HOME‎ > ‎

* Middle East Updates - Continuous

Click on the title of the article you wish to read.

Then, click on the Back Button of your browser to return here.

FROM MAY 24  NO 757

The U.S. Relies on Israel for Indispensable Intelligence - Jonathan S. Tobin
The controversy over whether President Trump revealed classified intelligence to the Russians highlights the fact that Israel is an inestimable strategic asset to America, its ally.    Throughout recent decades, Americans have been able to draw upon Israel's extensive intelligence network throughout the region, as well as take advantage of Israel's expertise in designing and perfecting weapon systems.     With Iran seeking regional hegemony, and with radical Islamists taking up the vacuum left by the collapse of Syria and the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. finds itself increasingly in need of Israeli intelligence.     Those who cling to the fallacy that Israel is a burden on U.S. interests need to realize that without its help, America is often flying blind in the Middle East.

U.S.: ISIS Creating Chemical Weapons Cell in Syria - Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr (CNN)
U.S. intelligence believes ISIS is bringing together all of its experts on chemical weapons from Iraq and Syria into  in the Euphrates River Valley.

Israel: "Exact a Price for Iranian Behavior" - Jonathan Ferziger and David Wainer (Bloomberg)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to ask U.S. President Donald Trump to impose tough new sanctions on Iran for threatening Israel with ballistic missiles and bankrolling terrorism, Michael Oren, a deputy cabinet minister to Netanyahu and former ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview on Thursday May 18.    "You have to exact a price for Iranian behavior."

Should Israel Worry about Trump's Huge Saudi Arms Deal? - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia on Saturday May 20.    According to former National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel has no reason to worry about the new, massive Saudi-U.S. arms deal.    "It does not change the balance [of power] in the Middle East.      The U.S. administration is very sensitive about keeping Israel's military edge."    Amidror said that beefing up Saudi Arabia's military against Iran, a common enemy with Israel, might increase the Saudis' "self-confidence" and their readiness to expand their engagement with the Jewish state in an anti-Iran alliance

Israel, India Sign $630 Million Missile Defense Deal - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Aerospace Industries has signed a $630 million deal with the Indian state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited to provide India with the Barak 8 aerial defense system for four navy ships

Netanyahu on Jerusalem Day: "We Didn't Occupy, We Liberated" - Nir Hasson
Speaking at celebrations on Sunday May 21,  marking 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Fifty years ago, we didn't occupy, we liberated; by the heroism of our warriors and the love of our people, Jerusalem was liberated....Jerusalem was and always will be the capital of Israel. The Temple Mount and the Western Wall will always remain under Israeli sovereignty."
The event included an audiovisual show projected on the walls of the Old City and the Tower of David.

The Coolest Tech Companies in Israel - Sam Shead (Business Insider-UK)=

StoreDot has developed a smartphone battery that charges in one minute, using proprietary amino acids in place of lithium components. The batteries are due to go into mass production this year.

Iran Says It Has Built Third Underground Ballistic Missile Factory - Parisa Hafezi
Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program, the Fars news agency reported, quoting Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards airspace division

Iran's Gen. Soleimani Declares Support for Hamas to Liberate "the Entire Palestinian Territory"
Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani on Wednesday May 24 congratulated Ismail Haniyeh on his election as the new leader of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).     Soleimani underlined the evil plots of Zionism and global Arrogance [the U.S.] who seek to weaken the Islamic Ummah;      "they are trying to distract Ummah's jihad from its Islamic path....We count on your efforts to place Palestine on top of Muslims' global fight [against Arrogance]." Soleimani expressed hope that Haniyeh's efforts continue until the liberation of Al-Aqsa and the entire Palestinian territo5

Hamas Kills Three Men in Execution Partially Streamed on Facebook - Peter Beaumont
Hamas has killed three men in Gaza in executions that appear to have been partially streamed live on Facebook.      Hamas' interior ministry said two men were hanged on Thursday May 25, and one was killed by firing squad for their part in killing Mazen Faqha, a senior figure in the military wing of the Islamist group. Since taking over Gaza in an armed coup in 2007, Hamas has executed 28 people

Gaza Electricity Reduced after PA Refuses to Pay - Tovah Lazaroff
For the last few months the PA has cut electricity to Gaza by limiting what it pays for electricity.   Israel supplies 125 MW of electricity to Gaza and the PA pays the monthly bill of NIS 40 million.    This week the PA told Israel it would only pay NIS 25-30 million a month.

Israel Alters Intelligence Sharing with U.S. - Ken Bredemeier (VOA News)
Israel says it has changed its intelligence-sharing protocols with the U.S. after President Donald Trump disclosed classified information to Russian diplomats earlier this month.    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio on Wednesday May 24,     "I can confirm that we did a spot repair and that there's unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States."

Czech Parliament Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
The Czech Parliament approved on Wednesday May 24 the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 112 of the 156 MPs supported the resolution.      The parliament also condemned recent UNESCO decisions that do not recognize the rights of Jews to Jerusalem and called on the government to stop payments to UNESCO
.

U.S. to Boost Sanctions on Iran, Review Aircraft Export Licenses - David Lawder
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday May 24, "We will use everything within our power to put additional sanctions on Iran, Syria and North Korea to protect American lives." He also said he is reviewing licenses for Boeing and Airbus to sell aircraft to Iran.

U.S. Increased Military Aid to Israel Ahead of Trump Visit - Herb Keinon
The U.S. promised to increase military aid to Israel to help maintain the country's military edge, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Wednesday. "The U.S. added another $75 million to the aid package for [Israel's] missile defense program." 

The Middle East Welcomes a U.S. President Who Is Not Obama - Jonah Goldberg
For all of Obama's alleged expertise, his foray into the Middle East foundered on his arrogance and naivete. He bought into the idea that the road to stability and peace in the Middle East went through Jerusalem.   And he crafted an Iranian deal that alienated both our democratic ally Israel and our strategic Sunni allies. He turned a blind eye to Iran's crushing of the Green Revolution and dithered to the point of complicity in the Syrian abattoir.    Meanwhile, Iran remains as implacably hostile and as determined to be a regional hegemon as ever.

US conducts 1st successful test of defenses against ICBM   DEBKAfile
The US successfully conducted the first test of its defenses against a simulated ICBM.     A target fired from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific was destroyed while still in space by an interceptor fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.     The test was intended to demonstrate how the ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) system can identify an enemy ICBM and shoot it down before it re-enters the atmosphere.      The system consists of sensors around the world including at sea and in space.    Development of GMD began in the 1980s during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Detractors nicknamed it "Star Wars", claiming the system would never work.

Report: Iran Agrees to Renew Funding to Hamas - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
Iran has agreed to renew its funding for Hamas after meetings in Lebanon between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hamas, and Hizbullah, Asharq al-Awsat reported Tuesday May 30 .
   

FROM MAY 17  NO 756

Trump Urges Russia to Rein in Syria, Iran
President Donald Trump urged Russia to "rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies" during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the White House said on Wednesday May 10.

Netanyahu to Putin: Syrian "Safe Zones" Must Not Serve as Bases for Iran, Hizbullah - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his concerns to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday about Russia's arrangement with Iran and Turkey to create "safe zones" in Syria. A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu did not oppose the "safe zones," but stressed that they cannot serve to allow Iran or Hizbullah to set up near the border with Israel.      Al-Arabiya reported Wednesday May 10, citing Israeli security sources, that Israel stressed to the Russians that it does not see itself as obliged to desist from carrying out attacks on "safe zones" in cases of "ticking time bombs." In other words, Israel will attack if it identifies attempts to deliver arms to Hizbullah through those areas.

Go with Trump's Vision to Promote Peace - Zalman Shoval
President Trump has declared his intent to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. No president was more involved in attempts to promote peace than Bill Clinton, until the conduct of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas at Camp David convinced him, as he has admitted, that Israel does not have a partner for peace.    Trump must understand that it is Palestinian recalcitrance that is writing the real script:    Peace between Jews and Arabs in the Land of Israel is not a function of finding diplomatic formulas, but first and foremost breaking through the wall of Palestinian hostility    . They are unwilling to accept the Jewish people's right to a state and are not willing to compromise on any of the main issues o f the conflict.
 

Israeli Navy takes delivery of another advanced ELM-2258 radar system      DEBKAfile
The Israeli Navy is conducting testing of an advanced radar system produced by Israel Aerospace Industries that has been installed on one of its missile ships, the company said Wednesday May 17. The Advanced Lightweight Phased Array ELM-2258 can simultaneously identify multiple aerial or maritime targets.   It offers "one of the most advanced operational solutions in the field of naval situation picture and its light weight enables it to be installed on a large variety of maritime platforms", IAI said.    The system uses digital active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology that enables the radar beams to be steered. It can detect, classify and track targets and then integrate the data into guided missile systems. IAI said the ALPHA ELM-2258 will upgrade the operational capabilities of the navy's Sa'ar 4.5 and Sa'ar 5 missile boats. Nine ALPHA radars have now been installed on Israeli missile ships, with two more scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2017.

Trump's Disclosure Endangered Spy Placed Inside ISIS by Israel, Officials Say - Brian Ross (ABC News)
The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk, according to current and former U.S. officials, after President Donald Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week.       The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the U.S., with a bomb hidden in a laptop that U.S. officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected.

Five Palestinians Arrested for Making Pipe Bombs Out of Fireworks - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
The Israel Defense Forces broke up a Palestinian cell that made pipe bombs from fireworks and used them in several attacks in the Tulkarem area of the West Bank, an army officer said Tuesday May 16

U.S. Ambassador Friedman: Palestinians Drop Settlement Freeze as Precondition for Talks - Tovah Lazaroff
The U.S. has not asked for a settlement freeze and the Palestinians have dropped that demand as a precondition for talks with Israel, the new U.S. Ambassador David Friedman told the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom on Wednesday.     The Palestinian insistence for the last eight years that Israel must halt all settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem was one of the core stumbling blocs to direct talks..

Keeping Palestinians Refugees as a Weapon Against Israel - Avi Mayer
Palestinians marked May 15 as Nakba (Catastrophe) Day.  May 15, 1948, was the day Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq invaded the fledgling Jewish state, determined to carry out the "war of extermination" and "momentous massacre" declared by Arab League Secretary General Azzam Pasha.     Some 6,373 Israelis were killed, just under 1% of the country's total population (the equivalent of three million Americans today
).

The U.S.-Israel Intelligence Relationship - Ronen Bergman (New York Times)
In recent months, Israel has passed on to the U.S. a great deal of highly sensitive and detailed information about the close coordination between the armed forces of Syria, Iran, Hizbullah and Russia, under Russian command
.

Abbas Presses Demand that Britain Apologize for Balfour Declaration
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking on May 15 during a visit to India, said: "Today we mark the 69th anniversary of the...1948 Nakba." The "historic injustice caused to our people actually began with the regrettable Balfour Declaration. From here, I call on the British government to bear historic and moral responsibility and not to mark or celebrate the 100th anniversary of this refuted declaration, but to hasten to apologize to our Palestinian people." 

Israeli Perceptions of Vulnerability - Gerald Steinberg
The combination of six decades of war and terror, Iran's shrill threats of annihilation, and discriminatory boycott campaigns reinforce the dismal lessons of Jewish history for Israel.    For most Israelis, the main obstacles to peace include terror and the Palestinian rejection of Jewish historical claims and the right to sovereign equality, independent of border concerns.     The "average Israeli" pays close attention to the widely heard chant "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," which leaves no place for the Jews.    But the problem is more than words: the rhetoric is accompanied by rocket attacks from Gaza and terror from the West Bank.

Palestinian Authority Names Schools after Terrorists and Nazi Collaborators - Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
The names that the Palestinian Authority has chosen for its schools encourage children to see terrorists as personal role models and heroes.    The PA Ministry of Education has named at least 28 schools after terrorists and at least 3 schools after Nazi collaborators
.

Jerusalem's Arab Population Has Grown Twice as Fast as Its Jewish Population - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
According to a forthcoming statistical abstract from the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research (formerly the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies), the Jewish population of Jerusalem has grown by 174% in the last 50 years, while the Arab population grew at twice that rate - 374% - in the same period.

Israel Air Force Introduces Maritime Patrol Drones (Globes)
The Israel Air Force is replacing its manned Sea Scan maritime patrol aircraft with the Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. maritime version of the Heron 1 UAV.    The maritime Herons will provide comprehensive protection of Israel's coastline and strategic infrastructures, including offshore natural gas production installations
.

50 Jerusalem Facts for the 50th Anniversary of Its Reunification - Eliana Rudee (JNS.org)
During the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem (1948-1967), Jews were not allowed to access their holy sites, including the Western Wall.    Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible, but not once in Islam's Quran. 

Life Expectancy in Israel Ranks High - Itay Gal (Ynet News)
Life expectancy for men in Israel is 80.6 years, ranked fourth in the world, while life expectancy for women is 84.3 years, eighth in the world, according to a report by the World Health Organization published on Wednesday.     The infant mortality rate is four deaths per 1,000 births per year, while the maternal death rate is five per 1,000 births, some of the lowest rates in the world.

FROM MAY 9  NO 755

U.S. Official Criticizes New UNESCO Resolution Labeling Israeli Actions in Jerusalem "Illegal" - Ben Cohen
A U.S. official condemned a resolution entitled "Occupied Palestine" by UNESCO.     The resolution asserts "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel...which have altered...the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the 'basic law' on Jerusalem, are null and void."     The Basic Law on Jerusalem, passed by the Knesset in 1980, affirms that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel."     Two sites sacred to Jewish worshipers - the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem - are defined by the resolution as "Palestinian sites" and "an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory."

U.S. Is Killing Islamic State's Online Operatives One by One - W.J. Hennigan (Los Angeles Times)
French-born Rachid Kassim, 29, a former rapper, once beheaded a man in an online video and played a role in a string of terrorist plots in France last year.    On Feb. 8, a drone-launched missile destroyed his truck as he drove through the Iraqi city of Mosul.    The strike was part of a U.S.-led effort that seeks to silence Islamic State operatives who use social media and encrypted messaging to reach disaffected Muslims overseas    On Aug. 30, a drone strike killed Abu Muhammad Adnani, head of ISIS external terrorism plots.   Eight days later, Abu Mohamed Furqan, who oversaw production of propaganda videos and created the monthly online magazine Rumiyah, was killed by a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria.

New Israeli Drone Can Locate People - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
The Condor, developed by defense companies BLER and Istar, is a drone that can operate in extreme weather conditions, cover an area of 5-8 kilometers, and provide information about the precise location of lost hikers or wanted terrorists, even if they are hiding inside buildings or tunnels
.

Ismail Haniyeh Becomes Head of Hamas - Avi Issacharoff
Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal announced Saturday that Ismail Haniyeh has been chosen as his successor.      For 21 years the political bureau was headed by Mashaal, a native of the West Bank.    Haniyeh is a Gaza native and his appointment signifies the Gazan takeover of Hamas.    Haniyeh, 54, has often threatened Israel in speeches and at rallies, and has praised the killing of Israeli civilians in terror attacks.    He has pledged to continue violent opposition to Israel until it is "liberated."

Iranian Drones Now Regular Nuisance for U.S. Carrier in Persian Gulf - Hope Hodge Seck
Visits from Iranian surveillance drones have become commonplace for the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush and ships from its strike group that patrol the Persian Gulf. Capt.     Will Pennington, the ship's commanding officer, said the Bush detects nearby Iranian drones nearly every day.

Nasrallah: Next war with Israel could be waged inside Israeli territory
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese terror group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, said  that any possible future war with Israel could be waged inside Israeli territory.    In a televised speech in which he also discussed the group’s heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war, Nasrallah said Israel was “scared and worried of any future confrontation… and knows that it could be inside the occupied Palestinian territories,” according to a translation provided by Reuters.

Israel's Population Hits 8.7 Million on Eve of 69th Independence Day - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz)
Israel's population is 8.68 million - more than 10 times what it was when the state was founded in 1948, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced.      Some 74.7% (6.484 million) are Jewish, 20.8% (1.808 million) are Arab - both Muslim and Christian - while the remaining 4.5% (388,000) are non-Arab Christians, members of other religions or people of no religion.    There are also 183,000 foreign nationals living in Israel. In the past year, 174,000 babies were born in Israel and 30,000 people immigrated to the country.
    As of 2015 there were an estimated 14.41 million Jews in the world, 43% of whom lived in Israel.

