November 1, 2013 Briefs
- Five Israeli soldiers injured in S. Gaza operation
The five soldiers, two moderately and three lightly wounded, belonged to a combat engineering unit working on both sides of the border to uncover and blow up the starting point of the Palestinian tunnel whose exit was discovered near Kibbutz Ain Hashlosha last month. A bomb trap was triggered when they dropped a drill through a hole outside the roof to be used for widening one of the openings from inside. Among the injured men were a Lt. Colonel and a major. The Chief of Staff has ordered an investigation into the incident.
Israeli air strikes in Syria reported by foreign sources and US
1 Nov. A US official Thursday night, Oct. 31, confirmed Arab media reports that shortly before Wednesday midnight, the Israeli Air Force attacked a consignment of Russian-made SA-8 Gecko Dgreen mobile missiles in the Syrian port of Latakia to prevent its delivery to Hizballah. Other foreign sources said Israel also struck a similar consignment in Damascus. DEBKA: The leak from Washington to US media angered Israeli officials. US official sources explained that the administration, immersed in joint diplomacy on Syria with Moscow, needed to demonstrate it was not involved in the Israeli operation
November 2, 2013 Briefs
- Two French radio journalists snatched, murdered in Mali
Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont of the French radio station RFI were kidnapped in the northern Mali town of Kidal after they interviewed Ambeiri Ag Rhissa, a local official of the MNLA ethnic Tuareg separatist group.
- Pakistan Taliban names Hakimullah Mehsud’s son his successor
The Taliban of Pakistan announced Saturday that Khan Said has been chosen as their new military commander to succeed his father Hakimullah Mehsud who was killed by an American drone in North Waziristan last week.
- IRAN AIR to resume direct flights to US
Iran’s national airline IRAN AIR has formally applied to the US Civil Aviation Organization for permission to resume direct flights from Tehran to New York – for the first time in 34 years – strikingly attesting to the momentum of rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.
November 3, 2013 Briefs
- Syrian rebel chief in Aleppo quits after big Assad victory in Al Safira
Gen. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, head of Syrian rebel forces in the Aleppo region angrily threw in the towel Sunday saying: “This is no way to fight!” debkafile: He was protesting that none of Syria’s foreign backers, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, were on hand to fend off the Syrian army’s assault at the big army base at Al Safira near Aleppo.
- An Israeli tactical drone crashes in the Gaza Srip
The IDF spokesman reported Sunday that an Israeli Skylark close-range tactical drone crashed in the northern Gaza Strip Sunday during an operational flight as a result of a technical fault. Palestinians on the ground collected the debris.
- Russia’s “aircraft carrier killer” vessel Varyag in Mediterranean
Varyag, the flagship of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, entered the Mediterranean Sea Saturday along with its most powerful nuclear-fueled battleship Pyotr Veliky. Detachments of marine units are aboard as well as an air force wing of Ka-27 helicopters. debkafile: The Russian Navy now deploys its six largest and most powerful warships in the Mediterranean.
- Iran, North Korea agree on further nuclear, missile cooperation under Rouhani
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and a group of North Korean security officials visiting Tehran agreed to continue their cooperation in nuclear and missile development on Aug. 3, the day after Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as Iranian president.
- Davis Cup bans Tunisia for boycotting Israeli tennis player
The International Tennis Federation board voted unanimously to suspend the Tunisian Tennis Federation for one year for ordering Malek Jaziri not to compete against the Israeli tennis player Amir Weintraub last month. “There is no room for prejudice in sport,” said the decision.
- Ebay apologizes, removes from sale Holocaust items
The online auction site Ebay apologized after a UK newspaper found dozens of items related to the Holocaust on sale, including shoes and a toothbrush belonging to concentration camp victims, a Star of David armband and a uniform belonging to a Polish baker who died in Auschwitz.
Mystery explosion at Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor
3 Nov. A mysterious blast which last week struck the heavy water reactor under construction at Arak in western Iran is revealed here for the first time by debkafile’s exclusive sources. They estimate it occurred in the coolant containers and pressure gauges attached to the reactor’s core during preparations for a test. The full extent of damage is not yet known, but it is believed serious enough to indefinitely delay the reactor’s operation. Iranian nuclear experts are looking at four possible causes, including sabotage and a virus in the computers operating its systems.
Turkey roll up anti-Iran spy rings under new pact with Tehran
3 Nov. Turkish and Iranian Foreign ministers Ahmet Davutoglu and Javad Zarif secretly signed in Ankara a pact covering intelligence cooperation between their two countries in Ankara, Friday, Nov. 1, debkafile reveals exclusively. Although a member of NATO, Turkey undertook under this accord to stop cooperating with third countries in spying on Iran and to roll up anti-Iranian spy rings operating from its soil. From late October, the Erdogan government began enforcing a prohibition on the activities of agents collecting information on Iran from the Turkish side of the Iranian border.
November 4, 2013 Briefs
- Israel: Palestinians must relinquish “right of return”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s right to a homeland is the root of the ongoing conflict. For a final status accord, the Palestinians must relinquish the so-called right of return. He spoke at the weekly cabinet meeting the day after the Palestinian Authority called the Balfour Declaration “a crime against humanity” and demanded an apology from Britain. (In a letter written 96 years ago, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.)
Netanyahu repeated: “We will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
- Kerry meets Saudi King amid sharp policy differences
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday: "The Saudis are very, very important to all of us. The Saudis are really the senior player in the Arab world together with Egypt," he said before he met King Abdullah. Kerry’s mission in Riyadh was to soothe Saudi disgruntlement over the Obama administration’s policies on Syria and Iran.
