A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending June 24, 2010

June 19, 2010 Briefs
• Seven people killed, 61 wounded by car bomb in northern Iraqi Turkoman town of Tuz Khurmato Friday. In Qaim near Syrian border, 3 roadside bombs killed four Iraqi soldiers. The assailants who came from Syria spared one Iraqi soldier to report what happened.
• Israel appeals to the UN against Gaza-bound vessels departing from Lebanon as a threat to regional security. Israel and Lebanon are still legally at war. A sea clash could scupper their Sept. 2006 truce.

Gates: Iran could attack Europe with scores or hundreds of missiles

19 June: US defense secretary Robert Gates reported Thursday, June 17 that the US had overhauled its missile defense plans following intelligence that Iran could fire "scores or hundreds" of short- and medium-range missiles against Europe – in salvoes rather than one or two at a time. The new US program, designed to protect NATO allies, uses sea and land-based interceptors.
Gates's new evaluation breaks away sharply from the propositions American military chiefs have been advancing in their strategic deliberations with Gulf and Israeli leaders. The new intelligence assessment Gates now unveils means that the balance of strength has dramatically shifted in favor of Iran and against Israel.
When the "scores or hundreds" of Iranian missiles are topped up by 800 Scud Ds, which Syria managed in the last two months to position close to the Lebanese border and the 1,000 Iranian and Syrian medium-range missiles transferred to Hizballah in Lebanon, Israel is confronted with daunting array of 3,000 missiles capable of striking every corner of the country.

June 19, 2010 Briefs
• Israeli troops shoot and injure two members of Palestinian group approaching border fence near N. Gazan Beit Hanun Saturday. They all retreated.
• Israel warns UN that Gaza-bound vessels departing from Lebanon would threaten regional security and it is entitled to stop them.
• Al Qaeda (AQA) RPG, shooting raid kills 13, including 10 Yemeni security officers, frees inmates at Aden intelligence lockup Saturday.
• Ten Turkish troops, 12 Kurdish PKK rebels killed in escalating violence in SE Turkey Saturday. Overnight Turkish air force struck PKK bases in northern Iraq after 10 soldiers died in Kurdish attacks.
• Dozens of ultra-religious men choose prison over obeying Israeli Supreme Court ruling to desegregate Immanuel girls' school accused of ethnic discrimination. The court rejected their claim that school pupils required to accept Hassidic curriculum as religious not ethnic criterion for admission.

A US armada plus Israeli vessel pass through Suez

19 June: An armada of 11 US warships and one Israeli vessel passed through the Suez Canal Friday June 18 on their way to the Persian Gulf, debkafile's military sources report. The fleet, the first of this composition to navigate the Suez Canal, was led by the USS Harry Truman carrier and its Strike Group.
This massive military movement is a strong new factor in the continually rising Middle East tensions of the last two weeks to which Iran has not so far responded.
Egyptian port authorities imposed exceptional security measures for the ships' passage. All commercial and civilian traffic through the Suez Canal was halted and beefed-up security forces posted along both its shores. Egyptian fishermen were recalled to port from their grounds in the Bitter Lake.

June 20, 2010 Briefs
• Israeli prime minister invited to meet US president at the White House on July 6.
• Gaza's Hamas leader A-Zahar calls for Palestinian rocket attacks to be launched from the West Bank too. He pledged Hamas policy towards Israel would not change.
• At least 26 killed in double bomb-car attack outside a Baghdad bank Sunday.
• Iranian insurgent Jundallah leader Abdulmalik Rigi hanged after months of interrogation.
• Israel has approved partial lifting of Gaza blockade, all civilian goods to be allowed into Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Military items continue to be banned.

US, EU, Abbas uphold Gaza sea blockade

20 June: Barring surprises, the sea campaign spearheaded by Turkey against Israel's sea blockade of Gaza may have run its course, debkafile's Middle East sources report. Beirut is close to abandoning the Lebanese convoy, Damascus has turned away requests to use its ports, Cyprus is negative and even the Iranian expedition appears snarled. In the last 24 hours, Israel won US, European and Mahmoud Abbas' support for its sea blockade after its cabinet approved the delivery of all civilian goods to Gaza through the land crossings.
After enduring three weeks of international censure for its commando raid on the flotilla aiming to break the Gaza blockade, the Netanyahu government has hauled the wheel round, stemmed the tide of opprobrium and stabilized Israel's diplomatic and security position. British ex-prime minister Tony Blair, Special Envoy of the Middle East Quartet, pitched in to help Israel out of a tight spot ahead of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's White House meeting with President Barack Obama on July 8.
The formula approved by Israel's security cabinet permitted all civilian goods to reach Gaza, banned military, dual-use materials and weapons, and left the sea blockade in place.

