A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending August 3, 2006
Afula is hit by a new, more powerful rocket identified by Hizballah as Khaibar-1 (after Mohammed’s battle with the Jews of Medina)
28 July: Afula in the Jezreel Valley is 70km from the Lebanese border, 15 km south of Haifa. All outdoor activities cancelled and Afula’s residents ordered to adopt Haifa procedures for the first time. debkafile reports the 120-130 km-range missile may have been fired from a point north of the Hatzbaiya River near Qaroun Lake.
debkafile reports a war council in Damascus Thursday
28 July: It was chaired by Syrian president Bashar Assad, attended by Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and senior Iranian official Ali Larijani. There too were Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mussa Abu Marzouk as well as the Palestinian Jihad Islami chief Abdallah Ramadan Shelah. The Palestinian terrorist leaders were invited in their capacity as commanders of the second front against Israel in Gaza.
This anti-Israel coalition will no doubt decide on the two fronts’ next steps in their war against the “Zionist enemy.” The fact that Assad is there and the consultation is taking place in his capital indicates that he and the other participants feel confident enough to decide on a further escalation of the violence. Wednesday, Nasrallah received Tehran’s ok to strike Tel Aviv
Israel prepares for long-range surface Zelzal-2 missile firing over central Israel
28 July: debkafile‘s military sources add: The Israeli army discovered the 3.5-on, 8.46 meters long missiles were stored in buildings with strengthened floors and walls to carry their weight, their roofs removed and replaced with makeshift coverings such as branches and twigs. These coverings are dense enough to block the missiles from the view of Israeli aircraft but are easily removable to enable the rapid launch of the Zelzal from inside the building where it is stored. The warning by Israel’s generals about the Zelzal’s deployment also applies to the Mohajer-4, a pilotless aircraft packed with explosives. In November 2004 and April 2005, this Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace undetected.
An Israeli physician, Dr. Danny Yaacoby, aged 60, is kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian Fatah- al Aqsa Brigades
28 July: Five suspects were arrested. Israeli security forces found his burnt body stuffed in the trunk of a car near the Palestinian village of Haja east of Qalqilya. Israeli authorities have published a fresh warning: Palestinian terrorists are going all out for the kidnap of Israeli civilians and soldiers under the influence of the Hizballah kidnap of two Israel soldiers which sparked the Lebanon war.
Israel deploys Arrow anti-missile batteries in central Israel 29
29 July: Saturday afternoon, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah threatened to send more rockets into central Israeli cities after Afula was hit Friday night. Playing it safe, Israel also adjusted the orbits of its military satellites to allow them to track any Hizballah missiles at the moment they are launched from Lebanon. Military experts believe that the Israeli air force, supported by these hi tech systems, will be able to intercept an Iran-made Zilzal-2 long-range missile, whose 250-km range puts Tel Aviv within reach, before it enters Israel.
Our sources add that from Saturday, July 29, the tempo of the American munitions airlift to Israel, begun last Wednesday, as debkafile revealed exclusively, has speeded up. During Saturday, giant US Air Force C-114 cargo transports en route for Israel touched down in Scotland for refueling every few hours.
Israeli warplanes bombed the Lebanese-Syrian border post of Masnaa Saturday night
29 July: The Lebanese terminal on the Beirut-Damascus highway was destroyed and arms-laden trucks from Syria were struck.
Earlier, debkafile reported climbing military tension with Syria, marked by downing of an Israeli drone Friday by a Syrian air defense battery.
Afulah was just the first of our attacks on cities in central Israel, said Nasrallah
29 July: He warned the Lebanese government not to hurry to accept a ceasefire
This dispute will not be resolved at the diplomatic table but on the battlefield, he said. debkafile adds: The Hizballah leader took to the airwaves shortly after US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice landed in Israel and Israel’s newly-moderated demands for a ceasefire were released in Jerusalem. An unnamed “senior foreign ministry official” said Israel no longer demanded the immediate disarming of Hizballah as part of a deal – only that the proposed peacekeeping force in south Lebanon keep Hizballah away from the Israeli border and prevent the group from replenishing its stockpile of rockets from Syria and Iran.
Nasrallah sets up new Khaibar Brigade
29 July: debkafile reports that Hassan Nasrallah has now deployed his medium range Khaibar Brigade (named for the battle in which Mohammed destroyed the Jews of Medina) for the next stage of his rocket war against Israel’s northern population. The towns of Israel’s heartland, such as Afula, Pardess Hannah and Hadera, can expect to be increasingly targeted.
Three Israeli reserve divisions of 30,000 men put on standby for call-up
Syrian Downing of Israeli drone Raises Specter of Syrian Scuds
29 July: According to debkafile‘s military sources, Syrian air defense batteries ambushed and shot down an Israeli spy drone flying on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria to allow a large consignment of rocket launchers and rockets to cross into Lebanon undetected and safe from Israeli air attack.
The drone was shot down while flying in Lebanese air space. This was a signal from Damascus to Israel that it would not scruple to target Israeli military forces inside Lebanon
debkafile‘s military sources report that some members of Israel’s high command criticize the policy of restraint towards the Syrians.