- UK manhunt for Kenya terrorist suspect
British police have named Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed as terrorist suspect wanted in connection with the Al Shabaab attack on an Nairobi mall last September in which 87 people died. Mohamed who was under surveillance was last seen Friday entering a mosque in West London and emerging wearing a women’s burqa. He has since disappeared.
- Morsi trial adjourned to Jan. 8 after disrupted opening
The trial of Egypt’s deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was suspended shortly after it opened early Monday when he shouted: “I am the president!” and his supporters disrupted the proceedings with chants. The trial was adjourned to Jan. 8.
Kerry in Riyadh & Cairo finds planning for Russian naval base in Egypt
4 Nov. By the time US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo and Riyadh Nov. 3-4 for talks with Egyptian and Saudi leaders, negotiations were already afoot on plans for a Russian naval port in Egypt, debkafile reports. This followed the plan Saudi Arabia developed with Moscow for re-establishing Russian military advisers in Egypt and for America’s replacement by Russia as Egypt’s main arms supplier. The Russians have listed four preferred locations on the Mediterranean coast for their new naval port facilities: Alexandria, Damietta, Rosetta or Port Said.
November 5, 2013 Briefs
- White House on lookout for European leader to tackle Khamenei
In the hope of saving the foundering nuclear talks with Tehran, the White House is looking for a European leader of high caliber to tackle Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, debkafile reports. Both Khamenei and Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said this week that they are not optimistic. The mass anti-American demonstrations in Tehran Monday indicated the strengthening hand of thee hardliners.
- Palestinian leader lobbies 80 nations for anti-Israeli settlement boycott
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is directly lobbying 80 governments to join the European boycott against Israeli settlements. Abbas wants to make the anti-Israel boycott universal without applying to the UN for a formal resolution, which would violate his pledge for peace talks with Israel.
Moscow announces Netanyahu to meet Putin in two weeks
5 Nov. Shortly before US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Jerusalem Tuesday night, Nov. 5, the Russian president’s office announced that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would visit Moscow on Nov. 20 for talks with President Vladimir Putin.
debkafile: Netanyahu has determined to explore the route trodden by Saudi Arabia, Gulf Emirates and Egypt, who – feeling let down by the Obama administration’s decision to pull out of the Middle East, barring its outreach to Iran – turned to Moscow for closer ties.
November 6, 2013 Briefs
- Citation for excellence awarded IDF undercover 504 Unit
Director of Military Intelligence (AMAN) Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi Tuesday awarded a citation of excellence to IDF undercover Unit 504 for “a unique operation of an undisclosed nature, which once again broke the bounds of covert activity.” He praised the unit’s "original, innovative work which demonstrated unimaginable creativity and audacity" and credited the unit and its commander, Colonel K, with “generating changes in recent years which enabled Israel to grapple with regional challenges.
Will Lieberman join Netanyahu for is talks with Putin?
6 Nov. Avigdor Lieberman’s unanimous acquittal by a Jerusalem court on charges of fraud and breach of trust, Wednesday, Nov. 6 – and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s instantaneous welcome of his ally’s return to government – dovetailed neatly with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of talks with the Israeli prime minister in Moscow on Nov. 20. Lieberman is due to be sworn into his old post as foreign minister. An invitation for Lieberman to join him would have significance in terms of Israel’s foreign policy posture and internal political balance. It would indicate that he is tapped as next leader of a Likud union with his own Israel Beitenu. His return to government brings to the fore an opponent of a final peace accord with the Palestinians which Lieberman argues would never work. He therefore favors an interim accord, which John Kerry opposes.
November 7, 2013 Briefs
- Decline in volunteers for IDF combat units
Just over 70 percent of new military recruits opt for service in a combat unit, compared with 80 percent three years ago, Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbay reported Thursday. The highest numbers come from two small towns in central Israel, Modiin and Rosh Ha’ayin and the lowest from Jerusalem, Ashdod and Bnei Berak. The general blamed the atmosphere pervading in the country that there is no longer any danger.
- Turkey seizes truckload of munitions for Syrian rebels
In its first action under the new Turkish-Iranian intelligence cooperation accord Turkey seized a cargo truck full of 1,200 rocket heads, bazookas, missiles, bombs and guns in the southern province of Adana near the Syrian border.
- Netanyahu: Israel rejects proposals for nuclear Iran in Geneva
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday night rejected outright the proposals under discussion in Geneva for a compromise resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue as a historic blunder, because it would allow Iran to continue developing its nuclear weapons program while easing the pressure on the Islamic Republic. The so-called “concessions” made by Iran are anything but.
- Two Palestinian terrorist teams escape after attack
Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint came under a drive-by shooting attack Thursday from a vehicle from the Palestinian village of Na’alin. No one was hurt. During the chase, another Palestinian vehicle tried to run over the commander of the pursuit. He shot back. The vehicle was found, but both assailants got away.
- Kerry stays another day in the Mid East to revisit Jerusalem
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Amman Thursday that he was staying in the region for another day to return to Jerusalem Friday for a third round of talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. debkafile: This decision ties in with developments awaited in the coming hours regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
Major Israel-US rift over new Washington plan for Iran to continue enriching uranium with initial sanctions relief
7 Nov. Israel announced early Thursday, Nov. 7, that it is utterly opposed to the new proposal the United States plans to put before the two-day Geneva conference on Iran’s nuclear program which begins later in the day. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, when he met US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem Wednesday night, bitterly accused the Obama administration of yielding to the Russian-backed Iranian position. Should Tehran renege on the deal, it is left by the US proposal with the capacity for enriching enough weapons-grade uranium in 10 days to build several nuclear weapons. By the time Washington or the nuclear watchdog caught on, it would be too late to stop Iran having The Bomb.