Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts

20 June 2017

This Is How Israel's Air Force Dominates the Middle East

Robert Farley

In its early years, Israel took what weapons it could from what buyers it could find. This meant that the IDF often operated with equipment of a variety of vintages, mostly secured from European producers. By the late 1950s, however, Israel had secured arms transfer relationships with several countries, most notably the United Kingdom and France. The relationship with France eventually blossomed, resulting in the transfer of high-technology military equipment, including Mirage fighters (and also significant technical assistance for Israel’s nuclear program). These Mirage fighters formed the core of the IAF in the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel largely destroyed its neighbors’ air forces in the first hours of the conflict.

Since the 1960s, the air arm of the Israel Defense Forces (colloquially the IAF) has played a central role in the country’s defense. The ability of the Israeli Air Force to secure the battlefield and the civilian population from enemy air attack has enabled the IDF to fight at a huge advantage. At the same time, the IAF has demonstrated strategic reach, attacking critical targets at considerable distance.

19 June 2017

NYT: Israel Accomplished Pivotal Cyber Attack Against ISIS


In a bombshell report on Monday, The New York Times revealed just how difficult the cyber war against the Islamic State (ISIS) has been, along with a remarkable success in hacking ISIS with the help of Israel.

"Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago," the Times quoted U.S. cyber officials as saying. "That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers."

The Times' David Sanger and Eric Schmitt reported that this intelligence was "so exquisite that it enabled the United States to understand how the weapons could be detonated."

15 June 2017

Israeli hackers reportedly got into ISIS networks and found they were building laptop bombs


Israeli government hackers broke into the computer networks of ISIS bomb makers months ago and uncovered the terror group's plans to build laptop bombs that could get through airport X-ray machines,according to a new report in The New York Times.

The Times report, authored by David Sanger and Eric Schmitt and sourced to two American officials, said that the intelligence gleaned from the electronic heist was "so exquisite" that it helped US spies get an understanding of how such devices would be detonated.

The Department of Homeland Security in March implemented a ban on electronic devices larger than a cell phone from being carried onto aircraft originating from 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East. A DHS fact sheet said terrorists were trying to smuggle explosives in "various consumer items."

According to the Times report, ISIS was fashioning explosives that would look just like a battery in a laptop computer.

14 June 2017

How Israel spots lone-wolf attackers Algorithms monitor social-media posts of Palestinians

HIS last Facebook post was perhaps the only clue of Raed Jaradat’s yearning for vengeance: it showed a Palestinian teenager lying dead with her headscarf soaked in blood and the message “Imagine if this were your sister.” Dania Irsheid, 17, had been shot by Israeli security forces in October 2015 at the entrance to the Ibrahimi mosque (Jews call it the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. Police said she had tried to stab Israelis; Palestinian witnesses say she was unarmed.

The next day Raed, a 22-year-old accounting student from the town of Sair, near Hebron, went to a checkpoint nearby and stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck before he, too, was shot dead. Later his 19-year-old cousin, Iyad, was killed during stone-throwing clashes with Israeli troops. Raed and Dania had never met but, at his funeral, their fathers said their children should be married “in Paradise”.

10 June 2017

*** Israel's Legacy: Six Days That Shaped a Nation

By Stratfor

It seems almost inconceivable today that a war could be fought and won in less than a week. The current Afghan conflict has been running off and on for the time it takes a child to grow up and prepare for high school graduation. Even the combat phase of the first Persian Gulf War, waged by the most militarily capable coalition on Earth, took over a month to complete. And yet, 50 years ago today, Israel achieved a decisive military victory against overwhelming odds in the span of six days during the summer of 1967. Not only did the Jewish state eliminate all immediate threats to its very existence, it secured regional military dominance, something it maintains a half-century later.

Israel succeeded in defeating five Arab nations on the ground and in the sky, amassing roughly three and a half times more landmass in the process, including the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and much of the West Bank of the Jordan River. This enabled the country to effectively redraw its borders, and those of Israel's immediate neighbors, too. But more to the point, it proved that the Israelis would strike first if they felt threatened, and do so in a conclusive manner.

