A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending April 30, 2015
April 24, 2015 Briefs
- A bus set on fire by bottle bomb on 443 Highway to Jerusalem
The Israeli bus from Bnei Brak to Jerusalem was attacked Saturday night with a bottle bomb halfway between Modi’in and Jerusalem. The passengers were evacuated before the bus went up in flames.
- Boy of 14 youngest Briton ever charged as terrorist
The 14-year old boy was accused of encouraging an Australian teenager to carry out a terrorist beheading during the ANZAC war remembrance ceremony on April 25. He was charged with two counts of inciting terrorism overseas and refused bail by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
- Italy busts large-scale Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist ring
Italian police broke up an Al-Qaeda-inspired terror network, composed of Pakistani and Afghan nationals, and including former guards of Osama bin Laden. The network, based on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia since 2005, is accused of setting up anti-government attacks in Pakistan, targeting US forces in Afghanistan and plotting to assassinate Pope Benedict XVII in 2010 in the Vatican.
- IDF tanks fire warning shells at Hamas
Responding to the rocket from Gaza that exploded harmlessly in Shear Hanegev Thursday night, IDF tanks sent two warning shells against a Hamas training camp in the Beit Hanoun district of northern Gaza overnight. There were no hits.
April 25, 2015 Briefs
- Palestinian car runs over 3 Israeli police in third terror attack
One Israeli policewoman was moderately injured, two officers slightly hurt by a Palestinian vehicle which ran them down Saturday night outside the Beit Orot Yeshiva in A-Tur, Jerusalem. This was the third terrorist incident since Friday. During the day, Palestinians in the A-Tur neighborhood threw rocks and bottle bombs in protest against the shooting dead of a 16-year old Palestinian Friday night who was attacking Israeli border policemen with a meat cleaver.
- Israel soldier badly hurt in second Palestinian stabbing attack
A Border Guardsman was seriously injured in a Palestinian stabbing attack Saturday night near the Machpelah Patriarchs Tomb in Hebron. The terrorist slashed the soldier five times before the wounded Israeli’s comrades shot him. The Palestinian later died of his wounds.
- ISIS ambush kills Iraqi brigadier and three staff officers
Brig. Gen. Hassan Abbas Toufan, commander of the Iraqi 1st Division, and three of his staff, a colonel and two lieutenant colonels, were killed in an ISIS attack in the Nadhem al-Taqseem region north of Fallujah – not far from the heavy fighting for Ramadi.
- ISIS attacks kill 40 Iraqi soldiers, 4 Jordanian guardsmen
Three ISIS suicide bombers Saturday rammed three bomb cars into the only border crossing between Iraq and Jordan, killing at least 40 Iraqi soldiers and 4 Jordanian border guards. The Islamic State named Belgian, French and Senegalese bombers who drove in from the western Iraqi province of Anbar.
- US warships leave Aqaba Gulf after Iranian convoy retreats
The USS Roosevelt and escorts headed back to the Persian Gulf Friday after Iran’s nine-ship convoy turned around and sailed for home away from Yemen. The two fleets were close to colliding had the Yemeni ships unloaded weapons for the Houthi rebels.
Arab sources report Israel air strikes against Syrian-Hizballah missile bases, Hizballah arms convoys
25 Apr. Two Arab TV channels – Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya – reported Israeli air strikes against Hizballah and the Syrian army in the Qalamoun Mts on the Lebanese border. Wednesday, the IAF is said to have hit two Hizballah military arms convoys, and Friday night, targeted the Syrian army’s 155th and 65th and 92nd Brigades, responsible for storing strategic weapons and long-range missiles including Scuds. These reports were not confirmed by Israel or Syria.
debkafile: The putative air strike may also have targeted Hizballah’s first ever airstrip for drones in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley.
April 26, 2015 Briefs
- Syrian fighters bomb an Idlib city lost to Nusra Front rebels
Syrian jets bombed Jisr al-Shughour Sunday, the day after the al-Qaida affiliated Nusra Front and its allies seized the Idlib provincial city, one of the few left to the Assad regime in the northwestern province. At least 34 people were reported killed. This was another Syrian army defeat in the northern and southern regions of Syria.
Egyptian army poised to capture eastern Libya from ISIS
26 Apr. debkafile reports Egypt is massing large-scale ground and air forces in the Western Desert, preparing to capture eastern Libya – Cyrenaica – from ISIS occupation. Egyptian marines may be dropped from the sea on the Libyan coast around Derna (pop: 10,000), which ISIS has made its provincial capital, accompanied by simultaneous paratroop air landings. ISIS is rushing reinforcements to Libya from Syria and Iraq.
The Obama administration objects to a direct Egyptian military operation, as CIA chief John Brennan informed President Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi. Egyptian troops will not stay in Libya, he was told. After defeating ISIS, Cairo would support the Tobruk government headed by Abdullah al-Thinni.
April 27, 2015 Briefs
- Syrian sources: Ex-Israeli Druzes laid explosive on Golan
According to Syrian sources, the four-man team which laid an explosive device near an IDF border post in northern Golan Sunday night were Druzes – two of them former villagers from Majd el-Shams. All four were killed by an Israeli air strike. The device did not explode.