Israel to Buy 13 Naval Guns from U.S. to Defend Offshore Gas Reserves - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
The State Department has approved Israel's request to buy 13 76-mm naval guns and spare parts for $440 million, to be mounted on the Israel Navy's missile boats.

Israel Was Not Born of the Holocaust - Jack Schwartz (Times of Israel)
The Jewish state owes its creation to a string of contingencies which either predated, or were independent of, the destruction of Europe's Jews between 1941 and 1945.      The Balfour Declaration, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, was a British commitment to a Jewish homeland during World War I.     It gave international standing to what was already a vibrant Zionist presence marked by waves of immigration in the previous three decades.

Islamic State Says It Beheaded Russian Officer in Syria (Reuters)
Islamic State has issued a video showing the beheading of what it said was a Russian intelligence officer captured in Syria, the U.S.-based SITE monitoring website reported.    The Russian-language video showed a man dressed in a black jump suit kneeling in the desert and urging other Russian agents to surrender.

Israel: Those Who Systematically Violate Human Rights in Their Own Country Should Not Preach to Others
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to Erdogan: "Those who systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region.     Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians - and will continue to do so despite the baseless slander launched against it
."

What Does Hamas' New Political Document Say? - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
On May 1, 2017, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal presented a political document which does not abrogate the Hamas Charter, but outlines the strategies that the group has tailored to its current political circumstances.   The main points of Hamas' new political document are denial of the Jewish people's right to self-determination in the Land of Israel, while claiming that Israel's establishment as a state is entirely illegitimate.

Abbas' "Culture of Peace" - Bassam Tawil
PA President Mahmoud Abbas may soon be known for his sense of humor, after telling President Trump, "We are raising our youth...on a culture of peace."     The Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, gave the Palestinians media outlets, including television and radio stations, which were then used to amplify hatred against Israel and Jews on a daily basis.     The Second Intifada that began in September 2000 was the result of seven years of vicious incitement and indoctrination.    Abbas continues to use non-existent threats to the al-Aqsa Mosque to incite Palestinian youths against Israel. He talks about "herds of settlers storming al-Aqsa Mosque" - in reality, peaceful routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount.    In September 2015, Abbas stated that he "welcomed every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem," and soon after, Palestinians began waging a campaign of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.    Is this the "culture of peace" to which Abbas is referring?

April Sets All-Time Record in Tourism to Israel - Lidar Grave-Lazi (Jerusalem Post)
A record 349,000 tourists visited Israel during April, the Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday May 10.    The ten countries sending the most visitors this year are the U.S., Russia, France, Germany, the UK, Ukraine, China, Italy, Romania and Poland
.

Despite Heavy Losses, ISIS Structures Remain Resilient - Hassan Hassan (The National-Abu Dhabi)
After more than 1,000 days of relentless American-led operations against ISIS, the once well-equipped and 35,000-strong organization has lost the bulk of its fighters and a large number of its commanders.    Its territory has shrunk by over 80% in Iraq and 60% in Syria, andsignificantly fewer foreign fighters are now willing to join it.    Yet national forces still lack the ability to protect themselves without precision air su pport from the U.S., even after these forces have expelled ISIS.    "Taking territory away from them is such a temporary activity," said Craig Whiteside, professor at the Naval War College Monterey. ISIS "will be strong until they are dismantled in a more thorough way."    The group's continued ability to run a full-fledged urban insurgency means that its organizational structures remain resilient.

FROM MAY 1  NO 754

Syrian, Hizballah, pro-Iranian units push further toward Israel border   DEBKAfile

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that a mixed Syrian, Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite force was still advancing Monday on its way to the Golan town of Quneitra on the Israel border.     They are going forward, along two routes:      1) The eastern route from Daraa to Inkhil, has brought them to within 30km from Quneitra. To avoid clashes and delays, the commanders are offering local militia leaders deals for laying down their arms and a right of way.      2)  On the northwestern route through the Syrian Hermon and Hadar village they have come as far as Nabal al-Fawwar, 13km from Quneitra. Here too negotiations for peaceful passage are underway with rebel chiefs. 

Trump to Visit Israel on May 22 -     Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
President Donald Trump is officially set to visit Israel on May 22.    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will accompany the president.

Despite UNESCO's Bias, Jews Won't Abandon Israel's Holy Jewish Sites - Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein (The Hill)
Forget fake news. UNESCO is promoting an entire fake universe with its new resolution rejecting Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, including modern west Jerusalem.     In its text, Rachel's Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rivka, Jacob and Leah are buried, were repackaged as Muslim mosques.      Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people.       Centuries ago, long before anyone heard of Mohammed, King David built his capital there and the Jews built two temples there.

Lockheed VP: "There's a Part of Israel in Every F-35" - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
U.S. Air Force Gen. (ret.) Gary North, vice president for customer requirements at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said Thursday May 4,  in Tel Aviv,    "There's a part of Israel in every F-35 that's ever been built."He said Lockheed has already contracted more than $1 billion worth of structures, subsystems, and components with Israeli industry.        North cited the aircraft's helmet-mounted display system, outer wing sets, and aerostructures as examples of Israeli content.

Trump's Approach to an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal: Get to Yes, and Figure Out the Details Later - Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson
President Trump hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday May 3,  and told him,     "I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; let's prove them wrong."     Despite the opening flourishes of praise and goodwill, the meeting between Trump and Abbas was expected to become more uncomfortable behind closed doors, as the administration laid out a series of demands.

The Palestinian Authority Is Already a "Failed State" - Shoshana Bryen (Washington Times)
The Palestinian Authority's 2016 budget shows estimated expenditures of $4.25 billion but revenues of only $2 billion.      That includes more than $1 billion in contributions from UNRWA, the EU, and the U.S.    After 23 years and billions of other people's dollars, time and expertise, Palestinian Arabs still lack infrastructure for a viable economy.    While President Trump expresses optimism over the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, as things stand now, an independent Palestinian state would be born a "failed state."

Former Defense Minister Ya'alon: Trump Is Looking for a Deal, But There Is No Partner for a Deal" - Gil Hoffman
Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in an interview, "Since the dawn of Zionism, the Arab position has been consistent, with no Arab leader being willing to divide the land with us. [PA President] Abbas won't deliver the goods. There isn't anyone on their side who can. Trump is looking for a deal. But there is no partner for a deal."      "Because Abbas won't change his views...when the decisive time comes, he [President Trump] will see that it is the Palestinians who refuse to make peace, just like [U.S. Presidents George W.] Bush and [Bill] Clinton [did]....The problem is the lack of readiness among the relatively moderate Palestinians like Abbas to accept Israel in any borders, including pre-1967 borders."

Fatah and Hamas Agree, Israel Has No Right to Exist - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement doesn't recognize Israel.     Fatah Central Committee member and Commissioner of Treasury and Economy Muhammad Shtayyeh told PA TV on March 26, "To this moment, Fatah does not recognize Israel.     The topic of recognition of Israel has not been raised in any of Fatah's conferences."     Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Zahar of the Hamas movement's political bureau told Lebanese TV that Hamas' new charter accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is "a tactical step that does not harm the right of the Palestinians to all of the land of Palestine."

Iran Is Building Two Land Corridors to the Mediterranean - Ehud Yaari
While Tehran hopes to achieve regional hegemony in the long term, its current plan is to focus on obtaining and maintaining a predominant position in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.    For the last three years, General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force within Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has been busy setting up two land corridors across the Levant (one in the north and one in the south), linking Iran to the Mediterranean.     These pathways would provide a link to Hizbullah in Lebanon and finally end at the edge of the Golan Heights, serving as chains to move military supplies or militiamen when needed.

UNESCO Demands Israel Disavow Jerusalem as Its Capital - Jack Heretik (Washington Free Beacon)
On Israel's Independence Day, UNESCO on Tuesday May 2, passed a resolution demanding that Israel disavow Jerusalem as its capital. The measure passed by 22 to 10, with 23 abstentions.

Iran threatens Saudi Arabia with total devastation      DEBKAfile
Iran will leave no part of Saudi Arabia untouched except the holy Muslim sites of Mecca and Medina if Riyadh "does anything ignorant", Iran's defense minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying Sunday, after a Saudi prince threatened to move the "battle" to Iran.

Vice President Pence Hosts White House Celebration for Israel Independence Day, Calls Israel "America's Most Cherished Ally"
Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday May 2:     "We celebrate the 69th anniversary of the independence of America's most cherished ally, the Jewish state of Israel....On this day, the fifth day in the month of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar in 1948, nothing short of a miracle occurred.     On that day, in the ancient and eternal homeland of the Jewish people, the State of Israel was reborn."   "How unlikely was Israel's birth? How much more unlikely has been her survival?      And how confounding against all odds, both past and present, has been her thriving?    Since the moment of their independence, t he Israeli people have awed the world with their strength of will, and their strength of character.      They've turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty....And at all times, in war and in peace, the people of Israel and the Jewish people have held their heads high.     Every day, Israel takes the curses and slanders of too much of the world and turns them into blessings.
"

Israel's Population Hits 8.7 Million on Eve of 69th Independence Day - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz)
Israel's population is 8.68 million - more than 10 times what it was when the state was founded in 1948, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced .      Some 74.7% (6.484 million) are Jewish, 20.8% (1.808 million) are Arab - both Muslim and Christian - while the remaining 4.5% (388,000) are non-Arab Christians, members of other religions or people of no religion.    There are also 183,000 foreign nationals living in Israel. In the past year, 174,000 babies were born in Israel and 30,000 people immigrated to the country.    As of 2015 there were an estimated 14.41 million Jews in the world, 43% of whom lived in Israel
.

North Korea Threatens Israel (Jerusalem Post)
In an interview with the Hebrew news site Walla last week, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un is a madman and that together with the leaders of Iran and Syria was part of an "insane and radical" gang that was bent on undermining international stability.      In response, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said ,   "The reckless remarks of the Israeli defense minister are sordid and wicked behavior and a grave challenge to the DPRK [North Korea]."     Anyone who "dares hurt the dignity of its supreme leadership" will face "merciless, thousand-fold punishment.
"

FROM APRIL 23  NO 753

Hizbullah Battlefield Deaths Defending Assad Mount Up - Ali Alfoneh (Newsweek)
Lebanese Hizbullah has sustained considerable losses in Syria on Iran's behalf to secure the survival of Bashar al-Assad's regime.    According to a survey of Arabic language public coverage of funeral services held in Lebanon, 1,048 Hizbullah fighters were killed in combat in Syria from Sept. 30, 2012 to April 10, 2017, including 60 identified as commanders.    This number must be treated as a minimum, since the Hizbullah leadership has every reason to downplay losses
.

Qatar's Support for Terror - Jonathan Schanzer (New York Post)
Since August 2014, U.S.-backed coalition aircraft have flown tens of thousands of sorties to bomb ISIS. Almost all of them are commanded out of the high-tech al-Udeid air base in Qatar - a facility crucial to our war effort    But Qatar harbors the bad guys, too.    The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas enjoys safe haven in Qatar.     Outgoing leader Khaled Meshal has long operated out of Doha     Hamas military official Saleh Arouri - suspected of masterminding the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, sparking the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel - is now reportedly in Qatar after being booted from Turkey.

UN Secretary-General: Denial of Israel's Right to Exist Is "Modern Form of Anti-Semitism"
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the World Jewish Congress on Sunday April 23,     "A modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist.     As secretary-general of the United Nations I can say that the State of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules."   He said he supports "the absolutely undeniable right of Israel to exist and to live in peace and security with its neighbors."

Terrorist Accused of Killing a British Student Will Be Paid £800 a Month by the Palestinian Government - Nick Craven
Palestinian terrorist Jamil Tamimi, who killed British theology student Hannah Bladon, 21, in a frenzied knife attack on Good Friday in Jerusalem, will be paid a salary of more than £800 a month by the Palestinian government - which receives more than £25 million a year from the UK in foreign aid

The Resurgent Threat of Al-Qaeda - Ali Soufan
Al-Qaeda has been eclipsed by the Islamic State - a group that began as al-Qaeda's Iraqi franchise but broke away in 2014.    In the nearly six years since its founder, Osama bin Laden, was killed in Pakistan, al-Qaeda has transformed itself into a vast network of insurgent groups spread from southeast Asia to northwest Africa. Together, this network now commands an army of tens of thousands of Islamist militants, united in their commitment to bin Laden's ideology.    In Syria, more than 20,000 militants follow the banner of the Liberation of the Levant Organization (formerly known as the Nusra Front).    In Yemen, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula numbers at least 4,000 fighters and holds major sections of coastline and highways.     In Somalia, al-Shabaab has at least 7,000 members and continues to attract recruits, including from Somali communities in the U.S
.

Heinrich Himmler's Telegram of November 2, 1943, the Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, to Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem - Dr. Joel S. Fishman
On March 29, 2017, the National Library of Israel announced the discovery of SS Commander Heinrich Himmler's telegram to Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem.     The telegram was sent on November 2, 1943, the 26th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.     The telegram confirms that there was a partnership between Nazi Germany, the Arabs of Palestine and the Arab world based on their mutual support for the destruction of world Jewry.    Himmler's telegraph to al-Husseini, who was in Berlin, states:      "From its beginning the National Socialist Movement of Greater Germany has inscribed the struggle against world Jewry on its banner.      Therefore it has always followed with special sympathy the struggle of the freedom-loving Arabs, foremost in Palestine, against the Jewish intruders....   On the anniversary of the wretched Balfour Declaration I send you in this spirit my heartfelt greetings and wishes for the successful pursuit of your struggle until its assured final victory."

 Iran Violating U.S. Deal with Secret Nuke Research, Opposition Group Says (Washington Times)
Iran is cheating on its deal with the U.S. by secretly conducting research into nuclear weapons components such as bomb triggers and enriched uranium, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said Friday April 20    The regime is doing engineering and weaponization testing at a walled military complex south of Tehran which Iran has declared off-limits to inspectors.

We Will Remember and Never Forget - Avi Dichter
On August 23, 1942, 3,870 Jews - men, women and children, including members of my family - were taken from the Jewish ghetto in Rozyszcze, Ukraine, and walked to a huge pit a kilometer away. On the edge of the pit, they were lined up six at a time, all day long, and shot in the back of the neck.

Israeli Strike Hits Iranian Arms Depot in Damascus (Reuters)
An Israeli strike on Thursday April 19, hit an arms supply hub operated by Hizbullah near Damascus airport where regular supplies of weapons from Iran are sent by commercial and military cargo planes, a regional intelligence source said.

Israeli air strike reported against Syrian-Hizballah force nearing Quneitra    DEBKAfile
Various social media reported Saturday night April 23,  that the Israeli Air Force had attacked the Syrian army’s 90th Brigade and a Hizballah force which is on the move from the Mt. Hermon village of Hader towards Quneitra near Israel’s Golan border.     DEBKAfile’s military sources have reported exclusively since Thursday, April 27, that recent Israeli attacks were linked to the offensive launched last week by a mixed force of Syrian army, Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militias to reach Quneitra through Mt. Hermon.     Israel’s first reported attack      Thursday struck the Syrian army’s 4th Division, elements of which are taking part in the push towards the Israeli border. 

Golan tension: Pro-Iran troops move on Quneitra     DEBKAfile
Early Thursday, April 26, a mixed Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah force embarked on a general offensive in southern Syria ready for a leap on Israel’s Golan border. They moved forward in the face of Israeli warnings that were relayed from Moscow to Tehran and Hizballah

North Korea launches new missile. US sabotages
North Korea early Saturday, April 29, launched a medium ballistic missile.    It failed, detonating in North air space seconds after launch, just like the first one that was sabotaged by the US on April 16, debkafile reports.    US President Donald Trump tweeted as soon as he was informed:      “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!”      He as apparently hinting that he would wait for China’s reaction before the US took action.    This missile was also the same as the first, a KN-17, a single-stage, short to medium range, liquid-fueled Scud or No Dong variant.    It was test-fired Saturday April 23, as a deliberate act of defiance by Kim Jong-un in the face of Trump’s warning Thursday

Foreign Fighters Depart as ISIS Caliphate Crumbles - Martin Chulov (Guardian-UK)
Dozens of foreign fighters and sympathizers are abandoning Islamic State and trying to enter Turkey, as ISIS' capacity to hold ground in Syria and Iraq collapses.    Some are thought to be intent on traveling to Europe to seek vengeance for the crumbling caliphate.    "Europe has to keep its guard up," said Shiraz Maher, deputy director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College.    "The threat will likely become more acute in the coming months and years as the pressures on Islamic State intensify."

