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Thread: Internal Israeli matters

  1. #11

    Intruding UAS Shot Down Over Israel

    Posted on October 8, 2012 by The Editor

    Published on Oct 6, 2012 by idfnadesk
    An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was identified penetrating Israeli airspace this morning, and was intercepted by the IAF at approximately 10:00 AM.
    IDF soldiers are currently searching the area where the drone was downed, in open areas in the northern Negev, to locate and identify the drone.
    An unmanned aircraft shot down by F-16 jets in south Israel was apparently launched from Lebanon by Hezbollah, or perhaps even by the Iranians themselves.

    The Israeli Defence Force is looking into the possibility that the aircraft was supposed to photograph the Dimona reactor.

    A few hours after two fighter jets shot down a small unmanned aircraft that penetrated Israeli airspace in the south Saturday morning, it is safe to say that an element operating in Lebanon under the auspices of Iran and with its support, apparently Hezbollah, activated the UAS. The aircraft itself, which was downed in the south Mount Hebron area, was apparently made in Iran.

    Operating a UAS by remote control from such a long distance requires advanced capabilities, which Israel was not aware Hezbollah had acquired. Hezbollah’s UAS have infiltrated Israeli airspace in the past, from the north, but their activation did not require any navigation system. The unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that infiltrated Israel on Saturday did require such a system. The incident showed that the Israeli Air Force has the ability to detect and intercept UAS at any stage of their flight.

    The aircraft was apparently launched by Iran or one of its allies to test the IDF’s detection and interception capabilities, and perhaps even to search for specific targets in south Israel. It apparently began its flight in Lebanon and then headed in the direction of Gaza’s coastline after flying over the Mediterranean Sea. This route was chosen not only because it utilized the depth of the sea’s airspace, but also because Israeli UAS regularly hover above Gaza.

    The UAS’ operators may have planned to take advantage of this fact in hopes of confusing Israel’s detection and interception systems. However, the aircraft was detected while it was still flying over the Mediterranean Sea and was downed a half-hour later over the south Mount Hebron area after IAF jets made certain it was not carrying any explosives and that its main mission was intelligence gathering.

    An Israeli Army helicopter lands on an open area in southern Israel October 6, 2012. Photo Reuters/Amir Cohen

    In other words, Hezbollah tried to conceal the fact that it had sent the UAS by selecting a long route that passed through the Mediterranean Sea. It wanted the aircraft to enter Israel near Gaza, perhaps in an attempt to place the blame on Hamas, which is currently considered hostile to elements that are loyal to Iran.

    Hezbollah has launched UAS into Israel a number of times in the past. Before the Second Lebanon War two Iranian-made “Abibal” UAS successfully infiltrated Israel, and during the war itself Hezbollah sent UAS through the sea, perhaps in an attempt to blow them up in Israeli communities. These attempts failed, and in at least one incident a UAS launched by Hezbollah was shot down by an F-16 over the sea.

    Iran recently announced that it had developed small unmanned aircraft and cruise missiles with a range of hundreds and maybe even thousands of kilometers. The aircraft that was intercepted earlier in the day may have been one of the new models manufactured by Iran. Syria is also capable of operating UAS from a long distance.

    As far as Israel is concerned, Saturday’s incident calls for increased alertness and preparations to thwart such infiltration attempts in the future. If it turns out that the UAS was Iranian and was launched by Iran or Hezbollah, Israel would have to consider its response to such a blatant violation of its airspace. In light of the successful interception and the explosive situation in the Middle East, Israel may decide to act with restraint and not respond at all. It will certainly want to avoid a massive response that may ignite the entire region.

    Israel will also examine the possibility that the UAS was supposed to take photographs of areas in south Israel, including photos of the reactor in Dimona.

    Photo: A still image taken from Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) video footage shows what they say is a small unidentified aircraft shot down in a mid-air interception after it crossed into southern Israel …

    Source: YNet News

  2. #12

    Netanyahu calls for early elections in Israel

    Uriel Sinai/GETTY IMAGES - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement to the press on Oct. 9, 2012 in Jerusalem. Netanyahu called for an early elections, saying they should be held as soon as possible.

