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

26 April 2018

The Shadow War Between Israel and Iran Takes Center Stage

by Ishaan Tharoor – Washington Post

The rumblings of an open conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria are growing louder. When President Trump launched yet another one-off missile salvo against the Syrian regime, it came on the heels of a suspected April 9 Israeli strike on an Iranian facility at a Syrian air base, which drew howls of condemnation from the regime's patrons in Moscow and Tehran.

Though Israel didn't acknowledge responsibility for the attack, it fit a familiar pattern. Since 2012, the Israelis are believed to have launched more than 100 strikes on suspected Iranian-linked positions in Syria . Israeli officials privately argue that these measures are necessary to prevent a permanent Iranian threat on their borders and stymie the flow of weaponry to Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

“No matter the price, we will not allow a noose to form around us,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio over the weekend . But he cautioned against talk of outright hostilities. “I hope not," he said when asked whether war was imminent. “I think that our primary role is to prevent war, and that requires concrete, real deterrence as well as readiness to act." ...

Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’

By Thomas L. FriedmanApril 24, 2018
ImageA protest in Tel Aviv this month against the Israeli government’s plan to deport African immigrants.
TEL AVIV — It’s been obvious to me for some time that the Israeli-Arab conflict is to wider global geopolitical trends what Off Broadway is to Broadway. If you want a hint of what’s coming to a geopolitical theater near you, study this region. You can see it all here in miniature. That certainly applies to what’s becoming the most destabilizing and morally wrenching geopolitical divide on the planet today — the divide between what I call the “World of Order” and the “World of Disorder.”
And Israel is right on the seam — which is why the last major fence Israel built was not to keep West Bank Palestinians from crossing into Israel but to keep more Africans from walking from their homes in Africa, across the Sinai Desert, into Israel.

So many new nations that were created in the last century are failing or falling apart under the stresses of population explosions, climate change, corruption, tribalism and unemployment. As these states deteriorate, they’re hemorrhaging millions of people — more refugees and migrants are on the road today than at any other time since World War II — people trying to get out of the violent and unstable World of Disorder and into the World of Order.
The Broadway versions are the vast number of migrants from failing states in Central America trying to get into the U.S. and from the Arab world and Africa trying to get into Europe. The Off Broadway version is playing out in Israel, to which, since 2012, roughly 60,000 Africans from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia have trekked — not to find kosher food, Al Aqsa Mosque or the Via Dolorosa, but stability and a job.

Do Israel’s Targeted Killings Work?

April 24, 2018
Mohammed Ayoob, The National Interest

Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman’s Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations is a remarkable work of nonfiction. Written like a fast-paced thriller, it provides a detailed history and analysis of almost all of Israel’s major (successful and unsuccessful) attempts to assassinate its presumed enemies. These include the killing of Abu Jihad, the PLO’s de facto military chief; the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’s chief ideologue and spiritual mentor; the murder of Imad Mughnieh, the brain behind Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli targets; and many other lesser-known figures.

It also includes accounts of the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, which Israeli intelligence agencies undertook in order to derail Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Bergman even hints at Israel’s complicity in Yasser Arafat’s death, although he refuses to endorse or refute this conclusion. The only major adversary that Israel has not been able to kill despite its best efforts is Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah. Incidentally, the only major botched operation, according to Bergman, was Israel’s failure to kill Khaled Meshal, another leading light of Hezbollah.

By the end of the book, one begins to wonder how and why the Israeli censors, who have often been at loggerheads with Bergman, allowed the publication of this tell-all book, since it portrays Israel in a negative light as a leading perpetrator of state terrorism. In fact, Bergman admits Israel’s culpability at the very beginning of the book when he writes, “Since World War II, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world.”

Why Israel is Keeping Its Warplanes Close to Home

Israel has withdrawn a squadron of fighter jets from a high-profile multinational military exercise in the United States and given them orders to stay in country. The move highlights Israel's deepinging concern over rising tensions with Iran and its need for greater readiness along its northern border with Syria. Instead of participating in a high-profile U.S. military air combat exercise in Alaska that starts April 30, the Israeli Defense Forces ordered a squadron of its fighter jets — likely the 69th Squadron, equipped with F-15I Ra'am strike fighters — to remain in Israel, while other of its air force assets have been allowed to proceed. Given that the U.S. Red Flag exercises require substantial preparation and confer valuable experience, Israel would not have made the decision to keep its fighters home lightly. The withdrawal, announced April 17, indicates a heightened probability that a cycle of escalation and confrontation between Iran (and, by extension, Hezbollah) and Israel lies ahead.

