A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 14, 2014

August 8, 2014 Briefs

  • Non-stop Palestinian rocket fire ends 72-hour ceasefire
    Two people were injured in a barrage of 57 rockets fired by Hamas by Friday night – one a soldier and the Director of Sapir College, Dr. Nahmi Paz, 71, outside a Shearei Hanegev village. At exactly 8 a.m. Friday morning, the Palestinians renewed rocket fire against the Israeli population after a 72-hour pause which Hamas refused to extend. Israel recalled its delegation from the Cairo talks, so as not to negotiate under fire.
  • Obama authorizes targeted US air strikes in northern Iraq
    US President Barack Obama Thursday authorized "targeted air strikes" in Iraq to protect American personnel, help save some 200,000 civilians on the run from Islamist attacks and stall the jihadist advance on Irbil. For the Yazidis and Christians trapped in northern mountains, US cargo planes airdropped 8,000 meals and gallons of water.
  • Three US air strikes against IS in Iraq
    In first US air strikes in Iraq, FA-18 jets, launched from the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier in the Gulf, dropped 500lb bombs on an ISIS “mobile artillery piece” attacking Kurdish forces defending Irbil.

August 9, 2014 Briefs

  • Egypt dissolves Muslim Brotherhood party
    An Egyptian court Saturday dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and liquidated all its assets. The Brotherhood was outlawed last year as a terrorist organization and its leaders face death sentences in Egyptian courts.
  • Second US air drop of water and food to refugees from IS
    The Pentagon reported that the US had carried out a second air drop of more than 1,500 gallons of water and 28,000 packaged meals. Obama said to the NY Times: "We're not going to let them create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq. But we can only do that if we know that we have got partners on the ground who are capable of filling the void.”

Islamists tactically ahead of US and Israel in Irbil and Gaza

9 Aug. While different in many ways, the campaigns the US wages in northern Iraq against Al Qaeda’s IS, and Israel in Gaza, against Hamas, share strong common features. President Obama refuses to put US special forces back in Iraq and, for very different reasons, Israeli leaders abstained from sending special forces deep inside the Gaza Strip to eliminate the Hamas high command and its main rocket stocks. Both have fallen into the same error of relying on air strikes to knock out Islamist fundamentalists on the march, with the result that neither conflict will end soon, and both woke up too late to the Islamists’ preparations for war.

August 10, 2014 Briefs

  • Palestinian rocket blows up at food and aid border crossing to Gaza
    A Palestinian rocket exploded Sunday at the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, through which trucks carried hundreds of tons of food and essentials from Israel to the Gaza population day by day during the IDF’s month-long Operation Defensive Edge. After a Palestinian rocket landed there Sunday, Israel finally closed the crossing because Hamas rockets were endangering the personnel employed there.
  • Al Qaeda’s IS massacres 500 Yazidis, kidnaps 300 women
    Islamic State terrorists have murdered at least 500 members of the Yazidi sect in northern Iraq, burying some of their victims alive, including women and children. and kidnapped about 300 women, a Baghdad government minister said on Sunday. The Islamists’ drive north forced thousands of Yazidis to flee to the mountains from their ancient home of Sinjar and provoked the first US air strikes in Iraq since the American troop withdrawal in 2011.

Israel’s concessions for ceasefire and demilitarizing Gaza

10 Aug. In response Egyptian mediation, Israel is ready to shrink the security zone inside the Gaza Strip by 200 meters, provided the Palestinian Hamas observes a further 72-hour ceasefire going into effect at midnight Sunday, Aug. 10, debkafile’s intelligence sources report. And if the truce holds overnight, Israeli negotiators will return to Cairo Monday morning to resume the talks interrupted by Hamas rocket fire Friday.
debkafile further reports that Israel may also allow Gaza Strip to have a seaport at some time in the future in return for the territory’s demilitarization.

Secret Cairo message: Hamas won’t bend because it wasn’t beaten. IDF: Beware of waiting game

10 Aug. Cairo sent a secret message to Jerusalem Saturday night, Aug. 9, saying that Hamas rejected any compromise because “you [Israel and the IDF] haven’t hit them hard enough.” This is revealed exclusively by debkafile. The Israeli delegation cancelled its trip to Cairo when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu understood the Egyptian ceasefire initiative had stalled until the IDF clobbered Hamas’ military wing into submission. Palestinian rocket fire resumed Friday, then, 24 hours later, the impasse in Cairo evolved into a diplomatic void. IDF generals cautioned against a protracted period of indecision.

August 11, 2014 Briefs

  • Egypt’s El-Sisi meets Putin in Sochi
    Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El Sisi met President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi Monday to discuss the Israel-Hamas deal taking shape in Cairo negotiations and the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. They also arranged to finalize the terms of a $3 bn deal for Egypt’s purchase of Russian weapons.
  • Iraqi president asks Dep. Speaker to form new government
    In a public snub to incumbent PM Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi president Fouad Massoum Monday asked his rival deputy speaker of parliament Haider al-Abadi to form a national unity government.
  • IS captures town NE of Baghdad, kills 10 Kurdish fighters
    Islamic State terrorists captured the town of Jalawla 115 km northeast of Baghdad at dawn on Monday, after weeks of clashes with Kurdish fighters and dramatic gains. The seizure of Jalawla came a day after a suicide bomber killed 10 Kurdish fighters there. The Islamists also took control of two nearby villages.
  • Israel envoys arrive in Cairo for Gaza talks
    An Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo Monday morning after Hamas halted rocket fire at midnight in accordance with a ceasefire mediated by Egypt. Negotiations monitored by Egyptian officials in separate rooms aim in the first instance at attaining a durable truce. Two score rockets were fired from Gaza up until the last moment Sunday night. One was aimed at Tel Aviv and five at the southern town of Kiryat Gath. In some places, red alerts for rockets stopped functioning in the last two days.

