A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 3, 2014

June 28, 2014 Briefs

  • Gaza missile guts Sderot factory
    A missile from the Gaza Strip hit a factory in the Israeli town of Sderot Saturday night. The factory was set on fire and burned to the ground. Four people were injured.

Armed US drones over Baghdad. Saudi, Jordanian tanks deploy

28 June. Armed US drones went into operation this weekend to defend the American Baghdad embassy and Iraqi strategic facilities against ISIS. debkafile: One such target is the Euphrates dam at Haditha for which ISIS has been fighting for some days. Iran and Hizballah are braced for more Islamist suicide bombings on Beirut. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have deployed tank divisions on their borders. ISIS also has its sights on “Palestine.” The mission of the Jordan-based Syrian rebel forces may be diverted from their mission south of Damascus to contesting the rapidly-advancing Sunni Islamists in Iraq.

June 29, 2014 Briefs

  • Six heavy Grad missiles fired from Gaza at Netivot
    Iron Dome intercepted two of the six missiles fired from Gaza at Netivot Sunday night. The other four exploded on vacant sites, causing no casualties or damage. The town of Netivot is 25 km east of the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of June, terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired nearly 70 rockets at an escalating rate.
  • Sunni Islamists push Iraqi counter-offensive back from Tikrit
    Iraqi government forces trying to retake the town of Tikrit from ISIS and Sunni rebels with tanks and helicopter gun ships were pushed back Sunday – a severe blow to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who counted on a Tikrit victory to boost his struggle to remain in power against rising demands for him to step down.
  • Five Russian-made Sukhoi jets delivered to Iraqi government
    The Iraqi government took delivery Saturday of five Russian-made Sukhoi fighter-bombers, purchased secondhand from Moscow, to strengthen its fight against ISIS. The Russians moved fast to aid to the Maliki government in contrast to Washington’s dilatory response.
  • Netanyahu: Israel may expand operations against Hamas
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Sunday, after the Israel Air Force carried out nine overnight counter-terror strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, that the IDF is ready to expand its operations if the rocket barrage continues.
    Netanyahu also denounced an Israeli Arab demonstration at Umm al-Fahm calling for the kidnapping of more Israelis.

Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma’an – 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready

29 June. “Ma’an is the Falluja of Jordan!” shouted thousands of Bedouin Saturday, June 28, in the southern Jordanian town of Ma’an, brandishing ISIS placards and flags with one hand and automatic rifles with the other. Ma’an lies 104 km from the Israeli southern port town of Eilat and some 60 km from the main road artery linking the Israeli port to the north. debkafile: In Washington, there was anxious talk Sunday about the prospect of the Islamists rocking Abdullah’s throne, which would leave the US no option but to approve American and Israeli military intervention in its defense. However, the domestic Islamist peril may be more immediate and acute than the external one.

