A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending November 15, 2012
November 9, 2012
At least 11,000 Syrian refugees flee in one day
Most poured into Turkey with children and dozens of wounded; others to Jordan and Lebanon. The 9,000 clambering over the barbed wire fence into Turkey were escaping fighting in Harem, in Syria’s northern Idlib and expected air raids on the northeastern town of Ras al-Ayn, which rebels seized from the Syrian army. Earlier, a Turkish state-run agency reported a group of Syrian soldiers sought asylum, including two generals and 11 colonels. UN officials warn that the unrelenting increases in violence and suffering in Syria would raise the numbers in need of humanitarian aid from 2.5 million to 4 million early next year. In recent weeks Kurds and Palestinians are being drawn into the fighting.
Iranian attack on US drone – payback for Khartoum bombing
9 Nov. Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi confirmed Nov. 9 that two Iranian SU-25 jet fighters had fired at an unarmed US MQ-Predator drone over the Persian Gulf the day before. debkafile: In September, Tehran warned that US targets would be at risk if Israel struck Iranian interests. After an Iranian missile factory was bombed in Khartoum, Iran and Sudan pointed the finger at Israel. In consequence, on Nov. 1, Iranian fighters shot at – and missed – the US drone.
Iran takes it for granted that Israel, if responsible for the Khartoum operation, could not have staged it without the knowledge of US Middle East commanders and those leading the joint US-Israeli war game taking place at the time.
November 10, 2012
Seventeen Turkish troops die in helicopter crash
Turkish Kurdish PKK separatists are suspected of downing the Turkish Sikorsky with an anti-air missile Saturday over the Pervari area inside the Iraq-Syria-Turkish border triangle. Ankara said later that bad weather conditions caused the crash. debkafile: Syrian ruler Bashar Assad is believed to have armed the Kurdish PKK with anti-air missiles in revenge for the delivery of American-made Stingers to Syrian rebels. Last Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “We have verified information that thee are more than 50 Stingers in Syrian now.”
Iraq scraps $4 bn weapons deal with Russia
The Baghdad announcement cited graft concerns in Moscow for cancelling a transaction that would have made Russia Iraq’s biggest arms supplier after the US.
Another Palestinian missile barrage after injuring 4 IDF soldiers
10 Nov. Violence erupted from the Gaza Strip Saturday night, Nov. 10, with a rocket attack on an IDF jeep that injured four Israeli soldiers – one critically, two in moderate condition. This time, Hamas’s subcontractor was the Palestinian Popular Front. After Israeli tanks and helicopters fired back, the Palestinians loosed rockets against the Eshkol and Shear Hanegev districts, followed by Grads against Ashkelon, Ashdod and further north, to Gan Yavneh. This was the eighth Palestinian barrage in less than a month.
November 11, 2012
Palestinians fire 116 rockets in 24 hours. IDF on Syrian border alert
Another 10 missiles hit Eshkol district Sunday night. After the Palestinians fired 106 rockets from Gaza in 24 hours, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said the Gaza situation cannot go on and the IDF must make a “real response.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel is ready to strike harder. After two Grad missiles against his town were intercepted by Iron Dome, Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich said it is “unthinkable for a million civilians to be held hostage to terror. The South is the victim of a war of attrition and the government must bring it to a halt.”
Egypt bids for Gaza truce
11 Nov. The Palestinian missile offensive from Gaza was still going strong Sunday night, Nov. 11, after two days and more than 110 rockets. One of its driving forces, debkafile reports, is Hamas’s inability to bring all the main terroristic organizations under a single operational command. The Jihad Islami, the Salafis and the Popular Front preserve their independence of action. Another is their belief that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will avoid a major IDF operation. But he has another kind of pressure to consider. The million-strong constituency of southern Israel may not let him get away with a temporary, fragile stoppage of the rockets that make their lives unbearable. They may make him pay for inaction at the ballot-box.
