A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending November 1, 2012

Shifting political alliances after Netanyahu’s new bloc

26 Oct. Israel’s political parties are on the move and eyeing new alliances in the wake of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s surprise announcement of a merger between his Likud and Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu ahead of the general election in January. Netanyahu is eying the brand new Future party headed by ex-journalist Yair Lapid as a third prospective partner in his post-election cabinet. Labor is resurgent under its new leader Shelly Yachimovich, but the new Likud Beitunu list is the undisputed front-runner.

October 27, 2012 Briefs

  • New Jihadist group in Indonesia
    The suspects rounded up by Indonesia’s anti-terror squad in four provinces were accused of plotting attacks on domestic and foreign targets including the US and Australian embassies. Their new Sunni Movement for Indonesian Society, or HASMI was found in possession of bombs, explosives, a bomb-making manual and ammunition.

High alert for terror strikes against Israel and US, Egyptian Sinai targets

27 Oct. Israeli, US, Egyptian and Jordanian counterterrorism agencies are on elevated alert ahead of the Eid al Adha festival starting Oct. 25, debkafile: Salafi and al Qaeda cells in Egyptian Sinai are reported to be poised to unleash coordinated terrorist attacks on US and Egyptian targets in Sinai and in Israel to avenge Israel’s targeted killing of two senior commanders of the Salafi-al Qaeda Sinai-Gaza network. Perpetrators of the Benghazi murders of 4 US diplomats are among the jihadi reinforcements coming in from Libya.

Khartoum threatens Israel after Iranian study of missile factory rubble

27 Oct. Sudan’s President Omar Bashir said Saturday, Oct. 27 that “Israeli interests are now legitimate targets.” He spoke after Iranian generals secretly examined the debris remaining from the Shehab ballistic missile factory in Khartoum after an air attack on Oct. 24. While Israel has not commented on the attack, Sudan’s Information Minister said “military experts” had determined it was destroyed by Israel-made missiles. debkafile: The high rank of the Iranian investigating team attested to the consternation in Tehran over the attack.

October 28, 2012 Briefs

  • Heavy Palestinian missile barrage of Eshkol after Israeli air strike
    Palestinians aim 15 missiles before Monday morning at four kibbutzim in the Eshkol District. The firing continued after the Israeli Air Forces struck Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.
  • Top US soldier arrives in Israel
    Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived in Israel Sunday to join the Israeli chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz in overseeing the joint US-Israeli exercise now in its second week.
  • Palestinians fire 10th rocket Sunday at second Israeli city
    The 10th missile fired from Gaza Sunday exploded outside southern edge of Ashkelon Sunday night. The IDF is examining its fragments. Earlier, the Palestinians aimed a Grad at Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona after shooting four at Beersheba, which exploded on open ground.
  • Overnight Saturday, IAF aircraft struck terrorists in Gaza, making final preparations to launch a rocket into southern Israel.

Hamas aims Grad at Dimona nuclear reactor – payback for Khartoum missile plant raid

28 Oct. Less than 24 hours after Sudan’s Omar Bashir pledged “decisive steps against Israeli interests” for the destruction of the Iranian missile plant in Khartoum, Palestinian rocket teams early Sunday, Oct. 28, fired Grad missiles as target finders against Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona. This is reported exclusively by debkafile. They missed, but Hamas is expected to keep on trying to improve its aim, having undertaken to serve Tehran as its southern anti-Israel operational arm, like Hizballah in the north.

October 29, 2012 Briefs

  • Israeli officer raises Iranian “suicide drone” specter, denies overflying Hizballah UAV had cameras
    A senior officer in Israel's northern command on Monday dismissed an Iranian claim they were in possession of data transmitted by an unmanned Hizbollah drone that overflew Israel earlier this month. "I don't think there was a camera," he said. The Israeli officer said that to the best of his knowledge the drone’s mission was to show that it “could stay over Israel for a very long time, which could develop into filming abilities. "He also raised the possibility of future "suicide drones" which could carry explosives and be crashed onto Israeli targets.
  • Central bank governor lowers interest
    Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel, cut the bank rate by 0.25 percent to two percent. He also placed new limitations on housing mortgages to cool the overheated property market.
  • Monday’s first Palestinian missiles spread over four Israeli districts
    By mid-morning Monday, five Qassam rockets had been fired against Sderot, Hof Ashkelon, Shear Hanegev and the Eshkol district, exploding on open ground. Before dawn, 15 missiles struck four kibbutzim in the Eshkol District. The firing continued after the Israeli Air Forces struck Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.
  • Likud convention overwhelmingly endorses merger with Israel Beitenu
    The packed hall of Likud delegates gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a clear majority Monday for his deal with Avigdor Lieberman to run Likud and Israel Beitenu on a single ticket in the Jan. 22, 2013 general election.

