, especially Israel, but also Saudi Arabia and others."  (CNBC)
        See also Pompeo: Al-Qaeda-Iran Connection an "Open Secret" - Jenna Lifhits
    CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday: "It's an open secret and not classified information that...there have been times the Iranians have worked alongside al-Qaeda....They view the West as a greater threat."  (Weekly Standard)
        See also CIA Director: Iran Deal Failed to Permanently Block Tehran's Path to Nukes - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iraq's Shiite Militias Are Just Getting Started - Anchal Vohra
    The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella organization of Shiite militias in Iraq, has emerged as a powerful political actor. Following Ayatollah Sistani's 2014 fatwa calling on Iraqis to take up arms against the Islamic State, and with weapons and military training provided by Iran, they fought the terrorist group with fanatical zeal - and the victory has empowered them like never before. Now, they are pushing officials in Baghdad to end the Kurds' aspiration for independence and to curtail the U.S.-Iraqi partnership.
        Iraq's Iran-backed militias are determined to hold on to the power that their members have fought and died to acquire. By building political power in Baghdad, the PMF hopes to increase their access to Iraq's patronage networks - which means jobs in the security services or a government ministry. By wresting the oil fields around Kirkuk from the Kurds, the PMF and their allies are dramatically enlarging the revenues available to Baghdad. (Foreign Policy)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Chief: We Won't Discuss Recognizing Israel, Only Wiping It Out - Dov Lieber
    "Over is the time Hamas spent discussing recognizing Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel," Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in Gaza, said Thursday, according to the Hamas-linked Shehab news agency. "No one in the universe can disarm us," he added. (Times of Israel)
        See also Fatah Spokesman: Fatah Will Never Recognize Israel - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi told Fatah-run Awdah TV on Aug. 23, 2017, that Hamas should not recognize Israel, since Fatah itself does not recognize and will never recognize Israel. Fatah and the PA regularly teach Palestinian children to see all Israeli cities such as Jaffa and Haifa as "occupied" Palestinian cities that will eventually be under Palestinian sovereignty. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Netanyahu: "The Jordan Valley Will Always Remain a Part of Israel" - Yotam Berger
    "The Jordan Valley will always remain a part of Israel. We will continue to settle it, invest in infrastructure and tourism," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at a ceremony marking 50 years of Israeli settlement there. "The Middle East is unstable and violent. The valley is a strategic defensive belt for the country, and without it the fundamentalist flood could reach the interior, up to greater Tel Aviv. Thus, our eastern defensive line starts at this place. If we won't be here, Tehran and Hamastan will be here. We won't let that happen."
        Netanyahu said Israel will never abandon the Jordan Valley settlements "because they are of utmost security importance to Israel."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Opposition Leader: Israel Must Retain Jordan Valley - Alexander Fulbright
    Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay on Thursday said Israel must maintain control over the Jordan Valley as "Israel's eastern security buffer" under a future peace agreement, echoing a sentiment expressed by previous Labor leaders, most notably Yitzhak Rabin. "For us, the Jordan Valley was and will remain Israel's eastern security buffer. And security requires settlement."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: The Strategic Importance of the Jordan Valley - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2013)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Europe's Iranian Moment of Truth - Editorial
    Europe was overdue for a moment of truth on Iran. The damage new sanctions would do to many European firms is at the heart of complaints after Mr. Trump's decertification of the Iran nuclear deal. But Europeans should have known better than to believe promises about the deal's staying power in the U.S.  Mr. Obama never submitted the deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty since he knew it wouldn't pass. That was a clue for Europe. British firms picked up on the signals and have been notably slower to strike new Iranian deals, fearing that Washington could reimpose sanctions.
        The question for Europe is whether to double down on its investment of political capital and its own credibility in a deal Washington increasingly scorns and whose spirit Tehran habitually violates. European leaders should join Washington in crafting an approach to Iran that makes the Middle East - and Europe - more secure. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Coming Confrontation between Israel and Iran - Elliott Abrams
    While we in the U.S. have been debating the nuclear deal, Iran has been acting - and Israel has been reacting. Israel has struck sites in Syria 100 times in the last five years, bombing when it saw an Iranian effort to move high-tech materiel to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Previous Israeli efforts to get Putin to stop Iran's steady expansion in the Middle East have failed, which suggests that Israel will need to do so itself, alone.
        If Iran does indeed plan to establish a large and permanent military footprint in Syria - complete with permanent naval and air bases and a major ground force - Israel will have fateful decisions to make. Such an Iranian presence would fundamentally change Israel's security situation. The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Atlantic)

