July 30, 2015 briefs
- Stringent Iranian restrictions on nuclear inspections
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Iran will not allow American or Canadian inspectors of the UN nuclear watchdog to visit its nuclear facilities – only monitors from countries with which it has diplomatic relations. Neither would IAEA inspectors have access to "sensitive and military documents."
- Three Turkish soldiers killed in PKK ambush in Anatolia
A Kurdish PKK ambush killed three Turkish soldiers Thursday in the southeastern Anatolian town of Şırnak. PKK attacks have intensified in the last ten days since Turkey resumed attacks on its bases in northern Iraq and Syria.
July 31, 2015 briefs
- Houthis attacked Saudis with Scuds from North Korea
South Korean intelligence claims that the Scuds Yemeni rebels used against Saudi Arabia in recent months were from a batch of 20 bought from North Korea. The sources did not reveal who made the purchase, but Iran and North Korea and Iran have collaborated closely for years in their missile and nuclear programs.
- Palestinians clash with Israeli troops, hurl rocks, bottle bombs
Although Israeli and Palestinian security forces were on high alert Friday for major incidents after the tragic death of a Palestinian baby in an arson attack, the incidents were fairly routine and caused no casualties: There were Palestinian Muslim clashes with Israeli security forces after Friday prayers at Al Aqsa, followed by firebomb and rock attacks in the Old City of Jerusalem and further north at Qalandia. Gunshots hit an Israeli car near Cochav Hashahar in the Jordan Valley. The passengers fired back. The shooters got away. In the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm, 500 protesters rallied to protest the murder of the baby. Thousands of Israeli troops are combing the northern West Bank for the perpetrator, believed to be a Jewish extremist.
- Thousands of Israeli soldiers in manhunt for arsonist-killer
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and all heads of Israeli parties condemned the crime. He vowed: ”We will not rest until the perpetrators of the attack are caught and brought to justice.” Jewish settlement leaders denounced the attack as an outrage totally at odds with their values and contrary to their quest for coexistence with Palestinian neighbors.
- Two Turkish air strikes kill at least 190 PKK fighters
Turkish intelligence sources report that at least 190 members of the Kurdish PKK were killed in two air strikes early Friday against their bases in Iraq and Syria. Around 30 Turkish F-16 fighter-bombes conducted the assaults.
Aug. 1, 2015 briefs
- Questions about plane crash that killed Bin Laden’s relatives
The Saudi ambassador to the UK confirmed that the late Osama bin Laden’s stepmother Rajaa Hashim, his sister, Sana Bin Laden, his brother-in law, Zuhair Hashim and the pilot Mazen Al Doaja, were killed Friday when their private Beechcraft twin-engine jet flying in from Milan crashed into a car park in southern England. Aviation experts are baffled by the pilot’s actions in climbing 500 feet as the plane came into land, then diving at high speed to plummet into a car park, instead of landing on the Backbushe airport tarmac in Hampshire.
Hizballah presses elite force into stalled Zabadani battle
1 Aug. debkafile exclusive: On July 30, Hassan Nasrallah pressed into service the elite Hizballah Radwan Force, designed to conquer Israel’s Galilee, for extricating the combined Hizballah-Syrian armies from their month-long failure to recapture the key town of Zabadani.
Aug. 2, 2015 briefs
- The IDF evacuates the Ofer base as three fires spread
The Ofer base northwest of Jerusalem and Moshav Sapir were evacuated Sunday as brush and woodland fires came dangerously close to ammo depots and habitations. Hadassah Medical Center is wreathed in heavy smoke, but the blaze has been kept at bay. No casualties are reported. Fifty-four fire trucks have been brought in and eight aircraft are fighting three infernos in the district in torrid weather conditions.
- Cairo extends military presence in Aqaba Gulf and Red Sea
Egypt extended by six months its military deployment outside the country’s borders to defend national and Arab security in the Gulf, Red Sea and the Strait of Mandeb. Egypt is part of a Saudi-led coalition that has been targeting Houthi rebels in Yemen.
- US and Egypt resume strategic dialogue after 6-year break
US Secretary of State John Kerry begin talks in Cairo Sunday on the resumption of the strategic dialogue that the US suspended in 2009. The Obama administration Friday delivered eight F-16 warplanes to Egypt as part of a military support package for its mounting confrontation with Islamists terrorists in Sinai.
Israel’s hysterical self-blame spree will fuel more terror
2 Aug. Israeli leaders and media indulged in their knee-jerk responses –“We’re all to blame” and ”We all ignited the flames” – to two separate, individual Jewish hate crimes, repulsive though they were. Israelis and their leaders universally condemned the crimes, but that should have been a far cry from collective self-flagellation and loud laments that “The whole house is on fire.” The whole house is not on fire and we are not all guilty, although this was the message President Reuven Rivlin offered the nation Saturday night, July 1, in an outpouring of raw emotion instead of constructive remedies.
Equating a hate crime by Jewish individuals against Palestinians with the organized, self-condoned Palestinian terrorism over decades against Israelis and Jews is an oversimplification that clouds the path to a constructive approach. Both should be energetically addressed, but they are different in nature and call for different remedies.
Aug. 3, 2015 briefs
- Lavrov: US air strikes in Syria violate international law
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday condemned US air strikes to defend CIA-trained Syrian rebels as “a violation of international law” and “an obstacle to forming a united front to fight terrorism, including Islamic State and al-Nusra Front.” Lavrov spoke in Doha after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry.
- The late Rabbi Kahane’s far-right grandson detained
Meir Ettinger, a far rightwing activist and grandson of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, was arrested Monday, as part of the general round-up of such activists ordered in the wake of the arson and murder of an infant in the Palestinian village of Duma last Friday. Ettinger is not suspected of complicity in that crime. A blackout was imposed on his interrogation.