June 30, 2014 Briefs

  • Three kidnapped teenagers found dead in Palestinian village
    Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, both aged 16, were found dead Monday, June 30, in the Palestinian village of Kachil near Halhoul north of Hebron. They were apparently thrown in haste in a field by their kidnappers and covered with rocks. The Israeli cabinet was summoned into emergency session to determine its response.
  • Netanyahu: Hamas is responsible, Hamas will pay
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced with the “deepest sorrow” Monday night the discovery of three bodies of the missing Israeli teens. “They were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals. An entire nation weeps,” he said. “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”
  • Israel general: Our mission is not over
    Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, OC Central Command, said Monday night the soldiers’ mission will not be over until the killers-abductors are run to earth. They were identified by the Shin Bet as Marwan Qwasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha from Hebron. They went missing from their homes at the same time as the boys’ disappearance and both have done time for terrorist crimes in Israeli and Palestinian jails.
  • Obama extends condolences to families of murdered teens
    The US President Barack Obama extended condolences Monday night. He urged Israel and the Palestinians to work together to find those responsible and all parties to “refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”
  • Police colonel killed in bomb blast at Egyptian presidential palace
    Colonel Ahmed El-Ashmawi, an explosives expert was killed, and three others injured, while attempting to defuse a bomb near the presidential palace in Heliopolis Monday morning. It was not clear whether President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was present at the time.
  • Israel’s final warning to Hamas to stop rocket fire or else…
    debkafile: A Hamas activist died in the Israeli air strike against a rocket team outside Khan Younes Sunday night, after firing a six-rocket volley against Netivot. The Palestinian fundamentalists are now posting at least one activist with every rocket team. Israel’s confirmation of his death was a final warning to Hamas to stop the rockets or face ramped-up IDF punishment in Gaza.
  • Netanyahu: Israel must stay on West Bank “for very long time”
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel would have to maintain a long-term military presence in the West Bank “to keep a jihadi juggernaut from powering its way to the outskirts of Tel Aviv.” He also stressed the importance of an independent Kurdistan as part of a broader alliance with moderate forces across the region. The IS offensive "can be aimed toward Jordan in the shortest time," Netanyahu warned.
  • ISIS re-brands itself the Islamic State
    The Islamist organization which has overrun large areas of Iraq and Syria Sunday declared itself an Islamic caliphate in territory stretching from Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala (on the Iranian border) to Syria’s Aleppo, and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “imam and Khalifa for Muslims everywhere.”
  • Hamas blamed directly for 15 rockets from Gaza
    Fifteen rockets from the Gaza Strip were fired in three volleys early Monday and aimed at the Eshkol district. No one was hurt. Official sources blamed Hamas for this round of rocket fire, its first major overt violation of the 2011 truce with Israel.

Three boys still believed alive

30 June. Investigators feared the boys were quickly murdered after listening to the tape of a cell phone call one of the boys managed to make to the police emergency desk. He was heard whispering “I was kidnapped,” followed by an exchange of words in Arabic and gunshots. But the authorities acted on the slim chance that they were still alive. The police officer who received the call dismissed it as another prank and so precious hours were lost for the search. A burnt car was found in the village of Dura, proved to have been used as the kidnap car. It was torched to disguise forensic evidence but cartridges were found.
Sunday night, tens of thousands of well wishers rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square for a prayer vigil on behalf of the boys.

July 1, 2014 Briefs

  • Putin sends condolences to Israel
    Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the “barbaric act of terror” (against the three Israeli boyus) and expressed hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice and receive the punishment befitting their actions.
  • Kurds: ISIS captured enough US arms for 200,000 soldiers
    Sources of the autonomous Kurdish government of Iraq say ISIS has plundered in the past fortnight enough advanced US-made weapons to arm 200,000 combat personnel from the Syrian and Iraqi armies.
  • ISIS parades captured Scud D rockets with Israel in range
    In the northern Syrian town of Raqqa, the Iraqi jihadis paraded Scud D surface rockets capable of reaching Israel, Iraq and Jordan.
  • Israeli provides imagery for Jordan’s fight against ISIS
    Military sources in the Gulf reported Tuesday that Israel is providing overhead imagery to Jordan for its fight to keep ISIS at bay, data essential for directing Jordanian special forces in their operations against ISIS in Iraq. According to those sources, Jordanian troops are concentrated in Ajoun and the northern Jordan Hills facing Iraq.

Popular anger and anguish over teens’ murders not assuaged by bombing empty Hamas buildings

1 July. The funerals of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel, Tuesday, July 1, buried side by side, were a national event, bringing together many tens of thousands of sorrowing sympathizers from every segment of the population. Their anguish over the senseless murders of the three boys, shortly after they were kidnapped on June 12 on their way home, was mixed with anger and demands for real retribution. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to make good on his vow to make Hamas pay.
The kidnappers were still at large when their homes were blown up.
The Israeli air force bombed the empty buildings of 34 Hamas-Jihad Islami bases in the Gaza Strip Monday night. debkafile: That pointless exercise is only wearing down Israel’s deterrent strength.

