A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 8, 2014
May 2, 2014 Briefs
- At least 40 killed in Odessa fire – deadliest incident in Ukraine crisis
More than 40 people died, mostly pro-Russian separatists, when pro-Kiev supporters torched the trade union building in the southern Ukrainian town of Odessa Friday, in the deadliest incident of the Ukrainian conflict.
- German firms ask Merkel to stop US-led sanctions on Russia
German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to President Barack Obama at the White House Friday under heavy pressure from leading German firms at home to prevent further sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
- Al Qaeda suicide bombings – first attack on Suez Canal bank
Two Al Qaeda suicide bombings Friday at A-Tor, on the bank of the Suez Canal, killed an Egyptian soldier and wounded five. They hit an army checkpoint and a bus, injuring four passengers – the first time the jihadists struck in the Suez Canal region.
- Qassam fired at Eshkol, rocks on Jerusalem 443 highway
A Qassam missile fired from the Gaza Strip at the Eshkol region Thursday night exploded on open ground. A bus on the regular Bnei Berak-Jerusalem route was hit by rocks lobbed from Palestinian villages. A baby was slightly hurt. Early Friday, a large Israeli force on a counter-terror operation in the casbah of the West Bank town of Nablus was attacked with improvised hand grenades and large rocks. One soldier was injured.
Shelly Dadon was murdered by the veteran Israeli-Arab terrorist group “Galilee Liberators”
2 May. Shelly Dadon, 20, from Afulah, was murdered Thursday, May 1, in a wood near the northern town of Migdal Haemek by a gang of Israeli Arabs belonging to “The Galilee Liberators.” She died of savage multiple stabs to her upper torso. The killers planted clues to broadcast their affiliation, which the police have chosen to play down ahead of Israel’s Independence Day events. This organization’s victims included the IDF soldier Oleg Shaychat and Dana Bennett in 2003 and Yofim Weinstein in 2009, amid collaboration with Palestinian and Hizballah terrorists.
Ukraine slides in civil war. Putin resigns responsibility
3 May. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bid during her visit to Washington Friday, April 2, to bridge the differences between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin over Ukraine was overtaken by the onset of civil war. After the Kiev government launched its first serious offensive Friday to take E. Ukrainian towns from pro-Russian militias, Putin’s spokesman called it a punitive action which broke the Geneva accords: “Neither Russia, nor any other country,” he said, “can any longer influence the citizens of Ukraine’s southeast…
May 4, 2014 Briefs
- Explosions on two buses northeast of Nairobi
Two blasts went off on a busy highway north-east of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the second terrorist attack in the country in as many days. The blasts hit two buses. Saturday, a grenade attack was staged on a Mombasa bus and an explosion took place on a hotel beach in the popular resort. This violence was blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked Somali Al-Shabaab.
- Israel remembers its 23,169 fallen in armed conflicts
The ceremony opening Israel’s Remembrance Day for the Fallen in War and Victims of Terror took place Sunday evening in Jerusalem and paid tribute to the 23,169 victims of hostile action. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “The simple and essential truth is that we would not be here without their sacrifice.” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon wrote to more than 17,000 bereaved family members saying: “Remembrance Day is the sign that transforms your personal loss to everyone’s loss.”
High-ranking Iranian cleric visits Shiraz synagogue, confirms Biblical version of Jewish homeland
4 May. Hojat- Islam Ali Yunessi’s visit to the Shiraz synagogue Friday night, May 1, was noteworthy – even if it was part of President Hassan Rouhani’s smiles offensive. The cleric admitted that scientific research in the last 150 years had confirmed the Biblical account of Persian Emperor Cyrus’s recognition of the Jews’ right to Judah and a temple in Jerusalem. Rouhani counted on this gesture for winning points with US Jews, ahead of the signing of a final nuclear accord.
May 5, 2014 Briefs
- Israel ushers in 66th Independence with tribute to women
In a colorful ceremony with music, dance, army drill and fireworks at Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein Monday night lit the first torch to mark the start of Israel’s 66th independence celebrations, that followed a day of remembrance for Israel’s fallen.
Twelve women, each distinguished in her field of endeavor lit torches: Carmela Menashe, radio military correspondent; Miriam Zohar, actress; Rabbanit Adina Bar-Shalom, educator; Kira Radinsky, scientist; Hindiya Suleiman, Galilee entrepreneur who set up a workshop for Arab village women; Shahar Peer, tennis champion; Pascale Berkovich, paraplegic Olympic champion; Maxine Passberg, Dep CEO of Intel-Israel; Miriam Peretz, two of whose sons, Golani unit officers, fell in battle; Tali Peretz-Cohen, who established and runs the center for abused women in Galilee and Golan; Geulah Cohen, former Knesset member and heroine of the pre-state underground movements; Blayansh Zabadiya, Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia; Brig-Gen. Orna Barvibai, head of the IDF Manpower Division and the first woman to attain the rank of brigadier.
- Abbas meets Hamas leader Meshaal in Qatar
Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, heads of the two rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, met in Doha Monday for the first time since the signing of a unity pact last month.
May 6, 2014 Briefs
- Syria’s main opposition to open US office
The US has said it will allow Syria's main opposition alliance to open a diplomatic mission in Washington and has released an additional $27m in non-lethal assistance to the Free Syrian Army.