- US would defend Israel as it would a NATO ally
A US defense official said Monday that his country would defend Israel as it would a NATO ally, if it were attacked by Iran. In a briefing to Israeli diplomatic correspondent on a visit to Washington, the official said the US would preserve Israel’s military qualitative edge and would not sell the state-of-the-art F35 fighter, promised to Israel to any other country in the Middle East, including Egypt. debkafile: The Obama administration is in the midst of a media assault in Middle East countries to win journalists round in favor of the nuclear accord. Its object is to show US lawmakers a slew of supportive articles in the region’s media.
- Two people hurt by firebomb on Israel car in Jerusalem
An Israeli woman of 27 was seriously hurt Monday night when her car caught fire from a Palestinian firebomb attack in North Jerusalem. The burning car crashed into another vehicle and injured the driver.
- Two mortar shells explode on Golan
Two mortar shells coming from the direction of Syrian Quneitra exploded Monday evening in the orchards of Kibbutz Ein Zivan on the Golan. There was no report of damage or casualties. The Israeli army is investigating the source of the fire.
- Israel approves special measures against hate crimes
The security cabinet Sunday approved measures empowering security authorities to apply every resource available to prevent hate crimes like the arson murders perpetrated a Palestinian family in the village of Duma by a still unknown assailant.
Iran plans missile tests in defiance of Vienna deal and UNSC
3 Aug. Tehran Sunday, Aug. 2, launched a public campaign in support of impending ballistic missile tests. This would flaunt Tehran’s non-acceptance of their prohibition under the Vienna nuclear accord and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20. The students of nine Tehran universities and Qom seminaries called on Iran’s chief of staff Maj Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, to organize long-range ballistic missile tests without delay to invalidate those measures.
Saudi and UAE armored brigades and commandoes land in Aden, as Houthis fall back
4 Aug. After clinching its conquest of the Yemeni port of Aden – contrary to all Western predictions – Saudi Arabia teamed up with the United Arab Republic and, together, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, landed by sea and air two armored brigades and several commando battalions. debkafile reports that this was the first time that any Gulf nation had proved capable of a sea landing on this scale. Tuesday night, convoys of heavy Saudi Abraham M1 tanks and French-made Leclerc tanks contributed by the UAE army began heading north for their next target, Taiz.
Aug. 5, 2015 briefs
- First Jewish suspect of violent attack detained without trial
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon signed an order Tuesday night placing right-wing activist Mordechai Meir (18) under administration detention without trial for up to six months. He was arrested on suspicion of complicity in an arson attack on the Galilee Church of the Loaves and Fishes some weeks ago, and of belonging to a “Jewish terrorist group.” This order, the first in years, followed a Security Cabinet decision to apply administration detentions for terrorists also against Jews suspected of extremist attacks.
News flash for Obama: With or without a nuclear deal, Hizballah’s Iranian missiles threaten Tel Aviv
5 Aug. President Barack Obama missed the point by warning the 22 Jewish leaders invited to the White House Tuesday, Aug. 3, that if Congress strikes down the Iranian nuclear deal, …”Hizballah rockets will rain down on Tell Aviv” – not on New York. debkafile: Iranian-supplied rockets have repeatedly rained down on Israeli population centers for nine years, from the 2006 Lebanese war and up to the July 2014 Gaza operation. They hang over Israel today, like yesterday and probably tomorrow, irrespective of whether Congress endorses or throws out Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran, because they were never prohibited by that deal.
Obama also warned that Iran would “arm and land proxies on Israel’s borders.” Well, Hizballah terrorist attacks at Tehran’s behest are not exactly unknown either. They too are not banned in the nuclear deal.
As the US president spoke, Hizballah units under the command of Iranian officers were firing heavy Iranian Zelzal 3 surface missiles at Syrian rebels barricaded for more than a month in the Syrian town of Zabadani, just 200km from Tel Aviv and even less, 140km, from Israel’s heavy industrial town of Haifa.
Aug. 6, 2015 briefs
- Three Israelis badly hurt by Palestinian vehicle
A Palestinian driver ran over a group of Israelis with his vehicle near the Shilo junction Thursday, seriously injuring two and slightly hurting a third. The driver was shot while still in his car and critically injured.
- At least 20 killed in suicide bombing in Saudi mosque
A suicide bomber killed at least 20 people in injured scores in an attack on a mosque in the southwestern Saudi town of Assir Thursday. The mosque is frequented by Saudi security personnel.
- Israeli budget: 17 pc for defense, VAT exemptions for low income groups
The 2015/2016 biennial state budget totaling NIS 329.5 was approved by the government in an all-night session ending early Thursday. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon whose department gets 17 percent of the total was the only hold-out. Its provisions put more money in the ordinary Israeli’s pockets by exempting public transport fares from VAT as well as low income groups from this tax on their bills for water and electricity. Foreign banks will be permitted to operate in Israel to increase competition in that sector. The deficit expands to 2.9 percent for both years, to be offset by a 3 percent across-the-board slash in government spending. More money will be spent on higher education and shrinking classes in primary and secondary schools, on medical care, and police. Pensions will be topped up for the elderly who fall below the poverty line.
- US intel found Iran sanitizing Parchin site after nuclear deal
US intelligence has informed Congress of evidence that Iran sanitized its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, days after the conclusion of a nuclear deal with the world powers and ahead of international inspections. The new evidence, showing the movement of bulldozers and other heavy equipment into Parchin, comes from satellite imagery collected in mid- and late July.