DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 4, 2007
The incoming chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, won a full four-year term when the cabinet unanimously endorsed him Sunday, Feb 4, instead of the standard 3 years and an optional fourth. He takes the reins from Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz on Feb. 14. Ashkenazi faces some hard choices before he can settle into the job. The flames of a Palestinian civil war engulfing the Gaza Strip pose a multiple threat to Israel which his bosses, the politicians, persist in brushing aside.
Israel not only supplies the Fatah side led by Muhammad Dahlan with weapons and money to fight Hamas, but also intelligence and logistic backing, thereby sending two messages:
If Dahlan cannot finish Hamas, the IDF will go in and do it for him.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 3, 2007
Wednesday, the three Tel Aviv magistrates unanimously found the former minister, 56, guilty of forcibly kissing a 20-year old girl officer, who brought the complaint. The maximum penalty for this crime is three years in prison. Sentencing will be announced on Feb. 21. He is therefore barred from returning to the post of justice minister from which he suspended himself for the trial. A movement in the Knesset wants him also to give up his seat on the Kadima list.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 30, 2007
Israel Samoliya, 26, who immigrated to Israel from Miami, Florida, and two local residents, Michael Ben Sadon, 27 and Emil Almaliach, 32, proprietors of the bombed bakery. The late Ben Sadon and Almaliach each left a wife and a small child.
Terror alert in Eilat Tuesday shuts schools in Red Sea town day after three Israelis murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 30, 2007
Strategic affairs minister Avigdor Lieberman says defense ministry has not drawn lessons of Lebanon War
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 29, 2007
After touring the Israel-Lebanese border Friday, the minister said the army was doing a good job but is not getting the right sort of support from the defense ministry. He reported Hizballah flags flying on positions close to the border.
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span> Exclusive: A shakeup of the general staff will be one of first acts of incoming Israeli chief of staff Maj.Gen Gaby Ashkenazi<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 27, 2007
His nomination by defense minister Amir Peretz was seconded Monday, Jan 22, by prime minister Ehud Olmert and comes before the cabinet for endorsement next week. debkafile's military sources reveal that Maj. Gen Moshe Kaplinsky, who bowed out of the race for the top slot, is now asking to give up the post of dep. chief of staff. He is eyeing the job of chief of military intelligence, held currently by Maj. Gen Amos Yadlin.
Ex-chief of staff Moshe Yaalon: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Israeli army that the current change in top command cannot remedy
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 27, 2007
Addressing the Herzliya Conference Monday, Lt. Gen Moshe Yaalon stressed that the difficulties of the Lebanon War were the outcome of high-level political and military mismanagement on the part of the prime minister and defense minister.
He devoted a large part of his lecture to challenging as fallacious the proposition that the Israel-Arab dispute was caused by the "Israeli occupation."
<span class="debka">debka</span><span class="file">file</span>: Israeli ministers break ranks over the prime minister's erratic Palestinian policies<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 5, 2007
Defense minister Amir Peretz went his own way this week, announcing the resettling of 30 Jewish families evacuated from the Gaza Strip last year in an abandoned outpost in the northern Jordan Valley.
Foreign minister Tzipi Livni stepped out of line with a "peace proposal" offered independently to two Fatah officials.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 13, 2006
debkafile's Iranian sources report the Islamic Republic plans an extensive campaign to justify its nuclear program, based on Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert's statement in Berlin Monday, Dec. 11, listing Israel with the world's nuclear powers. Tehran also hopes to rebut the universal revulsion stirred by the Holocaust denial conference president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad staged this week.
Tehran's first step was a call Wednesday, Dec. 13, on the UN Security Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to combat "Israeli threats." It was issued by the foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini in Tehran.
The prime minister had meanwhile amended his statement by saying: "Israel has said many times it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. That was our position - nothing has changed."
Tehran will attempt to twist Olmert's statement round in its UN Security Council showdown over sanctions for defying the resolution banning uranium enrichment, and claim its entitlement to "self defense."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 10, 2006
Israel's prime minister Ehud Olmert embarks on a European tour this week that takes him first to Rome and the Vatican, then to Berlin Tuesday, Dec. 12.
In an interview with the German Der Spiegel, Saturday Dec. 9, he expressed the hope that the international community would take firmer action against Iranian president Ahmed Ahmadinejad for seeking to wipe Israel of the map. "Such talk is criminal," he said.
Questioned on Iran's nuclear program, Olmert said he does not object to the proposal to engage Tehran in direct talks if they lead to the program's suspension.
As to an Israeli pre-emptive military attack on Iran, the prime minister said: "I rule nothing out."