Israel "Won't Allow" New Iranian Front on Golan Heights - Judah Ari Gross
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday April 26, that Israel "won't allow concentrations of Iranian and Hizbullah forces on the Golan Heights." 

Israel Believes Iran Directed Thwarted Cyberattack - Anshel Pfeffer
Israel's Cyber Defense Authority thwarted a cyberattack Wednesday that targeted 120 academic institutions, ministries, companies and private individuals engaged in research and development and advanced technologies. The attacks were carried out by the OilRig hacker group, believed to be financed and directed by Iran.  


FROM APRIL 19  NO 752

IDF Engineering Officer Works to Keep Hizbullah Out - Judah Ari Gross
Maj. Eliyahu Gabay, 54, chief combat engineering officer of the IDF's 300th Regional Brigade, is reshaping the topography along the Lebanese border in order to keep terrorists out and the Israeli communities in the area protected - hewing cliffs, raising berms and clearing brush.     Israel's main concern here is an above-ground infiltration.    The IDF does not believe Hizbullah has border-crossing tunnels.   Earlier this month, Hizbullah's Al-Manar broadcast a special report showing the progress the IDF has made in preparing the border for a future war, featuring footage of Israeli berms and concrete defenses.

Israel Closes Border with Egypt for Fear of Imminent Sinai Attack - G Cohen and Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
Israel decided on Monday  April 10, to prohibit Israelis from crossing the Taba border point into Egypt near Eilat.      Israelis currently in Sinai were requested to leave the area and return to Israel.    The decision was made in light of concrete information about a planned attack against Israeli targets in the Sinai area.

Trump Officials Tell Russia to Drop Its Support for Syria's Assad - Carol Morello
Officials in the Trump administration on Sunday April 9,  demanded that Russia stop supporting the Syrian government or face a further deterioration in its relations with the U.S.      Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is set to have talks in Moscow this week, said on ABC:      "I hope Russia is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad, because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility."

Iran Vows "Death to Israel" as It Unveils Latest Missiles - Gareth Davies (Daily Mail-UK)
Iran paraded a missile with the sign "Death to Israel" attached to it during a huge military parade showcasing deadly weapons on Tuesday April 18,  in Tehran.

Israeli Economy Ranked 3rd Most Stable in 2016 - Zeev Klein (Israel Hayom)
With near-nonexistent inflation and low unemployment, Israel is no. 3 on a list of the world's most stable and promising economies in 2016 published by Bloomberg, following Hong Kong and South Korea.

Israeli Monitoring of Social Media Thwarts Terror Attacks by 2,200 Palestinians - Amos Harel
The Israel Security Agency and IDF Military Intelligence have stopped 2,200 Palestinians at various stages of planning and preparing terror attacks, mostly stabbings and car-rammings, in less than a year.     More than 400 Palestinians were arrested by Israel and similar number by the PA, while the rest received warnings.    So far the move has significantly reduced the number of attacks.

Barghouti Enjoys Palestinian Support Due to His Track Record as a Murderer of Israelis - Editorial
The real impetus for the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners seems not to be about prisoners' rights at all, but rather it is a political initiative designed to promote Marwan Barghouti.    He is using the Palestinian prisoners as his latest ploy for self-advancement.      It is depressing that a man like Barghouti, with the blood of so many victims on his hands, has consistently been the most popular candidate to lead the Palestinian people.    And it is precisely because of his murderously violent past that Barghouti is able to beat a Hamas candidate for the Palestinian vote.     He enjoys the support of the Palestinian street due to his track record as a murderer. This is the sad state of radicalized Palestinian politics that is the real obstacle to peace

Israeli army strikes Syrian sources of mortar fire on Golan     DEBKAfile
After four mortar shells from Syria exploded in the northern Golan Friday April 21, the Israeli army struck the positions on the other side of the border from which the shells were fired.    They apparently strayed inadvertently across the border from the fighting in Syria, the IDF stated.      None of the shells caused damage, but people were alarmed by sirens and the explosions.     The army statement stressed that the IDF would not tolerate violations of Israeli sovereignty and holds the Syrian government responsible for actions emanating from its territory.      While the IDF spokesman provided not information on the counter-attack, Syrian sources reported that Israel fired two rockets against a Syrian army position east of  Quneitra.

U.S. Weighs Additional Support for Saudi Fight Against Iran-Backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen - Gordon Lubold
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is considering a range of additional military support for Saudi Arabia's fight against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.     After meeting with the Saudi king and other top officials in Riyadh, Mattis said  that it's important for the U.S. to help "reinforce Saudi Arabia's resistance to Iran's mischief."    The U.S. believes Iran is backing the rebels    "Everywhere you look, if there's trouble in the region, you find Iran," Mattis said. "What we're seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they can cause." 

Trump to Demand PA Stop Paying Salaries to Terrorists' Families - Barak Ravid
The White House has  announced  that President Trump will be meeting PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington on May 3.     The east Jerusalem Al-Quds daily reported Wednesday that Trump's advisers have prepared a document to be presented to Abbas that includes a demand to renew negotiations with Israel without preconditions.   The report said the White House will demand that Abbas stop making payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and to the families of terrorists. In exchange, the Trump administration will not act to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Gaza Woman Seeking Cancer Treatment in Israel Caught Smuggling Explosives for Hamas - Judah Ari Gross
Two Palestinian women from Gaza tried to smuggle explosives into Israel using tubes labeled for medication, taking advantage of an entry permit issued for one of them to seek cancer treatment in Israel, the Israel Security Agency said Wednesday April 19  . The explosives were "sent by Hamas and it is believed that they were meant to be used to carry out attacks in Israel in the near future," the ISA said.    The explosives were hidden inside tubes labeled "medical materials" and were to be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices.

With Syria in Pieces, It's Time to Recognize the Golan Heights as Part of Israel - Seth J. Frantzman
There is no Syria to negotiate with, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said on Tuesday April 18.  "Without Israel there [in the Golan], the region would be jeopardized. ISIS would be on the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee]," he said, adding that other states in the region are glad Israel is on the Golan.     Israel annexed the Golan in 1981, but the decision was never recognized internationally.

Iraqi Unit with U.S., Australian Advisers Hit by ISIS Mustard Gas - David Martin (AP-CBS News)
An Iraqi unit with U.S. and Australian advisers was hit by an Islamic State (ISIS) mustard agent on Sunday April 16.     25 Iraqis required treatment but none of the advisers were injured.    The attack occurred one day after ISIS militants launched a gas attack in the al-Abar neighborhood in western Mosul.    An officer with the antiterrorism forces said ISIS fired a rocket loaded with chlorine.

Signs of Tension within Hamas in Gaza (Economist-UK)
These are tense times in Gaza, after the assassination on March 24 of Mazen Fuqaha, one of Hamas' military commanders.     Earlier this month three men were hanged in Gaza as collaborators with Israel.    All three were arrested long before Fuqaha's death, but their hasty executions were a sign of how badly the hit had rattled Hamas.    After four ruinous wars against Israel, there are signs that Hamas wants a policy change.    The group is debating a major revision of its founding charter of 1988.     Israeli officials think the changes are a sign that part of the political wing is open to a long-term truce that would avoid another conflict.

Israeli Firm Gets $9M U.S. Contract to Develop Medical Testing Device - S Solomon (Times of Israel)
MeMed Ltd. of Haifa said Wednesday April 20, it received a $9.2 million contract from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency to help complete the development of its bedside device to monitor the body's immune state and help distinguish bacterial from viral infections

Trump: Iran "Not Living Up to the Spirit" of Nuclear Deal - Kelsey Sutton
President Donald Trump accused Iran Thursday April 20, of "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear deal during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.     Trump said again that it was "a terrible agreement" and that it "shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated....  We're analyzing it very, very carefully, and we'll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future."
 .

FROM APRIL 8  NO 751

Israel's Elbit Systems U.S. Unit Wins $50 Million Navy Contract (Reuters)Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems said Sunday April 2 its U.S. subsidiary won a $50 million contract from the U.S. Navy to provide the Helmet Display and Tracker System for the MH-60S fleet of helicopters.    The work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas.

U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Airbase after Chemical Weapons Attack - Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan & Thomas Gibbons-Neff
The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield on Thursday April 6, in a direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad.     The Trump administration authorized the operation in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week.    President Trump called on "all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.    And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types."     The missiles were launched from two Navy destroyers in the easter n Mediterranean.

In Syria, Raqqa's Civilians Foresee Last Days of ISIS - E Solomon & Ahmad Mhidi (Financial Times-UK)
The "state" part of the Islamic State that has ruled in Raqqa for more than three years is evaporating.   As shelling echoes from the distance, ISIS fighters remain in the city, but administrative officials are fleeing with their families to safer territory, according to Raqqa residents.     Most are relocating to the province of Deir Ezzor, near the Iraqi border.    One ISIS fighter reported ammunition shortages, fighters fleeing and a notable absence of the foreign fighters who once led them.    It is estimated that 2,000 fighters are still in Raqqa, mostly from local tribes that pledged fealty to the group

Israel Deserves a Seat on the Security Council - Danny Danon
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in December Israel's intent to compete for a seat on the UN Security Council.       Israel has set the ambitious goal of obtaining one of the three non-permanent seats on the council allotted to the Western Europe and Others (WEOG) regional grouping in 2019. To do so we must convince two-thirds of General Assembly members.

The US missile strike destroyed 20pc of Syria’s operational aircraft     DEBKAfile
US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that the missile strike in response to the Syrian chemical attack on civilians “resulted in the damage or destruction of fuel and ammunition sites, air defense capabilities and 20% of Syria's operational aircraft".    Syria would be “ill-advised ever again to use chemical weapons,” he said.    “At this point the use of the Shayrat runway is of idle military interest.”

Glowing bacteria are used to hunt landmines in Hebrew U study
Researchers say they may found a way to use glowing bacteria and lasers to detect deadly explosives by using a combination of lasers molecularly engineered bacteria that glow in proximity to the explosives

USA DROPS MOAB
The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.     A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, nicknamed MOAB, was dropped at 7 p.m. local time Thursday, the sources said.    The MOAB is also known as the "mother of all bombs."   A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb.     The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, according to the military sources.      They said the target was an ISIS tunnel and cave complex as well as personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

Russia Vetoes UN Condemnation of Syria Attack - Michelle Nichols
Russia blocked a Western-led effort at the UN Security Council on Wednesday April 12, to condemn last week's deadly gas attack in Syria as Moscow used its veto power for the eighth time to shield Assad's government.     U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called on Moscow to stop protecting Assad and said the U.S. wants to work with Russia toward a political solution for Syria.    China abstained in the vote, along with Ethiopia and Kazakhstan.    Ten countries voted in favor, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting no.

Rising Tensions in Gaza after PA Cuts Salaries - Pinhas Inbari
In Gaza there are on-going protest demonstrations by PA employees whose salaries have been reduced by 30% after a decision by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's government in Ramallah.    These are the employees that served the Palestinian Authority before Hamas took   over Gaza in 2007, who were ordered to stay home by the PA in order not to recognize the Hamas regime as legal.    So, they were getting salaries while staying home.

 The World's Watchdog Is Back in Town - Ron Ben-Yishai

In its strike in Syria on Thursday, the U.S. conveyed a message:     We have red lines, and anyone who crosses them will experience the military force of the strongest power in the world.    Another message is: You can't do as you please in the Middle East.    Assad suffered considerable damage, as this is the base which is used for attacks against Islamic State targets in eastern Syria

ISIS Massacred 140 Civilians Escaping Mosul - Chad Garland (Stars and Stripes)
Islamic State militants last week massacred 140 civilians trying to flee west Mosul and hanged some of their bodies from utility poles, Iraqi officials said Friday April 7.    In addition, U.S. Brig.-Gen. John B. Richardson IV said on Monday that Iraqi troops recently found the bodies of nine beheaded Iraqis at a traffic circle with a sign threatening more executions of anyone caught fleeing the caliphate..

IsraIeli Defense Minister: Assassination of Top Hamas Militant Was an Inside Job
The assassination of top Hamas militant Mazen Fuqha in March was an inside job, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Yediot Ahronot in an interview published Monday.    "We can say with certainty that it was an internal killing," he said.

Terrorist Murders British Woman in Jerusalem on Friday - Roi Yanovsky
A female British student, 23, was stabbed to death in a terror attack at IDF Square on Jaffa Road on Jerusalem's light rail on Friday afternoon. The terrorist was arrested
.

126 Killed as Blast Strikes Convoy Carrying Evacuated Syrians - Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad (New York Times-CNN)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 126 people were killed in Aleppo on Saturday April 15, when a car bomb struck buses carrying residents evacuated from two Shiite villages in Idlib province that had been under siege by Islamist Sunni rebels for two years.    A car bomb struck as the busses were waiting to enter government-held territory.

Hamas Militant Killed, Three Injured in Gaza Tunnel Collapse - Jack Khoury
Anas Abu Shawish, 20, a militant with Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, was killed Monday April 17, in a tunnel collapse near Gaza City.   Three others were injured in the collapse.    Over the past three years, more than 20 militants have died under similar circumstances.

New York Times Slammed for Whitewashing Fatah Leader's Terrorist Past - Yair Lapid
A New York Times opinion piece identifies its writer, Marwan Barghouti, as "a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian."    That isn't an error, that is an intentional deception.     Marwan Barghouti is a murderer. He was convicted in a civilian court on five separate counts of murder of innocent civilians    . He was involved in dozens of attempted terror attacks    He caused people to lose their families and led to people being maimed. He destroyed lives      Barghouti is in prison not for his views, nor for his desire for a Palestinian state. He chose the path of terror, murder and violence
.

America and Iran Are Jostling for Influence over Iraq (Economist-UK)
Officially, Iran has only 95 military advisers in Iraq, compared with America's 5,800 soldiers.     In reality, an adviser to the prime minister confides, Iran's forces outnumber America's at least five to one.      Iran's hidden hand is everywhere.     "The Americans are more powerful," says Hashim al-Hashemi, an Iraqi security analyst in Baghdad, "but the Iranians are more dangerous.    They have penetrated every organ of state."

Record Incoming Tourism to Israel in Q1 - Michal Raz-Chaimovich (Globes)
The number of tourists coming from abroad to Israel reached an all-time record of 739,000 in the first quarter of 2017, up 24% from the corresponding quarter of last year, the Ministry of Tourism reports.    In March alone, 293,000 tourists reached Israel, up 22% from March 2016
.

FROM APRIL 3  NO 750

Egyptian Army Gains Full Control of al-Halal Mountain in Central Sinai (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
The Egyptian Armed Forces has declared its complete control over al-Halal mountain after purging all the caves, killing several extremists, arresting others and confiscating huge amounts of ammunition.    Al-Halal mountain is one of the areas where extremists took shelter, but the armed forces were able to gain full control, military spokesperson Tamer al-Refai said on Sunday.    24 caves with huge stores of ammunition and weapons were found, as well as vehicles with guns installed on them, huge amounts of spare parts, and communications devices.

Syria's Civil War Produces a Clear Winner: Hizbullah - Maria Abi-Habib
After years of growing engagement, including training thousands of mostly Shiite Muslim fighters, Hizbullah is today stronger, more independent, and in command of a new Syrian militia that its officials say is ready to be deployed to other conflicts in the region.      Hizbullah now fights alongside Russian troops, and it was Hizbullah that devised the battlefield plan for conquering Aleppo used by Syrian and Russian forces last year, according to Arab and U.S. officials.     "Russian stocks [of weaponry] are open to Hizbullah," said a Hizbullah official who travels frequently to Damascus.      "Our fighters eat and sleep alongside theirs and we're sharing everything, always."      Western diplomats estimate the number of Syrian fighters loyal to Hizbullah's command - which Hizbullah calls al-Ridha Forces, and are known locally as "Hizbullah in Syria" - in the tens of thousands.      In Syria, Hizbullah is playing for lasting political and social influence, Western and Arab diplomats say.

