Thursday, May 19, 2022

Iran filling vacuum left by Russians in Syria, says Jordan's king

Jordan's King Abdullah II stated that Iran and its proxies were filling a vacuum left by Russia in southern Syria, warning that this could lead to issues along Jordan's borders, during an interview on Wednesday at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

When asked about Iran, the king stated that "we want everybody to be part of a new Middle East and to move forward, but we do have security challenges. We're seeing border attacks on a regular basis and we know who's behind that." READ MORE

The risks of helicopters in Israel’s war on the rising tide of Palestinian terror

Against the spreading Palestinian terror campaign and its new directions, Israel has been waging an intensive operation since March 31, without much effect. Since the deadly wave began encroaching on Israel’s cities, the IDF and security forces have been conducting almost nightly raids in known terrorist lairs, such as the Jenin refugee camp, Tulkarm, Nablus and Qalqilya with wholesale detentions of suspects of  past or impending violence. But the IDF and Shin Bet are finding that these well-tried tactics are no longer working. Stabbing, shooting and other assaults on more and more civilians and targets remain rampant.

In the third week of April, the military, security and Yamam police commando units encountered a hitherto unprecedented level of Palestinian gunfire. It came from multiple directions in every sector of engagement, turning those sectors into battle arenas in every sense. Since the onset of the IDF operation, the terrorists had clearly acquired infusions of fresh manpower, a huge arsenal of firearms and heaps of ammo. They were now armed to pose a major hazard to the armored vehicles used on the military raids.

Israel’s strategists are now thinking in terms of upgrading the weaponry for combating terror to meet the new challenge. The IDF and elite police units are seriously considering introducing an air combat dimension to the operation, using combat helicopters to damp down Palestinian fire power. This would be a major innovation in the tactics for the war on Palestinian terror. But before making this decision, certain questions must be addressed:

  1. From where are the terrorist groups procuring those massive quantities of guns and ammunition?
  2. Should the ongoing counter-terror operation continue – or be counted a write-off?
  3. What has happened to the Palestinian Authority’s security forces? They are no longer to be seen and appear to have ceded control of Palestinian areas to terrorist organizations.
  4. Would combat helicopters for combating terrorists result in large numbers of Palestinian fatalities?

DEBKAfile’s military sources estimate the significance of this upgrade for Israel and its armed forces:

  1. It would upgrade the war on terror and the standing of the violent organizations, while also adding fuel to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
  2. The IDF would be treating Palestinian terrorists as an equal combatant.
  3. The Palestinians would lose no time in seeking shoulder-carried anti-air missiles for shooting the helicopters down from the same supply sources as they are using today.

Calling Obama administration ‘cowardly,’ Danny Danon releases book on UN tenure

In December 2016, less than a month before US president Barack Obama left the White House, the UN passed Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution blasted Israel for building West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements, which, according to the resolution, have “no legal validity” and are “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Washington stunned Israel by abstaining on the resolution, amid a nadir in ties between the countries under Obama and then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, allowing it to pass and drawing the ire of Israeli officials.

Danny Danon was Israel’s ambassador at the UN when the vote was passed, a job he calls “the most intense and demanding position in the Israeli diplomatic world” in his new book, “In the Lion’s Den: Israel and the World,” released on Tuesday.

Danon tells the story of the infamous resolution from his perch at the UN, lambasting Obama and then-US secretary of state John Kerry for “working diligently behind the scenes to make the resolution and its passage a reality before they left office.

“I had hoped [Obama’s] thinking would be stronger than his emotions, but it was not the case,” Danon writes. “He wanted to conclude his term with a UN resolution that would define the legacy of his Middle East policy.” READ MORE

Gantz meets US national security chief for talks on Iran, Israel’s security

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in the White House and thanked him for the Biden administration’s commitment to Israel’s security.

Landing in Washington on Wednesday, Gantz made his trip amid tension between Israel and the US, following the killing of American-Palestinian reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank and Israel’s new policy for foreigners seeking to enter the West Bank, set to come into effect in July.

According to a readout issued by the Defense Ministry, the meeting between Gantz and Sullivan focused mainly on Iran’s progression in its nuclear program as negotiations stalled in Vienna, alongside Tehran’s “destabilizing regional activities.”

The meeting was attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog; the director of the Defense Ministry Political-Military Bureau, Dror Shalom; and the defense minister’s military secretary, Yaki Dolf.