If Olmert's Der Spiegel interview is Israel's definitive commentary on the new ground Gates has broken in US foreign policy, Ahmanidejad may be forgiven for assuming that Israel has nothing to say to his threats and Putin for believing he can get away with evasions on effective sanctions against Iran.
Timid diplomatic rhetoric will no longer serve. debkafile's military sources say the time has come for Israel to talk as though it has arrows in its quiver and is capable of using them.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 2, 2006
The artificial efforts to keep the lid on violence while US president George W. Bush was in the region Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 29-30 for talks on Iraq, were abandoned as soon as he boarded Air Force One for Washington. This was predicted by Jordan's King Abdullah when he warned that three civil wars were on the point of erupting in the Middle East.
Saturday, Dec. 2, Mahmoud Abbas updated the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah on the collapse of his unity talks with Hamas, after advising US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice of the stalemate in Jericho Friday, Dec. 1.
Fatah spokesman Azzam al Ahmad came out and called the Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya to step down or else Abu Mazen would have to call an early election to solve the constitutional crisis. Ismail Radwan of Hamas shot back that this kind of talk inflamed relations and would treated as a coup threat.
Fatah was blowing in the wind. It lacks both the popular and parliamentary numbers to bring about an early poll.
The threat is out in the open: If Abu Mazen tries to dismiss the Hamas cabinet and call a new election, Hamas will resume its Qassam missile war against Israel, calibrating the level of fire to the state of affairs on the internal Palestinian front.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 27, 2006
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One of the most pressing pieces of business the US president George W. Bush must tackle in Amman later this week is the demand for an international conference on Iraq which must be dominated by a built-in agenda on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Palestinian leaders, picking up the new tones in Washington, decided to cash in by announcing the cessation of Hamas' Qassam missile attacks on Israeli civilian locations, starting Sunday, Nov. 26.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, loath to relinquish the high diplomatic ground to the Palestinians, promised Monday that after the kidnapped Israeli soldier is released, Israel will free many jailed Palestinians, including long term prisoners, as a confidence-building gesture to prove Israel seeks peace. As soon as a Palestinian unity government is formed, Olmert said, immediate negotiations could start with Mahmoud Abbas on the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly disclosed on November 24 that the brain behind this new strategy belongs to Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to three Republican presidents, the live wire behind the latest US foreign policy departures and the pivotal figure behind the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group.
This panel - which submits its final report to Congress on Dec. 10 - recommends an international conference on Iraq attended by leaders from Europe, Russia, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and the main Muslim nations.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 22, 2006
debkafile's military sources disclose that Israel's security cabinet decided Wednesday, Nov. 22, that there is no option but to launch a major offensive against Hamas and its terrorist allies in the Gaza Strip - both to pre-empt their war build-up and reduce Qassam missile attacks, which climbed to 80 in the last 10 days. The date remains to be set.
The prime minister was finally convinced that the time for foot-dragging was over by intelligence data which showed Hamas hectically engaged in constructing state of the art fortifications for withstanding deep incursions into the Gaza Strip. They are assisted by dozens of military advisers pouring in from Syria and Lebanon.
As Palestinian missile attacks on the Israeli population proliferate, Sderot's distress becomes intolerable and the popular clamor rises to curb the menace, the IDF has switched its counter-missile tactics in the Gaza Strip. Instead of the air force, special ground forces backed by Shin Bet units are spearheading strikes which target top Hamas missile commanders.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 16, 2006
debkafile's military experts dispute the common Israeli government assertion that there is no way to stop the Qassam offensive against Sderot. They offer two solutions which do not entail reoccupying the entire Gaza Strip or Beit Hanoun, or using artillery to bombard civilian locations.
One is the deployment of small commando units across the Egyptian border in northern Sinai. These units would pre-empt the smuggling by attacking the convoys of weapons and funds and blowing them up before they reach the Gaza border.
The same tactic is applicable to the Gaza Strip.
Swarms of Israeli commando units should fill the areas from which the Qassam missiles are fired, including orchards. Ambushes at every corner will deter the missile crews and make them afraid of being liquidated on their way to launchings. This tactic was tried only once before in a location outside Beit Lahiya, next door to Beit Hanoun. It caused heavy casualties among the Palestinian gunmen and the Qassam teams gave this location a wide berth for some time.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 7, 2006
"Operation Autumn Clouds" wound down early Tuesday, 7 Nov. after Israeli forces occupied the northern Gazan town of Beit Hanoun for six days, for the loss of an Israeli soldier, 1st Sgt Kiril Golanshin, 21, from Shekef. Most of the 58 Palestinians killed were armed Hamas adherents.