More than 330,000 Israelis displaced from their homes by some 3,700 Hizballah rockets in 19 days
Lebanon cancels Rice visit
30 July: debkafile notes: France has a highly-developed relationship with Hizballah. French diplomats in Beirut have maintained contacts with Hizballah leaders close to Hassan Nasrallah in the last two week of fighting. In 2004, President Jacques Chirac invited Nasrallah to a conference of Francophone Arab leaders. They shook hands and the Hizballah leader was seated beside the French president at the top table. France may well have obtained prior Hizballah consent to its draft.
Olmert: The war goes on, there is no ceasefire
31 July: The war will end when the threat to the Israeli people ends and the kidnapped soldiers are returned. And we will win. Talking to UK premier Tony Blair, Olmert said: It will be possible to implement a ceasefire but only after a multinational force is in place.
Fifth Palestinian suicide bombing foiled in Israel city in two weeks
31 July: Security forces detained two suspects after clamping down a suicide alert on Haifa as the town took a break from a 17-day Katyusha barrage. Their car contained large number of mobiles, a Koran and cash.
Israeli security estimates two-thirds of the Zilzal-2 200-km missile stock destroyed
31 July: Jihad Attiah logistics chief, one of masterminds of the kidnap of two soldiers, was killed. Israel ground action estimated to have killed 300 Hizballah – no member of the top Hizballah command was hit, only field operations officers.
Israel warns villagers on eastern Mt. Hermon slopes, including Shuba, to leave their homes ahead of Israeli operation.
Rice believes a lasting ceasefire and a lasting settlement can be achieved this week by the UN
31 July: Speaking before departing Jerusalem for Washington, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the UN will be asked to approve this week a comprehensive settlement based on a ceasefire, political principles for a long-term settlement and the authorization of an international force to help the Lebanese army keep the peace.
debkafile notes: Rice never once mentioned Hizballah or the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers in this regard because Hizballah does not accept to any of those points.
The Push beyond the Litani River
1 August: debkafile‘s military analysts report the ground forces assigned with reaching the Litani River are driving forward in three spearheads in the western, central and eastern sectors, battling heavy Hizballah resistance in their path.
The Central Sector:. This force is fighting to take control of the villages of Rumaich and Yaroun south of Bint Jubeil and close to the Israeli border.
The Eastern Sector: This force has split in two, with A Section fighting to cleanse three villages directly north and west of the northernmost Israeli town of Metulla: Kila, Deir Mimas and Taibe; and B Section, which has turned east up the western slopes of Mt. Hermon, to operate 16-18 km east of Metullah in the villages of Shouba, Shab’a and Rachaiya al Foukhar, east of the Litani River and north of Golan. This operation aims at sealing south Lebanon off to outside incursions from the east
The Western Sector: This force entered Lebanon near Zarit (where the Hizballah raid which sparked the war took place on July 12). After cleansing Yarin and Alama Chaab, this unit will head west to Naqoura on the Mediterranean coast to occupy a pocket no more than 2-4 km from the Israeli border.
The IDF is aiming to carve out and control three enclaves along the Lebanese-Israel border in an area not yet cleansed of Hizballah fighters in nearly three weeks of combat.
The operation to push Hizballah out of the south past the Litani River is proceeding very slowly and is still in its early stages.
Israeli commandoes landed by helicopter in Baalbek kill 10 Hizballah, take 5 prisoners
1 August: debkafile report this was the deepest Israeli incursion in Lebanon so far, 150km from the border. No top Hizballah commander was there.
Hizballah denies losing 400 men in the three-week Lebanon war. Its Al Manar television station claims the prisoners taken in the Israeli commando operation and the Lebanese killed in Israeli air attacks around Baalbek were innocent civilians.
Tuesday, Israeli Arabic broadcasts began reading out the names of Hizballah casualties.
The Syrian orders full call-up to strengthen its lines opposite the Golan and Lebanon
2 August: Tank and missile units head Wednesday towards the Israeli Golan border
Hizballah rockets kill 8 Israeli civilians Thursday afternoon
3 August: Three were killed instantly in Acre, north of Haifa, and a two more died of their wounds. Three civilians were killed at Maalot-Tarshiha. At least 22 civilians injured, one critically and 14 in serious condition. More than 200 Hizballah rockets swept Galilee from west to east, including Safed, Tiberias and Carmiel. Kiryat Shemona suffered severe damage from a daylong battering.
Tuesday, three soldiers died, 25 injured, in action in the Western Sector of South Lebanon
3 August: Thursday, Day 22 of the Lebanon War, some 10,000 Israeli troops are battling Hizballah in villages and towns across southern Lebanon. Under the plan laid down by the inner cabinet, they were due to deploy along a line some 6-8 km from the Israeli border up to the weekend in a broadened offensive to push Hizballah out of the region past the Litani River. Israel has lost 37 men in the 23 days of fighting.
Wednesday, Chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz reported 400 Hizballah fighters had been killed in three weeks.