On Tuesday, Gantz warned that “the price for tackling the Iranian challenge on a global or regional level is higher than it was a year ago and lower than it will be in a year,” noting that Iran was just a “few weeks” away from accumulating sufficient fissile material for a bomb. READ MORE

UN expert: US sanctions on Iran are devastating and should be lifted

An independent United Nations expert said on Wednesday that the impact of sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran was "devastating" and calling on them to be lifted, AFP reported.

"During our visit, we were able to identify (the) devastating humanitarian impact of sanctions," said Alena Douhan, the UN special rapporteur focused on the impact of unilateral sanctions.

"The measures imposed against Iran violate international law -- they are illegal," Douhan added, speaking to reporters at the end of a 12-day visit to Iran, the first to the Islamic Republic by a special rapporteur since 2005.

"The best option is that they are lifted," said Douhan, whose official title is "special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights."

Her mission comes during a stalemate in talks between Iran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which gave Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Following former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, the US imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. In return, Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

Iran has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement. Negotiations nearly reached completion in March, but the deal also run into trouble over Iranian demands that the US lift its designation of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

Enrique Mora, the EU diplomat seeking to revive the 2015 deal, recently visited Tehran as the EU makes a last-ditch effort to save the agreement.

Israeli forces capture 13 wanted terrorists in Judea, Samaria

Overnight, IDF and Israeli security forces conducted counterterrorism activities in a number of locations in Judea and Samaria, including the towns of Al Aroub, Ubeidiya, Ripida and Qalandiya, to apprehend individuals suspected of involvement in terror activity.

IDF soldiers also operated in the city of Hebron. The soldiers apprehended five terror suspects and confiscated illegal weapons.

In addition, the security forces conducted counterterrorism activities in the town of Beit Rima and apprehended two suspects. The soldiers also located and confiscated an M16 rifle and ammunition. Dozens of Palestinians instigated a violent riots during the counterterrorism activity. The rioters hurled rocks and launched fireworks toward the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means.

Dozens of Arabs instigated a violent riot during counterterrorism activity in the Ein Beit al-Ma' camp. The rioters hurled rocks and explosive devices toward the soldiers, and shots were heard in the area. The soldiers responded with riot dispersal means.

A total of 13 suspects were apprehended overnight.

The suspects and weapons were transferred to security forces for further processing.

No IDF injuries were reported.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Hamas filling leadership vacuum in east Jerusalem

To many, the large-scale riots that erupted in east Jerusalem after the funeral of Walid al-Sharif, the young man who died earlier this week of wounds he sustained during clashes with Israeli police officers at the Aqsa Mosque compound, may have come as a surprise

But for those familiar with the situation in east Jerusalem, the riots, during which six officers were injured, did not come as a surprise.

As soon as the police announced that al-Sharif’s body would be handed over to his family for burial, Palestinian activists began calling on residents to participate in the funeral of the “martyr.”

The calls, which were mainly organized through social media, saw thousands of east Jerusalem men converge on Al-Makassed Hospital, where the body was resting before the funeral, and later at the Aqsa Mosque, where the funeral began and ended at the Muslim cemetery on Salah Eddin Street, just outside the Old City.

Hamas and other Palestinian groups joined the bandwagon, publicly urging wide participation in the funeral. READ MORE

Is Iran’s new drone factory in Tajikistan a threat? - analysis

Iran says it has inaugurated a new factory for producing Ababil-2 military drones in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan.

This interesting development was openly discussed on Iranian media so it is clear that Tehran is not trying to keep this a secret. Furthermore, Iran appears to be bragging about how it is increasing the reach of its drone market. The Islamic Republic has exported drones in the past, to Venezuela for instance, but this factory would appear to be a milestone. 

So what is Iran up to? “During a visit to Tajikistan, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri inaugurated a factory manufacturing Ababil-2 military drones," Tasnim News says. "The drone factory was inaugurated in [the] capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by the top Iranian general and Tajik Minister of Defense Col.-Gen. Sherali Mirzo.” 

The media are taking note of this new Iranian endeavor. An article at Al-Monitor notes that “Iran has sought to improve relations with Tajikistan in recent years, as it has with other states in Central Asia.