In Beit Hanoun, the Givaty Armored Infantry Brigade and smaller units demonstrated a new combat method which Israeli special forces first tested in the Aug.1 raid on Baalbek during the Lebanon War, adding improvements for the Gaza operation. Police anti-terror squads joined the operation for practice.
The tactic consists essentially of select groups of elite fighters swooping at speed on defined populated urban areas for pinpointed missions. This method is part of the tradition of the select IDF commando units called Sayarot. In Gaza, Givaty applied the same tactic to larger units of up to brigade and battalion strength.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 23, 2006
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert informed the nation Sunday night: "Our soldiers will be trained to stand up to the threats confronting us, principally from Iran, and we have already started work." Already, he said. So what have "we" been doing till now? Handing the Gaza Strip to the Iranian-armed Hamas?
He was addressing a group of his Kadima party followers.
The new star poised to expand the government coalition this week, Israeli Beitenu's Avigdor Lieberman, added his two bits: "I'm joining he government," he said "to save Israel from the Iranian nuclear (threat)."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 4, 2006
On Yom Kippur, Oct. 2, 24 hours after the last Israeli soldier left South Lebanon and the day before UNIFIL published its rules of engagement, Hizballah placed roadblocks on all the approaches to the central sector of the South and the entrances to the towns and villages reoccupied by its forces and their rocket units.
debkafile's exclusive military and Western intelligence sources report that neither the Lebanese army which moved south nor the international peacekeepers of UNIFIL venture to set foot in these enclaves. Nor did they raise a finger to block the first broad-daylight consignment of advanced Iranian weapons to be delivered in Lebanon via Syria since the August 14 ceasefire.
The Olmert government fully colludes in reducing this body to the same ineffectiveness as it displayed in the 28 years leading up to the Lebanon War. By their silence and passivity, Israeli leaders hope to hide the true outcome of that bungled campaign from Israeli and world opinion. Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who proudly held up the UN force's deployment as the war's only success and the formula for Israel's successful exit strategy, has strangely been struck dumb.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 1, 2006
Only one third of the 15,000 international peacekeepers the UN Security Council pledged for an expanded UNIFIL has in fact been deployed in South Lebanon. And even that paltry force has made no effort to stop Hizballah restoring its presence and replenishing its stocks of rockets and missiles to points in South Lebanon within firing range of Israel. In most ways, therefore, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of Aug. 14 is a dead letter.
While withdrawing the bulk of its force gradually, Israel kept the last units behind in a futile effort to persuade UNIFIL commanders to uphold key provisions of the resolution. They refused even the minimal demand to restrict Hizballah's military movements along the Israeli border. They claimed they could only act with the permission of the Lebanese government. By finally giving way on this point, the Israeli government accepted the determination that UNIFIL is the instrument of the Lebanese government - not the enforcer of UN resolutions or Israeli security.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 13, 2006
Israel`s prime minister stands by his refusal to establish an independent commission with the judicial authority to fix responsibility for an admitted Israeli defeat on both the military and the home fronts. Maybe he is right; the politicians and military leaders still hope to get away with the blunders of the Lebanon war, although their responsibility is in plain sight and the subject of discourse in every part of the country, except where it counts. Rather than owning up to gross misgovernment and negligence, those same political and military leaders are playing the blame game, while at the same time laying down a smokescreen to protect themselves from public rancor.
Maj.-Gen Udi Adam's belated resignation as OC Northern command exposes his superiors in the chain of command - the chief of staff, the defense minister and ultimately, the prime minister - to intensified pressure to step down and assume responsibility for the mismanagement of the Lebanon War. The manner of their going and who should be blamed for what are less urgent for Israel now than the fact that its enemies, Iran and al Qaeda, are no doubt keeping a close watch on the infighting among these decision-makers in order to fix on the right moment for their move.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 12, 2006
Mahmoud Abbas, who carries the formal title of President of the Palestinian Authority, is pushing hard for a government coalition between his own Fatah and the ruling Hamas. The incentive for Hamas' prime minister Ismail Haniyeh is the prospect of an escape from the international boycott and aid embargo dogging his government. But extremist supreme leader Khaled Meshaal who is based in Damascus is unlikely to let him run very far.
Abu Mazen knows the unity government is a non-starter because it would carry with it only a small group of Hamas leaders and leave the Islamist movement fatally split. The military arm ruled by Meshaal, Damascus and Tehran would soon eliminate Haniyeh as a renegade.
But when he looks around him, Abbas sees no reason why he too should not try and hawk non-existent merchandize like everyone else.