A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 10, 2014
July 4, 2014 Briefs
- Israel resumes air strikes over Gaza after lull for possible truce
For 36 hours, Israel held back on military action against Palestinian Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip in the hope of a truce announced by the BBC to halt the Hamas rocket barrage against Israeli towns and villages. However, after 17 rockets dashed that hope, the IAF went back to bombarding Gaza.
- Thirteen Israeli police slightly injured by rioting Palestinians
In three days of mass riots, hundreds of masked Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli police in several parts of Jerusalem, hurling fire bombs, rocks and firecrackers at police and Jewish neighborhoods. Police used stun grenades and gas to disperse them.
Al Qaeda-Iraq forces advance on Baghdad military air base. US ponders air strike ahead of Iran and Russia
4 July. Al Qaeda Iraq (IS) and Sunni allies were advancing Friday, July 7 on the al-Muthanna military air base at Baghdad international airport, debkafile reports. Three columns, of 1,000-1,500 fighters each, were driving forward in US-made armored Humvees and APCs taken booty. They are also after the assault planes Iran and Russia delivered to the base – eight fighters – four Su-25UBKMs and four Su-25Kms with crews from Iran, and the six Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots, along with air and ground maintenance crews from Russia. The Obama administration must decide quickly whether to launch its first strike to head off the Iraqi Islamists before they grab the strategic air base andan air fleet, and, just as importantly, before Tehran or Moscow move in.
July 5, 2014 Briefs
- First outbreak in Nazareth as Israeli Arab riots spread
The Israeli Arab rampage against Jewish targets, which erupted Friday night, spread Saturday to the northern town of Nazareth. At least 17 Israeli Arabs were arrested and a dozen injured by tear gas and stun grenades in the Triangle towns of Qalansweh, Tira, Baqa al-Garbiya and Taibeh, northeast of Tel Aviv, after hundreds of youths lobbed rocks and burning tires at neighboring Jewish locals and highway traffic.
Friday night, masked Arabs outside Qalanswa waylaid the cars, checked if the drivers were Jewish, dragged them out and beat them up before torching their vehicles. The drivers fled on foot.
Cycle of violence expands around and in Israel as street forces take charge
5 July. In less than a week, Israel finds itself trapped in a maelstrom of violence following the Netanyahu government’s limp response to the traumatic discovery on July 30 of the bodies of the Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, kidnapped and slain by Hamas. Two days later, a 16-year old Palestinian boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was found murdered in Jerusalem, sparking Arab riots and scores of rockets from Gaza. “Quiet will be met with quiet,” was Israel’s feeble message to Hamas as the IDF, a highly competent counter-terror force, stood idly by.
July 6, 2014 Briefs
- US tightens airport security to include electronics
American officials have ordered some overseas airports with direct flights to the US to intensify screening of electronic devices. Mobile phones or other electronic devices will not be allowed on US bound planes if they are not fully charged.
- Fresh Israeli-Arabs riots and clashes Sunday night
The Israeli police are braced for a further surge of violence by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in the fourth night after six Jewish suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem.
- Israel Arab confesses to murdering Shelly Dadon
Hussein Yusfu Khalifa from the mixed Muslim-Christian village of Iblin in northern Israel confessed to the murder of 19 year old Shelly Dadon from Migdal Ha’emek earlier this year.
- IS leader al-Baghdadi in first public sermon
A video released Saturday showed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Sunni Islamist IS, giving a public sermon for the first time in the mosque of Mosul. After seizing large areas of Iraq and Syria, al Baghdadi announced the establishment of the Islamist State with himself caliph.
- Ten Israelis injured in Palestinian disorders in Jerusalem
Palestinians attacked an Israeli woman in the Old City and injured another 10 by raining firebombs and rocks on an Israeli bus. Two of the injured Israelis were children.
Six Jewish men arrested in connection with murder of Palestinian youth
6 July. Israeli Police Sunday, July 6, arrested six Jewish men from Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem and Adam village in connection with the murder of the 16-year old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khdeir.Their motive is believed to be “nationalistic revenge” for the three Israeli teenage boys earlier kidnapped and slain by Hamas. A gag order was issued on details of the inquiry.
Israeli leaders have widely condemned the crime and vowed that those responsible would be brought to justice: "Murder is murder, whoever is responsible."
July 7, 2014 Briefs
- Israeli Foreign Minister breaks up Yisrael Betenu-Likud merger
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Betenu informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday that he is dissolving the merger his party and Likud forged before the last election. He acted after a sharp dispute with the prime minister over his demand for a strong response to Hamas rocket blitz and kidnap-murder of three Israeli youths.
Hamas flatly spurns a ceasefire. Israeli air strikes kill 7 of its operatives in Gaza
7 July. There is not the slightest chance of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas halting its three-week barrage of rockets against Israel in the foreseeable future, high-placed sources in Cairo, Washington and the IDF told debkafile’s military sources Sunday night, July 6. They all agreed that Israeli-Gaza border tensions would continue to escalate, in the absence of serious Israeli military punishment for cutting Hamas down.
July 8, 2014 Briefs
- Rocket-preparedness radius extended to 80 km – up to Netanya
The IDF Home Command Tuesday extended the preparedness radius for rocket attacks from a distance of 40km from the Gaza Strip to 80km, encompassing Tel Aviv and Netanyahu.