November 12, 2012
No letup in rocket fire from Gaza
Monday evening, Day 3 of the Palestinian missile offensive from Gaza, five Grad missiles were fired at Beersheba, Netivot and Ofakim. Two were intercepted by Iron Dome. No casualties.
Gaza rockets target Ashkelon, Eshkol after Netivot
Early Monday, Day 3 of the Palestinian missile offensive from Gaza, a Grad rocket wrecked a house in Netivot, causing 26 shock victims. Next came three mortar shells exploding on empty ground in the Eshkol district and 5 rockets aimed at Ashkelon, the town and industrial area. Two were intercepted by Iron Dome. Popular clamor is building up on the government to launch a major operation against Palestinian terror from Gaza.
Assad tests IDF responses on Golan
12 Nov. Another shell landed near an Israeli position on the Golan Monday, Nov. 12, less than 24 hours after Damascus promised to silence the mortar battery responsible for “stray shells.” The promise came after Israel fired a Tamuz guided missile into Syria as a warning shot. Monday, Israeli tank fire finally knocked out the Syrian mortar battery. debkafile: Bashar Assad is provoking Israel to test its resolve in the light of the Netanyahu government’s restraint against heavy Palestinian missile barrages from Gaza.
While Israeli officials and IDF spokesmen insist that the two fronts are not connected, debkafile’s intelligence sources report that the restraint exhibited by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak thus far risks landing Israel in really hot water on two if not three violent fronts.
Salafists receive more Grads through Sinai tunnels
12 Nov. Most Palestinians groups met in Gaza City Monday night, Nov. 12, to approve a ceasefire after a three-day, 150-rocket assault on Israel. But the Salafists stayed away, instead firing 5 heavy Grad rockets against Netivot, Beersheba and Ofakim and taking delivery of a fresh load of Grads through the Sinai tunnels, assisted by Tehran’s proxy, Jihad Islam.
November 13, 2012
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Israel must be stopped attacking Gaza
The Muslim Brotherhood posted a harsh anti-Israel statement Tuesday saying, “We will never enable Israel to attack the Gaza Strip,” said the party statement. debkafile: The MB party not the government in Cairo is calling the shots in Cairo and orchestrated the Gaza escalation.
Egyptian Islamists want Giza Pyramids, Sphinx destroyed
Islamist Sheikh Murgan Salem al-Gohary called in a recent TV interview for the removal of such “idols,” like Buddha statues the Taliban destroyed in Afghanistan.
Barak: We’ll restore our deterrent strength
Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak pledged to restore the IDF’s deterrent strength and keep the troops safeguarding the Gaza border fence out of harm’s way. “It is not yet over,” said Barak while touring the fence Tuesday.
Terrorist suspect Abu Qatada walks free
The UK government lost its appeal against a court ruling barring the radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada’s deportation on the grounds that he would not get a fair trial in Jordan where he was convicted in absentia for two bomb plots. Once called Osama bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe, the fire-eating preacher has fought his extradition for seven years.
Israeli election update: Two Labor veterans bury hatchet to challenge Yachimovitch
Former Histadrut trade unions leader Amir Peretz and incumbent Ofer Eini have buried a six-year old hatchet to lead the party veterans’ challenge against the new Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovitch and her faction in the Nov. 29 primaries. Peretz and Eini are both hardened campaigners with strong grass roots followings in the trade unions, the kibbutz and moshav movements and among Israeli Arabs and Druzes – the Labor party’s traditional rank and file. Yachimovich has flooded the top ranks with new faces to reinvigorate the waning party. Israelis go to the polls Jan. 22, 2013.
Iran’s new interceptor: rejoinder for US-Israeli air defense drill
13 Nov. Iran’s air defense chief Gen. Farzad Esmaili boasted Tuesday, Nov. 12, that the “massive” ongoing military exercise was “a strong slap to those countries that threaten [us].”
debkafile: The six-day Iranian air defense drill is Tehran’s answer to the joint US-Israeli maneuver for practicing defenses against an Iranian or Syrian ballistic missile attack on Israel. Patriot anti-missile launches made from Palmachim Monday tested US-Israel ability to lock onto Iranian cruise missiles coming from the Mediterranean from Iranian military or civilian vessels or Hizballah commando speedboats.