The conflict is often portrayed as Israel's ultimate achievement in solidifying its own security, and some consider the victory a prelude to the death of pan-Arabism. Yet both characterizations are often exaggerated. While the Six-Day War was indeed a wildly successful conventional military win, it also laid the groundwork for a more surreptitious (yet equally deadly) security threat to Israel.

8 June 2017

** ‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display


Israeli armored forces advanced against Egyptian troops at the start of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. 

On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

The secret contingency plan, called a “doomsday operation” by Itzhak Yaakov, the retired brigadier general who described it in the interview, would have been invoked if Israel feared it was going to lose the 1967 conflict. The demonstration blast, Israeli officials believed, would intimidate Egypt and surrounding Arab states — Syria, Iraq and Jordan — into backing off.

Israel won the war so quickly that the atomic device was never moved to Sinai. But Mr. Yaakov’s account, which sheds new light on a clash that shaped the contours of the modern Middle East conflict, reveals Israel’s early consideration of how it might use its nuclear arsenal to preserve itself.

“It’s the last secret of the 1967 war,” said Avner Cohen, a leading scholar of Israel’s nuclear history who conducted many interviews with the retired general.

Israel Planned An Atomic Detonation In The Egyptian Sinai If Their Political/Military Leadership Felt The Arabs Might Prevail In The 1967 Six-Day War; Might North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un Plan A Similar Atomic Operation — Should He Believe U.S./South Korean Forces Were About To Defeat His Military?

Today’s (June 3, 2017) edition of the Times Of Israel, reports that Israel’s senior political and military leadership had decided to detonate an atomic weapon in the Sinai — if they believed that the Arab armies would likely prevail in the 1967, Six-Day War. “On the eve of the Six-Day War, with the country surrounded by enemies; and, unsure of its future, Israel developed a ‘Doomsday Plan,’ to detonate an atomic bomb in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula — as a warning to the Arabs,” the New York Times reported on its website, June 3, 2017. According to the Times of Israel, this report “is based on an interview between leading Israeli nuclear scholar Avner Cohen, and retired Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Brigadier General Itzhak Yaakov, — who reportedly oversaw the plan,” and presumably would have made the operational decision to do so.

“It is the last secret of the 1967, Six-Day War,” Mr. Cohen told the New York Times. The full interview, including this most significant, new revelation, is to be published in Monday’s edition of the publication, as part of the 50th anniversary of the war that significantly altered the political, military, and strategic landscape of the Middle East.

Brig. Gen. Yaakov told the New York Times, that Israel was “deeply fearful before the war.” Israel’s senior political and military leadership, took at face value, Arab threats to “throw Israel into the sea;” and, Israeli leaders apparently decided that to save their country, they would detonate an atomic bomb in the Sinai Peninsula — to prevent such an outcome. 

4 June 2017

Israel a model of innovation, readiness in military, academic cyber

by Tony Ware

Trainees work in front of their computers at the "Cyber Gym" center, where IT and infrastructure company employees train to defend against cyber attacks on October 30, 2013 near the Israeli city of Hadera. The facility, a series of small buildings in the shadow of the looming Orot Rabin power station on Israel's northern coastline, was inaugurated this month by the Israel Electric Corp (IEC), which has experienced its fair share of cyber attacks. 

A look at the mandates, tasks and competences of Israel’s cybersecurity measures and institutions finds the country at the forefront of transparency, innovation and investment in digital security infrastructure.

The report, by Deborah Housen-Couriel for the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, is part of a series on national organizational models for ensuring cybersecurity.

With widespread broadband penetration and Internet utilization, Israel offers many platforms for intra-governmental activity, government-to-citizen and citizen-to-government fora, and the infrastructure for provision of services to the public. Supporting this are secure portal and biometric data initiatives.

24 May 2017

Israel’s Army Goes to War With Its Politicians


TEL AVIV — IN most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer last week of the post of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, a pugnacious ultranationalist politician, is the latest act in the war between Mr. Netanyahu and the military and intelligence leaders, a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights, or lead to a dangerous, superfluous military campaign.

The prime minister sees the defense establishment as a competitor to his authority and an opponent of his goals. Putting Mr. Lieberman, an impulsive and reckless extremist, in charge of the military is a clear signal that the generals’ and the intelligence chiefs’ opposition will no longer be tolerated. Mr. Lieberman is known for ruthlessly quashing people who hold opposing views.