July 2, 2014 Briefs

  • Thirty rockets from Gaza in one day with multiple Israeli targets
    The Hamas rocket blitz against Israel swelled Wednesday to 30 rockets in one day aimed in three volleys at Ashkelon, Netivot, Sdot Negev, Sderot, Kerem Shalom and the Eshkol District. Iron Dome batteries intercepted two over Ashkelon and one over Netivot. There were no casualties.
  • Dempsey: US policy and aid for Iraq depend on robustness of army
    Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that some of the 750 troops in Iraq are specifically there to help determine “what the United States might do next to help Iraq fight an insurgency” – depending on the inclusiveness of its army and government.
  • Israeli forces blow up home of Baruch Mizrahi’s Palestinian killer
    On April 14, the late Baruch Mizrahi, a high-ranking police officer, was driving with his family to spend the Passover Seder in Kiryat Arba near Hebron when his car was ambushed. Ziyad Awad shot up the car killing Mizrahi and injuring his wife and children. Awad’s home was blown up by Israeli soldiers early Wednesday.
  • Body of Palestinian boy reported found in Jerusalem Forest
    Police are investigating the death of a young Palestinian whose body, stabbed and charred, was found early Wednesday in the Jerusalem Forest. They tied it to reports of a young Palestinian being forced into a car in the East Jerusalem district of Shuafet and driving off. The discovery sparked violent clashes. By Wednesday evening, Palestinian rioters in Shuafat and nearby Beit Haninah had hurled 10 explosive devices, as well as rockets and iron bars, at Israel security forces, who fired tear gas and stun grenades to quell the disturbances raging from early morning.
    Overnight, police arrested some 50 protesters in Jerusalem chanting death to Arabs and calling for retribution after the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teens were laid to rest in Modiin.
  • ISIS calls on Muslims worldwide to join its holy war
    Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, chief of Al Qaeda-Iraq, called Wednesday on all the Muslims in the world to bear arms and come to Iraq to fight for the caliphate he established this week ‘from Diyala to Aleppo.”

Israeli cabinet decision opens door to more violence

2 July. Israel’s security cabinet still looked undecided after its third special session in two days to map out a response to the kidnapping-murder of three Israeli teens. But debkafile’s sources report a decision was in fact reached: to hold back from a major military operation in the Gaza Strip, while continuing the IDF’s anti-Hamas campaign on the West Bank – a course strongly urged by Egypt, Qatar and Jordan. The result: unbridled violence in Jerusalem after the murder of a Palestinian boy and 30 rockets launched from Gaza.
Their violent response reached a pitch that Jerusalem has not seen since the suicide bombing uprising of 2000-2004. Heavy police reinforcements were rushed to the capital.

July 3, 2014 Briefs

  • Saudi Arabia deploys 30,000 soldiers on Iraqi border|Saudi Arabia announced Thursday the deployment of 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area. debkafile first reported Saudi military deployment on the Iraqi border in DEBKA Weekly (with map) on June 27 and on its site on June 28.
  • Security tightened at airports with direct flights to US
    International airports from which there are direct flights to the US have tightened security over specific threats.
  • Palestinian disturbances spread in Jerusalem
    The Palestinian riots sparked in Jerusalem by the murder of an Arab boy spread Wednesday night and Thursday from Beit Haninah and Shuafat to Issawiyeh, Silwan and Ras al Amud.
  • Specific terror threat to attack Entebbe airport, US embassy warns
    The U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, warned Americans in the country on July 3 of a "specific threat” to Entebbe Airport by an unknown terrorist group. In 1976, Israel carried out daring raid to rescue 103 Israeli and Jewish hostages from a French airliner hijacked by the PLO to the same Entebbe. An epic long-distance Israeli rescue operation was carried out successfully. Three hostages died in the raid, as well as seven hijackers and one Israeli soldier, Binyamin Netanyahu’s brother Lt. Col Yonatan Netanyahu.

Israel sends troop reinforcements to Gaza border. National home front on heightened alert

3 July. Israeli defense officials passed the word Thursday, July 3, that troop reinforcements had been sent to the Gaza Strip border amid intensifying Palestinian rocket barrages. debkafile: Tanks and self-propelled artillery were certainly included. Another official added that the Israeli war fleet opposite Gaza’s Mediterranean coast was also reinforced, and the Home Front Command had raised the national level of alert. Wednesday we reported that an Iron Dome battery was posted to Modi’in. Broadcasting these military movements warned Hamas it had better stop the rocket barrage or else the IDF would act.

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