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Today’s Top Stories
1. Do Sinai jihadis now have surface to air missiles? An Egyptian military helicopter crashed in the northern Sinai peninsula and its crew is missing. According to a CBC report (which I couldn’t find online) discussed on Twitter, the jihadis apparently shot down the chopper. It was a matter of time, and Israel’s gotta be concerned some of them will turn up in Gaza. AP later reported that a group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) claimed credit for the downing.
Fmr security general Saif AlYazl to CBC: “A Russian stringer 2 rocket has been fired on a military plane today in Sinai, for the first time.
— Rena Netjes (@RenaNetjes) January 25, 2014
2. Call it collateral damage waiting to happen. According to the Times of Israel, Hamas is placing rocket launchers next to water reservoirs and attaching reconnaissance cameras to water towers and minarets. On a related note, Daniel Nisman weighs in on the likelihood of a Gaza war. See the Wall St. Journal (via Google News).
In its desperation, Hamas has made no secret of its recently revamped relationship with Tehran. Iran’s supposedly “moderate” leadership is gaining favor as a negotiating partner in defusing crises across the region. It’s hardly surprising that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, Iran’s main proxy in the Gaza Strip and the second most powerful faction there after Hamas, appears to have been responsible for most of the recent rocket fire. The group has a proven track record of cooperating with Hamas and adhering to ceasefires when it sees fit, always in close coordination with its backers in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
3. For the first time, the IDF allowed a Lebanese TV crew to film inside an air base — to warn Hezbollah against smuggling weapons into Lebanon from Syria. YNet writes:
A reporter from Lebanon’s LBC interviewed Ramat David Air Force Base commander, as well as Captain Avihai Aderi, head of Arab media at the IDF Spokesperson Unit . . .
Eventually, the message the IDF was panning on sending Hezbollah was made crystal clear: “The IDF understands that the arrival of such strategic arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon will be what sparks the next war.”
4. Bye Bye, Harriet: A correspondent expressing feelings like these should’ve been pulled a long time ago.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Eli Lake: US envoy Martin Indyk has been reaching out to Israeli national security experts and reserve officers sympathetic to a Jordan Valley withdrawal. Is this diplomatic due diligence, or obscene interference in Israeli affairs?
• Graduation speech? Where I come from, it’s called incitement and brainwashing. Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas notables exhorted teenage graduates of Hamas camps to look forward to martyrdom, Israel’s annihilation, and global jihad. The speeches were, of course, broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV. More at the Times of Israel and Memri (video/transcript).
• Oxfam’s distancing itself from Scarlett Johansson. Turns out she’s an ambassador for the UK-based aid and development organization, which also opposes Israeli businesses (like SodaStream) in the West Bank. The actress took to the Huffington Post to staunchly stand by SodaStream.
- Mahmoud Abbas begins 10th year of his four-year term as PA president. Why does it matter?
- After interviewing Hassan Rouhani, Fareed Zakaria calls nuclear deal a “train wreck.”
- Al Qaida-linked jihadis in Syria now reportedly numbers 30,000.