A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 31, 2014
July 25, 2014 Briefs
- Nine Palestinian rioters killed in West Bank clashes
Violent Palestinian disturbances in support of Hamas against Israel erupted in the main West Bank towns of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin Friday night. Israeli security forces opened fire on mobs hurling rocks and fire bombs. Near Nablus, a riot was triggered by an Israeli civilian shooting dead one of a Palestinian gang of stone-throwers. The break-up of violent disturbances in other parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem resulted in more Palestinian fatalities.
- Jordanian air force intercepts a Syrian drone intruder
A Jordanian Air force jet intercepted a Syrian drone flying over the northeaster town of Mafraq Friday. debkafile: This town is the main site of Jordanian army bases and the US forces deployed to the kingdom, including US and Jordanian special forces operating in southern Syria.
Israel and Hamas reject Kerry’s ceasefire bid
25 June. Israel’s security and policy cabinet in Jerusalem and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Qatar Friday, July 25, decided to reject the “humanitarian” seven-day ceasefire put before them by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
July 26, 2014 Briefs
- Five Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza since Friday night
The five soldiers who did in action from Friday night belonged to different units fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel has lost a total 40 officers and men in the Gaza operation. The Palestinians report more than 900 dead, without admitting how many were combatants.
IDF set for electronic and signals control of Hamas, Islamic Jihad command centers, after rocket fire resumes
26 July. Before it ended with Hamas rocket fire Saturday night, July 26, the 12-hour ceasefire in Gaza afforded Israeli intelligence a rare opportunity for collecting enemy data. In the heat of battle, the IDF and its clandestine arms were unable to gain electronic and SIGINT access to the underground Hamas and Islamic Jihad command and control centers. These centers appear to be well equipped with complex tactical and encrypted communications systems for dual functions: Linking the fighting, medium command and the staff levels; and electronic interference and possible jamming of the signals of the IDF’s drones, or even their interception, as well as eavesdropping on the IDF’s communications and signals networks and visual devices. To gain the upper hand, the IDF must seize electronic control of Hamas’ sophisticated intelligence production processing system, elements of which may have broken surface during the ceasefire.
July 27, 2014 Briefs
- Obama tells Netanyahu to call immediate ceasefire in Gaza
President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu he wants an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian” cease-fire in the war with Gaza as “a strategic imperative.” In a phone call Sunday, Obama referred to the cease-fire proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry which was rejected unanimously on Friday by Israel’s security Cabinet. Israel believes Kerry’s proposal would lead to rewarding an illegitimate group.
- Egyptian army kills 14 al Qaeda terrorists, arrests 47 in Sinai
An official in Cairo reported that 14 al Qaeda militants were killed and 47 other terrorists were arrested in Egyptian army raids in northern Sinai Friday. The force also destroyed 36 houses and 40 shelters used by jihadist groups as well as 5 cars and 12 motorcycles.
- Palestinian bomb car intercepted on its way to Jerusalem
A car loaded with gas canisters linked to a large explosive charge was stopped Sunday on its way to Jerusalem at the Beitar Ilit checkpoint southeast of the capital and its Palestinian driver taken into custody. He first tried to escape and kept on driving – even after a Border Police officer tried to jump onto the passenger seat to switch of the engine. He only pulled up and surrendered when the officer pulled a gun at him.
- Among Algerian plane dead, 33 French soldiers, Hizballah high-up
At least 33 French military personnel including three senior intelligence officials were among the 116 or 118 people aboard Air Algerie flight AH5017 which crashed in northern Mali last week. Also aboard was a senior Hizballah figure disguised as a businessmen and a group of 19 Lebanese passengers, including his bodyguards.
- One soldier killed in action Saturday, two die of their injuries
The number of Israeli fallen in battle in the first 19 days of the Gaza operation rose to 43 Saturday night with the death of Master Sgt. Barak Rafael Degorker, 27, from Gan Yavneh. He was hit by a cross-border mortar shell after Israel declared a unilateral extension of a ceasefire. Two officers died of their wounds in hospital early Sunday, both paratroopers.
Netanyahu’s dilemma: Back Obama’s save Hamas policy, or line up with Egypt and Saudis?
