A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Oct. 22, 2009
UN endorsement of anti-Israel report on Gaza war buries peace process
16 Oct. The UN Human Right Council's endorsement Friday, Oct. 16, sent the anti-Israel Goldstone war crimes report to the UN Security Council. It was approved by a majority of 25 of the 47 HRC members with 6 voting against – the US, Holland, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia, with 11 abstentions and France and the UK among the 5 nations who did not vote. Ultimately, this step could expose Israeli leaders to prosecution for war crimes.
Its endorsement buried the stalled peace process between Israel and Palestinian Authority, although Mahmoud Abbas has spurned umpteen invitations to come to the negotiating table. In any case Abbas' authority is recognized by less than half of the Palestinian people since the West Bank and Gaza Strip seem to have parted for good.
Palestinian bomb-rocket workshop uncovered in Jerusalem's Abu Dis village
16 Oct. A Shin Bet-undercover police unit detained three Palestinians fabricating bombs and using pipes as components for rockets in a covert explosives workshop in the Abu Dis village, the first discovered in Jerusalem in four years. Operating in a grocery storehouse under the direction of an engineer, the terror cell planned to start launching rocket assaults on Jerusalem and Maaleh Adummim, emulating Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The facility also contained a large cache of side-arms which the suspects admitted had been stocked ready for terror attacks in the city. Their questioning led to the arrest Thursday, Oct. 15 of a fourth Palestinian under orders to carry out shooting attacks in Jerusalem and Hebron.
Conspiracy at UN to rob Israeli military of moral right to strike Iran
17 Oct. The Netanyahu government's slow-moving, lackadaisical handling of the Goldstone commission mandated for accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, played into the hands of a coalition formed to strip the Israeli military of legitimacy as a defensive strike force against Iran's fast-moving nuclear weapons program and its Middle East allies' missile arsenals. Their tactics culminated in the predictable majority vote at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday Oct. 17 to refer Israel's alleged war crimes to the UN Security Council, while omitting to mention Hamas' culpability.
Saturday, Muslim and Arab media, notably London-based news organizations, “predicted” that Israel would react to its “growing diplomatic isolation” with a “crazy military adventure” that would inflame the entire Middle East. Their purpose was to discredit a priori any Israeli military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
But Israel has a boxful of powerful tools for dealing with the fallout of the UN HRC motion which it is not using.
If sanctions are legitimate penalties for Iran, why not economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for setting the UNHRC loose against Israel and its military?
Israeli army chiefs face the problem of sending troops to defend their country knowing that they may face war crimes charges somewhere in the world.
So why should Israeli soldiers, condemned as “war criminals by Palestinians and copycat Israel Arabs, grant special passes for Palestinian VIPs to exit the West Bank at night and go partying in Israeli towns?
Why does the Netanyahu government continue to release INS 220 million (app. $50 million) every month to the Gaza Strip for Hamas?
The Goldstone panel started work on April 3, 2009. Israel had seven months to submit to the international court and UN a counter-report documenting 10 years of Palestinian murderous campaigns targeting Israeli civilians, women and children.
Israel is now forced to establish a credible panel of inquiry for the Cast Lead operation, when it could have done so voluntarily from the start.
Hizballah telecommunications knocked out in another mysterious explosion
18 Oct. The mysterious explosion which knocked Hizballah's military telecommunications network out of commission Saturday night, Oct. 17, was being presented by Beirut Sunday morning as “three Israeli wiretapping devices” buried in the hills of Houla in South Lebanon, which were “discovered and blown up.”
A Lebanese military spokesman said Israeli unmanned aircraft detonated one device by remote control Saturday night and a second Sunday morning, while the third was defused by the Lebanese army during the day.
debkafile's military sources report that Hizballah and the Lebanese army and Hizballah put this story together to cover up the extent of the damage to Hizballah's military telecommunications network and pay Israel back for exposing the 300 illegal weapons caches built up in the South Lebanon in gross breach of UN Security Council resolution 1701.