- Israeli relief Nepal quake victims
Two El Al transports were assigned by Israel to bring 95 tons of humanitarian aid, including food, medicines, a fully-equipped field hospital with doctors, nurses, operating theaters and intensive care units as well as ex-ray and lab equipment. More than 260 officers and soldiers of the Homeland Command’s rescue units and Medical Corps are on board to help Nepalese rescue teams. The first small group of Israelis was evacuated from the stricken area overnight. It was later decided to bequeath the field hospital to the Nepalese government.
Israeli face-off with Syria, Hizballah escalates
27 Apr. According to Arab media, Israeli executed its third strike against Syrian and Hizballah targets on the Qalamoun Mts. Sunday night, April 26 – shortly after Hizballah tried to plant an explosive device near an Israeli Golan military post. This was not officially confirmed, but Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said: “We will not allow the delivery of sophisticated weapons to terrorist groups, Hizballah in particular… or allow Hizballah to establish a terror infrastructure on our borders with Israel,” he said, adding: “We know how to lay hands on anyone who threatens Israeli citizens, along our borders or even far from them.”
April 28, 2015 Briefs
- Saudi troops deployed in Najran on Yemen border
The elite Saudi Arabia National Guard has deployed to the Najran border region with Yemen a mechanized infantry brigade, artillery, air defense, reconnaissance, engineering logistics and anti-armor units, after several Yemeni Houth rebel cross-border attacks which left a number of Saudi soldiers and officers dead. debkafile: Many Najran inhabitants belong to the Shite Ismaili sect and are close to the Yemeni Zaydi Shiites. Riyadh does not trust them not to collaborate with Yemeni rebel intruders.
- Saudi Arabia arrests 93 suspected ISIS members
Among the 93 people arrested in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State, were 65 nationals. One of those nationals joined a Syrian, still at large, in a plot to carry out a suicide bombing against the US embassy in Riyadh that was uncovered in March. .
Iran has confiscated an American trade vessel – says Tehran
“The Iranian Navy has confiscated the American trade vessel with all its 34 crew for trespassing on Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf,” said Tehran in its first comment on the reported seizure in the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday of a freighter which the Pentagon denied was American. The state added: An Iranian warship is now taking the American vessel to Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas. The Pentagon said US warplanes and the destroyer USS Farragut had responded to the Maersk Tigris cargo vessel’s distress call after being attacked by an Iranian patrol boat in the Strait of Hormuz and are monitoring the situation. The vessel was flagged to the Marshall Islands which has a defense pact with the US.
Rocket-mortar fire on Golan timed for Syrian defense chief’s visit to Tehran for his next orders
28 Apr. The two mortar shells from Syria which exploded on the Golan at noon Tuesday, April 28, were timed for the arrival in Tehran of Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij. High on the agenda of his consultations with Iranian leaders was a question about how far his government could count on Iranian support in the event of a Syrian-Hizballah military showdown with Israel. The coming hours are critical for the fraught situation developing on the Syrian-Israeli border.
April 29, 2015 Briefs
- The Golan under Syrian fire second day running
Automatic gunfire was aimed at the Ein Zivan Kibbutz from the Syrian Quneitra region Wednesday, the day after two mortar shells landed in its fields. No one was hurt and there was no damage. Like on Wednesday, the military spokesman claimed the gunfire was not aimed at Israel, but spilled over from fighting on the Syrian side of the border.
- Saudi King Salman names new heir to the throne in shakeup
In a major generational reshuffle, Saudi King Salman elevated Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, to Crown Prince instead of Prince Muqirin, and his own son, Mohammed bin Salman, in his early 30s, second in line to the throne as well as defense minister. Prince Saud al-Faisal, who had served as foreign minister since 1975, was replaced by Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir, the first non-royal to hold the post.. Of particular interest to the oil trade was the appointment of Khalid al-Falih as health minister and chief executive of Aramco, alongside Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi who stays in his post. debkafile’s analysts note that Salman’s reshuffle breaks with the 65-year old tradition of naming the order of succession according to age and alternating it between the royal family’s rival kinship branches. The reshuffle may therefore encounter disgruntlement or even revolt in some of the princely factions.
Hizballah officers land in Tehran with Syrian defense chief. Iran approves anti-Israel strategy
29 Apr. A high-level Hizballah delegation arrived secretly in Tehran Tuesday, April 28, with the large military group led by Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, debkafile discloses exclusively. Both are taking part in the military and intelligence consultations with Iranian officials on the war situation in Syria and steps planned against Israel. A Gulf intelligence source warned that those steps were quickly finalized. The IDF on the Golan can expect a far more active and intense front than ever before, he warned – a small foretaste of which was the failed bomb attack Sunday.
April 30, 2015 Briefs
- Two Iranian destroyers reach Bab el Mandeb
The Iranian Navy has sent the Alborz and Bushehr destroyers to the entrance of the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, between Yemen and Djibouti, “to protect commercial shipping,” said Iranian Navy chief Rear Adm, Habibollah Sayari Thursday. "We are present in the Gulf of Aden in accordance with international regulations to ensure the safety of commercial ships of our country against the threat of pirates," he said.
- Netanyahu signs coalition deals with Kulani and UTJ
In a race to form a coalition government before the Wednesday deadline, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday signed the first two agreements with the heads of Kulanu and United Torah Judaism. This gives him 46 MKs out of the 67 parliamentary majority he is aiming for. Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon gets the Finance, Construction and Environmental Protection ministries, while the UTJ wins the Health Ministry and other posts. As finance minister, Kahlon promised the new government would pursue reforms in housing and banks, and act to close economic gaps in Israeli society.