  • Hizbullah

  • Hizbullah Playing Prominent Role in Eastern Syria - Mona Alami
    Hizbullah is playing a prominent role in the northeastern Syrian region of Deir ez-Zor, according to a Hizbullah commander who spoke to Al-Monitor. The region holds large deposits of oil and gas, and borders Iraq, which means it is a potential pathway for Iran to link Tehran to Beirut. More than 8,000 Hizbullah fighters are involved in eastern Syria, said the commander.
        The commander said Hizbullah forces in the eastern sector range from infantry, rocket launcher battalions, and operation forces to logistics and supply forces. "We are an army," he said. A joint operations room led by Iran, Hizbullah and the Syrian military runs the operations in Deir ez-Zor, he added. Hizbullah is usually responsible for offensive operations and Syrian troops generally follow to stabilize various areas.
        The Hizbullah commander said the organization is using the recent de-escalation deal in southern Syria to do reconnaissance work there. According to a previous interview with a Hizbullah official, Hizbullah "has missiles with a range that could target Israel [from Syrian territory] without Hizbullah having to be physically present near the border area."  (Al-Monitor)
  • Taking Stock of Hizbullah's Losses in Syria - Colin P. Clarke
    Much of the analysis of the civil war in Syria has failed to highlight how participation in the war has hurt Hizbullah. While Hizbullah has gained valuable combat experience fighting alongside Russian and Iranian forces, it has lost 1,700-1,800 fighters, including many seasoned veterans. In comparison, Hizbullah lost 1,200 fighters in its conflicts with Israel between 1982 and 2000. To replenish its ranks, the group has been forced to recruit younger and less qualified fighters.
        In addition, its image suffered drastically after it sent its fighters to defend the odious Assad regime that has repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own civilian population. The writer is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism-The Hague. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Other Issues

