A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending September 6, 2012
Aug. 31, 2012 Briefs
Sderot homes struck by two of four rockets from Gaza
Four rockets were fired from Gaza at Ashkelon and Sderot Friday morning damaging two buildings in Sderot, causing one shock victim and exploding harmlessly outside Ashkelon.
Yaalon answers Dempsey
Israel’s Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon said Friday in a radio interview that mixed messages from foreign powers, including the US, were responsible for Iran not fearing a real military threat. “We have an exchange of views, including with our friends in the US, who in our opinion are partly responsible for this feeling in Iran,” said the Israeli minister, adding “There are many cracks in the ring closing tighter on Iran” he said in reference to the sanctions waivers the US granted many governments for the purchase large quantities of Iranian oil. “We criticize this,” said Yaalon. He also singled out UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon for traveling to Tehran this week.
US slaps Israel down on Iran strike
31 Aug. In its bluntest message yet, the Obama administration declared that Israel is on its own if it attacks Iran. Thursday, Aug. 30, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated that an Israeli attack would “delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” adding impatiently: “I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it." Sanctions were having an effect, said the general. But as he spoke the IAEA reported a 31 percent jump in Iran’s 20-percent enriched uranium stock from 145 kilograms in May to 189.4 in August. The whole world was shown that Iran had not been deflected by sanctions one whit from its gallop towards a nuclear weapon capacity.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and their predecessors were shown to have wasted three years in tireless efforts to solve the Iranian nuclear peril in accord with Israel’s friend, the US, which has now dumped them. Iran’s leaders must be laughing up their sleeves at America’s efforts to ostracize them as they showcase Tehran hosting the Non-Aligned Summit attended by dozens of world leaders.
September 1, 2012 Briefs
Iran to hold big air force drill next month
The commander of Iranian army’s air defense force, Farzad Esmaili announced Saturday a large-scale military drill next month involving its air defense systems, fighter jets and simulated emergency stations. The army and Revolutionary Guards will take part. debkafile: The exercise will also serve to place Iran’s air defenses on war alert ready for an attack.
Wall Street Journal: Israelis are right not to trust Obama on Iran
In an editorial Friday, the Wall Street Journal says it is no wonder Israelis are upset when President Obama who is fond of saying he “has Israel’s back” tries to sell “a make-believe world” of peaceful Iranian nuclear intensions, working sanctions and successful diplomacy. This “head- in- the-sand performance” is why many Israeli decision-makers believe “they had better strike sooner than later.” The WST says a president who really had Israel’s back would publicly contradict the Dempsey warning against an Israeli attack and comment “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”
Russia: Iran’s Bushehr atomic reactor is working at full capacity
The state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced in Moscow Friday that the Russian-built 1,000 megawatt plant, Iran’s first nuclear reactor, is working at full capacity after years of delay. debkafile: The announcement was a warning to the US or Israel that an attack on Bushehr would be deemed prejudicial to Russian interests and cross a red line.
US disowns Israeli over Iran strike: No weapons or military backup
2 Sept. By US Gen. Martin Dempsey’s assertion Thursday, Aug. 30 that the US would not be “complicit” in an Israel strike against Iran and the downsizing of US participation in the October joint exercise, President Barack Obama was telling Israel: You are on your own! See how you manage without special US weapons and US military backup, including a shield against missile counter-attack.
The US president is risking his rival Mitt Romney following up on his charges that Obama threw “allies like Israel under the bus” and failed utterly to stop Iran’s centrifuges spinning.
Obama’s change of face against Israel did not come out of the blue. debkafile’s Washington and Moscow sources report that a US-Russian deal is in the works and in balance. President Putin has cut off military ties with Iran and Syria. Obama was supposed to reciprocate by holding Israel back from striking Iran, but is so far unable to deliver. Netanyahu is holding out for a pledge of US military action against Iran as the price for his restraint, so stalling the Obama-Putin deal.