    By Karin Brulliard, Wednesday, October 10, 5:07 AM

    The Washington Post

    JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Tuesday for early parliamentary elections after failing to agree with coalition partners on a national budget for the coming year.

    In a brief televised statement, Netanyahu said elections should be held as “early as possible,” which political analysts said meant they would come nine months early, in January. Netanyahu — a popular leader who has overseen a solid economy and four years of relative stability in a turbulent region — is expected to win reelection easily.

    A victory would allow Netanyahu to press ahead with budget cuts opposed by coalition partners and sustain his push for aggressive action against Iran. In a speech at the United Nations last month, he suggested that any potential Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would not happen before next spring.

    Reelection also would cement Netanyahu’s mandate ahead of an expected economic slowdown and possible pressure from a newly elected U.S. president for peace talks with the Palestinians, which have effectively been frozen for two years.

    The Israeli parliament is scheduled to begin its winter session this week, during which it was supposed to pass a national budget for next year. But after holding several recent meetings with coalition partners, Netanyahu said he concluded that an agreement on a “responsible budget” was impossible. Calling early elections defers the budget debate.

    “In an election year, it is difficult for parties to place the national interest ahead of the party interest,” Netanyahu said. “The result of this is liable to be a budgetary breach and a massive increase in the deficit, which would very quickly put us in the situation of the crumbling economies of Europe. I will not allow this to happen here.”

    Israeli parliamentary elections are usually called early, and Netanyahu’s announcement was widely expected.

    Opinion surveys indicate that Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party would handily win the most seats in parliament. And Netanyahu has no real competition. In a late September poll conducted by the newspaper Haaretz, 35 percent of respondents said he was best suited to be the next prime minister — a figure higher than the results for his four main rivals combined.

    Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich polled a distant second. Her platform is centered on the economy, a topic political analysts say is likely to be eclipsed by Netanyahu’s expected focus on Iran and other security-related matters.

    “The public must remember that Netanyahu is going to election so he could pass a harsh budget following election — a budget that may harm the lives of almost all citizens in the country, except the richest,” Yacimovich said Tuesday.

  3. #13

    SA Time: Friday, 12 October 2012 6:27:34 AM

    Hezbollah confirms sending drone

    October 12 2012 at 01:19am
    By Mariam Karouny

    Associated Press

    (File image) Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

    Beirut - Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged on Thursday sending a drone aircraft that was shot down last weekend after flying 55km into Israel.

    Nasrallah said in a televised speech that the drone's parts were manufactured in Iran and it was assembled by members of the Shi'a Muslim militant movement in Lebanon. He confirmed a statement by Israel's prime minister saying that Hezbollah was behind the drone flight.

    “The resistance in Lebanon sent a sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft from Lebanon... It penetrated the enemy's iron procedures and entered occupied southern Palestine,” Nasrallah said. Hezbollah does not recognise the state of Israel.

    Tensions have increased in the region with Israel threatening to bomb the nuclear sites of Hezbollah's patron Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Iranian nuclear activity the West suspects is meant to develop a weapons capability. Tehran says it is seeking only civilian nuclear energy.

    Iran has threatened in turn to attack US military bases in the Middle East and retaliate against Israel if attacked.

    Seeking to underline that Hezbollah was capable of reaching targets well inside Israel, Nasrallah said the drone “flew over sensitive installations inside southern Palestine and was shot down in an area near the Dimona nuclear reactor”.

    Iran said the incursion exposed the weakness of Israeli air defence, indicating that Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defence system “does not work and lacks the necessary capacity”.

    The Iron Dome system, jointly funded with Washington, is designed to down short-range guerrilla rockets, not slow-flying aircraft. - Reuters

  4. #14

    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announces he’s leaving politics

    Bernat Armangue/AP - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced on Monday that he was leaving politics and would not run in parliamentary elections in January, but would stay in office until then.