Tehran accuses Obama after suicide attack
18 Oct. Soon after the suicide attack in the Sistan-Baluchi town of Pisheen Sunday, Parliament speaker Ali Larijani accused the US: “We consider the recent terrorist attack to be the result of US action,” he said. “Mr. Obama has said he will extend his hand towards Iran, but…he has burned his hand.” Washington condemned the attack and rejected the charge.
debkafile reported earlier: Two of the seven officers killed Sunday when the bomb detonated his vest were Revolutionary Guards generals, the deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards Gen. Nur-Ali Shushtari, and Gen. Mohammad-Zadeh, chief IRGC commander of the province.
October 19 Briefs
· Tehran: Iran will continue to enrich uranium up to 5% even if some is reprocessed abroad. If Vienna talks fail, home production will be upped to 20% grade. Iran will not give up uranium enrichment at home even while sending quantities for further processing abroad. This statement was issued by Iran as three powers met Iranian officials in Vienna Monday to discuss Russia's reprocessing offer.
Threat of Iranian invasion of Pakistan, “crushing response” against US, UK
19 Oct. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafary, Monday, Oct. 19, threatened “crushing” retaliation against the US, UK and Pakistan including the invasion of its eastern neighbor. Tehran linked all three to the suicide bombing attack in Sistan-Baluchistan Sunday, Oct. 18, which killed 42 people including seven senior Guards officers.
debkafile's Iranian sources note that was the first time in Iran's 30-year Islamic revolution that a military leader has openly threatened to attack US and British military targets, a measure of the damage the regime and Guards suffered from the suicide attack.
Tehran holds the Sunni secessionist terrorist group Jundallah of Baluchistan responsible and in the past has accused the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence agency and the CIA of supporting the group.
October 20 Briefs
· US ambassador Rice says Obama backs Israel on Goldstone war crimes allegations.
· In recorded message, US president cites partnership with Israel as more important than strategic ties.
· Netanyahu calls on Abbas to lead his people to peace and “end this conflict once and for all.” They spoke at presidential conference opening in Jerusalem Tuesday night.
· Nuclear talks in Vienna stalled when Iran says France not needed. They met on Iran's shipment of low-grade enriched uranium to Russia, France for reprocessing. France's role is to prevent its conversion to weapons-grade uranium.
· Iranian Guards ground forces chief Pakbour demands permission to hunt down “terrorists” in Pakistan.
· At least 7 killed, 29 injured in dual suicide bombing at Islamabad University's women's bloc, admin.
· Swiss court refuses to release Polanski on bail.
· Top US scientist Stewart Nozette, 52, arrested after FBI sting traps him into trying to spy for Israel. He was caught by an FBI agent posing as an Israeli Mossad officer. The FBI stressed there was no wrongdoing by Israel.
Karzai disappoints Washington by going second round Nov. 7
20 Oct. By accepting a second round of the presidential election, the incumbent Hamid Karzai has given the Taliban new leverage in the country and offset some of the hoped-for benefits from Islamabad's military offensive in next-door South Waziristan.
Three elements are now stacked on the minus side of the White House's Afghan/Pakistan ledger:
1. Taliban failed to fatally disrupt the Afghan election, but won a second chance to do their worst. They are helped by freezing weather which will keep voters at home.
2. Taliban ignored broad hints from Washington that the election could be a fulcrum for negotiations on an eventual power-sharing deal.
3. The three Pakistan columns in South Waziristan are moving slowly, engaging the Taliban in sporadic tests of strength, while the insurgents pull their main forces back to rugged mountain fastnesses 15,000 feet high. Winter snowfalls will delay a decisive showdown before the spring 2010 melt.
The Pakistani Taliban and their Afghan fellows are left holding the war initiative on both volatile fronts.
New Iranian missiles head for Gaza, Syria tops up Hizballah's rocket stocks
20 Oct. Iran is making a huge effort to smuggle to the Palestinian Hamas Fajr-5 ground-to-ground rockets that would bring Tel Aviv within range of the Gaza Strip, and Syria, Iran's second ally with an Israeli border, has decided to transfer one-third of its missile stockpile to the Hizballah in Lebanon, topping up its arsenal with medium-range rockets that can cover central as well as northern Israel.