More than half of Israel under Hamas rocket attack – from Beersheba up to Greater Tel Aviv. No casualties
8 July. First Hamas rockets were fired or intercepted Tuesday night, July 8, over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Givatayim, Raanana, Caesaria and Yavne, as well as southern Israeli cities. No casualties or damage reported. Beyond shooting dozens of rockets, Hamas also made several attempts Tuesday, July 8, to smuggle terrorists into Israel for attacks. A Hamas naval commando which tried in the afternoon to land from the sea near Ashkelon’s Zikkim beach was repelled by an IDF coast guard. Later, another group of terrorists tried to creep into Israel through a tunnel running under the Kerem Shalom crossing. Public shelters were earlier opened in Tel Aviv, the beaches along the Mediterranean coast from the south to Netanyahu further north were cleared of bathers and Sdei Dov airport was closed. Arrivals and departures of flights at Ben Gurion international and Eilat airports were thrown off schedule by Israeli Air Force sorties against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli air strikes kill 5 Hamas commanders
8 July. Israeli air strikes singled out Hamas chiefs Tuesday, July 8, at the onset of the IDF’s Operation Solid Rock, after 50 strikes overnight. Hamas Naval Commando chief Mahmoud Shaaban, 24, and three passengers were killed when their car was hit from the air. Another airborne raid flattened the Rafah home of Abdul Rahman Juda, which served as a command and control center. Thirty Palestinians were injured.
Israel calls up 40,000 reservists to expand Gaza operation
8 July. The IDF called up another 40,000 reservists Tuesday, July 8, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the expansion of Operation Solid Rock against the Palestinians’ mounting rocket assaults – 100 by mid-afternoon. This was after Israel carried out dozens of air strikes over Gaza Monday night, culminating in raids that killed five leading Hamas operatives. The high-intensity Palestinian rocket offensive, now it its fourth week, is seriously disrupting life in those regions.
The IDF launches Operation Solid Rock against Hamas
8 July. Israel finally launched its Operation Solid Rock against Hamas Monday night, July 7, after the Palestinians directed a steady stream of 100 rockets from Gaza to expanded targets as far as Rehovot, 50 km away. The operation is billed as a long-term offensive to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure in escalating stages up to a limited ground incursion.
July 9, 2014 Briefs
- Manhunt for second Hamas sea commando team intruder
The IDF spokesman disclosed Wednesday that residents of an Israeli locale close to the Gaza border were told to lock themselves in at home because terrorists were at large. Other sources add that Hamas tried to inject a second commando team by sea for a terrorist attack in Israel.
- IS take sledgehammers to Prophet Jonah’s tomb in Mosul
Al Qaeda-Iraq photos show churches and mosques in Mosul destroyed by bulldozers, explosives and sledgehammers, including the tomb of the Biblical Jonah, best known for being swallowed by a fish or whale.
- Hamas aimed 7 rockets at Dimona. None hit the reactor
Iron Dome intercepted three of the 7 rockets aimed by Hamas at the Dimona nuclear reactor, 43 km from the Gaza Strip. The other four landed on empty ground.
- Israel: IDF acts to dismantle Hamas military machine
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev told foreign media Wednesday: “What we see is that over the last few years Hamas has built up in Gaza a very formidable terrorist military machine and we are now acting to dismantle that machine.” Asked about an IDF ground operation, he said: "It’s possible, we are ready for every contingency, the army has been instructed to prepare for that – if that is what politicians decide. Our strategic goal is ultimately defensive, to end the rocket fire on our cities.”
Hamas has several hundred of M-302s of type that hit Hadera
9 July. The long-range Hamas rockets that reached Hadera 110km north of Gaza Tuesday, July 8, have been identified as the Syrian-made M-302 Khaibar missile, which Hizballah launched against Haifa in the 2006 Lebanon war. This weapon uses Iranian technology which derives from the Chinese WS-1. Hizballah engineers posted in the Gaza Strip have since helped Hamas improve the M-302 and extend its range and accuracy. But even after improvements, the M-302 suffers from a lack of precision, which was demonstrated Tuesday night when it landed harmlessly in Hadera and also Jerusalem.
July 10, 2014 Briefs
- One man critically injured by rocket in Ashdod
A rocket which struck a car and building in Ashdod critically injured a man Thursday night. Two Israelis were injured in Eshkol District, one seriously. They are the first serious injuries caused by the three-week Hamas blitz.
- Heaviest rocket volley yet hits Beersheba – 170 in one day
According to first reports, a house and a sports center were hit in downtown Beersheba by incoming rockets from Gaza Thursday evening – at least 20 in a single volley. More missiles were aimed for the first time at the Dead Sea region. A four-rocket salvo was earlier fired against Jerusalem, two against Tel Aviv, another against Mitzpe Ramon and a volley against Rehovot, Dimona, Ofakim. None caused injuries or much damage. At least 30 were caught by Iron Dome.
- Israel carries out 850 air and sea strikes in three days
The Air Force and Navy carried out 850 strikes over the Gaza Strip in three days, targeting a weapons store, 5 arms manufacturing plants, 5 military compounds, 58 tunnels, 2 surveillance posts, 217 buried rocket launching pads, one command and control base and 46 homes of Hamas and Jihad Islami commanders.
- Two Palestinians detained heading for a bombing attack
The two Palestinians were apprehended near Ariel in the northern West Bank on suspicion of heading for a bombing attack in Israel. In their vehicle was a gas canister rigged with an explosive charge.
IDF tells 100,000 Gaza civilians to move back from Israeli border – sign of impending ground incursion
10 July. Thursday afternoon, July 10, the IDF advised 100,000 Palestinian civilians to leave their homes in the northern Gaza villages of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Greater Ibsen and Smaller Ibsen and head west to the coast or south out of harms way. This order, issued shortly after a special Israeli cabinet meeting, suggested that an Israel military incursion is impending. During the day, Hamas kept up its barrage. By firing 170 rockets in one day, the Islamists demonstrated that their rocket capability had not been impaired by three days of massive Israeli air strikes. And so far, none of their senior commanders or command centers had been struck.