Tuesday, July 07, 2015

From Ian:

Michael Totten: The Iran Delusion: A Primer for the Perplexed
The chattering class has spent months bickering about whether or not the United States should sign on to a nuclear deal with Iran, and everyone from the French and the Israelis to the Saudis has weighed in with “no” votes. Hardly anyone aside from the Saudis, however, seems to recognize that the Iranian government’s ultimate goal is regional hegemony and that its nuclear weapons program is simply a means to that end.
The Middle East has five hot spots—or “shatter zones,” as Robert D. Kaplan called them in his landmark book, The Revenge of Geography—which are more prone to conflict than others, where borders are either unstable or porous, where central governments have a hard time keeping everything wired together, and where instability is endemic or chronic.
Gaza, where Hamas wages relentless rocket wars against Israel, is one such shatter zone. The Lebanese-Israeli border, where Hezbollah does the same on a much more terrifying scale, is another. Yemen, which is finally falling apart on an epic scale, has been one for decades. Syria and Iraq have merged into a single multinational shatter zone with more armed factions than anyone but the CIA can keep track of.
What do these shatter zones have in common? The Iranian government backs militias and terrorist armies in all of them. As Kaplan writes, “The instability Iran will cause will not come from its implosion, but from a strong, internally coherent nation that explodes outward from a natural geographic platform to shatter the region around it.”
That’s why Iran is a problem for American foreign policy makers in the first place; and that’s why trading sanctions relief for an international weapons inspection regime will have no effect on any of it whatsoever.
Has the Obama Administration Become Iran’s Lawyer?
The smart money here in Vienna is on the likelihood of a nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran being finalized at any moment. Maybe it will happen today with the White House showing the good manners to wait until after Americans have returned from their July 4 vacations to announce that they’ve cleared the way for Iran to get a bomb. Or maybe the Iranians will get the bomb in a little more than a decade, as the president of the United States has explained, but it will probably happen much sooner. And when the clerical regime does finally break out, the chances are they’re the Iranians will be the ones who are going to let the American public know because our elected officials seem to be keeping information from us and our allies when it comes to all things Iran.
Indeed, it looks like the Obama administration has become Iran’s lawyer. In both making Tehran’s case to U.S. allies (from the White House’s P5+1 negotiating partners, to Middle East friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia), and shaping public perception of Iranian actions, the White House has made itself an indispensable friend to the clerical regime. Iran doesn’t have to worry about justifying its behavior—like its failure to meet obligations under the interim nuclear agreement and its outright lies—because it knows the administration will do all the heavy lifting.
Consider how the White House has managed to explain away Iran’s illicit nuclear activities. In the first place, the Joint Plan of Action is a somewhat weak document. It fails to prohibit the sorts of things you might expect to be banned if Iran’s program was really “frozen,” like the White House says. For instance, even though there are UN security council resolutions regarding Iran’s procurement of parts and equipment for illicit nuclear work, the JPOA has sidestepped the issue. The resulting framework is that when the Iranians get caught violating those resolutions, the State Department can declare that Iran is not in technical violation of the JPOA.
There’s also the issue of Iran coming clean about its past nuclear activities in order to disclose the possible military dimensions of the program. Despite the fact that the Obama administration has repeatedly assured skeptics that Iran would address the question of PMDs, the IAEA has reported that Iran fails to address outstanding questions or allow inspections of certain sites. But since PMDs are not in the JPOA, the State Department can brush away such concerns.
Dennis Ross: On Iran, Worry About the Deal, Not the Deadline
Just as June 30 turned out not to be a true deadline for the Iranian nuclear talks, it would be wise to treat July 7 — the extended deadline — much the same way. The Obama administration should make clear that it is prepared to conclude a deal at any time, provided it is fully consistent with the framework understanding from April; anything less, and there will be no deal. If the Iranians insist on trying to walk back or redefine the framework understanding, they will not only stretch out the negotiations but will lead us to harden our own position and impose new conditions.
