A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 17, 2014

July 11, 2014 Briefs

  • Woman injured by rocket fire on Beersheba
    Friday night, Tel Aviv environs took three rockets without damage or casualties. Iron Dome intercepted all three. A salvo over Beersheba injured two civilians and damaged three houses.
  • The IDF deploys eighth Iron Dome battery
    The eighth Iron Dome missile interceptor battery was deployed Friday after a rush job to complete it by the Defense Ministry and Rafael.
  • Netanyahu: Withdrawal from West Bank would create 20 Gazas
    In his first televised news conference Friday, the prime minister said, when asked about ground action: “We have prepared all the options and there is much more that we can and will do – until Hamas stops shooting missiles and peace is restored."
  • Hamas rocket hits Ashdod fuel station. Eight injured
    A heavy barrage was directed from Gaza early Friday against Rishon Lezion, Rehovot and Ashdod, where a gas station was struck directly, injuring eight people, one seriously. Firefighters moving fast prevented a major fire and explosion. Hamas shot 40 rockets into Israel by 10 a.m.
  • Obama calls Netanyahu, upholds Israel’s right to self-defense
    US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu early Friday. He said Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas rockets. He expressed concern about “the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm.”

Hamas rockets reach Haifa. Katyushas from Lebanon aimed at Metulla

11 July. Another half a million Israelis came under rocket attack before dawn Friday, July 11, as Hamas again expanded its rocket radius up to Haifa, north of Tel Aviv and 150 km north of the Gaza Strip. A woman of 70 collapsed and died running for shelter when she heard the Haifa siren. Two Katyusha rockets from Lebanon alerted Metullah, Israel’s northernmost town early Friday. debkafile: It came from a Beqaa village under Hizballah rule. IDF artillery returned the fire. Israeli air strikes continued to pound the Gaza Strip, hitting 200 targets in the last 24 hours.
The air force is seriously restricted in its targeting by avoiding hitting high-rise residential buildings and hospitals, where Hamas and Jihad Islami have stored their longest-range rockets and under which it has housed its command and control bunkers.

July 12, 2014 Briefs

  • More rockets from Lebanon alert Nahariya
    Rocket sirens blared Saturday night in Israel’s northwestern coastal town of Nahariya as well as the border villages of Shlomi and Rosh Haniqra as three rockets from Lebanon exploded. Israeli artillery returned the fire to a point south of the Lebanese port of Tyre. This was the second attack from Lebanon in two days.
  • Hamas launches blanket rocket assault on central Israel
    No casualties or damage immediately reported after Hamas’ blanket blitz across central Israel Saturday night after the Islamists gave Israel one hour’s notice in a Hebrew message. Iron Dome batteries intercepted many of the 10 rockets in mid-air. Sirens were heard in different parts of Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ramat Hashorn, Petach Tikva, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod, Or Yehuda and Beit Shemesh.
  • Rocket siren in Jerusalem for 4 landings in West Bank area
    A siren alerted Jerusalem Saturday afternoon to incoming rockets from the Gaza Strip as four rockets landed in Palestinian territory near Hebron. The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel to provide its towns with siren equipment and Arabic translations of the IDF Home Command’s directives for safety procedures against rocket attack.

Israel ramps up Gaza air strikes, tells Gazans to evacuate border areas after Hamas’ blanket rocket blitz

12 July. The Israeli air force reacted with a heavy carpet bombardment the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip, followed by and IDF notice to 100,000 Palestinians living in the northern Gaza towns of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Greater Ibsen and Smaller Ibsen to evacuate their homes for their own safety. This was in response to a 10-rocket Hamas salvo against Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu’s exit plan: Let Hamas rule Gaza, leave the IDF in control of West Bank security – with world approval

12 July. For five days, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confronted Hamas rockets with nothing but air strikes. IDF ground forces were left out of the action. Instead, in a news conference Friday, July 11, the prime minister seemed to postulate an endgame: The enfeebled Hamas would stay in power in Gaza in exchange for a world mandate for the IDF to retain responsibility for West Bank security.

July 13, 2014 Briefs

  • Egypt agrees to mediate an end of Israel-Hamas conflict
    Cairo has formally undertaken the task of mediator between Israel and Hamas and proposed a ceasefire to go into effect from Tuesday 9 a.m.
  • Three Iron Dome interceptions over central Israel
    Rockets fired from Gaza Strip Sunday afternoon across a long swathe of western Israel from Rishon Lezion up to Haifa including Tel Aviv and its satellite towns, as sirens also blared in Hadera and Netanyahu. None caused casualties or damage.
  • Hamas warns North Gazans not to leave homes
    Thousands of residents in northern Gaza heeded IDF warnings by leaflets to leave their homes temporarily ahead of a major Israeli air operation against rocket launchers and weapons stores maintained by Hamas in residential areas. The IDF calculates that 40 percent of all Hamas-Jihad Islami rockets were fired from northern Gaza. UNWRA in the Gaza Strip opened 10 schools to accommodate the refugees who fled to shelter in the face of Hamas warnings to stay in their homes.
  • Israeli Shayetet 13 commando unit raids Hamas rocket post in Gaza
    A Shayetet 13 sea commando unit early Sunday raided the Hamas position at Sudaniya in northern Gaza from which long-distance rockets were fired into Israel. Four Israeli commandos were slightly injured in the ensuing firefight. Early-morning Palestinian rocket fire focused on the Modiin area in an attempt to hit Ben Gurion International Airport.
  • Ashkelon boy critically injured by falling shrapnel
    Two people were injured, a 16-year old boy seriously, by falling fragments of a rocket intercepted by an Iron Dome missile over Ashkelon Sunday afternoon. More than 90 Israelis have been injured as a result of the Hamas rocket offensive.
  • Palestinian youths pelt Jerusalem police with rocks and firecrackers
    Two police officers on guard at Temple Mount were injured when dozens of Palestinian youths, some masked, pelted their contingent with rocks and firecrackers Sunday. They were pushed back into the mosque and police closed the compound to Jewish visitors.