New Israeli Missile Defense System Is Now Operational - Gili Cohen
Israel unveiled on Sunday April 2, its latest addition to its multilevel missile defense system with David's Sling, designed to intercept medium-range missiles   . It is meant to fill the gap between Iron Dome, meant to intercept short-range rockets, and the Arrow system, designed to shoot down long-range ballistic threats. David's Sling is designed to intercept Hizbullah's highly accurate missiles and large rockets such as the M-600.

Israel's Arrow Intercepts a Syrian Missile
On March 17, a Syrian SA-5 interceptor, dimensionally very similar to a Scud, missed its target, did not self-destruct, and continued to fly in a stable ballistic trajectory toward Israel.    It was picked up at a distance by the "Green Pine" radars, its predicted impact point was seen to be within Israeli territory, and it was classified as an imminent threat.    Using a single interceptor, the Arrow system detected, locked onto, and neutralized a threatening missile of a type never envisaged during its original design

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Gets a Raise - Saeed Ghasseminejad (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
The Iranian parliament passed the 2017-2018 budget, which allocated $7.4 billion to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - a 24% increase.    The new budget apportions 53% of Iran's $14 billion defense spending to the IRGC.

Israel Uncovers Diving Suits Headed for Hamas in Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Israeli border security personnel at the Kerem Shalom crossing thwarted the smuggling of 30 diving suits apparently intended for terrorist elements in Gaza including the Hamas naval commando unit.    The suits were concealed in a shipment of sports clothing imported from abroad.

U.S. Expands Air Base in Syria for Use in Battle for Raqqa - Tara Copp (Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Air Force has expanded an air base near Kobani in northern Syria to assist in the fight to retake the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, said Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command.

Suspected Chemical Attack Kills Dozens in Syria
At least 58 people have been killed in a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday April 4.     The region is regularly targeted by Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes.

Iran Arms Manufacturing Facilities in Lebanon Pose New Threat - Herb Keinon
Reports that Iran is building facilities to make advanced rockets inside Lebanon constitutes a "whole new kind of threat," Hagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry, said Monday April 3.   It means that the Iranians and Hizbullah are trying to overcome the difficulty of transferring arms over land through Syria to Lebanon by manufacturing them locally.      Today, the most important strategic issue in the region for Israel is not Iran's nuclear capability, but rather "Iran in the region," Tzuriel said
.

Is Iran a Paper Tiger? - Ariel Ben Solomon
Iran's military is in much worse shape than is commonly believed and is overextended in Syria, experts say. Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), said Iranian claims of domestic development of military technologies are "complete nonsense." The only serious concern, he said, is the country's acquisition of North Korean missiles.    Dr. Harold Rhode, a former U.S. Defense Department official, said Iran and North Korea "appear strong, but are weak and rotten inside."    Rhode said Iran is ignoring domestic problems such as a water crisis "that threatens to render vast swathes of the country near-uninhabitable within the coming decades."    Another domestic challenge is Iran's ramp ant opium drug problem.   

Hamas Launches "Revenge" Campaign Against Israeli Collaborators – K Ziboun (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Hamas has launched a new campaign against suspected Israeli collaborators a day after deputy politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh issued a threat that killers of prominent leader Mazen al-Faqha will not escape punishment.    The Interior Ministry in Gaza announced Sunday April 3,  it will undertake "increased measures" against "Israeli agents in the coming hours and days as a part of its investigation into the assassination of Faqha."

U.S. Believes Sarin Used in Attack in Syria - Ellen Francis
The U.S. government believes the chemical agent Sarin was used in the attack on Tuesday April 4, that killed scores of civilians in Syria, a U.S. government source said.

Attacks on Russia Will Only Increase - Colin P. Clarke
As Russia's involvement with the Syrian civil war deepens, it's a near-certainty that Sunni militants will intensify their burgeoning campaign against Russia, which has been increasingly perceived as a vanguard of Shia interests.      There are thousands of Russian citizens fighting with ISIS, and another 5,000 to 7,000 Russian-speaking jihadists, making Russian the second-most popular language spoken within ISIS.   This means that Sunni jihadist groups have a ready-made, native force to send back home to Russia, where the militants can more easily blend in with local populations while plotting further attacks.   Much of t he violence afflicting Russia may, in the end, stem from its own actions.     Prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian authorities allegedly encouraged Sunni militants to leave Russia for Syria, where they could wage jihad against the Assad regime.    But with the caliphate now under strain, some of these relocated militants might return home and link up with jihadists in Dagestan, Chechnya, or other restive Russian republics.

Russia Will Recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Only If East Jerusalem Becomes Palestine's (RT-Russia)
The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated that Moscow is ready to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's official capital, providing that statehood is granted to Palestinians, who will base their capital in the eastern part of the city.

Half of Released Palestinian Prisoners Have Returned to Terrorism - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
Mazen Fuqha, the Hamas official killed last month in Gaza, planned to turn the upcoming Passover holiday into a bloodbath for Israelis.      Fuqha, who was released as part of the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange, headed Hamas' "West Bank headquarters" and was responsible for establishing a number of terrorist cells across the West Bank.    Israeli defense officials believe the Passover attacks planned by Hamas would include the abduction of an Israeli soldier or civilian, in order to force Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners not included in the Shalit deal.    The Shalit deal saw the release of 1,027 prisoners collectively responsible for the murder of 569 Israelis. This infused Hamas' leadership with new blood, including its new leader, Yahya Sinwar.
    Defense officials today believe that 50% of those released in 2011 are currently involved in terrorist activity.

FROM MARCH 31  NO 749

ISIS Holds Terrified Civilians as Human Shields in Syrian City of Raqqa - Bassem Mroue and Lori Hinnant (AP-Denver Post)
Residents of the Syrian city of Raqqa live in terror, trapped as a massive human shield in the Islamic State's capital ahead of the final battle with U.S.-backed forces.      All men have been ordered to wear the jihadis' garb of baggy pants and long shirts - making it difficult to distinguish Islamic State militants from civilians.

Islamic State Beheads Two for "Sorcery" in Egypt's Sinai (Reuters)
Islamic State's branch in Egypt's Sinai posted a video.    depicting the beheading of two elderly men the Islamist group said it had found guilty of practicing witchcraft and sorcery/   Islamic State uses the term "sorcerers" to refer to adherents of Sufism, a non-violent form of Islam that has been practiced for centuries. 

IDF Holds Major West Bank Drill Ahead of Passover Holiday - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF Central Command this week completed its largest exercise in the West Bank in five years.    The four-day drill saw hundreds of regular and reserve troops simulate a variety of scenarios and emergency situations, such as settlement infiltrations, abductions of Israeli citizens, bombings, vehicular or shooting attacks, and large-scale riots.    Last week Israel Security Agency director Nadav Argaman warned that Hamas and other terrorist cells will try to carry out attacks over Passover.    In March, several Hamas cells planning or responsible for terrorist activity were broken up by Israeli security forces.

Israel's Elbit Offers Multimission, Unmanned Naval Robot - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
Israel's Elbit Systems has concluded operational testing of its Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel, a maritime robot designed for underwater mine hunting, mine clearing, anti-diver and anti-submarine warfare missions.   The  Seagull USV can operate for four days at a time, using electro-optic and infrared sensors along with various sonars to scour the seas for underwater threats
.

Record Europe Sales Push Israeli Defense Exports to $6.5 Billion in 2016 - O Coren & G Cohen (Ha'aretz)
Israeli military exports grew to $6.5 billion in 2016, an increase of $800 million over 2015, according to the military exports unit of the Defense Ministry.    Unit chief Michel Ben-Baruch noted that while Asia remains Israel's biggest military market, Europe has become a key buyer for counterterrorism, border defense and infiltration prevention technologies.

Israeli Economy Outperformed OECD Nations in 2016 - Zeev Klein (Israel Hayom)
The Israeli economy grew by 4% in 2016, double the U.S. growth rate and 2.3 times higher than the average growth among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members, the Bank of Israel said Wednesday.    Israel had a record $12.4 billion surplus in its current account balance of payments; unemployment dropped to 4.8%; and public debt dropped to an all-time low of 62.8% of GDP.

In Response to Trump Request, Israel to Restrict Settlements' "Footprint" - Herb Keinon
Israel will restrict its building in the West Bank to the built-up areas of existing settlements to limit as much as possible Israel's settlement "footprint," following a policy that was employed during President George W. Bush's tenure, the security cabinet decided Thursday.     Israel also committed not to permit the establishment of new outposts.     Sources said the decision was taken out of consideration of the position of U.S. President Trump, and that Israel will curb building to enable efforts to advance a diplomatic process with the Palestinians.     The new guidelines are aimed to remove settlement construction as a bone of contention with Washington

Trump's Peace Push - Editorial.
 It is not clear why the Trump administration believes it will succeed in brokering Israeli-Palestinian peace where other U.S. leaders have failed     The core issues - Jerusalem, security arrangements, refugees - remain as intractable as ever.    Moreover, the Palestinian leadership remains divided between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank.    For many Palestinians, the conflict is not just about territory in the West Bank and Gaza - it is about the very legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders.

Palestinian Firebomb Attacks Continue - Stephen M. Flatow
On March 23, 2017, four Palestinian attackers drove up to the perimeter of the Jewish community of Beit El, north of Jerusalem, and began hurling firebombs toward homes there. Israeli soldiers fired at them, killing one - a 17-year-old - and wounding three others.    The fact that a Palestinian died, while no Israelis were burned to death as he had intended, meant that many news outlets portrayed the attacker as the victim.   Here's how AFP began its coverage:    "Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager Thurs day."    Ramallah Governor Laila Ghanam called the dead terrorist a "martyr."

Tel Aviv's Trash Is Being Turned into Fuel (Reuters)
A new waste collection plant has begun processing half the trash in Tel Aviv, turning much of it into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).   Recyclables like paper and metals are separated out and the rest is mostly turned into high energy RDF that is sent to Israel's main cement factory, where it is burned instead of petroleum, a less environment-friendly fossil fuel.

Thousands of U.S. Combat Troops Are Back on the Ground in the Middle East - Doyle McManus
Without much public notice, thousands of U.S. combat troops are back on the ground in the Middle East: roughly 7,000 in Iraq, almost 1,000 in Syria, another 2,500 in Kuwait.    Those troops aren't only special operations forces; they include artillery teams fighting in Iraq and a helicopter unit that has flown behind Islamic State lines in Syria.    James F. Jeffrey, a former ambassador (and former Army officer) who's advising the administration, told me,     "This is more - not only more troops, but more willingness to use them.    It's a change of maybe 20%, but it's an important 20%." 

Israel to Cut $2 Million from UN Funding Due to "Obsessive Bias Against Israel" - Herb Keinon
In response to the anti-Israel resolutions passed last week in the UN Human Rights Council, Israel will cut $2 million from money it has allocated to the UN and give it instead to programs in developing nations that support it in international organizations, the Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday March 29.     This is in addition to the $6 million that Jerusalem slashed in January in the aftermath of the passage of anti-settlement Resolution 2334 in the UN Security Council.     The ministry said that this decision is part of an Israeli campaign to change the "obsessive bias against Israel at the UN and in its agencies." 

Abbas Calls on Arab League to Endorse His Demand that Britain Apologize for Balfour Declaration - Jack Khoury
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing the Arab League summit in Jordan, called on the Arab states to endorse the Palestinian demand that Britain apologize for the Balfour declaration of 1917 which supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Mandatory Palestine
.

Hamas Said to Acquire High-Explosive, Short-Range Rockets - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)

Hamas has acquired dozens of large, high-explosive rockets that could be used to devastating effect on the area adjacent to Gaza, Israel Army Radio reported Tuesda March 28.     Each rocket contains hundreds of kilograms of explosive material, far beyond other missiles and mortar shells in Hamas' arsenal.    The new rockets have a range of a few kilometers, comparable to a mortar, but pack a much greater explosive punch.

Bundeswehr Orders 1,000 Israeli Anti-Tank Missiles - Sebastian Schulte (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly)
The German parliament gave the green light on March 22 for the Bundeswehr to procure 1,000 Israeli-designed Spike LR anti-tank guided missiles and 97 launcher units worth EUR158.3 million ($172 million).

Israeli Navy on Alert for Hamas Naval Commandos - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
In recent months, Israeli naval forces have recorded several incidents in which sailors deployed underwater hand grenades after they suspected that Hamas divers were approaching their ships.    The IDF has also begun to upgrade the defensive systems of surface vessels in light of the new threats, deploying defensive systems that function in the same manner as the "Trophy" active protection system.    The IDF has also deployed several specialized underwater detection systems along the coast.

FROM MARCH 28  NO 748

UK Puts UN Human Rights Council "On Notice" over "Anti-Israel Bias" - Jon Sharman
The UK has put the UN Human Rights Council "on notice" over what it called its "disproportionate focus on Israel."       On Friday the UK mission to the UN said it would vote against all resolutions about Israel's conduct in the territories if things did not change, condemning the council's "unacceptable pattern of bias."   The mission also questioned why Israel was still a standing agenda item while "Syria's regime butchers and murders its people on a daily basis." 

Does the Assassination of a Senior Hamas Member in Gaza Mean Escalation? - Yoni Ben Menachem
Mazen Fuqha, a senior member of Hamas' military wing, was shot four times in the head in Gaza City near his home on March 24 by two men who used a pistol with a silencer.   Fuqha had operated a cell that carried out a suicide bombing of a bus in 2002 that killed nine Israelis and injured 40  40 others.    He was sentenced to nine life terms before his release in the Shalit deal in 2011.    The killing in the heart of Hamas-controlled Gaza constitutes a serious blow to Hamas' prestige and shatters the sense of security for Hamas officials. From now on, they will begin to move around with armed escorts and security guards.

Hamas Leader Haniyeh: "There Will Be No State Without the Whole of Palestine" - Hidayah al-Saidi (Anadolu-Turkey)
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, speaking on Wednesday March 22 in Gaza City, vowed to pursue resistance.     "The accumulation of force in Gaza is not meant to only defend the strip, but also to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque," he said.    "Gaza is part of Palestine and there will be no Palestinian state without Gaza and there will be no state without the whole of Palestine."

Fight in Syria More Costly for Russians than Kremlin Has Disclosed (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Russia's force in Syria has suffered 18 killed since Jan. 29, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, while the Russian defense ministry has publicly reported only five servicemen's deaths in Syria over the same period.
Large numbers of Russians are being dispatched to Syria as private military contractors.

Israeli Air Force to Host 7 Nations at Air Drill - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
The Israeli Air Force in autumn will host flying forces from the U.S., Greece, Poland, France, Germany, India and Italy for the biennial, two-week Blue Flag drill.    "It will be a massive exercise; the biggest ever for the IAF," said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the Israeli Air Force chief of international affairs.   "We provide a sort of battle lab in which forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to combat growing threats."     France, Germany, India and Italy are participating actively for the first time, along with officers and attaches from nearly 40 countries who will attend as observers.    Unlike the annual Red Flag drill hosted by the U.S. Air Force in Nevada, Israel's Blue Flag does not pit flying forces against one another.    Rather, said Hecht, the Israeli event is designed to emphasize cooperation over competition
.

Israel Arrests Dual U.S.-Israeli Citizen Linked to Threats on U.S. Jewish Centers - Josef Federman
Israeli police on Thursday March 23 arrested a 19-year-old Jewish man who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, who they said was the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S., appearing to crack a case that has sent a chill through the American Jewish community. Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker. "He's the guy who was behind the JCC threats," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.    The man is also suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and within Israel
.

