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>JN June 5, 2015, Vol. 23, No. 111

Tehran Expected to Invoke Defense Pact for Large-Scale Troop Deployment to Syria

By DEBKAfile

Thursday, June 4, reliable sources in Tehran expected the Iranian government to invoke its 2006 mutual defense pact with Syria "in the coming hours" for the transfer of Iranian troops to Syria - most likely by air. This was reported by DEBKAfile's exclusive military and intelligence sources.

It would be Tehran's first direct military intervention in the Syria conflict as it goes into its fifth year. Bashar Assad's regime and the Syrian and Hizbullah armies are collapsing under the twin assaults of the Islamic State and the armed Syrian opposition forces and in need of urgent life support.

Tehran was persuaded that, without direct intervention, its ally would go under at any moment Thursday when Islamic State forces broke through Syrian army defenses to the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Hasakeh, which sits on the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border junction. Towards evening, the Islamists had come to within one kilometer of the strategic town and captured its power station. Its defenders, the Syrian army's 52nd Division, were falling apart under the ISIS assault; some of the soldiers making a run for it.

Although the town is ruled by a coalition of central government and local Kurds, there was no operational coordination between the Syrian and Kurdish forces defending the town against the common enemy. If ISIS manages to take Hasakeh, it would chalk up its third major victory in a couple of weeks after capturing Palmyra in Syria and the Iraqi town of Ramadi.

Its fall would provide the Islamists with an open route across northern Syria to northern Iraq and strengthen their grip on Mosul, their Iraqi capital. It would also count as a major setback for the United States, whose air strikes in support of Hasakeh's Kurdish defenders failed to stall the Islamist advance.

In the southern sector too, Syrian troops of the 68th and 13th divisions defending Deraa are reported to have laid down arms and fled under the massive onslaught of the opposition Army of Conquest coalition. Tehran's final decision about sending a substantial Iranian force to Syria is awaited in the coming hours. This intention was strongly intimated in the last 48 hours by Adm. Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran's National Security Council, and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, supreme commander of Iran's Middle East operations. Both announced that dramatic events for Syria are to be expected in the coming days.


Israel Military: Iran Nuclear Threat May Wane with Deal

By Reuters

The Israeli military sees potential security benefits in an expected international deal curbing Iran's nuclear program, a senior officer was quoted as saying on Thursday in an unexpected analysis of the issue.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has presented the planned deal as a threat to Israel. But in a closed-door briefing to Israeli reporters published in part by local media, the officer said the deal - if agreed by its June 30 deadline - could provide clarity on whether Iran is on course to a bomb.

Western powers share Israel's fear that the Iranians harbor ambitions to get nuclear weapons - something Tehran denies - and years of negotiations backed by sanctions have aimed to eradicate any such capability.

The senior Israeli officer said that, for now, measures sought by international negotiators such as stepped-up inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities and scaling back of its uranium enrichment "allow for the supposition that, in the coming period of years, this is a threat in decline."

A military source confirmed the authenticity of the quotes to Reuters. They reflect wider thinking in Israel's armed forces, where senior staff have recently made clear they were more worried about the dangers posed by Iran's guerrilla allies in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza than its nuclear program.

Looking longer-term, the Netanyahu government argues that a nuclear-armed foe would threaten Israel's survival and has lobbied for comprehensive caps on Iranian projects with bomb-making potential. "The deal is going to allow Iran to actually become a military nuclear threshold state ... whether it be (in) 10 years or whatever," Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told the Washington Post on Wednesday. Israel is widely assumed to have the region's sole atomic arsenal.

Like Israel, Gulf Arab Sunni states are also concerned about a possible deal between the major powers and Tehran. However, speaking in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Qatar's Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah struck a conciliatory tone with its regional neighbor and said Western states had given assurances that any deal would be solid.

"For the sake of Iran and its people, we would like to see this agreement happening and maybe they can focus on development and prosperity for the region, which we would all like to see," he said. "The parties discussing this agreement are discussing it with the intention that we have a solid agreement. We have no doubt about our allies. We have this assurance by the Americans and the French as well."


Declassified Documents: Israel Feared Egyptian Attack on Dimona Nuclear Reactor

By The Jerusalem Post

One of Israel's most worrisome concerns in the days preceding the 1967 Six Day War was that the Egyptian Air Force would attack the nuclear reactor in Dimona. This was revealed in the newly released and declassified secret documents of the IDF archives, to mark the 48th anniversary of that war, which began June 5.

The war broke out with the Israel Air Force's surprise preemptive strike, which within three hours destroyed the entire Egyptian Air Force, sitting like ducks on the tarmacs of its airfields.

On June 2, the government's security cabinet convened for a tense and dramatic meeting with the IDF General Staff. It was the first session to include Moshe Dayan as the new defense minister, appointed only a day before, after prime minister Levi Eshkol was forced due to public pressure to relinquish the defense post.

Eshkol's decision to step down as defense minister was a result of a confusing speech that he delivered during a live radio broadcast in which he stuttered. The impression on the Israeli public, already under tremendous fear of another Holocaust, was overwhelming.