  • The Jobless Youth of Gaza Have Lost Faith in Everyone - Cyrille Louis
    Unemployment among the under-25 age group in Gaza is 60%, with 73% for recent graduates. Abdel Rahman in Gaza City looks back on the past as if talking about a golden age. "When they were our age, our fathers and grandfathers would earn 10 times more by working for the Israelis," he says.
        Shayma al-Naji, 24, obtained her architecture certificate from the Islamic University of Gaza in 2015. She and most of her classmates are unemployed, and many have resorted to work as taxi drivers. She dreams only of leaving Gaza, with two of her older sisters already moved to Britain.
        Jouman Abou Jazar, 28, says, "Everybody would accept to go and work in Israel without hesitation, including some members of Hamas who can't make ends meet."  (WorldCrunch-Le Figaro-France)
  • Israel's Iron Dome a Quick Fix for Seoul's Vulnerability to North Korean Attack? - Loren Thompson
    South Korea's capital, Seoul, is 35 miles from the demilitarized zone, within range of North Korean artillery and short-range rockets that hold 25 million South Koreans - half the country's population - hostage. Truck-mounted Thaad missile defense batteries began deploying in South Korea earlier this year. But Thaad is not configured to deal with artillery shells, and rocket launchers located right over the border don't loft their munitions to an altitude where Thaad could be effective. So protecting Seoul against short-range threats is difficult.
        Last week, Raytheon displayed an effective solution at the annual exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington that could be available for deployment within months. Raytheon calls the system SkyHunter, but longtime military observers will know it as Iron Dome - the short-range air and missile defense system that Israel activated in 2011 to counter rockets fired by Hizbullah in Lebanon.
        Iron Dome has a success rate of over 90% in countering short-range ballistic threats and has successfully intercepted over 1,500 hostile munitions headed for Israel. It is designed to defend precisely the kind of target the South Korean capital represents - a densely populated urban area. Its radar, built by Israeli company Elta, can track the trajectories of over a thousand targets simultaneously.
        SkyHunter looks to be the only combat-proven option that could be on the ground and in action in South Korea by next spring. So chances are, U.S. investment in Israel's defense is going to pay dividends few observers could have imagined when Iron Dome was first conceived. (Forbes)
  • A Vision for the City of Jerusalem - Mayor Nir Barkat
    My vision is that Jerusalem will never be divided. The city has to function as one metropolitan center with different residential areas. Jews, Muslims and Christians can live anywhere they want in London and New York, and they can do likewise in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem anywhere you put a shovel in the ground you find Jewish roots. Who is going to tell a Jew they cannot legally buy property and live in the holy city of Jerusalem?
        We have more Arab residents living in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods than Jewish residents living in predominantly Arab neighborhoods. The first group doesn't need protection; unfortunately, the second does. The majority of residents in our city do not want it divided. The Arab residents realize that as Arab-Israelis they enjoy by far the best status of Arabs in the Middle East.
        I don't get how anybody doesn't see west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That's where all the world leaders come to meet the parliament, the prime minister and the president. What's the problem? (BICOM-UK)
  • Report: UN Promoting Anti-Semitic Hate Groups, Terrorism - Adam Kredo
    The UN has formally accredited scores of non-profit organizations that use their legitimacy to spread anti-Semitic propaganda promoting terrorism against Israel and Jews, according to a new report by Human Rights Voices, a watchdog organization. "More than 6,200 NGOs have been invited to participate on a year-round basis in UN activities," said Anne Bayefsky, senior editor of Human Rights Voices. "The NGOs' ranks include bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorist advocates who are now spreading hatred and inciting violence from the world stage."  (Washington Free Beacon)
        See also Text: UN NGOs - Inciting Hatred, Anti-Semitism and Terror from the World Stage (Human Rights Voices)
  • For Israel, Concern over Iran Leads to Better Ties with Arab States - Majeda El-Batsh
    Formal recognition of Israel by Arab states does not seem likely anytime soon, but behind-the-scenes cooperation has opened up in various areas, a number of experts and officials say. "There are Saudis meeting Israelis everywhere now, functioning relations based on shared interests," said Tel Aviv University professor Uzi Rabi. (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