Taking such a stance is all the more critical now, with Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, seemingly laying down conditions that are inconsistent with the framework understanding — no access to military sites or scientists, immediate sanctions relief upon signing of the agreement, no limits on research and development, and rejection of any restrictions on its program lasting 10-12 years. Was the supreme leader signaling that he does not want a deal? Was he posturing so his negotiators could seek more concessions? Was he playing domestic politics and trying to assuage hard-line opponents of a deal?
My bet is on posturing. Of course, his revolutionary ideology and hostility toward the United States, as well as the reality that there are hard-line opponents of an agreement, mean that he might not only be posturing to influence the negotiations. It may, in fact, be difficult for him to conclude a deal. Still, Khamenei has allowed these negotiations to continue and permitted his negotiators — whom he continues to defend — to conclude the framework understanding. Clearly, he decided Iran has much to gain from an agreement. And the fact is that an agreement consistent with the framework understanding offers Iran a lot.

Nuclear talks with Iran to miss second deadline in seven days
World powers and Iran will not meet a self-imposed deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement scheduled for July 7, and will extend their interim agreement until July 10.
Negotiations are at their most "difficult" and "real" phase, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told press gathered outside the Palais Coburg in Austria's capital. The diplomatic effort has now been under way for two years.
"We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline," she said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry's senior advisor for strategic communications, Marie Harf, said that negotiators are "frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock." But they also are committed to concluding the process during this negotiating round, she added.
"We also know that difficult decisions won't get any easier with time," Harf said. "We are taking these negotiations day to day."
Is the military option to strike Iran (legally) on the table?
Could the military option actually "destroy" the Iranian program? My guess is that it could, but a campaign to do so would likely be long, hard, costly and carry unintended consequences. However, the even tougher question is this: What would be the legal basis for it?
Some time ago, I looked at that issue and concluded then that there was an inadequate factual basis for international law to justify the use military force. Despite the passage of time, I still believe that to be the case. Why? Let's look at the law. Since the adoption of the U.N. charter, there are basically only two real justifications for a nation to use force against another country.
The first is when the United Nations' Security Council authorizes military force, but a veto by one of the permanent members — such as China or Russia — would frustrate that route. Given that it is quite possible that either would use its veto to stall "snapback" sanctions should an agreement with Iran go awry, it is almost unthinkable that a veto would not also be used to block a military effort to halt the Iranian nuclear program.
The other option is to act in self-defense. Article 51 of the U.N. charter says that "Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations." While this provision has been widely interpreted to permit "anticipatory self-defense," it typically would require evidence of an "imminent" threat.
Nine red lines for a nuclear agreement with Iran
Our Red lines are similar to minimum conditions for a nuclear deal set by many members of Congress and the government of Israel. They include provisions that go beyond what some other critics of the Iran negotiations would require.
For example, a recent bipartisan letter organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy was critical of President Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran, but was willing to settle for “strict limits” on the development of Iranian advanced centrifuges during a nuclear agreement.
We disagree. Iran should not be enriching any uranium. It should not have any uranium enrichment centrifuges. Talk of simply putting limits of how fast Iran can develop advanced centrifuges amounts is contrary to what President Obama declared was the object of these negotiations as recently as June 30, 2015: “[A]ssuring that the pathways for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are closed.” To the contrary, allowing Tehran not only to continue to maintain its existing inventory of centrifuges, but to increase its capacity with advanced designs, will greatly diminish the length of time it will take for the mullahs to breakout of any agreement.
The National Security Nine redlines constitute terms that would achieve the desired result – a nuclear deal with Iran that actually stops its pursuit of nuclear weapons. As it happens, they are also consistent with what President Obama promised for a nuclear agreement with Iran during an October 22, 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney when he said: “Our goal is to get Iran to recognize it needs to give up its nuclear program and abide by the UN resolutions that have been in place.” The president also said during this debate: “But the deal we’ll accept is – they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.”
We call on Congress to insist on a good nuclear agreement with Iran and to hold President Obama to his word, by adopting the National Security Nine red lines and rejecting any Iran deal produced in the nuclear talks that falls short of them.
The U.S. response to Iran’s cheating is a worrying omen
Rather than publicly report this departure from the accord, the Obama administration chose to quietly accept it. When a respected independent think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, began pointing out the problem, the administration’s response was to rush to Iran’s defense — and heatedly attack the institute as well as a report in the New York Times.