24 April 2018

A few weeks ago I gave an interview to a French periodical concerning the state of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

A few weeks ago I gave an interview to a French periodical concerning the state of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Today, 19 April 2018, being Israel’s 70th Independence Day, I thought this topic would be of interest to the readers of this blog.

Can you give us an overview of the actual situation of the Israeli armed forces?

One could argue that, taking a grand strategic perspective and starting with the establishment of the State of Israel seventy years ago, some things have not changed very much. First, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) remain the armed organization of a democratic country, one in which it is the politicians who decide and the military which obeys. Second, the objective of the IDF was and remains to defend the country, a outrance if necessary, against any military threats that may confront it. Third, Israel remains in a state of war with several other Middle countries; nor is there any way in the world it can bring the conflict to an end by defeating them and compelling them to make peace against their will. Fourth, the occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights notwithstanding, Israel remains a small country with very little strategic depth. Fifth, the lack of strategic depth implies a heavy reliance on intelligence to detect threats before they materialize. Sixth, and for the same reason, Israeli military doctrine remains basically offensive, with a strong emphasis on destroying the opposing armed forces.

21 April 2018

Are Iran and Israel Headed for Their First Direct War?

Thomas L. Friedman

SYRIA-ISRAEL BORDER, Golan Heights — Ever since the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran and Israel have been fighting each other in the shadows — through proxies, assassination squads and cyber-virus attacks, but never as rival armies meeting on the field of battle. That may be about to change, and if it does, it will have vast implications for Syria, Lebanon and the whole Middle East. I’m sure neither side really wants a war. It could be devastating for Israel’s flourishing high-tech economy and for Iran’s already collapsing currency. But Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force seems determined to try to turn Syria into a base from which to pressure Israel, and Israel seems determined to prevent that. And in the past few weeks — for the first time ever — Israel and Iran have begun quietly trading blows directly, not through proxies, in Syria.

14 April 2018

Israel Wages a Growing War in Syria

By Robin Wright

Israeli forces near a border fence between the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and Syria. The Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw forces from northern Syria could trigger broader Israeli military intervention in the region. Jihad Mughniyah is buried under the same black marble slab as his father, Imad Mughniyah, the legendary Hezbollah military commander, at a special cemetery created by the Lebanese militia for its “martyrs” in Syria. Life-size posters of both men, dressed in fatigues, stand above it. During a recent trip to Beirut, I counted the number of the graves in the cemetery, a barometer of the price Hezbollah is paying to prop up Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. Mughniyah’s grave also reflects the impact of Israel’s quiet but escalating campaign to challenge Hezbollah and Iran in Syria. The younger Mughniyah was a rising Hezbollah star mentored by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards after his father’s death. In 2015, he was killed, in an Israeli air strike on Syria, along with five other Hezbollah fighters and a general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as their convoy neared the village of Quneitra, in the Golan Heights.

13 April 2018

Israel’s strike on Syria’s nuclear plant The compelling story behind Israel’s strike on Syria’s nuclear plant – and its ramifications.

By Yossi Melman

It wasn’t a real bombshell when Israel formally claimed responsibility on March 21, 2018 for the September 2007 raid that destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor. Nevertheless, it created shock waves that lasted for a week – almost an eternity in terms of the shelf life of Israeli news stories. On that date, the Israeli military censor allowed the Israeli media and Israeli-based foreign journalists to publish stories about how the Israel Air Force (IAF) carried out the operation whose code names included “Outside the Box,” “Operation Orchard” and “Arizona.”