    By Joel Greenberg,

    Nov 26, 2012 12:26 PM EST

    The Washington Post Updated: Monday, November 26, 8:26 PM

    JERUSALEM —Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced on Monday that he was leaving politics and would not run in parliamentary elections scheduled for January.

    The surprise announcement snuffed out speculation that Barak might unite with other centrist candidates to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the election, which is set for Jan. 22.

    Long an unpopular politician at home, Barak made the unexpected move despite signs of a bump in electoral support for his small Independence party in polls taken after the conclusion of Israel’s recent offensive against the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

    That military campaign was seen as boosting Barak’s political fortunes, and led to predictions that he might challenge Netanyahu at the polls.

    Instead Barak, who is a member of parliament as well as defense minister, said he would step down once a new government is formed, in about three months.

    In recent months, Barak has appeared to be trying to distinguish himself from Netanyahu, criticizing the prime minister’s publicly confrontational stance toward Washington over its policy on Iran’s nuclear program, and suggesting that possible military action could be deferred.

    But on Monday, Barak, 70, told a news conference that he had decided to “leave political life and not serve in the next Knesset,” Israel’s parliament.

    A former prime minister and army chief of staff, Barak said he felt that he had “exhausted my involvement in politics” and wanted to devote more time to his family and “allow others to assume senior positions in Israel.”

    “I will end my term as defense minister with the formation of the next government in about three months,” he said.

    Barak was noncommittal when asked whether he would be willing to serve as defense minister as an outside appointee to the cabinet in the next government, widely expected to be led by Netanyahu.

    Barak said that the issue had not been discussed, and that he would respond to that question after the elections.

  5. #15

    U.S. overseeing mysterious construction project in Israel

    By Walter Pincus,

    Nov 29, 2012 01:38 AM EST

    The Washington Post Thursday, November 29, 9:38 AM

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.

    Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.

    Only U.S. construction firms are being allowed to bid on the contract and proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice.

    Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The 1998 Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has led to about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them initially in an undeveloped part of the Negev Desert. It was done to ensure there were bases to which IDF forces stationed in the West Bank could be redeployed.

    As recorded in the Corps’ European District magazine, called Engineering in Europe, three bases were built to support 20,000 troops, and eventually the Israeli air force moved into the same area, creating Nevatim air base. A new runway, 2.5 miles long, was built there by the Corps along with about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads.

    Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangers for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (though Israel does not admit having such weapons), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.

    Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim, which the magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.

    Site 911, which will be built at another base, appears to be one of the largest projects. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet, according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are much smaller and hold equipment.

    Security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builder can come only from “the U.S., Canada, Western Europe countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China,” according to the Corps notice. “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden,” it says.

    Among other security rules: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli air force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”

    The well-known Israeli architectural firm listed on the plans, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects, has paid attention to the aesthetics of the site design as well as the sensibilities of future employees. The site, for example, will be decorated with rocks chosen by the architect but purchased by the contractor. Three picnic tables are planned, according to the solicitation.

    The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.

    These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”

    Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”

    What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.

    This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/
    HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21 / 2 years to complete.

    That sounds like a secure command center.

    The purpose of Site 911 is far less clear.

  6. #16

    Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements

    US and UK react to Binyamin Netanyahu's approval of plans for 3,000 new homes on occupied territory in the West Bank

    Paul Harris in New York

    The Observer, Saturday 1 December 2012 18.28 GMT

    Hillary Clinton said Israeli plans to build new settlements on occupied territory would 'set back the cause of a negotiated peace'. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and British foreign secretary, William Hague, have launched attacks on an Israeli decision to build fresh settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank.

    The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes is widely seen as a response to the United Nations vote earlier this week that recognised a Palestinian bid to be a "non-member observer state".

