A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Dec. 4, 2008

Intense Palestinian mortar fire injures 8 Israeli soldiers opposite Gaza


29 Nov. Hamas took responsibility for the Palestinian mortar barrage directed Friday night, Nov. 28, at the IDF base near Nahal Oz opposite the Gaza Strip. Staff at Beersheba's Sorocca hospital stabilized two seriously injured soldiers overnight, but had to amputate the leg of one of them.

debkafile's military sources report that the Hamas terrorist group made nonsense of defense minister Ehud Barak's policy of “preserving the ceasefire.”

In the last two weeks, he plunged into intense diplomacy through American, Egyptian and Jordanian channels to gain Hamas' acceptance of an unwritten extension of the Gaza truce which expires next month. Jordanian emissaries went to Damascus to talk with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal; prime minister Ehud Olmert and Barak travelled to Amman for an update on their mission from King Abdullah; and a defense ministry official, Amos Gilead, was dispatched to Cairo.

Barak decided that his initiative had worked – until the rude awakening Friday.


US intelligence warned India in mid-October od Mumbai attack


1 Dec. debkafile's intelligence sources report that the Indian spy agency RAW (the Research and Analysis Wing) caught wind of a terrorist threat for Mumbai in late August, three months before the event. More information was collected by RAW during September and October about the shape of the attack and its targets and passed to the American NSA

The American ABC TV reported on Dec. 1 that Indian intelligence also intercepted a satellite phone call to a number in Pakistan known to be used by a leader of the Kashmiri Lashkar e-Taiba, which is accused of staging the Mumbai attack. This enabled the American NSA to monitor the calls terrorists made by Thuraya mobile communications system satellite phones. The warning was relayed by US government agencies to the Manmohan Singh government which passed it on to political officials in Mumbai, India's financial capital.

There it stopped. The warning never reached the city's security or marine authorities which might have intercepted the terrorists' boats as they landed. Indian's special counter-terror units were also caught unawares.


Israeli navy redirects Libyan ship bound for blockaded Gaza Strip with 3,000 tons humanitarian aid to Egyptian El Arish


1 Dec. The Israeli navy turned back a Libyan ship on Sunday on its way to deliver humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The ship, Al-Marwa, sailed instead to a port in neighboring Egypt. It had departed from Libya last Monday, carrying 3,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other aid. Libya has complained to the UN Security Council.


US naval-air buildup opposite India, Pakistan, Iran


1 Dec. Three US aircraft carriers with strike groups, task forces and nuclear submarines have piled up in the waters of the Arabian Sea opposite the shores of India, Pakistan and Iran, and in the Persian Gulf.

debkafile's military sources report that the US began massing this formidable array of floating firepower at the outset of the Islamist terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai last Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Tehran responded typically with a threat of retaliation should the Americans decide to use the Mumbai terrorist attack to hit Iran.

It is more likely, according to our military sources, that the Americans are on the ready in case the rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the New Delhi's charge of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai atrocity explodes into an armed clash on their border.

Our Iranian sources note that the Islamic republic's rulers remember that after al Qaeda's attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the Americans did not only invade Afghanistan, but also Iraq and they fear a similar sideswipe.


Jews murdered in Mumbai's Chabad House were tortured first, two-year old beaten


2 Dec. Mumbai hospital doctors were horrified by the condition of the six Israeli bodies recovered from the smashed, blood-spattered rooms of Chabad Center Monday. Local and Israeli pathologists confirmed they were tortured by their captors before being bound together and killed in cold blood.

debkafile adds: Israelis were the largest group of foreigners murdered by the Islamist terrorists. The single captured gunman confirmed they had been specifically targeted.

Laid to rest Tuesday, Dec. 2 in state ceremonies were Norma Schwartzblatt-Rabinovitz, 50, from Mexico, who was due to immigrate to Israel and two of whose children already live there; the center's director Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 26; Ms Yocheved Harpaz, 59, mother of four from Givatayim; Bentzion Chroman, 28, father of three, who held dual US-Israeli citizenship, and Leibisch Teitelbaum, father of 8, an American from Brooklyn.

Rivka Holtzberg was six months pregnant. Her two-year old child, Moshe Holtzberg, was saved by his Indian nanny who fled the building with him in her arms. He was found later to be covered in bruises from a beating.