22 May 2017

The Second Lebanon War: Failures, Lessons Learned and the Future

by Mohammad Naved Ferdaus Iqbal

In retrospection of the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, also known as the second Lebanon war, it would be somewhat parochial to tie Israel’s intelligence failures alone to the country’s performance in the war. There are numerous examples of complex failures starting from the highest political echelons down to even military doctrines including caveats of classified intelligence that contributed to Israel’s defeat as it battled Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. It is imperative that the failures are looked at, critically, from political, military, and intelligence perspectives. This paper, therefore, intends to evaluate Israel’s performance in the second Lebanon war by identifying the key failures, explaining the causes of failures and the lessons learned thereof for Israel’s future. While some Whitehouse and Israeli officials believe that the second Lebanon war has caused significant damage to Hezbollah’s capability, thus supposedly reducing the violent non-state actor’s formidability in a future warfare[i], the paper will, however, argue otherwise and also seek to include an outlook of Israel-Lebanon conflict in the future.

Instances of Israeli leadership’s strategic errors on the political, intelligence and military fronts were evident in the second Lebanon war. Since the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 until the outbreak of the war in 2006, Israeli political leadership chose to believe that Israel’s military strength was a strong deterrence against Hezbollah. The Israeli confidence or overconfidence to be more appropriate prevailed in spite of Hezbollah’s provocations such as soldier abductions, cross-border terrorist attacks and Katyusha barrages. In addition to Israel’s renewed focus during those years on the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza,[ii] there was also economic motivation to exercise restraint on Lebanon. This was because Israel did not want to upset the economic development in northern Israel that followed the withdrawal in 2000.[iii] Further research into the matter also shows that prior to the second Lebanon war, the country’s leadership did receive warnings from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff about Hezbollah’s growing threat.[iv] The Hezbollah attacks on an Israeli patrol and the abduction of two Israeli soldiers on 12 July 2006, however, finally terminated the Israeli restraint, and Tel Aviv’s subsequent reactions transpired into an active military warfare between Israel and Hezbollah.

14 May 2017

Can China and Israel Reconcile their Interests in Syria?

By Christina Lin 

Sino-Israel relations have improved recently, but problems still remain. A case in point is Syria. Israel wants to replace the Assad regime while China wants it to remain in place. The collision of interests matters, argues Christina Lin, because 1) there are 1000s of Chinese Uyghurs who have joined al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in Syria, and 2) they’ve also intermingled with ‘moderate’ jihadists that are sponsored by the US and its allies. Not surprisingly, Beijing wants the Uyghurs eliminated. So much so that it could increase its military support to the Syrian Army and risk escalating and extending the current conflict.

Thousands of anti-Chinese Uyghur militants are tacitly supported by the West and fighting alongside western-backed rebel jihadists to topple the Syrian government. Following the U.S. airstrikes on Syrian government forces that are followed by Israel and likely other allies, this will provoke China to correspondingly support the Assad government to neutralize the Uyghur militants. Given foreign intervention prolong civil conflicts, this risks escalation of the Syrian war into a more violent, bloodier, and wider campaign. With the Mideast region in tatters from decades of misguided U.S. policy of violent regime change and democracy-promoting bombing campaigns, China's "Belt and Road" vision of building economic connectivity across Eurasia to reduce ungoverned space for terrorist actors to thrive, may be an alternative path to break this vicious cycle.

13 May 2017

Israel Is Still at War

by Efraim Inbar

Popular Arab rejection of Israel hasn't diminished much since the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War. 

After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The defection of Egypt from the anti-Israel Arab alliance largely neutralized the option of a large-scale conventional attack on Israel, improving Israel's overall strategic position.

Yet Cairo refrained from developing normal relations with the Jewish state. A "cold peace" evolved, underscoring the countries' common strategic interests but also the reluctance of Egypt to participate in reconciling the two peoples.

Jordan followed suit in 1994, largely emulating the Egyptian precedent. Jordan's peace treaty with Israel also reflected common strategic interests – but was commonly referred to by Jordanians as the "King's peace," indicating a disinclination for people-to-people interactions with the Jews west of the Jordan River.

10 May 2017

New-look Hamas?