    The US, with Israel, strongly opposed that move, while Britain abstained in the vote. But now both countries have criticised the Israeli settlement decision, saying it hurts the chances of a two-state solution and the search for peace in the troubled region.

    "Let me reiterate that this administration, like previous administrations, has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace," Clinton said, in remarks delivered at the Saban Center think tank in Washington on Friday.

    Hague said he was "extremely concerned" at the plans, which have been reported in the Israeli press as including a four-square-mile area just east of Jerusalem that is seen as vital to keeping open a viable land corridor between the city and any future Palestinian state.

    Hague asked Israel to reverse the decision and said the prospect of a successful two solution was receding. "Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties," he said in comments Saturday. "If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve."

    Hague added: "They would undermine Israel's international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians."

    Israel had strongly opposed the Palestinian bid for improved recognition at the UN, saying that the tactic was a blow for peace negotiations. It had secured strong and vocal support from the US, its traditional ally, and a handful of other nations, but was unable to derail the move which was celebrated wildly on the streets of the West Bank.

    Palestinian politicians reacted to the new settlement decision with dismay. "This would be the last nail in the coffin of the peace process," the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, told Sky News.

    The firm US and British line on the Israeli decision is unlikely to mark any real shift in allegiances or policy. Clinton backed up her criticism of Israel with another strong admonition of the Palestinians and said that they had acted wrongly and unilaterally in gaining improved recognition at the UN.

    "Palestinian leaders need to ask themselves what unilateral action can really accomplish for their people. President [Mahmoud] Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week, to say the least. We opposed his resolution," Clinton said.

    The fresh spat over settlements comes at a time when all sides appear to regard the prospect of a peace settlement in the region as a distant dream. Any future Palestinian state remains deeply divided between the more moderate and secular rule of Abbas in the West Bank and the militant Islamic group Hamas, which governs in the tiny and isolated Gaza Strip.

    In Friday's address, the US secretary of state said Hamas had "condemned those it rules to violence and misery" and now faced a choice.

    "Hamas knows what it needs to do. If it wishes to reunite the Palestinians and join the international community it must reject violence, honor past agreements with Israel and recognize Israel's right to exist," Clinton said, adding: "America has showed that it is willing to work with Islamists who reject violence and work towards real democracy, but we will never work with terrorists."

    Despite the criticism over settlement building, Clinton reiterated American support for its traditional Middle East ally.

    "Americans honor Israel as a homeland dreamed of for generations and finally achieved by pioneering men and women in my lifetime," she said. "What threatens Israel threatens America. What strengthens Israel strengthens us."

    Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction under the Roadmap For Peace plan in 2002. But it has failed to comply with that commitment despite repeated and widespread international condemnation.

    Fresh trouble continues to break out in Gaza, after Hamas and Israel spent eight days trading rocket and missile fire earlier this month.

    That conflict ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce but there have been repeated flare-ups since. On Saturday a Palestinian who was shot and wounded by Israeli troops on Friday, while protesting at the Gaza Strip boundary fence, died in hospital. Five others were also wounded in the incident.

  7. #17

    Contenders Jockey for Israel Defense Job

    Coalition Politics to Determine Barak’s Successor

    Dec. 2, 2012 - 12:46AM


    Israel's Minister of Defense Ehud Barak (Thomas Brown / Staff)

    TEL AVIV — Contenders from all shades of the Israeli political spectrum are jockeying to relieve Ehud Barak after he retires from politics early next year.

    After five years as defense minister and another two under his own short-lived 1999-2001 term as Israeli prime minister, Barak surprised many with his Nov. 26 announcement that he would not run in the Jan. 22 elections. But Barak, observers here said, is a master strategist and commando of covert operations who may manage to retain the defense portfolio despite the anemic electoral prospects driving his political retirement.

    In fact, Barak intimated as much when he told reporters here, “As long as my council is sought after and received, then I will present it before the prime minister and the heads of the establishment on any diplomatic or military matter, as and when I am requested to do so.”