June 21, 2010 Briefs
• Morocco breaks up 11-member Palestinian-led Islamic cell planning attacks in the country.
• A Sinai Bedouin gang attacked 7 trucks heading for Israel Sunday after Egyptian police searched their homes for fugitives. A driver and assistant wounded.
• Four NATO soldiers including three Australian commandos killed in helicopter crash in S, Afghanistan. Seven others injured. Cause investigated.
• Three East Jerusalem terrorist cells busted in joint Shin Bet-Police operation. Their 13 members, three from Jebel Muqabr, accused of shooting and firebomb attacks on Jerusalem vehicles.
• Iran bars two UN nuclear inspectors from country, accusing them of untruths, a week after UN imposes sanctions.
• The IAEA reported in May that Iran was preparing extra equipment to enrich uranium to higher levels and continued to stockpile nuclear material.
• White House praises Israel's easing of Gaza siege, calls on all parties to use regular, approved route for sending goods and aid to the Strip.
• Rahm Emanuel expected to leave job as the White House chief of staff this year, saying he is tired of the "idealism" of Barack Obama's inner circle.
• Gates: We do not accept idea of Iran having nuclear weapons. Asked whether a military strike was preferable, he said all options remain on the table but some time left for working on problem.

June 22, 2010 Briefs
• Israel has just launched the Ofek 9 of the spy satellite series from the Palmachim. The launch into orbit was visible from Israel's Mediterranean coast including Tel Aviv.
• Netanyahu: Palestinians have rejected every Israeli effort to resume peace talks. Addressing the Jewish Agency conference, he invited Abbas to meet him one-on-one without further delay.
• Supreme Court overturns prison sentences for 13 Immanuel mothers accused in segregation row against Sephardi pupils. Nine others to be jailed after their husbands released. Two fathers exempted from jail over special family problems.
• Number of Israeli millionaires jumped 43 percent in 2009 to 8,000.
• Failed Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad admits to all 10 charges against him as a "Muslim soldier," says more extremists will attack America.
• Four killed, 6 injured in suspected Kurdish rebel attack on coach transporting Turkish soldiers in Istanbul.
• Tehran: First Iranian "aid ship" sets sail Sunday, June 27.
• Syrian VP Farouq al-Shara arrives in Tehran.
• Israel's ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor tabbed as next ambassador to the UN after Gavriela Shalev ends her stint in August.

Hizballah saves face for two fiascos

22 June: Hizballah's secretary general Hassan Nasrallah did not feel safe enough to take up Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan's invitation to visit Ankara last week even under the protection of the four intelligence agencies of Iran, Syria, Turkey and Hizballah's own service, debkafile's counter-terror sources disclose. He decided to stay home in his bunker. His Gaza blockade busting flotilla is still stuck in Beirut port. Hence his face-saving claim to the Kuwaiti A-Rai claim that his organization pulled back at the eleventh hour from a plan to kill an unnamed high-ranking Israeli on vacation, who was thereupon recalled to Tel Aviv.

Iran on war alert over "US and Israeli concentrations" in Azerbaijan

23 June: Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border and is pouring Revolutionary Guards units with equipment into the Caspian region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
Iranian officials often speak of impending US and Israeli attacks in general terms; never until now have they named a specific location.
Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.
On Tuesday, June 22, Dr. Uzi Arad, head of Israel's National Security Council and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest adviser, said "The latest round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran is inadequate for thwarting its nuclear progress. A preemptive military strike might eventually be necessary."

June 24, 2010 Briefs
• Gen. David Petraeus quits post at head of US CENTCOM to lead Afghan war after president accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation Wednesday. McChrystal's deputy Maj. Gen. Nick Carter will stand in for him until Petraeus' senate confirmation.
• Julia Gillard becomes Australia's first female prime minister after Kevin Rudd stood aside from a ruling Labor party ballot. She will lead party to elections in two years.
• A bipartisan letter by 87 of 100 US senators supports Israel's right to self-defense against threats form Hamas, Hizballah and Iran. The lawmakers urge president to brand Turkey's IHH as a terrorist organization.

War tensions mount over new flotilla heading for Gaza

24 June: Ominous clouds gathered over the Mediterranean Thursday, June 24 after Israel announced that ships bound for Gaza would be deemed "enemy vessels" and halted by its navy. Hizballah shot back with a threat of violent retaliation, while Israel's northern commander warned that the IDF was prepared to deal with threats from Lebanon by "appropriate means."
Fearing an outbreak of war, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was reported by debkafile's intelligence sources as quietly acting to stall the sea campaign against the Gaza blockade.
He privately asked Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to deny Lebanese ships bound for Gaza permission to drop anchor, refuel or load provisions at their ports, in order to prevent them from proceeding to Gaza. He admitted the embarkation of the pro-Palestinian vessels from his ports violates US Resolution 1701 enforcing the Israel-Lebanon ceasefire which ended the 2006 war, but he was helpless to stop them because they were backed by powerful elements.

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