A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending February 21, 2013
February 15, 2013 Briefs
Palestinians stage clash for Kerry visit. Two Israeli soldiers, many Palestinians injured
Two Israeli soldiers and at least 19 Palestinians were injured Friday in a clash at Bitunya near the IDF’s Ofer Camp on the West Bank-Israel border. It was staged by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas as a greeting for US Secretary of State John Kerry when he arrives for a visit. The soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters when a rock-throwing Palestinian mob hemmed them in at their Bitunya roadblock.
Eight Israeli paratroopers hurt in training accident
The paratroops were blown off course by strong winds over the Negev in a routine training exercise Friday near Tzeelim. Eight were injured as they jumped. After treatment at Beersheba Soroka Hospital, all eight returned to base.
Iran fingers Israel for IRGC general’s death
15 Feb. Tehran believes the precision of the attack which killed IRGC General Hassan Shateri is evidence of deep intelligence penetration and has placed Israel in its sights for payback. debkafile: The general’s last assignment before his death was the formation of a guerrilla army of 5,000 Revolutionary Guardsmen and 5,000 Hizballlah operatives to fortify the defenses of Bashar Assad’s governing institutions and secure the main Syria-Lebanon route. Iran is determined to have Hizballah’s advanced weapons transferred from Syria to Lebanon, whatever it takes.
February 16, 2013 Briefs
Khamenei: No power can stop Tehran accessing an atomic bomb
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, but no power could stop Tehran's access to an atomic bomb if it intended to build it. debkafile: His message is that Iran has procured all the necessary components for a bomb but will not take dictation from outsiders on when to build it. Khamenei has been circulating a fatwa banning nuclear weapons to support Tehran’s claim that its nuclear program is purely peaceful.
Seven injured Syrians hospitalized in Israel
They were wounded Saturday in fighting between Syrian troops and rebels in villages near Israel’s Golan border. Israeli soldiers guarding the border gave them first aid and had them transferred to the Zieff Hospital in Safed.
Iran threatens revenge on Israel for allegedly killing IRGC general
Ali Shirazi, representative of Iran's supreme leader to the Revolutionary Guards, said Saturday that Israel will soon pay the price for the death in Syria of Gen. Hassan Shateri, a senior IRGC officer, for which Tehran holds Israel responsible.
More fist-shaking by Nasrallah
Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah boasted he doesn’t need Iranian and Syrian help to inflict major damage on Israel’s infrastructure especially its power facilities. He said he had all the weapons he needs to plunge the Zionists in darkness for six months.
February 17, 2013 Briefs
Israeli parliamentary probe for Zygier affair
The intelligence subcommittee of the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Sunday decided to launch an “intensive probe into all aspects” of the death of Ben Zygier-Alon in an Israeli prison cell two years ago.
Iran will never shut Fordo, says lawmaker in Tehran
Senior Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi spurned world powers’ latest offer to shut down the Fordo plant which refines uranium to 20 percent purity in return for easing the sanctions barring gold and precious metals trade with Iran. “The suggestion is meant to help the Zionist regime,” he said. debkafile: Tehran never intended closing the underground facility which brings uranium close to weapons-grade concentration. And so the nuclear talks opening in Kazakhstan on Feb. 25 between Iran and six world powers were doomed from the start.
Ex-FM Lieberman’s trial opens for fraud, breach of trust
Former Foreign minister and Israeli Beitenu party leader Avigdor Lieberman pleaded not guilty Sunday in the magistrate’s court in Jerusalem at the opening of his trial on charges of fraud and breach of trust. Lieberman denied he had improperly promoted former ambassador to Belarus Zeev Ben-Arye to reward him for an illegal leak of information about major cases against the former minister, which were subsequently dropped. His conviction of charges entailing moral turpitude would exclude Lieberman for public office for seven years and force his resignation from the Knesset. The hearing was adjourned until late April.
Six car bombs kill 18 people in Baghdad. Iraq heading for civil war
At least 18 people were killed and more than 80 injured by six car bomb explosions in Baghdad Sunday. The mounting sectarian violence is bringing Iraq to the brink of civil war among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.
US plan for UN to endorse Khamenei’s fatwa? Shock in Jerusalem
17 Feb. The North Korean test of a “miniature nuclear device” capability, combined with Iran’s ability to launch a capsule with a monkey payload into orbit, add up to their having achieved a nuclear warhead capacity through shared technology. Officials in Jerusalem were dismayed to discover that instead of cutting this menace short, members of President Barak Obama’s circle were studying a bizarre plan to appease Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei by seeking UN Security Council endorsement for his nuclear fatwa. This fatwa was always dismissed as a piece of propaganda to support Tehran’s false claim that its program is purely peaceful.