July 14, 2014 Briefs

  • More rockets from Lebanon explode in Western Galilee
    For the fourth time since Friday, rockets were fired from Lebanon against the Western Galilee. Warning sirens alerted the populations of Nahariya, Shlomi and the local kibbutzim as the rockets exploded on open ground. Israeli artillery hit back at the launchers.
  • Two rockets fired at Golan from Syria
    Rockets from Syria exploded on open ground on the Israeli Golan Monday for the second time in two days.

Israel accepts Egyptian mediation and ceasefire starting Tuesday at 9 a.m., demands removal of Hamas missile stocks from Gaza

14 July. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has accepted President Abdel-Fatah El-Siisi’s proposal to mediate the halt of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas and a ceasefire going into effect Tuesday, July 15 at 9:00 a.m., debkafile reports. The prime minister stressed that Egyptian and Israeli policies towards Hamas remained unchanged, including the blockade of the Gaza, and he would insist that all Hamas rocket stocks in Gaza be dismantled.

The hidden intelligence agendas behind Hamas’ 1,000-rocket barrage and Israel’s 1,500 air strikes

14 July. As Israel’s Operation Defensive Edge ended its first week on July 14, military and intelligence experts were finding it hard to believe that Hamas had fired 1,000 rockets against Israel at random. They have concluded that Hamas was collecting operational data for itself, Iran and Hizballah to use in future conflicts – both on the weak points of Iron Dome and for guidance systems to lend their future rockets and mortars greater accuracy. Those experts urge Israel to send small special forces teams into the Gaza Strip for covert intelligence-gathering missions that could tip the scales in Israel’s favor.

July 15, 2014 Briefs

  • Netanyahu sacks hawkish Dep. Defense Minister
    A cabinet crisis erupted on the eighth day of the campaign against Hamas. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday fired deputy defense minister Danny Danon for his broadsides against acceptance of a ceasefire. Danon accused the prime minister of weakness and pandering to left-wing opinion.
  • Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Gantz: No let-up for Hamas
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz issued a tough message to Hamas in a joint televised appearance Tuesday night after Hamas fired more than 100 rockets against dozens of Israeli locations during the day. Netanyahu said that after Hamas had rejected the Egyptian truce, Israel would broaden the assault on its terrorist infrastructure on all fronts.
    Lt. Gen. Gantz said that, while keeping track of Israel’s Syrian and Lebanese borders, the IDF was most intensively engaged in offensive and defensive action for cutting Hamas down.
  • First Israeli civilian fatality in Gaza operation
    An Israeli civilian, later identified as Dror Khanin, 37, from Beit Aryeh, who was fatally wounded by a Palestinian mortar shell while handing out food and candy to soldiers posted on the Gaza border.
    Magen David Adom paramedics fought to save his life under Palestinian fire, without success. A second volunteer was moderately injured.
  • US and Iran may extend deadline for nuclear accord
    Both US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Zarif suggested Tuesday that the July 20 deadline for a final nuclear accord may be extended as major gaps remain in the six-power nuclear negotiations ongoing with Iran in Vienna. The US says Iran can’t be allowed to keep 15,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium, or stand by its refusal to convert the Arak reactor to a light water plant unable to produce plutonium for a bomb. The Iranian negotiating team’s hands are tied by the intransigent policies dictated by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • Israeli resumes air strikes over Gaza after massive Hamas rocket fire
    After dozens of Hamas rockets hit more than 15 Israeli towns – some twice – in the hours after Israel accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal Tuesday morning, the Israeli Air Force was ordered to resume air strikes against Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip six hours later.
  • Libya seeks international aid after losing last air link to world
    A new rocket attack on Tripoli airport Monday killed one person and damaged 12 planes. The country's second-largest airport in Benghazi has been closed for two months. Misrata airport, the only remaining airport with regular international flights, was also closed on Monday.
  • Hamas military chiefs and Jihad Islami reject Egyptian truce bid
    The Israel cabinet approved the Egyptian mediation initiative accepted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before the ceasefire proposed by Cairo goes into effect Tuesday at 9 a.m. Cairo’s proposal was rejected by Hamas’ military chiefs and Jihad Islami, both whom claimed it was published without consulting them. Overnight two rockets were fired at Eilat from Sinai for the first time in the current round of hostilities. Flying shrapnel caused some injuries. Rockets were also fired from Lebanon and Syria.