As the Palestinian group moderates its line, the opportunity for talks must not be lost

The new political charter of Hamas marks a departure from several of its earlier controversial positions, indicating that the Islamist movement is willing to take a more realistic view of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Over the years, Hamas has been criticised by rival Palestinian groups as well as the international community over its original charter and actions. It has shown willingness in the past to live with Israel, but its original charter, marked by anti-Semitic language and unrealistic objectives, was a major point of contention. For example, it vowed to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine”, called for the “obliteration” of Israel, and repeatedly harped on its fight against the Jewish people. Though the new programme does not supplant the existing one, its key proposals run counter to the old document. Hamas now says it is not fighting the Jewish people but the Zionists, because they have occupied Palestine. Released by the group’s outgoing Political Bureau chief, Khaled Meshal, the new charter also insists that Hamas is not a revolutionary group that seeks to interfere in the affairs of other countries. Instead, it is merely fighting for Palestinian rights. More importantly, it is now ready to support the formation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

5 May 2017

Israel: Shabak Creates Cyber-Combat Division – OpEd

Israel: Shabak Creates Cyber-Combat Division – OpEd 

Not to be outdone by the IDF, which has Unit 8200; and Mossad, which just launched its own cyber-terror capability; Israel’s domestic spy agency, the Shabak, just launched its own cyber-combat unit.

It’s done so in what the agency believes is a playful, humorous mode by creating customized, mock video game sites. They feature a scenario in which an agent is in jeopardy and you (presumably the cyber-geek who’ll be challenged by this mission and later seek to join Shabak) are tasked with finding and rescuing him. The game seems to me pitched to a teenager rather than an adult. But I don’t presume any great interest in the field of computer games. So what do I know?

Shabak’s website announces scores of open positions in the fields of computer engineering, infrastructure, development, research, intelligence-operations, and technology students (presumably interns of some sort). Here is a small excerpt of specific jobs listed: 

3 May 2017

Israelis Learn to Live With a New Neighbor: Islamic State

Yaroslav Trofimov

ELIAD, Golan Heights—On one side of a fence that snakes through eucalyptus-covered ridges is a swath of Syrian villages held by Islamic State. On the other, Yitzhak Ribak grows his Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons and Syrahs.

“My grapes are just 10 meters from the border fence. Sometimes I hear the booms on the other side. Sometimes I see people on the other side. They look like shepherds, but who knows,” said the Israeli winemaker. “It’s crazy.”

So far, Islamic State hasn’t bothered his vineyard. “I am here all alone on my tractor at night and I am not afraid.”

While most attention has focused on Islamic State’s shrinking but still vast territory in eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq, the extremist group has also proved surprisingly resilient in the pocket of land it controls just outside Mr. Ribak’s vineyard. The area sits at the confluence of Syria, Jordan and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

1 May 2017

Israeli air strike hits military site near Damascus airport

An Israeli missile strike has caused a large explosion and fire at a military site near Damascus international airport, Syrian state media report.

A fuel tank and warehouses were damaged, the Sana news agency said.

But Syrian rebel sources said an arms depot run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, which is fighting in Syria as an ally of the government, was hit.

Israel said the explosion was “consistent” with its policy to prevent Iran smuggling weapons to Hezbollah.

19 April 2017

*** The Mother of Invention

BY: David Isaac

In 1948, as Israel was heading into its first war, an IDF general sent a letter to David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s new prime minister, politely declining his offer to become chief of staff because he had learned the Jewish State only had six million bullets. “We will need 1 million bullets a day in a war and I am not willing to be chief of staff for just six days,” he wrote.

The Weapon Wizards, an engaging look at Israel’s weapons industry, is replete with such anecdotes. (Another that’s hard to resist is how Jewish forces in Jerusalem held off Arab rioters with one gun and 11 bullets. Afterward, the commander criticized the “gratuitous use of ammo.”) Such stories drive home how little Israel had militarily in its early years. Israel’s humble beginnings make it even more remarkable that it has become a military power. The goal of the authors, Israeli journalists Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, is to explain how that transformation came about. As they write, 60 years ago Israel’s biggest exports were oranges and false teeth. Today, weapons make up 10 percent of Israel’s exports.