"In February, officials from both countries pledged to increase bilateral trade to $500 million annually," it said. "Trade between the two countries amounted to $121 million in 2021, a more than 100% increase from the $55 million in 2020.”  READ MORE

Gantz leaves to US for security talks centered on Iran, Ukraine

Iran’s nuclear program and the war in Ukraine will be the focus of security talks with Washington this week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said late Tuesday as he took off for a several-day trip to the US.

Gantz is set to meet with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan during two days in Washington, amid growing fears over advancing nuclear enrichment in Iran and a widening gulf with Russia over Syria and Ukraine.

“I will discuss bolstering joint security cooperation and dealing with regional challenges, chief among them Iran, which all moderate actors in the region must unite against,” Gantz said according to his spokesperson.

“We will also discuss Ukraine and other matters important to world, regional and Israeli security,” he added, without expanding.

The statement from Gantz’s office did not mention talks over the killing of Palestinian-American al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh — who was shot as she covered a firefight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin last week — though the subject is expected come up. READ MORE

Report: In 1st, US refuelers to take part in major Israeli drill for strike on Iran

The United States will participate in Israel’s largescale drill simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities as part of the broader Chariots of Fire exercise later this month, Channel 13 reported on Tuesday evening.

According to the unsourced report, the US Air Force will serve as a complementary force, with refueling planes drilling with Israeli fighter jets as they simulate entering Iranian territory and carrying out repeated strikes.

The unprecedented Israel- US aerial collaboration in a drill simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is seen as a potential message to Iran amid long-stalled negotiations in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, a possibility Israel has repeatedly voiced its objection to, warning it would lead to “a more violent, more volatile Middle East.”

Large numbers of Israeli fighter jets –dozens, according to Kan TV news — will take part in the simulated attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The TV report noted that when Israel conducted a major drill for such an attack some 10 years ago, when it was widely reported to be on the point of striking Iran, the US did not participate.

The Israeli military has taken steps throughout the past year to prepare a credible military threat against Tehran’s nuclear facilities. The US, in turn, has expressed reluctance to prepare for a military confrontation with Iran but nonetheless said it would explore other options if talks in Vienna fail. READ MORE

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Israel to simulate striking Iran in massive IDF drill

The Israeli military will simulate striking targets far from Israel’s borders with a large number of planes while simultaneously acquiring new targets on various fronts in real-time during its largest military drill in history.

According to the IDF, the drill is unique and unprecedented in scope and will enable the army to maintain a high level of readiness in an ever-changing region. It aims to improve the military’s capabilities in an intense, multi-front and prolonged war on all its borders.

During the drill the Air Force will also drill on striking targets far from Israel’s borders while troops continue to contend with a multi-front war on its borders.

The military, which is seriously planning several military options against Iran should the nuclear talks between the West and the Islamic Republic fail, will drill on one of the possible options during the exercise. The military will also implement all lessons learned from Operation Guardian of the Walls throughout the entire month. (Read More)

Lebanon's Hezbollah, allies likely to lose parliamentary majority

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies are likely to lose their majority in Lebanon's parliament, three sources allied to the group said on Monday, in a major blow to the heavily armed faction that reflected widespread anger at ruling parties.

Sunday's election - the first since Lebanon's financial collapse and the Beirut port blast of 2020 - also produced wins for the Saudi-aligned Lebanese Forces (LF), a Christian party, and reform-minded candidates across sects.

Their breakthroughs, however, could fracture parliament into several camps and polarize it more sharply between Hezbollah's allies and opponents. Those opponents are not currently united into a single bloc.

The deadlock could derail reforms required to unlock support from the International Monetary Fund to ease Lebanon's economic crisis and delay parliamentary decisions on a speaker, a premier to form a Cabinet, and a new president later this year.

Preliminary results indicate a reversal of Lebanon's last election in 2018, when Hezbollah and its allies won 71 of parliament's 128 seats, pulling Lebanon deeper into the orbit of Shi'ite-led Iran and away from Sunni-led Saudi Arabia. READ MORE

Iranian cruise missile sent to Hizballah could carry nuclear warhead. Sea blockade planned for Israel

Iran has furnished the Lebanese Hizballah terrorist group with a selection of cruise missiles, including the Kh-55, which is potentially capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. This weapon has a range of 3,000km. This report came from Western intelligence sources on Monday, May 16, when the Israel Navy joined the Israel military’s large-scale “Chariots of Fire” exercise.