11 April 2018

Hamas and the Mass Protests in Gaza

By Bernard Avishai
Source Link

Last Friday, thirty-five thousand Gazans staged a march to the border fence with Israel under the banner of “Return.” The demonstrations have thinned but not abated this week; large tents have been set up within the sight of Israeli snipers, as if base camps for future acts of daring. Some demonstrators encroached on what the Army has designated a prohibited area, three hundred metres in front of the fence. Others slung rocks, or burned tires. Since the demonstrations began, including clashes over the past seven days, nineteen Palestinians have been shot and killed, and a thousand have been wounded, according to reports from Gaza hospitals. Another march is called for Friday. Hamas, which has organized it, hopes to bring out as many as fifty thousand people, and eventually, week by week, turn the demonstrations into a cause the civilized world, such as it is, cannot ignore.

7 April 2018

What the Hell Is Happening in Gaza?

By Chas Danner

At least 15 Palestinians are dead and hundreds more injured after Israeli troops fired on demonstrators taking part in a large-scale border protest in Gaza on Friday. It was the deadliest day for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the last Israeli war in Gaza in 2014, and the violence could escalate dramatically in the coming days and weeks.Some 30,000 Gazans amassed along their side of the border on Friday for the first day of the “Great March of Return,” a heavily promoted six-week protest over Palestinians’ inability to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel. Most of the attendees protested peacefully at encampments hundreds of meters from the border, which is well protected by armed Israeli forces. But large crowds of mostly young men inevitably ventured closer, resulting in clashes. Those demonstrators mostly hurled rocks, but some threw Molotov cocktails and rolled burning tires at the border fence. The IDF forces fired back, using tear gas as well as bullets.

1 April 2018

How the IDF Is Training for War in Gaza

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Military drills simulate what the Israel Defense Forces will face in a new kind of ground combat in Gaza – a kind that will inevitably involve civilians amid general chaos. After Hamas came to power in the Gaza Strip more than a decade ago, it built, trained, and armed a terrorist army and guerilla force. It deliberately situated these forces in the midst of the civilian population, planting it in high-rise buildings, underground bunkers, and tunnels.Israel and Hamas have engaged in three large-scale conflicts and numerous smaller-scale flare-ups over the past ten years. As the IDF looks to the future, it is preparing new ways to operate in this urban jungle should the need arise once again.

31 March 2018

Nightmare Avoided: Did Israel's Air Force Stop Syria from Getting Nuclear Weapons?

Robert Farley

On September 6, 2007, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed a mysterious installation near the Euphrates River in the Deir-ez-Zor region. The strike incurred curiously little response from Damascus. A cyber-attack reportedly pre-empted a defensive Syrian military mobilization, and even the diplomatic outcry was muted. No other Arab governments commented on the attack, and even the Israelis did not acknowledge the operation for quite some time. Destroying the facility was not regarded as a slam-dunk decision, either in Israel or the United States. Anxiety over the strength of the intelligence in the wake of the Iraq debacle stayed the hand of the latter, while concern about international blowback, not to mention a Syrian military response, worried the former. What if cooler heads had carried the day, and Israel had never undertaken the strike?

30 March 2018

A Gaza seaport: New ideas for conflict management

Ezra Friedman

In January 2006, the radical Islamic movement Hamas won a sweeping majority in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, with an almost outright victory within the electoral districts of the Gaza Strip. This in turn led to confrontation with the secular-leaning Fatah movement, which Hamas would go on to violently eject from the Gaza Strip in 2007, leading to the current splitin which Fatah retains control of the Palestinian National Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization based in Ramallah, and the Gaza Strip is controlled solely by Hamas (which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union). A joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade followed Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip, and has all but stopped the flow of goods and people across land, sea, and air borders. Hamas and Israel have also engaged in several rounds of conflict that have not only intensified the blockade, but have also led to massive destruction of property worth billions of dollars, including critical infrastructure. The ongoing feud between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has led to cuts in Palestinian Authority payments to Israel for electricity in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas has raised tariffs and taxes on Gazans to generate revenue.

