A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Weeks Ending Jan. 2, 2014

US and Israeli officers in South Sudan mediation bid

20 Dec. In a joint effort to arrest South Sudan’s plunge into civil war, American and Israeli officers are working quietly together on a mediation effort to reconcile President Saval Kiira and his ousted deputy Riek Machar. debkafile: South Sudan is of high strategic importance for America and Israel.
For America, it stands in the path of radical Islamic influence from Khartoum and provides a foothold on the western shore of the Red Sea, opposite a mainline Saudi oil route from the Persian Gulf via the Suez Canal.
Israel’s close ties with South Sudan’s Christians go back 50 years and were often expressed in financial aid, diplomatic support, military training and weapons in line with its policy cultivating friendships with fellow non-Muslim enclaves on the African continent.

December 22, 2013 Briefs

  • Edgar M. Bronfman philanthropist, former WJC president is dead
    Edgar Bronfman died aged 84 at his home in Manhattan. As president of the World Jewish Congress from 1981 until 2007, he pressed the Soviet Union to give the Jewish better living conditions and allow their emigration and forced Swiss banks to make restitution to families of pre-war depositors who died in Nazi camps.
  • Iraq launches biggest offensive against al Qaeda
    debkafile: Iraqi army divisions Nos. 1 and 7 Sunday launched its biggest ever attack on Qaeda strongholds in the Western Iraqi province of Anbar, fighting with US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks and Russian-made Mi-35 assault helicopters. Its success will ease Al Qaeda’s pressure onBashar Assad’s forces in Syria.

Palestinians revert to bus bomb attacks. Bat Yam bus cleared in time to avert casualties

22 Dec. A medium-sized bomb exploded Sunday on a Dan No. 240 bus in Bat Yam on the outskirts of Tel Aviv Monday, Dec. 22, in what the police believe is a fresh outbreak of Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli transport. A passenger spotted an unattended bag and alerted the driver who pulled over, cleared the bus and called the police just in time. A police sapper who tried to defuse the bomb slightly hurt his hand when it blew up.

December 23, 2013 Briefs

  • Palestinian knifing injures Jerusalem policeman
    First reports that a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli policeman in the back in northern Jerusalem’s Adam, causing moderate injury. The terrorist is sought after he managed to escape.
  • Rocket from Gaza luckily exploded at night
    The rocket blew up Sunday night near a pick-up point for schoolchildren on a residential street in Hof Ashkelon. Had it blown up by day, there could have been many casualties. The fragments collected Monday morning showed a high concentration of iron shrapnel for maximizing casualties.

US spies watch a secret Israeli site from a Jerusalem hotel

23 Dec. Israel recently complained to Washington about hotel suites rented in Jerusalem by undercover agents to spy on a secret military installation frequented by high Israeli officials for private consultations. But other less friendly Western spy agencies caught on meanwhile and took suites at the same location. To combat the exposure of its secrets, Israel has introduced “sterile spaces” impenetrable to illicit penetration as well as tricks of misdirection. However, the Americans and other interested parties keep on looking for holes in these barriers and so the contest goes on.

Israeli leaders ponder punishment for terror without derailing Mid East peace talks

24 Dec. The Palestinian sniper who Tuesday, Dec. 24, shot dead an Israeli civilian from Gaza sent Israeli leaders in an agony of indecision over how to fight back against surging Palestinian terrorism without derailing US-sponsored Middle East peace talks. That afternoon, Israeli warplanes struck a Hamas base in Gaza, a relatively mild punishment. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hopes that by holding back, he could bring the talks to a successful conclusion. But he was wrong. The Palestinians ran off with the initiative from a new terrorist command center in Gaza and Istanbul.

Terrorist hard core swapped for Gilead Shalit is behind new wave of terror

24 Dec. Palestinian terrorist attacks currently underway against Israeli military and civilian targets can no longer be brushed aside as random. debkafile: Intelligence sources attribute the rising curve of violence to the hard core of 40 Palestinian terrorist-killers expelled to the Gaza Strip and Turkey in exchange for Gilead Shalit two years ago. Contrary to the line pushed by Israeli officials that there is no organizing hand behind the new wave of attacks, the strings are being pulled from Istanbul by Saleh Al-Aruri of Hamas and Amana Muna of Fatah. Both have high credibility on the West Bank.

December 25, 2013 Briefs

  • Abbas adopts Jesus as a Palestinian
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas sent this Christmas message to the world: “In Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born, a Palestinian messenger who would become the guiding light for millions around the world.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Abbas should check his facts, read the New Testament before spouting such nonsense. Palmor said. "But we forgive him, for he knows not what he does."

Kerry proposes US troops for Jordan Valley border

25 Dec. Surrendering to Palestinian opposition, Secretary of State John Kerry steps back from the US security plan for Israeli troops to guard the Jordan Valley border – in favor of US forces, debkafile reports: The Palestinians won’t grant Israeli West Bank corridors for access to the Jordan Valley or agree to Israeli monitors to be posted at Palestinian-Jordanian border crossings. Instead, Kerry has come up with the notion of “remote Israeli monitoring” of the border posts by means of electronic gadgets.

