A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending July 3, 2008
Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards chief threatens oil repercussions
June 28: The Guards commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, issued Tehran’s toughest and most explicit threats yet in response to recent reports of Israeli preparations to strike Iran’s nuclear installations.
Hinting at an American attack, he said: “If there is a confrontation between us and the enemy from outside the region, definitely the scope will reach the oil issue.” After this action (of imposing controls on the Gulf waterway), the oil price will rise very considerably,” he said.
Jafari clearly differentiated between Iran’s responses to possible American and Israeli attacks. The oil weapon would be applied against the former, he said, while “Israelis know if they take military action against Iran… the abilities of the Islamic and Shiite world, especially in the region, will deliver fatal blows.” He noted Israel was in range of Iranian missiles.
Canada to boycott Durban II as “anti-Semitic, anti-western hatefest”
28 June: Prime minister Stephen Harper said Canada has every reason to expect the follow-up Durban II conference to be a repeat of Durban I, which purported to combat racism. Addressing an Ottawa ceremony awarding him the B’nai B’rith Gold Medallion for humanitarianism, Harper called Israel a friend an ally, stressed Canada’s unshakable support for its right to exist and self-defense as well as support for a two-state solution in the Middle East. Canada, he noted, was the first country to suspend relations with the Hamas-led government in Palestinian and has “refused to be bullied into signing on to one-sided international resolutions against Israel.”
Past recipients of the Gold Medallion are David Ben Gurion and US presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.
Iran sets up 31 martial districts, prepares 320,000 graves for war dead
29 June: Iran has divided the country up into 31 military sectors as part of its stepped up preparations for war, debkafile‘s Iranian sources report. Sunday, June 29, Brig. Gen. Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, head of the Iranian Army’s Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense and MIAs, said 320,000 graves were to be dug for enemy forces in case of an attack on Iranian territory.
“We don’t wish the families of enemy soldiers to experience what Americans had to go through in the aftermath of the Vietnam War,” said Baqerzadeh.
Our sources report that it was obvious to the average Iranian that the graves were intended for prospective domestic victims of US and Israeli bombardments rather than the enemy.
According to debkafile‘s military sources, Iran has in effect established a home front that guarantees effective government control in every part of the country in a war contingency.
Israeli government approves prisoner swap with Hizballah
29 June: Twenty-ministers, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert voted for the deal, over objections from three. The prime minister disclosed that the two Israeli soldiers whose handover was covered by the deal, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, are believed to have died shortly after they were taken captive two years ago in a cross-border Hizballah raid. The three ministers who voted against the decision acted on the advice of heads of Israeli intelligence services who warned that it would open the door to more kidnaps of Israeli soldiers. Minutes after the decision was announced, Hizballah launched victory celebrations in Lebanon.
US Adm. Mullen briefed on IDF’s potential four-front strategy in Iran war context
29 June: The visiting Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, carried out a guided tour of Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip over the weekend. It was led by the IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OCs Northern and Southern Commands, Maj. Gens. Eisenkott and Galant.
He was briefed on IDF tactics in a potential war on all these fronts in the context of a comprehensive conflict with Iran.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the unusual tour was prompted on the one hand by skepticism in parts of the US high command of Israel’s ability to simultaneously strike Iran’s nuclear installations and fight off attacks from three borders while, at the same time, showing that Adm. Mullenwas open to persuasion that the IDF’s war plans were workable.
Israel tacticians have argued that while hitting all of Iran’s secret nuclear locations is not feasible, every chain has weak links and is therefore vulnerable.
Hamas posts 1,000 sentries to block Gaza missile fire on Israel
30 June: debkafile‘s military sources report that the Palestinian Hamas’ armed wing, determined to keep fellow terrorist groups from violating the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel, has deployed 1,000 sentries at the missile sites of the northern Gaza towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.
Oddly enough, Hamas has assumed the role of protector of Sderot against Palestinian missiles and mortars. Even harder to believe, Hamas’ hard-line “chief of staff” Ahmed Jabari has taken personal responsibility for maintaining the ceasefire which went into force June 19.
As debkafile has reported, Hamas hopes to make good use of the respite in hostilities to recuperate, rearm and regroup for the next round.