The times were of extreme emotions and tension, referred to as the "waiting period." Roughly two weeks earlier the Egyptian Army broke the international agreement with Israel, signed a decade earlier after the 1956 Sinai Campaign, and entered the demilitarized Sinai Peninsula. A few days later, the Egyptians expelled the UN peacekeeping force, and closed the Straits of Tiran, blocking Israeli and international ships from reaching the port of Eilat.

Israel mobilized its military reserves, partially paralyzing its economy. The meeting of the cabinet ministers and the military echelon would later become known as the "generals' putsch," as some of these senior officers demanded of Eshkol and the cabinet to make an immediate decision to launch a preemptive strike.

The meeting opened with a briefing by then Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, who said that one of the battle scenarios was that the Egyptian air force would launch "a strike to destroy Dimona and airfields."

Construction of the Dimona nuclear reactor began in 1958 and ended in 1961. According to foreign reports, by the eve of the Six Day War, Israel had already managed to assemble one nuclear weapon.

Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Mordechai Hod revealed that Egyptian warplanes had managed to infiltrate Israel's air space on reconnaissance missions at least four times, photographing the port of Eilat on the Red sea and another site – that was censored. It can be assumed that their target was to take images of the nuclear reactor at Dimona.

Later, Yariv explained that efforts that the US or an international force would lift the Egyptian blockade had failed. "We believe that the US doesn't consider taking a strong and serious action to lift the naval blockade and solve the crisis," he said, adding, "We believe that the US understands that we have to act" and that "American experts estimate that Israel can win the battle." He stressed that "there are people in important places in the US who see an Israeli action as an easy solution for the US to get out of this entanglement."

This remark by the chief of Military Intelligence can be interpreted as an Israeli understanding that the US administration was signaling Israel to launch the war.

Then IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin – who had just returned to work after a nervous breakdown, hidden from the public and explained as "nicotine poisoning" – warned, "As time passes and Israel doesn't act, Arab confidence is growing and our mission will be harder." Rabin added, "I feel that the military and diplomatic ring to strangle us is tightening." Nevertheless, he assured the meeting that "We can do it [win the war – YM], especially if the initiative is in our hands."

Yet most ministers were not convinced. They expressed concern that the Soviet Union might intervene if Israel launched a military campaign and asked questions about the defense capabilities of the IDF, and especially the air force, to protect cities from Egyptian air raids and bombs. Eshkol remained hesitant, which drove then Maj. Gen. Ariel Sharon to use harsh words bordering on contempt for the government – a style that characterized him in years to come.

"Because of hesitations and our time wasting, we lost our main deterring factor – this is the Arab states' fear of our army. We destroy it day by day. The loss of our deterrence is the most important factor," Sharon said.

Moshe Dayan is given the floor for the first time. He said that, although there is no guarantee, the IDF can defeat the Egyptian Army in six days – exactly the same time it took to do it in the Sinai Campaign in 1956, when Dayan was chief of staff. He added that maybe extra days would be required to complete the task and conquer Sharm al-Sheikh, which overlooks the Straits.

"What are we waiting for?" Dayan asked, and his words were echoed by Maj. Gen. Mattityahu Peled, who after the war became one of the first promoters of the notion to grant the Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza a state of their own.

Eshkol tried his best to calm the hot blooded attitude of Dayan and the generals. He turned to Sharon and said, "I was disgusted by what you said." The prime minister continued to express concern that, despite the comforting words of Rabin that the Soviet Union most likely would not interfere in the war, he still did not know how the Soviets would react.

Eshkol explained that the waiting period was still important, because it helped to "engrave in [US president Lyndon] Johnson's ears that we didn't cheat him. "I truly hope that we will not need him in the middle of the war." Eshkol concluded.

The meeting dispersed after two-and- a-half hours with no decision. Two days later, Eshkol and the cabinet gave the IDF the order to launch Red Sheet, the code word for the preemptive strike against Egypt and a war that changed the course of Israel's history.


Spanish Incitement: Jewish Voodoo Dolls, 'Kill All the Jews'

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A shocking case in Spain of anti-Semitic incitement online displays just how the internet is being used to call for murder against the Jewish people, and how the legal system in Europe can play a role in countering the trend.

The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday expressed its approbation of the arrest of a 28-year-old foreign national in Ribaforada, Spain, who had shared extreme anti-Semitic content and videos online, with the Spanish Ministry of the Interior noting on Saturday the "gravity and brutality of the content."

The unnamed foreign national posted numerous videos, one of which featured three visibly Muslim women chanting "catch and kill all the Jews. Strike them and make the Jews bleed like animals. Exterminate the Zionists. Exterminate them, exterminate them, the world will be better off." As they chanted, one of the women in the video stabbed a doll in the image of an Orthodox Jew with a knife, giving a physical representation to their shrill call to murder.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said, "if you call for Jews to be killed, you should be prosecuted and go to jail. That should be the standard, especially in Europe where we have seen several anti-Semitic murders over the past few years. Spain deserves praise for upholding that principle in this case, even though Spain and other European governments have failed to prosecute other instances of clear incitement to murder Jews," said Foxman.

An in-depth ADL poll conducted in 100 countries found last May that 29% of respondents in Spain have anti-Semitic attitudes, with 48% agreeing with the statement: "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust."


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