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Russia Declares Electronic War on Israel Ranging over Syria, E. Mediterranean

By DEBKAfile

The Israeli security cabinet has been called into urgent session on Tuesday on the crisis with Russia over the downed IL-20, before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travels to New York for the UN General Assembly. Within two weeks, Russia will arm Syria with S-300 air defense systems and start jamming navigation in the E. Mediterranean – two of the three measures announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Monday "in response to Israel's role in downing the Russian IL-20" on Sept. 17. Syria's air defense electronic capacities will be boosted to level that of Russian forces in the country. But the most significant measure announced by Shoigu was: "Russia will jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria." The Russian minister stressed that if these measures "fail to cool hotheads, [He was referring to Israel.], we will have to respond in line with the current situation." The crucial measure he announced is not the arming of Syria for the first time with S-300 systems – which Moscow withheld in the past at Israel's request – but the jamming of navigation. DEBKAfile's military experts point out that this the first time a major world power has declared electronic war against any country. After rejecting Israel's version of the Ilyushin crash with 15 Russian members of the armed forces aboard as untruthful, Moscow had thrown down the electronic gauntlet before the IDF and pitched the dispute onto a much higher elevation. This challenge confronts Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot with three tough options: They could have sought a way out of this high-stakes showdown with Moscow up until Monday. But now, it is too late. Shoigu slammed the door shut on a quiet exit. However, Israel is even more unable to give up on its air offensive against Iranian and its proxies' presence in Syria, despite the escalated risk of a clash with the Russians, because it would constitute a humiliating comedown against Iran and Hizbullah. However, in future, the IDF may be more cautious and select its targets with greater circumspection. They could meet Moscow's challenge for an electronic duel. In previous encounters, Israel came of best. In 1982, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a Russian air defense network installed by Russia in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley; and more recently, in 2007, Israeli planes, before destroying the Iranian-North Korean plutonium reactor in Deir Ez-Zour, activated its "Suter" system to "blind" the Syrian/Russian radar protecting the site. Russian electronic warfare specialists have since sought answers for Israel's jamming measures, but have found it difficult to catch up with is constant advances. However, this time may be different. DEBKAfile reports that the latest Russian challenge may stretch Israel's Air Force and Navies beyond their capacity. While successful in coping with electronic antagonists over small targets in the past, they now see the Russian Defense Minister painting a large arena of many hundreds of kilometers covering Syria and the eastern Mediterranean for the new challenge. Israel lacks operational experience on this scale of electronic warfare. The IDF is much less worried about the impending delivery of S-300 missiles systems to Bashar Assad's army. For years, the IAF has been practicing combat against these batteries. But for taking on massive Russian jamming across the eastern Mediterranean, Israel may have to turn to the United States for assistance. This request may be raised when Netanyahu meets President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Sept. 26, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Russia Throws Israel Under the Bus

By (Analysis by Yochanan Visser) On Sunday and Monday, it became clear that Russia is using the downing of an Ilyushin IL-20 reconnaissance airplane last week as an excuse to change the rules of the game in the Syrian war and has now thrown Israel under the bus in its war against Iran. On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry presented its investigation in the incident which killed 15 Russian servicemen. The Russian Defense ministry stuck to its opinion that Israel was to blame for the downing of the IL-20, although it was shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface to air missile (SAM). This occurred minutes after four IAF F16I warplanes attacked Syrian or Iranian targets in Assad's home base Latakia in northwestern Syria. The Russians again said that the IAF planes hid behind the IL-20, something which is technically impossible, and accused the Israeli military of "unprofessional or criminally negligent actions, at the very least." Former IAF pilot and Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told media last week that "you can't hide behind a plane" and called the Russian claims "unprofessional and attempts to clear the Syrians of guilt." Also, as Arutz Sheva reported last week, the Israeli F-16's were flying at very low altitude - a tactic which has proven to be the right way to avoid being hit by an S-200 missile – while the IL-20 was at least 35 kilometers away and flying at a much higher altitude. The IAF furthermore presented the Russians with its own reconstruction of the tragic event. The IAF unequivocally stated that the four F-16's were already back in Israeli airspace when the Syrian military randomly fired 20 S-200 missiles in all directions for more than 40 minutes without checking air traffic in the area. There's more. On Sunday, Israeli journalist Avi Sharf fired off a tweet with new information about the downing of the IL-20 and wrote that the IAF struck its targets in Latakia at 9:41 p.m. while the Syrians started to launch the S-200 missiles at 9:51 p.m. Instead of moving to safety and prohibiting the launch of the S-200 missiles, the Russian plane flew into the danger zone where it was downed at 10:03 p.m. according to Sharf.

