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November 27, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Assad Agrees to 40 Km. Demilitarized Zone on Israeli Border - Shoshana Kranish (Jerusalem Post)
    The Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida reported on Sunday that an Israeli source said Syrian President Assad would agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 km. (25 miles) from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights if Israel does not work to remove Assad's regime from power.
    The report claims that Russian Premier Putin called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to relay the message, and that Netanyahu said he would accept the deal, but that Israel's goal of removing Iran and Hizbullah from Syria would remain.

Iranian General: Tehran Has Technical Ability to Increase Range of Its Missiles (RT-Russia)
    Europe is not a threat to Iran, but if it allies itself with the U.S. and Israel and becomes one, Tehran has enough technical capabilities to increase the range of its missiles, Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, said on Saturday.

U.S. to Stop Supplying Arms to Kurds Fighting in Syria - Susan Fraser and Josh Lederman (AP-Military Times)
    In a phone call Friday with Turkish President Erdogan, President Trump said he'd "given clear instructions" that the Syrian Kurds will receive no more weapons.
    Kurdish fighters in Syria bore much of the fight against Islamic State and a largely Kurdish force liberated the caliphate's capital, Raqqa.
    A U.S. defense official said he was unaware of any additional arms scheduled to be transferred to the Kurds.
    The U.S. has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons it provides the Kurds, ensuring that they don't wind up in the hands of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.

Women, Children Seen as "Potential Radicalized Community of Jihadists" (Sputnik-Russia)
    According to Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, the number of ISIS jihadists is on the rise in Europe and in East Asia.
    "In France alone, one or two years ago the authorities spoke about 4,000 potential jihadists being radicalized. Today the number is officially 17,600. In the UK, MI5 had spoken about 3,000 potential jihadists, today they speak about 20,000."
    "Today, even women and children are considered as a potential radicalized community of jihadists."
    The danger still prevails because many radicalized people, especially the youth, may want to exact revenge for the collapse of the caliphate.