An Indian doctor, who conducted the post-mortem of the victims in Mumbai, said: “Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again.”

“Bombay has a long history of terror. I have seen bodies of riot victims, gang war and previous terror attacks like bomb blasts. But this was entirely different. It was shocking and disturbing,” a doctor said.


Police remove roadblocks after high terror alert in and around Tel Aviv


2 Dec. The roadblocks were set up around Tel Aviv and neighboring towns, the most heavily populated region of central Israel, after a specific terrorist alert. Police rounded up Palestinians with and without working permits, focusing on Tel Aviv's main bus terminus. Helicopters hovered over the city and the Magen David first aid service was on emergency standby. Rush-hour traffic Tuesday morning was backed up for kilometers as cars were stopped and searched.


Moscow races to finish Iran's Bushehr reactor by mid-2009


2 Dec. debkafile's Iranian and Moscow sources report that Atomstroiexport, the Russian firm under contract to build and activate Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr, is offering nuclear engineers and technicians top salaries to leave for Iran at short notice. The Kremlin has promised Tehran to have the reactor up and running by mid-2009. A company spokesman said this week that the main technology for the station has already been installed “so the construction work is getting under way.” Our sources add that the Bushehr plant will make it possible for Iran to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Its completion will provide Iran with a second weapons option in addition to the enriched uranium already accumulated for its first nuclear bomb.


Pakistan refuses to hand over 20 wanted terrorists as Rice lands in New Delhi


3 Dec. President Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday, Dec. 3, rejected New Delhi's demand to extradite Lashkar e-Taiba chief Hafiz Mohd Sayeed and 19 other fugitives implicated in the Mumbai and other terrorist outrages in India. He said that if evidence were provided, they would be tried in Pakistani courts.

In New Delhi, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice pledged Washington would work with India and Pakistan to find the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack and bring them to trial. In demanding the fugitives' handover, Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee said his country had every right to protect its territorial integrity. It will take appropriate action to deal with terror strikes emanating from Pakistan, he said, and did not rule out military strikes against terror camps in Pakistan.

Zardari said the attacks were executed by “stateless actors” who want to hold the whole world, including Pakistan itself, hostage and called for a joint investigation.


Iran deploys posts 60-ship armada in war readiness maneuver


4 Dec. The Iranian navy and air force began a six-day maneuver Wednesday, Dec. 3, which Tehran radio said would cover an area of 50,000 square miles of the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has threatened to block the narrow strait if attacked. Admiral Qasem Rostamabadi said its aim is to “increase the level of readiness of Iran's naval forces and test domestically-made naval weaponry.

Air strikes against “which sank big enemy vessels” were said to be part of the war game, a clear reference to American air carriers, three of which are now present in waters opposite Iran. Iranian Navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari boasted Wednesday: “Iran has pushed back the frontiers of naval capabilities to become the decisive maritime force in the region.”

debkafile's Iranian sources report Iran's leaders are utterly convinced that a US and/or Israeli attack will be launched against its nuclear installations and Revolutionary Guards bases before Barak Obama's January 21 inauguration as US president.


Rice fails to damp Indian-Pakistan tensions which rise amid fresh terror threat


4 Dec. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and top US soldier, Adm. Mike Mullen, failed to tamp down the rising military tensions between India and Pakistan in their talks in New Delhi and Islamabad Dec. 3. Their talks were clouded by the threat of a second round of terror, this one directed against three Indian international airports, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, by infiltrators of Pakistani or Afghan origin, after the Lashkar e-Taiba Mumbai siege which left more 170 dead. The Indian investigation points to two Lashkar leaders, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Yusuf Muzammil, as masterminds of that outrage.

Indian intelligence has been warned of a third round of attacks scheduled for the coming festival season against resorts like Goa and Puna which are frequented by foreign tourists and trekkers. Once again, Americans, Britons and Israelis will be singled out.


Forcible evacuation of disputed Hebron building injures twenty


4 Dec. Young Jewish pro-settlement protesters were dragged out of a disputed Hebron building by hundreds of Israeli security and police troops after they were barricaded there for two weeks. The troops went in with stun and smoke grenades. A Jewish purchaser of the house has produced documents to show he bought it legally from its Palestinian owner. He is challenged by the state. A Jerusalem court is due to adjudicate the case. Meanwhile protests against the forcible evacuation are spreading and igniting clashes with Palestinians in some places.

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