The Russians now claim that Israel gave a warning only one minute before the attack in Latakia. They also accused Israel of lying about the location of the imminent strike which they said would take place in northern Syria and not in the west of the country. However, both claims are untrue. The Israeli military warned the Russians via a special hotline much earlier, before the strike, and Latakia is located in northwest Syria, according to a senior IDF officer. "The message was passed on much more than a minute before the attack, an amount of time that was acceptable, as has happened throughout all the years the military coordination has operated," the officer reported. An IDF delegation headed by Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin presented the Russian military with all these details during a visit to Moscow last week. "The comprehensive, accurate and factual details are known to the relevant professionals in the Russian military, and they clearly state that: the deconfliction mechanism operated in the relevant timeframe (as it has been operating over the last two and a half years); the IAF did not hide behind any aircraft and that the Israeli aircraft were in Israeli airspace at the time of the downing of the Russian plane," the IDF said in a statement after Norkin debriefed the Russians. "In addition, as we saw during this incident, the use of advanced weapons by irresponsible entities significantly endangers the area and can severely harm forces operating in the region," the statement explained. The IDF, furthermore, vowed that the safety of Russian troops in Syria is "a focal component in every approval of any activity by senior officials in the IDF and in Israel." Israeli leaders across the political spectrum have now called upon the United States to increase its involvement in Syria. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again called Putin to convince him not to deliver the S-300 system to Assad's army. The S-300 can track up to 100 targets simultaneously while it can engage with 12 at the same time. The system has a range of roughly 200 kilometers and can reach targets flying at an altitude up to 27,000 meters. The delivery of the system had already been considered by the Russian government in April this year and would "create a no-go situation for Israel if allowed to be made operational by the Syrian regime," according to weapons expert Jennifer Dyer who spoke with Arutz Sheva at the time. "Israel would lose the ability to preempt the `build-up' to war before Iran and Syria can make it a full-blown war," Dyer furthermore warned while adding that delivery of the system to Syria would endanger air traffic as far as the northern Negev desert. The US government, meanwhile, responded to the Russian announcement about the delivery of the S-300 missile shield by calling it a "significant escalation." Trump's National Security adviser John Bolton said the Administration hopes that Putin will reconsider the delivery of the system, but didn't announce measures to prevent the supply of the S-300. Chances that Putin will indeed reconsider the delivery of the S-300 to Syria at this point are slim, however. The Russian leader has his agenda for Syria and the Middle East. He most likely will use the opportunity to shore up his prestige and to bolster the regime of his ally Bashar al-Assad which is heavily dependent on Russian and Iranian aid.

Netanyahu has now vowed that Israel "will continue to protect its security and interests," but he will have difficulty to continue Israel's struggle against Iran in Syria in the manner in which it has been conducted since it became obvious that the Islamic Republic used the civil war in the country to take over the country and to open a new front against Israel on the Golan Heights. (Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion.)

Iran Warns U.S. and Israel of Revenge After Deadly Parade Attack.

By Reuters

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused the United States and Israel of involvement in the attack which killed 25 people at a military parade and said that Iran would "severely punish" those behind the bloodshed. The deputy head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards also said that the attackers had been paid by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and that they should expect a devastating response. In Washington, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dismissed Iran's threat said it was "ludicrous" for Tehran to allege US involvement in the attack. Asked whether Iran's threat gave him any concern, Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon: "No, it does not. We've been very clear that they shouldn't take us on like that. And I am hopeful that cooler, wiser heads will prevail." In the southwestern city of Ahvaz, thousands packed the streets to mourn the victims of Saturday's assault, many chanting "Death to Israel and America." Twelve members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were among the dead. The coffins, wrapped in flags, were carried by mourners. Many held pictures of a four-year-old boy killed in the incident, one of the worst such attacks against Iran's most powerful military force. Iran's Intelligence Ministry said some 22 people had been arrested in connection with the attack. "Some 22 people involved in the attack in Ahvaz have been identified and arrested ... weapons, exclusive material and communication equipment were seized in the house that belonged to the five-member terrorist group that carried out the attack," a ministry statement said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. Gunmen fired on a viewing stand in Ahvaz where officials had gathered to watch an annual parade marking the start of Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq. Fars and IRNA news agencies said on Monday five attackers were killed, not four as previously reported by state media. The body of the fifth assailant had not been identified as it was mixed up with other casualties, Fars said. "Based on reports, this cowardly act was done by people who the Americans come to help when they are trapped in Syria and Iraq and are paid by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Khamenei said on his website.

Guards Brigadier General Hossein Salami, in a speech broadcast on state TV, said: "You have seen our revenge before. You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done." Tasnim news agency quoted Salami as saying the "horrific crime" exposed the dark side of an alliance that the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel had created to counter Iranian influence in the region. The secretary of Iran's National Security Council said Tehran needed to talk to its neighbors to avoid tensions. "It's essential to be fully aware and increase our constructive dialogs to neutralize the plots of enemies who want to create suspicion and disagreement among regional countries," Ali Shamkhani said, adding that US sanctions against Iran were illegal and President Donald Trump was using them as a tool for "personal revenge." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked by a Fox News interviewer if the United States played any role in the attack, said: "When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake."

Fox Releases Clip of Gal Gadot on `The Simpsons'

Actress Gal Gadot will audition for the movie role of Bart Simpsons' sister Lisa in a cameo appearance on the first episode of "The Simpsons" 30th season. Fox released a preview of the episode ahead of its September 30 airing date. In the episode, titled "Bart's Not Dead," Homer Simpson and his neighbor Ned Flanders hold auditions for actors to portray the family after a group of Christian producers decide to make a movie following Bart Simpson's claim that he went to heaven and met Jesus. Once Gadot starts reading the script, Ned immediately offers her the part, but Homer is not so sure. "I know you were great in `Fast and Furious,' but what else have you been in?" he asks her after putting the brakes on Ned. "Uh, did you see `Wonder Woman'?" says Gadot.

"Whenever I see the DC logo I immediately fall asleep," Homer answers.

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