A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 1, 2014

April 25, 2014 Briefs

  • Palestinians campaign to whitewash Hamas
    The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas Friday launched a broad propaganda campaign to persuade the Israeli public and world media that the radical Hamas, with which it signed a unity pact Wednesday, was ready to turn a new leaf, recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and accept former peace accords. Hamas officials later publicly denied this.
  • Obama blames both sides for Mid East peace impasse
    President Barack Obama criticized the Palestinian unity pact in Seoul Friday as “unhelpful,” but then he said it was just one of a series of choices that “both Israel and the Palestinians have made which are not conducive to solving this crisis." He urged both sides to make difficult compromises.
  • Brig.-Gen Hertzi Halevi named new IDF Military Intelligence chief
    In a new round of IDF appointments, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has been assigned OC Northern Command and is replaced by Brig.-Gen Hertzi Halevi as head of Military Intelligence – AMAN. Brig. Halevi, promoted now to major general, is a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal, the Paratroop Brigade and the 91st Division. Brig. Gen. Haggai Topolansky takes over as Head of the Manpower Division and Brig. Gen. Yossi Bechar is named corps commander with the rank of major general.

April 26, 2014 Briefs

  • Bomb blasts kill 31 people at Baghdad pro-Iranian election rally
    The attack less than a week before Iraq’s parliamentary elections targeted a Baghdad rally of the Iran-backed Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq party which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The three bomb blasts, which killed 31 people and injured many others, were claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) of al Qaeda.

Two Mid East intelligence chiefs wrong about Syria

26 April. In his three years as AMAN chief, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, just appointed OC Northern Command, was credited with enhancing the corps’ operational capabilities as a combat force. But, on the debit side, he made three major miscalculations: He overrated the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s life expectancy, underrated Bashar Assad’s chances of survival; and did not recommend that Israel halt Hizballah’s military intervention in the Syrian War. Kochavi shared his second mistake with Prince Bandar, who paid for it by his replacement as Director of Saudi Intelligence on April 15.

April 27, 2014 Briefs

  • Israel marks annual Yom Hashoah
    Six Holocaust survivors lit six torches Sunday night to mark the start of the annual Holocaust Remembrance day for the six million victims of the Nazis taking place in Israel and Jewish communities around the world. The ceremony was attended by Israel’s leaders. The theme this year is “Jews On the Edge 1944: Between Annihilation and Liberation, commemorating the continuing mass transfer of Jews to the death camps when the war was almost over and heroic rescue operations.
  • Iran admits building a US aircraft carrier mock-up of for war game
    Adm. Ali Fadavi, navy chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, said Sunday that Iranian forces should target a replica of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier during their forthcoming war games. "We should learn about weaknesses and strengths of our enemy" he said. debkafile first revealed that Iran has building a mock-up of a US carrier on March 23. Tehran responded at the time that the replica was to be used for a film.
  • PM Netanyahu to pay official visit to Japan next month
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Japan from May 11 to 15. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that it would be "very significant to exchange views on ways to stabilize the Middle East with Mr. Netanyahu, who is one of the most important persons in efforts to bring about peace" in the region. Suga also said it is important for Japan to deepen cooperation with Israel, which has strong information and communication technologies sectors.
  • Obama appeals for collective US-EU sanctions on Russia
    Europe wants the US to levy sanctions on is own against broad sectors of Russia’s economy, aware of the price it would pay in Russian economic retaliation. But US President Barack Obama says the world must act collectively to deter Vladimir Putin and refute his portrayal of the Ukraine conflict as a cold war issue between Washington and Moscow.

April 28, 2014 Briefs

  • State asks for 6 years jail minimum for former PM Olmert
    The state prosecution asked the court Monday for two prison sentences – a minimum of six years on one count, and up to eleven for former prime minister and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, who was convicted on two counts of bribery on March 31. The state also requested that he pay a fine of NIS 1,347,000. The court will pass sentence on May 18.
  • New US sanctions target 7 members of Putin’s inner circle
    The White House statement Monday said 7 individuals would be subject to visa bans and asset freezes as ell as 17 companies. Washington bars the export of high technology items that “could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities.”
  • Moscow: US will soon face painful payback
    In response to the new round of US sanctions, Russian Dep Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabakov warned: "A response of Moscow will follow, and it will be painfully felt in Washington D.C."
  • Egyptian Brotherhood leader, 682 others, sentenced to death
    An Egyptian court recommended the death sentence for the Muslim Brotherhood’s general guide Mohamed Badie and 682 supporters Monday. The death sentence for Badie will be passed on to Egypt's Mufti, the highest religious authority.
  • Kerry: Israel risks becoming an apartheid state without two-state solution
    Without a two-state solution…Israel will wind up “being an apartheid state with second class citizens,” US Secretary of State John Kerry was recorded as commenting by the Daily Beast Sunday. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki cited similar comments by “Justice Minister Livni, and previous Israeli Prime Ministers Olmert and Barak.” Indignation was voiced in Jerusalem over Kerry’s singling out of Israel – even though its government has accepted a two-state solution, while the Palestinians were absolved of blame for scuppering the peace process.
  • Israelis observe two minutes silence for Yom Hashoah
    A siren signaled two minutes of silence across Israel Monday on the day of remembrance for the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust. In Paris, ministers and leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities read out the names of victims murdered by the Nazis in France. This year, 12,000 people joined in the March of the Living between the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz to Birkenau, The Yad Vashem Memorial Foundation reported one million visitors to its Facebook page in Arabic which narrates and documents the annals of the Holocaust.
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his address to a solemn ceremony at Yad Vashem Sunday night called on the world to heed Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb amid its leaders’ denial of the Holocaust and declared intention to destroy Israel.
    He denounced as hypocritical and self-serving the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ comment that the Holocaust was the most heinous crime in history, just hours after he signed a pact with Hamas, an organization dedicated to destroying the state of Israel.