September 2, 2012 Briefs
Barak: The IDF is fully capable of executing its orders
The IDF is fully capable of carrying out its orders and thwarting any attempt to harm us,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak Sunday night at a reservists excellence award ceremony in Jerusalem. Without further elaborating, he said that in all its 64 years, the ID had proved itself as a fighting and victorious army, and there is no doubt it will overcome future challenges in the same way.”
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said: “To those enemies who say the state of Israel should be wiped off the Middle East map, I say the IDF is ready and well prepared for any scenario. We shall reach any place at any time [we are needed] to defend our people.”
Stennis leaves for the Mid East 4 months early
The guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay, one of the biggest in the world, left San Diego early Saturday headed for the Persian Gulf with a battle group led by Washington-based aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
Little resistance to security forces’ Migron evacuation
Most of the residents of the West Bank Migron community quietly obeyed the High Court’s injunction to leave their homes in their 13 year-old outpost as security officers went from house to house with eviction orders signed by Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon. The evicted families are being rehoused temporarily at Ofra until an alternative location is built for them on West Bank land which is not private property. Several youths arrived on the scene to protest the evictions.
US shortens Israel’s alert time for an Iranian missile attack
2 Sept. The downsizing of US participation in the annual joint drill with Israel in October will have the effect of dismembering their joint strategy for deterring and intercepting an Iranian/Hizballah/Syrian assault on Israel. It will also cut down Israel’s alert time for incoming Iranian missiles from 14 minutes and throw out Ehud Barak’s worst-case estimate of 500 dead from war with Iran.
The US defense or second-strike elements which had been slotted into place by the military strategists of the two armies – will not be there.
CIA chief Petraeus visits Israel Monday to cool Israeli ire
2 Sept. President Barack Obama is sending CIA Director David Petraeus to Israel in a hurry. He will fly in after visiting Ankara Sunday, Sept. 2. His visit to Israel is a non-binding gesture that will not stem the rising ill will between Jerusalem and Washington, because neither the White House nor US top soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey are backtracking or apologizing for his derogatory remarks about the IDF. Israel also complains that Washington is sparing Iran’s leaders any sense of military threat to deter them from striking out for a nuclear weapon.
Egypt to grant 6,000 gunmen Sinai militia status
3 Sept. To keep the truce with the Islamist terrorist groups in Sinai in place, Egypt is releasing dozens of jailed Salafist gunmen every few days in batches, so feeding them a steady supply of reinforcements. Cairo is also in negotiation with Bedouin tribal elders to grant a body of 6,000 Al-Qaeda-linked Salafi gunmen the status of an approved, independent militia, taxing Israel with a new headache.
The Morsi government’s only real action in Sinai is to have a security buffer strip closed to civilians along the Egyptian-Israeli border. Its 260 kilometers were paved in secret by US military engineers from the MFO Mediterranean base at Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai down to Taba, providing a safe route for the peacekeepers, most of them members of the US 82nd Airborne Division.
Large sections run parallel to Israel’s Highway 12 from Nitzana down to Eilat.
September 4, 2012 Briefs
New IDF Operations Chief named amid rising military tension
Maj. Gen. Yoav Har-Even moves into the key IDF General Command post of Operations Division chief Thursday, Sept. 6. He replaces Maj. Gen. Yaakov Ayash who leaves immediately for Washington ahead of assuming the post of military attaché at the Israeli embassy. debkafile: The post of Israeli military attaché in Washington is of paramount importance in a war situation.
Russia advises citizens to quit Syria
The Russian Foreign Ministry published a rare advisory to citizens to quit Syria “while it is still possible” to find safe routes of departure. The Free Syrian Army rebels were described as threatening the two Syrian international airports in Damascus and Aleppo.
Syria’s humanitarian situation “is deteriorating fast”
The number of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries in August was more than 103,400, almost double the number of previous months in 17 months of warfare.
China and India to resume joint military exercises
After a four-year gap, Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony announced the two countries had decided to revive their joint war games in four days of talks in New Delhi with Gen. Liang Guanglie, who was the first Chinese defense minister visit India in eight years.