This points to two dangers in the implementation of any longterm deal. One is “a U.S. willingness to legally reinterpret the deal when Iran cannot do what it said it would do, in order to justify that non-performance,” institute President David Albright and his colleague Andrea Stricker wrote. In other words, overlooking Iranian cheating is easier than confronting it.
This weakness is matched by a White House proclivity to respond to questions about Iran’s performance by attacking those who raise them. Mr. Albright, a physicist with a long record of providing non-partisan expert analysis of nuclear proliferation issues, said on the Foreign Policy Web site that he had been unfairly labeled as an adversary of the Iran deal and that campaign-style “war room” tactics are being used by the White House to fend off legitimate questions.
In the case of the oxide conversion, the discrepancy may be less important than the administration’s warped reaction. A final accord will require Iran to ship most of its uranium stockpile out of the country, or reverse its enrichment. But there surely will be other instances of Iranian non-compliance. If the deal is to serve U.S. interests, the Obama administration and its successors will have to respond to them more firmly and less defensively.
Former IAEA Official: Iran Should Not Be Exempted From Military Base Inspections
Laura Rockwood, a former employee of the United Nations nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, wrote the access rules for nuclear inspectors during her time there and told CBS Tuesday that it should have access to military instillations.
Iran is trying to prevent a nuclear deal where it would have to grant “broad access to suspect nuclear sites,” CBS reports, which includes military sites.
CBS correspondent Margaret Brennan, who curiously called Rockwood “Laura Underwood” during the story, was in Vienna reporting for CBS This Morning.
“The IAEA should have access to military bases,” Rockwood told her. “They have access in other countries, at least 10 other countries. There is no automatic exemption for access to a military location.”
The deadline for the Iran nuclear deal could be blown for the third time this year and the second within a week. Secretary of State John Kerry brought world leaders together but has reached a deadlock over Iran allowing this kind of access.
Iran Demands End to Arms and Missile Embargo as Part of Nuclear Deal
According to the Times, Russia and China both support lifting the arms embargo and removing the sanctions imposed on Iran’s illicit nuclear program simultaneously. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1747 prohibited member states from buying or selling arms to Iran. Resolution 1929, adopted in 2010, added more items to the embargo.
Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and Israel, prohibited arms transfers to any entity in Lebanon except for the Lebanese government. The resolution has been regularly violated by Tehran, which routinely arms Hezbollah without facing repercussions. Hezbollah is reported to be building a significant military infrastructure on Israel’s border with significant aid from Iran.
Iran has also been a major supporter of the Syrian government in its bloody civil war, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people.
Last year, a United Nations report identified Iran as a major supplier of arms to terrorist groups in the Middle East. An annual report released by the State Department noted that Iran remained a state sponsor of terrorism and called it a “proliferation concern.”
Clinton: Iran Will Remain “World’s Chief Sponsor of Terrorism” Even with Nuke Deal
Leading Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says that even with a nuclear deal Iran will still be “the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism,” Yahoo! politics reported Friday.
“But even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran,” she said. “They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism. They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and to create insurgencies, to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel.”
“So even if we are successful on the nuclear front, we still are going to have to turn our attention to working with our partners to try to rein in and prevent this continuing Iranian aggressiveness,” Clinton said.
White House Officials Plot Ways to Pressure Lawmakers Into Supporting Iran Deal
White House officials on Monday held a private conference call with liberal organizations to discuss ways of pressuring Democrats and other lawmakers on Capitol Hill into supporting a nuclear deal with Iran that is expected to be finalized in the coming days, according to an audio recording of that call obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The call, in which there were more than 100 participants, was organized by the liberal pro-Iran group Ploughshares Fund, which has spent millions of dollars to slant Iran-related coverage and protect the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts.
The White House officials described a nuclear deal with Iran as President Obama’s “signature foreign policy accomplishment” and urged liberal groups to launch an all-out lobbying campaign to pressure lawmakers, especially Democrats, to back the deal.
Progressive leaders on the call told participants to prepare for a “real war” and repeatedly declared that “the other side will go crazy” in the coming days. The call also included the anti-war group MoveOn.org.