U.S. Senators Move to Tighten Sanctions on Iran - Patricia Zengerle
Iran would face tighter U.S. sanctions over ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities under a bill announced on Thursday March 23,  by a bipartisan group of seven Republican and seven Democratic senators, echoing a harder line on Tehran espoused by President Donald Trump.    The bill would set mandatory sanctions for anyone involved with Iran's ballistic missile program, and it would apply sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

U.S. Airlifts Hundreds of Militia Fighters for Attack in Syria - Michael R. Gordon and Anne Barnard (New York Times)
Hundreds of Syrian fighters and their American military advisers, backed by American artillery and attack helicopters, have begun a major operation to cut off Raqqa, the Islamic State's capital in Syria, officials said Wednesday March 22.    The mission reflected the leeway the Trump administration has given its commanders to carry out operations without prolonged review in Washington

Rebel Push on Damascus Shows Syria's War Is Far from Over - Liz Sly (Washington Post)
An unexpected rebel push on Damascus has brought Syria's civil war to the heart of its capital for the first time in years, serving as a reminder that the conflict is far from over.    Rebel forces have advanced to within a few miles of the historic Old City of Damascus as a Russian-sponsored cease-fire that took hold in December is now in shreds.    Although the rebels lack the capacity to topple Assad, Assad's forces also lack the capacity to defeat the rebels, said Andrew J. Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Hamas' Gaza Chief Vows to "Liberate All of Palestine" (Times of Israel)
Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said Wednesday March 22, that the terror group will not cease its conflict with Israel until "the liberation of all of Palestine."    He said Hamas would not allow the State of Israel to exist on even a "morsel" of land.    While Hamas has drafted a new political platform that raises the possibility of a temporary Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem, the document will not formally replace Hamas' 1988 founding covenant which calls for the destruction of Israel

Israel Strengthens Response to Gaza Rocket Fire - Yonah Jeremy Bob
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the Knesset State Control Committee on Wednesday March 22, that the army had adjusted the way it deals with Gaza rocket fire in order to maintain deterrence.     "We had an arrangement in which they fired a rocket and we fired shells. We learned we could not tolerate this." Now, if Hamas or anyone else from Gaza fires a rocket, "we hit valuable Hamas targets - not empty locations of small arms. It gives us more deterrence."

Intercepted Syrian Missile Carried 200 Kg. of Explosives - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
The Syrian SA5 missile intercepted by Israel's Arrow 2 defense system  carried a warhead with 200 kg. of explosives and would have landed in the Jordan Valley.     The Syrian missile was launched from a base near Homs around 2:40 a.m., and Israel's aerial defense forces had less than a minute to decide to launch the Arrow.    "It is a heavy-weight Syrian armament," said a senior Air Force officer on Monday.    "We didn't care if it was a surface-to-surface missile or a surface-to-air missile.... The Arrow was chosen in accordance with the level of threat and the availability of the defense systems on hand. There was no other option except to intercept."   The commander of the IAF's Aerial Defense, Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, said: "The missile fired posed a threat to Israeli citizens. The guidelines are to protect the people of Israel and that is what we did
."

Iran Loses Thousands, 10 Generals in Syria-Iraq Wars - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center analyzed the different estimates of Iranian losses in the Syria-Iraq wars on Sunday.    Washington Institute for Near East Policy researcher Ali Alfoneh recently put the number of losses under Iranian command at 2,603, including 511 Iranians, 1,045 Hizbullah fighters, and 1,047 Afghan, Pakistani and other Shi'ite militia fighters.    More than 10 Iranians of the rank equivalent to brigadier-general have been killed.

Syrian Militia Leader Killed in Drone Strike - Daniel Siryoti and Lilach Shoval
Yasser al-Sayed, who commanded Iranian-backed Druze and Palestinian militias loyal to Bashar Assad, was killed on Sunday March 19,  in an alleged Israeli drone strike while traveling in a vehicle in the Syrian Golan Heights. According to media reports, al-Sayed recently had been in contact with senior members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was planning and trying to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel with Iranian support.

FROM MARCH 16  NO 747

The PA-EU Plan to Seize Land between Jerusalem and Jericho - Josh Hasten
Over the past decade there has been a huge upsurge in the number of structures going up in illegal Bedouin villages and encampments on both sides of Highway 1 from Jerusalem to Jericho.       These aren't just small herding communities, but strategically placed mini-towns set up by the Palestinian Authority and financed by the European Union to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros, with the explicit goal of taking over strategic lands.    By creating substantial facts on the ground, the PA with the support of the international community seeks to lay claim to those areas and demand that they be part of "Palestine."      Over 1,000 illegal structures, with more being erected nearly daily, now proudly bear the EU flag
.

Hamas still digging terror tunnels but IDF can deal with them: chief of staff     DEBKAfile
The IDF chief of staff says that Hamas continues to dig tunnels in Gaza for attacks against Israel, and that the tunnels pose a very serious threat but do not threaten Israel's existence.     Lieut. Gen. Gady Eisenkot was speaking a meeting of a Knesset committee examining how the country dealt with the tunnels during the 2014 operation against Hamas in Gaza.      Eisenkot stated that the IDF's ability to deal with the tunnels has "significantly improved", adding that he would be more specific afterwards in a later part of the meeting behind closed doors.      He also said the IDF's strikes against Hamas in Gaza are against "significant targets". According to Eisenkot, Israel spent 1.2 billion shekels in 2016 to deal with the tunnel threat in addition to the country's investment of 3 billion shekels to build a barrier around Gaza.

Israel: Russia Putting Down Roots in Middle East (Jerusalem Post)
Russia is planning to stay in Israel's neighborhood for the long term, Israel Navy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Dror Friedman told Army Radio.    "You see their activities in the field and you see them putting down roots. You see their activities in the Port of Tartus [in Syria] and you understand that this isn't the activity of someone who is planning to pack their bags and leave tomorrow morning."    "You can see this through the amount of weaponry, the equipment they are bringing, the bases they are building."

Does Iran Really Respect Jews? - Michael Rubin (Commentary)
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, took to Twitter this week to castigate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his statements relating the story of Purim to present-day Iran, "a nation which has saved Jews three times."    Yet, under the regime that Zarif represents, Iran has lost at least 80% of its Jewish population.     It is true that, at times, Iran was a relative haven for the Jews. The irony here is that it was the regime that Zarif represents that overthrew an Iranian state that allowed its Jewish minority to thrive.

Is Russia Abandoningr Iran in Syria? - Yigal Carmon, A. Savyon and Anna Mahjar-Barducci
On March 11, 2017, the Iran Diplomacy website, which is close to Iranian Foreign Ministry circles, wrote that Iran is in a state of shock.      Despite Iranian-Russian cooperation in recent years, Iran currently feels that Russia is abandoning it in favor of other vital interests, such as reaching understandings with the U.S. to promote the lifting of sanctions, and with Turkey as its senior regional partner.    High-ranking American-Russian coordination (ostensibly for the purpose of defeating ISIS) is taking place at a time when the Trump administration, which is known for its anti-Iranian regime stance, is organizing the Gulf states and other Arab countries into what the Arab media refers to as an "Arab NATO" against Iran.    These developments create a feeling of siege and existential threat in Tehran in light of the formulation of a wide American-Russian-Arab (and Israeli) front against Iran's revolutionary regime.

U.S. Should Warn Russia to Keep Iran and Hizbullah Away from Israel's Syrian Border - Dennis Ross
Part of being Israel's strategic partner means backing it when it is countering new threats.     In this case, the U.S. administration should bluntly warn the Russians against Iran and Hizbullah seeking to establish a position in southern Syrian adjacent to Israel and Jordan.    It should be clear that we will support Israeli actions to prevent any such movement southward - and if there is an escalation, the U.S. will materially back Israel and be ready to offer any assistance that Israel might require.      The Iranians should know they are playing with fire, and that message should be conveyed by the U.S., not just Israel.

Israel's Arrow-3 Defense System Intercepts Syrian Missile   - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
Israel used its  Arrow-3 missile defense system for the first time on Thursday March 16, after Israeli jets were targeted with Syrian anti-aircraft missiles during an operation over Syria.    Three SA-5 surface-to-air missiles were fired by Syria at Israel Air Force planes.    The missile intercepted by Israel's Arrow-3 apparently fell in Jordan, while two more fell in Israe
l.

Hizbullah Is Preparing Syria as Second Battlefield Against Israel - David Daoud (Long War Journal)
The pro-Hizbullah news site Ya Sour quoted Hizbullah sources recently  saying the group intends to fire long-range missiles at Israel from the Qalamoun and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges, areas under its control on both sides of the Syrian-Lebanese border.   However, Israeli strikes in the Qalamoun region - 43 to date - demonstrate that Hizbullah's arsenal lies well within Israel's reach.

IAI Unveils Foliage Penetration Radar (UPI)
Israel Aerospace Industries has revealed a new foliage penetration radar capable of identifying targets traveling through heavily wooded areas    The radar is supported by Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave technology, which allows operators to track personnel and vehicle movements in congested regions of interest in real-time regardless of a clear line-of-sight.    "Using this radar has opened our eyes in places that were so far beyond our vision; this system has huge operational value," the company said, quoting a border protection

IDF Chief of Staff: Israel Will Continue to Prevent Advanced Weapons Transfers to Hizbullah - Anna Ahronheim
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Sunday March 9,  "Hizbullah continues to arm itself and grow inside Lebanon.     We will continue to act decisively to thwart these efforts and will continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah...     Hizbullah continues to violate UN resolutions and prepare themselves for war
."

THE US IS BACK- Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
The Middle East is already feeling the change.       The U.S. is once again taking an active role in the region and, more importantly, Washington is once again standing by the allies and friends it had abandoned.     Despite being portrayed as an enemy of Islam, the election of President Donald Trump was greeted with a sigh of relief in the region.       America's allies were fed up with former President Barack Obama's administration, which turned its back on them during tough times and did not hesitate to criticize them and even question their legitimacy.      The Obama administration was obviously biased in favor of pro-Islamic elements in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.      It also courted Iran and tried to appease it.     This all created an unbridgeable gulf between Washington and its old friends.

Iranian Navy Continues to Harass U.S. Ships in Strait of Hormuz - Sami Aboudi (Reuters)
U.S. Navy commanders accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships in the Strait of Hormuz.     Two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla including the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush as it entered the Strait on Tuesday March 21.    The aircraft carrier sent helicopter gunships to hover over the Iranian speedboats.    The Iranian boats "were in the middle of international transit waters (while) we had a right to be there as we were exercising freedom of navigation on our way into the Arabian Gulf," said Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, commander of the Carrier Strike Group "They also had weapons uncovered [and]...had some of the weapons manned. We also have aerial data that they were arming all of these weapons."

JCC Bomb Threat Suspect Said Behind over 1,000 Calls (Times of Israel)
The Israeli-American teenager suspected of being behind the recent bomb threats to American JCCs made more than 1,000 threatening phone calls targeted schools and other public institution over the past two years, Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday March 26

10 Egyptian Soldiers, 15 ISIS Militants Killed in Sinai Fight - N Youssef  & De Walsh (New York Times)
Ten Egyptian soldiers and 15 ISIS militants were killed during a raid on an Islamist insurgent base in central Sinai, an Egyptian military spokesman said Thursday March 23.   The Egyptian soldiers died in two roadside blasts on Wednesday.

FROM MARCH 11  NO 746

The Centenary of the Balfour Declaration - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

Referring to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said,   "This was a crime perpetrated against our people."        PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki demanded an apology from Britain on behalf of the Palestinian people      We should pay attention to this protest, which demonstrates the continued relevance of the Balfour Declaration today      The importance of the Declaration lies also in its timing, decades before the Holocaust.      It recognized the right of the people of Israel to establish a national entity in the Land of Israel due to their historical ties to the land, rather than to a disaster that befell them.     It is also highly significant with regard to international law that remains in force.

Israel and Its First Peoples, the Jews, Are Not the Problem - Nyunggai Warren Mundine
Australia helped create Israel.   In 1917 Australian soldiers helped defeat the Ottoman Empire's 400-year occupation of Palestine.    Australia cast the first UN General Assembly vote for the partition plan in 1947. So I was disappointed that during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit, some Labor luminaries called on Australia to formally recognize a Palestinian state.   
Symbolic recognition of a state when none exists is a hollow gesture that doesn't confront the elephant in the room:     Palestinian leadership doesn't really support a two-state solution.    Likewise, most Arab nations.     They won't recognize Israel's right to exist.

U.S. Marines Arrive in Syria to Fire Artillery at Islamic State in Raqqa - Dan Lamothe and Thomas Gibbons-Neff
U.S. Marines have deployed in Syria to set up an artillery battery to deliver fire support for U.S.-backed local forces who are preparing an assault on the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa.     Additional infantrymen from the unit will provide security.

Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Johnson said, "Our government in the UK, Theresa May and I and all our government are, as you know, firm, strong supporters, rock-like supporters of Israel.     And what we want is to see an Israel that is at peace with its neighbors....Israel has a, first and foremost, an absolute right to live in security and the people of Israel deserve to be safe from terrorism.     That's our absolute priority and we work with you, as you know, in all kinds of ways to ensure the stability of the entire region.

Winston Churchill's Defense of the Balfour Declaration (1921) - Lenny Ben-David
On March 28, 1921, British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill visited Jerusalem where he attended a tree-planting ceremony on the site of the future Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.     Churchill said: "The British Government have passed their word, by the mouth of Mr. Balfour, that they will view with favour the establishment of a National Home for Jews in Palestine, and that inevitably involves the immigration of Jews into the country."      "Moreover, it is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited.     And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?"

Palestinian Leader Invited to White House in Trump Call
President Donald Trump invited Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House to discuss resuming peace talks in their first contact since Trump took office in January.     "The president emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal,"

Iran Spends Billions on Terror and Weapons in Syria - Rowan Scarborough
Iran has spent up to $100 billion in the past five years financing operations in Syria, according to the new e-book Iran: The Rise of the Revolutionary Guards' Financial Empire, released Wednesday by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the country's largest internal dissident group.     The book estimates that Iran has paid nearly $100 million a year in salaries to mercenaries sent to Syria under the direction of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds force.   At the same time, the Iranian regime is undertaking the largest arms

buildup in its history.    The book estimates that Iran has spent $11 billion alone on ICBMs from North Korea.     Military spending has gone from $3 billion annually in 2008 to $13 billion in 2015. Tehran spends another $3.4 billion annually on internal security and $1.4 billion annually on the "export of fundamentalism."

How Iran Exports Weapons and Illicit Goods - Perry Chiaramonte (Fox News)
In Iran, 90 docks have been taken over by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is using them to circumvent sanctions and fund terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond, according to the anti-regime People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran.     In order to fund its activities, the Revolutionary Guard engages in smuggling products that net $12 billion annually.    These docks are also used to transfer arms to other countries without international supervision.

Israel Arrests Hamas Cell near Jerusalem - Gili Cohen
Five Palestinians from a Hamas cell in Bidu in the West Bank near Jerusalem were arrested in February for planting bombs, throwing firebombs at security forces, and taking part in shootings at the town of Har Adar in 2015, the Israel Security Agency said Sunday

Iran Sets Up Underground Rocket Factories in Lebanon - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
Iran has established rocket factories in Lebanon that are under the control of Hizbullah, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida reported Monday March 13, citing a deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).    The factories, said to be located underground, have reportedly been in operation for the past three months.    Their staff includes advisers from the IRGC, as well as hundreds of Lebanese experts trained at the Imam Hossein University in Tehran.    The Iranian general said that the decision to produce rockets in Lebanon came after Israel bombed weapons factories in Sudan and supply routes for Iranian rockets via Syria
.

After Brexit, Israel Senses a Chance to Boost Trade with UK - Mark Leftly (Guardian-UK)
After talks in London last month, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced a joint working group charged with "preparing the ground" for a trade deal.    The trade relationship between Israel and Britain is already worth 4.9 billion pounds.    On Wednesday March 8, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in Jerusalem as he stood beside Netanyahu:     "We are...building a global identity as a Britain that's coming out of the EU and we want to build on our trading partnership with you     We are the biggest European trading partner with Israel."    The Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems is in a consortium that provides the UK Ministry of Defense with training aircraft and simulators.    One in seven UK National Health Service drugs come from Israel.

