A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending October 13, 2011

October 7, 2011 Briefs
• Syrian forces cross into Lebanon, shoot a man dead following a Syrian tank incursion earlier this week.
• Two Palestinian suspects held for rock-throwing incident that killed Asher Palmer and his baby near Hebron on Sept. 23. Another three charged with stealing his gun.
• Police report 498 rock-throwing incidents in September, highest number in 18 months.
• Israel celebrates its 10th Nobel Prize award. Prof. Daniel Shechtman of the Haifa Institute of Technology won the 2011 Chemistry prize for his discovery of quasicrystals.


US: Assad must go. Five killed at mass funeral for slain Syrian Kurdish leader


8 Oct. Targeted assassinations now dominate Bashar Assad's savage confrontation with the popular opposition to his rule. The White House finally told Syrian ruler Bashad Assad to step down for the first time as 50,000 Syrian Kurds clashed with security forces at the funeral of the popular Kurdish leader Mashaal Tammo, 53, slain by masked men at his home in Qamishli, northern Syria Friday, Oct. 7. debkafile: The killers were members of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Directorate acting on direct orders from Assad.


October 9, 2011 Briefs
• Israel's chief of staff speaks out against defense budget cutbacks to boost social benefits.
• Netanyahu gains cabinet endorsement Sunday for Trajtenberg panel recommendations for social change promised after months of nationwide protests.
• Turkey must radically rethink its policies on Syria, NATO missile shield and promoting Muslim secularism, says Khameini's military adviser Maj.-Gen. Yahya Rahim-Safavi. Otherwise it faces trouble from its own people and neighbors.


October 10, 2011 Briefs
• Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun threatens retaliation by suicide bombers already in place in the United States and Europe if his country comes under attack. "From now on an eye for an eye…" said the pro-Assad cleric whose son was shot dead by gunmen earlier this month.
• Grave warning issued to Israelis not to travel to Sinai over Sukkot issued by the Anti-Terror Bureau in Jerusalem. debkafile: At least one large Palestinian Jihad Islami cell is lurking in Sinai for chance to kidnap Israelis and cross-border attack.
• Palestinian killed in explosion close to Gaza-Israel border apparently from bomb he was carrying.
• Syrian army in new offensive on Homs Monday day after 17 soldiers, 14 civilians killed in fighting between Syrian soldiers and army defectors Sunday. It took place in Idlib, Homs and southern village of Dael. The 7-month old uprising undergoes increasing militarization as death toll climbs to estimated 4,000.


Sinai militias cut overland trade ties between Egypt and Israel


10 Oct. The claim Friday by Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, head of the military junta ruling Egypt, of "complete security on the Sinai Peninsula" was belied Sunday, Oct. 10, by the Israeli Counterterrorism Bureau's warning against travel to Sinai for Sukkot. As Cairo lets Sinai go by the board, the Netanyahu government leans over backwards to pretend business with Egypt is back to normal – even after armed Bedouin cut the trade route between Egypt and Israel through Sinai up to the Nitzana crossing three weeks ago.
The Supreme Military Council is not exactly in control in mainland Egypt either. Sunday night, Oct. 9, a Coptic demonstration outside the state TV station to protest the authorities' failure to protect their churches from radical Islamic attacks ended with 26 dead of whom 22 were Copts and more than 500 injured. The Copts, who make up more than one-tenth of Egypt's 85 million inhabitants, were attacked by Islamist hoodlums wielding clubs, stones and machetes. But the security forces turned their guns on the Copts and drove tanks against them – not the rowdies shouting Islam, Islami!


Moscow reaches out to Syrian opposition


10 Oct. Five days after vetoing a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution condemning Bashar Assad's savagery toward his opposition, Moscow turned the heat on him by inviting an opposition delegation to visit Monday, Oct. 10 and offering to host talks between the Syrian government and the opposition umbrella Syrian National Council.
Syrian Foreign Minister Wallid Moallem threatened unspecified "tough measures" against any countries recognizing the council, fearing a repeat of the Libyan rebel NTC exercise which toppled Muammar Qaddafi.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov explained: "Our main message is that all the problems which have accumulated in Syria over many years can't be resolved through force or confrontation – only broad-based political dialogue."
debkafile's Russian and Iranian sources report that Moscow's gesture has drawn threats both from Damascus and Tehran.