“This has really been on the front burner from a foreign perspective, although not in the public eye necessarily, since the very beginning,” Matt Nosanchuk, an official in the White House Office of Public Engagement, told participants. “This is not an issue of the day, this is really an issue of the presidency.”
White House-Linked Dark Money Group Threatens Democrats on Eve of Nuke Deal
A prominent progressive organization linked to the White House and claiming to work for dozens of like-minded groups is threatening to attack any congressional Democrat who objects to a final nuclear deal with Iran, even before the terms of any such agreement have been finalized, according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
CREDO Action, the political arm of CREDO Mobile, declared this week in an secret email to journalists that it will punish congressional Democrats who fail to line up behind any deal sealed between the West and Iran.
“Democrats in Congress are the only remaining obstacle to finalizing today’s historic deal,” Zack Malitz, campaign manager for CREDO, said in a statement emailed to reporters on July 2, along with a note that details of the email were not to be published until a deal was actually announced. “Every Democrat should go on the record right now in support of the deal, and pledge to defend it from attacks in Congress.”
“Republicans will try to sabotage the deal and take us to war, but they can’t do it without Democratic votes,” Matlz wrote. “Progressives will hold accountable those Democrats who vote to help Republicans sabotage the deal and start a war.”
A western source monitoring the Vienna talks told the Free Beacon that such tactics are in line with White House efforts to dampen criticism of its diplomacy with Iran.
Obama Wants a Bad Iran Deal at Any Price
The news outlet Al-Monitor reported that the U.S. State Department is three years late in applying certain sanctions on Iran. The report provides more proof that the State Department is intentionally delaying sanctions on Iran in its quest to close a nuclear deal. The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration has pressured the CIA so that its analysts are now in an “impossible position regarding analysis of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Not only has the Obama administration ignored Iranian violations, it has also disregarded evidence that sanctions relief will only support Iran’s most dangerous policies. Under Iran’s “moderate” President Rouhani, spending on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the entity tasked with spreading Iranian influence abroad while suppressing dissent at home, has increased by 48%. Iran spends approximately $200 million per year on Hezbollah and up to $15 billion per year to support the Assad regime in Syria. (Apparently the Obama administration sees no contradiction in calling for Assad’s ouster while helping Iran to fund him by removing sanctions.) Former Senior Advisor on Iran at the State Department, Ray Takeyh, has warned that the “massive financial gains from [a sanctions-lifting nuclear] deal would enable [Iran’s] imperial surge.” Iran is now the main power broker in four Arab countries (Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria). So how much more powerful and aggressive will Iran become when sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars flow into its economy?
Obama has also disregarded his own former Iran and nonproliferation experts, who last month signed on to a letter warning that the emerging Iran deal may “fall short of the administration’s own standard.” Signatories include the White House’s former chief weapons of mass destruction advisor, Gary Samore, the Department of State’s former principal nonproliferation advisor, Robert Einhorn, the former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, the former special advisor on the Persian Gulf, Dennis Ross, and other notable officials and analysts. The letter asserts that the emerging deal will not dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and outlines the elements of a good deal. These include unlimited inspections, including military sites; strict limits on centrifuge R&D; disclosure of Iran’s past nuclear military work; phased sanctions-lifting that is tied to Iran’s compliance with the deal; and the creation of an effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically in the event of an Iranian violation.
Iran’s breakout time under the emerging deal would be far less than the Obama administration’s estimate of one year, according to one proliferation expert and the former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Ex-Iran president: Israel a fake, temporary regime
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told a Hezbollah-affiliated outlet that he was confident that the “forged and temporary Israeli entity” would be wiped off the map, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
According to the report, Rafsanjani, often described by Western media as a moderate in Iranian politics, said that Israel was an alien existence forged into the body of a nation which would eventually be destroyed.
“When, and how that will happen, depends on conditions which are rapidly changing. Those conditions can be provided very soon if the usefulness period of Israel will expire,” he said.
Rafsanjani said the destruction of the Jewish state could take some time since Israel’s supporters reaped significant benefits from its existence.
Iran Presenting Emerging Deal As Victory Gained From American Retreats, Concessions
The Iranian government has started to promote the emerging nuclear deal with the P5+1 nations as a victory stemming from American concessions, Ha’aretz reported Sunday.