US arms Kurds from Jordan & Israel. Al Qaeda targets US Negev bases

11 Aug. The Kurdish Peshmerga fight against Islamic State broadened out Monday, Aug. 11, with the US arms airlift to the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdish capital, Irbil, of large quantities of military hardware from the Mafraq King Hussein Air Base in Jordan and US emergency stores in the Israeli Negev. The US will soon run out of air strike targets, without fielding special forces on the ground to mark them with laser designators. debkafile reveals: Al Qaeda in Sinai reinforced by IS fired rockets at US and Israeli Negev bases in support of Hamas’ war on Israel.

August 12, 2014 Briefs

  • Kiev refuses Russian humanitarian convoy passage into Ukraine
    Kiev denied passage Tuesday of a convoy of 280 Russian trucks reportedly packed with aid for beleaguered pro-Russian separatists, saying it was managed by the Russian army. Kiev officials are now demanding that they be unloaded at border and reloaded on Red Cross vehicles lest they mask military aid.
  • Saudis pledge $80m to aid Gazans
    Saudi Foreign Minister Saudi Al-Faisal said Tuesday that his government would donate $80m in aid to the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. He said Israel’s goal was to “wipe out the Palestinians.”
  • Hamas on options in Cairo talks: Jihad now or jihad later
    The Hamas military wing made its position clear Monday, on the second day of indirect talks with Israel in Cairo on a permanent ceasefire: “Our fighters in Gaza are waiting to return with Allah’s help to the battlefield – or else wait and prepare for the next round of fighting. There is no escape. It’s either jihad now or jihad when we are fully prepared.”

Ready for fresh outbreak of Gaza hostilities, IDF will expand counteraction for Hamas rockets

12 Aug. The seventh truce in the ongoing Israel-Hamas passage of arms is generally expected to end Wednesday night Aug. 13, with fresh hostilities triggered by Hamas rockets. The Cairo talks never got off the ground because the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians were unbridgeable and the Palestinian team was divided against itself. This time, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon are preparing broad action in response to Palestinian rocket fire. They know that the public and the army too have run out of patience with half-measures.

August 13, 2014 Briefs

  • Italian Simone Camili is first newsman to die in Gaza conflict
    AP journalist, Simone Camili, 35, was one of five people who died Wednesday, when a Gaza bomb disposal crew attempted to disable unexploded ordnance in the town of Beit Lahiya. Mr. Camili, who had been with the AP since 2005, was the first foreign journalist to be killed in the Gaza conflict.
  • France to supply arms to Iraq’s Kurds “in coming hours”
    French President Francois Hollande announced Wednesday that France would supply Iraqi Kurds with arms in the coming hours, in response to the urgent need expressed by the regional authorities in Kurdistan against the Islamist forces advancing on Irbil. The decision was approved by Baghdad.
    Australian PM Tony Abbott did not rule out sending combat forces to Iraq. Tuesday the US authorized sending a further 130 military personnel to Kurdistan in northern Iraq “to develop options for helping civilians in escape from the IS who are trapped on Mount Sinjar.”
  • Items threatened by UK arms embargo available elsewhere
    In the event of “resumption of significant hostilities” in the Gaza Strip, the UK may suspend export licenses for 12 components used by the IDF in Gaza, London announced Tuesday. They would include spare parts for fighter jets, drones, tanks and radars, but not Iron Dome. debkafile military sources: Israel could replace these items from other sources without too much difficulty.
  • Israeli naval warning shots at Palestinian boat outside fishing limit
    In the second such incident Wednesday, an Israeli naval craft fired a warning shot at a Palestinian vessel which sailed outside the fishing limit set by the Israeli blockade on Gaza Strip waters. The vessel turned back.

Warning sirens in southern Israel end three-day ceasefire Wednesday. Cairo talks fail

13 Aug. Two hours before the Gaza truce was due to end Wednesday midnight, Palestinian rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at large parts of southern Israel: Ashkelon, Kiryat Gath, Yoav District, Shear Hanegev. No casualties are reported. Hamas envoys reported that the Cairo talks had broken down and the truce would not be renewed unless their conditions were met. Israel had earlier massed armored forces on the Gaza border, and called up a fresh batch of reservists in case the Palestinians against fired rockets.

August 14, 2014 Briefs

  • Palestinians report 5-day truce extension after firing rockets
    Palestinian negotiators in Cairo announced a five-day extension of the Gaza ceasefire which ran out Wednesday at midnight, an hour after shooting two rocket salvos into Israel. They claimed Israel had also agreed to the truce, although no confirmation has yet come from Jerusalem.
  • First Hamas rocket explodes in Eshkol early Thursday
    Rocket alerts sounded early Thursday, the morning after the new “five-day truce,” in Hof Ashkelon and the Eshkol District. Although hundreds of people heard a rocket explosion, the IDF maintained it was a false alarm.

PLO reports new Gaza truce, Hamas denies and shoots rockets. Israel is silent, retaliates with air strikes

14 Aug. Confusion reigned Thursday morning, Aug. 14, stirred up by contradictory words and actions around the latest truce mirage in the Gaza war. Hamas rocket fire started two hours before the last 72-hour ceasefire was scheduled to end Wednesday midnight and continued up until 2 a.m. Thursday – namely before and after PLO-Ramallah envoys in Cairo and Egyptian officials announced a new five-day ceasefire. Hamas-Gaza denied this. No Israeli official was available to confirm or deny, while the Israeli air force hit back for Hamas rockets. Indirect talks will “apparently” resume in Cairo Sunday.

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