A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 20, 2006

Israeli air force strikes set Hizballah HQ in S. Beirut on fire Friday after Olmert approves new targets to stem escalated Hizballah rocket offensive


14 July: Hizballah again threatens Haifa, claims Hassan Nasrallah and his family, whose resident was also demolished, are unhurt. Hundreds of thousands in metropolitan area of Israel’s third largest city are alerted to stay in shelter.

More than 500 rockets have hit dozens of Katyusha hit towns and villages of northern Israel in 48 hours leaving 2 women dead, scores injured, between 1-2 million people in shelters and heavy damage to property.

Israel dropped leaflets earlier warned civilians to stay away for Hizballah offices and locations


Hizballah fire rocket on Israeli Merom Hagolan situated on the Golan Saturday as a maneuver to entangle Syria in the conflict


15 July: The Shiite terrorist group also spread false reports of Israeli air strikes on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. Damascus resisted Hizballah’s ruse and firmly denied the report as did Israel.


Hizballah Brings out Iranian Silkworm to Hit Israel Navy Corvette


15 July: The disaster that overtook one of the Israeli Navy’s state of the art warships, Ahi-Hanit, was thoroughly planned in advance by an enemy which managed to take Israel’s military commanders by surprise. It has shocked Israel’s military to a degree comparable to the profound effect on US forces of al Qaeda’s 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden.

The Saar-5 class corvette, with a crew of 61 seamen and a 10-man helicopter crew, was hit Friday, July 17 at 20:15 hours, while shelling Beirut international airport. Four crewmen were killed.

debkafile‘s military sources reveal that the warship was struck from Beirut by an Iran-made C-802 shore-to-sea missile of the Silkworm family. Weighing 715 kilos, with a range of 120km, the missile is armed with a strong anti-jamming capability, which lends it a 98% success rate in escaping interception.

The Israeli ship failed to use its advanced Barak anti-missile system.

Israeli military planners must now look at the vulnerability of the navy following the appearance of the first Iranian C-802 missiles


Palestinian Qassam damages strategic target outside Ashkelon

Eight missiles fired from Gaza Sunday night, 6 by day


16 July: Two hit Sderot and another 4 outside Netivot, causing damage but no casualties.

The Israel Air Force bombed the entrance to new Gaza tunnel at Kissufim at the same place where Hamas terrorists used a similar tunnel to attack an IDF outpost and abduct Cpl Gideon Shalit on June 25.

Air force commander Lt. Gen Eliezer Shkedi said Hamas terrorists and their infrastructure were under constant attack day and night this last three weeks regardless of the northern warfront.


Nasrallah pleads for help and promises “the Zionists” more surprises


16 July: Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah was on the air again 12 hours after rumors claimed he was injured in the Israeli air bombardment that flattened his 8-storey headquarters compound in Beirut Saturday night, July 15.

As he began speaking, rockets hit the border town of Metula for the first time, followed by landings in Safed, Ghajar and Mt. Meron.

It was difficult to determine what shape he was in, because the recording shown by al Manar television was roughly edited and of poor quality. His words were clear but lacked his usual zeal and for the first time he admitted the possibility of a Hizballah defeat.

“Just as we surprised them at sea and in Haifa, we will surprise them again in other places with all out strength and the weapons we have,” he vowed. This was a clear threat that Hizballah had now thrown off all restraints on targets and missile power.


Iran leader Ali Khameini declares Sunday: Hizballah will never be disarmed


16 July: debkafile: This was Iran’s first direct guarantee of support for the embattled Lebanese Shiite group since hostilities were launched Wednesday, July 12. It is interpreted as a promise of weapons and, if necessary, fighting men to avert a Hizballah defeat. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources see also a message addressed to the Olmert government that Israel will not achieve its objectives in Lebanon or succeed in dictating new rules.

Earlier, Tehran threatened Israel against attacking Syria

An Iranian spokesman said Sunday: “We are standing by the Syrian people. Israel faces “unimaginable losses”. Hizballah was not mentioned. The Syrian government promised “a firm, direct and unlimited response to any attack by Israel.”


Rocket kills 9 civilians, injures 34 injured in direct hit to Haifa’s main railway terminal Sunday morning


16 July: First barrage of at least 20 Iranian-produced rockets from Lebanon struck Haifa Bay, Upper Hadar, Krayot, as well as Acre and Nahariya. Second round targeted Kiryat Haim, Kiryat Motzkin, Carmiel and Bat Galim.

Close to a million residents of affected areas as far east as Tiberias, which was first attacked Saturday, ordered to stay in shelters and protected spaces and heed sirens. Heavy peak hour traffic heading into Israel`s third largest city, Haifa, turned around and headed out of the city. Police are clearing the streets. Nahariya to the north is under Hizballah attack for fifth day as are western Galilee moshavim. Israel advises southern Lebanese civilians to exit area.


An Israeli F15 fighter bomber intercepted a Hizballah Zelzal ground-ground missile pf 160km range east of Beirut Monday, July 17


17 July: debkafile‘s military and aviation sources report: Israeli fighter jets do not patrol Lebanese byways on the hunt for missiles to shoot down. They certainly do not dive-bomb buildings. They fly at an altitude of 20,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea and from that height they survey the ground below and drop bombs. Neither Hizballah nor any armed or terrorist force as far north as Turkey is in possession of anti-air weapons capable of downing a jet from that altitude.