Metula Security Coordinator's Vehicle Hit by Gunfire from Lebanon - Ahiya Raved (Ynet News)
    David Azoulay, security coordinator of the northern Israeli town of Metula, on Friday discovered a bullet lodged in the hood of his vehicle which was parked opposite the Lebanese town of Kafr Kila.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • ISIS Attack on Sinai Mosque Kills 305, Wounds 128 - Hamdi Alkhshali
    Between 25 and 30 armed men wearing military uniforms arrived in five SUVs at the al-Rawdah Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed in northern Sinai during Friday prayers. In a bomb and gun attack, they killed 305 people and wounded another 128, with 27 children among the dead, Egypt's state prosecutor said Saturday. At least one of the attackers carried an ISIS flag. The gunmen also opened fire on ambulances as they transported the wounded. One survivor who had been covered by the bodies of other victims said the attackers went around the mosque to ensure everyone was dead.
        Timothy Kaldas, a fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said ISIS may be taking revenge against members of the Sawarkah tribe, to which most of the people in the area belong, because it has been cooperating with the Egyptian government in its campaign against the Wilayat Sinai group, which pledged allegiance to Islamic State. (CNN)
        See also Survivors Recall Sinai Mosque Attack - Maggie Michael and Hamza Hendawi (AP-ABC News)
  • Egyptian Village Where Mosque Was Attacked Had Been Warned - Hamza Hendawi
    Elders of a village in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula where militants killed 305 people in a mosque had been warned by Islamic State operatives to stop collaborating with security forces and to suspend Sufi rituals, security officials and residents said Sunday. As many as 15 million Egyptians belong to Sufi orders.
        Mohammed Ibrahim, a university student from the village, said militants had warned residents a few days before Friday's attack not to collaborate with security forces, following the detention three weeks ago by villagers of three militants who were handed over to security forces. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also In Egypt's Sinai Region, Bedouin Call to Cooperate with Army - Dahlia Kholaif and Rory Jones
    "We call on men and youths of Sinai tribes to join their coordinate for a major operation with the army" to end terrorism, the Union of Sinai Tribes said in a statement posted on Facebook on Friday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. to Allow PLO D.C. Office to Remain Open with "Limitations" - Max Greenwood
    The U.S. will allow the PLO office in Washington to remain open with certain limitations, a State Department spokesperson said Friday. "Given the lapse last week of a waiver of statutory restrictions on PLO activity in the United States, we have advised the PLO Office to limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians." Last week, the Trump administration warned that it would close the PLO's Washington office unless the U.S. determined that the Palestinians had entered into serious peace talks with Israel. (The Hill)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Condemns Terrorist Attack in Egypt
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday evening: "Israel strongly condemns the horrific and criminal terrorist attack on the al-Rawdah mosque near El-Arish, and sends condolences on behalf of the people of Israel to President el-Sisi, the Egyptian people and the families of the victims. Israel sends its best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. Terrorism will be defeated even more quickly if all countries work against it together."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Tel Aviv City Hall Lit in Colors of Egyptian Flag in Solidarity with Mosque Victims (Times of Israel)
  • The "Black Friday" Massacre at the Sinai Mosque: The Islamic State Is Still Alive and Kicking - Yoni Ben-Menachem
    The massacre at the Sufi mosque in northern Sinai on Nov. 24 marks the first time Islamic State has committed a mass-casualty attack on Muslim civilians in Egypt. ISIS wants to demonstrate that, though defeated in Iraq and Syria, it continues to exist and remains devoted to its goal of creating an Islamic caliphate through violence and terror.
        Islamic State sees Sufis as heretics. In 2013, ISIS terrorists blew up the tombs of the Sufi Sheikh Salim Abu Jarir in Mazar and Sheikh Hamid in Al-Mughara, both in Sinai. In Nov. 2016, Islamic State terrorists murdered 90-year-old Sheikh Sulaiman Abu Haraz, the senior Sufi sheikh in Sinai. The Sufis' desire to take revenge against Islamic State for the mosque massacre appears likely to intensify clashes in northern Sinai between different armed groups
        The Egyptian army suffers from a lack of quality intelligence in Sinai. The terror organizations there, numbering 2-3,000 operatives, can merge into the population. They enjoy financial support and a regular supply of weapons that comes from Qatar, according to Egyptian intelligence. The writer, a veteran Arab affairs commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior analyst for the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Egypt Battles ISIS in Sinai - Anshel Pfeffer
    Egypt boasts the largest army in the Arab world. The Egyptian army does not lack for the resources to fight a counter-insurgency war in Sinai, including mobile armored vehicles and attack helicopters. Israel has green-lighted every Egyptian request to reinforce its units in Sinai, despite the demilitarization protocols of the Camp David peace accords.
        A year ago, the tide seemed to have turned in Sinai. In a series of attacks on ISIS strongholds, the Egyptians succeeded in eliminating an estimated 2/3 of the ISIS fighters, including their commander Abu Du'a al-Ansari. They were down to around only 300 men when Abu Osama al-Masri took command. Al-Masri, with reinforcements, aid and supplies from Islamic State's base in Libya, has revived the organization, with its numbers back to around 1,000. These forces are made up of Egyptian Islamists, volunteers from other countries, including veterans of Syria and Iraq, and members of local Sinai Bedouin tribes. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt's Failing Anti-Terror Strategy - Declan Walsh and David D. Kirkpatrick
    "The Egyptians have failed to acknowledge that ISIS is not just a terrorism threat," said Andrew Miller, a former Egypt specialist at the National Security Council. "Killing terrorists is not sufficient. They need to deprive ISIS of local support, which is rooted in Cairo's historical neglect of the Sinai."
        Sinai presents a formidable arena for counterinsurgency that would challenge the most capable army: It is a vast terrain of desert and mountains, with long shorelines and a semiporous back door into Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. The collapse of Libya in 2011 has ensured a steady flow of weapons ever since. (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists - Alan M. Dershowitz
    On Nov. 14, ten members of Congress called on the State Department to "prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military's ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children." Yet it is well established that Palestinian terrorist leaders often use teenagers to commit acts of terror on Israeli civilians because they know that the Israeli legal system treats child terrorists more leniently.
        In the most recent spate of attacks, children as young as 13 have stabbed Israelis with scissors, screwdrivers and knives with the aim of inflicting maximum harm. Knesset Member Anat Berko has noted: "To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15. We've witnessed numerous cases where 11-year-old children were suicide bombers."
        If children as young as 13 or 14 were roaming the streets of New York stabbing elderly women as they shopped at the supermarket or waited at a bus stop, would these members of Congress protest the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators? Of course not. No country in the world would tolerate terror in its cities, regardless of the age of the terrorists. The writer is professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. (Gatestone Institute)
        See also Palestinian, 16, Arrested with Gun at Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron - Elisha Ben Kimon (Ynet News)

Palestinian Unity Process Goes Nowhere Fast - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)

  • On instructions from Egypt, delegates from the various Palestinian groups showed up in Cairo last week to discuss the "historic" reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah. But nothing dramatic was achieved. When the formal report summing up the conference was released, it was clear that while the unity talks had not collapsed, there had been no substantive progress either.
  • More than a month after the original reconciliation document was signed in Cairo, the PA still has not lifted the sanctions it imposed on Gaza - the same sanctions that make it difficult to supply electricity to Gaza, that sent thousands of former PA officials into early retirement, and that prevent the transfer of payments for medical treatment and the purchase of medications for Gaza residents. The average Gazan has felt no alleviation of hardship since the agreement was signed.
  • It is true that Hamas has stopped collecting taxes and customs fees at the Kerem Shalom crossing, but the IDF reported this week that Hamas has instead summoned several hundred merchants and demanded that they pay taxes directly to Hamas on merchandise entering Gaza. Overall, the impression is that Hamas is eager to give up civilian control of Gaza, and the PA is in no hurry to take on this task.
  • At root, there is little true national unity between the Palestinians in the West Bank and their "brethren" in Gaza. Those in the West Bank always regarded the Gazans as somewhat ignorant and extremist; unification with them is no great dream. Meanwhile, PA security coordination with Israel in the West Bank has gone back to full strength. The PA is making arrests, preventing terror attacks, and working against Hamas' political activity and its recruiting and financing system.

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