25 March 2018

Inside Israel’s Secret Raid on Syria’s Nuclear Reactor


Even if President Donald Trump is able to reach an agreement with Kim Jong Un, with North Korea promising to freeze or even dismantle its nuclear program, there will always be uncertainty about possible cheating.Just ask Israel—which, despite having one of the world’s most competent and aggressive intelligence services, the Mossad—nearly missed the fact that North Korea was helping build a nuclear reactor in next-door Syria, a country long viewed by Israel as a dangerous threat. The American CIA missed it, too, and now, 11 years after Israeli air force jets bombed the clandestine Syrian facility, Israel’s military censor is finally lifting the veil of secrecy and permitting locally based reporters to publish interviews with participants in the operation for the first time. We spoke with dozens of former cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as military and intelligence chiefs and commanders and even some of the pilots who took part in the operation. The codename for the Sept. 6, 2007, raid, conducted near the remote desert city of Deir ez-Zur: “Outside the Box.” Before today, Israel has never officially acknowledged its existence.



A group picture of all the IAF pilots that participated in the operation of bombing a Syrian nuclear reactor site in 2007. Up until now, the “secret security affair,” aka the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor, has only been reported in foreign media due to censorship regulations. Now that it has been approved for publication in Israeli media, too, I am excited to recall that period 10 years ago when I served as head of the IDF Technological Intelligence Department in the Research Division and later as deputy head of the entire division. In essence, I was the leading IDF intelligence officer at the time of the attack. 



Israel was behind the 2007 destruction of a nuclear reactor that was being built in northeastern Syria, the IDF Military Censor has now cleared for publication. Until now, Israeli media have been blocked from publishing details of the reactor’s discovery and the decision- making process that led to its destruction – even as many of those details were being published in the foreign press and in the memoirs of former president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney. The Mossad confirmed the existence of the Syrian reactor in March 2007, when the agency obtained photographs of the reactor that was being built in the northeastern Deir al-Zor province, close to the Euphrates River.


Eli Ben Meir

Up until now, the “secret security affair,” aka the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor, has only been reported in foreign media due to censorship regulations. Now that it has been approved for publication in Israeli media, too, I am excited to recall that period 10 years ago when I served as head of the IDF Technological Intelligence Department in the Research Division and later as deputy head of the entire division. In essence, I was the leading IDF intelligence officer at the time of the attack. I have many and varied memories from that time. My department was the first to uncover the existence of the nuclear reactor, just a few months before the attack took place. We immediately alerted our superior officers and then continued to be involved in the progress of the affair. We participated in dozens of deliberations in which the situation was assessed and then reassessed and details about a possible attack were discussed. We carried out numerous simulations and articulated what the probable reactions from the Syrians and especially Bashar Assad could be.

23 March 2018

The problem is Hezbollah

By Ziva Dahl

Current U.S. policy toward Lebanon confirms Voltaire’s observation that “the human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.” Our Lebanese strategy of providing training and advanced military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is based on the fallacy that it will promote stability and prevent Hezbollah from taking over the country. News flash: That takeover has occurred. Lebanon already is Hezbollah country and a wholly-owned Iranian subsidiary. We are fighting yesterday’s war. Paradoxically, America is essentially arming Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy and U.S.-declared terrorist group. We need to re-examine our incoherent foreign policy.

22 March 2018

Why Israel Is Stuck with Hamas

By Daniel Byman

Hamas, the anti-Israel Palestinian faction that rules the Gaza known for its terrorist attacks on Israel—is on the ropes. Although the violent back-and-forth with Israel goes on, Hamas spends much of its energy trying to undermine its Palestinian rivals rather than fighting Israel with all its might. Israeli pressure, international isolation and Hamas’s own failings all make the group’s fate unclear. However, this seeming policy success poses a dilemma for Israel. Although Hamas is Israel’s enemy and would happily see the Jewish state destroyed, its continued control of Gaza (for now) is a necessary evil for Israel given the paucity of alternatives.

21 March 2018

Israel says it foiled Hamas bid to rebuild Gaza attack tunnel

Israel says foiled Hamas bid to rebuild Gaza tunnel 

Israeli forces on Sunday knocked out a tunnel in the Gaza Strip dug by Hamas militants to mount cross-border attacks, the military said.  The tunnel had been cut off during the 2014 Gaza war and Hamas had tried to put it back into operation, a military spokesman said. It had been dug inside the Hamas-ruled enclave several hundred meters away from Israel’s border fence. The Israeli forces did not cross the border to render the tunnel inoperable but used a new technique, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters. “We did not use explosives. It (the tunnel) was filled with a certain material, with a certain compound,” Conricus said.