    Out of the many names bandied about to take the top defense post, three have floated to the surface in the week following Barak’s announcement: Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and veteran Labor Party politician Benjamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer.

    But some observers aren’t ready to count Barak out just yet.

    A former Israeli military chief of staff who rose rapidly to the top of Israeli politics as self-proclaimed heir to the politically moderate-yet-security-hawkish precepts of slain Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin, Barak broke away early last year from the Labor Party he led to retain his seat in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government.

    If Netanyahu wins big, as expected, in the upcoming election and insists — in the interest of national security — on appointing a proven, yet unelected leader in the top security post, Barak may not need to vacate his 14th-floor offices at Ministry of Defense headquarters here, observers said.

    Others, however, said that scenario is unlikely, and not because of Barak’s desire to spend more time with family or to allow “new people to enter senior positions in Israeli politics,” as he told reporters on Nov. 26.

    Skeptics of the Barak comeback scenario cite the decisive rightward shift in Netanyahu’s Likud Party and its merger with Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) Party.

    “With Netanyahu, he might have managed to close a deal, but Lieberman is a different story entirely. Anyone who has been listening to Lieberman lately can only conclude that while the Defense Ministry is part of Barak’s past and present, with Lieberman at the top, it will not be in his future,” wrote Ha’aretz political analyst Yossi Verter in Nov. 27 editions of Israel’s respected daily paper.

    Netanyahu won’t risk losing support of party hard-liners by inviting Barak back into government, said Rami Tal, a veteran Israeli commentator and book editor for Israel’s Yediot Ahronot who worked with Netanyahu and nearly a dozen other top political figures on autobiographies.

    And that assumes, many here added, that Netanyahu still wants Barak as his wingman in the MoD after their public rift over the need for Washington’s support as a prerequisite for military action in Iran.

    Tal said the results from last week’s Likud Party primary, in which moderate party veterans such as Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor were ousted in favor of extremists, “proved that Netanyahu lost control of his party.”

    In a Nov. 27 interview, Tal likened Netanyahu’s predicament in the upcoming election to that of the U.S. Republican Party, where “those in leadership positions are much further to the right of average Republican voters.”

    Netanyahu, according to Tal, “wants to repair relations with Turkey and wants results vis a vis Iran, which means he needs a defense minister with a mandate to operate ... and you can’t operate without significant party support.”

    Ya’alon From Likud

    Observers here expect Netanyahu to tap Ya’alon, his strategic affairs minister, as defense minister in his next government.

    Like Barak, Ya’alon is a former military chief of staff and director of military intelligence who hails from Israel’s kibbutz movement. But unlike Barak, who exchanged his Spartan, socialist upbringing for a life of luxury and wealth, Ya’alon retains a reputation of farm-bred modesty.

    A principled, yet pragmatic security hawk, Ya’alon clashed with then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

    Earlier in his tenure as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, Ya’alon commanded Israel’s Defensive Shield anti-terror incursion throughout the West Bank. At the time, he cited among his operational goals the need to “engrave upon the Palestinian consciousness” that political objectives cannot be achieved through terrorism.

    As for Iran, Ya’alon told an interviewer on Israel’s Arutz Sheva pro-settlement podcast last month that Tehran is 12 to 18 months away from nuclear weapon capability. That’s a conservative assessment compared with the few months cited by Netanyahu before Iran reaches the so-called red line.

    In June, when asked by Ari Shavit of Israel’s Ha’aretz if Israel must choose between living with an Iranian bomb or bombing Iranian nuclear targets, Ya’alon replied, “I hope we will not get there. The international community can still act aggressively and with determination. … But if the question is [Iranian] bomb or [Israeli] bombing, the answer is clear: bomb.”

    Lieberman’s First Right of Refusal

    But despite Ya’alon’s security background and high ranking in Nov. 26 Likud primaries, others speculate that Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, will claim the defense portfolio as his own.

    Under an October agreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman that merged the two parties into a single ticket, Lieberman has first right of refusal over MoD.

