Night Watch

North Korea: North Korea launched three short-range rockets off the country's East Sea coast on Thursday morning, just as Pope Francis was arriving on the west side of the Korean Peninsula at the beginning of a five-day visit to South Korea.

Comment: North Korea denied accusations that the rocket launches were related to the Pope's visit. The denial is probably true.

Iraq: Update. Iraqi Kurds with US air support recaptured the Mosul Dam from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL fighters withdrew.

Israel: The Israeli delegation returned to Cairo on Sunday to resume negotiations with Hamas. The talks were expected to continue through Monday night, when the temporary cease-fire is scheduled to end. Thus far, both sides have respected the ceasefire.

To demonstrate Israel's goodwill, an official said that Israel lifted the fishing ban today, allowing Palestinian fishermen from Gaza to fish three nautical miles off Gaza's shore.

Comment: Egyptian authorities indicated that Monday’s negotiations would represent Egypt's final effort to mediate a lasting ceasefire. All parties appear interested in observing the ceasefire a day at a time, even in the absence of an omnibus agreement.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel will not compromise on the security requirement that the Gaza Strip must be demilitarized. He also said that Hamas will not be permitted to obtain a political victory from its military defeat. If Hamas resumes rocket attacks upon the expiration of the ceasefire, Netanyahu promised massive retaliation.

What Netanyahu refers to is the Sadat Gambit that motivated the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Egyptian President Sadat knew that Egyptian forces could not defeat Israel in a war. The military objective was to gain enough territory to provide Egypt with leverage in the peace talks. In other words, lose the war to win the peace. It worked. Egypt did not with the war, but eventually became the second largest recipient of US military aid, second only to Israel.

The Palestinians, according to Netanyahu, tried a scaled back version of the Sadat Gambit, but failed because they were unable to cause significant casualties in Israel. The Gambit works when the side using it achieves sufficient, real battlefield success to afford it leverage in peace talks. The Palestinians fell short of attaining leverage because their rockets performed so poorly and so many Palestinians died.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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