When Israeli aircraft spotted the Zelzal launcher truck moving on a road east of Beirut near Baabdeh, the crew waited for the right angle of fire. It halted at the gates of al Ghawar Lebanese army training camp and then an Israeli F15 fighter bomber aimed at and hit the missile. It hit the vehicle which exploded partially detonating the missile which flew up to the sky. It then dropped to the ground like a stone bursting into flames but landing practically intact.

Firing this missile from Beirut would have brought it to a point between Haifa and Hadera, whereas launched from the border, the missile could reach northern Tel Aviv.


Monday, 11 civilians were injured in Haifa by a direct rocket hit to a 4 storey-residential building.


17 July: Sunday, the first rocket attack from Lebanon killed 8 Israeli civilians at a railway depot Sunday


Hizballah leader Hassan Nasser and top command are holed up in Hermel bordering Syria


17 July: Among them, according to debkafile‘s military and Iranian sources, are Hizballah’s “chief of staff” Ibrahim Akil, its head of intelligence and terror Imad Mughniyeh and commander of special operations Halil Harab.

The group fled their Beirut HQ Saturday night, July 15, and went to ground in the emergency staff bunkers prepared in advance of their July 12 attack on Israel.

After failing to prevent the top Hizballah leaders’ escape from Beirut, the Israeli air force headed north Monday morning, July 17, and is clobbering the Hermel region.

debkafile adds: The Hermel drug-farming pocket bordered north and east by Syria is the haunt of smugglers who use the remote, strategically placed region to move fighters, weapons, cash and drugs across Syria into Iraq and as a staging post to other parts of the Middle East. The smuggling gangs’ overlord is Mughniyeh, a triple Hizballah-Iran-al Qaeda agent and terrorist executive, who has figured high on the US wanted terrorist list for more than two decades. On his orders, the smugglers recently relocated their main operation from the Syrian-Iraqi border to the Syrian-Lebanese border in preparation for the new warfront against Israel. In the last 48 hours, Iran has used this illicit route to beat the Israeli air, sea and land blockade and pump quantities of rockets, anti-air and anti-tank missiles and other advanced weapons systems to Hizballah for a fresh escalation.

Syria`s role in this smuggling operation is critical.


Some 50 rockets rake entire Galilee region in heavy 90-minute Hizballah barrage


18 July: Twenty-nine civilians were injured. Andrei Zilansky was killed two weeks before his 37th birthday as he handed his family into a shelter in Nahariya.


US orders 5 warships and 2,200 Marines to secure evacuation of US citizens from Lebanon


18 July: debkafile reports: Israel has granted the operation safe passage and agreed to halt its air bombardment of Hizballah targets in locations where tens of thousands of foreigners are waiting to be lifted out of Lebanon. However, Israeli military leaders fear this will leave Hizballah free to exploit the evacuations, including many women and children, as a human shield for posting its long-range missiles and firing them against Israel. Beirut harbor, the main departure point, would be the most convenient location for Hizballah to aim its long-range missiles against Israel’s heavily populated coastal cities. The US and British embassies in Beirut which are coordinating the large-scale evacuations also fear Hizballah may attack the evacuees in the convoys at the most vulnerable points, on their way to the rescue crafts or during embarkation – and then accuse Israel.


Another round of Hizballah rockets hit major city of Haifa Haifa and Safed Tuesday.


18 July: Two hundred Hizballah rockets have landed in northern Israel in seven days. One third of Israel is now a warfront. Thousands of refugees have gone south out of harm’s way. Central Israeli towns, kibbutzim and moshavim have opened their homes to host refugees. More than a million civilians with many children are incarcerated in bomb shelters after a week of Hizballah rocket fire. As a result, civilian casualties have been kept down to 12 dead. Israel’s third largest city Haifa is a ghost town, its key port shut down and universities closed. Seventy percent of all businesses are closed, summer schools are shut; factories and farms have suffered heavy damage and the peak fruit-picking season lost. The tourist season is disrupted. Emergency teams and police are working overtime.


The Lebanon War Is Not Yet Ripe for Diplomacy


18 July: The Israeli deputy chief of staff Moshe Kaplinsky said Tuesday of “several weeks” of combat lie ahead and Hizballah refuses to hear of a ceasefire.

The would-be mediators are meanwhile shuttling back and forth aimlessly between Beirut and Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem at least, there can access one of the principals, except that Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire are totally unrealistic:

The unconditional release of the three Israeli soldiers held hostage by the Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian Hamas will not happen. They will be held back as prize cards for the last round of negotiations.

Equally unrealistic is the prior demand for the Hizballah to be removed from south Lebanon and replaced by effective Lebanese army units. So far, not even Israel’s own armed forces have managed to shift them.


Jordan alerts Israel to a Hamas team heading for a large scale terror attack in Israel prompting the defense minister’s West Bank closure Thursday


20 July: Jordanian military intelligence relayed information that Hamas had recruited a bomb team in the kingdom. It was on its way to cross into Israel for the strike. Israeli and Jordanian border troops are on a high state of preparedness. The potential targets are the southern port of Eilat, its Arava main road link to the north, the Dead Sea, the Beit Shean Valley on the Jordan River. This information led defense minister Amir Peretz to announce the close of the West Bank Thursday, July 20.

Israeli security officials have grounds to suspect that the Hamas terror initiative is coordinated with Hizballah’s war in the north via the Lebanese group’s operational officers stationed in Nablus and Gaza.


Two Israeli soldiers killed, 6 injured in the major battle with Hizballah ongoing for its second day at Maroun er Ras in S. Lebanon. Hizballah has suffered heavy losses

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