The Kh-55 was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s as an air-launched cruise missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. The Iranian conversion can be launched from land or from a naval vessel.

While building up a stock of precision-guided surface missiles, Iran’s Lebanese proxy has also, with the help of Iran and Syria, been quietly accumulating a pile of marine cruise missiles, capable of posting a major threat to the Israeli Navy. Its purpose is to clamp a sea blockade on Israel in a war. Even a partial blockade would seriously disrupt israel’s ability to conduct wartime operations and interfere with its military and civilian supply routes.

The sea-launched missiles now in the hands of Hizballah are listed by Western intelligence as: the C-802, the Iranian version of the Chinese subsonic cruise missile, which has a range of 200km; the Russian Yakhont subsonic cruise missile which has a range of 300km and was passed to the Lebanese group by Syria – with Moscow’s consent; Nor – 200km range; Gadar-110, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 2,000km; and Ghadir, an anti-ship cruise missile which has a range of 300km. 

Despite Lebanon election setbacks, Hezbollah remains a growing threat to Israel

With the full results in, the headlines made it seem like Lebanon’s parliamentary elections were a win for Hezbollah’s opponents in Lebanon, the region, and of course, for Israel.

Hezbollah’s bloc lost its parliamentary majority, and the firmly anti-Hezbollah, anti-Syrian Lebanese Forces party will become the largest Christian group in parliament. An impressive showing by several independent reform candidates also indicates a public desire to do away with the corrupt leaders who have run the country into the ground.

But any expectations that the country has managed to turn itself around, or that the Hezbollah threat to  Israel is going to be reduced, is “some wishful thinking,” said Jacques Neriah, Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

“The final picture of what we see today is the quagmire of Lebanon,” Neriah said. “There is no possibility of reform. There is no possibility of change in the political system. We are stuck in paralysis and stagnation.”

The election comes after years of turmoil in Lebanon, which has in recent years  defaulted on its debt and seen the Lebanese pound lose 95 percent of its value. READ MORE

After Syria strike, Gantz vows to stem Iranian transfer of ‘advanced capabilities’

Days after a reported Israeli airstrike in Syria, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday vowed to prevent Iran from transferring “advanced capabilities” to other entities in the region.

“The State of Israel will continue to act against any enemy that threatens it, and prevent the transfer of advanced capabilities from Iran that endanger the citizens of Israel and harm the stability of the entire region,” Gantz said during a visit to the military’s Northern Command.

Israel has long accused Iran of transferring advanced munitions to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, via Syria. At the same time, Syria has also improved its air defense capabilities, in part due to upgraded Iranian-made components, according to military officials.

Gantz said Israel was continuing to push ahead with defensive measures in the north. The Defense Ministry in recent months has started construction of hundreds of bomb shelters for Israeli citizens in northern towns who currently do not have access to functioning ones.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces continued its monthlong “Chariots of Fire” exercise, including a military drill within the northern city of Haifa.

Gantz said the exercises were aimed at “preparing for various scenarios against our enemies in the various theaters, and against Hezbollah and Hamas, which also operates from Lebanon.”

It was the first time an Israeli official has confirmed the Gaza-based Hamas terror group has established a base of operations in Lebanon. Israel has repeatedly blamed “Palestinian factions” for rocket attacks from its northern neighbor that were not claimed by the powerful Hezbollah terror group.

“The combination of training, operational activity, and strengthening civil resilience makes up our complete paradigm of protecting the north and the entire State of Israel,” he added.

Friday’s airstrikes in the northwestern Masyaf region of Syria “completely destroyed” a structure leading to an underground facility, according to a satellite imaging service. According to media reports, six Syrian soldiers were killed in the raid, all crewmembers of an air defense system.

The Masyaf area is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks attributed to Israel.

Israel has carried out hundreds of sorties over Syria in the last decade, mostly to stymie attempts by Iranian forces to transfer weapons or establish a foothold.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent weeks. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine, while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

Report: Russians fire on IAF craft in Syria for the 1st time

Air defense systems operated by Russian officers opened fire at Israeli aircraft operating in Syria for the first time, Channel 13 News reported.

The alleged incident occurred on Friday, when IAF aircraft carried out an operation in western Syria.

The Syrians activated their air defense systems, which missed the Israeli planes. As the planes turned back towards Israel, the Russian S-300 systems were activated and launched.

Russia has supplied Syria with four S-300 batteries. However, only Russian officers are able to operate the batteries.

According to the report, while a missile was fired from the S-300 battery, the missile did not achieve a radar lock on any of the Israeli aircraft and did not pose a threat. All aircraft returned to Israel safely.

'Iran just weeks away from having enough fissile material for its first atomic weapon'

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Tuesday morning that Tehran is just weeks away from being able to produce sufficient fissile material necessary for a nuclear weapon.

Speaking at the 'A New Global Order' conference being held at Reichman University in Herzliya a day before his trip to Washington, Gantz said Iran’s nuclear program is making significant progress both qualitatively and quantitatively.

"Iran continues to accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience in the development, research, production and operation of advanced centrifuges. It stands just a few weeks away from accumulating fissile material that will be sufficient for a first bomb, holds 60 kilograms of enriched material at 60%, produces metallic uranium at the enrichment level of 20% and prevents the IAEA from accessing its facilities."

"Even today, Iran is making an effort to complete the production and installation of 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges at its nuclear facilities, including a new facility being built at an underground site near Natanz." READ MORE

Monday, May 16, 2022

Will the next Iran deal deadline, June 6, finally lead to a resolution? - analysis

What is the state of play in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal?

Several contradictory signals were put out this week about whether or not a deal may be imminent around June 6-10, when a deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Tehran signed in March is supposed to expire.

In addition, June 6 is when the next meeting of the IAEA board of governors is taking place.

The Islamic Republic and world powers have started to talk more seriously several times whenever the quarterly IAEA board of governors meeting is taking place.

When expectations were high at the end of 2021 and then again in March that there would be a deal, it was always because there was an expectation that the ayatollahs would want a deal before the IAEA board of governors meeting. READ MORE

Satellite images show Syria site ‘completely destroyed’ in raid attributed to Israel

An Israeli satellite company and intelligence firm published images Sunday it said showed the damage at an underground facility in Syria from airstrikes days earlier that were attributed to Israel.

On Friday night at least five people were killed and seven others were hurt in the alleged Israeli airstrike in the northwestern Masyaf region of Syria, the country’s state news agency said. Other media in the country said six were killed, all crew members of a Pantsir air defense system who attempted to take down the purported Israeli missiles.

ImageSat International (ISI) said the airstrikes targeted an apparent underground facility. “The structures were used as an entrance to underground tunnels. ISI has detected that the structures have been completely destroyed,” the firm said.

The site was also struck in September 2018, and had since been rebuilt, according to ISI’s imagery. The firm said it assessed that the facility was related to the nearby Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, which was struck in airstrikes attributed to Israel in April.

The Masyaf area is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks attributed to Israel. READ MORE

Hezbollah and allies dealt a blow in Lebanon election, early results show

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group and its allies appear to have suffered some losses in this weekend’s parliamentary elections, with their opponents gaining more seats and some of their traditional partners not making it into the legislature, early results showed Monday.

Despite the apparent setback, Hezbollah and its main Shiite ally, the Amal group of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, are likely to retain the 27 seats allocated to the sect. The unofficial results show that independents, including those from the 2019 protest movement, made some gains by removing longtime politicians from parliament.

The closely watched elections on Sunday were the first since a devastating economic crisis erupted in Lebanon in October 2019, triggering nationwide protests against the ruling class blamed for decades of corruption and mismanagement.

It was also the first election since the August 2020 Beirut port explosion that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed parts of the Lebanese capital. The blast, widely blamed on negligence, was set off by hundreds of tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate that ignited in a port warehouse.

The Saudi-backed Christian Lebanese Forces party, which has been among the most vocal critics of the Iran-armed Hezbollah, says it won at least 20 seats, adding five members from the 2018 vote. This would make it the largest Christian bloc in parliament, replacing the Free Patriotic Movement that was founded by President Michel Aoun and has been a Hezbollah ally since 2006.

Independents also appear to be making some significant gains, but they remain far from making changes as the main winners of the vote are likely to be mainstream political groups.

A strong Hezbollah ally in south Lebanon reportedly lost his seat to an independent, while another independent, Mark Daou, says “we are heading to a big victory.” Daou is running in the Mount Lebanon region of Aley against longtime Druze politician Talal Arslan.

Official results were expected to be announced later Monday.

Lebanon holds elections every four years and the new parliament will elect a new president after Aoun’s term ends in October.

Bennett weighing removing terrorists' families to Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday night ordered the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet to examine the option of demolishing Israeli terrorists' homes and removing terrorists' families from Judea and Samaria to Gaza, as per Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar's (New Hope) proposal, Galatz reported.

The report is sourced to three ministers who participated in the Sunday evening meeting. Both of the proposed processes are legally complex and there is opposition within the defense echelon as well.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, it is estimated that Bennet is trying to present a right-wing diplomatic stance, in light of the possibility that Israel may soon hold new elections.

According to the report, Sa'ar said during the discussion that, "We need to advance the demolition of terrorists' homes in Israel as well, and weigh removal from Judea and Samaria to Gaza. This is crucial in light of the current situation."

On the demolitions, Sa'ar said that the legal side is prepared.

Bennett responded with an instruction that the National Security Council examine the issue, adding, "We need to see what else is possible in this current [terror] wave, what other tools we have against terror."

The Prime Minister's office responded to Galatz by saying, "We do not discuss what is said in Cabinet meetings."

Defense Min.: 'Jewish Israel may be limited to the center of the country only'

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) has warned that Jewish Israel may soon be limited to the center of the country only, Israel Hayom reported.

In a closed meeting with his party last week, Gantz read aloud a WhatsApp containing threats from unnamed Arab sources, warning that they would take over Israel.

Among other things, the WhatsApp said, "Continue to curse, you have no chance against Allah. Slowly slowly we are eating away at your country. We have land in the Negev that is the size of Gush Dan (central Israel -ed.), which is filled with tin shacks with little Bedouin children. What are you going to do? This is Palestinian land, essentially, and the moment a single tractor comes - we will use the leftist organizations such as 'Peace Now' and 'B'tselem,' which will turn to the real ruler of the country (the Supreme Court) to issue a cease and desist order. We will send children and youths to throw stones and barricade themselves at the scene until you run like mice from the area."

The WhatsApp continued, "The Galilee, with Allah's help, will also be ours soon. We are buying a dunam for 50,000 shekel from the Administration, while the Jews pay 1,150,000 shekel. Already today we are 85% of the Galilee's population, and we are taking over at a fast pace, building homes in every corner without permits. Why, who will bother us? The Jews who live in the Galilee - they are all running to the center of the country. Why? They suffer from harassment, violence on the roads, extortion, shootings, thefts, and bribery."

Gantz responded to the WhatsApp with a warning that in light of what is happening on the ground, "The future of the country is in danger."

"If we do not invest in the Galilee and the Negev, then we will in essence end up with an agreement to divide the country. The ones who wrote the WhatsApp are right. The future of the Jewish state may end up being between Gedera and Hadera."

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Does Hezbollah have a new Iranian long range cruise missile? - analysis

A Hezbollah video circulating online purports to show that the terrorist group has some new munitions in its always expanding arsenal. Over the years, Hezbollah has stockpiled more than 100,000 missiles and rockets. However, the real danger of these weapons is that some have been upgraded or use new technology that enables them to be precision-guided munitions, or maneuvering munitions, drones and cruise missiles. 

A recent video posted online purports to show a glimpse of an “Abu Mahdi anti-ship cruise missile.”  A Twitter account that found this image notes “the new Hezbollah video shows a glance of what is likely an Abu-Mahdi anti-ship cruise missile launcher. That means Iran has armed Hezbollah with her longest range (reportedly 1000 km).”

This range would mean it could reach deep into the Eastern Mediterranean, including threatening a NATO naval support facility at Souda Bay in Crete. This means this is a strategic weapon that potentially threatens far more of an area than Israel in the case of a conflict.  

“It is important because if it turns out to be the Abu Mahdi cruise missile it has a range of roughly 1,000km so it could threaten gas rigs in the region, not only [of] Israel, so it is important, it is the first time we have a glimpse into this system in the hands of Hezbollah,” says Tal Inbar, a senior research fellow at the US-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.  

The apparent unveiling of this threat comes as Hezbollah has slammed the US for backing a maritime boundary agreement between Israel and Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has slammed US official Amos Hochstein, a key White House advisor who focuses on global energy security. While Hezbollah said the country doesn’t need any more “Steins,” a reference to Hochstein being Jewish, recent reports have painted him as playing a key role. READ MORE