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IAF Pilots Drill Over Italy


The Israeli Air Force may have set Lucius Flavius Silva - commander of the Roman X Legion Fretensis at Masada - rolling in his grave last week as it roared through the Italian skies. The IAF delegation returned from Sardinia on Wednesday after a week-long joint training exercise with the Italian Air Force. The exercises, planned months ago, concluded amid a storm of speculation from Israel's media that leaders in Jerusalem are planning a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Report: West Ready to Attack Iran

By & Ha'aretz

A report in the British Guardian newspaper Wednesday said that the U.S. and the UK were gearing up for a possible attack on Iran. According to the report, the U.S. has become increasingly frustrated – and concerned – over Iran's refusal to end its enrichment of uranium. Britain has agreed to help, despite some members of the British government being opposed to providing such assistance.

"In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air- and sea-launched campaign," the article says. Officials said that the U.S. would launch some missile attacks from British ships, if action was taken against Iran, as well as from the British protectorate of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean,

According to the Guardian, the decision to strike Iran came about as the result of the successful campaign that resulted in the dethroning of Muammar Qaddafi as dictator of Libya.

In a statement, the British Defense Ministry said that "the British Government believes that a dual track strategy of pressure and engagement is the best approach to address the threat from Iran's nuclear program and avoid regional conflict. We want a negotiated solution - but all options should be kept on the table."

Coinciding with the Guardian report, other reports said that Israel was planning its own incursion against Iran. After reports of a successful long-range military mission in Sardinia surfaced Wednesday, media rumors said that IDF troops had undertaken what was essentially a "dry run" of an attack against Iran.

In a statement, Iran said that it would "punish" any violation of its sovereignty, no matter by whom. ""The United States is fully aware that a military attack by the Zionist regime on Iran will not only cause tremendous damage to that regime, but it will also inflict serious damage to the U.S.," a top Iranian general said Wednesday. "We, as the military, take every threat, however distant and improbable, as very real, and are fully prepared to use suitable equipment to punish any kind of mistake," the official said.

Ha'aretz cited senior officials who said they believed Iran had regained its technological capabilities which were severely damaged in a cyber-attack last year. Iran said the Stuxnet worm infected personal computers of employees at the Bushehr plant, but not the plant's main systems. The New York Times reported last January that the worm was a joint Israeli-U.S. effort to undermine Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran's military chief warned Wednesday that an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear development sites will come at a heavy price, according to the Iranian ISNA news agency. Responding to reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been trying to gain a majority in the cabinet for an attack on Iran, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of Iran's armed forces, Hassan Firouzabadi, warned both Israel and the U.S. against such a move.

"The U.S. officials know that the Zionist regime's military attack against Iran will inflict heavy damages to the U.S. seriously as well as the Zionist regime," ISNA quoted Firouzabadi.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland commented on the possible Israeli strike against Iran on Wednesday, saying "I'm not going to comment on stray press reports out of Israel. I'm going to send you to the Israeli government for its views on these things. We remain committed to Israel's security. We and Israel share a deep concern about the direction that Iran is taking," she added.

According to Western experts' analyses, an attack on Iran in winter is almost impossible, because the thick clouds would obstruct the Israel Air Force's performance.

And also on Wednesday, Israel test-fired a ballistic missile at the Palmahim Israel Defense Forces base in central Israel. The test was part of an examination of a new missile currently being developed by the defense establishment. The missile left behind a fire trail that could be seen throughout central Israel.

Development of the multi-staged missile was begun in 2008 using the operational Jericho III missile as a base, which defense officials said at the time would be capable of carrying "conventional or unconventional payloads."

A U.S. Congressional report on the Jericho initiative in 2004 estimated Israel's plans to develop a ballistic missile would give Israel the ability to deliver a payload of 1,000-1,300 kilograms to anywhere in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and most of North America. An Israeli defense official told the Associated Press that the military tested a "rocket propulsion system" in an exercise planned long ago.

Israel considers Iran a clear and present danger. Officials in Jerusalem cite Tehran's nuclear program, repeated references by Iranian leaders to Israel's destruction, and Iranian support for Hizbullah and Hamas.

Iran denies allegations that it aims to produce a bomb, saying its nuclear program is meant only to produce energy for the oil-rich country. But western diplomats say they have reliable intelligence Iran has sought nuclear technology which only has military applications.

Israeli Press Tries to Save Iran from Attack


Parts of the Israeli press, led by high-circulation newspaper Yediot Acharonot, are trying to sabotage a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by lifting the veil of secrecy from the matter and turning it into the talk of the town.

Minister Benny Begin blasted "former senior members of the security establishment" who he said are creating the public debate, without naming them. The discussion in the press "is insane anarchy, an evil deed that results from some people's egomania," he said.

A daily column in Yediot asked, "Should Israel attack in Iran?" While the headline is followed by both pro and con columns, media watchdog "The Seventh Eye" explains that the newspaper's answer is obviously "no."

The website's Shuki Tausig explained: "The 'no' peeks out of the way the matter is presented, is hinted in the analysis columns and most of all, hovers overhead as the only possible meaning of holding a public debate on the matter."

Yediot Acharonot is ferociously opposed to Binyamin Netanyahu, as are most press outlets. Only Yisrael Hayom is considered respectful toward Netanyahu – and is therefore mocked as his lapdog. Yisrael Hayom quotes Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar who said: "Stop blabbing about Iran." A senior diplomatic source quoted by the paper says that the public debate endangers state security.

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