But a major revelation happened Saturday night when Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian TV the two sides were very close to agreeing on wording.
From Araghchi’s statements, it seems final approval will not happen this week but will be done in three stages. Other officials in Vienna have made similar statements: The current round of talks would end with an “adoption of the agreement” but probably without a formal signing. …
The fact that Araghachi has already provided details stems from President Hassan Rohani’s need get public opinion on his side against objections by conservatives.

Unnamed officials cited by Ha’aretz indicated that this latest round of negotiations will culminate with the “adoption of the agreement” but likely without an actual signing. This would lead to a period where Iran would be required to account for its past nuclear research so that the International Atomic Energy Agency can certify that Iran is in compliance. Since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has insisted that Iran will not sign any deal that doesn’t result in immediate sanctions relief, the understanding will hinge on certification that Iran complied with its overdue obligation to come clear about its past nuclear work.
In a series of tweets, Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran correspondent for The New York Times captured how Iran’s regime is portraying the emerging deal.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Troubling Silence
The IRGC role in the military aspect or military ambitions of Iran’s nuclear program must be taken seriously. After IRGC General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam perished in a 2011 mishap at an IRGC missile base, the Iranian press reported that his last will and testament requested that his epitaph read “The man who enabled Israel’s destruction.” Much of the concern with regard to Possible Military Dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program centers on work done on various IRGC bases (see the Annex starting on page 11 of this IAEA document). And while Zarif has promised access by some drawn out process, the Iranian officials who control the gates to the military bases are not in the foreign ministry, but in the IRGC or Defense Ministry which have made clear what they think of access to their sites.
I noted last week the disturbing parallels between the Iran and North Korea deals, especially when it came to diplomats’ willingness to dismiss evidence of cheating. The irony is greater because State Department official Wendy Sherman was involved in both processes. The Clinton-era negotiations with Yasser Arafat should also provide lessons: At the Camp David II Summit, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators reached a deal. Arafat flew in and not only refused to accept what his negotiators had agreed to, but he also refused to make any counteroffer. It seems that in their quest to get a signature on paper, the Obama team is replicating the mistake of not identifying whose signature they need to get on the paper.
If the IRGC is really going to abide by this nuclear deal, it’s essential to get Jafari’s explicit agreement. Absent that, start the stopwatch on the unraveling of what Obama and Kerry would like to see as a historic moment.
Michael Douglas on Iran Nuclear Deal: People Think US is Being ‘Played for the Patsy’
Famed actor Michael Douglas weighed in on the Iran nuclear deal currently being negotiated in Vienna, saying that in Europe and Israel people believe the U.S. is being duped by Iran, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.
“There are people in Europe and Israel who feel we’re [the U.S.] really being played for [the] patsy, that we do not understand,” said Douglas, who recently received the prestigious Genesis Prize for his contributions to Jewish life.
“There are parties that seem to know a lot and are concerned” that if economic sanctions are lifted, Iran will have more funds to aid militants while working to procure a nuclear weapon, he continued.
Douglas visited Israel in June with his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones to accept the Genesis Prize, a $1 million award to recognize the promotion of Jewish pride. The prize money was doubled this year to $2 million after a donation from billionaire philanthropist Roman Abramovich.
President, PM mourn fallen soldiers on anniversary of Operation Protective Edge
“I stand here this evening tearful, with a heavy heart on this sad and silent mountain – Jerusalem’s mountain of loss and longing,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Mount Herzl during Monday’s first annual memorial service for the fallen soldiers of Operation Protective Edge.
“A year has passed since that difficult summer; the summer in which we lost 67 soldiers – the brightest and the best of our fighters – as well as civilians and loved ones,” said the president.
“They are so loved and so greatly missed.”
Nonetheless, as he spoke before a crowd of hundreds – including dozens of bereaved families, soldiers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – Rivlin made clear that the profound loss was a necessary evil to protect a nation under attack.
“The State of Israel will not accept a situation in which our towns are subjected to repeated and ongoing attacks,” he said.