December 26, 2013 Briefs

  • Five Iron Dome batteries now deployed in southern Israel
    To meet rash of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel has deployed six Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in the southern towns of Eilat, Ashdod, Beersheba, Netivot, and Ashdod.

New Palestinian terror weapon: Austrian Steyr .50 assassin’s rifle

26 Dec. The newest Palestinian terrorist weapon is an Iranian copy of the Austrian single-shot Steyr 50 caliber assassin’s rifle. It was used by a trained sniper to murder Saleh Abu-Tayyel Tuesday on Dec. 24. The marksman belonged to the Hamas-commanded Popular Resistance Committees. He was assisted by a Jihad Islami scout who helped him position the 12.5 kilo, 1.37 m long rifle. IDF Master Sgt. Gal Koby, who was killed on Sept. 22 by a single shot in Hebron, may too have been the victim of a Palestinian sniper using a Steyr 50. The Iranian Al Qods ordered Hizballah to smuggle it into the Gaza Strip, mostly likely by sea.

December 27, 2013 Briefs

  • Former Lebanese minister killed in big car bomb blast in Beirut
    The big explosion that rocked downtown Beirut Friday targeted the convoy of former Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah, adviser to former prime minister Saad Hariri and leader of the pro-Saudi Sunni community opposed to Hizballah. Another five people were killed in the explosion which occurred near the Lebanese prime minister’s office, and 70 others were wounded.
  • Abducted American in Pakistan appeals to Obama
    A 72-year-old American development worker Warren Weinstein who was kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaeda more than two years ago appealed to President Obama in a video released Thursday to negotiate his release. "Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here, and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”

Obama to pay Netanyahu back for Iran campaign using Palestinian issue as bludgeon

28 Dec. debkafile reports: US and Israeli intelligence analysts have no doubt that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas stands in the way to a negotiated peace accord with Israel, because he is sure he can get more by diplomatic manipulation and anti-Israel propaganda. Yet the Obama administration is planning to hold Binyamin Netanyahu to blame for the impasse by depicting him as a serial denier of peace and political failure – payback for his bid to turn Congress against Obama’s policy of détente with Iran.

December 29, 2013 Briefs

  • Exclusive: Abbas ready to reject the US peace framework
    debkafile’s exclusive Washington sources disclose that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has given Secretary of State John Kerry to understand that his framework accord with Israel, will be rebuffed by the Palestinian side when it is presented.
  • Saudi funding for Lebanese army upgrade only for non-US arms
    debkafile reports exclusively that Saudi King Abdullah Sunday offered $3 bn for upgrading the Lebanese army’s arsenal provided Beirut did not purchase new arms in America but France or Italy.
  • Explosion at Volgograd station kills seventeen
    The Russian anti terrorism committee said a female suicide bomber from Dagestan blew herself up Sunday at the Volgograd railway station in southern Russia, killing 17 people and wounding dozens. With the Sochi Winter Olympics just six weeks away, President Vladimir Putin has ordered law enforcement agencies to stiffen security against further attacks. No group has taken responsibility for the Volgograd bombing. Last July the Islamist rebel Chechen leader Doku Umarov urged his followers to use “maximum force” to prevent the games from taking place.
  • Four rockets fired from Lebanon
    Two rockets from Lebanon exploded on open ground between Metullah and Kiryat Shemona in northeastern Israel early Sunday.There were no casualties or damage. The other two landed on the Lebanese side of the border. Israel returned the fire with 20 rounds of artillery fire.

US and Iran fight al Qaeda together in Iraq

29 Dec. US troops and Iranian Al Qods officers join the Iraqi army in a major anti-al-Qaeda offensive, the biggest the Middle East has seen in six years. Their aim is to foil Al Qaeda’s plan for its first caliphate across the Syrian-Iraqi frontier – but also buttress the pro-Iranian Shiite crescent arching over the region, Vladimir Putin, mindful of the impending Sochi Olympics, watches approvingly – as a suicide bomber blows up the Volgograd railway station, killing 15-18 people and injuring dozens..

December 30, 2013 Briefs

  • Israel releases 26 long-serving Palestinian terrorists
    Despite the bereaved families’ protest demonstration, the Supreme Court rejected their appeal and the third batch of Palestinian terrorist murders was freed from Israeli jails Monday night, in line with Israel’s commitment for peace talks with the Palestinians. Three were dropped at the crossing to the Gaza Strip, five to their homes in E. Jerusalem, the rest to the West Bank. Some 200 protesters maintained a three-day vigil outside the prime minister’s residence, holding placards, then, Monday, marched to the Western Wall and E. Jerusalem.
  • Ya’alon: Better a European boycott than rockets from Ramallah!
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, commenting on international criticism of Israeli settlement, said: “If the choice is between a European boycott and rockets on Israeli cities from Ramallah, Jenin and Nablus, then the European boycott is preferable. Trusting the restoration of 1967 lines to resolve the dispute with the Palestinians is an illusion.

December 31, 2013 Briefs

  • South Sudanese rivals start peace talks after truce accord
    South Sudan’s President Salva Kirr and his former deputy, Riek Macher, leader of the rebellion against him have arrived in Addis Ababa for talks on settling their feud. They first agreed to a ceasefire after more than two weeks of blooding fighting and the appointment of mediators.
  • Abbas: No accord without Jordan Valley in Palestinian state
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas conducted a government meeting at Ain al-Baideh in the Jordan Valley to emphasize that there would be no peace accord with Israel unless the valley and E. Jerusalem were included n the new Palestinian state. This followed Israeli ministerial approval of a bill for extending Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, a step also rejected by the Jordanian government.
  • IDF drills Gaza incursion for wiping out Hamas, Jihad, Salafi forces
    At the Tse’elim training base Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Forces’ Gaza Division practiced an invasion of the Gaza Strip to crush the military branches of Hamas, Jihad Islami and the various extremist Salafi groups operating there. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the troops that Israel faced the menace of rocket fire and terrorist activities above and below ground from Gaza. An IDF operation there must focus on destroying their capabilities and exacting a heavy price for aggression.
  • 3,000-year old Hebrew inscription deciphered
    A few characters on a 3,000-year-old earthenware jug, unearthed at the Ophel near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount ny Prof. Eilat Mazar, have stumped archaeologists until now. Prof. Gershon Galil of Haifa University has deciphered it, finding it to be the oldest Hebrew text discovered to date. It attests to the tenth century BCE Jerusalem – apparently in the reign Solomon – having an administration which collected taxes, recruited labor and saw to their needs. The text confirmed the presence of ancient Israelites in Jerusalem in accordance with the Biblical record.
  • Abbas: No accord until Israel frees all jailed Palestinians
    At a welcoming ceremony in Ramallah in honor of the 26 convicted Palestinian terrorist-murderers freed from Israeli prisons Monday night, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas vowed he would not rest or sign peace with Israel until every last Palestinian was released.

Exclusive: US “framework” calls for 80,000 Israeli West Bank evacuations to the big settlement blocs

31 Dec. The State Department spokeswoman said that Secretary John Kerry would discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a “proposed framework” to serve as “a guideline for addressing all core issues” which would not count as an interim agreement. debkafile reveals the framework’s nine points as first published on Dec. 20, by DEBKA Weekly. One calls for Israel to hand over 92.8pc of West Bank territory for a Palestinian state. Another links Gaza and the West Bank by express train.

January 1, 2014 Briefs

  • Prime Minister undergoes routine colonoscopy
    In a routine hospital check-up Wednesday, a small polyp was removed from Binyamin Netanyahu’s large intestine. His personal physician Dr. Zvi Harman Berkovitch said the prime minister’s recent tests were in order. Saturday, he was admitted briefly to hospital with a bad cold and painful sinusitis.
  • Israeli patrol under fire from Gaza. No one hurt
    An Israeli patrol came under fire from the Gaza Strip near Kissufim early on New Year’s Day. The soldiers returned the fire.
  • Israel outlaws European NGO as Hamas front
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has outlawed the Council for European Palestinian Relations, a Belgian non-profit organization which acts as Hamas’s representative in Europe.

Lebanese nab Al Qaeda chief after he signed pact with Syrian counterpart

1 Jan. A tip-off by Western intelligence agencies in Syria led to the Lebanese arrest of Majid al-Majid, the Saudi leader of the al Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades. This group has been held responsible for bomb attacks on the Iranian embassy in Beirut and Hizballah strongholds, as well as rocket attacks on northern Israel. debkafile: Al Majid was arrested in Beirut on Dec. 30, on his return from Syria where he signed a cooperation pact providing the Nusra Front with logistical facilities at Abdullah Azzam strongholds in S. Lebanon near the Israeli border.

January 2, 2014 Briefs

  • At least 7 dead in car bombing in Hizballah’s Beirut stronghold
    Another huge car bomb explosion, which rocked the Hizballah stronghold in Dahya, southern Beirut Thursday, has killed at least seven people and injured dozens.
  • Egypt implicates Hamas in Mansoura attack
    Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Thursday accused Hamas of complicity in attack on the Mansoura police station which left 16 dead in the third week of December. There was evidence that Hamas provided the suicide killers with funds, arms and explosives.
  • John Kerry arrives with proposed US peace framework
    Sources in the Israeli prime minister’s office said that US pressure on Israel for concessions was unfair, especially the threat of a European boycott, and disproportionately greater that US demands of the Palestinians. US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Israel again Thursday to pitch his framework accord proposal (first disclosed by DEBKA Weekly on Dec, 20) to Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
  • Former PM Ariel Sharon in critical condition
    Sheba Hospital Director Prof. Zeev Rothstein told reporters Thursday morning former prime minister Ariel Sharon, 85, was in critical condition and his life in imminent danger – although he could not say how close he was to the end. This week his condition deteriorated with multi-system failure. Ariel Sharon has spent eight years in a coma after a crippling stroke.
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