    After serving the past four years as Netanyahu’s top diplomat and with previous stints as minister of strategic affairs, transportation and national infrastructure, sources close to the combative, Moldova-born politician said the MoD job would solidify his way to the premiership following Netanyahu’s retirement.

    Lieberman backers said the controversial, populist politician who supported swapping large populated areas of Israeli Arab citizens in exchange for permanent Israeli control of Jewish-populated areas of the West Bank has considerably matured in recent years.

    The man who once said former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak “can go to hell” if he refused to visit Israel praised Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for “responsible leadership” that ended combat in Gaza last month without a bloody ground war.

    Those championing Lieberman for defense minister said the rapport he enjoys with Russian President Vladimir Putin could serve Israel well in mitigating Moscow’s unhelpful support for regional adversaries.

    And if Netanyahu is concerned about Lieberman’s lacking relations in Washington, he may opt to appoint Barak as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, observers here said.

    “If Bibi ever decided to attack Iran, Evet wants to be there to share the glory,” an Israeli lawmaker told Defense News, using Netanyahu’s nickname and Lieberman’s given name before immigrating here from the former Soviet Union in the late 1970s.

    To help burnish his image with Israel’s non-Russian electorate, Lieberman enlisted Yair Shamir, the pedigreed son of a pre-state warrior and former Likud prime minister, as No. 2 on his party’s slate.

    A former Israel Air Force officer, accomplished businessman and former chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries, Shamir’s name has also been raised as possible defense minister. But since the Likud-Israel Our Home deal precludes Lieberman from claiming both the foreign and defense ministry portfolios in the coming government, Shamir’s prospects for MoD are much likelier in any prospective future Lieberman-dominated government.

    What About Fuad?

    In the event that the Barak-abandoned Labor Party now led by former television journalist Shelly Yachimovich scores strong in the polls, Netanyahu-Lieberman may be forced to hammer out a coalition deal with those still committed to realizing Rabin’s two-state vision of a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestine.

    A Ha’aretz poll on Nov. 27 projected 18 seats for Labor and 11 for the right-wing Shas religious party. The poll projected a combined 17 seats for new centrist parties established by former Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, TV personality Yair Lapid and the remnants of Ariel Sharon’s Kadima Party now led by Shaul Mofaz, another former defense minister and IDF chief of staff.

    And while myriad names are bandied about as prospective candidates for defense minister under a Netanyahu-Lieberman-led coalition government, a possible choice is Ben-Eliezer, the veteran Labor Party politician.

    At 75 and still recovering from a serious illness in late 2010, Ben-Eliezer poses no threat to the political ambitions of Lieberman and other rising stars within the ranks of Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

    A retired major general and former defense minister, Ben-Eliezer has ample experience in the security sphere and could serve as a credible counterweight to government hard-liners in working with the White House toward a Palestinian peace deal.

    “Fuad could succeed where Barak failed, in bridging the gaps between the White House and the prime minister’s office on the Palestinian issue. The question is, does he have the physical strength needed for the job?” an Israeli lawmaker told Defense News.

    “It all depends on how well we do in elections and the coalition negotiations to come after that,” Ben-Eliezer told Defense News Nov. 27. “But I’m completely healthy, ready and most definitely willing to return to MoD and help steer our government through the enormous security challenges ahead.”

  8. #18

    For Israel, Iron Dome missile defense system represents breakthrough

    Gaza Strip conflict: A look back at shooting along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

    By Ernesto Londoño, Dec 02, 2012 05:28 PM EST

    The Washington Post Monday, December 3, 1:28 AM

    TEL AVIV — The newest battery of Israel’s stunningly effective Iron Dome missile defense system had been in place in Tel Aviv for just a few hours when militants in the Gaza Strip launched the first long-range rocket that threatened to slam into the densely populated coastal city.