Israel Remembers 67 Killed in Operation Protective Edge
The government on Monday held an official memorial service for the IDF soldiers killed during last year's Operation Protective Edge. Most of the 67 soldiers killed in the war are buried in a special section of the Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, where the ceremony was held. Five civilians were also killed in the war.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Reuven Rivlin said that the war was “moral, justified, and the right thing to do for a country that wishes to protect its citizens. During the weeks leading up to the war, dozens of rockets fell daily on Israeli communities in the south. Children, women, old women and men were in shock every time they heard the 'death sound' of the whistle of rockets. They dug tunnels under nursery schools in a deliberate attempt to bring death and destruction to civilians.
“A year ago, the war ended, but there are still those for whom the war has not ended,” Rivlin said, referring to the hundreds of soldiers and civilians injured in the war. “Some people are still in hospitals, fighting for their lives. Others are fighting the battle to recover and restore their lives, to learn again how to walk, how to speak, read, right, and sleep peacefully at night.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that “Hamas was badly hurt during the war, much worse than ever before. We are constantly watching what is going on in the south. I tell all the enemies of Israel – Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and ISIS, that anyone that tries to harm Israel will pay.”
322 IDF Soldiers Wounded in Gaza War
Over the past year, 322 IDF soldiers injured in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza have been recognized as disabled war veterans, the IDF unit for Rehabilitation stated Sunday.
177 IDF soldiers were recognized as handicapped by 20% or more, and 8 were deemed 100% handicapped from their injuries, it said.
72 soldiers were estimated to have been disabled by 10% -19%, and 73 to be suffering from handicaps under 9%. Several soldiers' files are still being processed as well, it added.
The Defense Ministry said that all the soldiers who were injured as a result of fighting, were recognized and absorbed immediately to the office responsible for handling rehabilitation in full coordination with the soldier, his family, and military officials.
IDF to set up special commando brigade
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot announced on Monday the creation of a new commando brigade that will unite several of the military’s elite units — Maglan, Duvdevan, Egoz and Rimon.
The new brigade will be under the command of Division 98, the paratroopers’ reserve service division.
The brigade will be headed by an officer of the rank of colonel.
Maglan is a special artillery unit of the Division 98, which uses several types of secret guided missile technologies. Egoz is the elite platoon of the Golani infantry brigade. Duvdevan is an elite undercover commando unit, until now under the command of the West Bank’s Judea and Samaria Division. Rimon is the elite platoon of the Givati infantry brigade.
The announcement came alongside a slew of promotions of top commanders who served in Operation Protective Edge.
Samaria Community to Track Residents Remotely
A new pilot program in the Beit Aryeh community in Samaria will see 150 residents, many of them teens and young adults, equipped with a new tracking device. The devices, by Israeli firm Trackimo, will keep track of the location of users in order to ensure that they can be quickly found – in case of emergency.
The decision to use the trackers was made in the wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens - Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Sha'ar – who were found murdered by Hamas terrorists, after being reported missing for days. The IDF, law enforcement and rescue services, and many volunteer teams, spent long hours searching for them, eventually finding their bodies buried in a field near Hevron.
Had the teens been in possession of a tracker like the Trackimo device, they would probably have been found much more quickly. The device uses GPS and includes connection to a cellular network using an international SIM card, so it can quickly connect to any phone system and contact emergency services immediately. The device reports location and sends emergency alerts to cellphones, computers, or other devices.
The location services operate automatically, and a user's location is tracked and recorded, so the last known position of the user is always available. In the event of an emergency, the user presses a button which sends distress messages to authorities, alerting them that the user is in trouble. In the case of Beit Aryeh and other communities in Judea and Samaria, that would include a message to local security authorities and the IDF.
Court convicts Palestinian of mass stabbing in Tel Aviv
The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday convicted Hassan Matruch of Tulkarm as part of a plea bargain relating to his mass stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on January 21.
According to the plea deal, Matruch is likely to receive 28 years in prison for the attack.
Following the January incident, the IDF, guided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), raided three homes in Samaria belonging to the family of the terrorist who stabbed 12 people on a Tel Aviv bus.
Nine other passengers were treated for shock.
Matruch who attacked the people on the No. 40 Dan bus, was taken into custody the day after the attack.