Palestinians to Set Conditions on Returning to Peace Talks - Kifah Ziboun and Nazir Majli
As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets on Tuesday in Ramallah with President Trump's envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, well-informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian Authority would engage in fresh negotiations with Israel based on four conditions: halting settlements, releasing a number of prisoners, guaranteeing the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, and determining a timeframe for the end of negotiations.

FROM MARCH 8 NO 745

Islamic State Targeted Saudi Royals in Malaysia - Yantoultra Ngui (Wall Street Journal)
Two teams and one lone man with Islamic State links, working separately, narrowly missed attacking Saudi royals during King Salman's recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police said.    "We got them in the nick of time," Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said Tuesday.    One group consisted of four Yemenis, another involved an Indonesian and a Malaysian, and a seventh would-be attacker was from an East Asian nation, he said.

U.S. Troops Play New Role in Syria - Shawn Snow (Military Times)
The U.S. military has sent a team of troops to Manbij in Syria to prevent the various forces there from fighting one another.    The Pentagon calls its effort "reassure and deter."     It's focused on keeping peace between Syrian Kurdish militias and Turkish military units, both of whom are fighting the Islamic State but deeply distrust one another.    Russian military elements, in support of Syrian President Assad, also are present on the city's outskirts.

U.S. Air Campaign in Yemen Continues - Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
 For a fifth consecutive night, American planes and drones on Monday pummeled targets in Yemen, killing 7 al-Qaeda fighters, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said.    The U.S. has conducted more than 40 attacks across Yemen in the past week, compared to 41 strikes in all of 2012, the most in a single year against al-Qaeda in Yemen.    A March 2 strike killed Mohammed Tahar, a former prisoner held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo, Cuba, and Usayd al-Adnani, a "longtime explosives expert who served as the organization's emir" in Abyan Province.

Pentagon: Iranian Vessels Continue to Harass U.S. Navy Ship - Carol Morello
Swift-moving Iranian vessels came dangerously close to the U.S. Navy surveillance ship USS Invincible in the Strait of Hormuz again on Saturday, after a similar incident on Thursday March 3, U.S. officials said Monday.    On Saturday, a number of smaller boats approached the U.S. ship, closing to within 600 yards, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. A Navy official condemned the Iranian actions as "unsafe and unprofessional."

The Defeat of Islamic State in Mosul Advances the Iranian Takeover of Iraq - Zalman Shoval
The pending defeat of Islamic State in Mosul is just another phase in the Iranian strategy to take over Iraq. The Shiite forces that took part in the fighting in Mosul will be able to move forward with their primary mission: turning all of Iraq into an Iranian satellite, as part of Iran's effort to spread its hegemony from Baghdad through Damascus to Beirut

Iraqi Shiite Militia Establishes Brigade to Liberate Golan Heights (Tasnim-Iran)
Seyed Hashem al-Moussavi, spokesman for Iraq's al-Nujaba movement, a major Shiite resistance group, announced Wednesday in Tehran,     "After recent victories (in Syria), we have established the Golan Liberation Brigade.    If the Syrian government requests, we are ready to take actions to liberate the Golan" from Israel

New York Senate Votes to Defund Campus Groups Seeking Boycott of Israel - D Klepper (AP-U.S. News)
The New York Senate voted 49-11 on Wednesday March 8,  to withhold state university funding from any student group calling for a boycott of Israel or engaging in hate speech
.

2,100 Shiite Fighters Killed in Iraq, Syria (AFP)
"Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places," Mohammad Ali Shahidi, head of Iran's Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, told IRNA news agency on Tuesday March 7.    The figure includes volunteer fighters sent from Iran who were recruited from Shiite communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Police Believe Single Caller Menacing Jewish Centers (AP-Times of Israel)
New York City's head of police intelligence, John Miller, told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday March 9, that investigators believe one man using a voice changer and phone spoofing device is behind a large number of the threats made against U.S. Jewish institutions this year.    "We have an offender with some technical prowess here," Miller said.

Israeli Aircraft Bombed a Syrian S-300 Missile Complex and a Weapons Warehouse (UA Wire-Ukraine)
On March 7, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported that on Jan. 13, Israeli F-35 planes destroyed warehouses in Damascus where Russian-made Pantsir surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems intended for Hizbullah, as well as a S-300 surface-to-air missile system, were stored.    The attacks were carried out near Mezzeh Military Airport and Mount Qasioun.

Gaza Underground Wall Construction Expedited - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
Construction work on the underground wall designed to prevent tunnel breaches into Israeli territory from Gaza is being expedited.    Some 1,500-2,000 foreign workers are expected to be recruited to help build the underground barrier, Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam told officials from Israeli towns near the Gaza border.

Rocket Fired at Israel Falls Short, Lands in Gaza - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
A rocket fired at Israel from Khan Yunis landed inside Gaza on Thursday night March 9, according to Palestinian media.

Israel's Economy Grew 4 Percent in 2016 - Moshe Golan (Globes)
Israel's economy grew 4% in 2016, according to a revision of GDP figures published Thursday Mar 9 by the Central Bureau of Statistics.    Growth in the fourth quarter was revised to 6.5%.    Investments in fixed assets grew 11.3% in 2016

Sea of Galilee at Lowest Level in a Century (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
The Sea of Galilee has declined to its lowest level in a hundred years after four consecutive years of rain shortages, Amir Givati of Israel's Water Authority said Tuesday Mar 6.    The rest of Israel is spared from shortages thanks to five seawater desalination plants built along the Mediterranean coast.

Netanyahu Urges Putin to Block Iranian Power Corridor on Israel's Border – D Filipov and Ruth Eglash
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow on Thursday March 9, seeking reassurance from Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country's presence in Syria would help Israel block Iran from positioning itself permanently on Israel's northern border.     At the start of his meeting with Putin, Netanyahu noted that "the victory over the terrorism of ISIS cannot lead to an upsurge in terrorism by Iran and its proxies. We will not exchange terrorism for terrorism."      Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are now present along the 1967 cease-fire line with Israel in the Golan Heights, putting them directly opposite Israeli troops for the first time.      Hizbullah is also active in the Golan. Iran is also thought to have deployed missiles in Syria capable of reaching deep inside Israeli territory.

Israel Arrests Palestinian Hizbullah Operative Who Planned Kidnapping, Terror Attacks
Yusef Yasser Suylam, 23, a Palestinian Hizbullah operative from the West Bank town of Kalkilya, has been arrested for planning terror attacks and kidnapping of Israeli civilians, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday.    Suylam was recruited by Hizbullah through Facebook and was sent to spy on IDF bases, checkpoints, and different sites in Jerusalem's Old City.      He was also tasked with setting up a terror cell to kidnap an Israeli and smuggle the person into Lebanon
.

Putting Iran on Notice Puts Tehran Off Balance - Emily B. Landau
Iran refuses to acknowledge that it actually did work on a military nuclear program in the past and it never demonstrated that it left those ambitions behind.    During the past year and a half the Obama administration refrained from any pushback against Iran's repeated provocations, belligerence and even some violations of the nuclear deal itself, which has only served to embolden Iran.      In response to Iranian ballistic missile tests, U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (who has since resigned) issued a statement that "put Iran on notice" while informing the Iranians that the U.S. will no longer turn a blind eye to their provocations.    Putting Iran on notice puts Tehran off balance - a desired result. From initial Iranian reactions, it seems that the deterrence is working: Iranian media have reflected advice to Iran's leaders not to do anything that might give Trump an excuse to attack

FROM MARCH  4  NO 744

ISIS Calls to "Terrorize" Jewish Communities in the West - Julian Robinson
ISIS fanatics have issued a chilling call for fellow extremists to "terrorize" Jewish communities in the West through an ISIS-linked Telegram channel called Lone Mujahid - a chat room which encourages "lone-wolf"-style attacks.   Supporters were advised to "dress up like a Jew" and conceal weapons under their coats before "unleashing the pain of the Muslims" on their victims.    A separate message included a list of Jewish communities in Britain.

ISIS Intimidation Escalates in Egypt's Sinai - Dahlia Kholaif
Women traveling on buses in northern Sinai say Islamic State fighters have boarded the vehicles, introduced themselves as religious police and threatened to whip them and splash them with acid if they don't comply with the militants' dress code. They "warned that those who don't wear full-face veils or travel without a male guardian will face punishment," said Marwa Elfar, a teacher

Israel Quietly Begins Exporting Natural Gas to Jordan - Eran Azran
Israel began exporting natural gas to Jordan in January after two companies operating at the Dead Sea - Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine - were connected to Israel's national pipeline network.    To keep the Israeli side at arm's length, the gas is technically being sold to the Jordanians by an American company, NBL: Eastern Mediterranean Marketing.

IDF: Renewed War with Hizbullah May Also Involve Lebanese Army - Arik Bender
IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevy told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday March 1, that the chances for the outbreak of war with either Hamas or Hizbullah are low.     He explained that Hizbullah is embroiled in fighting in Syria.     However, he added that whenever the next conflict with Hizbullah does break out, the Lebanese army will likely join the war against Israel because of Lebanon's growing dependence on Iranian aid.

U.S. Should Shut Down Iran's Top Terrorist - Kenneth R. Timmerman
As head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), Qassem Suleymani is Iran's top terrorist.     The Quds Force is in charge of "extraterritorial" operations for the IRGC - it's the overseas terrorist wing.    The Quds Force has been implicated in terror plots all around the world, including a failed 2011 attempt to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Suleymani and his operatives were also implicated in the September 11 plot, helping 10 to 12 of the Saudi hijackers travel clandestinely through Iran to Afghanistan and providing logistical and other support.  The introduction of explosively formed projectiles onto the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan by Suleymani and his men changed the scope and scale of U.S. casualties, ultimately accounting for as many as 1,500 U.S. battlefield deaths.   After Osama bin Laden, Qassem Suleymani has more American blood on his hands than any terrorist. It's time we shut him down for good.

Bab al-Mandab Shipping Chokepoint Under Threat - Cmdr. Jeremy Vaughan, USN and Simon Henderson
The Bab al-Mandab Strait controls access to the Red Sea and the southern end of the Suez Canal.    More than 60 commercial ships transit the strait every day, and several passenger cruise liners use the route as well. Houthi rebels have attacked warships in or near the strait on at least four occasions since last fall.    After the U.S. government warned about mines in the strait on Feb. 9, ships were advised to transit only during daylight

Palmyra Retaken by Syrian Government Forces - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
Palmyra, the ancient city that was among prewar Syria's leading tourist attractions, swung back under government control on Thursday March 2, as Islamic State militants who had made a sport out of vandalizing the city's antiquities were evicted.

Record $1.1 Billion in Israel Bonds Sold in U.S. in 2016 (JTA)
A record $1.127 billion in State of Israel Bonds was sold in the U.S. in 2016.     Israel Bonds also announced this week that it has sold more than $40 billion globally since 1951.

U.S. Conducts Flurry of Airstrikes Targeting al-Qaeda in Yemen - Missy Ryan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Ali Al-Mujahed
The U.S. conducted 25 airstrikes by manned and unmanned aircraft on al-Qaeda targets in Yemen on Thursday March2,   far more than on any single night in recent history.    Local news media reported that "hundreds" of militants were slain.     The flurry of activity comes as the U.S. seeks to step up its actions in Yemen.    A defense official said that the military had been granted temporary authority to conduct intensified air operations against al-Qaeda in some areas of Yemen.

Israeli Defense Minister: Palestinians in Gaza Must Understand Their Suffering Is Because of Hamas - Moran Azulay and Attila Somfalvi
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisted Thursday March 2, "there was no diplomatic alternative" to the 2014 Gaza war.    "People keep thinking more can be done, another move, to throw (Hamas) another bone and everything would suddenly work itself out.    They think Hamas will suddenly become pacifists... and not want to destroy us."   The only diplomatic alternative "is primarily to raise awareness among the residents of Gaza that they are suffering because of the Hamas leadership. The second thing is that the Hamas leadership must understand it is always losing." 

Yemen Has Become Iran's Testing Ground for New Weapons - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
Iran has turned Yemen into a testing ground for various weapons it is developing.     The Houthi rebels, who have taken over parts of northern Yemen including the capital, Sana'a, are getting ongoing assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), mainly via Hizbullah trainers, in the use of missiles and rockets, along with drones and explosive devices.   On Feb. 10, Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis in Yemen, said that they were beginning to manufacture drones, surface-to-air missiles that can intercept Saudi-led coalition planes, as well as missiles "that can hit Saudi territory and beyond."    Since the beginning of the year, the Houthis have increased their missile fire from Yemeni territory at targets in Saudi Arabia, including airports, along with missile fire at coalition targets in Yemeni territory.   Hizbullah advisers are taking part in some of the missile launches.

Israel: We Know of Hamas Cooperation with ISIS in Sinai - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, wrote in Arabic on Facebook on Thursday March 2….:   "Hamas leaders: Your efforts to hide your cooperation with ISIS smuggling from Sinai through lies and manipulation in attempts to broadcast 'business as usual' with Egypt are not hidden from our view."    Mordechai said Bilal Brahma, a Hamas member and top smuggler with the Islamic State group in Sinai, was reported by Hamas to have been killed.      But despite Hamas setting up a mourning tent for him, he is alive and being treated in a hospital in Gaza.    "Hamas is brazenly lying to its neighbors and to Egypt."

Iran's Hostile Behavior Is Growing Worse - Yousef al Otaiba (Wall Street Journal)
When the Iranian nuclear deal took effect more than a year ago, there were high hopes that it would set Tehran on a new course of responsible engagement in world affairs.      Instead, Iran's hostile behavior is only growing worse.     There have been multiple interceptions of illicit Iranian weapons destined for Houthi rebels in Yemen.    On New Year's Day, Iranian-backed militants in Bahrain organized a prison break of convicted terrorists.    Later in January, Tehran tested a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, at least its 12th violation of a UN Security Council resolution barring such tests.    What exactly does Iran want?     Its constitution calls for exporting its Islamic-inspired revolution to the rest of the world.    Its leaders talk of "Greater Persia" - a sphere of influence encompassing much of the Middle East.    And "Death to America" remains a favorite rallying cry in Tehran.

After Gaza Rocket and Gunfire, Israel Retaliates
Late Wednesday night, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel's south.    On Thursday an army engineering vehicle carrying out routine activities on the border was hit by gunfire     . In response, IDF forces attacked Hamas positions in Gaza with artillery fire and airstrikes on Thursday March 2.    

Iran Tests Advanced Russian S-300 Air Defense System - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Iran's official media reported Saturday March 4 that Iran had successfully tested the advanced S-300 air defense provided by Russia over Israel's objections.

FROM FEBRUARY 27  NO 743

Netanyahu: We will never relinquish security control of West Bank
Israel will never relinquish security control of the entirety of the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Sunday.      Former Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Bob Hawke, as well as former foreign ministers Gareth Evans and Bob Carr, want Australia to join 137 countries in giving diplomatic recognition to an independent Palestine.     On his first day in Australia on Wednesday, Netanyahu challenged Rudd and Hawke to explain whether they would support a Palestinian state that did not recognize Israel’s right to exist.     “I ask both former prime ministers to ask a simple question: What kind of state will it be that they are advocating?    A state that calls for Israel’s destruction?    A state whose territory will be used immediately for radical Islam?” Netanyahu said.

Report: At Least 15 Hamas Tunnels Extend into Israel - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
Hamas has at least 15 attack tunnels that reach into Israeli territory, according to a Channel 2 TV report aired Sunday, quoting sources in Israel's security cabinet.

Egyptian Christians Fearing Terror Flee Sinai - T El-Ghobashy & D Kholaif (Wall Street Journal)
Some 118 Coptic Christian families have fled the northern Sinai town of Al Arish after a Coptic man was shot and killed in front of his family on Thursday February 22 and Islamic State called for its followers to target Copts.   Seven Copts have been killed in north Sinai in the past month.

Palestinian Ambassador to Iran: I Pray that Iran Will Produce 1,000 Nuclear Bombs (MEMRI TV)
In a February. 20 interview on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, Palestinian Ambassador to Iran Salah Zawawi said, "I pray to Allah that Iran will produce 1,000 nuclear bombs," that "would be used to defend the Islamic Republic and its principles."