Israel's top strategists are asking –
1. Are the 250 Syrian surface missiles destine for Hizballah Scuds B, C and D whose ranges exceed 800 kilometers, or Iranian-Syrian made projectiles whose range is shorter?
2. Do the transfers mean Iran and its allies are gearing up for a major Middle East conflict in the months ahead, possibly in early 2010?
3. Will Syria hand Hizballah chemicals-tipped missiles?
4. Will some batteries be installed atop the mountain ranges running down central Lebanon, together with air defense systems supplied at the same time by Syria?
Israel is particularly concerned by the Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's recent decision to turn coat against the pro-Western camp led by Saad Hariri in favor of deals with Tehran and Damascus.
US foils plans to attack US administration leaders and shoot up shopping malls
21 Oct. Tareq Mahanneh, 27, a resident of Massachusetts, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit terror attacks against US targets at home and abroad. He and fellow conspirators are suspected of planning to assassinate two members of a former US administration, who are no longer in office, and obtain automatic weapons for shooting sprees in two American shopping malls.
The Justice Department spokesmen said the two executive officials were never in real danger and the would-be terrorists, who aspired to be “soldiers of jihad,” never got hold of automatic weapons.
US-Israel drill simulates missile attacks from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza
21 Oct. The US and Israel launched Operation Juniper Cobra 10, the biggest missile defense exercise of their regular biennial drills, on Wednesday Oct. 21. It simulates the advanced capabilities of shared air defense systems and sends a message to Tehran that America will support Israel's defenses in attacks from Iran or its allies in the region.
Under the joint command of US Sixth Fleet chief Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, the exercise is additionally important for taking place weeks after President Barack Obama scrapped US plans to deploy missile interception systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. They are to be replaced with a sea- and land-based missile shield tailored to handle short- and medium-range missiles, which constitute the bulk of Iran's arsenal.
The American Navy's AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense systems and advanced radar are taking part in Juniper Cobra aboard a fleet of 17 US warships docked in Israel's naval ports for the exercise. American and Israeli radar stations are strung along the Israeli coast to spot dummy missiles launched from sea to test their intercept performance. The ability of X-band radar technology to detect incoming missiles at a distance of hundreds of kilometers will have its first test.
The Israeli air force and military conducted a separate drill in southern Israel Wednesday to test Israel's preparedness for aviation terror. They practiced an al Qaeda hijack and a Palestinian strike with explosives-packed aircraft.
Israel may file terror charges in international courts against Hamas leaders
21 Oct. Defense ministry officials say a dossier cataloguing Hamas crimes against humanity year after year can be quickly compiled from voluminous existing records and submitted to the international court, as debkafile suggested in its special analysis on Oct. 17 of the fallout from Judge Goldstone's war crime allegations against Israel and the Netanyahu's government ineffective counter-measures.
The security authorities are willing to open the intelligence files documenting the incriminating evidence against hundreds of Hamas officials and name names. The justice ministry has been asked to prepare the legal case for court action and reparations claims against specific Hamas terror facilitators.
The argument made in the defense ministry is that while Hamas terrorists travel the world without fear of legal action against them, Israeli soldiers and officers never know when or where a war crimes charge may be slapped against them.
The proposal is still under discussion.
ElBaradei's ruse helps Iran keep on enriching uranium for a nuke
21 Oct. Mohammed ElBaradei, the retiring IAEA director, pulled a rabbit out of his hat Wednesday, Oct. 21 to save the Vienna talks with Iran on the future of its enriched uranium from breaking down on its third day. It was a draft proposal for Iran to transfer three-quarters of its enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing. The US, France, Russia and Iran were given until Friday for their answer.
The only officials to come smiling out of the aborted meeting were the Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili and his aides. But strangely enough, it was greeted with happy applause in the West, from secretary of state Hillary Clinton to Israel's deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai, who should have been wise to ElBaradei's machinations by now. By some magic, the proposal “forgot” three UN Security Council resolutions and six-power demands for Iran to give up uranium enrichment. Iran is also suddenly absolved of the obligation to allow UN inspectors to monitor its facilities and not by a single word is Tehran forbidden to process masses of additional enriched uranium after it ships the 1.200 kilos to Russia, or even to make a bomb.
No wonder Jalilee smiled.