June 25, 2010 Briefs
• Iran cancels pro-Palestinian blockade-busting ship to Gaza due to sail Sunday. "Restrictions by the occupying Zionist regime" were cited.
• On fourth anniversary of Gilead Shalit's kidnap, Hamas' A-Zahar says he doesn't know if captive soldier is still in Gaza. Shalit family and supporters prepare for mass march to Jerusalem Sunday. Noam and Aviva Shalit will camp outside prime minister's residence until their son is freed.
• Italian FM Franco Frattini pledges every effort to obtain soldier's release – or at least Red Cross access. Lights dimmed in Rome Colosseum and at Jerusalem city walls in sympathy.
• Israel opens Gaza crossings to foreign diplomats as hundreds of loaded trucks rumble through.
• US Senate unanimously approves new sanctions targeting Iran's energy industry.
• Palestinians fire at least 9 mortar rounds against Israeli villages. No one hurt. Israeli strikes back at targets in Gaza.
Erdogan in hot water in Washington, at home – yet sticks to anti-Israel drive
26 June: When he left for the G20 summit in Toronto Saturday, June 26, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan faced an exceptionally acerbic US rebuke; while at home, his generals and the public accused him of sacrificing national security to his anti-Israel campaign, neglecting the front against the Kurdish PKK rebels and thus exposing the Turkish military to setbacks and rising casualties. Chief of staff Ilker Basbug called on Erdogan to publicly disavow his insinuations that Israel had a hand in the new Kurdish rebel offensive against the Turkish military as both untrue and counter-productive to the Turkish war effort.
June 27, 2010 Briefs
• In two days of Palestinian riots in Jerusalem's Silwan, at least 12 border police injured before they used stun grenades to break up melee.
• Top US soldier Mullen said after short working visit: I try and see threats and challenges from Israel's perspective. He met defense minister Barak, C-of-S Ashkenazi and high IDF command. Military sources say Iran's nuclear program, situation in Syria and Lebanon and Israel-Turkey crisis were discussed.
• Mullen stopped over after trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss situation after Afghan commander Gen. McChrystal replaced.
• Tehran says next Sunday its on-again off-again "aid ship" is now on despite an announcement that it was cancelled. What's more, Iranian parliamentary delegation plans to join anti-blockade convoy to Gaza from Lebanon.
• Turkish army to upgrade six infantry divisions and six commando brigades on the Iraqi border to fight Kurdish PK rebels. Generals and public accuse PM Erdogan of neglecting campaign against rebels.
• School segregation crisis in Immanuel is resolved. Israel's Supreme Court frees all parents from jail, endorses peace formula for Ashkenazi, Sephardi schoolgirls to spend three days together hearing lectures on "Love thy neighbor".
• Pakistan to monitor for anti-Islamic content 7 big websites including Google, Yahoo, Amazon. Its court blocks 17 lesser known sites for "blasphemous material".
Panetta: Iran can build two nukes within two years – sanctions unavailing
27 June: CIA director Leon Panetta admits Iran has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear bombs that could be built in two years. In an interview Sunday, June 27, he virtually admitted that every effort to halt Iran's drive for a nuclear bomb had failed. Asked whether the new sanctions would work, he said: "Probably not."
debkafile's military sources: If today Iran has enough uranium to build its first two nuclear warheads two years hence, it means that by then, Tehran will have acquired enough fissile fuel to build another five to six bombs and another 10-12 by 2015 – if it keeps up its present rate of progress and continues to be unimpeded by any Western power.
Panetta said he thinks "Israel is giving the US room on the diplomatic and political fronts." This means that the Netanyahu-Barak government is still holding back from military action – even at this eleventh hour.
June 28, 2010 Briefs
• Fischer keeps Israel's key interest rate unchanged at 1.5 pc in July.
• Muslim extremists vandalized UN summer camps for Gaza children second time in a month.
• Air Force strikes Popular Front anti-tank rocket team near Sejaya Monday, killing at least a Palestinian rocketman. Same team earlier fired rocket at Israel work crew near Kfar Azza and mortar shell at Shaar Hanegev. No one hurt.
• Tehran calls Panetta's warning of two atomic bombs by 2012 "psychological warfare"• CIA knows Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.
• Medvedev says CIA warning of two Iranian atomic bombs is worrying – all the more so because of its nuclear program's secrecy.
• Ankara repeats ban on Israeli Air Force flights through Turkish air space.
• Justice Turkel: PM Netanyahu, defense minister Barak and C-of-S Ashkenazi to be called soon to testify before Gaza flotilla public inquiry commission.
Third US Carrier and 4,000 Marines opposite Iran
28 June: Washington has posted a third carrier opposite Iran's shores, debkafile's military sources report. It is supported by amphibious assault ships and up to 4,000 marines and sailors. This brings the total US strength in these waters to three carriers – USS Harry S. Truman, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and 10,000 combat personnel.
Our sources add: The presence of the USS Nassau (LHA-4) Amphibious Ready Group 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit around the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea accounts for Iran's backing down from sending an "aid ship" to Gaza.
debkafile adds: The new arrivals are a massive injection of naval, air and marine muscle to the strength Washington has deployed in the Persian Gulf-Red Sea-Indian Ocean arena in recent months.