Iraqi Militia in Syria Ready to Join in Liberation of Golan Heights (Fars-Iran)
Sheikh Akram al-Ka'abi, the leader of Hizbullah al-Nujaba, a major Iraqi Shiite resistance movement fighting ISIS in Syria, underlined his forces' readiness to take part in a war to liberate the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights alongside Syrian Army soldiers.

90 Percent of the Land in the West Bank Is Empty - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
90% of the land in the West Bank is empty, with no Palestinian or Jewish construction.    Most of the land is open territory - barren hilltops, desert, or agricultural land.   About 7% of the built-up areas are populated by Palestinians and another 3% by Jews.

U.S. Forces Play Crucial Role Against ISIS in Mosul - Michael R. Gordon
As Iraqi forces began their push into western Mosul, American firepower is playing an essential role in softening the opposition from the Islamic State.     Self-propelled howitzers fire toward Mosul, 15 miles away. At an Iraq base 40 miles south of Mosul, a U.S. Army task force fires Himars satellite-guided rockets at targets. Apache attack helicopters, equipped with Hellfire missiles, stand ready to carry out their missions. Not to mention the punishing airstrikes by American and allied warplanes and drones
.

Three Palestinians Die Inside Gaza Tunnel
Three Palestinians were killed and five others were injured after suffering from gas inhalation on Friday Feb 24 while working inside a tunnel between Gaza and Egypt.    The workers were attempting to renovate a tunnel blown up last week by Egyptian authorities

Israeli Company Unveils Solution to Growing Drone Threat - Roi Reshef (Globes)
Israel Military Industries Ltd. has held a demonstration of its Red Sky tactical air defense system, which has been adapted to counter the growing threat of drones.    In the demonstration, the Red Sky system detected, identified, automatically tracked, and intercepted drones with great success.   The system uses shoulder-launched missiles to intercept airborne targets automatically using autonomous scanning, tracking, and launching capabilities.    The system can also disrupt communications between the drone and its operator.

U.S. Drone Strike in Syria Kills Top Al-Qaeda Leader - Martin Chulov and Tom McCarthy (Guardian-UK)
Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, 59, who has been part of al-Qaeda for three decades and was a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was killed on Sunday January 26, when a missile fired from a U.S. drone hit his car in northwest Syria, jihadi leaders have said.   Hisham al-Hashimi, a Baghdad-based writer on Islamic groups, said Masri "was the ideological leader of the group in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and the number two in the organization overall."     Masri has been implicated in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in which more than 200 people died.

Israel Attacks Hamas Targets in Gaza in Response to Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun
Israel Air Force fighter jets attacked five Hamas terror targets in Gaza on Monday February 27, in response to rocket fire.    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would not tolerate a "drizzle" of rocket fire.

Stop PA Pensions for Terrorists - Sander Gerber
The family of Bashar Masalha - the Palestinian who murdered Taylor Force, 28, a West Point graduate and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, on March 8, 2016, in Jaffa - will receive a pension for life amounting to three times the average yearly salary in the West Bank.     Under the PA's Palestinian Prisoners Law, payments are enhanced for a terrorist who commits a violent act and is jailed    The longer the sentence (the greater the violence), the higher the salary a terrorist receives.     The PA allocates $315 million, nearly 8% of its budget, to pay terrorists in prison and the families of martyrs.    Over 36,000 people receive monthly payments from the PA as rewards for attacking Israel.     Peace will never be achieved if the Palestinian leadership continues to incentivize terrorism against Israel.  House and Senate Republicans on Tuesday February 28, introduced legislation that would cut off U.S. aid "to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members."

Azerbaijan Ordered Iron Dome Anti-Missile System from Israel - Malahat Najafova (APA-Azerbaijan)
Azerbaijan ordered the Iron Dome anti-missile system and Tamir interceptor missiles from Israel in 2016, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on weapons purchased by Azerbaijan in 2015-2016, APA reported

U.S. Seeks End to UN Rights Council's "Obsession" with Israel - Stephanie Nebehay
The U.S. is reviewing its participation in the UN Human Rights Council, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay told the council on Wednesday March 1.    The U.S. "remains deeply troubled by the Council's consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel."    Barclay said that no other nation had a whole agenda item devoted to it and "this obsession with Israel" threatened the council's credibility.     She questioned whether focusing on Israel was a sensible priority, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was bombing hospitals and North Korea and Iran deny millions of their people freedom of religion, peaceful assembly and expression.    "In order for this Council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions."

Islamic State Targets China - Michael Martina (Reuters)
Vowing to plant their flag in China and that blood will "flow in rivers," a new video released this week by Islamic State shows ethnic Uighur fighters training in Iraq.    Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people from western China's Xinjiang region, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militant groups there.   In the video, a shot of Chinese President Xi Jinping gives way to flames in front of a Chinese flag.    One fighter says, "We will certainly plant our flag over America, China, Russia, and all the infidels of the world." Another fighter refers to the "evil Chinese Communist infidel lackeys."

Israeli Startups Raise $700M in 2017 So Far (Globes)
Israeli startups raised nearly $700 million in January and February, keeping pace with last year when Israeli startups raised a record $4.8 billion, according to IVC.    The pace of financing is all the more impressive in light of reports of a downturn in startup financing in the U.S.
     

FROM FEBRUARY 10  NO 742

Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran - Jay Solomon
The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia's military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials.    "If there's a wedge to be driven between Russia and Iran, we're willing to explore that," a senior administration official said.     The Kremlin is a major supplier of weapons and nuclear equipment to Iran.

New U.S. Administration Not Seeking Contact with PA - Avi Issacharoff
Jason Greenblatt, the new U.S. administration's special representative for international negotiations, met on Friday February 3,  with three Palestinian businessmen with close ties to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and informed them that the administration does not intend to build relations with the PA at this juncture.      It was understood that the administration will likely only engage with the PA after President Trump meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Feb. 15, Palestinian sources said.

Iran Has Tested 14 Ballistic Missiles Since the Nuclear Deal - Behnam Ben Taleblu (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
Since the July 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has tested as many as 14 ballistic missiles, a number based on open-source reporting

Groups Involved in BDS Campaign Use Israeli Tech for Their Websites - Rachel Frommer (Algemeiner)
  Student groups co-sponsoring a new boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign used Israeli Wix software to build their websites.

Tourism to Israel Up 27 Percent in January (Israel Ministry of Tourism-IMRA)
210,000 tourist entries to Israel were recorded in January 2017, an increase of 27% over 165,000 entries in January 2016
.

Iran Celebrates Revolution Anniversary amid Conflict with U.S. - Erin Cunningham
Thousands of Iranians converged on Tehran on Friday February 10 to mark the anniversary of the country's revolution, amid heightened tensions with the new U.S. administration.      Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Iranians earlier this week to use the anniversary as an opportunity to "respond" to the forceful rhetoric coming from the White House.    The rallies take place every year to observe the Islamic revolution that overthrew Iran's monarchy in 1979.     Iran's state television showed throngs of people holding signs and marching in the streets.

We Can't Let Radical Islam Take Over the World - Lior Akerman
The Koran talks a great deal about the people of Israel and the prophet Moses.   The Koran praises the Jews, calling them God's first choice, and the second chapter, verse 21-22, even says the Land of Israel was given to the Jewish people and that the Jews must never leave the land.      A maximum of 10% of Muslims support the religious struggle to obliterate all other religions and install an Islamic caliphate throughout the entire planet.    It's clear that Islam as a religion is not the problem, but only terrorists and leaders who are acting in the name of Islam.   If we add up all the Sunni (Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram) and Shiite (Hizbullah) groups, there are hundreds of thousands of radical Muslim terrorists who operate throughout the Middle East, plus quite a large number of supporters.     When Western leaders display weakness and are fearful of using military might, this only serves to encourage terrorist organizations.   This situation is not irreversible, but it does require. a
change in mindset and an internalization of the reality.    There needs to be cooperation by world leaders if we are to take back control from the terrorists who are wreaking havoc on civilians the world over

The Aboriginal Rights of the Jewish People
Yusuf Ziya Pasha al-Khalidi was for ten years mayor of Jerusalem.    As a Muslim, an Arab and an Ottoman subject, he wrote a letter on March 1, 1899, to the chief rabbi of France, saying,   "Who can contest the rights of the Jews regarding Palestine?    Good Lord, historically it is really your country!"  The great Arab People is aboriginal to Arabia, not the Holy Land.    Judaism, the Hebrew language, and a self-identified "Jewish" People were already in Eretz Israel about a thousand years before the ethnogenesis in Arabia (circa 600 CE) of the Arab People.     Arabs always knew the Koran to say that Allah had promised "the Holy Land" to the Jews, all of whom would return there by Judgment Day

Iranian Missile Can Hit Tel Aviv in 7 Minutes, Iran Official Threatens - E Leon & Y Hersch  Hayom)
 If the enemy chooses to shoot a missile in Iran's direction, Tel Aviv will go up in flames from an Iranian missile...as only seven minutes are needed for an Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv,"      Mojtaba Zonour, a member of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, boasted Saturday February 4.    Zonour said 36 American bases in the Middle East are in range of Iranian missiles,     Iran's Fars news agency reported.    "If the U.S. does something stupid, we will wipe out the American 5th Fleet in Bahrain," he added.

Americans Tepid on Palestinian Statehood (Gallup)
A new Gallup poll conducted February. 1-5 finds the American public closely split over Palestinian statehood. Currently, 45% of Americans support establishing an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, while 42% oppose it.     62% of Americans say they sympathize more with the Israelis and 19% with the Palestinians.     Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is viewed more favorably than unfavorably by Americans, 49% vs. 30%.

.Radical Muslim Cleric Caught Being Smuggled into U.S. at Mexican Border (Daily Mail-UK)

U.S. border guards found a hardline Muslim cleric - banned from France and Canada - curled up in the trunk of a BMW crossing from Mexico into California.    Said Jaziri, who led protests calling for the death of a Danish cartoonist that drew pictures of the prophet Mohammed, was deported from Canada to Tunisia in 2007.

How Likely Is Another Israel-Hamas War? - Avi Issacharoff
Gaza's Islamist rulers are seeking to avoid another major round of fighting similar to the 2014 Gaza war.    Since members of the upper echelon of Hamas' political wing sense that they are on the edge of a political-economic breakthrough with Egypt, runs the Israeli assessment, they will do a great deal to keep things from getting out of hand.    However, one key factor in Hamas could lead to a dramatic escalation of hostilities - Yahya Sinwar.     Sinwar, 55, was released from Israeli prison six years ago as part of the Shalit prisoner-exchange deal, after 22 years behind bars.    He is widely considered the strongest man in Gaza.    Sinwar is an extremist even by comparison to other high-ranking members of Hamas' military wing.    At one point he became known as "The Man of the 12" for the 12 Palestinians, suspected collaborators, whom he murdered with his own hands.

Hezbollah Warned by Arab Governments
A senior Arab official told the London-based Lebanese newspaper Al Hayat on Sunday that the Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah has been warned by Arab governments that it should not move against Israel because the “harsh” response from the Jewish State would leave Hezbollah badly wounded and create problems for everyone in the region. Elsewhere, many analysts have speculated that Israel is preparing to attack Hezbollah and is watching it exhaust itself in the Syrian campaign, waiting for exactly the right time to strike.

Latest tests on improved version of Israel's Iron Dome system completed     DEBKAfile
The Israeli Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it had completed the latest series of tests on the country's Iron Dome missile defense system. The tests checked the functioning of the Tamir interceptor that includes components jointly produced by the US and Israel. Some of the system was funded by and developed in cooperation with the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency. Iron Dome, manufactured in Israel by a group of local companies, is the world's first system for intercepting short-range missiles to become operational.

 Israel developing terminator bots, minister claims
Ayoub Kara says ‘impossible to destroy’ androids will be able to assassinate heads of Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups      Speaking at a cultural event in the southern city of Beersheba, minister-without-portfolio Ayoub Kara said such robots will be able to enter enemy territory and kill the leaders of terror groups targeting Israel without putting soldiers in harm’s way.    “The robot that can take out [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah and the heads of Hamas is on the way,” he said.

 

FROM FEBRUARY 4  NO 741

Video At Palestinian University Demonstration, the Protesters Carry Automatic Weapons (MEMRI-TV)
Watch the Fatah "Shabiba" student movement at Birzeit University in the West Bank mark Fatah's 52nd anniversary with a militant parade.    Armed and masked men in fatigues marched and shouted slogans such as, "Blow up the head of the settler!"

Israel Only Free State in Middle East, Report Finds - Michael Wilner (Jerusalem Post)
Israel remains the only free country in the Middle East, scoring 80 on a scale of 100, Freedom House declared in its annual report.    That compares favorably with Lebanon (44), Turkey (38), Jordan (37), Kuwait (36), Algeria (35), Iraq (27), Egypt (26), Iran (17), Saudi Arabia (10), Sudan (6), and Syria (-1).

U.S. Planning Additional Sanctions on Iran Following Missile Test - Elise Labott
The White House is expected to impose additional sanctions on Iranian entities under existing executive orders that predate President Trump in response to Iran's ballistic missile test late January   . They are similar to actions taken by former President Obama after Iran's previous ballistic missile tests.

Three Israelis Wounded in Palestinian Car-Ramming Attack - Judah Ari Gross
Two policemen and a civilian security guard were wounded when a Palestinian woman drove her vehicle into a police car and a guard post outside the Adam community in the West Bank on Thursday February 2. in a car-ramming attack.   "She confessed [to it being deliberate]," an army spokesperson said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Threatens Legal Action If Britain Ignores Demands for Reparations for Balfour Declaration
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki told PA TV on Jan. 18 that the Palestinian leadership was "entirely serious" about its demand for an apology and for reparations from Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration.       Al-Maliki said that when he met the British foreign secretary, "I told him very clearly what we expect."     He said that if the British continue to ignore the Palestinian demands, the Palestinian Authority may opt for legal action against Britain

Israel's Natural Gas Provides 69 Percent of Country's Electricity - Avi Bar-Eli
As of Tuesday January 31, 69% of Israel's electricity was being produced from natural gas from the Tamar offshore gas field. (Ha'aretz)

Israel Has Become a Laboratory for Militaries across the Globe - Dan Senor
Israel is a country of eight million people that is surrounded by enemies who would like to see it wiped off the map:     Hizbullah to the north, Hamas to the south, plus Assad's regime, Islamic State and Iran to the east.  Yet this tiny nation has also built an air force, anti-missile defense system and intelligence apparatus that is revered around the world - and relied on by the U.S. military.  

ISIS Activates Terror Cells in Nile Valley - Waleed Abdul Rahman (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Egyptian experts said that ISIS has activated its cells in the Nile Valley, away from the Sinai Peninsula where it has targeted security forces over the past three years.    A new study highlights the flow of huge financial sums to fund terrorist operations in Egypt. the budget available to larger nations

Surge in Chinese Tourists Taking in Israel's Rich History and Culture (China Daily)
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics shows 76,400 Chinese tourists went to Israel between January and November last year, a 60% increase from 2015.    The surge is helped by new direct flights by Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Tel Aviv. Cathay Pacific is expected to start flying from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv this year.    Travel pundits say uniqueness and authenticity are key selling points.     Israel is culturally very interesting, offering a rich and very developed tourism infrastructure to Chinese travelers seeking to explore new and exotic destinations.    Li Jiayang, who spent two weeks in Israel recently, said the journey was a highlight of her life as it shocked her emotionally.    "I was able to learn and feel the thousands of years of history just passing through me when I was standing in front of the Western Wall, and I could not stop myself from crying out of no reason.
"

U.S. Raises Alarm at UN over Iran Missile Test - Carole Landry and Ali Noorani
"We have confirmed that Iran did have a medium-size missile launch testing on January 29, on Sunday. This is absolutely unacceptable," new U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said    . "I will tell the people across the world that is something we should be alarmed about."      "The United States is not naive. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out," warned Haley.    "We are committed to making them understand that this is not anything that we will ever accept."     The missile launched Sunday was capable of carrying a 500-kg. payload.      "That is more than enough to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon.
"

Israeli Defense Minister: Gaza Border Quiet Is Deceptive, Hamas Seeks Israel's Destruction
The relative quiet enjoyed by Israelis living near Gaza is deceptive, and another armed conflict with Hamas could break out at any minute, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned on Tuesday January 31, as he toured the area. "Hamas and the rest of the groups in Gaza have not abandoned their desire to destroy Israel." He said the only thing keeping Hamas from instigating a war is the fact that "they know that the balance of power is not in their favor and if they they act against us, they will pay a very heavy price.

