DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 14, 2007
It was a typical concatenation of Middle East contrasts. Monday, May 14, Israel launched a four-day war game at civilian and military command levels. The lead actors are Chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, the General Staff, regional commanders as well as the prime minister and defense minister. The scenarios using computers, satellites and hi-tech communications are meant to simulate crisis management in the event of a full-scale war.
On the other side of Israel's troubled northern border, Hizballah is carrying out a live exercise to chase the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon-UNIFIL peacekeepers away from the border region first, then from all parts of South Lebanon. The Lebanese militia places its trust in low-tech weaponry: rocks hurled at UN vehicles and yellow Hizballah flags planted provocatively right up against the Israeli border.
Ongoing Qassam missile attacks from Gaza and Hamas war build-up prompt special Israeli national security cabinet Sunday <br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 13, 2007
Called straight after full cabinet session, the meeting will also be attended by the chief of staff and heads of the Shin Bet, Mossad and national security council. Some of the ministers are calling for an expanded military incursion into the Gaza Strip to put an end to the daily missile attacks against Ashkelon and Sderot and threatening war build-up on Israel's southwestern border. Prime minister Ehud Olmert is expected to advise caution so as not to upset ongoing diplomatic activity including his meeting Tuesday with Jordan's king Abdullah.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 12, 2007
No casualties reported. In his annual report, published Wednesday, the Israeli state controller finds serious shortcomings in several governments' and the military's handling of the ongoing Palestinian rocket, missile and mortar fire from Gaza, of which more than 1,025 were launched in 2006.
The newly-discovered tomb of King Herod, if the site is confirmed, is clearly visible from Jerusalem, the ancient town he rebuilt
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 11, 2007
An Israeli archeologist, Hebrew University professor Ehud Netzer, is sure he has finally unearthed the 2,000-year old royal tomb at Herodium, beneath the Judean Desert palace-stronghold the Jewish king built southeast of Jerusalem.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: In "open mike" remark, Olmert tells the Israeli army to take it easy, while Nasrallah declares another war is impending<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 11, 2007
Israeli generals issue tireless warnings day after day that the build-up of hostile military strength on three Israeli borders by Hizballah, Syria and Hamas, must be cut down - especially when accompanied by blunt threats of war this coming summer, and a resumption of Palestinian missile attacks from Gaza.
In his latest report submitted Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that illegal arms traffic into Lebanon across the Syrian border, mainly to Hizballah fighters, is taking place on a regular basis.
Read debkafile Special Report below.
Second Qassam missile round Monday prompts Israeli air strike on Palestinian truck loaded with missiles in N. Gazan town of Beit Hanoun
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 9, 2007
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 8, 2007
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni staged a revealing scrap of asides behind open microphones and TV cameras Monday, May 8.
She said the army chiefs was complaining the politicians were holding them back from dealing with the Palestinian Qassam missiles flying daily from Gaza. He replied: Tell them to take it easy.
Less than a week after Livni told Olmert to resign over the Winograd panel's deadly criticism of his handling of last year's Lebanon War, the duo were ready to act out a piece of theater and a course of military passivity. Neither seriously wants to hear what the army has to say - and not just the chief of staff, as in last year's conflict, but the different views of commanders, as the panel advised. They are too preoccupied with personal survival maneuvers to attend to urgent security issues.
Military experts, some of them recently retired from combat duty, tirelessly warn in daily media interviews that the war build-up on three Israeli borders, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, has reached dangerous proportions.
Confirming the generals' worst fears, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah laid out a plan Sunday, May 6, for attacking IDF positions on Mts. Hermon and Dov from the Shebaa Farms, and Israel Navy vessels with the new long-range missiles just delivered (smuggled) by Syria, while also turning the militia's guns on the UN peacekeepers posted in south Lebanon.
Israel's FM Tzipi Livni criticizes government decision-making modes, warns against replaying Lebanon War errors in Gaza<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 8, 2007
The day after she and prime minister Ehud Olmert met to bury the hatchet, Livni attacked his government's decision-making processes at a joint press conference in Jerusalem with visiting German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Before a decision is taken on how to cope with the spiraling missile attacks from Gaza, the army should present its plans to the government and alternatives examined.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 7, 2007
debkafile's US sources reveal that, this week, Israeli military and intelligence circles informed their opposite numbers in Washington that there is no vacuum in the management of vital issues and it is ongoing despite the crisis tying the hands of Israeli government leaders, prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, in the aftermath of a critical war report.
This was the first confirmation by senior Bush administration sources that they are working with non-political Israeli circles on urgent and critical affairs and leaving the Olmert government outside policy-making in Washington.
Those Israeli circles have voiced their deep concern over the Bush administration's inclination to meet Iran halfway on the nuclear question. debkafile's sources reveal that Washington is considering a compromise that will let Iran continue uranium enrichment against guarantees never to produce weapons-grade fuel or develop a nuclear weapon.
Israel military and intelligence experts have warned the administration that Iran is up to its old tricks of handing out promises it has no intention of keeping.
Some 150,000 Israelis rally in Tel Aviv to tell prime minister to quit over Lebanon War failings<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 6, 2007
The anti-government protesters represented the entire political spectrum plus many non-affiliated. For the first time, left and right joined hands. Politicians were barred from addressing the apolitical gathering.
debkafile: Barring the unforeseen, Olmert has bought a one-to-four month lease of life by taming the revolt in his Kadima party.
Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the deputy prime minister who led the field of contenders to take over from Ehud Olmert, was roundly castigated for her weak stand against him. In their interview Tuesday, she politely advised him to step down, but said she would stay in government.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: The Lebanon War inquiry commission hands down the equivalent of a death warrant against Olmert government for its "grave failures" <br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 4, 2007
Prime minister Ehud Olmert is accused of grave failures of judgment, responsibility and due caution in his decisions to go to war in Lebanon last summer and its management. His decision was hasty and undertaken without in-depth study of the circumstances in the arena, a proper plan of action and clearly defined objectives.
Full partners in these failures are defense minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Dan Halutz.
They are far more damning than predicted.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Exclusive: For Ehud Olmert it is over. His party is now fighting to survive him
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 3, 2007
Tuesday night, 30 hours after the scathing condemnation delivered on his management of the Lebanon War by the Winograd inquiry commission, the Israeli prime minister was fighting a rearguard action against the odds. Kadima had quickly grasped that if the party wanted to stay in power and retain its grip on a viable coalition, it would have to bow to the spreading political and popular demand to jettison its unpopular leader and replace him.
As the coalition unraveled, bricks were put in place by Olmert's would-be successors. Read debkafile's Special Report below.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 2, 2007
This was reported to the Israeli cabinet Sunday, April 29, by chief of staff Lt. Gen Gaby Ashkenazi. The smuggling of quantities of weapons from Syria and Iran is still going on, the general added. debkafile adds: In both cases, Hizballah is not disturbed by the presence of the expanded UN force in south Lebanon.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Exclusive: Embattled Olmert may buy a further lease of life by meeting party and public demands for his resignation - on his terms<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 2, 2007
Members of the ruling Kadima faction, which plans his ouster Wednesday night over the harsh criticism of his management of the Lebanon War, fear the prime minister may pre-empt their move and get in first: He could do this by submitting his resignation to the acting president, thus bringing the entire government down. The incumbent line-up would then become a transitional government.
Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who threatens to quit the government if Olmert does not step down, would then be locked into a transitional cabinet. She had planned to interview him at 1600, two hours before the Kadima faction meeting and demand that he step down, or else she would quit and lead a campaign to sack him.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 1, 2007
The resignation on live television of minister of trade and commerce, Eytan Cabel, Labor, declaring Ehud Olmert must go as he had lost the country's confidence, was the first open crack in the government coalition. It occurred Tuesday morning, May 1, less than 24 hours after the Winograd commission handed down its harsh condemnation of Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz and chief of staff, Lt. Gen Dan Halutz, for their handling of the Lebanon War.
But behind the scenes and its leader's back, Kadima's coalition chairman Avigdor Yitzhaki scurried around the ranks, front man for one of the key contenders for the succession, foreign minister Tzipi Livni.
The prime minister's other deserters included vice premier Shimon Peres, Israel Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman and most of Labor, including the three contenders for the party leadership, former PM Ehud Barak, Ami Ayalon and Ophir Pines-Paz.
That was only the first wave to batter against Olmert's defenses.
Huge storm breaks over Israeli PM Ehud Olmert following damaging leaks from Lebanon War report on his handling of the conflict<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 30, 2007
Olmert calls a meeting of his Kadima ministers for Monday night.
The interim report covering the run-up to the war which erupted on July 12 and its first five days will be released by an inquiry panel headed by Justice Eliahu Winograd Monday afternoon, April 30. According to the leaks, the panel's find grave faults in the way the war was conducted by the prime minister, defense minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who has meanwhile resigned.
PM Olmert may not stand in for finance minister in view of new allegations against him - State Attorney
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 29, 2007
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been deputizing for Avraham Hirchson who suspended himself for three months to face the police probe into charges of theft and embezzlement as head of a sick fund in the 90s. The state attorney Menahem Mazuz informed the prime minister Thursday that it would be improper for him to stand in as finance minister for the whole three months, since he himself is under several investigations.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 28, 2007
The CIA's capture of one of Osama bin Laden's most talented operations officers, Abd al Hadi al-Iraq, Abu Abdullah, 45, is a major American counter-terror coup which turns some hidden pages in al Qaeda's arcane, bloodstained record.
Al Hadi is now credited with plotting the first direct al Qaeda suicide attack inside Israel on direct orders from Osama bin Laden.
Two British Muslims were sent to blow up the US embassy in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2003. Asif Muhammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, who bombed Mike's Place instead, were headhunted at the radical Finsbury Park mosque in London. So too was Richard Reid, the failed shoe bomber serving time in the United States for attempting to blow up an American Airlines plane bound for Miami from Paris in Dec. 2002.
Past investigations established that Hanif, Sharif and Reid all spent time at Hamas training camps in the Gaza Strip before they embarked on their missions.
Fugitive Israel-Arab lawmaker Beshara will be arrested for aiding the enemy in wartime if he sets foot in Israel
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 27, 2007
The state prosecution reports proof that the ex-lawmaker was not motivated by ideology as he claims, or alternatively, just chatting with friends across the border, but by monetary gain. Beshara is alleged to have received large sums of, which he illegally transferred to overseas accounts, from a foreign agent for transmitting information to the enemy in the Lebanon war.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 23, 2007
Tens of thousands of bereaved families flocked Monday to graveyards up and down Israel. At one of the many state ceremonies, prime minister Ehud Olmert promised he would consider their grief in a potential release of Arab terrorist prisoners for kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
Defense minister Amir Peretz said: "We will never again close our eyes to threats. Iran's nuclear program will not be allowed to cross the point of no-return."
A two-minute silence was observed. Places of entertainment remained closed until Tuesday sundown when Independence Day begins.