Salafist gunmen attack Egyptian Sinai post
Although Egypt claimed this week to have completed a military offensive to cut down Islamist terrorist activity in Sinai, Salafi gunmen attacked an Egyptian army post at Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai Tuesday with recoilless grenades and automatic weapons.
US bases threatened if Israel attacks Iran – Nasrallah
4 Sept. Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah cut through the US-Israeli debate over “red lines” for Iran Monday Sept. 3 by saying that Tehran would hit US bases in the Middle East if Israel struck its nuclear facilities, even if the Americans were not involved. That was Iran’s red line.
debkafile: Iran should have enough 20-percent enriched uranium for a bomb by next month so making the “red line” dispute irrelevant.
September 5, 2012 Briefs
The IDF can operate anywhere in the world
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz countered Iranian threats Wednesday.Barak: “Israel has the ability and knowledge to thwart perils at any moment and any geographic range although it is facing unprecedentedly complex threats.” Gantz: the Israeli Navy can operate with accuracy and potency at any point on the map.”
High security alert for broad anti-Abbas disturbances on the West Bank
Palestinian security forces went on high alert Wednesday ready for demonstrations called against the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and America in the main West Bank towns Thursday. Israeli forces are also prepared for the disturbances to spill over against Israeli targets.
Netanyahu breaks up security cabinet session over leaks
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broke up a security cabinet session Wednesday in protest over a leak to a newspaper from the closed-doors special government debate on the Iran issue a day earlier.
US-led Gulf exercise timed to forestall Israeli attack
5 Sept. A third US aircraft carrier, USS Stennis, is moving into place for leading 25 nations in a 12-day naval exercise off Iran’s Gulf coast. A large-scale minesweeping drill will simulate the prevention of Iranian efforts to block the Strait of Hormuz. debkafile: President Barack Obama plans to see Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sept. 28, just after the exercise, hoping to forestall an Israel attack on Iran’s nuclear sites by demonstrating that the US is serious about military action. He is sending the same message to Tehran.
Israel’s trust was again shaken by new amendments to the Democrats’ party platform: The 2008 “US commitment to ensure Israel retains a qualitative edge in the Middle East” omitted any future commitments. Also dropped was the reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
September 6, 2012 Briefs
Deputy US Armed Forces chief visits IDF
Adm. James A. Winnefeld, deputy chairman of the US Joint Chiefs, has arrived in Israel as guest of the IDF’s Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen, Yair Neveh.
US Democrats put Jerusalem back on platform after furor
Barack Obama’s party restored “Jerusalem as capital of Israel” to its platform Wednesday night responding to protests from Jewish leaders and Republican criticism over its sudden deletion in favor of determining the city’s status in “final status Israel-Palestinian negotiations.”
Another anti-Israel amendment remained: The one dropping the US commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East from the Democrats’ platform.
Anti-missile Iron Dome for Tel Aviv
An Iron Dome missile defense battery was stationed Wednesday in the Gush Dan district centering on Tel Aviv, for the second time in six months. DEBKAfle: The battery was moved in to defense Israel’s largest conurbation against a Hizballah attack at a time of rising war tensions.
Seven terrorists killed in two Israel air strikes over Gaza
An IDF air strike and tank fire knocked out a gang of Palestinians laying explosive devices on the border fence near the northern Gazan town of Beit Hanoun Thursday morning. Three were killed. Overnight an earlier air strike killed four “Mujaheddin Battalions in Jerusalem’s Vicinity" Islamists about to fire rockets at nearby Israeli communities.
Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades
6 Sept. Turkish army officers have assumed direct command of at least two Syrian rebel brigades fighting Bashar Assad’s government forces, according to debkafile’s exclusive sources. This step and its future expansion, discussed during CIA Direct David Petraeus’ talks in Ankara, have sent military tensions rocketing on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon. A high alert for a possible backlash was declared for Israel units deployed on the Syrian and Lebanese borders after unusual military movements were detected in Syria and among Hizballah concentrations.