Like Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Katz and Bohbot identify national characteristics that have led to a “culture of innovation.” Leading the list is a creativity born of necessity. “With barely any resources beyond the human capital that had immigrated to the new state, Israelis had to make the most of the little they had,” the authors write. Israel has even created a subunit of autistic soldiers to analyze satellite pictures.

10 April 2017

** All Signals Point Once Again to War in Gaza

Daniel Shapiro

The next war in Gaza is coming.

In over five years as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, I found no issue more impervious to solutions than Gaza. We were constantly preventing, managing or responding to crises -- trying to head off terror attacks by Hamas and others, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, negotiating ceasefires and working to alleviate human suffering. 

I also learned that Gaza wars follow a kind of routine. Hamas upgrades its attack capabilities, and tensions build. Both sides prefer to avoid an escalation, but some incident, perhaps unintended, leads Hamas to increase the rate of rockets fired into Israel. Eventually, Israel deems the provocations intolerable, and launches a heavier response, such as when it conducted a targeted strike on Hamas military wing chief Ahmed Jabari at the start of Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. A full-on conflict ensues, with ceasefire negotiations competing with Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, Israeli airstrikes, and calls from the Israeli public for a ground invasion to “finish the job.”

Unhappily, there are growing signs that this cycle is about to start anew. Rockets are fired by Salafist groups (hardliners such as those affiliated with Islamic State) into Israel, actions that Hamas either permits or fails to prevent, and Israel responds with carefully placed airstrikes. Few casualties have resulted on either side so far, but the exchanges are now coming every few days. Hamas itself sends test launches of upgraded rockets out to sea. In plain sight from the Israeli side of the border, Hamas brazenly digs new tunnels. At least 15 of them, according to Israeli estimates, now extend under Israeli territory. Israeli patrols periodically encounter explosives placed along the border fence.

9 April 2017


by Lela Gilbert

During recent years, dramatic political changes have shaken the Middle East. Some have described these events metaphorically as “shifting desert sands.” They have also been defined as dramatic realignments of political seismic plates.

Some of the more terrifying changes have called to mind the proverbial “end of days.” Others look a little like minor miracles, so unlikely are the players and so unexpected their praiseworthy actions.

Who could have predicted, for example, that a young Saudi intellectual would visit Jerusalem and then courageously write an open letter to his generation, expressing both hope and desire for political transformation?

His dream? That Saudi Arabia’s vibrant young defense minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud will embrace a new vision for Saudi Arabia – including peace with Israel.

Consider the writer’s opening paragraph:

Having read the article in Foreign Affairs about Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and in the wake of publicity following his meeting with President Trump this week, I would like to offer a candid view that speaks for many Saudis of my generation. Like King Talut of the Holy Quran (corresponding to the biblical King Saul), whom the Quran credits with saving the Jewish people from an enemy bent on their destruction, the young prince bears a similar responsibility — addressing many challenges in order to achieve the goal of transforming his people to greater strength. Prince Mohammad bin Salman may well be God’s chosen to help lead Saudi Arabia through the political, economic, and social challenges it faces. This letter offers suggestions he may consider useful in dealing with them.

4 April 2017

India-Israel Relations: An Opportunity That Can’t Be Missed


With the Middle East mired in a constant state of turmoil, reoccurring tectonic shifts across the region have encouraged new partnerships, sometimes between unlikely players. One such blossoming relationship is the India-Israel alliance.

“Israel and India have a firm alliance, between two peoples and two states with illustrious and greatly inspirational pasts,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin affirmed during his visit to India last November.

Although both India and Israel were partitioned under the auspices of the British Empire and declared independence within a year of each other – India in 1947 and Israel in 1948 –interactions between the two nations haven’t always been smooth.

According to Dr. Shalom Solomon Wald, Senior Fellow at The Jewish People Policy Institute in Israel, throughout much of the 20th century, India’s position towards Israel was deeply affected by India’s alignment with several Arab states as well as with the Soviet Union.

“Effective lobbying by Palestinian leaders and rising nationalism in the Arab Middle East profoundly influenced India’s policies for 80 years,” explains Wald. “India’s leadership position in the Non-Aligned Movement alongside numerous Muslim countries and its quasi-alliance with the Soviet Union reinforced its decision to reject any political and diplomatic relations with Israel.”