27 July. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was wavering Sunday, July 27, between sticking with his pact with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to crush Hamas – at the cost of a deep rift with Washington – or going along with Kerry, at the cost of Israel’s security against dangerous terrorists. This dilemma was mirrored in the stop-go ceasefire orders to Israel’s forces fighting in the Gaza Strip. Halfway measures will not go down well with the Israeli public, which, even after losing 43 servicemen in action in the Gaza Strip, is still solidly behind the operation. A poll conducted by TV Channel 10 found 87 percent of those canvassed demanding that Israel press on, and 69 percent urging the government to go all the way and overthrow Hamas.
July 28, 2014 Briefs
- Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Gantz pledge to carry on war on Hamas
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz made a joint TV appearance Monday with a pledge to continue the campaign against Hamas until all its goals were achieved, although it may be prolonged.
Gen. Gantz: As a human being, it is hard for me to accept civilian deaths – unlike Hamas, which is solely responsible for 10 deaths at Shifa hospital, by launching from its grounds a missile aimed at Tel Aviv which exploded prematurely.
- Two rockets fired from Lebanon
The two rockets fired from Lebanon Monday night exploded on open ground in the Galilee Panhandle.
- IDF tells civilians of Jebalya and Zeitun to evacuate
The Palestinians living in the Jebalya and Zeitun suburbs of Gaza City were advised Monday night by the IDF to move out of their homes for their own safety.
- Hamas rocket fire spreads to Haifa, Ofakim, Caesaria
Dozens of rockets were fired by Hamas Monday, after it requested a 24-hour ceasefire, against a widening radius of targets, from Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, the Eshkol District and Ashkelon to Haifa, Hadera, Caesarea, Binyamina, Ofakim and Mt. Carmel. The mayors and council heads of the southern communities most heavily battered by Hamas rockets over more than a decade, have formed a protest front against a ceasefire: “Only half the job is done,” they say. “Even after destroying terror tunnels, the rockets are still flying!”
- Anti-Semitic attacks increase in Britain
More than 100 hate crimes have been recorded by police and Jewish community groups this month, more than double the usual number, seen as a backlash from the bloodshed in Gaza.
The IDF loses 10 men in upsurge of Hamas violence on “ceasefire” day. Israel expands Gaza counter-offensive
28 July. Hamas used the first day of the Eid el-Fitr festival, July 28, set aside for a humanitarian ceasefire, to surprise Israel with the next stage of its offensive, by coordinated rocket, mortar and tunnel terror assaults, which inflicted ten deaths and many injured. As Israel came close to folding under international pressure for a ceasefire, has not spelled out its response, but the IDF whose death toll shot up to 53 in one day, appears to be expanding its counter-terror operation west, toward Hamas command centers. Hamas saw Israel weakening and doubled its assaults – first by its failed attempt to launch a heavy Iranian-made Fajr-5 against Tel Aviv from a hospital playground, which killed 10 Palestinians; then mortar fire which killed four soldiers at a staging site in Eshkol; and finally a tunnel attack on an Israeli military post outside Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Five soldiers were killed.
July 29, 2014 Briefs
- Iron Dome intercepts rockets aimed at east and south of Jerusalem
A rocket salvo from Gaza Tuesday night reached Beit Shemesh, the Judean Hills and Gush Etzion near the West Bank town of Hebron. Gaza was dark Tuesday night after Israel bombed the fuel tanks supplying the territory’s only power station.
- IDF calls on Khan Younes residents to leave their homes
Israel’s armed forces Tuesday told residents of the southern Gaza town of Khan Younes and environs to leave their homes at once. The IDF communiqué, distributed by leaflets and phone calls, covered the following Palestinian places: Khan Younes, Khirbet Haz’ah, Absan Alkabria, Absan Altza’ira, Beni Sahila and Gerara.
- Senior IDF officer to government: The troops must go forward or quit
IDF chiefs have asked the government for a clear decision on whether to expand their counter-terror operation in the Gaza Strip which entered its 22nd day Tuesday – or terminate it. This was reported by a senior IDF officer Tuesday. He put it this way: “Decide now whether we go in or out.”