Prisons Services officers, who happened to be in a vehicle behind the bus when Matruch attacked, shot him in the leg and arrested him.
Terror Theater's Manager Steps Down
The manager of the Al Midan Theater in Haifa announced Saturday he was leaving his post, days after the Haifa Municipality unfroze funding to the controversial theater.
According to Adnan Tarabash's family, the manager suffered a car accident several days ago and needs to rest. The theater's legal advisor, Ghassan Abu Warda, will take over as acting manager.
Al Midan confirmed the claim that the decision was in no way related to the public storm that erupted in May when it was revealed the theater was running a play based on the life story of Walid Daka, a convicted terrorist.
Culture Minister Miri Regev halted state funding to the theater in June after public pressure from the family of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam, killed by Daka in 1984, and the Almagor terror victim's organization.
However, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav reinstated municipal funding on Thursday after a commission of inquiry determined the city must not stop its NIS 1.25 million to the theater.
Netanyahu Promises to Help Greece as Debt Crisis Worsens
Netanyahu commended Kotzias for following through on his visit to Israel despite the deepening crisis back at home.
“You come here at a critical time for Greece, and I appreciate the fact that you kept this visit despite some rather dramatic events in your country,” said Netanyahu.
While hailing Greece as one of the two foundations of Western democracy, along with Jerusalem, Netanyahu told Kotzias that Israel is “committed to help in any way we can to ensure your success.”
Netanyahu went on to discuss the recent discovery of five tons of bomb-making materials in an apartment in Cyprus, saying that Greece and Israel are allies in fighting Islamic terrorism.
“We need to cooperate to seek stability, security, peace and prosperity. And these are the subjects that I look forward to discussing with you and so many other things,” Netanyahu said.
Greece and Israel have strengthened ties in recent years as both countries seek to counteract Turkey’s rise in the region.
Egyptian bank claims it part-owns Israel’s King David Hotel
An Egyptian bank has filed a lawsuit to reclaim its shares in Jerusalem’s luxurious King David Hotel, bought before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Calcalist daily reported on Monday.
The bank, government-owned Banque Misr, submitted a lawsuit at the Jerusalem District Court through Israeli lawyers Ron Yeshayahu and Gil Makov demanding the restoration of 1,000 stocks in the hotel which it owned in the past.
The iconic King David Hotel, the hotel of choice for visiting heads of state and many other VIP guests, was built at the initiative of Jewish Egyptian businessmen in 1929.
Egypt’s Zilka Bank, which also invested in its construction, was allotted 1,000 shares when it opened. In the 1960s Zilka Bank was merged with another bank when then-Egyptian president Jamal Abdel Nasser nationalized all Egyptian banks, establishing Banque Misr.
MEMRI: 'Abbas In Interview: Hamas Dragged The Palestinians Into A War With Israel In Summer 2014; Now It Is Conducting Direct Talks With Israel
On June 18, 2015, the Egyptian daily Roz Al-Youssef published an interview with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas, in which he explained that in the absence of a political solution, the PA is currently operating on two levels – appealing to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and reexamining existing agreements with Israel. Accusing Hamas of not living up to its agreements with the PA and of disrupting attempts to establish a unity government, rebuild Gaza, and set a date for elections in the PA, he said that it is also responsible for last summer's Israel-Gaza war lasting as long as it did, and for the resulting heavy Palestinian toll in life and property.
Claiming that Hamas is conducting security coordination with Israel, 'Abbas said that it is also in direct talks with Israel to establish a state in Gaza, and that the preparations for these talks were made during the era of deposed Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi. He added that he has no intention of calling for elections now because it would lead to the West Bank being severed from the Gaza Strip.
Fatah official: Soak the land with blood to "liberate" Jerusalem

Hamas rebuilding Gaza tunnels and weapons arsenal, IDF commander says
Despite reports that Hamas is interested in maintaining the cease-fire with Israel, military officials remain convinced that the Islamist group is working to rebuild its system of underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with Israel Radio, IDF Col. Nochi Mandel, the deputy commander of the Gaza Division, said on Tuesday that Hamas is hard at work in rehabilitating its military capacity, which took a severe beating during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge.