First reading of Knesset bill mandating referendum on Golan
30 June: An Israeli parliament majority of 65 to 18 carried the first reading of a bill requiring a popular referendum for handing over sovereign Israeli territory. A government decision to cede land annexed by Israel must be referred to parliament. If approved by 80 (out of 120) lawmakers, the motion will go to popular referendum within 180 days.
The law would apply to Golan and East Jerusalem – not the West Bank.
Israeli PM pays secret visit to Dimona nuclear center
1 July: The unusual publicity given to prime minister Ehud Olmert’s visit to Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona, in the southern Negev region, on July 1 – albeit after the fact – is a more than gentle hint to Iran of Israel’s determination to pre-empt a nuclear-armed Iran.
It further intensifies the ongoing war of words and signals flying between Tehran, Washington and Jerusalem in recent weeks over the nuclear issue.
Israel‘s war options determined by next prime minister
1 July: The overriding considerations that will determine if and when Israel attacks Iran are these: whether to strike before George W. Bush’s exit, whether Iran’s strategic ties with Syria and the Palestinian Hamas can be severed in advance and the identity of the Israeli prime minister chosen to manage the war.
These are the determinants, rather than “the red lines” cited by senior Pentagon officials to ABC News Monday as triggers for an Israeli offensive.
debkafile cites the reality behind the key decision:
1. Contrary to most reports, Iran is lagging behind its target date for producing a sufficiency of weapons-grade uranium. Technical hitches dog activation of the high-grade centrifuges.
2. Moscow has suspended all sales of sophisticated air defense systems to Iran and Syria alike – so that Israel has no cause for haste on that score.
Jerusalem would prefer to strike straight after the America’s November 4 presidential election – except that military experts warn that weather and lunar conditions at that time of the year are unfavorable. If Israel does opt for an attack, August and September would be better, they say – or else hold off until March-April 2009.
Towards the end of September, the ruling Kadima party holds a primary for choosing a prime minister, whose identity is anyone’s guess.
Three dead, more than 70 injured in terrorist bulldozer rampage in Jerusalem
2 July: In a rampage along Jerusalem’s crowded Jaffa Street thoroughfare, a bulldozer hoisted and overturned a packed 13 bus, while extending its shovel and plowing into several vehicles and pedestrians.
A woman driver saved her six-month old baby’s life by passing her out of the car window before the oncoming earthmover crushed her to death.
The bulldozer driver was tackled and shot dead by two policemen and a passing off-duty soldier. They clambered onto the careering vehicle and, while the policeman wrestled the terrorist to remove his foot from the gas pedal, the soldier shot him in the head. They stopped the carnage 200 meters short of Jerusalem’s big open air market and so averted a potential massacre.
The terrorist was 30-year old Hosam Dwayyat, father of two, a Palestinian from Tsur Bachar, one of the Arab villages of Jerusalem, who served a two-year sentence for rape and assault.
Jerusalem struck by three terrorist attacks in 11 months
2 July: The bulldozer assault on July 2 claimed three Israel lives and left more than 70 people injured. Lone Palestinian suiciders perpetrated all three multiple murders by unconventional means. All three carried Israeli IDs with jobs and benefits.
Another common denominator largely obscured by Israeli authorities was their authorship by the Galilee Liberation Brigades, which debkafile‘s intelligence sources report is sponsored by the Lebanese Hizballah terror organization.
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources note that it was not by chance that Hizballah secretary Hassan Nasrallah gave a news conference in Beirut just hours after the Jerusalem attack. He confirmed that the prisoner exchange with Israel would go through in mid-July.
Nasrallah was imitating the style of the Palestinian master-terrorist, the late Yasser Arafat, who was wont to follow up “diplomatic” statements with major terrorist attacks, to demonstrate that actions speak louder than words.
Nasrallah had warned that the death of the Lebanese group’s military commander, Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus last February, would be avenged by unconventional means that would shock Israelis. And indeed this was the first attack by bulldozer in terrorist history.
On March 7, another Jerusalem Palestinian massacred eight youths in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva. The claim of responsibility by the Galilee Liberation Brigades was broadcast by Hizballah’s Al Manar TV station in Lebanon.