Silence over Middle Eastern "Ban on Jews" - Gaurav Sharma
Several Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, including the seven expressing outrage at a U.S.-entry ban for their nationals, have had a ban on Israeli nationals for over five decades   . These include Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE and Yemen. Bangladesh, Brunei, Malaysia and Pakistan also have similar bans on Israeli passport holders. Is this not a de facto ban on people from another faith?    Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen do not even allow entry to people of any nationality with evidence of travel to Israel.

The Knesset passes controversial Regulation Law DEBKAfile February 6, 2017, 11:18 PM (IDT)
By a majority of 60 votes to 52, the Knesset Monday nigh  February 6,t gave its third and last reading to the Regulation Law (aka Settlement Bill) which legalizes 4,000 Jewish homes built in Judea and Samaria on land later claimed by Palestinian owners.     The law offers landowners with proven claims either monetary compensation up to 125 percent of the plot’s value or alternative sites.     Likud MK Benny Begin voted with the opposition, whose leader, Yitzhak Herzog of Labor said that the law is a black flag and exposes IDF officers and men to prosecution before the war crimes court at The Hague. The civil rights movement will appeal against the legislation to the S
upreme Court.

Intelligence Trends Predict Hamas Takeover of West Bank - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
IDF Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch, the newly retired chief West Bank prosecutor, is convinced, based on intelligence regarding West Bank terror trends, that the area will become the next Hamastan once PA President Mahmoud Abbas dies.     "The basic understanding is that the Fatah-run West Bank will not last for very long... once Mahmoud Abbas passes on.   The basic understanding is that Hamas will take over.    Very soon, we will find ourselves with a Hamas-led government in the West Bank."    "Hamas has never stopped with its aspirations to take over the West Bank...even if it requires violent means."

Jordanian Air Force Targets ISIS in Southern Syria - Roi Kais and Liad Osmo (Ynet News)
The Jordanian air force conducted air strikes against Islamic State targets in southern Syria on Friday February 3, using drones and guided missiles, hitting an ammunition depot, a car bomb factory and a barracks, the Jordanian military said Saturday..

U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran over Missile Test - David E. Sanger
New sanctions that the Trump administration imposed on Friday February 3, to punish Tehran's latest ballistic missile test marked the beginning of what officials called the end of an era in which the U.S. was "too tolerant of Iran's bad behavior."      n the first in a series of efforts to confront Iran, a ban on bank transfers was levied against 25 Iranians and companies that officials said assisted in Tehran's ballistic missile program and support of terrorist groups.   President Obama took similar steps a year ago after another Iranian missile test, and the new sanctions drew from a list of targets drawn up last year by the Obama administration.    Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said.

FROM FEBRUARY 2  NO 740

U.S.: Iran Tested Medium-Range Ballistic Missile - W.J. Hennigan
The Iranian government carried out a medium-range ballistic missile test Sunday January 29, that may be a violation of a UN Security Council resolution, U.S. officials said.    The missile was tracked flying 650 miles before exploding when its reentry vehicle failed.     UN Resolution 2231, passed shortly after the nuclear deal was signed, calls on Iran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology." 

Netanyahu: Iran Missile Test Must Not Go Unanswered
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of carrying out a missile test in "flagrant violation" of a UN Security Council resolution. "Iranian aggression must not go unanswered," he said.

Car-Ramming Palestinian Terrorist Sentenced to Life Plus 20 Years - Liran Levy
Palestinian terrorist Khaled Kutina, 39, who was convicted of the murder of Shalom Sharki and the attempted murder of Shira Klein in an April 2015 car-ramming attack in Jerusalem, was sentenced on Monday January 30, to life imprisonment plus 20 years by the Jerusalem District Court.    The judges stated in their verdict that "the murderous terror attack executed by the defendant, which was meant to sow death and destruction in the lives of innocent people simply for the fact of being Jewish, is a diabolical act.

The Israel-UK Intelligence Partnership - Daniel Sugarman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
For the first time, Robert Hannigan, outgoing Director-General of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has talked about the organization's "strong partnership with our Israeli counterparts in signals intelligence."    The relationship "is protecting people from terrorism...not only in the UK and Israel but in many other countries."    Hannigan added: "We are building on an excellent cyber relationship with a range of Israeli bodies and the remarkable cyber industry in Beersheba."

UN Secretary-General Confirms Jewish Ties to Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Adam Rasgon
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Israel Radio on Friday January 27, that it is "completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple."     He also said he had no intention of pushing for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, though he would assist in that goal if asked.    In response, PA Jerusalem Affairs minister Adnan al-Hussein told Xinhua on Sunday that Guterres "overstepped his role as secretary general...and must issue an apology to the Palestinian people."

Israel: The Eighth Great Power of 2017 - Walter Russell Mead and Sean Keeley
The U.S. remains the most powerful country on earth, followed by China, Japan, Russia, Germany, India, Iran, and Israel - a new name on our list of the Eight Greats.     A small country, Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs.     Overall, the Jewish state continues to develop diplomatic, economic and military power and to insert itself into the heart of regional politics.    Large, off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter.     Energy self-sufficiency is a boost to Israel's economy; energy exports boost Israel's foreign policy clout.    Access to Israeli technology (like the technology behind the Iron Dome missile defense system) matters to more and more countries.

Truth-Telling to Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Dr. Max Singer (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
It is false to say that there exists "Palestinian territory" that Israel refuses to "give back."     The land in question is disputed: it is territory for which Israel has historic and legal claims.    It is not Palestinian territory because Palestinians have never ruled or been sovereign over any land.     This is an indisputable fact, not a question of interpretation

Lebanon to Auction Energy Rights in Waters Contested by Israel - Dana Khraiche (Bloomberg)
Lebanon wants to auction energy rights to areas in the Mediterranean Sea contested by Israel.    Energy Minister Cesar Abou Khalil announced in Beirut that new bidders can apply from Feb. 2 to March 31 on five blocks for exploration and development.

U.S. and Israel Run Successful Tests of David's Sling Missile Defense System - Jen Judson (Defense News)
 The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Israel successfully demonstrated the David's Sling missile defense system in a series of tests in Israel, MDA said Wednesday.January 25    "The interceptors were successfully launched, performed all flight phases and engaged the targets as planned."

Netanyahu: When Iran Calls to Wipe Out Every Israeli, the World Is Silent
Speaking at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday January 26, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:     "In a few short years, six million of our people were wiped away, literally incinerated...  .The Holocaust, thank G-d, is behind us, but the hatred and intolerance that drove it is not. Anti-Semitism, which is the world's oldest hatred, is experiencing a revival in the enlightened West."    "Yet...the greatest danger that we face, of the hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state, comes from the East. It comes from Iran. It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning these flames and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state."    "I want you to think about a regime that openly declared its intention to eliminate every black person, every gay person, every European. I think the entire world would be outraged, and rightly so.     But when a regime merely calls to wipe out every Israeli...what do we encounter? A deafening silence."

Unemployment in Israel Dropped to 4.3% in December - Danielle Roth-Avneri (Israel Hayom)
Israel's unemployment rate dropped to 4.3% in December 2016, compared to 4.5% the previous month, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday January 31

U.S. Warns Palestinian Leaders Against Suing Israel in International Courts - Jack Khoury
The U.S. has warned Palestinian leaders that suing Israel in international courts would trigger severe steps including the closure of PLO offices in Washington and an end to economic aid to the Palestinian Authority. A high-ranking Palestinian source told Ha'aretz that President Trump signed an order to execute acongressional resolution, passed in 2015, to bar the transfer of any funds to the Palestinian Authority were it to initiate any investigation against Israel at the World Court or support such an investigation.

Surge in Chinese Tourists Taking in Israel's Rich History and Culture (China Daily)
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics shows 76,400 Chinese tourists went to Israel between January and November last year, a 60% increase from 2015.    The surge is helped by new direct flights by Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Tel Aviv. Cathay Pacific is expected to start flying from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv this yea    Travel pundits say uniqueness and authenticity are key selling points. Israel is culturally very interesting, offering a rich and very developed tourism infrastructure to Chinese travelers seeking to explore new and exotic destinations.       Li Jiayang, who spent two weeks in Israel recently, said the journey was a highlight of her life as it shocked her emotionally.    "I was able to learn and feel the thousands of years of history just passing through me when I was standing in front of the Western Wall, and I could not stop myself from crying out of no reason."    

New U.S. UN Ambassador Pledges to Block Anti-Israel Actions - Natalie Johnson
Nikki Haley, the new U.S. ambassador to the UN, phoned her Israeli counterpart on Monday to reinforce America's "ironclad support" for the Jewish state.     Haley pledged to Ambassador Danny Danon that she would block anti-Israel actions taken by the UN, citing the Security Council's decision last month to condemn Israel

Trump:   Iran is playing with fire. I won’t be as nice as Obama DEBKAfile F
President Donald Trump warned  that Iran was "playing with fire" as his administration reportedly considers new sanctions after Iran test-fired a ballistic missile last week.  “They don't appreciate how 'kind' President Obama was to them.   Not me!," Trump tweeted.     Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn this week criticized Iran for its "destabilizing activity" and officially put the Islamic Republic “on notice.”      A top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei replied  that Iran will not yield to "useless" US threats from "an inexperienced person.”     New US sanctions could target more than two dozen Iran entities.

 

FROM JANUARY 22  NO 739

Series of tests on 'David's Sling' anti-missile system completed     DEBKAfile
Israel's Defense Ministry and the US Missile Defense Agency successfully completed a series of tests on the new and advanced version of the "David's Sling" missile defense system.      The latest interception test was held at a site in central Israel to check the system's ability to deal with future threats in times of conflict.     After a target missile was launched and the system identified the missile by radar, the interceptors carried out all phases of flight and destroyed the target as planned       David's Sling, part of Israel's multilayer anti-missile network, is intended to shoot down rockets and missiles, such as those in the hands of Syria, Hamas and Hizballah, with ranges of 40 to 250 kilometers. The upper layers of the network consist of the Arrow 2 and the Arrow 3 systems, intended to shoot down ballistic missiles inside and outside the atmosphere, respectively.     Israel's Iron Dome system, the lowest layer of the network, provides defense from rockets with ranges of up to 70 kilometers.  

Putin's Syria: Success through Strength - Prof. Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most powerful man in the Middle East today.    The peace Putin is pushing in Syria is not a "just peace," but rather a peace completely based on force.    Putin is far from being a "fair mediator." He took a clear stance on one side of the conflict - Assad's side.    The military presence the U.S. maintains across the Middle East - soldiers, planes and warships - is 10 times as big as the Russian military presence in Syria, but everyone ignores them.    The lesson for Israel is that the key to success in our region is not in trying to appease anyone, but in standing up for our interests resolutely and showing strength.
    Whoever wishes to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should pay attention to this.

Defending the Civilized World - Clifford D. May (Washington Times)
Not for the first time is America threatened by totalitarian foes.      The goal of the Communists was domination by one class.     The Nazis sought to establish the supremacy of one race.  Today, the Islamists fight for one religion uber alles.    They want all of us, Muslim and "infidel" alike, to obey sharia - Islamic law as they interpret it.
    And if you don't think they've been making progress over recent years, you haven't been paying close

U.S. to Review Funding for International Organizations - Max Fisher
The Trump administration is preparing a draft executive order titled "Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations."    It calls for terminating funding for any UN agency or other international body that gives full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, or supports any activity that circumvents sanctions against Iran.   The draft order also calls for terminating funding for any organization that "is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism." The order then calls for enacting "at least a 40% overall decrease" in remaining U.S. funding for international organizations.

Congressional Leaders Plan Response to Pre-Inauguration Day Money Transfer to Palestinians - Jenna Lifhits
Congressional leaders are moving to respond to a last-minute transfer of $221 million to the Palestinian Authority in the final hours of the Obama administration.     "I don't know if we can recoup that money, but I intend to suspend future funding to the Palestinian Authority until they change their laws that reward young Palestinians for killing Israelis and Americans   A late report from the Palestinians suggests the funds have been frozen  and will not reach them in the near future (T of I)

Trump-Putin safe zones deal ousts Iran from Syria  DEBKAfile
Syria stands on the threshold of dramatic changes that will directly impact on the strategic and military situation along the Syrian borders with Israel and Jordann  They derive from a deal struck this week by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish US, Russian and Turkish security zones in Syria.     This scheme will transfer military control of the country to those three powers and require Iranian and pro-Iranian forces to leave

 

What Would the U.S. Gain from Moving Its Embassy to Jerusalem? - Robert Satloff
Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv would correct a historic injustice. Washington has never recognized a single inch of Jerusalem as legitimately part of Israel, not even "West Jerusalem," which Israel has controlled for nearly seven decades, nor the rest of the city which it has controlled for nearly 50 years. None of this has stopped five U.S. presidents from visiting Jerusalem and conducting official business there.,"

China and Israel Celebrate 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
On January 24, 1992, in Beijing, foreign ministers David Levy and Qian Qichen signed the agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and the People's Republic of China.    The link between the Israeli and Chinese peoples is an ancient one, dating from the Jewish community in Kaifeng a thousand years ago.    Jewish communities prospered also in Harbin, Tianjin and Shanghai, where thousands of Jews found refuge from the Nazis during World War II.    Both peoples come from ancient cultures that succeeded in preserving their unique character and their moral heritage throughout thousands of years of history.    China is Israel's third-largest trading partner; more than a third of hi-tech investments in Israel during the past year came from China.    The innovation center of Tsinghua - China's leading university - was established at Tel Aviv University, while Israel's Technion will soon open a branch in Shantou in South China.    The Israeli embassy was rated recently as the foreign embassy in Beijing with the highest number of followers (close to two million).

New U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis Reaffirms Commitment to Israel's Security - Capt. Jeff Davis
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis spoke by phone Thursday January 26, with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to underscore his unwavering commitment to Israel's security.   The secretary called his counterpart during his first week to emphasize his intent to advance the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and to protect Israel's qualitative military edge

Home Front Command Making Feverish Preparations for Next War
The IDF Home Front Command recently issued a series of reports outlining the preparations it is making for what the defense establishment considers to be the inevitability of hundreds of rockets a day landing in Israel during the next war.    Large amounts of money have been spent upgrading bomb shelters, building strategic capabilities and preparing procedures for the estimated 150,000 residents of the North who are expected to require temporary evacuation.

White House: Netanyahu to Visit Washington on Feb. 15 Louis Nelson (Politico)
Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Washington on February 15, I White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.    "Our relationship with the only democracy in the Middle East is crucial to the security of both our nations and the president looks forward to discussing continued strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation with the prime minister," Spicer said.

Jordan's King Abdullah Visits Washington - David Schenker (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Jordan's King Abdullah arrived in Washington on Monday January 30 for meetings with the new administration.    While the king may emphasize the issue of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, his country has more acute problems.    The past year saw a spike in terrorist incidents inside Jordan, including an attack in December by homegrown terrorists in Karak that killed 13 and injured 34.    Jordan is a major base of U.S. air operations for the campaign in Syria, a key intelligence sharing partner, and a leading Arab ally in the battle of ideas against radical Islam.    The U.S. provided $1.6 billion in military and economic assistance to Jordan last year.    Any further U.S. contributions to preserving a stable Jordan at peace with Israel would be a sound investment.

Israel's Technologically Advanced Military - Yaakov Katz (New York Post)
Today, Israel is a high-tech superpower and one of the world's top weapons exporters with $6.5 billion in annual arms sales.    Since 1985, Israel is the world's largest exporter of drones, responsible for 60% of the global market, trailed by the U.S., whose market share is 25%.    Israel's customers include Russia, South Korea, Australia, France, Germany and Brazil.    In 2010, five NATO countries were flying Israeli drones in Afghanistan.    Israel has been in a perpetual state of conflict since its inception. This reality, of having your back up against the wall, sharpens the mind. It forces Israelis to be creative and come up with innovative ways and weapons to survive.