April 29, 2014 Briefs

  • IDF elite unit is honored with award of distinction
    The IDF elite unit Sayeret Matkal was presented with the award of distinction for successfully accomplishing highly complex operations in the outgoing year at a ceremony Tuesday attended by
    President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and AMAN Chief Maj. Gen. Avivi Kochavi.
  • Hundreds of separatists seize Luhansk government HQ
    Pro-Russian separatists stormed the headquarters of the Luhansk regional government Tuesday without encountering resistance. Luhansk is the second E. Ukrainian region seized by separatists after Donetsk. Their separatists leaders were on the EU black list of 15 names.
  • Police probe slogan painted on Israel Arab village mosque wall
    Police have given high priority to finding the vandals who smeared the slogan “We’ll shut down mosques, build yeshivas” on the wall of a mosque Monday night in the Israeli Arab village of Fureidis south of Haifa and slashed the tires of several cars.
  • Gaza anti-blockade protest ship hit by explosion
    The boat, dubbed Gaza’s Ark, was set to bring Palestinian produce from Gaza to Europe in an attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled enclave. It was sunk by an explosion.
  • Kerry denies calling Israel an “Apartheid state”
    US Secretary of State John Kerry vehemently denied he had ever called Israel "an apartheid state" in the face of rising criticism in Washington.
  • Russia assures US it will not invade Ukraine
    "Secretary of Defense (Chuck) Hagel spoke by phone with Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and he reiterated his assurance that Russian forces would not invade Ukraine," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said. Shoigu also urged Washington to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric.

Secret US-Hizballah talks. Washington plans to include Lebanon, Syria deals in Iran nuclear pact

29 April. The Obama administration has embarked on secret dialogue with Hizballah, debkafile reports. The first direct encounter between the CIA and Hizballah representatives took place in early March in Cyprus. Two subsequent meetings have produced initial US-Hizballah understandings for Lebanon and Syria. The administration reckons that any difficulties cropping up in those talks can be fixed by turning to Tehran. Mahmoud Abbas turned to Hamas for Palestinian unity pact on the reasoning that if Washington may engage a terrorist organization in talks, so too can his own PLO and Fatah.

April 30, 2014 Briefs

  • First Hamas rally in Ramallah after Palestinian unity pact
    Hamas used the funerals of two terrorists whose bodies were returned by Israel for their first demonstration of strength on the West Bank in many years after signing a reconciliation pact with the PLO. Huge green Hamas flags covered the streets of Ramallah, as more than a thousand marchers roared anti-Israel slogans: “Ya, Ya, Bomb Tel Aviv!” and “There is no way other than resistance and Jihad!”
  • Western sanctions send Russia into recession
    The IMF said Wednesday that international sanctions were damaging the Russian economy, which had shrunk in the first quarter of 2014, and was threatening investment.
  • Ten Hamas suspects detained in West Bank plotting attacks
    The Shin Bet and IDF detained in recent months 10 members of a Hamas cell in the West Bank town of Qalqilya, which was preparing improvised explosive devices for attacking Israel targets. It was composed of 9 Palestinians and an Israeli Arab.
  • Iraq’s first election since US withdrawal beset by violence
    Iraq’s first parliamentary election in three years was beset with terrorist attacks which killed160 people killed in the past week alone, claimed by the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, hoping for a third term, voted in the fortified Green Zone government center of Baghdad.
  • Putin approves sale of newest S-400 air defense system to China
    On the last day of US President Barack Obama’s Asia tour, Vladimir Putin Tuesday gave the green light to sell China Russia’s newest S-400 air defense guided missile system. Moscow says this will give Beijing an edge in the airspace over the Taiwan Strait and the Diaoyutai islands disputed between China and Japan.

Saudis parade nuclear missiles for the first time

30 April. Saudi Arabia paraded its nuclear-capable missiles for the first time Tuesday, April 29, showing the liquid propellant DF-3 ballistic missile (NATO designated CSS-2), purchased from China 27 years ago. This missile has a range of 2,650 km, carries a payload of 2,150 kg and a single nuclear warhead with a 1-3 MT yield. This was Riyadh’s way of displaying its readiness to use a nuclear weapon in a potential war with Iran and its non-reliance any longer on a US nuclear shield. The Middle East nuclear arms race is in full spate.

May 1, 2014 Briefs

  • “David the Nahal Soldier” goes viral.
    A Facebook campaign expressing support for a soldier filmed pointing a cocked gun at a young Palestinian during an altercation in the West Bank is growing in strength. The IDF is powerless to stop its soldiers’ online actions, and the flurry of publicity surrounding “David the Nahal soldier” is beginning to steer the country’s political narrative out of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s control. As the protest gathers more “likes,” various politicians and media figureheads are eager to get in on the act and exploit it for their own ends. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz promised an investigation into the incident and how it was handled, stressing “It is important to say loud and clear that Facebook is not a tool of command.”
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