- Saudis arrest 62 al Qaeda operatives back from Syria
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki reported Tuesday that 62 people associated with al Qaeda had recently been arrested, 59 of them Saudi nationals, on their return from Syria while plotting attacks in the kingdom. Among them were a Pakistani, a Palestinian and a Yemeni.
- Nigerian Islamists abduct 8 more schoolgirls
The Islamist group Boko Haram abducted eight more schoolgirls Tuesday as the Nigerian authorities faced rising protest over their inability to find the 276 girls kidnapped from the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday the US was sending FBI agents to help trace the girls.In a video released Monday, Islamist Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau described the girls as “slaves.” He said: "I abducted your girls. I will send them in the market, by Allah." Some of the girls were reported last week to have been forced to marry their abductors, who paid a nominal bride price of $12. Others were said to have been carried into neighboring Cameroon and Chad. These reports were not verified.
An Iranian stealth submarine sinks before targeting a mock US carrier
6 May. A new Iranian Ghadir-class stealth mini-submarine, home-built with Chinese technology, recently sank near the Strait of Hormuz while preparing for a Revolutionary Guards naval exercise to practice sinking or disabling a mock-up US aircraft carrier, debkafile reports exclusively. To keep the accident secret, Tehran curtailed the search for the estimated 10 crewmen. In Tehran, Navy Commander Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi said: “Destroying the US navy remains one of the top operational goals of the Tehran forces. If war with the US breaks out, the carriers’ size “will make them easy to target.
May 7, 2014 Briefs
- Rice in Jerusalem: Enrichment is the big question
Israel’s insistence on Iran being denied enrichment capabilities in the forthcoming nuclear deal is the main bone of contention in the talks US National Security Adviser Susan Rice is holding in Jerusalem, officials said Wednesday. “We would be happy to see July 20 pass without a deal,” said an Israeli government adviser briefed on Rice’s visit, adding that the worry in Israel was that Obama, facing possible gains by Republican rivals in the mid-term US elections of November, might be tempted to accommodate Iran now. Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official said Rice came to Israel "representing the six powers." He added: "The question of enrichment, how many (uranium purification) centrifuges Iran should keep, is the big one."
- Syria to receive Russian Yak-130 training jets this year
The first batch of nine Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 jet combat trainers will be delivered to the Syrian air force by end of this year, said a source close to the deal. The second consignment of 12 aircraft will be delivered in 2015 and a further 15 in 2016.
- Moscow to spend $2.43bn on developing Black Sea fleet
Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergey Shoigu said Wednesday that $2.43 bn is to be spent on a six-year plan for strengthening his country’s military capabilities in the Black Sea. Already this year, the fleet was augmented by marine units, submarines and new warships.
- Ukraine security seizes 1.5 kg of contraband uranium
The Ukrainian security service said it had seized 1.5 kilograms of contraband uranium from a vehicle in the southern region of Chernovtsy, which carried license plates from Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova. Eight Ukrainian citizens and one Russian were detained.
- FM Lieberman strongly denies alleged Israeli spying on the US
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that Israel does not spy on the US – directly or indirectly. He joined Israeli official condemnation as “outrageous” a Newsweek report citing US officials as saying in private conversation that “Israel crosses the line for espionage in the United States.” debkafile: The report was published the day before National Security Adviser Susan Hill was due in Israel to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue with Israel’s leaders.
Homs falls to Assad: UN, Iranian officers secure Syrian rebels’ exit after Iranian hostages freed in Aleppo
7 May. A joint UN observer-Iranian military team began evacuating 2,000 Syrian rebels and their families from the Old City of Homs Wednesday, May 7 ending the Syrian army’s brutal two-year siege. It was another major victory for President Bashar Assad. As a rebel on his way out put it to Western reporters, “The rest of the world failed us.” That the UN resorted to Iranian aid to accomplish this rescue attested to Iran’s dominant role in Damascus – even greater than that of Russia – and the Revolutionary Guards’ control over Syrian and Hizballah military forces. debkafile: To secure Assad’s consent to their exit from this hell, the rebels agreed to the release of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers held hostage by comrades in Aleppo, and to a withdrawal from a number of Shiite towns and villages in central and northern Syria.
May 8, 2014 Briefs
- Huge explosion in Aleppo hotel housing Syrian troops
The explosion which destroyed the Carlton Citadel Hotel in the Syria cit of Aleppo Thursday is believed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the government troops based there.
- Second Jordanian military clash with al Qaeda infiltrators
The Jordanian army reported that its armed forces traded fire Wednesday with a group of infiltrators trying to cross illegally from Syria to Jordan. This was the second incident in a month of Jordanian forces closing the border to al Qaeda adherents from Syria. debkafile: An estimated 2,200 Jordanians are fighting in Syria with al Qaeda.
- Netanyahu: Iran must not have centrifuges or enriched uranium
Israel’s Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the best defense against a nuclear Iran is to keep a nuclear weapon out of its hands. Addressing a ceremony in Netanya marking the 69th anniversary of the WWII victory over Nazi Germany, Netanyahu said Tehran needs centrifuges and enriched uranium for the single purpose of building a nuclear weapon. “Tehran must be deprived of this capability,” he stressed. debkafile: His remarks indicated that Israel was still at odds with the US on the Iranian nuclear issue even after the talks National Security Adviser Susan Rice held with Israeli leaders.