    Had the Nov. 17 strike succeeded, Israel’s latest clash with Palestinian fighters, then in its fourth day, could have easily devolved into a protracted and devastating ground war. Instead, Tel Aviv residents, who hadn’t seriously contemplated the risk of missile attacks on the city since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, marveled as a radar-guided munition soared into the sky and blasted the rocket in a thundering boom.

    How Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense works.

    Life in the Palestinian territories: Beyond the frequent images of violence and destruction, here are scenes from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    The interception of the Iranian-*funded Fajr-5 rocket — and more than 400 other rockets — played a key role in the truce reached the following week, gave Israel bragging rights for sticking with a defense system that faced sharp domestic criticism, and is all but certain to redefine how the Jewish state and its adversaries fight in the future. For now, Iron Dome, the highest-profile component of Israel’s multi-layered missile defense system, has exceeded expectations and is widely seen as a technological breakthrough.

    “It was really a miracle,” said Zvika Haimovich, the Israeli air force colonel who runs the system, noting that the battery that destroyed the Fajr-5 had been deployed to Tel Aviv only the day before. “It was an amazing process.”

    Iron Dome is arguably the only undisputed victor of Israel’s latest siege on Gaza militants, which left much of the Mediterranean enclave in ruins but has boosted the standing of the militant groups based there. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was all praise as he hosted outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon last week.

    “Iron Dome performed, I think it’s fair to say, remarkably well during the recent escalation,” Panetta said. After noting that the United States has helped finance the system, he added: “Iron Dome does not start wars. It helps prevent wars.”

    A difficult start

    The system’s prodigy status today belies its controversial origins.

    The threat of rocket attacks has loomed large in Israel for more than a decade. The country’s outgunned neighboring adversaries — Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia — began firing rockets at Israel the last decade, putting millions of Israeli civilians in the line of fire.

    During Israel’s war with Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah militants fired about 4,000 rockets, killing 44 Israelis and temporarily displacing thousands. Gaza-based militant groups have fired thousands of rockets at populated areas in southern Israel since 2002, a military campaign that the territory’s leaders have embraced as an alternative to negotiations toward a two-state solution.

    Under intense domestic pressure to stop the rocket attacks, Israel’s Defense Ministry began developing Iron Dome in 2007. Skeptics in Israel and Washington abounded, said Uzi Rubin, who ran Israel’s missile defense system during the 1990s. Israelis who lived through the 1991 Gulf War recalled the failings of the Patriot missile defense system, which could not stop Iraqi Scud missiles.

    “This was weighing heavily on the psyche of decision-makers and the general public,” Rubin said in an interview. Shooting down missiles in the sky, he added, seemed like “finding a needle in a haystack. They didn’t believe it was going to work.”

    Officials at the Pentagon originally favored a cheaper, laser-based alternative proposed by U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman. The Israeli backers of Iron Dome, which was developed by Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, ran into political turbulence at home as questions about the cost and effectiveness of the system nearly derailed the project. Each interception costs $50,000 to $100,000.

    Life in the Palestinian territories: Beyond the frequent images of violence and destruction, here are scenes from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Despite misgivings in Washington, the Obama administration got Congress to provide $205 million for Iron Dome in 2010, a financial boost that saved the project. The following year, in April 2011, Iron Dome intercepted a Grad rocket fired from Gaza, marking the first such counter-strike on a short-range artillery attack in the area.

    When Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’s military faction, in a Nov. 14 airstrike, the country’s military anticipated retaliatory attacks. Israeli officials suspected that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant group in Gaza, had stockpiled thousands of rockets since a three-week conflict with Israel in 2008-2009. This time, Israelis feared, Hamas would retaliate with long-range rockets designed and funded by Iran that were capable of reaching Israel’s two largest cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

    “They came with improved skills,” Haimovich, the Israeli colonel, said. “We could see that in the longer distance from Gaza and more volleys in the south.”

    High accuracy rate

    Over the course of the recent week-long operation, Israeli officials said, they shot down nearly 85 percent of the about 400 rockets fired from Gaza that would have otherwise landed in populated areas. Militants lobbed more than 1,500 rockets during the conflict, according to the Israeli military.