Iran develops Ababil-T – a 2,000-km range stealth attack drone

29 Oct. Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi warned Sunday, Oct. 28: “The drone was definitely not the latest Iranian technology.” He was saying the drone sent by Iran and Hizballah over Israel on Oct. 6 was not the last word in their armory – or even the last to reach Israel. debkafile: In mid-September, Tehran secretly shipped to Lebanon a batch of its most advanced Ababil-T UAVs for new missions. The new stealth attack series has a range of 2,000 kilometers, electronic warfare, military intelligence-gathering and online transmission capabilities suited to conditions of front-line battle. It is designed to disable enemy electronic systems in combat, especially those of the United States and Israel.
Iran plans to store a supply of those advanced models in Lebanon for the use of Hizballah – and not only against Israel but to extend its range against a whole array of Tehran’s enemies.

October 30, 2012 Briefs

  • Rebels kill Syrian air force general
    State TV interrupted its broadcasts Tuesday to announce that Air Force Gen. Abdullah Mahmoud Al-Khalidi had been killed by armed gunmen in the Rukn al-Din district of Damascus. Activists reported that during the four-day Eid al-Adha “truce,” 421 people were killed, including 39 children – most in the northern Idlib province. Another 35 deaths were reported Tuesday morning.

Syria on cliff edge between Assad & Al Qaeda

30 Nov. Bashar Assad and al Qaeda have won a free field to fight it out for Syria.
Both US President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney share a hands-off policy for Syria. Even America’s allies in the region, like Turkey, are being held back from direct military confrontation with the Assad regime. The Syrian ruler feels he is sitting pretty with no one around willing or able to stop the indiscriminate air bombardment of urban areas which he began to intensify in the last week. He, the Syrian rebels – and al Qaeda too – sense the country is now up for grabs..
As on indirect consequence of the crisis around the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, the supply of SA-7 missiles from Libya to the Syrian rebels has dried up. Assad felt he could safely put into practice his plot for the assassination in Beirut on Friday, Oct. 19 of the Libyan security chief Brig. Gen. Wassam al-Hasan. The loss of Stevens and al Hasan eliminated two key men in the US uncover war on al Qaeda.

October 31, 2012 Briefs

  • Clinton calls for a revamped Syrian opposition council sans Islamists
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that the presence in Syria of Islamist elements, some linked to al Qaeda, were part of “an opportunist attempt to hijack” the rebellion. Speaking to reporters in Croatia, she proposed a revamped coalition of anti-Assad groups “representing those dying on the front lines against Assad.” debkafile: Clinton’s call is part of a US plan to put together a new Syrian opposition leadership at a meeting in Qatar next week to supplant the ineffective and ageing Syrian National Council.
  • CIA chief arrives in Cairo
    US Central Intelligence Director David Petraeus arrived in Cairo Wednesday for two days of talks with Egyptian security about combating terrorism.

November 1, 2012 Briefs

  • Egypt captures Islamist cells plotting to strike Israel, US, French targets
    The four cells of Islamists tried to stage attacks on the US and French embassies in Cairo and Israeli border forces, as well as strategic sites in Egypt. The attacks were timed for the Eid festival which ended last Monday. A police raid on the home of one of the suspects discovered dozens of hand grenades, rockets, firearms and explosives. CIA director David Petraeus arrived in Cairo Wednesday to discuss the rising terrorist threat with Egyptian security officials. On Oct. 27, debkafile ran an exclusive report on the high terror alert by Egyptian, US and Israeli counterterrorism agencies for a wave of Islamist terror on or around Eid al-Adhah.
  • At least 22 dead in huge explosion which destroyed building in Riyadh
    Saudi state TV reported 22 people were killed, 111 wounded when a fuel truck crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital Riyadh Thursday. The explosion and fire brought down a high-rise industrial building.
  • Netanyahu and Hollande commemorate Toulouse terror victims
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande attended a memorial Thursday for three Jewish children and a rabbi killed by an Islamist gunman at a Jewish school in the southern city of Toulouse eight months ago. Wednesday, after their first face-to-face meeting, Hollande said he wanted “concrete acts” from Iran to prove it was not pursuing a nuclear arms drive, failing which Paris would back “other sanctions.” This threat was unacceptable to France, said the French president. Netanyahu warned that Iran has the means for launching nuclear bombs. He did not elaborate, but said a feeling of relief would spread across the Arab world “five minutes after an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program."

Israel, Iran in verbal duel over drone

1 Nov. IRGC spokesman Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif’s claim Wednesday, Oct. 30, that the Iranian drone which encroached on Israeli airspace on Oct. 6 “obtained the images of many areas that are important for us,” came to counter IDF Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who said no photos were taken because "I don't think there was a camera there." This was the first public admission by an Iranian official that the IRGC was indeed behind the drone’s launching from Lebanon into Israel’s air space from the Mediterranean Sea. He added: "They (Israelis) must know that we possess the information we need on necessary areas in case a particular situation arises" – indicating those areas would be targeted for Iranian retaliation in the event of an Israeli attack on Tehran's nuclear sites.
Tehran now suspects the UAV was not shot down but recovered intact and wants to find out what Israeli intelligence has learned from its equipment.

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