A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 27, 2015

The four rockets fired on Galilee came from the new Iranian terror front on the Golan

21 Aug. It was the new Iranian-backed network which Thursday, Aug. 20, fired a salvo of four rockets from the Golan into upper Galilee and the Golan. Two days earlier, Israel’s top government and military went on a high level of preparedness in expectation of the first terrorist attack to be orchestrated by Iran from the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Israeli intelligence had received word that Iranian Al Qods and Hizballah officers were building a new terrorist network for mounting large-scale terrorist attacks on Israel from the Syrian border opposite the Golan.

August 22, 2015 briefs

  • Twelve killed, including 3 US contractors, in Kabul attack
    At least 12 people were killed and 66 others wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in Afghanistan's capital Saturday. Three were US contractors.

Another French failure to spot informer as Islamist terrorist

22 Aug. The Moroccan gunman, Ayoub Qahzzani, 26, who injured three passengers on the Amsterdam-Paris fast train Friday, Aug. 21, was yet another Muslim extremist known to French, Spanish and Belgian intelligence who was allowed to commit an act of terror. debkafile: This selfsame scenario has recurred in the three years since the Toulouse Jewish school outrage. The bravery of two US servicemen and other passengers averted a massacre. French anti-terror agencies badly need of an overhaul that enables them to differentiate between inside informers and dangerous terrorists.

August 23, 2015 briefs

  • Ten right-wing Israeli activists banned from West Bank
    The Shin Bet domestic security service explained in an unprecedented statement Sunday why restraining orders had been issued against 10 Jewish right-wing activists, including two minors, banning their access to the West Bank for ten months. These activists must be kept “away from illegal outposts… from which they set out for attacks,” the statement said.
  • Egypt claims air strike killed ISIS ops chief in Sinai
    Egyptian army sources report that the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis operations chief in Sinai, Rashad Abu al-Qassam, was killed in an air strike. The Egyptian bulletins reverted to the group’s original name, although it pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.
  • Turkish troops battle PKK around SE hydroelectric plant
    The Turkish military Sunday struck Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after an attack that killed a soldier and injured three others who were guarding a hydroelectric plant in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
  • UAE commando frees British hostage in Yemen
    A United Arab Emirate commando force fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has released a British national. No details were released on his identity.
  • British FM reopens British embassy in Tehran
    Four years after Iranian rioters burned and ransacked the British embassy in Iran, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is in Tehran Sunday to reopen it, while Iran reopened its embassy in London.
  • Nine Palestinians detained for lobbing firebombs at Jerusalem cars
    Nine Palestinians, including four youths, were arrested two weeks ago, accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at a vehicle on Route 20 near Beit Hanina, Jerusalem which wounded two people, and at Jewish homes in the neighborhood.

Israel’s military response to Iran’s rocket salvo was short on deterrence

23 Aug. The four rockets fired from Syria into Israel’s Galilee and Golan Thursday, Aug. 20 were Iran’s way of testing the Israel’s government’s will for military action. Israel’s rhetoric and artillery, missile and aerial counter-strikes Thursday night and Friday left everyone confused, by blaming Iran, Al Qods, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and then attacking Syrian military targets in the Quneitra district. Saturday, Tehran unveiled its new Fateh-313 short-range, surface missile, which is highly accurate at a range of 500 km. This was to tell Israel that its retaliatory action fell short of deterring Iran from the continued pursuit of its policies. Tehran in fact believes from the experience of the past seven years that Israel is highly reluctant to employ military action against Iran.

August 24, 2015 briefs

  • Israel poses tough opening terms for talks with Hamas
    European sources trying to get Israel-Hamas talks underway reported Monday that Israel had posed tough terms for sitting down at the table for ceasefire talks with the radical Palestinian organization which rules the Gaza Strip. Israel’s take-or-leave-it stipulations were that Hamas stop digging tunnels for terrorist attacks and manufacturing rockets and artillery ammo, including mortars.
  • Assad: We must first deal with Israel’s proxies
    Syrian President Bashar Assad commented Monday:”The real tools that Israel is using, which are more important than the recent attacks, are the terrorists in Syria." This was his first response to Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Syrian forces after an Iranian-sponsored rocket attack on Israel’s Galilee and Golan last Thursday. Assad went on to say: "If we want to deal with Israel, we must first deal with its proxies inside Syria."
  • Another Palestinian terror cell rounded up
    A joint Shin Bet-IDF-police investigation led to the detention of a Palestinian terrorist cell in Kafr Bitta in the Nablus district of the West Bank. The cell plagued Israeli road vehicles with fire bombs and rocks, staged disturbances and regularly attacked police and military forces in the area with rocks.
  • Terrorism bureau lists 41 travel warnings for High Holidays
    Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau Monday published 41 warnings for Israelis traveling overseas next month for the High Holidays – none specific or new.Turkey stays on the list, while countries like Beligum, Canada, France and Denmark may be exposed to Islamist terrorist attacks that seek out Israeli and Jewish targets. Another threat comes from the Iran-Hizballah global terror campaign against Israelis and Jews worldwide.
  • ISIS blows up Phoenician temple in Palmyra
    The Islamic State which captured Palmyra in May has blown up the 2,000-year old Baalshamin Temple Sunday, a few days after beheading the town’s 82-year old antiquities director and famed scholar Khaled al-Asaad. The temple which is about 500 meters from Palmyra’s famous Roman amphitheater was dedicated to the Phoenician god of storms and rain.
  • Terrorist attack in Nile Delta kills two Egyptian policemen
    A bus carrying Egyptian policemen to work in the Nile Delta province of Baheira, 260 km north of Cairo was struck by a bomb. Two officers were killed and 24 injured. Most terrorist attacks in Egypt target security forces in Sinai.