    Iron Dome’s accuracy rate kept Israeli casualties relatively low: Six Israelis, including two soldiers, were killed in rocket strikes. Perhaps more importantly, said Natan Sachs, an Israel expert at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, it provided the Israeli government with significant political maneuvering room.

    “It gave the population a sense that there is an active defense,” he said. “Psychologically, that’s a very powerful tool.”

    When Tel Aviv’s warning sirens wailed for the first time, Ossie Ravid, an American Israeli lawyer, had a brief bout of panic as she contemplated her options inside a luxury apartment on the 24th floor of a high-rise. Subsequent rocket attacks gave her a front-row view of Iron Dome at work.

    “By the third siren, I wasn’t scared at all, just fascinated by it,” Ravid said. “It was all surreal, the notion that rockets were being fired towards me and that I wasn’t really in danger.”

    Israel and Gaza militants reached an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal Nov. 21, a week after Jabari’s assassination. Both sides proclaimed victory.

    Israel hailed the effectiveness of the Iron Dome, saying the volleys of rockets fired by Palestinian militants would have otherwise put enormous pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deploy ground troops in Gaza. Militants in Gaza, meanwhile, asserted that it was their military prowess that staved off a ground invasion. One thing is not in dispute, said Rubin, the former defense official: As the two sides contemplate a future confrontation, Iron Dome will be at the heart of their planning.

    “This probably left them scratching their heads,” Rubin said, referring to Palestinian militants. “I’m sure their people are sitting down in their labs and thinking about how they will defeat the Iron Dome.”

    Missile defense expansion

    Israel, meanwhile, is planning to vastly expand its missile defense network. In coming years, military officials say, they expect to have at least 10 Iron Dome batteries, twice as many as the Israeli air force has now. They have teamed up with U.S. defense contractor Raytheon to develop a complementary system called David’s Sling, which is designed to intercept longer-range missiles. Israeli officials acknowledge that the system does not guarantee an iron-clad defense, and it remains unclear how it would fare in a sustained attack of long-range missiles.

    U.S. officials say they are eager to continue funding Israel’s missile defense systems, but lawmakers said in the spring that their continued support should compel Israel to share the technology and commit to continue developing it jointly.

    In a gesture of appreciation for U.S. financial backing, Barak, the Israeli defense minister, gave Panetta a glass-encased model of an Iron Dome battery during a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

    “It doesn’t explode,” Barak said, drawing a laugh from his U.S. counterpart. “It cannot shoot — so don’t worry.”

  9. #19

    Bit of an embarrasment here. I'm sure a certain base commander (at the least!) is in a lot of hot water right now

    F-16 Engines Stolen from IAF Base

    IAF belatedly finds that several engines have been stolen. Arab metal thieves with help from the inside are suspected.

    By Gil Ronen
    First Publish: 12/6/2012, 9:00 AM

    The Air Force has discovered in recent days that several F-16 fighter jet engines were stolen from one of its bases, news website Walla reported Thursday.

    Senior IAF sources said that the thieves who stole the engines had to have been assisted by someone within the base. This determination is based, among other things, on the fact that there was no damage to the base's perimeter fence. This leads investigators to believe that the thieves went in and out through the gates. They must have done this with a large vehicle, since the engines weigh over 1.5 tons and are more than 15 feet long.

    No suspects have been arrested yet in the theft, which is the first of its kind in the IAF's history and marks a low point in its ability to secure its own bases. The most likely possibility is that the engines were stolen by Arab metal thieves, weapons dealers or terror-related agents.


  10. #20
    Supreme Overlord ARH v.4.0's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    The fifth circle of hell

    Didn't something similar happen in Singapore or Malaysia not that long ago?

    The darkest hour of Humanity is upon us. The world
    shall meet it's end and we shall be submerged into a
    new dark age. Repent your sins, for the apocalypse,
    and the end, is extremely f@#king nigh!

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