  • Weekend Features

  • "If ISIS Knew I Came to Israel They Would Behead Me": Syrian Parents Risk Everything to Get Israeli Treatment for their Children - Raf Sanchez
    Before dawn some 50 Syrian women and children huddle at an Israeli military post along the Golan Heights fence. The group is among nearly 5,000 Syrians who have made the perilous journey from rebel-controlled areas of Syria to Israel to receive medical treatment. "If ISIS knew I came to Israel they would behead me," said Rouba, who had brought her daughter to get treated for damaged nerves in her arm.
        In the waiting room at Ziv hospital in Safed, one woman said, "I never thought I would come here." Her daughter was in danger of losing her sight in one eye to an infection. "I was surprised that Israel wanted to help the Syrians. I never expected this in my life." As she spoke, the 25 Syrian children were gathered around a table coloring under the supervision of two Arab-Israeli nurses. (Telegraph-UK)
  • How the Jewish Resistance Movement in Algeria Saved American Lives in World War II - Robert Satloff
    On November 8, 1942, 110,000 American and British troops invaded North Africa. That same day, 377 young men, led by resistance leader Jose Aboulker, 20, a medical student, fanned out across Algeria's capital city of Algiers. Armed only with knives, pistols, and antiquated 19th-century rifles, they aimed to take over the city, arrest the local Vichy French generals, cut communications with the outside world, and immobilize thousands of French soldiers in their barracks.
        Astonishingly, by 2:00 a.m. on the morning of the invasion, Algeria's capital was theirs, making it easy for Allied troops to enter, in stark contrast to the relatively stiff defense put up by the Vichyites elsewhere along the North African front. Aboulker himself and 315 of those resistance fighters were Jews. The risks taken by those Jews saved the lives of American soldiers and sailors. French historian Leon Poliakov wrote, "The role of the small Aboulker group was decisive in the world war at a crucial moment."
        However, Algerian Jews remained for months in concentration and forced-labor camps set up by the Vichy government. Many resistance leaders were rounded up and sent to a remote desert site by the French rulers still in place after the invasion, where last-minute intervention by agents of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America's overseas clandestine intelligence operation, saved their lives. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Mosaic)
  • Reconstructed Auschwitz Prisoner Text Details "Unimaginable" Suffering - Dagmar Breitenbach
    A document written in 1944 by a Greek Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz found buried in a thermos near Crematorium III has been newly reconstructed. Marcel Nadjari wrote in 1944: "We all suffer things here that the human mind cannot imagine. Underneath a garden, there are two endless basement rooms: one is meant for undressing, the other is a death chamber. People enter naked and when it is filled with about 3,000 people, it is closed and they are gassed."
        "After half an hour, we would open the doors, and our work began." The prisoners' job: delivering the corpses to the crematory ovens, where "a human being ends up as about 640 grams of ashes." "I am not sad that I will die," Nadjari wrote, "but I am sad that I won't be able to take revenge like I would like to." Nadjari survived the war and died in New York in 1971 at age 54. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Hungarian Who Printed Fake Passports to Save Jews Honored in Budapest
    Emil Wiesmeyer, a Hungarian who printed thousands of passports allowing Jews to flee the country during World War II, was honored on Wednesday with a memorial plaque in Budapest. Wiesmeyer's Antiqua Printing House initially made 4,000 passports as part of efforts by Swedish special envoy Raoul Wallenberg to save Jews from Nazi death camps. Wiesmeyer then produced 20,000 more on his own to help Jews leave Hungary. Wiesmeyer died in 1967. His son Gabor attended the ceremony. (AP-Times of Israel)
  • Photos: Breathtaking 1,700-Year-Old Mosaic to Find Permanent Home - Amanda Borschel-Dan
    After touring the world, Israel's most impressive mosaic will move to the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center in 2019. The richly colorful mosaic was discovered accidentally during salvage excavations in 1996 at a central city square in Lod and then covered up again until 2009, when it began to travel.
        The Lod mosaic was discovered in what appears to be a large Roman villa from the Byzantine era. Made up of several panels, it is 17 meters long and 9 meters wide. It includes colorful illustrations of elephants, lions, birds, fish, crustaceans, plant life and flowers, boats, and geometric patterns. (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: The Lod Mosaic (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Trump Is Right about the Iran Deal - Nehemia Shtrasler (Ha'aretz)

  • President Trump is trying to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power with long-range missiles that will threaten the entire world.
  • After all, anyone with eyes in his head recognizes that Iran, with its enormous oil reserves, isn't interested in nuclear technology for electricity or scientific research. It wants a bomb, as the only way to guarantee the survival of the regime and its leaders.
  • Iran is an evil regime, all terror and aggression. Its leaders want first to control the Middle East, and then to become a world power that will also threaten Europe and the United States.
  • It is a Shi'ite extremist regime that funds terror attacks around the world, including by supplying arms to terrorist organizations in many Muslim states: Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan.
  • Israel is at the top of the kill list, and Iran is trying to surround it on all sides: Syria (the Assad regime), Lebanon (Hizbullah) and Gaza (Hamas). But to really destroy Israel, Iran needs a nuclear bomb. That's why it's so important to try to prevent it from getting one.
  • Israel has a clear interest in Trump's success. The moment Iran becomes a nuclear power, our entire existence will be at risk.

    The writer is a veteran columnist for Ha'aretz.
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