IDF Drilling on Lebanon Border in Search for Hizbullah Tunnels - Noa Shpigel (Ha'aretz)
IDF troops began drilling Wednesday along the Lebanon border to
search for suspected tunnels dug by Hizbullah into Israeli territory.
Residents in Moshav Zarit said that in the years since the 2006
Second Lebanon War, "strange looking" buildings began appearing across
the security fence some 450 meters away.
More than 10 residents living on one street have complained over
the last few months about hearing noises at night. Investigations
revealed what appeared to be a possible tunnel route dug from Lebanon
10,000 Palestinian Teens Graduate Hamas Terror Camp, Practice Tunnel Attacks Against Israel - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh attended the graduation
ceremony of a training camp for more than 10,000 future Hamas
militants on Tuesday.
Under the "Pioneers of the Resistance" program, the Palestinian
youths - aged 15 to 21 - underwent intensive military training, using
sniper rifles on targets with portraits of Israeli leaders.
They also simulated attacks on Israeli targets through model terror
tunnels, meant to recreate the experience of infiltrating Israeli
Islamic State Calls on Muslims to Attack West (AP-Military Times)
The spokesman for the Islamic State group is calling on Muslims
living in Western countries to carry out more attacks, saying any
loyalist who has the opportunity to "shed a drop of blood" should do so.
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani on Monday praised recent attacks in Australia, Belgium, France, and Canada.
Syria Rebels Overrun Strategic Base in South (Reuters)
Hundreds of Syrian insurgents armed with rocket launchers and
anti-aircraft weapons, including fighters from al-Qaeda's Nusra Front,
seized the Assad regime's Brigade 82 base near the town of Sheikh
Maskeen in Deraa province on Sunday. The base lies at the heart of a
heavily fortified zone protecting the southern approaches to Damascus.
The south is the last major stronghold of the mainstream, anti-Assad
opposition, who have been weakened elsewhere by the expansion of
Islamic State in the east and north. Nusra is fighting in the south
alongside the Western-backed groups.
Asian Army Buys Israeli System to Protect Its Aircraft - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
Elbit announced that it had reached a deal to outfit the Blackhawk
helicopters of the air force of an Asian country with its MUSIC aerial
laser defense system that protects against shoulder-launched missiles
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Anti-Tank Missile Fired at Israeli Military Vehicle on Lebanon Frontier, Casualties Reported
An anti-tank missile was fired at an Israeli military vehicle near the
Lebanon border on Wednesday, wounding four soldiers, a military source
said. Israeli helicopters were deployed after the attack. Hizbullah is
the dominant force on the Lebanese side of the border. (Reuters)
- Democrats Give Obama Two Months to Reach Iran Deal - Burgess Everett
Senate Democrats, led by Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), said Tuesday that
they will give President Obama two months to reach a deal on the
country's nuclear program before they vote for new sanctions. At least
10 Senate Democrats wrote the president Tuesday that they will not
support final passage of a sanctions bill until March 24. That will
allow the U.S. and other Western powers time to reach a framework for a
deal scaling down Iran's nuclear program.
In their letter, the Democrats defended the forthcoming sanctions
legislation as "reasonable and pragmatic," given that the economic
penalties would kick in only if negotiators fail to reach a final
agreement by June 30. They added, "Considering Iran's history in nuclear
negotiations and after two extensions of the Joint Plan of Action, we
are concerned that Iran is intentionally extending the negotiations to
improve its leverage at the negotiating table....[We] look forward to
working with you to achieve our shared goal of reversing Iran's ability
to develop a nuclear weapon capability." (Politico)
- On Auschwitz Anniversary, Leader Warns Jews Again Targets - Vanessa Gera
A Jewish leader stood before 300 survivors of the Nazis' most notorious
death camp on Tuesday and asked world leaders to prevent another
Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews
fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak
assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz where
more than a million people were murdered.
"For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been
eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come
back....Once again, Jewish businesses are targeted. And once again,
Jewish families are fleeing Europe."
"For decades, the world has been fed lies about Israel: that Israel
is the cause of everyone's problems, that Israelis are the villains of
the 21st century, that Israel has no right to exist.
We all learned that when you tell a lie three times and there is no
response, then the lie becomes the truth.
This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly
became an opportunity to attack Jews."
"Schools must teach tolerance of all people. Houses of worship
should be places of love, understanding, and healing. They should not be
telling their people to kill in the name of God. All countries and the
EU must make hate a crime.
Any country that openly brags about the annihilation of another country
should be excluded from the family of nations." (AP-ABC News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF Strikes Syrian Army Targets Following Golan Rocket Attacks - Yaakov Lappin
The Israel Air Force struck Syrian army artillery targets on Tuesday
in response to an earlier rocket attack on the Golan Heights and Mount
Hermon. The IDF had quickly returned fire, directing artillery fire at
the sources of rocket fire in Syria. "The IDF views the Syrian regime as
responsible for what occurs in its territory, and will act at any time
and any way it sees fit to protect the citizens of Israel," the IDF
See also The Golan: Israel and Hizbullah's New Battleground - Amos Harel
The four Katyusha rockets fired at the Golan Heights from Syria on
Tuesday weren't stray fire but rather were launched deliberately,
Israeli defense officials believe. Israel evacuated the Mount Hermon ski
resort. A single rocket every few days would be enough to paralyze the
- U.S., Arab League Ask Abbas to Delay New UN Statehood Bid - Khaled Abu Toameh
The PA leadership has accepted a U.S. request to delay its plans to
resubmit the Palestinian statehood resolution to the UN Security Council
until after the March 17 election in Israel, a senior Fatah official
said on Tuesday.