February 18, 2013 Briefs
Donilon urges Europe to blacklist Hizballah
US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon has called in an newspaper article on the Europeans to add Hizballah to its list of terrorist organizations since the group was unmasked in a “despicable” attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, killing five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian. This attack occurred within Europe’s borders, he stresses. However, the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Monday refused to heed this message and the evidence laid before them by Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov of Hizballah culpability in the Burgas attack and let the Lebanese terrorists off with limited sanctions.
Assad is shooting Scuds at rebels inside Damascus
According to debkafile’s exclusive military sources, Bashar Assad’s armed forces have fired at least 20 Scud surface-to-surface missiles in the Damascus region. They were aimed at the eastern suburbs where rebels have dug in.
Syrian Sunni Islamists vs. Shiite Hizballah
18 Feb. Contrary to reports that Hizballah is attacking Syrian villages in the Homs region, the fact is that a thousand Hizballah militiamen have moved into those villages to defend their Shiite, pro-Assad inhabitants from rebel attack.
debkafile also reveals: Syrian rebel Islamists are receiving anti-tank missiles from Kosovo and Bosnia, which give them an edge in battles with Syrian troops. Those weapons are being used by the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra rebels for their push into Lebanon to strike Hizballah from the rear in its Beqaa Valley strongholds. Now, two organizations listed as terrorists by the United States, the Sunni Jabhat al-Nusra and the Shiite HIzballah, are in head-on confrontation in a sectarian byway of the Syrian conflict.
February 19, 2013 Briefs
Gen. John Allen will not take up NATO command
President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the Marine Corps general had refused the nomination as supreme commander in Europe in order to retire and address health issues within his family.
Netanyahu: No pause in threats from Iran, Syria, Hizballah
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel faces unprecedented security challenges. “There is no pause for a moment in the threats from Iran, Syria and Hizballah,” he said and therefore Israel needs a broad-based, united and stable government. Netanyahu presented Tzipi Livni, the Hatnuah party leader as new justice minister. She is also tasked with responsibility for leading peace negotiations with the Palestinians “on the basis of two nation-states,” he said. “I hope we can find a Palestinian partner to address our security needs seriously and bring our conflict to an end,” said Netanyahu.
Magistrate alleges prison negligence in Zygier suicide
Israel Prime Minister’s Office: Ben Zygier-Alon was not connected with Australian intelligence. The gag order was partly lifted Tuesday on the initial findings of a court investigation into the suicide of Ben Zygier-Alon alleged Mossad agent in an Israeli prison two years ago. Magistrate Dafna Blatman-Kardai, who headed a probe, found evidence of negligence on the part of the prison authorities charged with observing him. Zygier was found hanging by a wet sheet tied to the window of his bathroom and died of asphyxiation. The judge said he died by his own hand, but ordered the prosecution to continue the investigation.
Assad’s troops retreat from Golan, leaving Islamist rebels to confront Israel
19 Feb. Bashar Assad has evacuated most of the troops of his 5th Army Division from their permanent bases on the Golan opposite Israeli forces and transferred them along with their artillery to Damascus, debkafile’s military sources report. This step was intended by Assad to reinforce the defense of his capital, while at the same time giving the al Qaeda-linked rebel fighters direct access to the Israel border for attacks. Saturday, Feb. 16, Israeli government and military leaders were at odds over whether to extend medical treatment to seven Syrians injured in battle on the Golan. In the event, they were transferred to hospital in Safed. But because of the argument, the official communiqué said only that the decision was taken on humanitarian grounds but omitted to specify whether the injured Syrians were soldiers or rebels.
February 21, 2013 Briefs
At least 53 dead in big car bombing near Syrian Baath HQ and Russian embassy
The explosion went off Thursday in the central Damascus district of Mazraa where the ruling Syrian Baath Party headquarters and the Russian embassy are located. At least 31 people were killed and many more injured. Witnesses saw many casualties and burning vehicles.
Iranian, Hizballah terror cells exposed in two continents
21 Feb. Nigeria reported Wednesday, Feb. 20 that it had bust a terrorist group “backed by Iranian handlers” for gathering intelligence on locations frequented by Americans and Israelis and assassinations. Its leader had received $30,000 from Tehran for expanding the group from the Muslim north of the country to the South. In Cyprus, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, 24, admitted at his trial that he was a Hizballah member, who spied on locations frequented by Israelis in Limassol and acted as Hizballah “courier” in EU countries.
Syrian rebel ultimatum places Hizballah on high alert
21 Feb. Hizballah forces went on alert Thursday, Feb. 21, upon the expiry of a 48-hour ultimatum slapped down by Syrian rebels to halt the Lebanese group’s military support for Bashar Assad. debkafile: Relevant to this chain of events is the Syrian claim that its anti-aircraft missiles downed an Israeli drone Wednesday over the Lebanese village of Deir al-Aachayer. Those events were touched off by the onset in Moscow of a political process between Syria’s warring parties for determining the country’s future. Assad is bidding for Hizballah’s inclusion in any deal along with its Beqaa Valley strongholds.