Kurdish oil is another Netanyahu-Obama head-to-head front

24 Aug. Israel began importing Iraqi Kurdish oil exactly a year ago, acting at odds with the Obama administration, as debkafile reported at the time. Binyamin Netanyahu and the Barack Obama don’t see to eye to eye – not just on nuclear Iran, but on Middle East policy in general and the autonomous Kurdish republic, in particular. Israel decided to import Kurdish oil – first, because it was cheap at a time of soaring world prices and, second, to provide Kurdistan with revenue to buy the arms withheld by the US for repelling the ISIS advance on Irbil. The Financial Times broke its “discovery” of Israel’s purchase of Kurdish oil Sunday, Aug. 23, on the day that Britain and Iran reopened their respective embassies in Tehran and London.

August 25, 2015 briefs

  • Army Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch named new police commissioner
    Public Security Minister Gilead Ardon’s unexpected decision Tuesday to select an outsider, former division commander army reserve brigadier general Gal Hirsch, 51, as new police commissioner, has raised a storm of protest in high police ranks.Hirsch commanded the Galilee Division in the 2006 Lebanon war, and most recently served as acting commander of the new IDF Depth Division.
  • France should be prepared for more attacks – Hollande
    French President Francois Hollande says his country should be prepared for more attacks such as the thwarted assault on a high-speed train last week.
  • El-Sisi on third visit to Moscow will sign new accords
    Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is one of three Arab rulers visiting Moscow Tuesday to discuss the Syrian crisis with President Vladimir Putin and sign accords. Other visitors were King Abdullah II of Jordan and Crown Prince Mohammed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi.
  • Minister seeks to ban extremist Muslim groups from Temple Mt
    Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan Tuesday announced steps to ban from Temple Mount, in Jerusalem, two extremist Muslim groups which plague Jewish visitors to the shrine with screaming abuse, curses and pushing.

Abbas tags son Yasser as next Palestinian leader

25 Aug. After giving up on the Obama administration, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is busy seeking new champions, possibly in Tehran, while shoring up his rule over Palestinian institutions, designing his legacy, and bringing his son Yasser Abbas forward as his successor. Abbas Jr, aged 52, moved to Canada in 1997 and built a business career.

August 26, 2015 briefs

  • Gunmen kill two US troops in Afghanistan base
    wo men wearing Afghan security force uniforms opened fire Wednesday inside a military base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, killing two US service members of NATO before being shot dead themselves.
  • Russia to help Iran create a satellite observation system
    Two Russian space companies have signed a cooperation agreement with an Iranian corporation, clearing the way for the creation of an Iranian satellite remote-sensing system for gathering information about the Earth's surface, atmosphere and oceans.
  • Saudi king schedules first trip to Washington
    Saudi King Salman will visit Washington on Sept. 5, his first since ascending the throne January, amid concerns about the nuclear deal reached with rival Iran in July.
  • Iran to start “nuclear commercialization” at Arak
    Tehran to start “nuclear commercialization” by importing yellow cake and exporting enriched UF6,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters in the western Iranian town of Hamadan Tuesday.
  • Assad is confident of continuing Iranian, Russian support
    In a Lebanese TV interview Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar Assad commented on the flurry of diplomacy for ending the Syrian war that Russia and Iran did not abandon their friends.

August 27, 2015 briefs

  • Hizballah wins another truce in Zabadani battle
    A 48-hour truce was to begin Thursday morning in the NW Syrian town of Zabadani, under attack by Hizballah and the Syria army without a breakthrough for more than a month. It was agreed with the al-Qaeda affiliated rebel Nusra Front holding the town.
  • debkafile: Saudi fighters intercepted Khobar Towers bomber
    Ahmed al-Mughassi, sought for 20 years for the 1996 Khobar Towers attack that killed 19 US service personnel and wounded 500 people, was not captured in Beirut as first reported. debkafile reveals exclusively that his plane was intercepted by Saudi fighter jets over the Gulf after it took off from Iran and forced it to land in Saudi Arabia. There are no details on how the Saudis found out about the flight.
    n 2006, a US Federal judge ordered Iran to pay $254 million to the victims’ families based on evidence that the truck bomb was assembled at a base in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, operated by Hizbollah and the Revolutionary Guards, and approved by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • Netanyahu pays an official visit to Italy
    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin leaves Thursday for Rome for a state visit and talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. He will also visit the US, Chinese and Israeli exhibits as the Italian expo2015 fair on technology, agriculture and food.
  • Palestinian axe attack on Israeli soldier in Jerusalem
    A Palestinian axe attack on an Israeli border guardsman at the Jerusalem Old City’s Damascus Gate was followed by a firebomb that burned another border guard patrol jeep to a cinder. He and another guard escaped serious injury. The attacks quickly escalated as Palestinians hurled rocks at the fire engines alerted to extinguish the fire and violent riots erupted in the A-Tur district

Egypt bids for two advanced French copter carriers as counterweight to the Iranian navy

27 Aug. Egypt is in advanced negotiations with France for two highly advanced French Mistral class assault-cum-helicopter carrier ships that were originally destined for the Russian Navy. debkafile reports this deal, if it goes through, will substantially beef up the regional lineup of the Saudi, Egyptian and Israeli navies. The new vessels would enable it to contest Iranian naval challenges in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, and alter the balance of strength between the opposing sides. Saudis and the UAE are covering the bill.

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