The London-based Rai al-Youm also quoted Palestinian
officials as saying that Arab League foreign ministers who recently met
in Cairo asked PA President Abbas to delay the next statehood bid at
the Security Council. The ministers said the Arab leaders fear that a
U.S. veto would put the U.S. on a collision course with the Arab
people. The Arab countries prefer that the Palestinians come up with a
new resolution that would be less controversial and lead to the revival
of the peace process with Israel, the sources said. (Jerusalem Post)
- Muhammad Dahlan and the Succession Battle for the PA Chairmanship - Yoni Ben Menachem
In recent weeks, Dubai-based Muhammad Dahlan has become much more
actively involved in Gaza. He is attempting to exploit the difficult
situation there after the 2014 Gaza war and views himself as the
potential successor of his bitter enemy, Mahmoud Abbas, as chairman of
the Palestinian Authority. Dahlan is also involved in providing
financial aid to needy residents in Gaza. He recently sent his wife, Dr.
Jalila Dahlan, to Gaza where, with Hamas' consent, she has been
intensely involved in providing funds to the needy.
Egypt and Hamas believe that Abbas will soon end his role as
chairman of the PA, and Abbas' troubles in the Palestinian domestic
arena have afforded Dahlan a foothold. Egypt is inclined to support
Dahlan because of the great sympathy he enjoys among Gaza residents.
In the past, during Arafat's rule, Dahlan was head of Gaza's
Preventive Intelligence force. Dahlan has had close ties with Mohammed
Deif, the "supreme commander" of Hamas' military wing, since the
1980s when the two shared the same cell in an Israeli prison.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Rising Tension in the Golan Heights - Omer Einav
For the first time, the Iranians are not concealing their presence in
the Golan Heights, which until now was an improbable scenario. Hizbullah
is permitting itself freedom of action and a high profile in the Golan
and is working to establish an infrastructure in the region for
attacks on Israel.
Israel is working to significantly improve the components of
defense in the north and to lower the profile of its moves so as to deny
Hizbullah attractive operational opportunities. Israel's leading
objective, aside from peace and quiet and security, is not to allow Iran
and Hizbullah to establish a foothold for control and terror
infrastructures in the Golan.
Israel must show resolve and not be deterred by escalation if it
has an interest in preventing the establishment of an Iranian-Hizbullah
foothold in the Golan, which would be a platform for attacking Israel at
a time and in circumstances that suit the axis.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- A Small Victory in Syria as the Islamic State Gets Stronger - Editorial
The apparently successful defense of the Kurdish town of Kobane, on the
Syrian-Turkish border, came to be seen as a test of whether the U.S. and
its allies could stop the expansion of the Islamic State. Kobane
consumed 75% of the nearly 1,000 airstrikes carried out by allied
planes throughout Syria since September. In the rest of the Syrian
territory it controls, the Islamic State faces little pressure from
Western airstrikes and is growing stronger rather than weaker.
- B'Tselem Adds to the Chorus of False Gaza War Allegations
In its report on IDF strikes during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the B'Tselem
NGO's claims regarding international law are marked by major omissions
and distortions. It notably fails to state that under the laws of war,
the presence of civilians does not render military objectives immune
from attack. B'Tselem has a history of presenting faulty information on
civilian casualties in alleged attacks against "families bombed at
home." Independent studies have identified at least 14 combatants
present in such incidents, whom B'Tselem misleadingly portrayed as
innocent civilians. (NGO Monitor)
About that Netanyahu Invitation to Address Congress - Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
When Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last addressed a
joint session of Congress in 2011, Walter Russell Mead wrote a
remarkable comment on the speech Netanyahu made and the reception he
"Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on
earth....Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the
public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be
Obama administration officials who are trying to argue that
Netanyahu's invitation from Speaker Boehner is outrageous and political
(just a few days after the president got British prime minister Cameron
to lobby Congress directly) will lose the argument.
Iran's nuclear program is one of the most significant national security issues we face and an even larger issue for Israel.
I think it's fine that Obama will not see Netanyahu so close to
the Israeli election; that's a good practice in general and avoids the
inference of U.S. intervention in a foreign electoral contest.
But the White House's whining about Boehner's invitation is
amateurish, and for the reasons Mead explained it will persuade few
Americans beyond the Beltway.
the situation in the Middle East and the state of nuclear negotiations
with Iran (where the U.S. has abandoned almost every red line it ever
set), it's no wonder that Netanyahu wants to speak about Iran and that
the Speaker wants to hear him.
The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.