Hamas leader tagged as hostage for Gilead Shalit – US intel theory
28 June: Some US intelligence circles are now suggesting that the high-ranking Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh who died by an unknown hand in Dubai last January was not targeted for death but for capture as a live hostage against the release of Gilead Shalit – along with half a dozen high-value Hamas operatives. The hostage plan was aborted when Al-Mahbouh died of the drug supposed to have doped him enough to bundle him out of the Dubai hotel.
The abduction team leader left the dead man in place and told the would-be abductors to get out of Dubai fast and scatter. The rest of the high-risk, ambitious plan was scrapped.
June 29, 2010 Briefs
• Putin hopes spy case won't reverse positive gains in US-Russian relations. Medvedev's office declines comment as allegations do not involve Russian citizens.
• FBI accuses 10 secret agents of long-term, deep-cover assignments in US for Russia. Their mission: To search and develop ties in policymaking US circles and send reports to Moscow.
• Russian and Israeli FMs at joint news conference in Jerusalem: Lavrov confirms CIA assessment: Iran has 2,000 tons of low-enriched uranium – enough for 2 atom bombs. He pledges Moscow will not sell Iran game-changing weapons. Moscow maintains ties with Hamas which was democratically elected by the Palestinians.
• Lieberman: Iran is the greatest menace to the Mid East – not just for its nuclear ambitions but also its sponsorship of terror. As an optimist I believe a Palestinian state will not rise by 2012.
• Israeli security breaks up al Qaeda cell in Nazareth. Seven Israeli Arabs from Nazareth in court Monday accused of murdering a taxi driver seven months ago and 15 counts of attacking Jewish and Christian targets on behalf of al Qaeda. Two were sent back from Kenya after trying to enter Somalia to attack Christians.
• Third day of Noam and Aviva Shalit's 12-day march to Jerusalem in aid of their son Gilead's release from Hamas captivity.
June 30, 2010 Briefs
• Eleventh member of suspected Russian spy ring located in Cyprus has gone missing.
• An Israeli army NCO charged with treason, trading sensitive military information with Hizballah for smuggled drugs from Lebanon. Five civilians accused of belonging to same gang of drug smugglers.
• Gen. David Petraeus unanimously confirmed by US Senate as new Afghan war commander replacing Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
• Iranian Speaker Larijani arrives in Damascus, says Islamic parliamentary summit will seek unity against Israel's "atrocities" in Gaza. He praised Iran-Syrian relations as "very good and brotherly".
• A Taliban suicide attack fails to gain entry to Jalalabad airport 125 km east of Kabul.
• More than 30,000 trees destroyed in woodland fires across Israel. Police suspect Palestinian arsonists.
• Mitchell is back for three days of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah. He will push Netanyahu to extend 10-month building freeze before his July 6 White House visit.
• Obama receives Saudi King Abdullah at the White House.
• Five French parliamentarians join Gilead Shalit's parents leading march of thousands to Jerusalem to press for soldier's release from Hamas captivity.
Turkey dreams up fresh allegations against Israel
30 June: If Israelis in high official places were still slow to get the message of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's implacable anti-Israel campaign, they only had to listen to foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozgergin's vow in Ankara Wednesday, June 30: The (Turkish) public," he said, "will see in step after step (taken by Turkey) how Ankara gets Israel to admit its crimes."
Israel fights back by expanding the mandate of the Turkel commission for probing the legality of the flotilla incident. Preparing to demand a UN Assembly resolution establish a rival probe, Ankara quotes the extremist MAZLUM-DER organization as maintaining that the nine Turkish activists killed aboard the Marmara were the victims of shots from Israeli helicopters. This aims to disprove Israel's evidence that the Israeli commandos fought back in self-defense against activist thugs on deck.
July 1, 2010 Briefs
• Israeli FM Lieberman denies his party plans to quit government but insists on clarification of prime minister's failure to update him on Ben-Eliezer's meeting with Turkish FM.
• Wall Street Journal: Iran transferred to Syria sophisticated radar to boost its defenses against Israeli attack in 2009. It could also serve Hizballah and help enhance its rockets' accuracy.
• Israeli Air Force struck three targets in Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian Qassam attack Wednesday.
Missteps on Turkey weaken Netanyahu before talks with Obama
01 July: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has his hands full calming the uproar in his cabinet over infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's failed meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu to try and narrow the widening rift between Ankara and Jerusalem. debkafile reports the prime minister has four days to stabilize his government before meeting the US president in Washington as the "Turkish flotilla effect" leads him into one misstep after another.
This time, Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman is up in arms over Netanyahu's failure to update him on the meeting. Some circles in Jerusalem suggest that Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Labor engineered the crisis to rid the government coalition of Lieberman's right-wing Israel Beitenu.
Erdogan is exploiting the upset in Jerusalem to intensify his smear campaign against Israel. He is now suggesting that Mossad was behind an alleged coup attempt by Turkish generals.