Nine out of 10 Israel’s war dead Monday died on Israeli soil
29 July. That nine of the 10 Israeli servicemen killed in the counter-terror operation against Hamas Monday, July 28, died on Israeli soil was a wake-up call for Israel’s war leaders. It meant that Hamas had used the 22 days of combat to bring the contest from its own home ground into Israel by grabbing the tactical advantage of surprise, as illustrated by the tragic Nahal Oz tunnel episode which cost 5 Israeli lives. debkafile: The tunnel threat can’t be eliminated without seizing Hamas’ war rooms, the hub of the elaborate underground network.
July 30, 2014 Briefs
- Palestinian delegation delays departure for Cairo
The three Palestinian groups, Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, expected to leave for Cairo Wednesday to discuss a ceasefire in Gaza, have again delayed their departure. Cairo has stipulated that they present a unified position on the subject. But they have not managed to bridge their differences.
Three IDF soldiers killed in Gaza. Cabinet expands operation
30 July. Three Israeli soldiers were killed and 27 injured in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, July 30, the 23rd day of Israel’s counter-terror operation. A bomb planted in the wall of a UNWRA clinic in Khan Younes blew up as they went in to examine a tunnel shaft.
The cabinet has now decided to expand the Gaza mission. Maj. Gen. Sami Torjeman, OC Southern Command, told reporters that the soldiers had fought “stubbornly,” and “seriously impaired” Hamas’ strength. They had won every one of their direct engagements with Hamas. Gen. Torjeman added that the vast scale of the tunnel-building project was beyond belief. With the amount of cement poured into those tunnels in the last four years, he said, the Palestinians could have built four modern hospitals, 20 schools or 100 kindergartens.
In face of truce bids, Hamas’ Deif gives Gaza war fresh impetus, makes it a religious jihad
30 July. Despite the rush of diplomats and analysts declaring that an imminent ceasefire would soon stamp out the fighting in Gaza, the war refuses to end. They failed to reckon on the conflict acquiring a religious dimension and fresh impetus. Wednesday, July 30, as Israel’s longest and toughest war since the War of Independence went into its 49th day, the commander of Hamas’ military wing, master-terrorist Mohammed Deif, proclaimed the Gaza conflict a religious jihad which soldiers “eager for death” would fight for victory and bring Israeli soldiers to “certain defeat.”
July 31, 2014 Briefs
- Two people injured by rocket in Kiryat Gath
Tel Aviv, Kiryat Gath, Ashkelon, Shear Hanegev, and Eshkol District came under Palestinian rocket fire Thursday evening. Two people were injured, one seriously by a direct hit to their home in Kiryat Gath. Large rocket fragments landed in Tel Aviv, after Iron Dome intercepted two.
- Netanyahu: No ceasefire unless Israel given chance to destroy terror tunnels
Israel will not accept a halt in Gaza warfare without Israeli troops being able to finish destroying Hamas terror tunnels, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated Thursday at a special full cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv.
- US ordinance released to IDF from emergency stores
The Pentagon has approved Israel’s urgent request to Washington for a supply of grenades and 122-mm mortars from US army emergency stocks in Israel. debkafile: The Obama administration acted in the interest of easing the strained relations between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu which reached an all-time low this week.
- Israel calls up another 16,000 reservists
The IDF called up 16,000 reservists for duty Thursday morning, raising the total number of reservists mobilized for the Gaza war to 86,000 to “shore up existing strength.
- Israel to investigate source of UNWRA school shelling
- Israel to probe source of the shelling Wednesday of a UN school housing displaced civilians in Gaza, which killed at least 16 people. The US and UN condemned the attack without citing Israel. An Israeli spokesman said: "It's not clear to us that it was our fire but we know for a fact there was hostile mortar fire on our people from the vicinity of the school." He accused Hamas, which controls Gaza, of hiding weapons in civilian facilities and UN shelters.
Air Force takes out 40 mosques-cum-terror bases, brings new drone
31 July. The Israeli Air Force destroyed 40 mosques converted into rocket and arms stores inside Gaza overnight Tuesday, July 20. Ending the rocket threat is deemed as important as the destruction of terror tunnels. Both projects continue apace as the IDF prepares for an order to terminate the ground stage of the Gaza operation. The air force brought forward the battlefield debut of the new Hermes 900 UAV, known as “Star,” to take advantage of its exceptional ability to perform surveillance and communication work at high altitudes while carrying a heavy weapons load.