Unilateral Gaza ceasefire collapses. Israeli air strikes resume after dozens of Palestinians rockets in hours. Tehran orders the shooting to go on

15 July. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the Israeli Air Force to resume strikes over Gaza Tuesday afternoon, six hours after the ceasefire proposed by Egypt, accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas, was to have gone into effect. During those hours, dozens of Hamas rockets raked town after town and village after village. debkafile: The White House called off US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Cairo visit upon finding Tehran’s hand behind the rockets.
Washington also learned that the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, PFLP-General Command, whose chief Ahmed Jibril has made his organization an operational branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al Qods Brigades, was orchestrating the trickle of rockets from Lebanon and Syria to back the Hamas-Jihad Islami blitz from Gaza.

July 16, 2014 Briefs

  • Israel accepts five-hour UN ceasefire for humanitarian purposes
    Israel has acceded to a UN request for a five-hour ceasefire in its attacks on Hamas in the Gaza Strip starting Thursday at 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
  • IDF: Forces prepared for ground action
    The army spokesman stated Wednesday night after it was announced that another 8,000 military reservists had been called up that “the forces were being prepared for a ground move.”
  • Israel conducted 105 air strikes over Gaza by early evening
    By early evening Wednesday, Israel had conducted 105 air strikes over the Gaza Strip, Hamas had fired 70 rockets at Israel, of which 43 landed and 23 were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries.
  • Italian Foreign Minister Mogherini urges Hamas to accept ceasefire
    Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini pledged every effort to help resolve the Gaza crisis when she visits Cairo Thursday. After meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, they held a joint news conference in the Knesset. She urged Hamas to reverse its position on the Cairo ceasefire proposal after visiting rocket-blasted sites in Israel. Netanyahu said Israel sought international support for the demilitarization of Gaza and Hamas rocket stocks removed.
    Italy currently holds the rotating presidency of EU.
  • First Israeli casualty: Dov Khanin, 37, from Beit Aryeh
    Israel suffered its first fatality in the current rocket campaign: Dror Khanin, 37, from Beit Aryeh, was handing out food and candy to soldiers posted on the Gaza border when he was fatally wounded by a mortar shell.

As the Israeli Cabinet delays its decision, Palestinians hammer Tel Aviv with heaviest barrage yet

16 July. Israel faces a new dilemma after the breakdown of the Gaza truce: Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s expects Israel to lead the way for a knockout blow against Hamas, the Palestinian branch of his archenemy the Muslim Brothers. He would then collect the rewards. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants Cairo to go first. How Israel plays this new game will also affect El-Sisi’s attitude towards the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, whom he receives in Cairo Wednesday, July 16. As Hamas and Jihad Islami wait and watch to see how the game plays out, they are doing what comes most natural to them: redoubling the rocket fire.

July 17, 2014 Briefs

  • Israel soldier injured by explosion in Hamas terror tunnel
    An explosive device injured in Israeli soldier during the examination of the tunnel through which Hamas tried to infiltrate terrorists into southern Israel early Thursday.
  • Hamas rocket fire resumed full blast: Israel denies truce deal
    As the five-hour “humanitarian” ceasefire ran out Thursday at 3 p.m. Palestinians resumed their rocket barrage, starting with Ashkelon and Beersheba. In the last hour, a massive barrage set off sirens in a dozen Israeli towns and regions, up to the Hefer Valley in the north and including the Sharon district, Petach Tikva, Kfar Saba, Netivot, and the southern locations around the Gaza border. Iron Dome intercepted three rockets. No casualties were reported. Israel flatly denied another BBC report claiming that a truce agreed with Hamas would go into effect Friday at 6 a.m.
  • US-EU tightens sanctions vs Russia. Putin warns of boomerang
    The US and EU Wednesday strengthened sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine, accusing Russia of continued support for the Ukraine separatists.
  • Israeli military targeted terrorists in attack that killed 4 children
    Preliminary results of the IDF investigation into the incident, in which four Palestinian children were said to have been killed by Israeli shellfire while playing on a Gaza beach, showed that the strike was aimed at “Hamas terrorist operatives.” It was “the tragic outcome” of the cynical Palestinian practice of hiding military infrastructure behind civilians.

IDF foils major Hamas tunnel terrorist attack on Kibbutz Sufa. IDF ground operation widely predicted

17 July. A big Hamas commando team aiming for a large-scale terrorist attack in Israel early Thursday, July 17, was hit by the IDF as it came out of a secret tunnel from Gaza near the Sufa crossing. Some were killed; the rest tried to escape through the tunnel. debkafile: The question is why, after 10 days of combat, the IDF has not destroyed the Hamas underground war room for waging the war on Israel and launching rockets. It now appears that an IDF ground operation is closer than ever before, as the only effective measure against tunnel warfare.

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