Breakthrough for Gilad Shalit's release outcome of US rapprochement with Hamas


11 Oct. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reported to the hastily convened full government session Monday night, Oct. 11 that the deal with Hamas for bringing Gilad Shalit home within days was the best available although the price is heavy. The "window of opportunity" presented now may never recur, he warned, given the turbulence besetting the Middle East. Three ministers voiced reservations in view of the high risk of setting so many convicted terrorists loose.
debkafile discloses that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Hamas' Khaled Meshaal sealed secret clauses for the Hamas headquarters' removal from Damascus and the Palestinian extremists' gradual withdrawal from its ties with Tehran.
In the backdoor diplomacy leading to Gilad Shalit's release, the Obama administration entered into active dialogue with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in recognition of their rising electoral strength in an effort to draw them away from Tehran and bring them close to the ruling military junta and Washington.
Hamas has outperformed is rival, the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as the lead champion of the Palestinian cause. Abbas is being punished for defying the Obama administration by applying for UN recognition for Palestinian statehood.


October 12, 2011 Briefs
• Obama and King Abdullah agree to pursue a strong, unified international response for foiled plot masterminded by Iran to assassinate Saudi ambassador.
• Biden Wednesday: Iran will be held accountable." Nothing is off the table".
• Clinton: Plot a "dangerous escalation of Iranian sponsorship of terrorism".
• Saudi Prince Turki finds evidence of Iranian responsibility overwhelming.
• Iranian FM Salehi responds: "If they have the power to throw a punch, we have the power to smack them so that they will not be able to stand up".
• Al Qaeda leader Al-Zuwahiri urges Egyptians to drive the Israeli embassy out of Cairo and abrogate their peace treaty as a "stab in the back of the people".
• Clinton: The Palestinians will not achieve a state from the UN only through negotiations.
• The ME Quartet asks the parties to start negotiations in Amman, Jordan later this month.


US on global alert for Iranian reprisal that may jeopardize Shalit release


12 Oct. A worldwide advisory published in Washington Wednesday, Oct. 12, warned US citizens to beware of Iranian-instigated terrorist attacks following the uncovering of an Iran-directed plot to assassinate Saudi Arabian ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir and bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies. The US holds Iran accountable for its actions, said Attorney General Eric Holder, following which Tehran accused the US of warmongering. Iran views the Shalit deal as a step toward cutting it out of Palestinian affairs and may act to torpedo it by unleashing terrorists by Hamas for acts that force the hands of the United States and Israel.
Sources in Washington therefore criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for jumping the gun by his announcement Tuesday. As Israelis joyously celebrated news of the forthcoming release of their soldier from five years of Hamas captivity, US officials in Washington released details of the plot instigated by Iran to murder Saudi ambassador Al-Jubeir who is one of King Abdullah's closest advisers.


Hamas pledges more Israeli abductions to free Palestinian terrorists


12 Oct. Tuesday night, Oct. 10, the Israeli cabinet by a majority of 26 approved the accord with Hamas for the release of Gilead Shalit. Three ministers opposed the deal – Avigdor Lieberman and Uzzi Landau of the Israel Beteinu party and Moshe Yaalon of Likud. For the Israeli soldier's freedom – probably next week – Israel will hand over 1,027 Palestinian terrorists, the highest price ever paid for an Israeli hostage, which also cuts short the multiple life sentences of 280 mass murderers responsible for hundreds of Israeli deaths. The high-profile terrorists will be deported. Hamas leaders pledge more kidnappings until all 8,000 jailed Palestinians are freed.
The full list is to be published next Sunday on the Internet. Israelis wishing to appeal against the releases, such as the bereaved families of terrorist victims, will have 48 hours to do so.


Egypt challenges Sinai peace terms, opens a Cairo home for Hamas


13 Oct. Thursday, Oct. 13 Cairo took two steps inimical to Israel. Egyptian Air Force Chief Gen. Reda Hafiz said: "Sinai is our land and we do not need permission to increase our forces on our land" in direct contravention of the 1979 peace treaty signed with Israel which demilitarized Sinai by common consent.
He added: "Egyptian planes conduct patrols without Israeli consent to secure Egypt's borders, including the eastern (Israeli) border."
Then, without waiting for Hamas to open the prison doors for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Cairo let his captors cash in on the prisoner exchange deal by providing the first Damascus-based Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzuk with luxury villa for his permanent home in Cairo.
debkafile reports deep resentment in senior military circles over Defense Minister Ehud Barak's message to Cairo of "apologies and deep regrets" for the six Egyptian soldiers "who were killed by Israeli fire."
He was referring to an incident at the scene of a terrorist attack launched from Egyptian Sinai on buses and cars on the Eilat highway which left eight Israelis dead. In the interests of good relations with Cairo, Israeli leaders decided to cover up testimony by witnesses that the six Egyptian officers died while shooting at the Israeli vehicles alongside the terrorists and were in fact indistinguishable from them.

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