November 14, 2012
Top-level Israel consultation on Golan
The brittle situation on Israel’s Golan border with Syria brought Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and members of the IDF high command to the Northern Command Wednesday.
Israeli ambassador exits Cairo with family
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s office announced Wednesday night the recall of his ambassador from Tel Aviv just weeks after he presented his credentials and demanded an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss “Israeli aggression.” President Morsi did not deliver a statement on the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip although it was scheduled.
Netanyahu and Barak progress report on Gaza operation
14 Nov. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reported that the first waves of Israeli air strikes over Gaza Wednesday had seriously damaged the Hamas terrorists’ ability to conduct missile attacks on central Israel. . “We are set to expand our counter-terror operation if necessary.” He said. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that most of Hamas’s Fajr rockets and their silos had been hit as well as many other strategic sites. Operation Pillar of Cloud had four objectives, said Barak: restoring Israel’s deterrence; seriously degrading the terrorists’ rocket arsenal; harming their leaders and restoring peace to southern Israel.
The operation started with a targeted air strike killing Ahmed Jabari, 52, commander of Hamas’s military arm, Ezz e-din al-Qassam, a key figure in the radical Palestinian Hamas movement. He was caught driving in a black Mercedes in Gaza City. Hamas declared: We are at war. Hamas’ southern sector commander, Raad al-Atar, who was mistakenly reported killed, said his organization was able to hit Tel Aviv and further north. He was referring to the Fajr-5 rockets whose range in 75 kilometers.
Southern Israeli was placed on high alert and schools closed as the first rockets hit Ashkelon and Eshkol.
Egypt recalls envoy. Iron Dome intercepts 17 out of 50 rockets
14 Nov. The Palestinians fired 50 rockets from Gaza Wednesday night, Nov. 14 – of which Iron Dome intercepted 17 – after an Israeli air assault killed the Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari and destroyed dozens of missile sites. The rockets were fired at Beersheba, Ashdod and Eshkol. None caused casualties. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi did not issue a statement on the Israeli operation, but recalled his ambassador from Tel Aviv and said Cairo would ask the UN Security Council to stop “Israeli aggression.”
The Israeli Navy joined the air force in striking Palestinian missile sites in southern Gaza from the sea.
Locations within 40 kilometers range of the Gaza Strip were advised to stand ready to take rocket attacks from Gaza until the Operation Pillar of Cloud was over.
November 15, 2012
Obama calls Netanyahu, Morsi
The White House said the US president reiterated American support for Israel’s right to self-defense from rocket attacks against its civilians and urged Israel to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties in its response.
UN Security Council ends without resolution
The closed door session called by Egypt broke up early Thursday without passing any resolution or issuing a statement. US Ambassador Susan Rice spoke out for Israel’s right to self-defense against multiple missile attacks on civilians. The Arab motion of condemnation was defeated.
Tel Aviv hit by three Gaza missiles. Israel calls up 30,000 reservists
15 Nov. The first Palestinian missile reached the Tel Aviv conurbation, Gush Dan, Thursday night, Nov. 15, shortly after a long-range missile was confirmed to have exploded in Rishon Lezion southeast of Tel Aviv and sirens sounded in outlying towns of Holon, Ness Ziona, Gan Raveh and Beer Yacov. None have yet reported casualties or damage. The IDF spokesmen reported that units of the elite paratroop and Givati Brigades were mustering outside the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Ehud Barak later announced the call-up of 30,000 reservists, raising the possibility of an imminent Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.
During the day, the first three Israelis were killed by a rocket hitting Kiryat Malachi for the first time. Several hundred rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip after Israel embarked on the Pillar of Cloud operation Wednesday evening, Nov. 14, to wipe out Palestinian missile capabilities once and for all. Many incoming rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome.