DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 21, 2009
As Israel wrestled with a fateful decision on Iran's nuclear issue and war tensions building up around its borders, defense minister Ehud Barak went to war on the military-yeshiva "Hesder" contract, under which seminary students are conscripted - most volunteering for combat units - along with their studies.
Raising the specter of mutiny in the armed forces, Barak Sunday, Dec. 13, expelled the West Bank Mt. Bracha yeshiva from the contract when its dean, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, refused a summons to a hearing with the minister on charges of inciting student-soldiers to refuse orders affecting the status of Jewish settlements on conscientious grounds.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 19, 2009
The main conclusions of state comptroller Michah Lindenstrauss's report, published Thursday, Sept. 3, do not address intelligence and political realities and will therefore not affect the US decision never to release Jonathan Pollard from the life sentence without parole given him in 1985 for spying for Israel, or ease his exceptionally harsh conditions of imprisonment.
The controller was asked to survey the manner in which successive Israel governments sought to secure Pollard's release during his 24 years of incarceration. debkafile's Washington and intelligence sources find the former judge turned state comptroller lacked the broad experience necessary for examining one of the most sensitive intelligence issues of our time, which touch on the clandestine war conducted between the United States, China and Israel during a critical period of Cold War history.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 19, 2009
Tuesday, Oct.13, Syrian defense minister Gen. Ali Habib made the triumphant announcement: We held our first joint land military exercise (with Turkey) last spring. And today we have agreed to do a more comprehensive, a bigger one. He spoke at a ceremony declaring a free trade zone between the two countries and opening their borders for the passage of their citizens without visas. Present were the two foreign ministers, Ahmed Davutoglu and Walid Mualem.
The next day, Today's Zaman provided Ankara's explanation for its last-minute decision to cancel Israeli participation in the annual multiple air maneuver with NATO under the caption: Delay in delivery of Herons behind drill crisis, not politics.
debkafile's Ankara sources stress that foreign minister Davutoglu is steering the Turkish government and army toward a broad new horizon after persuading Erdogan that the way to restoring Turkey to the regional primacy enjoyed by the Ottoman empire depended on its assuming leadership and mediation roles in the Middle East and Muslim world.
Erdogan is not deterred by every single Turkish mediation effort running aground, a fact which his hostility to Israel is designed to mask.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 18, 2009
The first unmanned stealth craft on the seas, designated Protector SV or Death Shark, recently deployed in the Persian Gulf, is in high demand after its successful performance with the Singapore Navy. debkafile's military sources report that India and South Korea asked Israel's Rafael to build craft to their specifications.
Operated by remote control from a shore base, the crewless nine-meter long speedboat is armed with a Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) for detecting and destroying incoming anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft at short range.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 17, 2009
Whoever trashed a West Bank village mosque early Friday, Dec. 11, tossed a match onto dry firewood.
The Netanyahu government's construction moratorium on settlement construction has had an acutely polarizing effect on Israelis on both sides of the Green Line. Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin has called Mahmoud Abbas' boycott of Israel as a negotiation partner an ominous "diplomatic intifada," while three major Palestinian terrorist attacks were foiled in the last ten days.
debkafile's Exclusive Analysis below goes to the causes of the spreading unrest.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 12, 2009
After the hype evaporates from the Geneva encounter between the six powers and Iran and the raw emotions fade from the videotaped sight of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit, Israel is left to take stock of where it stands in relation to its enemies, Iran and the Hamas. The score is Israel - nil; Iran and its ally Hamas - two up.
In the first place, Iran has gained substantially from the Obama administration's decision to abandon the US demand for Iran to freeze uranium enrichment as the precondition for talks. This US surrender has awarded Tehran the legitimacy for retaining its "nuclear right."
Then, too, the Geneva conference became the platform for the world powers to agree to hold up sanctions if Iran transferred three-quarters of its low-enriched uranium (1,179,4 tons out of 1,451,4) to a Russian plant for further enrichment.
The deal for Israel to receive a recent video-tape of the kidnapped Israel soldier Gilead Shalit from a secret Hamas prison in return for 20 female Palestinian prisoners cost Hamas nothing.
In fact it gave the Islamists' tarnished terrorist image a badly-needed lift after more than three years of denying his human rights as their captive.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 10, 2009
Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak intimate that a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction is the price Israel is important to Israel's broader interest, such as Washington's nod for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. debkafile reports that ordinary Israelis do not buy this argument. debkafile's analysts examine the broad ramifications of Netanyahu's policies in the article below.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 5, 2009
Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan told a Tel Aviv University audience Friday, Nov. 27: "The time for hard decisions is fast approaching," adding "The range of security threats to Israel is very complex and we must prepare for all exigencies."
debkafile's military experts translate the "hard decisions," as the tough choice of priorities between safeguarding Israel's military resources and its population in a potential war.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 30, 2009
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu appears to be working to a five-month cycle: It took him five months to line up behind Washington on a two-state solution, and another five months to announce Wednesday, Nov. 25, that the security-political cabinet had approved a 10-month freeze on new apartment construction in the West Bank settlements.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton praised the decision as helping to "move forward" efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 25, 2009
Israeli emissaries head out to Cairo and Ankara next week to prise open doors for restarting peace talks with Palestinians and Syrians. Nicolas Sarkozy would welcome a mediation role for France but he has put Syria's Bashar Assad on notice that he must ease his ties with Tehran if he seeks diplomatic progress with the US and Israel.
And if Assad poses a precondition for talks, so too does Binyamin Netanyahu.
Read debkafile's Exclusive Analysis below on this new initiative.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 24, 2009
debkafile reports high suspense in Jerusalem as Hamas representatives from Damascus and Gaza Strip head for Cairo Monday Nov. 23 to review the new list of jailed Palestinians Israel is offering as part of its trade for soldier Gilead Shalit. The new list substitutes 70 names for the hard-core killers whom Israel refused to set free. The dispute over this group held up the deal over a total of 1,000 jailed Palestinians to be traded. The next 24 hours are critical.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 14, 2009
President Barack Obama and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu talked for more than an hour and a half in the White House Tuesday, Nov. 9, all but fifteen minutes without advisers. There were no cameras and the usual post-meeting press briefings, joint communiques and interviews were cancelled.
debkafile reported Monday: US official sources admitted Monday, Nov. 9, that Tehran had firmly blocked every Obama compromise on offer. Obama's Iran engagement and Middle East peace initiatives have both run into the sand.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 10, 2009
The Antigua-flagged arms ship Francop commandeered by the Israeli Navy early Wednesday, Nov. 4, near Cyprus, carried 40 containers of hundreds of tons of Iranian arms for Hizballah, enough to keep Hizballah fighting for a month, said Israeli Navy commander Brig.-Gen Ronnie Ben-Yehuda in a news briefing Wednesday, Nov 3.
The ship was intercepted in a joint Israel Navy-US Task Force 151 operation.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 8, 2009
Germany is the fifth foreign nation to acquire the Heron TP drone or other Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle technology for support missions against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, debkafile's military sources report. Today, these drones complement the US Air Force's dominant role in Afghanistan air space.
World armies have purchased a total of 40 Israeli drones of different types. The most recent client was Russia.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 27, 2009
Defense ministry officials say a dossier cataloguing Hamas crimes against humanity year after year can be compiled from voluminous records in short order and submitted to the international court, as debkafile suggested in its special analysis on Oct. 17 of the fallout from Judge Goldstone's war crime allegations against Israel and the Netanyahu's government ineffective counter-measures.
To read the analysis, click HERE
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 26, 2009
Iran is making a huge effort to smuggle to the Palestinian Hamas Fajr-5 ground-to-ground rockets that bring Tel Aviv within range of the Gaza Strip. debkafile's military sources also disclose that Syria, Iran's second ally with an Israeli border, has decided to transfer one-third of its missile stockpile to the Hizballah in Lebanon, topping up its arsenal with medium-range rockets that can cover central as well as northern Israel.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 25, 2009
Israeli army chiefs must now decide how to send troops to defend their country knowing some may face war crimes allegations form some international body. The Netanyahu government had seven months from the Goldstone war crime commission's appointment to counteract the UN Human Right Council's hostile resolution Friday, Oct. 17, with dossiers of the Palestinians' murderous 10-year campaigns against Israeli men, women and children and the far greater war crimes of Israel's detractors. Instead, an anti-Israeli coalition was allowed to plan the denial of Israel's military legitimacy as a defensive strike force against Iran's fast-moving nuclear weapons program, as debkafile Exclusive Analysis below reports.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 21, 2009
The UN Human Right Council's endorsement Friday, Oct. 16, sent the anti-Israel Goldstone war crimes report to the UN Security Council. Ultimately, this step could expose Israeli leaders to prosecution for war crimes.
The damage was compounded by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's personal involvement in spearheading the campaign to have the report buried. Its endorsement has instead buried the peace process between Israel and Palestinian Authority - already shaken by Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to come to the negotiating table.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 20, 2009
According to an unconfirmed report in the French Le Canard Enchaine of Wednesday, Oct. 14, Israel is preparing to bomb Iranian nuclear sites and pro-Iranian targets across the Middle East after December 2009. A former Israeli deputy defense minister, Efraim Sneh, commented to US and British media several times in the past week that if the US fails to rally fellow powers' support for tougher sanctions against Iran by Christmas, Israel will attack.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 15, 2009
US and Israeli forces were already poised to launch their joint Juniper Cobra strategic missile defense exercise, which takes place every two years, to begin Monday Oct. 12, when at noon an Israeli military spokesman suddenly announced its postponement by one week.
The announcement came three days after Turkey called off its sixth annual international air maneuver when the US and Italy pulled out in protest against the Israeli air force's last-minute exclusion by Ankara.