“According to what we know, Hamas is building its forces up again,” he said. “It is training its forces and boosting the number of mortars that it manufacturers. It continues to bolster its arsenal and dig more tunnels.”
“We need to look at things realistically,” he said. “Hamas is doing what it can to improve its readiness in case of renewed hostilities.”
Mandel said that while Israel does not foresee further fighting in the near future, the army is keeping a close eye on what is taking place on the other side of the southern frontier.
PreOccupied Territory: UN: Israel Must Give Iron Dome To Gaza For Rockets That Fall Short (satire)
The United Nations Human Rights Council followed up its endorsement of the Davis Commission’s report on the 2014 Gaza conflict by telling Israel today that it must provide the Gaza Strip with the Iron Dome missile defense system to protect the territory from rockets launched within the territory that fail to reach Israel, putting Gaza residents at risk.
Iron Dome helped Israel limit civilian casualties from Hamas’s missiles and long-range mortars, mitigating the urgency of the ground offensive and allowing the IDF to pursue its targets with the necessary deliberation. Saying that it was discriminatory to deprive Gazan civilians of the same protection from militants’ rockets, the Human Rights Council demanded that Israel supply the Gaza Strip at once with the quantity of Iron Dome batteries necessary to provide that protection, to train Palestinian personnel in the deployment and operation of those batteries, and to supply, at no charge, all the projectiles and spare parts to keep the system functioning.
“The investigation of Israel’s conduct in the 2014 conflict found blatant disregard for Palestinian civilian welfare,” read the Council’s statement. “That disregard of course included taking no measures whatsoever to shield the Gaza Strip civilian population from rockets fired by local militants. As the possessor of technology that enables such measures to be taken, Israel bears responsibility for not supplying that technology to the embattled Gazans.”
Iran rejects claims of ties to Jordan terror suspect
Iran is rejecting reports by Jordanian state media that a terror suspect arrested in Jordan on suspicion that he planned attacks against the kingdom is linked to an Iranian group.
The spokesman for Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Ramazan Sharif, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the reports are “baseless.”
Jordan’s government-owned al-Rai newspaper reported Monday that security forces also seized 45 kilograms (99 pounds) of high-grade explosives in the case and that it was the biggest haul in Jordan a decade. Al-Rai and the state news agency Petra said the suspect has ties to an Iranian group called Beit al-Maqdis, but did not elaborate.
Travel warning as Muslim protest mob attacks tourists in Turkey over China's Ramadan ban
Turkish nationalists shouting "Allahu Akbar" accidentally attacked the group of innnocent Korean tourists – after mistaking them for Chinese nationals during the demonstration.
The furious protesters were marching towards Istanbul's Topkapi Palace to show solidarity with the Islamic Uighur community in China who have allegedly been banned from worshipping and fasting during the holy month.
Riot police stepped in to rescue the tourists from the attackers, who were reportedly members of the far-right Grey Wolves movement.
One devastated tourist caught up in the trouble was heard saying: "I'm not Chinese, I'm Korean."
A popular Chinese restaurant in Istanbul also had its windows smashed by protesters who did not realise the chef was Muslim.
Now China has warned its citizens to be careful of anti-Beijing protests, saying some Chinese tourists have recently been "attacked and disturbed".
Iran Flogs, Arrests 500 for Not Fasting During Ramadan
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reported the regime arrested or flogged at least 900 people for not fasting during Ramadan.
Shiraz officials arrested 500 people in the city alone, the group reports. The authorities issued verdicts “for 480 cases within 24 hours.” The majority of those found guilty, especially the younger people, received lashings “by the henchmen from ‘Implementation of Verdicts Unit.’” They also sent out 3,000 warnings to other citizens. But those not from Iran also face punishment:
On June 22, ninety-two boys and girls were arrested in Shahriar International Hotel of Tabriz on similar charges. Many of the arrestees were travelers that based on Islamic regulations were not in a condition to fast.
In the first week of Ramadan in Ilam alone, security forces arrested 200 and within a day barbaric decrees to flog them were issued.
Qazvin’s Prosecutor Esmail Sadeqi Niaraki stated on June 23: “Those who do not observe fasting not only receive their sentences on the day of their arrest, but their sentences are carried out as well. May these measures please… the supreme leader.”

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